One of our most popular France and Spain trips, this jam-packed journey from Paris to Barcelona is a feast for every sense, from lunch with locals and elegant châteaux in the Loire Valley, to the buzz of Avignon's Place de l'Horloge and the irresistible French Riviera.
Explore Paris, Lyon, Carcassonne and Barcelona with a Local Specialist
Discover Avignon, Nice, Monaco and Arles
Visit Saint-Sulpice Church in Paris, Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley and the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres
View Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Chartres Cathedral, Château de Chambord, the Papal Palace of Avignon, the Promenade des Anglais and Place Masséna in Nice, Monaco's Royal Palace and Cathedral, the Roman Amphitheatre of Arles and the La Sagrada Família and Columbus Monument in Barcelona
Scenic Drive through the Loire Valley
First Class Travel Highlights:
Audio Headsets for flexible sightseeing
Daily breakfast and up to half your evening meals
Luxury air-conditioned coach with Wi-Fi in most countries or alternative transportation (such as rail journeys)
Cherry-picked hotels, all tried and trusted
Optional Experiences and free time
All porterage and restaurant gratuities
Must-see sightseeing and surprise extras
An expert Travel Director and professional Driver
All hotel tips, charges and local taxes
High-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid
Welcome to Paris
This capital city is your launch pad for an epic adventure through the highlights of France and magnificent Barcelona. Spend your first day in the 'City of Lights' exploring the art, architecture and culture of this romantic city on your own. Visit the Mona Lisa in the Louvre or relax in manicured gardens watching the world go by. This evening, join your fellow travellers and Travel Director for a Welcome Reception and orientation drive past some of the city's most impressive sights, including the grand Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe.
Explore the Sights of Paris
Spend the morning in the company of a Local Specialist, who will share with you the hidden squares and secret lanes of Paris, revealing how Parisians live and shop. Visit the remarkable church of Saint-Sulpice, then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Walk along the Seine and admire the talents of street artists and performers, amble through the scenic hilltop village of Montmartre or relax with a café au lait watching the world go by. This evening, consider soaking up the pageantry of Paris with an Optional Experience to a popular Parisian cabaret.
Chartres and Châteaux in the Loire Valley
Visit Chartres, an important place of pilgrimage on 'Way of Saint James', with its inspiring French Gothic Art cathedral which is renowned for its stained glass windows and two contrasting spires. We journey through the rolling landscape of the Loire Valley, past beautiful villages and castles. View the impressive Château de Chambord, a marvel of French Renaissance architecture, then visit Château de Chenonceau, before joining your travel companions and the de Montferrier family on their farm near the famous Château de Villandry for a traditional three-course Tourangelle Be My Guest dinner experience paired with local wines.
Onwards to Renaissance Lyon
Travelling through the heart of France, we arrive in the gastronomic capital of Lyon where we'll join a Local Specialist for a tour of the old city revealing its rich cultural heritage. Wander through the traboules of France's largest Renaissance city and marvel at the magnificent skyline from Fourvière hill. We dine at our hotel this evening, with the rest of the night free to explore the city. See the glittering Renaissance façades lit up at night, attend a world-famous opera or stroll along the river - a peaceful end to a busy day.
Journey to Papal Avignon and on to the French Riviera
From Lyon, we drive to Avignon, a Papal Seat in the 14th century. See the Papal Palace, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe, and the famous bridge immortalised in the French song - Sur le Pont d'Avignon. Dive Into Culture as you indulge in a glass of the local vintage on a Provençal terrace. This afternoon we arrive in the seaside retreat of Nice, where an orientation tour will introduce you to this coastal city, a favourite retreat among aristocrats for centuries. Walk along the famous Promenade des Anglais and across the checker-board pavement of Place Masséna, before spending the rest of the evening at leisure.
Enjoy a Day in Monaco
Relax on the sun-kissed shores of the Côte d'Azur today. Retreat to the beach with your fellow sun-worshippers, relax at a café overlooking the Bay of Angels or take a stroll along the promenade. You could choose instead to embark on an Optional Experience to the medieval hill-top village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Later, we'll enjoy an excursion through splendid seaside scenery to Monaco where you'll view the cathedral where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace were married.
Off to Colourful Arles and Carcassonne
We travel west to the Camargue centre of Arles, with its colourful façades and Roman ruins, before continuing through the landscapes of Provence immortalised in the works of Cézanne and Van Gogh. Arriving in the fortified city of Carcassonne, we join a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour of the Cité which spans some 3km and features 52 towers.
Pass the Pyrenees to Barcelona
Driving past the foothills of the Pyrenees, we stop in Figueres to visit the Dalí Theatre and Museum where we will Dive Into Culture and gain insights into the fascinating world of Salvador Dalí. See his work in this impressive building, before arriving in Barcelona this afternoon for an included sightseeing tour. We'll see the Columbus Monument and Antoni Gaudí's unfinished La Sagrada Família, with a Local Specialist. The evening is yours to explore this Mediterranean gem. Consider an Optional Experience to enjoy traditional Spanish cuisine and entertainment, or enjoy a delicious tapas feast on your own at one of the city's fine restaurants.
Discover Lively Barcelona
Spend the day soaking up the vibrant spirit of Barcelona. Ramble up Las Ramblas and people-watch in the Plaça de Catalunya, explore the whimsical architecture of Gaudí dotted across the city or consider an Optional Experience to Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. A further option is a meander up to Montserrat to visit its Benedictine monastery and see the mysterious Black Madonna, the patron saint of Catalonia. This evening, join your Travel Director and travel companions for a memorable Farewell Dinner with wine at a traditional Spanish restaurant.
Journey By Train to Madrid
Take the train to the Spanish capital. On arrival, transfer to your hotel.
Fiery Madrid Your Way
After breakfast, enjoy a full free day at leisure to enjoy the sights and sounds of Madrid.
Enjoy breakfast before you are transferred to Madrid Airport for your onward journey home.