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Inspired in Nature: Forest Walk Playlist

What music do you listen to when you are out for a walk in nature? Mostly, we tend to listen to the trees around us or the rivers running or the birds whistling but a good forest walk playlist with the right beats can put a spring in your step.

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Here are some of our favourite songs to listen to when we are out in the forest:

It was hard to narrow this list down to the above but we finally managed. Do you have your own forest walk playlist? We would love to hear your favourite tunes for outdoor listening. Send them to us below and we will add them to the list.

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A European Mindful Escape to Slovenia

Discover the stunning landscapes of Slovenia on this one of a kind mindful adventure. Along the way you will discover the spectacular Julian Alps and meet the local food producers.

We have teamed up with local experts to provide design a once in a lifetime adventure that encompasses everything we love about travel: time to relax, time to explore, time to learn and time to taste the land.

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Did you know that Slovenia produces world class red wines on the slopes of the alps. Also, in Slovenia there is a long history of bee keepers and many households have their own, homemade honey. In a time when we are trying hard to get back to our roots and understand the nature and wildlife around us, Slovenia is a good place to learn how to bring nature into your everyday life.

10 REASONS TO VISIT SLOVENIA

  1. Relax and unwind at Lake Bled
  2. Over half of Slovenia is forest – Nature & Hiking lovers delight
  3. Visit the Fairytale castle in Ljubljana
  4. Taste traditional Foods like Kranjska Klobasa
  5. Enjoy the magical sunsets
  6. Explore the Caves
  7. Get friendly with the bees
  8. Nature is everywhere – Enjoy!
  9. A friendly, warm welcome awaits
  10. Sip the Local wines

On our 7 day adventure you will taste the honey, pick the flowers, visit the waterfalls, take a scenic train ride and tour an eco-village. Get in touch with us to learn more about this epic natural adventure in the heart of Slovenia. We promise you an unforgettable journey. SEE TOUR HERE

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6 Tasty Food & Foraging Experiences in Europe

At Orchardsnearme.com we only partner with the experts. From food filled adventures to local foraging experiences, each trip is designed to reflect the true landscape and production in a region. If you are a food and nature lover than there are some mouthwatering foraging experiences in Europe.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast

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We always start at home. As we are based in Ireland we can guarantee a fun time on this action packed food adventure. From coastal foraging along the Wild Atlantic Way to mountain walks to meeting the local historians, every activity on this excursion is unique.

WHEN TO GO: When you visit Ireland at any time of the year you can expect all four seasons in one. However, the tides do need to be considered when planning any coastal foraging adventure. We are planning expert guided tours for April and May 2020. If you want to organise a private group trip outside of these days please get in touch with us directly.

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Italian Foraging Experience

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Real foodies will be in heaven on this bespoke foraging experience. This day long tour is packed full of natures delights. You will enjoy learning about the wild produce of Italy, sample pasta making, taste the wines and meet the local experts.

WHEN TO GO: Italy can be extremely hot in the summer months so we are recommending the Spring and Autumn months for guided foraging adventures in Italy.

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Do Emporda Wine & Orchard Adventure

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The untouched beauty of Do Emporda region in Catalonia will leave you wanting more. From famous tapas to orchards bursting with fruits, this area is waiting to be discovered. Visit stunning apple orchards, taste the local wines and meet the fruit producers.

WHEN TO GO: Catalonia is blessed with the beautiful sea breeze from the Mediterranean. Even in the middle of summer if you are by the Costa Brava you should enjoy a nice summer temperature. Any month from March to September is good for this tasty adventure.

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A Taste of Slovenia: The Mountains are Calling

Untapped and ready to be explored, Slovenia is rich in nature, making the perfect partner for our team. From those who love to combine outdoor adventure and food filled trails, the Julian Alps is the perfect spot to sip the local wines and get a true taste of outdoor life.

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WHEN TO GO: There are snow capped peaks in the North west of Slovenia from December to March each year. From May to October you will enjoy warm weather and perfect conditions for getting outdoors, visiting the local food producers and experiencing the landscapes.

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Discover the Douro Valley

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Our friends in the Douro region of Northern Portugal are looking forward to welcoming you to one of the most famous wine regions in Europe. On this unique trip you will have the opportunity to visit an olive farm and several vineyards to get a true flavour of the land.

