This exciting, yet easy-going itinerary is the perfect introduction to France—especially for groups and families (ages 10 and up). Over the course of two weeks, you'll spend quality time in Paris, the Loire Valley, Provence, and the French Riviera with a fun mix of educational tours led by local guides and free time to explore on your own.

Highlights

  • Check-off Parisian highlights like the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, and Notre Dame
  • Get a private tour of Versailles and the gardens with a local historian
  • Tour former residences of French kings (and Leonardo Da Vinci) in the Loire Valley
  • Visit zoo animals, olive oil producers, wineries, and lavender fields
  • Spend your last day shopping and cooking lunch with a chef in Nice

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris - Eiffel Tower & Seine Cruise Paris
Day 2 Canal Saint-Martin Food Tour - Le Louvre Museum Tour Paris
Day 3 Versailles Day-Trip Paris
Day 4 Train to the Loire Valley - Explore Amboise Amboise
Day 5 Zoo de Beauval Day-Trip Amboise
Day 6 Chambord & Cheverny Castle Tour Amboise
Day 7 Train from Amboise to Avignon Saint Rémy de Provence
Day 8 Olive Oil & Wine Tour Saint Rémy de Provence
Day 9 Lavender Tour in the Luberon Saint Rémy de Provence
Day 10 Ancient Roman Sites Tour Saint Rémy de Provence
Day 11 Train to Nice - Explore the City Nice
Day 12 Nice City Tour Nice
Day 13 Cooking Class in Nice Nice
Day 14 Depart Nice  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris - Eiffel Tower & Seine Cruise

Welcome to Paris!
Welcome to Paris!

Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights! Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation where you can drop off your luggage and hit the streets.

Synonymous with food, culture, fashion, and architecture, Paris needs no introduction. Despite being the dream destination for millions of people each year, the French capital still has plenty of hidden secrets to offer. Monument-lined boulevards, museums, classical bistros, and boutiques are now enhanced by a new wave of multimedia galleries, creative wine bars, design shops, and tech start-ups.

A good place to spend your first evening is by visiting the 1050-foot (320-m) tall Eiffel Tower, conceived by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World's Fair. Luckily, the art nouveau tower's popularity assured its survival.

It's advised to prebook your tickets online, which gives you access to the lifts to the first two floors and the summit. It's a timed entry ticket, but be aware that you can spend some time in line because of security checkings and the number of tourists. Another option is to climb as far as the 2nd floor via the south pillar's 704 stairs (no prebooking needed). 

Following the tour, take a cruise on the Seine (1 hour), with frequent departures daily until 10 pm. These glass boats embark at the foot of the Eiffel Tower with open-air observation decks for exceptional views. Onboard you'll find personal audioguides (optional), which are available in 14 different languages including a special commentary for children. In addition, a hostess-guide will be available onboard to answer all of your questions.

Day 2: Canal Saint-Martin Food Tour - Le Louvre Museum Tour

Canal Saint Martin food tour
Canal Saint-Martin food tour

Make sure to save some room while dining on breakfast today before you embark on an artisan food tour (3 hours). 

This delicious food odyssey focuses on picturesque neighborhoods that will open your senses to a whole new world of French culture. It's packed with inspiring locales and tastings along the way, while a personable expert fills you in on each mouth-watering product.

While the tour focuses on Canal Saint-Martin, you'll get a glimpse of Le Marais and Temple while sampling scrumptious delicacies from the city's top artisanal producers. The itinerary also includes a trip to a hidden market, as well as an offbeat cheese and wine tasting with passionate French connoisseurs.

Following the tour, you'll have some free time before you meet your guide for a visit to Le Louvre Museum during a two-hour excursion. Once a royal palace and today the largest museum in the world, the Louvre hides in its walls centuries of secrets, vile crimes, and mysterious masterpieces. 

Keep on exploring Paris or make your way back to your hotel after the visit.

Day 3: Versailles Day-Trip

Apollo Fountain at Versailles
Apollo Fountain at Versailles

After breakfast, you'll meet your private guide for day-trip to Versailles (5 hours including transportation).

This family-themed tour starts with a train ride from Paris where you'll enter Versailles via skip-the-line access. Then, travel back in time over the centuries to explore what life was like living in the splendor of Versailles amongst the kings and queens of France.

Your guide—a specialist in family tours and an accredited historian—will explain the magnificence of Versailles from the ornately-painted ceilings and private royal quarters, to the resplendent Hall of Mirrors allowing you to walk through the ultimate display of power and prestige. Take time to explore the hidden details of the palace and enchanting gardens. 

Following the tour, you'll return to Paris where you'll have the rest of the day to spend at leisure.

Day 4: Train to the Loire Valley - Explore Amboise

The charming town of Amboise—your base for the Loire Valley
The charming town of Amboise—your base for the Loire Valley

This morning, after breakfast in Paris, you'll be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the train station. This is where you'll connect to a high-speed TGV train headed for Saint-Pierre des Corps (2 hours). Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by a private driver and transferred to your hotel in Amboise—a great jumping-off point for exploring the Loire Valley.

