AU$7,699 Per Person
- Tour TypeCoach TourEscorted Tour
- Duration16 Days/15 Nights
- ThemeHistory & culture
- Tour CodeALB-18-5181
- Tour HighlightsAccommodation Accommodation includedTours Visit chateaux and historic monuments.Meals Daily buffet breakfast & 11 dinnersAdmission All entrance fees includedEscorted tour Experienced private English speaking guideInclusion Free WiFi available on most coaches and at hotelsInclusion Inclusive touring (no optional extras)Inclusion Longer staysInclusion Small group size (22-28 pax)Tours Escorted tours of Loire Valley, Sarlat in Dordogne, Nimes in Provence & Nice in French RivieraTransportation Air-conditioned touring coachDrink Welcome drink
Five of France’s seductive regions… the graceful chateaux of the Loire Valley, the glorious Dordogne, the land of the Cathars in the Languedoc Roussillon, to ancient Provence and the stunning Cote d’Azur. Wonderful experiences… the Canal di Midi, the incredible caves of Gouffre de Padirac and afternoon tea in Rothschild’s luxuriant Villa Ephrussi.
2018 Departure Dates
Start Date End Date 2 May 2018 17 May 2018 16 May 2018 31 May 2018 13 June 2018 28 June 2018 22 August 2018 6 September 2018 12 September 2018 27 September 2018
Day 1, Paris to Tours
After meeting your Tour Manager we board our coach and make our way south-west to the verdant Loire Valley where,during the 15th and 16th centuries, the Kings of France and their courtiers created their grand holiday palaces.What better way to be introduced to the wonderful Loire Valley than our afternoon stop at Chambord to view the magnificentchâteau. This enormous château was created by King Francois I as a hunting lodge within the surrounding grounds, which consisted of over 5000 wooded hectares. Later we continue to our hotel in Tours where we spend the next three wonderful nights. This evening we enjoy a welcome drink before dinner in our hotel. (D)
Your Loire Valley hotel – Clarion Hotel Château Belmont. The chateau hotel is located close to Tours old town, guests are welcomed by a grand building (we would rather not describe it as a château) set in 6 acres of manicured parklands. The hotel features a heated swimming pool, bar, restaurant and all rooms feature modern amenities amongst an elegant design.
Day 2, Amboise and Tours
This morning, we enjoy a visit to the magnificent Château Chenonceau, spanning the River Cher on a series of graceful arches. Possibly one of the most photographed of the Loire châteaux this was the former home of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. Explore the stunning gardens and interior of the château. Later we stop to explore the charming riverside town of Amboise, on the banks of the River Loire, with its Royal Palace, where Leonardo da Vinci once lived as a guest of King Francois I. We have included a visit to da Vinci’s residence – Château du Clos Lucé.Here in the underground rooms you will see on display, forty machines designed by this amazing inventor.
This evening will be free in the old town of Tours around Place Plumereau,to discover your own provincial bistro for dinner. (B)
Day 3, Fontevraud, Chinon & ChâteauVillandry
Our first stop of the day will be a guided visit of the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. The romanesque abbey church with its royal tombs and the renaissance cloister, have all been beautifully restored and the complex is now a museum and cultural centre.
Lunchtime will be spent exploring Chinon,with its massive castle looming over the narrow cobbled streets of this riverside town. In the afternoon we will visit the gardens of Château Villandry. Inspired by the classic gardens of the 16th and 18th century, different levels of the gardens include ponds, topiary, ornamental hedges and an extraordinary kitchen garden covering 12,500 square metres.Dinner tonight is in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 4, Oradour-sur-Glane and Lascaux
This morning, we make a poignant visit to the ‘ghost village’of Oradour-sur-Glane. In June 1944, without apparent provocation, soldiers from the 2nd Waffen-SS PanzerDivision massacred all the inhabitants of this quiet,little village. The village was then destroyed. The village was never rebuilt and has been preserved as a memorial to this awful atrocity. We have included entrance with audio guides to the museum ‘Centre de la memoire d’Oradour’. Later, we will continue to Lascaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its magnificent Palaeolithic cave paintings.Whilst the actual caves themselves are now closed to the public, we visit the nearby Lascaux IV museum to see the superb replicas of the cave paintings found in the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery.
As a finalé,we continue to the Dordogne Valley with its sleepy villages,medieval châteaux, meandering rivers and lush landscape that so epitomises French rural life. We stay the next three nights in the perfectly preserved Sarlat la Canéda, one of the most stunning towns in France. (B, D)
Your Dordogne hotel –Hotel de Selves.This contemporary 4-star hotel is situated just a ten minute walk from the medieval district. The hotel is set around beautiful gardens,large terraces and a swimming pool, guest rooms are decorated in a contemporary style and feature high quality services and offer modern comforts.
