France La Belle Itinerary

(Paris, Burgundy, Lyon, Provence)

DAY 1: PARIS (D) Tour starts on a Tuesday

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.” Ernest Hemingway
Welcome to Paris, the city of Lights!
Situated on the River Seine, capital of France and one of the most popular destinations in the world, Paris has a lifetime of experiences to discover. It really is a city that does not need any introduction, whether you are here to see the famous landmarks or seek out the secret corners, Paris fulfills all your expectations, and still leaves you wanting more.

Enjoy a private transfer to your hotel and shake off your jet-lag by joining your tour manager on an orientation walk around your hotel and take some time to begin exploring this stunning city.
Your Travels with Audrey tour starts at 3:00 PM in the hotel lobby for a walk around the hotel area: Our hotel lobby is where the tour begins and where we all meet for an included Orientation walk around the hotel area and an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers.

INCLUDED WELCOME DINNER TONIGHT: In the evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner in a typical Parisian Brasserie.
Your Unique Small Group Tour Vacation of France is underway!
Overnight at Hotel Saint Dominique (or similar)

DAY 2: HALF-DAY GUIDED TOUR PARIS (B)

After breakfast, enjoy a half-day private walking tour with your local expert guide of Paris, to discover the Louvre; one of the largest palaces in the world, now one of its largest art museums, it is home to the Mona Lisa, the armless Venus de Milo, and some 400.000 works of art, 35.000 of which are on permanent display. You will also visit inside Notre Dame, “a symphony in stone” according to Victor Hugo. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is the historic, spiritual and geographic heart of Paris. Its foundation having been laid in 1163 by Pope Alexander III, its construction completed nearly two centuries later.

We also include a Metro Pass so you can easily explore Paris on your free time.
Afternoon at leisure to explore the many museums and wonderful sights that Paris has to offer or just sit at a café and watch the world go by!
Note: The sightseeing tour in Paris is predominantly done on foot. You’ll also take the Paris metro to get from one side of the city to another on this day. Those who have already visited the popular venues and sights of Paris, no worries. Please check with us on alternate options for today.

OPTIONAL DINNER TONIGHT-Enjoy dinner at your leisure tonight. You may opt to join your Tour Manager tonight for dinner or opt to explore on your own.
Overnight at Hotel Saint Dominique (or similar)

DAY 3: CHABLIS, VEZELAY (B-D)

This day involves some driving, but you will be entertained by the visits of the famous Chablis wine area and Vezelay basilica. Starting in the morning our train ride will take us to the town of Auxerre and the village of Chablis, the Golden door of Burgundy and one of the most famous white wine regions in the world, where you will experience wine tasting in a family owned winery.

After the visit and lunch at a local bistro, a short 1 hour drive takes you to Vezelay. The van can only park outside the village so the visit will be done on foot. It is a 15 min walk to reach the basilica. Vezelay’s St. Mary Magdalene basilica, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is a masterpiece of Romanesque art, an 11th century masterpiece of light and space. The Basilica Ste Madeleine (St Mary Magdalene) is the largest Romanesque church in France and only 10 yards shorter than the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Guarding the relics of St Mary Magdalen, Vezelay was a major medieval pilgrimage destination. It also saw the launch of the Second and Third Crusades.Enjoy an amazing view on the region from the top of the hill.

After a wonderful afternoon in Vezelay you complete the day at your evening's accommodations where you enjoy dinner together.
INCLUDED DINNER at Chateau de Vault de Lugny (or similar)
Overnight at Chateau de Vault de Lugny (or similar)

DAY 4: SEMUR EN AUXOIS, FLAVIGNY SUR OZERAIN, BEAUNE (B-D)

Today you have a full day full of great experiences on our drive to the town of Beaune, capital of Burgundy wines.
Traveling through pastoral landscapes, vineyards, wheat fields and canals, you will be exploring off the beaten path Burgundy, visiting the unspoiled villages of Semur-en-Auxois (a beautiful medieval town defended since the 10th century by a fortress flanked by four huge corner towers) and Flavigny-sur-Ozerain (a medieval village considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France and famous for its aniseed sweets production and visit its Carolingian Crypt).