From here, you'll have free time to spend at leisure. Amboise has a picturesque setting on the southern bank of the Loire with bustling markets, excellent restaurants, and great shopping. As for culture, a good place to start is by visiting the final residence of Leonardo da Vince, called Clos Lucé, located in a large château in the center of town.

Day 5: Zoo de Beauval Day-Trip

Hang with the elephants at France's largest zoo
Hang with the elephants at France's largest zoo

Today, a  driver will pick you at your hotel for a private transfer to the famous Zoo de Beauval where you can enjoy the grounds on your own. 

Ranked among the 10 best zoos in the world, the Zoo of Beauval presents the greatest diversity of animal life in France with the chance to view some 600 species of animal, including some rarely seen in Europe, over the span of nearly 75,000 acres. This French zoo is in particular unique for its giant pandas.

At the entrance, foreign visitors will receive a map in English. Visitors will also discover that most of the educational panels are translated into English.

In the late afternoon, your driver will return you to Amboise.

Day 6: Chambord & Cheverny Castle Tour

Chateau de Cheverny
Chateau de Cheverny

Today begins with a free morning in Amboise to spend any way you'd like! 

After lunch, you'll be picked up at your hotel by a private guide for a half-day tour of two castles (5 hours).  The excursion kicks off with a drive to Chateau de Chambord, boasting an estate and national game reserve as large as Paris. This chateau itself is a unique monument by its architecture and proportions, and it is said that Leonardo da Vinci likely took part in the conception of the project. With more than 400 rooms and a stunning double spiral staircase leading to the royal apartments of François I and Louis XIV, Chambord is a highlight of the Loire Valley.

Next is the Château de Cheverny, an estate and botanical park open to the public since 1922 that has been in the same family for more than six centuries. Thus the visitor can appreciate the splendor and the delight of living in a chateau. It's also famous for the tradition of the horse-back hunt with an impressive pack of 100 dogs. If lucky, you may have a chance to witness the spectacular daily event called “the dogs’ soup”.

Following the tour, you'll be returned to your hotel in Amboise.

Day 7: Train from Amboise to Avignon

Drive from Avignon to Saint Remy
Drive from Avignon to Saint Remy

This morning, you'll be picked up and transferred to the railway station for your journey to Avignon (5 hours), which includes a connection and change of station in Paris. 

Upon arrival in Avignon, you'll be greeted and transferred to your hotel in Saint Remy de Provence. Then take the rest of the day to explore this charming village that exudes a typically Provençal way of life.

Stroll along the boulevards under the shade of century-old plane trees, wander around the narrow little streets, and check out the boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants that all help to make the village's historic center so lively.

Day 8: Olive Oil & Wine Tour

Provence vineyards
Provence vineyards

After breakfast, you'll be picked up by private guide for an olive oil and wine tour in Les Baux de Provence (4 hours), a medieval village labeled as one of the most beautiful places in France. 

Your first stop of the tour is tasting at an olive oil mill amidst beautiful olive groves in Provence where olive oil, cracked olives, and black olives are entitled to the A.O.C. label. The unusual feature of this A.O.C. olive oil is that it is made from a blend of several varieties of olives. It is the subtle blend of these varieties, a secret guarded by each producer that gives the oils a whole palette of different flavors.

Next, you'll go wine tasting at an estate at the foot of the Alpilles hill range. The wines of Les Baux are defined by the unique, multi-faceted character of the soil, naturally protected and dried by the mistral wind. Nowadays, A.O.C Les Baux de Provence wines are unusual in that the grapes are grown using organic or biodynamic methods in over 85% of their geographical area. Varied fruit juices are also available.

You'll then be returned to your hotel to enjoy some free time.

Day 9: Lavender Tour in the Luberon

Lavender fields in the Luberon
Lavender fields in the Luberon

After breakfast, you'll be picked up by a private guide for a picturesque lavender tour in the Luberon (5 hours)—an area of Provence comprised of iconic mountains and stunning hilltop villages.

First, sit back and enjoy the scenic drive from Saint Rémy de Provence as you admire the breathtaking beauty of the lavender fields in bloom while your driver makes many stops for photos. 

You'll then have some free time to wander through the narrow streets, stairs, and squares of Roussillon. Set between the Luberon hills and Monts de Vaucluse, this village is ranked as one of the most beautiful and unique places in France with a wide palette of flamboyant colors thanks to its natural clay earth pigment. 

Your driver will also make a stop at a panoramic viewpoint where you can take pictures of the hilltop village of Gordes. One the way back to Saint Rémy de Provence, you'll make a stop at Senanque Abbey where you can take in the views of this famous Cistercian church surrounded by lavender fields, which is still ruled by monks.

Day 10: Ancient Roman Sites Tour

Ampitheater of Nîmes
Amphitheater of Nîmes

After breakfast, you'll be picked up at the hotel for a fascinating tour of Provence's best ancient Roman sites (6 hours).