WHEN TO GO: The Douro Valley experiences warm summers and cold winters. From May to October you will enjoy sunshine, warm winds and the ideal months for witnessing the harvest activities of the region.

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A Taste of Croatia: Gourmet Adventure Break

Now renowned as the home of Game of Thrones, Croatia is a magical country to visit. From the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic coast to lush waterfalls of the interior, we will connect you with every aspect of nature. Truffles feature heavily in all aspects of this farm-to-table adventure.

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WHEN TO GO: From November to April many of the tourist accommodation and facilities close for the winter season. Between May and October you can expect dry, warm weather weather and lots of activity around all of the major towns.

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To book your next food filled adventure or learn more about the wonderful foraging experiences in Europe talk to a member of our team anytime.

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Sustainable Living: Get curious about your food!

Whether your concerned about using less energy, saving the trees or conserving water, sustainable living can help you to support these causes. Learning about the natural world around you can help you towards a more sustainable lifestyle. It is all about pairing back to basics and understanding that a simple life with less can have huge benefits on the environment and your mental health.

One way to take action is to learn about the foods you consume on a weekly basic. Think about what goes into your shopping basket. Do you know how many items are grown or produced locally? Can you tell the difference between organic produce and mass produced goods? Do you buy more food than you actually need and end up throwing out a lot of food at the end of a week?

Most of us do so don’t worry, we can take small steps to cut down on food waste and make our home more sustainable.

13 Steps Towards a Sustainable Living

  1. Grind the fruit and vegetable peels into delicious juices
  2. Repurpose jars and containers
  3. Spend time outdoors, learning about the wild produce around you
  4. Start composting at home
  5. Make homemade cleaning products (did you know that the acid in Lemons is antibacterial?)
  6. Limit the use of hot water
  7. Plant a tree with a friend
  8. Cut down on your meat intake
  9. Prepare home cooked meals with local ingredients
  10. Create a shopping list and try to stick to it
  11. Look for fairtrade symbols and certifications on products
  12. Choose ethical brands
  13. Research ingredients

There are plenty of ways that we can begin to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Our foraging tours will teach you about the wild plants and delicious herbs plucked straight from nature. Investing in life long learning is the perfect excuse to get outdoors, learn something new and give back to the community around you. If you are interested in developing your wild plant knowledge then you can download our Foragers Planner Pack and Herb Planner Pack to start recording your activities.

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Discover Europe: Guided Food Tours 2020

Join us on our Guided Food tours in Europe 2020. From foraging along the wild atlantic shorelines of Ireland to the breathtaking mountains of Northern Italy, we have chosen four exceptional foodie experiences to share with you.

Our guided tours are perfect for those looking to make friends and share a special food adventure with a like-minded group. From the moment you arrive you will be looked after by our expert local guide. Each tour includes: an expert guide, accommodation, transfers, local traditional meals and a foraging guide.

Each guided tour lasts between 4 to 5 days and caters for a maximum of 15 persons. Contact us at info@orchardsnearme.com to secure your place.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast

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One of our most popular foraging experiences is coastal foraging along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. On this guided foraging adventure we explore the Irish woodlands, taste delicious homemade dishes, discover wild herbs, learn about the history of Ireland and embark on a coastal foraging experience with our local expert guide. An added bonus is our five course tasting menu that will delight your senses.

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A Taste of Italy: Truffles and Trails

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Starting in the stunning village of Alba in the Piedmont region of Italy. Renowned for its famous white truffles, this area is rich in nature and will leave you with lifelong memories to cherish. Our local guides have the inside scoop on the food treasures and history of the area. Your taste buds will thank you when you indulge in some of the most delicious Italian dishes on this food filled adventure.

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A Taste of France: Cider and Cheese

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Fruit lovers rejoice in this fruit filled region of France. On this magical wellness retreat we will cycle alongside the fruit trail in Normandy, stopping by the castles and ancient ruins to sample the delicious local ciders and cheese along the way.

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A Taste of Portugal: Valleys and Vineyards

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Taking in the charming hilly streets of Porto and the epic views of the Douro Valley, this guided food adventure is ideal for those who want the perfect balance of city life and escapes to the countryside. Starting in the lively town of Porto and tasting the local pinchos is a treat before we embark on a unique journey to discover some of the best vineyards of the Douro with our expert local guides.

