Bask in the rich culture and romance of fascinating France on a tour that explores captivating Paris, picturesque Provence, historic Normandy and breathtaking Le Mont St. Michel. Delight in a 2-night stay in a stunning, renovated French abbey in the UNESCO World Heritage Loire Valley. Relish a tour of two of the Loire Valleys most famous castles Chteau du Chenonceau and Chteau du Clos Luce. Sip wine during a tour of a well-known winery in the medieval town of Chinon. Come to know the enchanting medieval walled city of Avignon during a walking tour and visit to the 14th-century papal palace. Discover and typical French market and learn about the lavender of Provence. Exciting experiences like a high-speed train ride through the French countryside and a spectacular evening river cruise on the Seine bring to life the joie de vivre of this fabulous country.
Day 1: Overnight Flight
Depart for a journey through France. Bask in the rich history, art, culture and romance of its celebrated cities and charming towns.
Day 2: Paris, France – Tour Begins
Your tour opens in beautiful Paris. Celebrate the beginning of a fabulous trip with a sunset river cruise past famous glittering landmarks along the River Seine, which divides the north from the south of Paris into what is known as the right bank and the left bank. Then, well head to one of Paris brasseries for a delightful French dinner. Enjoy sumptuous food and wine set amongst an Art Nouveau background reminiscent of the Jazz and Hemingway-era of Paris.
Day 3: Paris
Come to know the dramatic highlights of Paris your way by coach or by Metro! You may choose to take a splendid panoramic tour that includes a stop for a short walking tour inside the impressive Notre Dame Cathedral. Or, for a truly local experience, perhaps you will choose to join a guide who will take you to some of Paris most iconic sights by Metro. Either way youll see the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Champs-Elysees, Place de la Concorde, and the magnificent Place Vendome. Write your own story during a free afternoon. Perhaps you will choose to partake in an optional guided tour at the famous Louvre.
Day 4: Paris – Caen – Omaha Beach
Set off for the Normandy coast. During WWII, the largest invasion in history took place here. Enjoy an insightful visit to the Memorial Peace Museum, built to commemorate those who died in the epic battle of Normandy in 1944. Later, see the remains of the artificial Mulberry port built near Arromanche-les-Bains where the allies resupplied their lines during the liberation of France before making your way to the hotel.
Day 5: Huppain Port-en-Bessin – D-Day Landing Sites
This morning visit the Omaha Beach Cemetery with time to stop by the new interpretive center and see the stars and stripes raised over the graves of the valiant soldiers who gave their lives in the Battle of Normandy. Then, walk through Pointe du Hoc Ranger Memorial and see where the 2nd Ranger Battalion scaled 100-foot cliffs on D-Day to seize the fortified enemy position. Next, make your way to Sainte Mre Eglise, the heart of the American Airborne operations on D-Day, and visit its parachute-shaped Airborne Museum. You will also visit other landing beaches, such as Utah and Juno.
Day 6: Huppain Port-en-Bessin – Dinan – Saint-Malo
Travel back in history when you stand before the impressive UNESCO Bayeux Tapestry, a 230-foot embroidered cloth depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. Next, journey to Dinan, one of the best-preserved medieval villages in France. You choose your tour! Join a local guide for a walking tour along cobbled streets and discover the citys fortified walls. Or, you may choose to meet a local guide at the quaint port of Dinan, the entry point for resupplying the Duke of Dinan during the Hundred Years War, and walk up the famous Rue de Jerzuel hill to the town center. Either way, youll fall in love with the streets lined with half-timbered houses and the ramparts that overlook this picture-perfect port village. Then its off to Saint-Malo, Brittanys famous coastal village. Here youll be immersed in the beautiful beaches, striking blue water, and views of the fortified Old Town where youll enjoy a wonderfully prepared local dinner. Tonight, enjoy a dinner at a local bistro.
Day 7: Saint-Malo – Le Mont St. Michel – Saint-Malo
Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Le Mont St. Michel, the Wonder of the West. Resting on the border between Normandy and Brittany, this world-famous pilgrimage site sits on the edge of the sea and becomes an island at high tide. Take in the breathtaking views as you stroll through the old city at the base of the village before exploring one of the most beautiful abbeys in France, dating back to the 11th century. Return to Saint-Malo and enjoy time to relax or explore independently.
Day 8: Saint-Malo – Chinon – Fontevraud
Journey south to the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site brimming with chteaux and parks, once the setting for the French court. Arrive in the medieval village of Chinon set on the banks of the Vienne River. Visit the renowned Royal Fortress of Chinon where Joan of Arc first met young Charles VII and shared her vision that he would defeat the English during the Hundred Years War. Next, visit a local winery to discover some of Europes best Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc wines. This afternoon, check into your hotel within the magnificently renovated abbey of Fontevraud. Delve into the history of this site which was home to one of the largest orders in Europe during medieval times and serves as the final resting place of King Richard the Lionheart. Tonights dinner is set amongst flying buttresses, chiseled arches and ancient stone.
Day 9: Fontevraud – Amboise – Fontevraud
Embark on a tour of spectacular Chteau de Chenonceau, perched along the banks of the Cher River and a jewel of Renaissance architecture with stunning, traditional French gardens. Proceed to the picturesque center of Amboise. Enjoy free time for exploring and getting to know the local culture. Continue on for a tour of Chteau du Clos Luce where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last three years which showcases a display of his early inventions.
Day 10: Fontevraud – Paris – TGV Train – Avignon
Climb aboard the high speed TGV Train and fly through the French countryside on your way to Avignon, Provence. Upon arrival, come to know Avignon during an evening walking tour with a local resident. On your delightful tour of this walled city, discover its legacy of being the center of European religion for 70 years when the Papacy moved there in 1309. Then, explore some of the 25 rooms of the 14th-century papal palace, Palais des Papes, the largest Gothic palace in the world. Filled with priceless frescoes and home to nine Popes, the palace will amaze you.
Day 11: Avignon – LIsle-sur-la-Sorgue – Gordes – Avignon
Start your day with a visit to a colorful open-air market in LIsle-sur-la-Sorgue. Meet local artisans and discover traditional crafts, hand-made ceramics, and local foods like sausages, breads, cheeses and a vibrant bounty of freshly grown produce. Later, make your way through Luberon National Park before arriving in the picturesque hilltop village of Gordes. Feel like you have stepped back in time as you gaze upon its 16th-century chteau and scenic cobblestone streets. Continue on to the Lavender Museum to learn about this beloved flower, its unique distillation process and uses throughout history. Return to Avignon for a free afternoon before your farewell dinner at a local restaurant, complete with a cocktail reception and crme brulee demonstration.
Day 12: Avignon – Tour Ends