Savor lunch at a traditional restaurant before continuing on our beautiful, country road drive to visit Chateau de Bussy-Robutin which offers an interesting insight into the decadent reign of the Sun King. The rolling hills of Burgundy gave birth to superior wine, fine cuisine, spicy mustard, sleepy villages smothered in luscious landscapes. This deceptively peaceful region witnessed Julius Caesar’s defeat of the Gauls and in the 14th century its powerful dukes controlled an immense area stretching north to Holland. This is a calm cultivated and serene region, where nature is as sophisticated as culture. Along with Bordeaux, Burgundy is why France is famous for wine.

From Chablis to Beaujolais, you will find great fruity reds, dry white and crisp roses. The 3 key grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay. The rural region also helped define classic French cuisine with dishes such as escargots (snails) and boeuf bourguignon (beef Burgundy).

Just outside of Beaune, in the Cote de Beaune wine area of Burgundy, a must do is exploring the villages and vineyards in the region, a delight. You will have a chance to enjoy the village of Aloxe Corton at the bottom of the Corton Hillside with a private wine tasting, before arriving at our hotel in Beaune for the next 2 nights. You will feel comfortable right away in this prosperous popular and perfect French little wine capital where life centers on the production and consumption of the Cote d’Or wines (gold coast).

INCLUDED DINNER: It is time to enjoy a wonderful dinner together with your fellow travelers on the famous local specialties!
Overnight at Belle Epoque (or similar)

DAY 5: BEAUNE (B) Saturday (market day and Wine!)

The historical 2000 year old town of Beaune, nestled between prestigious vineyards, is bursting with boutique shops, wine stores and fabulous French bistros.
This morning enjoy the wonderful local market. Browse the stalls and stores at your leisure.

After lunch, you will meet up with your tour manager for a tour of the Moutarderie to taste the famous mustard the area is known for.
Afterwards, just a few minutes outside of town enjoy wine tasting at one of the most famous addresses in the town of Pommard, on the Grand Crus Wine Road, the Golden Triangle of Burgundy’s Great wines, like Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. For more than 2000 years, the Burgundy region has been creating the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines in the world; experience a journey taking you in to the heart of the great vineyards of Burgundy and its mythic Grand Cru wines. Chateau de Pommard!
This prestigious and gorgeous large estate is one of the great names in the Côte de Beaune, both for its white and red wines and in particular, the Grand Vin du Château Pommard, produced from a legendary single vineyard within the appellation.
With a formidable history of quality wine production, Château de Pommard needs little introduction to Burgundian wine lovers.

OPTIONAL DINNER TONIGHT –Tonight for dinner you may explore on your own. Overnight at Hotel Belle Epoque (or similar)

DAY 6: LYON-GASTRONOMIC CAPITAL (B)

After breakfast, enjoy a visit to the Hospice of Beaune, a masterpiece of Flemish-influenced architecture which has become one of the famous emblems of Burgundy culture.

Today we drive down to Lyon through the hilly, rocky landscapes to the vineyards of the South of Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise, Maconnais (Pouilly-Fuissé) and Beaujolais. We will take a break for lunch in a local Domaine in the Beaujolais area.

Lyon: The silk trade flourished here in the 15th and 16th centuries and left behind Europe’s largest collection of Renaissance architecture in the historic quarter, called Vieux Lyon, where covered passageways (traboules) linked buildings and courtyards. Today it is a passion for food, not textiles, that defines France’s thirds largest city with more restaurants per square mile (more than 2000 in all) than any other European city except Paris.

