Selling Europe by focusing on cuisine isn’t new, but lately some companies are spicing up their itineraries by pairing dining with unexpected activities.
Eurobound, for example, is set to debut small-group Art, Food and Yoga tours to France and Italy next spring.
Participants can choose from a daily yoga class or fitness walk; enjoy tastings of cheese, chocolate and wine; wander through local food markets, and dine in local restaurants.
While the destinations themselves on the itinerary are well known — including St. Paul de Vence, Nice and St. Jean Cap Ferrat among others — the tour offers a twist on the usual sightseeing menu by visiting the Villa Santo Sospir, home of French author and playwright Jean Cocteau; the Fondation Maeght with its vast art collection, and the Matisse Chapel in Vence, the Chagall Museum in Nice and the Picasso Museum in Antibes.
The company is in the process of planning a similarly themed tour of Tuscany and Chianti for 2019.
Eurobound provides experienced yoga instructors on the tours, but the company will also work with travel agents who practice yoga and want to pitch the itinerary to their whole group.
For another unusual food pairing, Around and About is offering culinary-themed tours of Bath, England, that bundle in a range of quirky features. A Cathedrals & Designer Outlets tour, for example, available November through next April, includes visits to food markets, lunches in the countryside and other explorations of the area’s cuisine, along with tours of the medieval Cathedral and the ruins of Bishop’s Palace. The twist? The itinerary also includes some serious shopping at designer outlets and the Kilver Court Designer Village.
Other Around and About options in Bath include Historic Pubs, Mining and Dining and Medieval Morsels and Memories, which showcase local beers, ciders and cheeses via gastro-pubs and other eateries.
Meanwhile, Sojourn Bicycling & Active Vacations isn’t the first to pair cycling with cuisine, but the bike tour of northern Spain’s Basque Country focusing on the famed Rioja wines and local pintxos (generally translated as the Basque version of tapas) offers a fresh take on the theme.
The six-day tour, with departures in May and next October, starts in Villabuena de Alava and includes rides through towns, fishing villages and vineyards; a visit to the Vivanco Winery and Museum in La Rioja; and explorations of San Sebastian on the Atlantic coast, the summit of Monte Igueldo and the port of Lekeitio. The itinerary then crosses into French Basque Country, riding a coastal route to the popular beach resort of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
Finally, how about taking spa to a new level with a red-wine bath treatment — complete with a grape seed body scrub and a hydro-massage with wine extracts — followed by lavish dining at Belmond’s newly acquired Castello di Casole, a historic castle hotel in Siena, in Italy’s Tuscany region.
The focus on wine in a natural, given that the property is surrounded by vineyards and the spa is located in the former wine cellar, and the cuisine celebrates local produce, fresh seafood and, of course, homemade pasta and breads.
But the activities are anything but run of the mill and include everything from truffle hunting and horseback riding to watercolor classes and, oh yes, yoga.