Itinerary #1: Highlights of Paris, Provence, & the French Riviera
With three of France’s most popular destinations, this itinerary is a great option for first-timers in France, especially considering it offers plenty of private guided tours.
|Day 1||Arrive in Paris||Paris|
|Day 2||Classic Walking Tour of Paris||Paris|
|Day 3||Covered Passageways of Paris||Paris|
|Day 4||Train to Aix-en-Provence||Aix en Provence|
|Day 5||Provence Cooking Class||Aix en Provence|
|Day 6||Explore Calanques National Park & Marseille||Aix en Provence|
|Day 7||Lunch in St. Tropez - Continue to Cannes||Cannes|
|Day 8||Perfume Tour of Grasse||Cannes|
|Day 9||Driving Tour of Nice||Nice|
|Day 10||Depart France|
The first day of this tour takes place in Paris where you’ll join a walking tour of the Île de la Cité and Le Marais district, passing by the oldest square in Paris: Place des Vosges (great for a picnic stop). You’ll also skip-the-line at the largest museum in Europe, Le Louvre, and visit some of the city's covered passageways with a guide who will share anecdotes of these tiny nooks, which were created in the 19th-century during the birth of Parisian shopping arcades.
Then it's time to travel on the TGV (high-speed train) towards the south of France where you’ll first stay in Aix en Provence and take a walking tour around its labyrinth of narrow streets and fountains with a private guide. The next day, you’ll partake in a full-day cooking class with a local chef in the Provencal countryside—a fun excursion that includes picking out fresh ingredients, cooking, and dining together. You’ll also spend a day in a UNESCO World Heritage Site called Calanques National Park with white cliffs and turquoise waters where you'll have some free time to either explore the town of Cassis, relax on the beach, or check out the scenic trails in the park.
A guide will also introduce you to Marseille where you will visit various sites in France’s oldest city including a crypt that contains the 4th-century marble sarcophagi. From here, continue driving east along the Mediterranean coast through a series of narrow, scenic roads, with hidden creeks and wild beaches making stops in Saint Tropez, Port Grimaud, and Theoule sur Mer and finally landing at your hotel in Cannes where you’ll be based for the last two nights, with a half-day tour that reveals nearby Nice's highlights and landmarks. Learn more
Itinerary #2: French Cuisine and History - Paris, Normandy, Loire Valley
This food and history-themed itinerary begins in Paris where you'll visit the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and join a gastronomy tour in Canal Saint-Martin to sample the city's top artisanal producers and markets.
|Day 1||Arrive in Paris||Paris|
|Day 2||Canal-Saint Martin Food Tour - Le Louvre Museum Tour||Paris|
|Day 3||Giverny Day-Trip - Dinner Cruise on the Seine||Paris|
|Day 4||Parisian Baking Class - Eiffel Tower Summit||Paris|
|Day 5||Train to Caen - Drive to Bayeux||Bayeux|
|Day 6||Mont Saint Michel Day-Trip||Bayeux|
|Day 7||Omaha Beach Tour - Drive to Amboise||Amboise|
|Day 8||Free Day in the Loire Valley||Amboise|
|Day 9||Chambord & Chenonceau Chateau Tour - Train to Paris||Paris|
|Day 10||Depart Paris|
From there, you'll also take a day-trip to Giverny to see Monet’s home and garden for a glimpse of the impressionist's daily inspirations followed by a dinner cruise on the Seine. On your last morning in Paris, you'll take a class at a French bakery to learn the secrets of making the perfect French baguette and croissant in a course taught by the master artisan baker himself.
Next is a train to the Normandy region, home of two cross-channel invasions nearly 900 years apart, where you’ll pick up a rental car and drive to Bayeux, an attractive town with beautiful architecture. Make sure to check out the embroidered Bayeux Tapestry and learn about the dramatic story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066, told in 58 vivid scenes. You'll also take a day-trip to the stunning island of Mont Saint Michel where a guide will take you through the narrow cobbled streets around the village with granite or half-timbered houses. Before leaving Normandy, you’ll also visit three important WWII Sites: Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and a U.S. cemetery at Colleville with 9,387 graves.