The excursion begins with a drive to Nîmes—a city proud of its arts scene and prestigious Roman past. Here you'll get to view the antique buildings, the amphitheater (entrance included), and the Maison Carrée, one of the best-preserved Romanesque facades in France.

Then head to Uzès, a wonderful medieval town set in the garrigues countryside (Mediterranean vegetation). While here, you'll see the Place aux Herbes where the Saturday market is held, along with palaces, cathedrals, and a unique bell-tower.

Outside of Uzès is the catchment area of the Roman aqueduct called Pont du Gard that once brought spring water to Nîmes. This amazing UNESCO-listed site dates back to the first century and is the most well-preserved section of the Roman aqueduct.

Following the tour, you'll return to your hotel for an afternoon of leisure.

Day 11: Train to Nice - Explore the City

The bay of Angels : Nice
Nice's Mediterranean setting

After breakfast, you'll be picked up and transferred to the railway station for your train to Nice. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel where you'll have the rest of the day to explore at your own pace. 

With old-world opulence, year-round sunshine, and a stunning seaside location, Nice is the unofficial capital of the Côte d'Azur, and a must-see for every visitor. The city has been a retreat for high-rollers since the 19th century and today offers fabulous markets, glorious architecture, and excellent dining options. 

A good place to start is by visiting Nice's old town, or Vieux Nice. Wander through its maze of narrow lanes and architectural gems, such as the Cathédral Sainte-RéparateOpera House, and Palais du Justice with and an awe-inspiring bell tower. You can also visit the city's daily market called Cours Saleya featuring a vast array of products from handcrafted carvings to fresh flowers and quality fruit and vegetables. 

From here, you can walk along the Promenade des Anglais, a boulevard fronting the bay lined with grand cafes and hotels. If hitting the beach is a priority, simply head to the pebbly shores and soak in the Mediterranean views. 

Perhaps you want to finish the day with a sunset drink at the port as you watch boats bobbing in the harbor. As for dinner, Nice offers a large concentration of restaurants to choose from.

Day 12: Nice City Tour

Colorful Port Lympia in Nice
Colorful Port Lympia in Nice

After breakfast, you'll be picked up for a driving tour of Nice (4 hours) led by a local expert. Nicknamed Nissa La Bella ("Nice the Beautiful"), Nice is a historic, yet densely populated coastal metropolis (the seventh most populous city in France), which means there are plenty of secrets to discover and adventures to be had around every corner.

This is an immersive experience that reveals Nice's highlights, landmarks, and legends. Your guide will take you to must-visit sites like 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 one of Nice's most famous residents, the expressionist master painter Henri Matisse.

Other highlights of the tour include stops at Port Lympia and the ornate St. Nicholas Cathedral, amongst others. The tour ends, fittingly, with a visit to one of the city's most famous landmarks, the Negresco Hotel, a throwback to France at the turn of the 20th century. Here you can enjoy an aperitif in style and make a toast to your very own slice of the Belle Époque.

Day 13: Cooking Class in Nice

Cours Saleya is a food market every day except Monday when it becomes a flea market
Cours Saleya is a food market every day except Monday when it becomes a flea market

After breakfast, you'll begin an exciting food-themed excursion which includes a market tour, a cooking class, and a delicious lunch (5.5 hours).

Once you meet your instructor and fellow classmates (7 people max), the day begins with a trip to at the Cours Saleya market in the fresh morning breeze. The narrow maze of centuries-old streets that is the Vieux Nice opens up onto this splendid space lined with bars, cafés, and fish restaurants on either side with market stalls down the center.

Depending on the season you might see organic lemons, perfect for making the local lemon tart, real wild asparagus, fragrant Mara des Bois strawberries, tomatoes ripened on the vine, peaches bursting with juice, and of course mesclun salad leaves (no Niçois meal would be complete without it).

You will also select the best meat and fish for your choice of menu—perhaps lamb from the nearby Alpes de Haute-Provence or sea bass from the Mediterranean. Because traditional Niçois cooking relies more on vegetables than meat or fish, we can also plan an entirely vegetarian menu. No matter what the main ingredient is, there's always room for wine and a selection of cheeses.

Then make your way to our newly created cooking studio where everyone will play a role in preparing the meal. No need to worry if you are a beginning cook—the atmosphere is relaxed! A couple of hours later, sit down to an authentic Niçois meal and toast your efforts with a glass of rosé (or, if you prefer, an intriguing local red or white wine).

The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore Nice on your own or simply relax on the beaches.

Day 14: Depart Nice

Goodbye, Nice!
Goodbye, Nice!

It's time to say goodbye to the South of France! Enjoy your last moments by taking a seaside stroll in Nice or shopping for souvenirs. At the designated time, you'll drop off the rental car and transfer to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport for your departure flight. Safe travels!

Map

Map of France Family Adventure - 14 Days
Map of France Family Adventure - 14 Days