- Sample artisan cheese in the hip Le Marais district of Paris
- Discover the gastronomy capital of France in Lyon
- Go wine tasting in Beaujolais, Châteauneuf-du-Pape & the Luberon Valley
- Learn the secrets of Provençal cooking in Aix-en-Provence
- Savor premium olive oils from a Provence mill
- Taste your way through the vibrant markets of Nice
|Day 1||Arrive in Paris, Seine Dinner Cruise||Paris|
|Day 2||A Day in Le Marais: Cheese Shop, Museums, & Market||Paris|
|Day 3||French Baking Class, Tour of Opéra Garnier||Paris|
|Day 4||Free Day in Paris||Paris|
|Day 5||Drive to Dijon||Dijon|
|Day 6||Drive to Lyon||Lyon|
|Day 7||Lyon Cultural & Culinary Walking Tour||Lyon|
|Day 8||Beaujolais Tour & Wine Tasting||Lyon|
|Day 9||Drive to Avignon||Avignon|
|Day 10||Day Trip to the Gard Provençal||Avignon|
|Day 11||Day Trip to Alpilles Nature Park||Avignon|
|Day 12||Châteauneuf-du-Pape & Gigondas Wine Tour||Avignon|
|Day 13||Drive to Aix-en-Provence, Evening Food & Wine Pairing||Aix-en-Provence|
|Day 14||Free Day in Aix-en-Provence||Aix-en-Provence|
|Day 15||Provençal Cooking Class in Aix-en-Provence||Aix-en-Provence|
|Day 16||Wine Tour in the Luberon Nature Park||Aix-en-Provence|
|Day 17||Drive to Saint-Tropez & the Riviera||Saint-Tropez|
|Day 18||Explore Saint-Tropez's Surroundings||Saint-Tropez|
|Day 19||Drive to Nice, Explore Menton||Nice|
|Day 20||Gourmet Foodie Tour of Nice & Guided Tour of Monaco, Monte Carlo & Eze||Nice|
|Day 21||Depart Nice|
Day 1: Arrive in Paris, Seine Dinner Cruise
Bienvenue à Paris! This elegant capital boasts centuries of history, art, fashion, and, of course, romance. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel by private car. Take some time to settle in and relax before heading out for your first look at the city.
Colorful boulevards and historic monuments invite visitors to stroll through the downtown, while narrow alleys and cozy cafes create a romantic atmosphere. For art lovers, spending time at Paris' smaller museums is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the city has one of the most impressive art collections in the world. Alternatively, lazing around in the parks or at a sidewalk cafe on a sunny day is simply blissful.
In the evening, embark on a Paris city tour while enjoying the best of French gastronomy. With family, friends, or for a romantic dinner for two, set sail on an unforgettable dinner cruise along the Seine. Pass monuments like the Louvre Museum, Grand Palais, the French Statue of Liberty, and the Eiffel Tower as the city lights sparkle on the water.
Day 2: A Day in Le Marais: Cheese Shop, Museums & Market
You'll spend today like a local in the hip Le Marais, a neighborhood that has played an important part in French history since the 13th century. It was here that the Order of the Temple constructed a fortified church, an edifice that inspired several beautiful religious buildings and churches, and later, the epicenter of the Parisian Jewish community. Discover the district by foot after you enjoy a classic breakfast of cafe au lait and a buttered tartine or, of course, a perfect croissant. Alongside centuries-old synagogues, you'll find high-end fashion boutiques, dining hotspots, art galleries, and LGBTQ+-run businesses.Stroll to the Haut-Marais, or Upper Marais, a section of the neighborhood that has transformed from former working-class factories to chic shops and galleries. There, you'll meet a Maître Fromager, or Master Cheesemaker, at a renowned local cheese shop. Then, with expert guidance, learn about the cheese maturation process and taste selected cheeses from different regions paired thoughtfully with complementing wines. After, meet your local guide for a two-hour private walking tour through Le Marais's lively streets and hear tales of the magnificent 17th-century mansions that once dominated the district.
