New holidays for 2017
We’re excited about our new holidays for this coming season, and we hope you will be too.
For walkers, we have holidays in the mountains of Bavaria (pictured above), and the Valle Maira in Italy’s Cottian Alps. If you prefer something a bit easier, perhaps we can whet your appetite with our holidays in Corsica, along the Côte d’Azur, or through Hardy’s Wessex. Our new cycling holidays are equally appealing: a journey alongside rivers and lakes, from the art city of Mantova into the very heart of historic Verona; and a discovery of Penedès, Spain’s ‘Cava country’. Last but by no means least, our touring holidays – journeys in SlowMotion – will appeal to a variety of tastes: embark on a foodie adventure in Emilia-Romagna; enjoy a mix of culture and gastronomy in Catalonia; prepare yourself to be impressed by the scenery of the Swiss Alps or Norway’s fjords; or take a Grand Tour of Italy.
Follow ancient paths through Italy’s secret Alpine valley
If you were to ask what’s special about our walking holiday in Piedmont’s Valle Maira
, we wouldn’t respond with one, but with several good reasons. First, there are the views over rock-strewn pastures and implausibly blue lakes to craggy peaks. Second, there’s the walking, which, amid such alpine scenery, could never be anything other than highly rewarding. Then there’s the sense of tradition that you derive from exploring ancient paths and experiencing Occitan culture, and, to top it all off, cosy mountain retreats at which to relax each evening.
Explore France’s ‘mountain in the sea’
promises a visual feast of fine-sand beaches washed by turquoise waters; forests of chestnut, oak and olive backed by snow-capped peaks; and ancient villages tucked into the folds of green valleys. The contrasts between the enticing coastline, with its pretty towns guarded by watchtowers and imposing citadels, and the mountainous interior, where time stands still, could not be greater, and makes for a varied week of walking.
Head into the mountains of Bavaria where eagles soar
Bavaria. The name tends to conjure up images of convivial beer gardens, but something else it has in spades is natural beauty, in the form of sparkling lakes, bottle-green forests and towering peaks. In Berchtesgadener Land
, in the south-easternmost corner, you can walk from one luxurious mountain hotel to the next, enjoying ever more astonishing panoramas which culminate in the view from the Eagle’s Nest, former alpine headquarters of the Third Reich, which stands sentinel above a scene encompassing jewel-like Königssee, blue glaciers and the noble Watzmann.
Uncover the quiet side of the Côte d’Azur
It’s the colour, and the quality of light, that will strike you first on France’s famously glitzy Côte d’Azur
. Renoir, Chagall, Cézanne and Picasso were inspired to capture the vibrant reds and oranges, set against the extreme turquoise and blue of sea and sky, on canvas, and soon gardeners, architects and collectors followed, leaving their own mark in the form of Belle Epoque palaces and resplendent gardens. Gentle walks, town trails and visits to villas and gardens allow you to look beyond the glitz to the coast’s understated beauty and to appreciate the allure that the coastline has held for so many.
Imagine yourself as Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Cranborne Chase. If the name isn’t familiar, the scenery probably will be, for this is the epitome of rural England, as described so lyrically by Thomas Hardy in his works. As you follow sections of Britain’s first literature-themed long-distance path, The Hardy Way
, over chalk hills, along lanes bordered by cow parsley, and through villages of thatched cottages, it’s easy to imagine yourself in the pages of a Hardy novel. If the scenery hasn’t changed much, the standard of accommodation has, however, with more creature comforts than Tess could ever have imagined.
Journey by bike into the very heart of Verona
The name of our new Italian cycling holiday, Mantova to Verona
, speaks for itself. There is some beautiful countryside to be traversed as you journey between the two art cities – the holiday even takes you via an imaginatively landscaped country park dubbed a ‘temple of nature’ and along the southern shore of Lake Garda – but the best is saved until last: it’ll be the cycle ride right up to Verona’s atmospheric Roman Arena via the iconic, red-brick Ponte Scaligero that you are likely to remember the longest.
Raise a toast to Spanish winemakers
A cycling holiday in the Penedès region
south of Barcelona is not just about the routes. Yes, the trails linking authentic Spanish villages are undeniably enjoyable, but the holiday is also about the region’s wine-making prowess, for Penedès is ‘Cava country’, with almost 300 bodegas. As you’d expect, the routes are short enough to allow for tastings along the way, as well as for visits to the museums devoted to the area’s most famous export. Just as importantly, they end at excellent country hotels where you can savour another thing Catalonia has a growing reputation for: its cuisine.
Be awed by Norway’s fjords
Awe-inspiring, humbling, majestic, astonishing and impressive are all adjectives which are likely to spring to mind when confronted with the scenery of western Norway. Not for nothing is our touring holiday called Best of the Fjords
, for it reveals, among others, Hardangerfjord (all fruit orchards and waterfalls), Sognefjord (‘Queen of the Fjords’), and narrow, steep-sided Geirangerfjord (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). With a hire car, you can take your time and make the most of the views because, whichever words you use to describe it, this is not scenery to rush through.
Embark on an epic journey between iconic Swiss peaks
Be they of sparkling lakes, implausibly tall waterfalls, or villages of wooden, geranium-clad chalets nestled beneath glacier-encrusted peaks, there’s no shortage of astonishing views on this rail journey
from the north face of the Eiger to the Swiss-Italian border. They all vie among themselves for the title of ‘most jaw-dropping’, but the best is saved till last: it’ll be the vistas of the Matterhorn’s unmistakable crooked peak that are likely to linger longest.
Celebrate the best of Catalonia
We’ve called our journey by car through north-eastern Spain A Homage to Catalonia
, which we think is a rather apt title, as there’s much to admire and appreciate: the gastronomy, some of the most innovative in Europe; the wines, not just red and white, but sparkling too; the medieval villages of biscuit-coloured stone; and masterpieces by Dalí, just one of many artists to have found inspiration here. See how long it takes before you’re singing its praises too…
Follow in the footsteps of the ‘Grand Tourists’
After a dalliance with high society in Paris and a spot of alpinism in Switzerland, Victorian travellers would head to Italy to immerse themselves in its rich culture. Undertake your own Grand Tour of Italy
, and you’ll understand why – from Turin’s Palazzo Carignano to Rome’s Pantheon via Verona’s amphitheatre, Venice’s palazzi
, Bologna’s ancient university and the statue of David by Michelangelo in Florence, you’ll get a thought-provoking taste of Italian history and culture from the Classical through to the Baroque by way of the Renaissance.
Discover the heart and soul of gastronomic Italy
Sandwiched between Tuscany and Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna
is not as well known outside Italy as its neighbours, but its delicious produce is savoured across Europe – and beyond. This is the home of parmigiano reggiano
, aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena
(balsamic vinegar) and prosciutto di Parma
. A holiday here is therefore as much about food as about anything else – the cities of Bologna, Parma and Modena could deliver enough top-quality eating experiences to last a lifetime. Buon appetito!