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To secure a place or learn more about any of our Guided Food Tours for 2020 please contact us at info@orchardsnearme.com

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Feeling a little down? 7 Ways Nature can Improve your Mood

We truly believe that getting back to nature and spending time outdoors is food for the soul. This is where our motto “GO TO GROW” comes from. We consider it part of our job to bring you a little closer to nature.

It is so easy to become wrapped up in the negative news that we find ourselves surrounded with today. The media constantly promotes the most glum stories from around the world, forcing us to latch on to doom and gloom in our everyday lives.

By removing ourselves from the chaotic push notifications and online opinion race we can give ourselves a chance to breathe in some fresh air and reflect on the positive things that make us a little happier.

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Here are 7 ways nature can help to improve your mood:

1. Restore Balance

Positive engagement with natural landscapes will make you sit back and see that imperfections can be wonderful when we embrace them. “In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful” Alice Walker has said it all with this quotation.

2. Reduce Feelings of Anxiety

We all get stressed sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead re-align your attention. Focusing on wild plants, the movements of small creatures and listening to fresh water running through a forest allows your mind to cool down and touch base with reality.

3. Absorb Natural Light

It is well documented that exposure to natural light is beneficial for your overall health. Sunlight releases Serotonin, a hormone that is associated with positive energy and clear thinking. The lack of sun is why some suffer with the winter blues.

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4. An Easy Path to Exercise

If you are like me and tend to avoid the gym then getting out into the woods is a real way to get some exercise. Whether you want a leisurely stroll in the woods or to increase your steps per day, being outdoors is the way to go. Better yet you can try an activity like fruit picking, hiking or foraging to get your heart pumping a little more.

5. Connect with the Natural World

These days it is easy to lose sight of the changes happening in the wilderness but when you go for a hike, cycle or spend anytime in the natural landscapes you can see the seasons change and admire the trees as they work their magic.

6. Improve problem solving

If you are suffering with a creative block than you may need to head for the hills. Spending time in the same position, same chair, same office, same environment isn’t going to help solve the problem arising in that very position. Remove yourself from a situation to look at it with another perspective. A walk in the woods can help to clear your mind and may lead to more creative thinking about a current problem that you are facing.

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7. Focus on one thing at a time

This is connected with mindful living and has become popular now that we are aware of our constant battle with the past and future. Why did that happen to me? What is in store for me in the future? Do these questions look familiar to you. We all ask them but what if we turned off for a short time and focused only on the present. We find that it is much easier to allow yourself to turn off when you are walking in a natural environment.

Don’t take our word for it, a researcher from a University in Canada has clinically proven the connection between our natural surroundings and personal well being.

Join us for a food or foraging adventure outdoors to learn more about our deep rooted connection with the land and get a taste of the wild goodness around you.

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Reconnecting with our food for Sustainable Living

With all of this talk of Climate change it is easy for media outlets and studies to play the blame game. However as we are all to blame isn’t it better if we begin to tackle the issues resulting in all of environmental destruction we see around us together.

We can’t go back in time to change our farming processes, our over reliance on the meat industry, our greed for fossil fuels and our refusal to see the signs from natural disasters around us but we can work towards a new value system.

I hate that sustainable living has become a buzz word today. We are all capable of getting back to nature and that is called living. Taking a walk in the woodlands, breathing in the fresh air, getting to know the plants around us and how our ancestors used those plants to feed themselves in the past is a sustainable way forward. If we reach into our childhood curiosity we can find creative solutions and abandon our over reliance on convenient produce that is contributing to the damages that we see in the environment today.

Foraging is one way that we can reconnect with the land. Taking all of it’s principles and building a brighter future.

A special UN and IPCC report on the impact of land management practices on our ever changing climate is significant. Food production, consumption and waste are three key areas that we must tackle to prevent further degradation of our landscapes. A collective approach is always best and we can by simply learning about the foods we eat and valuing where that food comes from. Here are five food choices that will help us to step away from materialism and towards sustainable living.

  1. Admire and Value Nature

It is easy to forget to stop and smell the roses. Many of us spend our days rushing from here to there or cramming into a train to get from A to B.

2. Enjoy your local farmers market

Visiting a local farmers market is always a treat. Not only does a market offer fresh produce and seasonal foods, it is a place that values community. Hang around, have a coffee, talk to the vendors and get some tips.

