Arrive London... and become a detective
Tour begins: 3:30 PM, The Langham, London. A transfer is included from Heathrow Airport or Gatwick Airport to The Langham, London, a five-star luxury hotel in the heart of the city not far from Oxford Street. The Langham was Europe's first grand hotel when it opened in 1865, and has remained a favorite of royalty, dignitaries and celebrities ever since. Settle in, then start off your London, Paris, Rome adventure with a walking tour along Regent Street, one of the city's most exciting and fashionable shopping districts. There's more here than meets the eye, as you'll discover in a game of detection that tests your powers of observation and deductive reasoning. Spot visual clues in the neighborhood and pick up points along the way as you try to beat the clock and find the clues, to solve a mystery that involves time-traveling detectives, Sherlock Holmes, and ultimately, the Tardis of Dr. Who. Arrive at the BBC Broadcasting House for the final piece of the puzzle; can you break the code that opens the strongbox with the secret inside? The BBC is one of the most advanced broadcast and production centers in the world, where TV news and entertainment shows are made. Return to the hotel for a welcome reception that includes a tea party for kids (in fact, the Langham is thought to be the birthplace of the Victorian afternoon tea tradition, serving tea to the cream of London society since 1865!) and a welcome dinner.
Harry Potter... and the infamous Tower
Begin a full day of sightseeing with a Harry Potter-themed tour that includes a very special feature: Hogwarts has lent us the Knightbus for a few hours (the bus that comes to the rescue of stranded wizards) for an inside look at Harry Potter's secret London. On board will be games, quizzes, and entertainment, but keep your wands and spells at the ready: you never know when the Dark Forces may appear... Your wizard adventure ends at the infamous Tower of London, the medieval castle and fortress where, back in the day, traitors to the king were imprisoned (and sometimes lost their heads). Meet the colorful guards known as Beefeaters on a guided tour that includes the Crown Jewels, the armory of antique weapons, and Traitors Gate as you learn the fascinating history of the "Bloody Tower," steeped in ghost stories and legends. Following lunch at the Tower, return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure. This evening, get a taste of another English tradition when you dine at the Iron Duke in Mayfair, a traditional London pub.
A uniquely guided tour aboard the London Eye, and a walk through Southwark
Go soaring over the city on the London Eye, one of the world's largest observation wheels. From your private capsule, on a clear day, you can see 30 miles in all directions, taking in all the glorious sights of London in one go. Feet back on the ground, a walking tour reveals London "now and then," including a look at William Shakespeare in London. The walking tour takes you to Borough Market in Southwark, one of the largest and oldest food markets in the city. Sometimes called "London's Larder," its colorful market stalls are a haven for chefs, restaurateurs and connoisseurs, offering produce and artisan foods from all over the world, where time at leisure just might include a gourmet sandwich (and maybe recall a scene from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was filmed here). Return to the hotel, where the afternoon and evening are free.
Eurostar to Paris and a River Seine cruise
The next stop on your family's London, Paris, Rome adventure begins at St. Pancras Station, the photogenic rail terminal that's been featured in the Harry Potter movies - Platform 9¾ is preserved as a permanent tribute. That's not your boarding area today, however; instead, settle into your seat aboard the Eurostar for a ride under the English Channel - you'll arrive in Paris in just a little over two hours. Get a closeup look at the city from a boat cruise on the River Seine, then enjoy dinner at Restaurant Champeaux, chef Alain Ducasse's new "brasserie for the 21st century" in Paris' Forum des Halles. Your hotel for the next three nights is the legendary Hotel Barrière Le Fouquet's Paris - enjoy one of the best addresses in the city, just a short distance from the Arc de Triomphe, between Avenue George V and the Champs-Elysées.
Museé du Louvre and a special evening of "chocolat"...
The vast building known as Musée du Louvre was the king's residence in Paris until 1682, when Louis XIV built himself a new palace at Versailles and left the Louvre to house his royal art collection. The collection was confiscated after the French Revolution, and the Louvre opened to the public as a museum in 1793. Today, it is the most visited museum in the world, with 70,000 works of art and archaeological treasures in 650,000 square feet of gallery space, including priceless, world-famous paintings like The Mona Lisa. You'll become familiar with some of them this morning on a scavenger hunt through the museum's maze of galleries; a mystery must be solved, and the clues are hidden in plain sight among the art on display. The rest of the morning and afternoon are yours to spend as you please, perhaps visiting some of the other museums close by. Late in the afternoon, you'll visit the iconic Eiffel Tower (including a trip to the top), before an early dinner at a local Parisian restaurant. But be sure to leave some room for dessert... because your next stop this evening is a Tauck Exclusive - a private visit to the shop of a renowned chocolatier, where they mastermind and craft some of the city's most exquisite chocolate and caramel creations. You'll have your own opportunity to create some "chocolate art" - and of course do some tasting (while parents enjoy a glass of wine)!
Experiencing life at the "Château"
Leave your hotel for a trip outside the city to the opulent Château Vaux Le Vicomte, built by in the 15th century by Nicolas Fouquet, superintendent of finances for the court of Lous XIV. The castle was built to impress, with its dazzling interior and formidable exterior (surrounded by a moat) and its lavish garden, stretching nearly a mile and a half. Here you will discover a royal tale unlike any other... because for the unfortunate Fouquet, the grandeur was short-lived. He threw a spectacular party at the château in honor of the king - and when Louis saw the luxury Fouquet lived in, he suspected his underling was embezzling from the treasury... and threw him in prison. Louis XIV then hired Fouquet's architects to build him an even bigger, more spectacular residence... the palace at Versailles. Get an inside look at Fouquet's lair and learn more about its history on a guided tour of the castle and its garden; younger visitors tour in period costume, and learn about what life was like for children in Louis XIV's court. Lunch at a restaurant on the grounds before returning to your Paris hotel for an evening spent as you please.