Upon arrival in Lyon, you will have time after checking in to wander the city center’s narrow cobbled streets with your tour manager and jump on board the funicular up the Hill of Fourviere for a visit to the Basilica La Fourviere and incredible views of the city.

On your way back down into the city, enjoy dinner at a traditional bouchon (typical Lyonais restaurant) in the gourmet capital of France, soaking up the lively atmosphere.
OPTIONAL DINNER TONIGHT – Join us tonight for an optional dinner
Overnight at Cour des Loges (or similar)

DAY 7: PROVENCE (B-D) Arrival in Avignon and accommodations in Saint-Remy-de-Provence

Short train ride to Avignon where you will have a private transfer to your hotel (rooms might not be ready before 3:00 PM) and enjoy lunch in town before your afternoon orientation walk.

After lunch you will walk with your tour manager to the famous archaeological site, the City of Glanum, fascinating 1st century BC site which was settled by Celtic Ligurians, Greeks, and then the Romans. This is one of the largest and oldest archaeological sites in France.

After your visit of Glanum you will continue onto St. Paul de Mausole, the hospital where Dutch painter Van Gogh admitted himself as a patient after his “crisis” in Arles.  Vincent stayed here for more than a year. This was a prolific phase of Van Gogh’s career.  He completed over 150 paintings and drawing, including several of his room and the hospital buildings, “Starry Night”, and many different views of the surrounding landscapes.

After your visit to St. Paul de Mausole you will have the rest of the time to wander in town before having dinner with your fellow travelers. Saint-Remy-de-Provence is also the birthplace of Nostradamus. The once sleepy town has become chic and cosmopolitan, distilling the essence of "art de vivre" with its café society, restaurants, luxury food stores and interior design shops.
Still far removed from the brash modernity of the Cote d’Azur many visitors are attracted by the irresistible combination of sophisticated simplicity and top class restaurants.
Provence was where Rome first truly flexed its muscles so to speak. Follow Roman roads, cross Roman bridges, see Roman theaters and arenas.
You will discover that most of Provence’s Roman ruins are not ruins at all. Many are exceptionally well preserved, and some are also evocatively integrated into the modern city. With Provence’s amazing landscape as a backdrop, history never looked so good!

INCLUDED DINNER: a welcome gathering with an aperitif before dinner, perhaps a kir or a sweet Muscat
Overnight at Mas des Carassins (or similar)

DAY 8: LES BAUX and ARLES (B)

After a delicious breakfast your day starts with a visit to Arles, a walkable town noted for its narrow winding streets that inspired paintings and drawings by both Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Van Gogh produced a number of his works here, like the yellow café, hospital and Roman Ruins that all were an influence on his art. Also known for its rich historical heritage, here you have 2000 years of history to discover, part of the Roman Empire as early as the 2nd century BC. Your private walking tour with local expert guide will include the Roman Arena and the Roman Theatre, as well as walking in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh.

Why not enjoy the local specialty coffee after the tour, coffee with pastis? After lunch, a short drive will take you to Village of Les Baux de Provence, in the Alpilles Mountains (meaning baby Alps), a 1000 year old village, a Huguenot stronghold. The town rewards us with remarkable views and has been painstakingly restored boasting over 22 historical buildings. Les Baux is an extraordinary village that blends with the jagged spur of rock on which it is perched.  The dramatic scenery and historic ruins draw visitors from around the world.
Les Baux was once the seat of the most powerful (and fearsome!) lords of this region. Some claimed to have descended from the Magi king, Balthazar. Tour the chateau and ramparts, shop in artist ateliers and specialty boutiques. Sit on a café terrace overlooking the sheer cliffs and twisted rocks of the Val d’Enfer (Valley of Hell) which was the inspiration for Dante’s description of the Inferno.
The hilltop town is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France with oustanding medieval and renaissance heritage.

A special treat is the Carrieres de Lumieres, a stone quarry turned into an art gallery. This is a must see event. An outstanding display of art and lights projected onto towering white blocks of stone, creating a unique and dramatic work of art!