Day 5, Sarlat, River Dordogne Cruise and picturesque Domme
A guide joins us for the whole day. First we explore the medieval, architectural time capsule village of Sarlat. Noted for its gourmet food, cheeses, pâté and foie gras, Sarlat is also famous for its beautifully preserved old town with its caféfilled squares and delightful stone alleyways. In the afternoon, we will drive to the nearby village of La Roc Gageac, set beside the pretty Dordogne River. Here we will board a barge and drift slowly down the River Dordogne past medieval castles.
Later, we visit the incredibly picturesque village of Domme. We have included a ride on the petit train up through the ramparts to the town square. You will have time at leisure to explore the sleepy village and enjoy the sweeping views across the Dordogne Valley. (B)
Day 6, Rocamadour and Gouffre de Padirac Caves
This morning, we will visit the ‘pilgrimage town’ ofRocamadour. Incredibly picturesque, this town sits on a tributary of the Dordogne. High above the old town are churches and monastic buildings, whilst below is an old town dating back centuries, and which once welcomed those on the ‘Pilgrims Trail’.
In the afternoon, we change our focus fromman’s creations to that of nature, as we enjoy a guided visitthrough the astounding caves of the ‘Gouffre de Padirac’. This25 kilometre underground system boasts massive galleriesand chambers. A visual feast and beautifully lit, we alsoexperience a 500 metre boat ride inside the caves to emergeinto the spectacular ‘Grand Dome’. Tonight, in Sarlat, we enjoydinner in local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 7, ‘My Time’ in vibrant Toulouseand Couiza
Today, we visit the vibrant city of Toulouse. Set on thebanks of the Garonne River, this beautiful city is nicknamed‘La Ville Rose’ or Pink City, due to the extensive use ofterracotta bricks and tiles. Your time will be at leisure inthe magnificent main square flanked by the 120 metre longfaçade of the ‘Capitole’ – a grand 18th century town hallfronted with pink and white marble columns. Make sure youspend time wandering amongst the shops and pavementcafés of the Vieux Quartier (Old Quarter).
We now enter the land of the Cathars, in the lovely LanguedocRoussillon region. Here, in the village of Couiza we stay threenights in the wonderful 16th century, castle style, Château desDucs de Joyeuse. Dinner is included in your château. (B, D)
Your Langeudoc hotel – Châteaudes Ducs de Joyeuse.Dating back nearly 500 years this ‘castle
château’ was built following the wedding and merging of two prominent families, the Voisin family and the Dukes of Joyeuse. Today it is an elegant castle hotel, with Renaissance style furniture and a wonderful central courtyard where you can take breakfast. There is a medieval style restaurant and the old chapel has been turned into a wine cellar.
Day 8, Old town of Carcassonne and Couiza
This morning, we are joined by a local guide as we explorethe ramparts and old town of Carcassonne. The medievalcastle, with its gigantic double walled fortifications and 53 watchtowers, is the 2nd most visited site in France outsideof Paris. Dating back to the 13th century, Carcassonne isan extraordinary timepiece and after our guided tour wehave quality time to explore this magnificent castle city.
Mid-afternoon we return to our château hotel to relax andenjoy our delightful surroundings. Here we can try our handat Pétanque (Boules), the traditional French village sport.Playing Pétanque in front of our 500 year old château – thisis the real France at its very best! Dinner tonight will be in thevillage at the traditional bistro, Le Carnotzet. (B, D)
Day 9, Beautiful Mirepoix andRennes-le-Château
A leisurely start today as we head across the vine covered hillsto enjoy lunchtime in the perfectly preserved time capsuleof Mirepoix. Without doubt this is one of the most beautifulmedieval town squares in Europe, with its colourfullypainted, half-timbered houses that date back to between the13th and 15th centuries. Sitting atop centuries old woodenrafters carved at the ends with monsters, animals andgargoyles, these rows of shuttered houses provide shadycovered walkways for cafés and shops. In the afternoon wewill visit the Bérenger Saunière Museum and Domain in thenearby hilltop village of Rennes-le-Château. This villageand its church are famous for so many conspiracy theoriessurrounding the treasures of the Knights Templars, thesecret location of the Holy Grail and even the remains ofJesus and Mary Magdalene.
Early evening we will assemblein our Château’s old vaulted hapel to enjoy a tasting of theexcellent local wines, before dinner. (B, D)
Day 10, Canal du Midi and Aigues-Mortes
This morning, we take a scenic drive past the dramatic,mountain perched, ruined Cathar castles of Puilaurens and Quéribus and then on to the outskirts of Béziers where we stop to marvel at the Ecluses de Fonserannes, a unique staircase of locks on the Canal du Midi. Created in the mid19th century, and still working perfectly, these seven wooden locks stretch over 300 metres and raise the leisure boats and cruisers up over 21 metres. An extraordinary engineering feat!