The afternoon is yours for further discovery; visit the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP), which boasts an incredible selection of work by premiere and emerging photographers, or opt for the funky Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, a museum devoted to hunting and taxidermy, filled to the brim with curiosities. Explore the neighborhood's stylish boutiques and hidden gardens and when you're feeling peckish, pop over to Rue des Rosiers for a warm kosher pastry or wait in a quick-moving line for an iconic falafel sandwich. If you're hungry for something more, sample international specialties at the Marche des Enfants Rouges or stop in at a wine bar to wind down the day.
Day 3: French Baking Class, Tour of Opéra GarnierThis morning you'll step behind the counter of a French bakery to learn how to bake your own traditional bread and viennoiseries. The bakery owner themselves will instruct you on the methods behind baguettes, puff pastries such as croissants and pains au chocolat, and sourdough loaves. Show off your newfound skills by bringing home your own baguette.
Afterward, follow your guide to the impressive Opéra Garnier, where famous painters like Degas used to visit to paint the ballerinas. You'll learn about the history of this sumptuous building along your tour, including the Grand Escalier main staircase, glittering foyer, and the Chagall-painted ceiling of the main room.
Day 4: Free Day in ParisParis is an inexhaustible source of culture and leisure, from incredible monuments to gastronomy. Beyond traditional tours, new ways to visit the capital have emerged in recent years. Pick from the following unique options to make the most of your time in the French capital:
- Walk along the Seine riverbanks between the Musée d’Orsay and the Pont d’Alma.
- Visit the Grande Mosque de Paris, then rejuvenate on the patio among the wisteria and rosettes of mosaics with a mint green tea.
- Sample village life at the Butte aux Cailles, a ten minutes walk south of busy Place d'Italie, where you'll find a slightly counter-cultural enclave with cobbled streets and laidback bars.
- See street art in Belleville, from the Rue Sainte-Marthe and its candy-colored shop fronts to the Rue Denoyez with an ever-changing array of tags and artwork.
- Engage in a sensory experience at the Atelier des Lumières, a former foundry reinvented in a space of digital art that offers a striking immersive exhibition.
- Walk along the Canal Saint-Martin past art galleries and peaceful shaded banks.
- Escape the crowds in Buttes-Chaumont, one of the city's loveliest green spaces.
- Take a stroll along Petite Ceinture, a disused railway line that runs for miles around the inner city. Several of its stretches are now urban bio-diversity trails.
- For lunch, there's nothing better than the warm atmosphere of the Belleville neighborhood.
- On a rainy day, visit the Catacombs and explore the seedy underbelly of Paris.
- For a tropical getaway in the city visit the greenhouses of the Jardin des Plantes
Day 5: Drive to Dijon
In the perfectly preserved city center, you'll find cobbled streets, half-timbered medieval houses, and palaces with decorations from the 13th and 17th centuries. The most important churches in the city are the Renaissance Saint-Michel and Notre-Dame, dating back to the 13th century and characterized by a tower with an automatic clock and an owl, the symbol of the city, carved on the facade. Nearby, the grand Museum of Fine Arts of 1787, inside the large Palazzo dei Duchi, boasts a rich collection of paintings, sculptures, handicrafts, and antiques.
Dijon is known above all for its mustard, to which the Musée de la Moutarde (Mustard Museum) is dedicated, but it is also the place where kir was born, an aperitif based on white wine and crème de cassis, a liqueur made from currants. For more gastronomic discoveries, head to Les Halles, the city's food market, a soaring glass and steel structure designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Day 6: Drive to LyonToday's drive takes you south to Lyon, France's third-largest city. Outstanding museums, a dynamic cultural life, busy clubbing and drinking scenes, a thriving university, and fantastic shopping lend the city a distinctly sophisticated air, while adventurous gourmets can indulge in their wildest gastronomic fantasies. From the wine-braised chicken of coq au vin to the city's most famous sausage (rosette de Lyon), Lyon's reputation for culinary excellence is long and well-deserved.