On your scenic way back to St Remy, complete the day with a visit of the Chateau Romanin Winery. Wine making at Château Romanin is based on biodynamic wine growing methods. This winery has a Templar theme due to it being built below the ruins of a 13th century Knights Templar Castle.  After our visit of the Domaine and the cave, we will have the opportunity to taste the different wines made at Chateau Romanin.  Purchase some wine to take with you and enjoy a glass in the gardens at the hotel!

OPTIONAL DINNER –choose from so many wonderful choices in town
Overnight at Mas des Carassins (or similar)

DAY 9: GOURMET PROVENCE (Market Wednesdays from 7 to 1 PM) (B)

Market day in St. Remy! Start the day at the beautiful Provencal market in Saint-Remy-de-Provence.  If you get up with the birds, you can watch the market setting up.  It’s really quite a sight to see…and hear and smell!  The artistry with which the vendors display their wares is amazing. You will find everything at this market from French music CDs, original paintings, clothes, lavender products, wine, honey, candy, toys, Provencal linens and crafts, as well as every conceivable food product of the region.  There is live music to be enjoyed throughout the market place.  Enjoy your morning and explore the town. The market ends around 12:30 PM, so don’t get there too late! You will be surprised at how much there is to see and do. Some of our customers like to purchase supplies for a picnic and return to the gardens of our inn.  This is a great way to share and taste many of the regional specialties.

Today you have the option to join a cooking class with a local chef, simply relax or wander through town. (please check with us on cooking class options and cost)
OPTIONAL DINNER TONIGHT –Join us tonight for an optional dinner or explore on your own.
Overnight at Mas des Carassins (or similar)

DAY 10 : AVIGNON AND POND DU GARD (B)

Today begins with a stunning classical icon – the mighty Pont du Gard Aqueduct. Built by the Romans in the 1st century, it is one of the region’s most famous landmarks. A three-level, 2,000-year-old aqueduct spanning the River Gardon, the Pont du Gard stands as testimony to the Romans’ amazing engineering skills and love of baths. Learn more about it as you walk the “pont” – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and visit its new museum.

Lunch at nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape – one of the country’s premier wine-growing regions – to celebrate the flavors of Provence and local wine.

Afternoon discovery of the 14th century city once home to seven consecutive Catholic popes, the Papal city of Avignon with a walking tour including the Palace of the Pope which dominates the historical center and the Benezet Bridge. Located on the left bank of the Rhone River, Avignon is best known for its fabled bridge and a treasury of magnificent art and medieval architecture. Its historic center is a Unesco World Heritage site.

OPTIONAL DINNER-Dinner is at your leisure tonight
Overnight at Mas des Carassins (or similar)

DAY 11 : EPICURIEN LUBERON (B

Today is about an amazing drive into the Luberon, land of Peter Mayle stories, to the hilltop village of Gordes, designated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Wander along the tiny streets which climb up between the tall houses to the fortified castle. You may wish to visit the Castle. Enjoy the panorama of the valley and mountains of Luberon, a region in Provence that offers a quintessentially French experience.

Enjoy lunch in one of the charming cafes. After lunch, make a stop at the famous Abbey de Senanque, founded in the 12th century and is till ended by a small community of Cistercian monks. The fields have the enviable reputation of being the most beautiful lavender fields in Provence, particularly from a photographer’s perspective. We will stop for a photo opportunity before moving on (mid-June through July only)

Next, you are off to Roussillon, which is listed as “one of the most beautiful villages of France” but looks completely different!   A village of intense color! Over 17 different shades of ochre tint the buildings in colors ranging from golden yellow to deep red.  Enjoy a short walk of the Ochre Trails (easy 30 minute walk). Wear good shoes and white is not recommended unless you want to change the color of your shoes!

On the way back to St Remy, enjoy a stop in Menerbes which author Peter Mayle made famous in “A year in Provence” and a commented visit of a Lavender Distillery.
Beautiful scenery all day!