Later, we will drive into the famous Camargue region and enjoy a visit to Aigues-Mortes. The 13th century walls of this historical town form a striking contrast to the vast
salines (salt flats) that encircle it. Take the chance to climb the ramparts and walk around the city. Later we continue to medieval Avignon, beside the River Rhone,where we stay three nights. (B, D)
Your Avignon hotel –Cloitre Saint Louis.Once a 16th century monastery, this historic 4 star hotel is centred around the vaulted archways and ceilings of its ‘Cloitre’ or ‘Cloister’. Located on a quiet side street inside the old city walls, the Saint Louis,is well located just 50 metres from Avignon’s main Rue de la Republique with all the sights within an easy walking distance.
Day 11, Nimes, Pont du Gard and Avignon
Today, we visit Nimes, where a local guide will join us for a walking tour of this remarkable city. Dating back to the bronze age, the central part is traffic free and right in the middle you will find the Maison Carrée Roman temple, and the giant Arena of Nimes – the best preserved amphitheatre in the Roman Empire.
On our way back to Avignon this afternoon,we have included a visit to walk across the spectacular Pont du Gard – an imposing 2000 year old Roman aqueduct which was built with giant stones weighing up to six tonnes. In a beautiful setting, this remarkable structure spans 200 metres between the craggy hillsides of the River Gard.
Your evening is free to discover your own little restaurant or bistro in Avignon’s old town. (B)
Day 12, ‘My Time’ in Avignon, Les Bauxand St Remy
A leisurely morning in Avignon. Do as much or as little as you wish. Mid afternoon we journey to the crumbling castle and once deserted village of Les Baux to discover the craft shopsand cafés scattered throughout the ruins. Set on the craggy hillside, this rejuvenated town is an extraordinary sight. We have also included entrance to enjoy a stunning audio visual art show – the Carrières de Lumières. Inside an abandoned quarry you will have a totally unique sound and vision experience as classic works of art are projected as massive fresco all around you, onto the walls and ceilings. We then continue to the romantic town of St Remy to explore and enjoy a special Provençal dinner in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 13, Cassis, Calanques Cruise and Nice
First stop today will be in the old fishing village of Cassis,on the Côte d’Azur. From here we enjoy a morning cruise to explore some of the incredibly picturesque Calanques.These rugged inlets with steep cliffs tumbling into the crystal clear, azure waters are best viewed by boat. Lunchtime will be at leisure in the picturesque harbour of Cassis. Later we continue to Nice, nicknamed the ‘Queen of the Riviera’,where we stay the next three nights. Dinner tonight is included in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Your Nice hotel –Hotel Beau Rivage.This 4-star boutique hotel with a contemporary design is centrally located in the Old Town of Nice, just a stone’s throw from the sea and Promenade des Anglais and offers style, quality and warm, friendly service.The air conditioned guest rooms have modern en suite bathrooms with amenities.
Day 14, Grasse, Cannes and Monaco
First stop this morning will be in the hill town of Grasse where we will enjoy a visit to a local perfumery. Then, dropping down to the coast, we will stop in the extravagant seaside resort of Cannes. Famous for its movie stars and the Cannes Film Festival, we have time to explore the old port town and ‘LaCroisette’ – the seafront promenade lined with palm trees,upmarket boutiques, cafés and grand hotels.
Late afternoon, we have also included an excursion to Monaco. Following the scenic drive along the ‘Moyenne Corniche’ to the city of Monte Carlo we will see the Royal Palace before time in the old town to enjoy dinner at leisure. (B)
Day 15, ‘My Time’ in Nice, Villa Ephrussi and St Paul de Vence
Your morning is entirely free in the elegant resort town of Nice. Take time to stroll and shop amongst the windingstreets and perhaps enjoy lunch in one of the attractive seaside restaurants. Nice also boasts a number of art museums. Make sure you visit the wonderful fresh food, local produce and flower markets which are amongst the best in France!
In the afternoon, we will visit Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat and the fabulous Villa Ephrussi – home of the Rothschild family.We have included a tour through this exceptional villa, perhaps the grandest on the Côte d’Azur, to see Béatrice Ephrussi’s grand apartments, tapestry and porcelain collections, and the magnificent gardens. We have also included afternoon tea in the restaurant, which boasts enormous views along the Azure Coast. As a finalé, we will drive in to the foothills of the Alpes Maritimes to the old town of St Paul de Vence. With its imposing ramparts, overlooking the Provençal countryside,the wonderful natural light attracted an artists’ colony. Soon they were followed by film directors and movie stars,then galleries and shops. We enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 16, Nice on the Côte d’Azur
Your tour ends today after breakfast. (B)
- Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
- Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
- 15 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
- Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
- Breakfast daily (B)
- 11 dinners including welcome dinner, and 6 local restaurant dinners in Loire Valley, Dordogne, Couiza, St Remy, Nice and farewell dinner in St Paul de Vence (D)
- Welcome drink Loire Valley
- All excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
- Barge cruise Dordogne, cruises Canal du Midi and the Calanques, Villa Ephrussi afternoon tea
- Local guides as described in the itinerary
- Personal audio system whilst on tour
- Free WiFi available on most coaches and at hotels
- End of tour tips to Tour Manager and Driver, tips for local guides
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