FROM NORTHERN PROVENCE TO SOUTHERN BURGUNDY
29th March - 9th April 2018
Contact us for more info:
This small group (six to eight people) tour starts in Vaison-La-Romaine
and ends in Fuissé. Cost is $4,985 per person based on double occupancy
(A single supplement of $675 can be arranged.)
This price includes the cost of one private guide for all itinerary activities.
All transportation by minibus.
Pick-up in Orange and drop-off at Mâcon-Loché TGV train station
or the town of Mâcon.
All hotels/B&B of superior double or twin quality.
Three lunch/picnic (weather permitting).
All entrance fees and parking fees whilst on group activities.
All road tolls.
France is the
most visited country in the world for several good reasons. Most North
Americans travelers stay on the well-known tourist roads, but there are
still places in France that are off-the-beaten path. Join us for this
adventure from Northern Provence to Southern Burgundy to experience this
less traveled route, treasured by the French.
Zigzagging our way north along the Rhône River valley, we will delve
into Prehistoric, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance France to learn about
how a rich history has shaped France and left some historic monuments
while experiencing traditional local cultures and French "joie de
France has a reputation for amazing food and on this trip we will embrace
local products, shop at typical farmers markets, celebrate fine regional
and gastronomic restaurants and have hands-on experiences. We will also
train our palate through three different wine "terroirs": the
southern Côtes-du-Rhône, famous for its varietal blends; the
northern part of the Côtes-du-Rhône Valley, where Syrah is
celebrated; and the lesser known but easy-going Beaujolais and Mâconnais
wines in the north.
On our adventure, we'll take in the natural beauty of land from rolling
and terraced vineyards to deep gorges, river scenery and unspoiled countryside.
We will also enjoy small town life and the welcoming and relaxed city
of Lyon. Our small group will allow you to feel like a local as you connect
with genuine French people during your relaxing vacation.
This small-group tour was designed for flexibility. We can accommodate
variable weather conditions just as we can accommodate your interests
and energy levels to provide opportunities for adventure and exploration
in addition to those described below.
Accordingly, no activity is mandatory; you may opt out of any activity
at any time. We'll travel in a comfortable, spacious mini-bus that will
allow us to reach hidden treasures you won't experience on larger tours.
All of your breakfasts, three picnic/lunches and five of your dinners
are included. All tolls, fees and admissions are also included -- this
means you aren't paying extra for any of the excursions we make or sites
we visit as you would on other tours. For dinners on your own, we are
happy to provide recommendations and transportation as necessary. You
must arrange for your own transportation to the town of Orange and from
the train station of Mâcon-Loché TGV or the town of Mâcon,
but we are happy to answer any questions you have in advance of the tour.
Day 1: Welcome to Provence
After being picked up at the train station of Orange, you will comfortably
settle in your Provençal B&B in the picturesque town of Vaison-la-Romaine,
our home for the next three nights. We will meet as a group this afternoon
to review the tour and get acquainted with each other before taking a
stroll through the old Roman town, and enjoying our first evening meal
Day 2: Roman Provence
with an immersion in the Gallo-Roman time in Vaison-La-Romaine, followed
by the discovery of one of the best-preserved theaters of the Roman world
and a remarkable Triumphal Arch, both UNESCO world heritage sites, in
nearby Orange. You will be free to explore this typical working town and
find a café on a quiet square for lunch. This afternoon we will
enjoy a hike in the rugged "Dentelles de Montmirail" mountains
to take in the views on the Gigondas and Vacqueyras vineyards before exploring
the small village of Gigondas, which produces some of the most famous
red Côtes-Du-Rhône wines. To finish the day, you will be free
to explore more Vaison-La-Romaine or relax contemplating views of the
Mont Ventoux summit, legendary to cyclists.
Day 3: The Côtes-du-Rhône Vineyards
On day three, we'll learn about two Provençal specialties: olives
and "santon" (the small traditional terracotta figurines). Our
drive through some charming limestone villages and rolling hills of vineyards
leads us to the Domaine de Mourchon winery, tucked on the slope of a remote
village. We will taste how modern technology, traditional winemaking methods
and the "terroir" blended together give some formidable Côtes-du-Rhône
wines. We will then pair these wines with a picnic lunch of local produce
in the vineyards. After exploring the hamlet of Séguret, we head
back to Vaison-La-Romaine where you could explore the medieval part of
the town perched on a hill and climb to its ruined castle to sweep in
more views of the valley.
Day 4: Gorges of the Ardèche
Today we'll put on our hiking boots for the exploration of immense canyons,
abrupt chalky-white cliffs and thick forests. Overlooked by a dramatically
engineered little road, the gorge of the Ardèche River ranks among
the most imposing natural sites in France. Our hotel for tonight waits
for us on the Gorge and is a small walk away from the bucolic "Pont
d'Arc" natural bridge. We will partake in a traditional French dinner
at our hotel.
Day 5: Prehistoric Ardèche
This morning we will go back to prehistoric times on a guided tour of
the cavern of Pont d'Arc. A perfect replica of one of France's largest
and mostand best preserved man-made images anywhere. Since its discovery
it has been accessible only to researchers and artists who created the
world's biggest replica of cave paintings. We then drive deeper into the
Ardèche region along the twisting and scenic road leading us north.