3. Love Fruit

Fruit is easy to ignore when you reach the supermarket because it is usually positionned right beside rows of carb deliciousness and shelves of nuts that call for our attention but never underestimate the juiciness of a Spanish orange. Organic fruit or freshly picked fruit is packed full of flavor and goodness.

4. Know where your food is coming from

Taking time to learn about where our food comes from may be the biggest way that we can contribute to the environment today. Picking is hard work. It is physically demanding and the hours are long if you plan on taking it up full time for the harvest season. Fruit picking is also one of the most rewarding ways to spend an afternoon and to witness and understand the intensive labor it takes to get your fruits to the market stalls.

5. Go Foraging with Friends

Last but certainly not least forage with friends. Joining a local or international foraging tour will open your eyes, give you plenty of food for thought and give you a taste of the last around you.

This is not an exhaustive list but rather some easy tips to start thinking about your daily food habits in a mindful way. We hope this gives you some food for thought and look forward to living closer with nature in a sustainable world.

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4 Wild Food Breaks for Autumn

Autumn is the time when the leaves start to dance. Colours of orange, red and brown mix with the deepest green to signal that a new season is here and everything is about to change. Taking a wild food break in Autumn can be a mouth-watering and eye opening experience.

The ground has spend the year soaking up with moisture and sun and now it is ready to shed its very best produce. From berries to nuts, the woodlands are alive with activity. Here are four delicious wild food breaks to enjoy in the Autumn:

A Taste of Ireland: Go Foraging with Friends

The Island of Ireland comes alive in the Autumn months.We offer a wide range of wild food day tours on our weekly foraging adventures but we also have a unique week long trip that brings you from coast to coast in Ireland. If you want to get a real taste of the Irish landscape we are here to help you make that dream possible. From foraging for cockles and mussels to creamy pints of Guinness join us in the Emerald Isle and get back to nature.

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Join the Truffle Hunters in Italy

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There is no better time to experience the fruits of Italy then in the Autumn months when the vines are heavy with grapes and the woodlands are stuffed full of mushrooms. Our foraging friends in Northern Italy know all of the secret locations to bring you Truffle hunting and give you a true taste of the Italian lifestyle. Pizza, pasta and shavings of fresh truffles, what more could you ask for on a foodie holiday.

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Sample the Grapes of the Douro Valley

Did you know that the Douro Valley is one of the most under rated wine regions in Europe. It is renowned for its vinho verde but it also has some crisp whites and reds for you to try out. The scenery in this area with leave you breathless. Grab a picnic and let our expert wine lovers guide you on the ultimate wine filled adventure.

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Soak up the sunshine in the Algarve

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Another region of Portugal where the sun always shines is the beautiful Algarve. In southern Portugal we can bask in the sunshine all year round. We will bring you on a wine making excursion that will give you life-long memories. This is suitable for groups of up to 10 people. Learn about the local food traditions and how to make your very own vino in the heart of Europe’s most stunning landscapes.

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For more information on any of our wild food experiences for Autumn please contact one of our travel experts.

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Switching off from work, Switching on to Nature!

Nowadays we know that everyone is living extra busy lives. Everyday we are bombarded with choices. It can start in the morning in your local coffee shop; what coffee will you choose? Latte, flat white, americano? In every decision we have to take there are so many options presented to us that it can seem overwhelming. If this sounds like you then there is a solution. Take time out in the natural landscapes around you.

Leave your phone in your bag or even at home, put on your walking shoes and make your way to the nearby mountains. Not only does it force you to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, it also gives you freedom and time to let your creative juices flow. Not all good ideas come whilst you are sitting at the desk! A change of environment could be just what you need to stir up your imagination.

Let’s spend some time in nature, learning about the ancient outdoor food traditions that still exist today. Before the arrival of commercial farming we relied heavily on these foraging and food picking techniques to provide us with our weekly dose of nutrients.

Collecting Peri-winkles by the Seashore

Middens containing large deposits of winkles, cockles and whelks dating back to the bronze age can be found on the coast of the Wild Atlantic Way. Our ancestors certainly knew a thing or two about foraging. Today, the tradition of collecting shellfish is passed down from one generation to the next, making it a major part of our childhood memories. Join us for a Taste of Ireland on our Coast to Coast foraging adventure.

