The Périgord of "Bruno, Chief of Police"
A Politics & Prose Trip with Author Martin Walker | August 26 - September 1, 2018
Pre-Trip Optional Extension | August 23 - 26, 2018
If you’re a fan of Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police mysteries set in France, you know that Bruno is, sadly, only fictional. But his region, Périgord Nord, is quite real, as are the foods and wines and markets and castles and characters that Bruno encounters in his adventures. As it happens (not a coincidence), writer Martin Walker lives just outside of the town of Le Bugue, France, suspiciously similar to Bruno’s St. Denis.
Join Politics & Prose on an exploration of this unique part of France, well known for its food specialties (truffles, walnuts, foie gras) and wines (Bruno loves wine!). A highlight of the trip will be spending time with Martin Walker. We’ll spend one whole day in “St. Denis,” tasting wines at Bruno’s favorite wine shop, and then going on to Martin’s house, where he and his wife will prepare us lunch, pour us some favorite wines, and tell us stories about the region.
You may have heard of Lascaux II, the very meticulously reproduced cave experience, a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring the very moving Paleolithic art of bulls, horses and deer. Now the entire cave has been reproduced, along with new displays on Lascaux’s history, in a new complex called Lascaux IV
Martin talking to our group at Chateau de Commarque
We’ll stay in the medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, with its beautiful yellow sandstone buildings housing restaurants and shops. Small and extremely walkable, Sarlat has more historic monuments than any other town in France.
Politics & Prose trips are always made up of small (maximum 18 people) groups of congenial people who, like you, love to read. You’ll have two experienced trip leaders with you each day – on a trip that features many of Martin Walker’s favorite places in the region.
Saturday, September 2, 2017
Depart from home for your overnight flight. You will change planes at a European airport and continue on to Bordeaux, France. Please note: you must plan your trip to arrive in Bordeaux before noon. (We will provide you with recommended flights.)
Please note that we may make changes to this itinerary in response to unexpected closings,
road conditions, weather or other unforeseen events.
Sunday, August 26
Arrive in Bordeaux. We’ll pick you up at 1pm at the Bordeaux airport for the drive through the Dordogne region to Sarlat-la-Canèda. (Pick up a sandwich and water in the airport for the ride.) You can rest for the afternoon, stroll through the streets of Sarlat, or simply sit in the outdoor bar in the front of the hotel and enjoy a drink.
6pm. Meet in the hotel bar for orientation for the week.
Monday, August 27
Today we begin our exploration of the Périgord Nord with a visit to the newly opened Lascaux IV. In addition to the almost perfect replica of the entire cave and all its art, the new center features many exhibits and experiences to help us understand both why these early peoples painted such dramatic pictures of animals and how they used the very surfaces of the cave walls themselves to make artistic decisions.
We’ll return to Sarlat in time for lunch, and you’ll have the afternoon to explore Sarlat on your own.
6pm: Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.
Tuesday, August 28
It’s market day in Le Bugue (known to Bruno fans as “St. Denis.”) We’ll visit this bustling market and have time to eat lunch in the village.
In the afternoon, we’ll head out to meet Martin at the Chateau de Commarque, an important site in The Templars’ Last Secret. We’ll meet Martin at the extensive ruins of the Chateau de Commarque, where the book begins. Historical records first mention the chateau in the 12th century. Like many other places in this area, the Hundred Years War took its toll, but the ruins are slowly being restored. Martin will tell us all about the chateau’s history and why it figures as the opening scene of the book.
6pm: Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.
Wednesday, August 29
This morning we drive to the Chateau des Millandes, a Renaissance castle built in 1489. It was abandoned after the French Revolution, but beautifully restored and improved in the early 1900s. Most notably now, it was the home of Josephine Baker, the wildly popular black dancer and entertainer who took Paris by storm. Less known about Baker are her work for the French resistance in WWII and her adoption of numerous children. The Chateau is still decorated inside in the art deco style Baker loved.