Get settled into your accommodations, then set out to explore the different neighborhoods of Lyon. Must-sees include the Vieux Lyon with its Cathedral, and the iconic Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, where you can marvel at the architecture while enjoying sweeping views across the city.
If you feel like relaxing, make your way to the Parc de la Tête d'Or, the perfect place for people watching or to enjoy some calm and nature in the middle of the urban city center. The newly refined space is complete with seemingly endless stretches of lush greenery, bike paths, rose gardens, and a medium-sized lake for afternoon paddle-boating. While most kids seem to enjoy riding the antique carousels, real-life animal lovers will be even more fascinated with the zoological area, which includes such exotic wildlife species as flamingos, giraffes, lemurs, and lions.
Day 7: Lyon Cultural & Culinary Walking TourStart your day in this gastronomically significant city with a guided walk through the UNESCO-listed Old Lyon. You'll learn about the local heritage as your guide takes you through the famous traboules (medieval covered passageways) and across the Saône River for exceptional views across the city.
Along the way, you'll look for the city's many bouchons (traditional restaurants), and make delicious stopovers to complement the history and anecdotes. Enjoy tastings of local specialties, talk about the international reputation of Lyonnaise gastronomy, and discover traditional recipes and gourmet secrets.
Day 8: Beaujolais Tour & Wine Tasting
Today's tour immerses you in the beauty of Beaujolais, a historic province and wine-growing region just north of Lyon.
Often compared to Tuscany, this beautiful countryside dotted with hilltop villages offers a gentle pace of life. Your cultural and gourmet itinerary leads you around the southern part of Beaujolais, which is famous for its Beaujolais Nouveau and golden stone, which lends a unique charm to the surrounding villages.
Along the route, your knowledgeable driver and guide will pass on their passion for the region to you during this rural excursion. You'll also get an introduction to wine and meet with a winemaker who will invite you to enjoy a tasting experience.
After returning to Lyon, the remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Day 9: Drive to AvignonGet back on the road this morning and continue south to Avignon, where you can enjoy the rest of the day exploring this medieval city that housed the Pope in the 14th century. A good start is a visit to the soaring Palais des Papes—the largest Gothic palace in history and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A tour of the palace, which includes the popes' private apartments with their fabulous frescoes, is a must.
Spend the afternoon discovering the city's pretty squares and the medieval bridge along the Rhône. Head to Place de l'Horlog, the city's historic heart, to see the City Hall, the 15th-century belfry, the theater, and the still-functioning Belle Époque style carousel. During the 1st century BCE, the plaza was used by the Romans as a forum. It's a great place to sit at a cafe and spend the afternoon people watching and enjoying various street performers.
Day 10: Day Trip to the Gard ProvençalSet out on a day trip into the stunning Gard Provençal today. This "Gateway to Provence" is located northwest of Avignon, between the Rhône, the Ardèche, and the Cévennes regions. Home to famous landmarks like Uzès and Le Pont du Gard, it also boasts unspoiled nature, lush vineyards, and lots of options for outdoor sports—including hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, and climbing. Some highlights include:
- The Pont du Gard: a very famous Roman aqueduct, located about 12 miles (20 km) from Nîmes.
Le Camp de César: an ancient town offering a unique point of view over the region (Cèze Valley).
Gicon Castle: a historical site located at the highest point of the town of Chusclan.
- The Duchy of Uzès: an imposing Ducal castle built in the heart of the city of Uzès.
Spend the day exploring the region's many charming, authentic villages, embark on an outdoor adventure, or stop for a wine tasting at one of the many cellars. When you've had your fill of the Provence countryside, return to Avignon for the evening.
