Join the bestselling novelist in the region that inspired the brilliant 'Chocolat', plus enjoy a charming tour of the Lot Valley, Tarn and the Haute-Garonne

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The gentle pace of life and unspoilt countryside of south-west France are part of its enduring appeal, and ever since author Joanne Harris captured its village life so magically in her bestselling novel Chocolat, we've wanted to experience it for ourselves. On this seven-day tour, exclusively for GH readers, you'll explore the region, travelling by train from the limestone cliffs and medieval hilltop towns of the Lot valley to majestic Toulouse and history-rich Cahors and Moissac.

"We'll be taking a look at the historic little town of Nérac," says Joanne. "We'll visit the church, the old quarter with its wooden houses and tanneries, and the chocolaterie that started everything off!"

Here, Joanne will give you a tour of the places that inspired her and take part in an exclusive talk and Q&A session. Plu Joanne will give another fascinating talk about the creative writing process, a must for aspiring writers.

You'll also tour 'Les Plus Beaux Villages de France' (Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Auvillar and Lauzerte), as well as admire the 'Pink City' of Toulouse and taste its delicious wine and cheese. This is a wonderful way to visit a lesser-known part of France and a great opportunity to see it through the eyes of one of our favourite authors.

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Joanne Harris

Acclaimed author Joanne Harris MBE will be joining you in the French region that inspired her writing. Her novel Chocolat was shortlisted for the 1999 Whitbread Book Awards book of the year and was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Her latest novel, The Strawberry Thief, returns to France and the fictional world she created in Chocolat and is the fourth book in the series.

I'm really looking forward to sharing some of the inspiration behind Chocolat.

Joanne Harris

Price includes

  • Eurostar to Paris direct from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet, then by TGV to Montauban.
  • Six nights at the four-star Hotel Mercure Montauban with breakfast each morning.
  • Welcome drinks and two dinners in the hotel's glass-domed restaurant.
  • Montauban visit on market day.
  • Tour of Nérac, believed to be the setting for Chocolat.
  • Two talks and Q&A sessions with Joanne Harris, including an exclusive creative writing talk by Joanne.
  • Copy of Joanne's latest book, The Strawberry Thief (one per booking).
  • Full-day tour to Cahors and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
  • Sightseeing in Toulouse.
  • Moissac, Auvillar and Lauzerte tours.


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  1. Day
    Travel to Montauban
    Montauban, France

    Travel by Eurostar from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Paris and onwards to Montauban by TGV. On arrival, transfer by coach to the hotel - Mercure Montauban - for check-in.

  2. Day
    Full day tour to Toulouse
    Toulouse, France

    Toulouse was once the home to the resplendent court of the Count of Toulouse, who controlled much of southern France and it continues to be an important city today, particularly in terms of aviation. The old city, the Ville Rose, is compact and easy to explore - the two churches St-Sernin and Les Jacobins plus some Renaissance townhouses are architectural gems.

    Meals - Breakfast
  3. Day
    Full day tour to Moissac, Auvillar and Lauzerte
    Lauzerte, France

    The town of Moissac is best known for its magnificent Romanesque abbey church of St-Pierre - the cloisters and porch are considered masterpieces of Romanesque sculpture. Although a church was founded on the site in the seventh century, the church and cloisters date from the 11th, and have survived many wars including the siege and sacking on the town in 1212 by Simon de Montfort.

    This afternoon we visit two 'Plus Beaux Villages' - Auvillar and Lauzerte. A stop on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela Auvillar sits on the banks of the Garonne and has some outstanding monuments, including a circular corn exchange, a clock tower and the Church of St Peter. The bastide of Lauzerte was founded in the 12th century by the count of Toulouse. The cobbled main square, stone built and half-timbered houses are delightful, as is the Pilgrim's Garden.

    Meals - Breakfast
  4. Day
    Evening dinner and talk by Joanne Harris
    Montauban, France

    Today you have a full day to explore the lovely town of Montauban on market day. This laidback city, on the banks of the River Tarn, was originally a bastide built by the Count of Toulouse in 1144. The lovely old city centre, with its pink-brick houses, is a delight to wander around and there are a host of bars and restaurants to explore during the day or in the evening just a short walk from the hotel. This evening, we will enjoy a welcome drink and dinner in the hotel restaurant - open exclusively for our group - and a talk from special guest speaker, Joanne Harris.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  5. Day
    Nérac with Joanne Harris and dinner with second talk
    Nérac, France

    Today we will head to Nérac which was the real life location of the fictional village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes in her bestselling Chocolat series of books. Joanne will point out relevant locations and inspirations featured in the books. This evening a second private dinner in the restaurant with a second talk from Joanne who will enlighten about her writing style and method.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  6. Day
    Cahors tour and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
    Cahors, France

    For such a small town squeezed into a loop of the River Lot, Cahors has had a long and turbulent history - passing through Gallic, Roman, Moorish and English hands is just the start of it. The best known sight here is the 14th-century Pont Valentré - a beautifully well-preserved example of a medieval bridge. You'll spot Saint-Cirq-Lapopie sitting on its high bluff over the Lot River a good while before you reach the village. A member of "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France", and voted the most beautiful village in France in 2012, the stone and half-timbered houses tumble over the cliff side. Head up the steep path to where the town's château once stood for wonderful views over the river valley.

    Meals - Breakfast
  7. Day
    Return home
    Montauban, France

    Transfer back to Montauban station to catch the return TGV to Paris. At Paris, board the return Eurostar service to Ebbsfleet and St Pancras.

    Meals - Breakfast


Mercure Montauban

Montauban, France

Four-star hotel set in a charming 18th-century building

Housed in a charming 18th-century building, the four-star Mercure Montauban is located right in the heart of the town centre opposite the cathedral. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant, Bourdelle, and bar to relax in after a day's touring. Bedrooms are traditionally decorated and feature en-suite bathroom with bath or shower, a TV, telephone, wifi, minibar, air-conditioning and hairdryer.

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Founded in 1994, Travel Editions offers a range of cultural short breaks and tours which appeal to 'travellers' not 'tourists' and whose itineraries are not readily available elsewhere.

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Call now to book 02081317856