At the chateau (weather permitting), we’ll also wander through the beautiful gardens and watch a demonstration with live birds of prey, some of them endangered species.
We’ll have lunch in the nearby town of Beynac. Afterwards, we’ll take a leisurely boat ride on the beautiful Dordogne river before returning home to Sarlat.
6pm: Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.
Thursday, August 30
We depart to meet Martin at Bruno’s favorite wine store -- Julien de Savignac – where we’ll taste some of his favorite wines. Afterwards, we’ll take the short drive to Martin’s home in the countryside, where he and his wife Julia Watson have invited us for lunch. We’ll visit their home and stroll around the garden, and then have a long lazy lunch with lots of wine. (Bring your bathing suit; if it’s warm enough we can take a swim in their pool). We depart for home mid-afternoon.
6pm: Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.
Friday, August 31
We depart for our drive to Bordeaux. We’ll stop to visit the Chateau de Monbazillac and taste the sauternes at their vineyard. We’ll stop for lunch in nearby Bergerac (yes, of Cyrano de Bergerac fame), and then arrive in Bordeaux in the late afternoon. You’ll have time to stroll around the beautiful town and have dinner outdoors at one of the many restaurants in the St. Pierre square.
Saturday, Sept. 9
Depart from Bordeaux airport on your flight home.
Here's What's Included:
Here’s What’s Included:
What’s not included: lunches (except for the day with Martin Walker) and dinners, tickets to museums and attractions not listed on the itinerary, out-of-town train tickets, your flight to Bordeaux and back home or anything else not listed under “What’s included.”
Pack Your Bags?
The price for the trip is $4485. You'll have your own room without paying an additional single supplement. To reserve your space, register here.
To secure your space, mail your deposit check, made out to Wild Blue Yonder in the amount of $650, to Sheila Campbell, Wild Blue Yonder, 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910. If you’d prefer to pay by credit card (there’s a 3% surcharge), email Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll send you a Paypal invoice.
For more information, contact
Pre-Trip Optional Extension to Bordeaux
Pre-Trip Optional Extension to Bordeaux
We’ll be tasting lots of wine in the Périgord, but you might not want to miss a short stay in Bordeaux, the world’s leading wine industry capital. The heart of its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site; Bordeaux has more preserved historic buildings than anywhere in France except Paris. The city sits on the Garonne River and has a lively and sophisticated culture. Plus, of course, where there’s fine wine, you’ll also find great food.
Note: This extension takes place before the Périgord trip.
Pre-Trip Optional Extension Itinerary
Wednesday, August 22
Leave home for your overnight flight to a European capital and connection to Bordeaux.
Thursday, August 23
Arrive in Bordeaux. You’ll have some time to rest and explore the neighborhood around our hotel. You’re very near boutiques and restaurants, and you might want to walk over to the Miroir d’Eau, a surprising water fountain on the riverside.
In the evening, we’ll all walk over to the St. Pierre area for dinner in one of the open-air restaurants.
Friday, August 24
This morning we set out for the recently opened Cité du Vin, an immersive experience on the world culture of wine. The 10-story building itself is striking, as its curves suggest the swirl of wine in a glass, or the growth of twisted vines. After browsing through the many themed exhibits, you end up at the top, on the Belvedere, with a stunning view of Bordeaux – and of course, a taste of wine.
We’ll spend the morning and enjoy lunch there (lunch on your own).
3pm. We gather in the center of Bordeaux for our private guided walking tour
Saturday, August 25
It’s market day in Bordeaux, so we’ll begin our day at the covered Marché du Capucines, known as the “belly of Bordeaux.” We’ll stop for lunch there, where we can feast on fresh seafood and all sorts of regional specialties.
Afterwards, we’ll visit the Musée d’Aquitaine, an exquisitely designed museum on the history of Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region. Among other things, you’ll learn about the history of slavery associated with its seafaring history. The sarcophagus of Michel de Montaigne lies here too.
In the late afternoon, you’ll have time on your own to shop or visit other museums in this most beautiful city. We’ll all meet for dinner (on your own) for a last moment enjoying the wine and food of Bordeaux.
