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Agenda for 2014 Summer Program in Dordogne, France

July 25 – July 6, 2014

Biology 101 (Area R GE)

Global Studies 188 (Area V GE)

The Dordogne region (named after the great Dordogne River) in southwest France is rich in unexpected ways. From the cragged, forbidding precipices which Paleolithic humans called home 40,000 years ago to poor soils that paradoxically yield extraordinary foods from walnuts to truffles, this region is a treasure trove and natural classroom. Join us as we spend 12 days winding our way from Bordeaux through the Dordogne, Quercy and Lot regions to experience the best of the southwest of France.

The Agenda

June 25 (Wednesday), Bordeaux Bienvenue! Participants arrive in Bordeaux. The day is yours to explore this amazing city (see “36 Hours in Bordeaux, France”). Lodging tonight and the next is at Hôtel Continental (tentative) in the heart of Bordeaux’s old town. Meet us at dusk on the terrace for a welcome reception!

June 26 (Thursday), Bordeaux

A late start today will give you time in the morning to explore Bordeaux at your leisure. After meeting up for a picnic lunch, we will head off to the Musée du Vin et Négoce de Bordeaux, followed by a short course on Bordeaux wines and cheese. Dinner at a local brasserie will follow.

June 27 (Friday), Bergerac

We depart early to travel east into the Bordeaux vineyards, stopping first Château Corbin for a tour and tasting of Bordeaux wines. We’ll have lunch in the medieval city of St. Emilion, after which we’re off to Château Belingard to learn about Monbazillac and Bergerac appellations. We end the day in Bergerac where we will have dinner at a local brasserie. Lodging is at Hôtel de France in Bergerac’s old town.

June 28 (Saturday), Rouffignac

Our tour of the greater Bordeaux region continues with a morning at Château Tiregand, which is known for its Pécharmant wines as well as for the family estate of the writer of Le Petit Prince. We then travel on to the Domaine de la Deymariegîte in Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin which will be our base for the next 6 days. You’ll have the afternoon to unpack and unwind. Dinner will be at the Montauriol restaurant in the village of Rouffignac.

June 29 (Sunday), Rouffignac

We’ll get an early start this morning to the small but diverse marché of Rouffignac where the first cooking group will shop for tonight’s dinner. Later in the morning, we’ll tour the Grotte de Rouffignac (the “100 mammoths cave”) to see Paleolithic engravings from the Magdalenian. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the escargot farm (Terre d’Escargots) of Jean Marc Guilemot before heading back to the gîte for an evening in.

June 30 (Monday), Rouffignac

Today’s theme is Magdalenian prehistory as we will spend the day at Les Eyzies to visit the world-renown polychromatic paintings of Font de Gaumeand the engravings of Combarelles, both of which date to around 14,000 years ago. Because tickets are no longer sold in advance and the number of visitors each day is limited to 80, we will “queue up” early in the morning to secure tickets.  We will also visit the Musée de la Préhistoire. There will be time to visit the shops of Les Eyzies and take in the morning marché. Tonight is Croque Monsieur night at the gîte

July 1 (Tuesday), Rouffignac

Today is Le Bugue’sbig marché day, so off we’ll go where tonight’s cook group will shop for provisions. For lunch, we’ll go to the extraordinary cliff village of Roque Gageac. As we head back to the gîte, we’ll stop in Beynac-et-Cazenac for photo ops.

July 2 (Wednesday), Rouffignac

Sarlat is a striking medieval city and thanks to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it has been beautifully restored.  We’ll spend the morning here in order for tonight’s cooking group to do the shopping. After lunch in Sarlat, we’ll visit Le Château de Puymartinon our way back to the gîte.

July 3 (Thursday), Rouffignac

Today we head to the east, stopping first at a walnut oil mill, Le Moulin de Maneyrol. After a picnic lunch, we’ll visit the chocolate museum of Chocolaterie Bovetti and later the Château et Jardins de Losse in Thonac. Dinner will be out in Rouffignac.

July 4 (Friday), Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne

We’ll pull up stakes early this morning and head east to the Lot and Quercy regions. First up: the medieval city of Rocamadour where you’ll have the morning to explore this spectacular city on your own. We’ll meet up for lunch before proceeding on to a truffle farm, La Ferme de la Truffe in Martel. Our stop for the night is the Auberge de la Jeunesse in the beautiful village of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne.

July 5 (Saturday), Brive-la-Gaillarde

You’ll have the morning to explore Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne on your own before meeting up for a picnic lunch. Afterwards, it’s time to grab your paddles as we visit the underground cave of Gouffre de Padirac by boat.  We’ll then head to our final destination, Brive-la-Gaillarde and a farewell dinner at La Truffe Noire.

July 6 (Sunday), Brive-la-Gaillarde

Program ends in Brive-la-Gaillarde. Au revoir!

Accommodations & Travel

We will be in hotels and one youth hostel for 5 of the 11 nights and at the Domaine de la Deymarie gîte (a villa if you were in Italy…) for 6 nights. The gîte has three houses, a pool, and expansive grounds. When we are at the gîte, we’ll eat at the house four nights. You’ll work in cooking groups to prepare a menu (within a set budget), shop the marché and cook for the whole group. Other nights, you will be either on clean up or “off.”  All breakfasts at the gîte are self-catering and you can anticipate a number of scenic picnic lunches.

While in Bordeaux, we will use the tram and bus service. Once leaving Bordeaux, we will travel in the comfort of minivans with 5 people per car.


The cost of this program is $3545 per person and includes lodging for 11 nights, all meals, excursion transportation (from Bordeaux to Brive-la-Gaillarde), entrance fees, course registration for Bio 101 and GLST 188 (6 units total), and Study Abroad FLP fees. Airfare to/from France not included. Space is limited to 12 participants.

Course Credit

This program fulfills two upper division (SJSU Studies) GE requirements – Area R and Area V. Instruction is in English – no prior knowledge of French is required. (Please note that you must have passed the WST prior to enrolling in the program.) Students will be required to complete some coursework prior to departure. Ask Dr. McGee for more information!

About Your Leaders

Elizabeth McGee and Arnaud Bergerol have been directing educational excursions to France since 2010. Dr. McGee is a professor of Biological Sciences at San Jose State University and specializes in ecology and evolution, both past and present. Her research has taken her to Madagascar, Spain and France. Mr. Bergerol was born and raised in France, and is fluent in French and English. He graduated from the University of Paris I (Panthéon‐Sorbonne) in Economics and Applied Foreign Languages, and has an MA in French from SJSU. Arnaud is interested in French food and culture in southwestern France.

For more information or an application, email Applications are now being accepted and this program fills quickly. We look forward to hearing from you!