Truffle Hunting in the Italian Hills

Poet Cicero called truffles earths offspring and it is no wonder why. These treasured foods are hidden beneath the earth. In the 1700s hunting for the beloved truffle became popular in Italy. The Truffle is celebrated with festivals throughout Italy and chefs today consider them some of the most prized foods for their dishes. Hunt for luxurious truffles in Northern Italy.

Pear Cider Making in France

Early Normans in France opted to drink cider as the grapes didn’t grow well in the cooler Normandy climate. Many french people drank cider instead of water when a plague struck the region in the 1400’s. The Pays d’Auge region in Normandy today has a famous Cider route where you can drive from farm to farm tasting delicious varieties. Discovering the poirés ciders is an amazing way to learn about traditional farming and how the French public produce these tasty drinks. Book this pear cider experience today.

Grape picking in the Douro Valley

Grape pips from 4000 B.C. have been found in archaelogical sites from the Douro Valley. This area is devoted to producing some of Europe’s most delicious wines in the most spectacular landscapes. The terraced vineyards of the Douro region are a UNESCO listed heritage site and will leave you with a lifelong appreciation for wine production in Portugal. Join a Guided Douro Valley experience today. 

Mushroom Hunting in Hardwood Forests of Europe

The tradition of mushroom hunting (mushroom foraging) has been passed down through from one generation to the next. As well as a fascinating number of species, mushrooms are a treat for the table. Fungi of all sorts (button mushrooms, gentle puffballs, famous chanterelles and delicious Cep mushrooms are just four of over 38,000 varieties of fungi that have been recorded around the world. As well as a fascinating history like the Siberian shamans consuming the deadly fly agaric hallucengenic mushrooms during religious ceremonies, mushroom picking is often stirs up a nostalgic feeling. Join us to explore the world of mushrooms on a foraging experience in Ireland

There is so much on offer from the landscapes around us if we take time to listen, look and learn. Ready for your next food adventure. Let’s go!

For more information on any of the above experiences that encourage us to switch off please contact one of our travel team.

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5 Amazing European Food Adventures for Summer

From culinary treats to wine enthusiasts to local foods, we have put together our list of top food adventures for food and nature lovers.

Europe is full to the brim of exciting foods to try. From the vineyards of Italy to the shellfish on the Wild Atlantic Way, every food tour is unique and bursting with flavours.

Treat yourself to a taste of Europe with these amazing food adventures for summer time.

A Taste of Ireland: Coast to Coast Food Experience
Find yourself rambling along the Wild Atlantic Way to get a taste of the stunning landscapes of Ireland on this 5 day foodie experience. The sheep will greet you as you discover the green landscapes and walk the coastal tracks in some of the most peaceful locations on the Island. Get a taste of the Craic agus Cheoil, stopping into the local pub along the way. This tour is ideal for small groups and we guarantee that you will learn a thing or two from the local foraging experts before you finish.

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Hunting for Truffles in Northern Italy
A perfect combination of romance and luxury, this Italian tour will enlighten your taste palette. Starting in Alba, renowned for it’s world famous white truffles, you will join the local food experts as we hunt for truffles in the lush countryside of Italy. Finish each day with a traditional meal and enjoy a slice of luxury with this unique tour. If you are a pizza, pasta or wine enthusiast than this is the perfect foodie experience for you.

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Wine tasting and Wine Making in the Algarve, Portugal

From breathtaking beaches to walking by the cliff edges, the Algarve is one of our favourite sun soaked locations in Europe. The natural landscape remains relatively untouched and there is a distinct feel of local pride for everything that the region has to offer. Sample the local wines, learn the skills of wine making and taste the famous bacalau.

Discover the delights of the Douro Valley

Northern Portugal is packed full of wonderful foodie treats. On this unique food adventure you will get to taste the grapes, sample the wines and try delicious local cuisine in the famous Douro Valley region.

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A Food Filled adventure in Burgundy, France

On this foodie experience you will team up with local wine and foraging experts. They will teach you how to hunt for truffles and you will have the chance to sample the rich, local wines. Visit the magical city of Dijon int the heart of Burgundy where you can taste the best local dishes in Michelin starred Pre aux Clercs Restaurant. You can also visit the Fontenay Abbey and the spectacular Chateau Ancy-le-Franc. You are in a country rich in history so be sure to soak in the past.

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For more information about any of our food filled adventures please contact one of our travel specialists.

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