In Tournon-sur-Rhône, our classy 18th-century mansion-hotel welcomes
us for two nights. The top of the town offers dramatic views on the big
river and on the hillside famed vineyards of M. Chapoutier and Paul Jaboulet
Ainé. Tonight you'll be on your own for dinner, but your guide
will be on hand to point out many excellent dining options. impressive
prehistoric caverns awaits us. Not discovered until 1994, the original
Chauvet-Pont d'Arc cavern holds the oldest (36,000 year old)
Day 6: Chocolate & Wine!
The French have a love affair with chocolate and wine. We will start our
morning with a chocolate workshop at the famous Valrhona "Cité
du Chocolat". You will make your own chocolate bar and learn the
secrets of "cacao". After lunch, we will hike up in the vineyards
for an overview of the area, become familiar with the amount of manual
labor needed to make some of the best wine of the Rhône Valley,
and later visit the small family-owned winery Guy Farge where we will
taste the locally celebrated Syrah grape of the Saint-Joseph AOC wines.
Day 7: Roman
and Catholic Lyon
Today we drive north along the Rhône River to Lyon, our home for
the next two nights. We will learn why the second (or third!) biggest
city of France bears the following titles: Capital of Gaul, Capital of
Food, Capital of Catholicism, Capital of Renaissance, Capital of the Resistance
After an orientation of the heart of the city, the 19th-century
Presqu'île, you will enjoy the local farmers market and great views
from the bank of the Saône River before we get to the top of the
Fourvière hill to see where the city started 2,000 years ago. After
an unusual private tour of the 19th-century basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière,
you will be able to visit the Gallo-Roman museum or linger enjoying the
expanding views of the city. We will meet later for dinner together in
one of Lyon's many top-notch restaurants.
Day 8: Renaissance
& Resistance Lyon
This morning we will open doors taking us back to the 16th-century when
Lyon was the French Renaissance capital of silk and an important banking
place. We will visit the Gothic cathedral, explore the local "traboules"
and imagine how resistance fighters used these secret passageways during
World War II. For lunch, your guide will recommend eating in a "bouchon"
(local name of the numerous restaurants serving typical Lyonnais food
such as "quenelle" -pike fish dumpling). For the rest of your
day, you will have the choice among several fine museums such as the Resistance
and Deportation History Center, giving a thorough understanding of the
importance of Lyon in the Resistance, or the Fine Arts Museum, one of
the most important art museums in France after the Louvre, or just enjoying
the slow pace of this beautiful city.
Day 9: A Medieval Day in the Countryside
You will start your morning at the colorful market to shop for your lunch:
"rosette" salami and "praline" tart could be on your
Lyonnais picnic list! Our picnic ground today: the medieval fortified
town of Pérouges, voted one of the most beautiful villages of France.
Its preserved half timbered-houses, tortuous pebble streets, and the rare
fortress-church make Pérouges a dream come true for photographers.
Our afternoon drive takes us through the Dombes region and its thousand
ponds, attracting migratory birds, and to the magnificent Royal Monastery
of Brou, voted in 2014 the favorite monument of the French. The church,
built in the early 16th-century in exuberant Flamboyant Gothic style,
has a remarkable roof with glazed, Burgundy-style tiles, superb stained-glass
windows, and one of the few preserved rood screens in France. We then
make our way to the medieval town of Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne where you
will find out why it is famous for its gastronomy.
Day 10: Food
& Wine of the Beaujolais
Chatillon's farmers market must be one of the quaintest of France under
its 15th-century wood covered market place. The food is fresh and colorful;
even the local "Bresse" chickens sport the French flag colors!
After the market, we will cross the Saône River to enter the famous
Beaujolais region where we will learn about the local Gamay grape at le
Château de Juliénas winery. After a light lunch paired with
wines, we arrive in the traditional small village of Fuissé, where
a Mâconnais winemaker will host us for our last two nights together.
A local chef will be ours for the evening to let us practice some French
cooking basics before we enjoy the food prepared together.
Day 11: Mighty
Cluny & Scenic Drive
A 30-minute drive this morning will take us to the town of Cluny from
where in the 10th-century Benedictine monks started dominating the western
world from their mighty Abbey. This mother of all abbeys, which was subject
to no authority other than that of the Pope himself, peaked in the 12th-century
but was almost completely destroyed during the French Revolution. The
remains are proof of its former prestige and influence and the town itself
still has plenty of fine surviving Romanesque buildings. After lunch in
the old town, we are a short drive away from the hike to the top of the
iconic Rock of Solutré, a rare geological phenomenon overlooking
the region and its prehistoric site of the eponymous Solutrean Paleolithic
culture. After the museum visit, we will head back home and finish our
French adventure with a gastronomic experience for our last dinner together
Day 12: Tour Ends After Breakfast. A Bientôt!
We'll have breakfast together before saying our goodbyes and heading home
or making connections to other destinations. Your guide will drive you
to the Macôn-Loché TGV train station, only a few minutes
away from our B&B and less than two hours away from Paris by train,
or to the town of Mâcon.
If you wish to contact us regarding available tours for 2016-2017 or
would like to discuss your travel needs, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seymour
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