Day 11: Day Trip to Alpilles Nature Park
France abounds with protected nature parks, and Les Alpilles is one of the most stunning. Located at the western edge of the Provence region, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, it's home to the Alpilles, a limestone mountain range dotted with colorful Provençal villages. This is one of France's smallest national parks (just 196 square miles), yet it is the perfect place to come for rock climbing, hiking, and horseback riding through the pine and oak forests.
From Avignon, you can follow a 50 mile (80 km) loop through the Alpilles Nature Park and discover famous villages such as Saint-Rémy, Les-Baux-de Provence, and Fontvieille.
Along the way, get off the beaten path with a fun E-Bike tour, which will take you along small country roads and cycle routes to find the region's most enchanting villages and highlights.
In the afternoon, stop by a local Provençal farmhouse, the Mas Saint Jean Oil Mill, where the owners will take you on a guided tour of their 13th-century estate and explain the ancestral and modern methods of extracting their prestigious olive oil. Afterward, you can sit down for a tasting of olive oils, learning about nuances across types and how to differentiate between them, as well as tips on their best use in cooking.
At the end of the day, return to Avignon.
Day 12: Châteauneuf-du-Pape & Gigondas Wine TourDepart today for a day trip to one of France's world-renowned wine-growing regions—this time in the southern Rhône Valley, particularly a sun-drenched Provence appellation called Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The region makes red and white wines with up to 13 different grapes and is especially known for its bold grenache-based blends.
The area's winemaking legacy can be traced back to the papal schism in the 1300s, as Avignon's popes encouraged the development of viticulture. During this excursion, you'll walk through a vineyard with an expert to learn more about the grape's specific soil. Discover the characteristics and the origin of the soil's formation, plus the connection between the climate and grape varieties.
Stop for lunch in the village before you continue to Gigondas, often thought of as Chateauneuf du Pape's younger sibling to the north. Enjoy the views of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range along with another tasting before you return to Avignon in the late afternoon.
Day 13: Drive to Aix-en-Provence, Evening Food & Wine Pairing
Get back on the road today and make your way to Aix-en-Provence. "Aix," as it's commonly known, is a city set in an exceptional geographic location amid the picturesque charm of the surrounding villages. The rural landscapes here, famous for their vineyards, lavender-blanketed fields, and limestone cliffs of Sainte Victoire Mountain, have been immortalized in the works of painters such as Cezanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky.
After checking into your hotel, explore Aix-en-Provence on a two-hour guided walking tour, uncovering the rich heritage, art, and culture that defines this famous city. Stroll through a labyrinth of narrow streets, passing historic churches and squares as your guide points out famous and hidden gems.
Visit the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, a Romanesque/Gothic church built on the site of an ancient Greek temple to Apollo. Then, stop and see the Town Hall (known locally as the Hotel de Ville), which dates to the 14th century and sits on a plaza from the same era. The tour also includes a walk along the Cours Mirabeau, a busy thoroughfare lined with leafy trees, markets, and cafés—perfect for people watching. And keep your eyes peeled for ruins dating back to the days of the Roman Empire!
Day 14: Free Day in Aix-en-ProvenceToday is free time to explore the small city of Aix-en-Provence. Pick from the following options to make the most of your time in the capital of Provence:
- Take a walk on the famous Cours Mirabeau, with its archway of sycamores shading sidewalk cafes and terraces.
- Every day of the year, it's possible to stock up regional specialties in the city's markets. The larger markets happen three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings at Place des Prêcheurs, Place de la Madeleine, and in the Encagnane and Jas de Bouffan neighborhoods), as well as the flower markets (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday across from the Town Hall).
- Visit Cezanne's studio and garden where he painted some of his greatest masterpieces.
- Spend some time at the Caumont Art Centre, a cultural institution devoted to the Fine Arts. It's located in the former Hôtel de Caumont Mansion, a remarkable 17th-century building.
