Building on the success of three previous “Gastronomique” tours of France, Marco Islanders Denis and Lisa Meurgue recently returned from their fourth Gallic wining and dining pilgrimage.

While the 10-day trip was naturally all about fine wine and classic French cuisine, the 20-strong group also enjoyed plenty of sightseeing with a difference – including visiting parks, vineyards, cellars and some of the more traditional tourist attractions.

The Meurgues are career-long restaurateurs – they previously owned Island Café, and now run Bistro Soleil and Petit Soleil at Old Marco – so are able to immerse tour guests more personally in the experience.

And, it helps in no small way that Denis Meurgue is French-born, and his wife completely fluent in the language.

“Denis and I worked with a travel agent in France for the itinerary, but Denis chose the menus so there would be a variety of food and try things we necessarily don’t have in the States,” she said. “And, he chose a lot of the wines for each meal.

“A woman from a vineyard where we at lunch in a cellar told us something that has stayed with me,” Lisa Meurgue said. “She said ‘wine is not to be drunk, but to be discovered.’ The day we spent with her was unforgettable. You cannot put it into words, you have to experience it first-hand.”

Previous gastronomique trips to France embraced the Champagne/Alsace regions (two in a row), and the Burgundy region.

The Meurgues plan to take in the Bordeaux region in 2016.

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