OPTIONAL DINNER-enjoy dinner at your leisure this evening
Overnight at Mas des Carassins (or similar)

DAY 12 : AIX-EN-PROVENCE (B)

Today travel for your last 2 nights in Aix-en-Provence founded in 122BC and named for its thermal springs. Discover this charming, fashionable, aristocratic small city, once the capital of Provence, often referred to as the city of thousand fountains.
The old town of Aix-en-Provence has an interesting network of narrow streets and is particularly famous for its architecture and magnificent monuments. Cours Mirabeau is a wide boulevard planted with double rows of plane trees, bordered by fine home.
Along Cours Mirabeau is a famous café “Les Deux Garcons” (the two boys), the most famous in the city, built in 1792 and was frequented by the likes of Cezanne and Ernest Hemingway.

On the way to Aix-en-Provence we have a special treat for you: a visit to a truffle, olive oil farm!

Imagine great artists like Paul Cézanne at work amidst the spectrum of colors found in Provence as you view Mont Ste-Victoire and join your local guide on a private walking tour in the afternoon among the fountains, Cathedrale St Sauveur, squares and medieval center of lovely Aix-en-Provence. Follow the footsteps of post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne through his hometown today, visit his atelier where he painted until his death in 1906. See the landscapes he painted, the fields where local residents became his subjects, the views of Mont Sainte-Victoire that so inspired him and the studio where he worked.

OPTIONAL DINNER TONIGHT – Join us tonight for an optional dinner or explore on your own.
Overnight at Hotel M Gallery Roi Rene (or similar)

DAY 13 : CASSIS AND CALANQUES DAY (B-D)

A short drive takes you to Cassis where you will board a local boat for your 3 hour private boat ride of the famous Calanques. Bring your bathing suit (warm weather only)! These are small fjords, and the water is of an intense blue. For centuries artists have been drawn to the light in this part of France, particularly to the unspoiled beauty of nearby Cassis, one of the prettiest coastal towns and perhaps on the Riviera.
Cassis is most famous for Les Calanques: dramatic white cliffs with finger-shaped fjords and tableaux of sailboats, pristine beaches, and aquamarine waters.

Lunch in Cassis before returning to Aix-en-Provence for our last night together
Farewell Dinner Tonight: enjoy your last dinner together with your new friends, sharing the great memories of this vacation over a nice glass of wine and great food.
Overnight at Hotel M Gallery Roi Rene (or similar)

DAY 14 : DEPARTURE DAY (B)

Transfer to Marseille airport for your flight home (please contact us for pricing) If you wish to spend more time in the south of France and visit the French Riviera, we do offer an extension of 3 to 4 days. Please contact Travels with Audrey for more information.

“I so enjoyed spending time with you, and taking you on this wonderful journey in France. Looking forward to traveling with you again!”

If you are not planning on traveling to France during the dates of our tours but would like to see the regions we travel to with your own private group of friends or family, please contact us.

Note: Travels with Audrey has hand-picked an extensive list of quality properties across France and Italy and to ensure the very best experience on each of Audrey’s tours hotels may vary to those listed in this itinerary. The earlier a tour is reserved he better the chances of having the ones listed.

Audrey specializes in small group tours for mature travelers, providing guests with delights that excite the senses and that are genuine, intimate and unique experiences of France and Italy. With a balance of culture, food, wine and stunning natural and man-made landscapes, our tours capture everything that a guest would be looking for in an Italian or French experience. Audrey looks forward to meeting you and traveling with you and like-minded travelers.

Mobility: All Travels with Audrey’s tours involve lots of walking, standing for extended periods of time and requires guests to board and disembark vans several times a day making this tour not suitable for those with reduced mobility.

This tour can be offered as a private tour or a customized tour with the possibility of adding the famous Champagne region for 2 nights. Please contact Travels with Audrey for more information.

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