Day 1 ARRIVE IN PARIS, FRANCE
. Welcome to Paris! At 5:30 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions, and leave the hotel for a welcome dinner at one of Paris’ lively restaurants, followed by an orientation drive of the “City of Light.”
Day 2 PARIS–REIMS–METZ.
Drive to Reims, city of champagne, and enjoy a highlight [LF] CHAMPAGNE EXPERIENCE with sabrage (saber). Also recognized by UNESCO, France’s Champagne region is celebrated for its specialized artisan activity that has become an agro-industrial enterprise. Next, visit the impressive NOTRE DAME DE REIMS CATHEDRAL, where the Kings of France were crowned. Considered one of the most beautiful examples of gothic art, the 800-year-old cathedral was one of the first monuments registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later, arrive in Metz, located at the confluence of the Moselle and Seine Rivers. Enjoy an orientation of this 3,000-year-old city and visit its magnificent gothic CATHEDRAL, famous for its glass-stained windows.
Day 3 METZ–SAINT-AVOLD–STRASBOURG–COLMAR
. Stop in Saint-Avold for a visit to the largest American Military WWII Cemetery in Europe, the LORRAINE AMERICAN CEMETERY & MEMORIAL. Next, enter the Alsace region and arrive in Strasbourg, where the European Parliament has its plenary sessions four days each month. A [LF] BOAT CRUISE is the best way to see Strasbourg with its LITTLE FRANCE DISTRICT and the impressive European Union institutions. Continue to Colmar.
Day 4 COLMAR
. [LF] Explore Colmar and the famous LITTLE VENICE district with its half-timbered houses by LITTLE TRAIN. Balance of the day is at leisure. Ask your Tour Director for suggestions.
Day 5 COLMAR–BEAUNE–MÂCON.
Enter Burgundy and arrive in Beaune, capital of the region, for an orientation of this beautiful town with its impressive Hôtel-Dieu and Notre Dame Basilica. Then, continue to Mâcon, situated on the Saône River, and famous for its wine.
Day 6 MÂCON–LYON–AVIGNON.
A short drive brings you to Lyon, “Capital of the Gauls,” and the second-largest city in France. Enjoy a walking tour through OLD LYON, situated between two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, and see the Roman ruins and the Murales, examples of trompe l’oeil, started by a group of students in the ‘70s. On to Avignon, the medieval residence of several popes and antipopes. During your walking tour through the OLD TOWN, take pictures of the magnificent Palace of the Popes and the famous bridge, and browse through the colorful shops that sell traditional products made in Provence, like cloth, honey, herbs, and nougat candy.
Day 7 AVIGNON–ST. RÉMY-DE-PROVENCE–LES BAUX-DE-PROVENCE–MARSEILLES
. In St. Rémy-de-Provence, visit the ST. PAUL DE MAUSOLE MONASTERY, used as a hospital when Vincent van Gogh stayed there for a year in 1889. Continue to Les Baux-de-Provence, famous for its breathtaking views. Then, a special highlight awaits you: [LF] an OLIVE OIL TASTING. Arrive in the busy seaport of Marseilles, and visit the neo-byzantine NOTRE DAME DE LA GARDE BASILICA, spectacularly located on a limestone outcrop near the Old Port on the foundations of an ancient fort.
Day 8 MARSEILLES. EXCURSION TO AIX-EN-PROVENCE
. Today, enjoy an included half-day excursion to Aix-en-Provence, one of France’s most elegant cities. It was the birthplace of painter Cézanne, and has always attracted artists from all over. Explore its center during your walking tour, and wander through the maze of small streets and along shaded Cours Mirabeau. An optional excursion is available to Arles with its Roman arena. This evening, a special farewell dinner awaits you at one of Marseilles’ excellent local restaurants as a proper au revoir to France.
Day 9 MARSEILLES.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.