Back in your rental car, you’ll next drive to Amboise—a charming home base for exploring the Loire Valley. Nestling on the left bank of the river, Amboise has kept traces of its royal past as can be seen from the Royal Castle of Amboise, where the young future François Ier grew up alongside his mother and sister. During a free day, drive around the towns of the Loire Valley set on the banks of Europe's last untamed river. You'll also join a guided excursion to visit two of the Loire Valley's most prestigious castles, Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau while learning about the intimate secrets of the French kings. One of the highlights will be a restful lunch away from tourist groups in a beautiful privately-owned chateau still inhabited by the family. Learn more
Itinerary #3: French Alps by Train - Lyon, Annecy & Chamonix
This 10-day adventure combines three of France's easternmost scenic gems—a nice option for travelers interested in experiencing the French Alps by train, where you can relax and soak in the views.
|Day 1||Arrive in Paris - Train to Lyon||Lyon|
|Day 2||Culinary Walking Tour in Lyon||Lyon|
|Day 3||Meet Lyon's Tradesmen & Producers||Lyon|
|Day 4||Beaujolais Tour & Wine Tasting||Lyon|
|Day 5||Train from Lyon to Annecy||Annecy|
|Day 6||Savoy Food & Nature Tour||Annecy|
|Day 7||Free Day in Annecy||Annecy|
|Day 8||Train from Annecy to Chamonix - Guided Tour||Chamonix|
|Day 9||Montenvers Glacier Excursion||Chamonix|
|Day 10||Depart Chamonix|
After arriving in Lyon, check out the city's UNESCO-listed Old Town and Presque Ile—a piece of land surrounded by the Saône and Rhône rivers. This is where you can wander the narrow cobblestoned streets in search of the famous traboules (hidden passageways). Perhaps Lyon's best attraction, though, is its dining scene; gourmands will love checking out the wide array Lyonnaise restaurants, informal brasseries, and Michelin-starred Auberge de Collonges, founded by the celebrity chef Paul Bocuse. You'll get out of the city with guided tours that visit cheesemakers, farmers, and vineyards in the Beaujolais wine region.
Your next train destination is Annecy, one of the most popular towns in the French Alps, thanks to its surrounding forests and mountains, plus a freshwater lake called Lake d'Annecy. The picturesque town is also home to a number of important places and monuments in France. Start by walking around Annecy’s Vieille Ville (Old Town), with numerous 16th- and 17th-century buildings painted in shades of peach and rose to find restaurants, bakeries, boutiques, and medieval sites dating back to the 12th century. Then take a day-trip to Savoy, where a host will teach you about a local reblochon cheese that is a key ingredient in one of the region’s most famous dishes: tartiflette. The next day is a free day to check out the beaches or visit more historic sights in town.
Then take another train ride deeper into the alps to Chamonix where you’ll begin with a two-hour guided tour of the area. Chamonix is best-known for Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in France, which stands at the edge of the town, as well as the popular alpine ski resort. That being said, the town is busy year-round with those seeking to enjoy outdoor activities in the stunning settings that surround the region. On your last day, you’ll take a charming red train to the largest glacier in France called Mer de Glace with an easy hike. You'll also have access to the Glaciorium, an interactive presentation that answers questions related to climate and the environment and how glaciers will change in the future. Learn more
Itinerary #4: Best of Provence
Ideal for adventurous types, this exciting self-drive itinerary (best during warmer months) gets to the heart of Provence starting with a boat tour in Calanques National Park where you can swim in the park's hidden coves, or hit the trails.
|Day 1||Arrive in Marseille - Pick-Up Rental Car||Marseille|
|Day 2||Cruise to Calanques National Park - Drive to Les Baux de Provence||Les Baux de Provence|
|Day 3||Explore Les Alpilles Natural Park & Saint-Remy de Provence||Les Baux de Provence|
|Day 4||Explore Avignon & Chateauneuf du Pape||Les Baux de Provence|
|Day 5||Explore Villages in the Luberon||Les Baux de Provence|
|Day 6||Explore Alpes de Haute Provence||Forcalquier|
|Day 7||Hot Air Balloon Ride - Watersports in Lac de Sainte Croix||Forcalquier|
|Day 8||Explore Moustiers Sainte Marie & Gorges du Verdon||Forcalquier|
|Day 9||Drive from Forcalquier to Aix en Provence||Aix en Provence|
|Day 10||Return Rental Car - Depart Marseille|
Next, you'll drive north to the medieval mountain village of Les Baux de Provence and explore narrow cobbled streets, charming houses, and a fortified castle built during the 10th century. You'll also have time for outdoor excursions in Les Alpilles Natural Park—the perfect place for rock climbing, hiking, and horseback riding in the pine and oak forests.