Sunday, August 26
We board our small bus for the three-hour drive through the Périgordine countryside to Sarlat.
Price for the pre-trip extension is $1300, with no single supplement.
Q. How many people will be on the trip?
The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group.
Q. This trip seems a little more expensive than the other P&P trips I’ve been on.
That’s right, it is a bit more expensive, for two reasons. First, in Sarlat we stay at a higher grade of hotel than usual – the luxurious 4-star Plaza Madeleine hotel with a spa, swimming pool and particularly nice bar. Second, all the places we visit in the Périgord are spread out, so we’ll need group transport everyday.
Q. Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. And we hate eating at long tables where we haven’t got a choice about what to order. Instead, we’ll find typically French places for lunch, and, in Sarlat, there are lots of restaurants to sample at dinner. You can choose where you eat, and with whom and how much you want to spend.
Q. What’s the best way to get to Bordeaux?
As of this writing (airline schedules are always subject to change), we strongly recommend flying:
Note that these flights are actually operated by Air France, so you can book them through either airline. At the airport, you’ll check in at Air France even if you book through Delta.
If you’re not coming from Washington, DC, then you might still try to get on the Delta flight from Paris to Bordeaux as your connection.
It’s VERY IMPORTANT that you book a flight that arrives before noon in Bordeaux. We’ll pick up everyone from the airport at 1pm for the drive to Sarlat.
If your flight is scheduled to arrive before noon but is delayed, we’ll wait for you before setting off for Sarlat. But if you’ve booked a flight that arrives after noon, you’ll be responsible for getting yourself to Sarlat.
Q. Do we have to fly to Bordeaux? What about taking the train from Paris?
It would be a very long train trip. You’d have to travel from Paris (TGV from Montparnasse in Paris) to Bordeaux, and arrive in time for our 1pm pick up time at the Bordeaux airport. If you missed that time, then it would be another 2-hour and 45 minute train ride to Sarlat, where our trip begins. We don’t recommend the train.
If you fly to Bordeaux (you must choose a flight that arrives before noon), we’ll pick you up at the airport and drive you to Sarlat.
Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?
No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.
Q. I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because French hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.
Q. Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
We strongly recommend it. In particular, you’ll want to have trip cancellation insurance in case something happens and you can’t come at the last minute, and also medical evacuation insurance which will fly you home if needed. Remember that Medicare is valid only in the U.S., so if you’re on Medicare, you’ll definitely want some basic medical insurance. The best time to purchase your travel insurance is right when you pay your deposit for the trip.
And please read the trip Terms and Conditions section below carefully for our cancellation policy.
Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.
Donna Morris has lived in Paris, France for the last eleven years. She founded her business, Best Friend in Paris, in 2009 with her signature tour, Follow Me, an experience for her clients that helps them see Paris with the same love and appreciation for the City of Light that she has. She has developed and organized Politics and Prose trips to Paris, Provence and the Loire Valley. She speaks fluent French.
Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing Politics & Prose trips for several years, in countries including France, South Africa, England and Italy. In her day-to-day work, she’s a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she was a docent at the National Gallery of Art for many years. She speaks tourist French.
Q. What is the Hotel Plaza Madeline like? What about the hotel in Bordeaux?
It’s a quite sophisticated hotel, beautifully designed, with a spa and swimming pool. We particularly love sitting outside at the bar in the evenings.
The hotel in Bordeaux is ideally located in the city center. It offers a full breakfast and the rooms are typically French, with small but nicely appointed rooms.
Q. What’s included in the breakfast at the Plaza Madeleine?
Breakfast is definitely a treat here. There’s a wide selection of croissants, rolls and pastries, cheeses, cold cuts, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, cereal, French yogurt and so on. But – unlike many continental hotels — they also have eggs and bacon or sausage every day.
Q. Is there internet access at the hotel?
Yes, free wifi comes with your room.