- Visit the Granet Museum, which displays more than 12,000 works and masterpieces of 17th to 21st-century paintings from the French School, 10 paintings by Cézanne, a sculpture gallery, and rooms devoted to archaeology and the Celtic-Ligurian civilization.
- Discover the Archbishops' Palace, adjoining to the St. Sauveur Cathedral, the former palace of the archbishops of Aix-en-Provence. It houses the Tapestry Museum on an upper floor (and during July, the principal events of the Festival of Song).
- Enter the Pavillon Vendôme with its magnificent French-style gardens. In addition to a beautiful collection of portraits and furnishings, the museum displays contemporary and modern art exhibitions.
Day 15: Provençal Cooking Class in Aix-en-Provence
The southeastern French region of Provence is one of the most scenic in the country. It's the land of the Riveria, medieval villages, lavender fields, and endless olive groves and vineyards. But Provence is as much a way of life as it is a point on a map. Today you'll experience Provence's culture and rich way of life on a food tour and cooking class in Aix-en-Provence.
On this day-long cooking adventure, you'll browse the various food markets of Aix's Old Town and meet local purveyors. Enjoy learning about fresh regional produce, like herbes de Provence, olive oil, truffles, figs, honey, and more. Then, you'll bring these ingredients to the home of your host to prepare a feast using local recipes. On the way back to the country house, which follows a route that passes through the scenic Montaiguet Forest, you'll stop at a local chateau to select some regional wine to pair with your meal.
Upon arriving at the country home, take a stroll around the property and search for wild aromatic herbs. Then it will be time to start the cooking class, and you and a group of culinary enthusiasts will actively participate in the preparation of various recipes. Finally, after approximately two hours of cooking, it's time to sit down at the long convivial table and enjoy your gastronomic creations!
After a memorable meal, you'll return to Aix for the evening.
Day 16: Wine Tour in the Luberon Nature ParkImmerse yourself in the beautiful South Luberon wine region with a half-day guided tour. Together with your expert wine guide, you'll learn all about the characteristic Luberon terroir, local grape varieties, and traditional winemaking processes while visiting family-owned wineries and cellars. Discover the winemakers’ savoir-faire and sample authentic Luberon wines, whose characteristics sit somewhere between the Provence and Rhône Valley styles—with characterful reds and pale, crisp rosés.
Day 17: Drive to Saint Tropez & the Riviera
Drive east across the Provence countryside today towards the sun-soaked Riviera, where you'll find the famous town of Saint-Tropez. Originally a fishing village with a strong connection to the sea, the seaside resort has grown into an international destination. In the 19th and 20th centuries, a wave of artists, painters, writers, and filmmakers settled in Saint-Tropez, turning the quiet city into a meeting point for culture and literature. These days, it's a hub for art and recreation, with some of the world's most prestigious summertime resorts located on its shores.
Spend the day exploring the city's shops, art galleries, and historic sites on your own on foot or by bike. Discover the town's Old Port, where some of the world's most beautiful sailing yachts dock at the Place des Lices. See the Citadel of Saint-Tropez (an ancient fortress turned maritime museum) then head to the beach for a few hours soaking in the sunshine.
Beach lovers will enjoy spending time relaxing on the area's many beaches, which stretch along 7.5 miles (12 km) of sunny shoreline. Favorites include Plage de la Bouillabaisse (great views of the village with a restaurant & bar), Plage des Salins (made famous by Brigitte Bardot), La Ponche Beach (small, secluded & quiet), or Pampelonne Beach (arguably the most famous, with plenty of clubs and dancing.)
Round out your day with a picnic dinner, delivered to you right on the beach. Savor a provençal buffet or meats, bread, fruit, wine, olives, and other products, admire the sunset, and dig your toes in the white sand.