Fly to Italy... and go truffle hunting in Umbria
A morning flight from Paris lands you in Rome, and from there you'll journey to the pastoral landscapes of Umbria in central Italy. En route, contemplate the answer to this question: What is the most expensive food in the world? Would you believe it is a somewhat rare, pungent fungus that grows wild under the hills of Umbria, and is hunted and dug out of the ground by specially trained dogs? You are about to become acquainted with truffles (or in Italian, tartufo), a delicacy that is an indispensable ingredient in Umbrian cuisine, and a special prize to chefs and gourmets around the world. Truffles are not only pricey but perishable: they begin to lose their flavor once out of the ground, and must be flown as soon as possible to high-end restaurants in Europe and the United States (where the addition of fresh truffles can raise the price of a hamburger to hundreds of dollars). You'll soon discover why truffles are so valuable on a visit to a farm San Pietro al Pettine, where you'll enjoy a truffle-hunting demonstration and a tasting, plus an early dinner at the family-run farm which is one of the major purveyors of truffles and truffle products in Italy. Then you're off to the hills in competing groups to hunt the elusive fungi yourself, accompanied by the trained dogs to sniff them out. In olden days, pigs were used for their keen sense of smell... but, unfortunately, the pigs had to be replaced as they would eat the truffles as soon as they found them... Return from the hunt with your prizes and continue on to your lovely hotel in the town of Gubbio, perched on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Your hotel is elegant and unique in design, having formerly been a medieval village with a church and a 17th-century monastery; amenities include a swimming pool, tennis court, gym, and spa; dinner is at your leisure this evening.
Spend a perfect day in the Umbrian countryside
Experience the rural heart of Italy in this beautiful region of mountains and plains, vineyards and rolling hills dotted with medieval castles and hilltop villages. Visit a farm that raises alpacas and angora goats for their exquisite fleece, prized in the fashion industry. Lunch at a country house in the Upper Tiber Valley (where Tuscany and Umbria meet) for a taste of authentic Umbrian cuisine, which typically includes wild game, pasta, legume soups, and wild mushrooms (flavors enhanced, naturally, with truffles); there are also games and entertainment for the younger set. Return to your hotel; dinner is at your leisure this evening.
Ceramics, olive oil and wine en route to Rome
Depart your hotel this morning for an excursion into Umbrian life and culture, en route to Rome. Stop in Deruta, a village famous for centuries for its handpainted ceramics, and watch a demonstration by craftspeople at a local workshop. In Montecchio, get a guided tour (and tasting) at Frantoio Bartolomei, renowned makers of olive oil (an important product of this region) and see a demonstration of their time-honored methods; the family has been producing oil for centuries, and their museum of vintage machinery includes a 16th-century olive press. Enjoy a tour and tasting (and lunch) at Palazzone Winery, inside a renovated medieval barn in the hills near Orvieto; this internationally renowned estate specializes in Orvieto Classico and other varietals indigenous to the area - the gorgeous vineyard also has a beautiful view of Orvieto Cathedral. Arrive in Rome late afternoon (last stop on our London, Paris, Rome family adventure) for a three-night stay in deluxe rooms at Boscolo Exedra Rome, a neo-Classical palace on the Piazza della Republica, near the Baths of Diocletian and Michelangelo's Basilica degli Angeli in the heart of the city. Dine at the hotel this evening.
Rome... and an after-hours visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Get an orientation tour of the Eternal City this morning aboard a private double-decker bus. You'll explore the awe-inspiring ruins of the Colosseum (the ancient arena where gladiator battles were fought) on a guided visit. Enjoy free time this afternoon to explore the city on your own, then join us this evening for a Tauck Exclusive - an after-hours guided visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel (subject to availability, the day of your visit may vary). Millions of people visit the museums every year, but tonight you will experience the magnificent galleries, including the Candelabra Gallery, Map Gallery and the Tapestries, as well as Michelangelo's stunning Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes, without the crowds. You won't be rushed, you won't have to maneuver through dense crowds of people blocking your views, and your family will be able to take time to contemplate and enjoy the inspirational and artistic treasures.
Safari in Rome... and a farewell evening at a private villa
In Rome, monumental art and sculpture are everywhere, part of the rich visual backdrop of urban life. This morning, as you explore the city's main piazzas, the details in all that public art stand out in a "sightseeing safari" in which kids spot sculpted animals of all kinds (including dragons, sea horses and other real and mythical creatures) on fountains, buildings, and monuments... and there might even be some surprises in store! Later, attend a workshop on the making of mosaic art (a skill that goes back to ancient times) and take part in a hands-on demonstration. Your family adventure concludes this evening with an exclusive farewell dinner at a villa outside of the city. Enjoy a farewell reception, dinner, music and entertainment... and a fitting farewell to your amazing family holiday - a fireworks display.
Tour ends: Rome. Fly home anytime. A transfer from Hotel Boscolo Excedra Roma to Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino is included. Allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.