Q. What will the weather be like?
It’s hard to say for sure, but it should be sunny and slightly cool – but warm enough most nights to sit outside at dinner. It’s always a good idea, of course, to come prepared for rain, so do pack an umbrella, a light jacket and – most important of all – very comfortable walking shoes.
Q. What to wear?
Wear just what you would at home – casual jeans, slacks or skirts, even for eating out at night.
Of course, for any place where you need a reservation, you’ll want to dress appropriately. But let comfort rule your choices.
Q. I don’t speak French. Can you help me figure out what to eat?
Absolutely. We’ll provide a list of common menu terms, and let you know how to do things like ask for the check.
Q. Is it safe to walk around by myself at night in Sarlat and Bordeaux?
As in any city, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings after dark. But these are small cities with lots of charm, and our hotels are located where there are lots of people about. You can feel quite comfortable walking around after dark.
Q. When do I need to sign up by?
The sooner you put down your deposit, the better. This trip is likely to sell out very quickly.
Q. Do I need an international cell phone?
It’s always convenient to have one, but it’s not necessary. If you bring a laptop, smartphone or iPad, you can always use Skype over wifi; that’s one of the least expensive ways to reach people in the States.
If you do want a phone, you can rent international phones at many major airports, or you might want to check in with your cell provider to see if you can buy an international calling package for the time you’re here.
Terms & Conditions
Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.
Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, transportation to locations as outlined in the itinerary, evening social events to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.
Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not mentioned in the itinerary; airfare and airline baggage fees; lunches and dinners; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description.
Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.
Registration and Payment
A deposit of $650 per person confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal.
Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 60 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to email@example.com. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.
Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.
We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.
Full final payment is due May 1, 2018.
Cancellations and Refunds
For any cancellations made before May 1, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. Refunds for cancellation are subject to the following schedule:
Before May 1 Full refund (but deposit is forfeited)
May 2 – June 1 50% of trip price (but deposit is forfeited)
after June 2 No refund.
We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance when you pay your deposit for this trip.
Changes to Your Reservation
After May 1, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.
You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip, and with at least two blank pages for French entry and exit stamps. No visa is required for visits to France.
Health and Medical Issues
We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. This trip requires a reasonable amount of walking – up to a mile, possibly uphill or on uneven pavements or cobblestone streets and streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb several flights of stairs and board buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you, and you will have to incur the costs of taxis or other special transport.
If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).
We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Please note: Medicare is not valid outside of the United States.
Should you have to cancel your trip at the last minute, we cannot offer refunds, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.
Arrival and Departure Dates
It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date by May 1.
The liability of Wild Blue Yonder, Best Friend in Paris, and Politics & Prose, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.
Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, death, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party, nor for personal accidents.
In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the trip, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release Politics & Prose, Wild Blue Yonder and their officers, employees, representatives or agents, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this trip, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for this trip, the participant agrees to all of the Terms and Conditions herein.
Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. Should you be removed, you will not be entitled to any refund for unused or missed services or costs incurred as a result of termination of your travel arrangements, including, without limitation, return travel, accommodations, meals and incidentals.
We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.
If you’re not caught up on all of Martin Walker’s Bruno series of mysteries, you’ll want to have read them all by the time you get here. Here’s a list of the books in order:
And you’ll also want to read Martin’s novel, The Caves of Perigord. It’s not a Bruno book, but is quite full of insights into the Perigord region.
Other books you might enjoy are:
The Complete Essays by Michel de Montaigne. Renaissance writer Montaigne retired to his tower and wrote numerous essays about life and his personal philosophies. If you’ve never read Montaigne, now is a good time to meet him.
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell. This highly readable biography of Montaigne and his ideas won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.
Josephine Baker: The Hungry Heart by Jean-Claude Baker. This well-told biography of Baker is told by one of the many children she adopted and raised in les Millandes, her chateau in the Perigord.
A Castle in the Backyard: The Dream of a House in France by Betsy Draine. Yes, this memoir is certainly in the vein of all those other books written about buying a house in another country. But here the region is the Dordogne, and the book gives you a real feeling for the countryside