Day 18: Explore Saint-Tropez's Surroundings
Today you'll explore Saint-Tropez's surroundings, discovering the Mediterranean coast by small pretty roads (often leading to hidden creeks and wild beaches). The route is a scenic one, passing by hidden beaches, the rugged coast of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, and the bayside enclave of Cavalaire-sur-Mer. There will even be time for a break in the medieval hilltop village of Ramatuelle and a visit to the intimate beaches of Escalet.You can then visit the ancient village of Grimaud, which overlooks the bay of Saint-Tropez and is famous for its 11th-century castle. Next, continue to the charming Port Grimaud, whose little canals and colorful waterfront homes echo the beauty of Venice. Your day culminates with a stroll on the bayfront city of Sainte-Maxime, located just north of Saint-Tropez, where you can enjoy a late-afternoon Côte-de-Provence wine tasting.
After this day of exploration on the coast, you'll drive back to your accommodation in Saint-Tropez for the evening.
Day 19: Drive to Nice, Explore Menton
Continue along the Riviera today to reach its capital of Nice. This historic city is famous for its artistic spirit, grand plazas, crescent-shaped pebble beaches, and the narrow streets of its colorful old town, the Vieille Ville. Nice is a densely populated coastal metropolis (the seventh most populous city in France), which means there are secrets to discover and adventures to be had around every corner.Thanks to the central location of your accommodation, you'll be able to enjoy most of the city on foot. Must-visit sites include the Greek Quarter (Nice was actually founded by the Ancient Greeks of the Massalia region in 350 BCE), and the Roman remains of an amphitheater and arena in the historic Cimiez neighborhood. This is also the location of two other notable landmarks: the opulent Excelsior Régina Palace, where Queen Victoria of England used to summer on the French Riviera, and the Musée Matisse, a museum showcasing the works of Nice's most famous painter, the expressionist master Henri Matisse.
As Menton sits on the border with Italy, there is no finer reason to dash across for a dose of la dolce vita than the all-day Friday market in Ventimiglia (Vintimille in French). The market sprawls over half a mile (1 km) along the seafront and is popular for its fruit and veg and tasty deli counters (mozzarella-stuffed peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, etc). In this vast weekly market, there is a good-natured and colorful atmosphere, and you can spend hours simply strolling along with the stalls full of specialty gourmet offerings before returning to Nice for the evening.
Day 20: Gourmet Foodie Tour of Nice & Guided Tour of Monaco, Monte Carlo & Eze
Savor the sights and sounds of Nice's open-air markets with a guided walking tour that embarks in the morning and culminates around noon. Your local expert guide will lead you through a gastronomic odyssey that will surprise and delight your palate with delicious flavors both familiar and exotic. Much of this adventure is an off-the-beaten-path tour that follows the narrow streets of Nice's colorful old town, Vieille Ville. All the while, your guide will introduce you to purveyors and market vendors who will treat you like a local while offering sweet and savory symbolic treats as they explain the history of Nice and its gastronomy.
After lunch, you'll travel 12 miles (20 km) along the coast to the city-state of Monaco, for a guided tour of one of the world's smallest countries. Visit the famous Monte Carlo district with its legendary casino and see Prince Rainier's car collection, then continue to the Rocher de Monaco (Rock of Monaco). This is the location of the town's oldest neighborhood, the medieval Old Town. From here, the views of the sunny coast are unparalleled. Learn about this community's history and anecdotes about the dynasty which has reigned there for decades.
Proceed to the medieval village of Eze, which perches high above the Mediterranean Sea. Thanks to its location and history, it's a popular destination with painters and artists. Explore the famous Chapelle Sainte-Croix and the ruins of the ancient castle, which allude to the city's strategic location on the coast. After a stroll through the town's peaceful gardens, you'll be driven back to Nice for the evening.
Day 21: Depart Nice
Your grand tour of France comes to a close today, as you enjoy a final leisurely breakfast in the Riviera sunshine before driving to the airport to return your rental car and catch your departing flight. A bientôt!
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