Next is a visit to Avignon, the medieval city that housed the Pope in the 14th century. While here you can visit the soaring Palais des Papes—the largest Gothic palace in history and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll also have time to explore the city's pretty squares and the medieval bridge along the Rhone River. After lunch, you'll drive to Châteauneuf du Pape where you'll enjoy a leisurely afternoon of wine tasting. Then create your own adventure as you weave through the beautiful villages, vineyards, and orchards in the fertile Luberon area. For example, you can drive to Gordes, a hilltop village surrounded by lavender fields followed by a visit to the ancient Sénanque Abbey, founded in 1148 by Cistercian monks.
Later in the trip, you'll take a sunrise hot-air balloon ride for birds-eye views of the Alpes de Haute Provence. After this amazing experience, you’ll drive to the Valensole Plateau, blanketed in fields of brilliant lavender, golden wheat, and almond trees. You'll want to snap plenty of photos before making your way to Lac de Sainte Croix du Verdon, where you can enjoy sailing, swimming, windsurfing, or kayaking in its emerald-green waters. Then visit Moustiers Sainte Marie near the entrance to the spectacular Gorges du Verdon, the deepest canyon in France, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with hiking, kayaking, or rock climbing, to name a few. Finish the trip in Aix en Provence and explore the city's rich heritage, art, and culture on a walking tour with an expert guide. Learn more
Itinerary #5: Bordeaux Wines & Castles of the Loire Valley
This relaxing itinerary starts with a pre-transit night in Paris where you’ll have time to hit the streets at your own pace. No need to do it all in one day as you'll return here at the end of the trip.
|Day 1||Arrive in Paris||Paris|
|Day 2||Train to Bordeaux - Explore the City||Bordeaux|
|Day 3||Farmer's Market Tour - Wine in the City Tour||Bordeaux|
|Day 4||Saint Emilion Village & Vineyards Tour||Bordeaux|
|Day 5||Medoc Wine Route Tour - Train to the Loire Valley||Amboise|
|Day 6||Loire Valley Tour of Blois, Cheverny & Chambord||Amboise|
|Day 7||Loire Valley Tour of Amboise & Chenonceau||Amboise|
|Day 8||Train to Paris - Eiffel Tower & Seine Cruise||Paris|
|Day 9||Notre Dame Cathedral & Le Louvre Museum||Paris|
|Day 10||Depart Paris|
From Paris, travel by train to Bordeaux—a pedestrian-friendly city, among France's most exciting, vibrant, and dynamic places. In addition to gothic and medieval highlights, modern architects have also designed a bevy of striking new buildings, including the decanter-shaped La Cité du Vin for those who want to learn more about wine. Speaking of wine, you’ll also take a tour of Saint Emilion to visit two nearby wine châteaux with the help of a local guide. Wine aficionados will also enjoy driving along the Médoc Wine Route, an important appellation and home to all the Bordeaux wines classified as Cru Bourgeois.
Next, spend three nights in the Loire Valley and tour a handful of gorgeous castles with private guides including one boasting a two-story gallery standing over the Loire River—the perfect place to learn more about France during Renaissance times. Your guide will take you to Leonardo Da Vinci’s residence during the last three years of his life: Clos Lucé Manor.
Finish the trip in Paris for a few nights where you can stroll through neighborhoods like the Latin Quarter, with the oldest streets in Paris, which culminates with a stop at the neighborhood's most iconic intellectual hotspot: Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. You’ll also take a relaxing cruise along the Seine. These glass boats embark at the foot of the Eiffel Tower with open-air observation decks for exceptional views—a great way to finish the trip. Learn more
For more great trip ideas, check out all of our 10-day France tours and itineraries.