Follow eleven days of excellence along the excitement of Eastern France with this agenda. You'll stroll through the Champagne houses of Reims, streets of Strasbourg, and vineyards of the Alsace and Lorraine. Top it off with some Alpine cheese in Annecy and a dip in the waters of Nice before you depart.

Highlights

  • Sample in style at the Taittinger, Moët & Chandon, and Perrier Jouët Champagne houses
  • Ride a VW Kombi on a gourmet tour of the Alsace
  • Survey the Black Forest from the ramparts of Château du Haut Kœnigsbourg
  • Follow a guided tour through the picturesque villages of Alsace
  • Relax amid French Riviera vibes in Nice

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris, Transfer to Reims & Champagne Tasting Reims
Day 2 Champagne Tasting and Olfactory Workshop in Epernay Reims
Day 3 Reims to Strasbourg & Discover Petit France Strasbourg
Day 4 Exploring the Wine Route on a VW Kombi Strasbourg
Day 5 Train to Colmar & River Cruise of the Canals Colmar
Day 6 The Ridge Road in Alsace & Haut Kœnigsbourg Colmar
Day 7 Villages of Alsace Tour Colmar
Day 8 Drive from Colmar to Annecy Annecy
Day 9 Alpine Cheese & Savoie Wine Annecy
Day 10 Transfer to Geneva & Flight to Nice Nice
Day 11 Au Revoir, France  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris, Transfer to Reims & Champagne Tasting

Autumn in the Reims countryside
Autumn in the Reims countryside

Welcome to France! You'll meet your driver in Paris, then continue up to the city of Reims (pronounced "Rance," rhyming with how a French speaker says "France").

Once you've dropped your bags at your hotel, you'll meet your afternoon tour for a Segway ride through the Reims historic center, scoping out the main attractions of the city.

Switch off your wheels and stroll to Taittinger, through the ruins of the 13th-centruy Saint-Nicaise Abbey, which welcomes more than 70,000 visitors per year. Go 59 feet (18 meters) below ground into the Gallo-Roman chalk quarries, part of the "Coteaux, Maisons, et Caves de Champagne’ (Hillsides, Champagne Houses, and Cellars in Champagne) included on UNESCO's World Heritage list as one of the best examples of the Gothic style in the region. The abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution, but its cellars remain intact and under the purview of the Taittinger Champagne House. You'll see bottles of the Comtes de Champagne maturing throughout the cellar as you take your tour

After the cellars, you'll ascend for a tasting session to sample the Taittinger style during a customized tasting session. Your expert will explain the history and production of each cuvée as you sample in their tasting room.

The evening is then yours to spend as you will on a bubbly Champagne cloud.

Day 2: Champagne Tasting and Olfactory Workshop in Epernay

Champagne house Moet Chandon at the Avenue de Champagn
Champagne house Moet Chandon at the Avenue de Champagn

Your morning agenda is up to you. If you're an early riser, scope out the interior of Notre-Dame de Reims, the city cathedral and traditional coronation place of the French kings.

In the afternoon, you'll hop in a minivan for a tour through some of the famous Champagne vineyards around Epernay. Start through the “Montagne de Reims," the natural dividing line between Reims and Epernay, before you reach the Avenue of Champagne. Famed Champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon, Perrier Jouët, Pol Roger, and De Venoge all reside here, and you'll hear about their stories and successes from your guide.

You'll stop in a restored Champagne house for an olfactory workshop and tasting, introducing you to more of the beverage's complex aromas and flavors. Follow it with a regional lunch, with, of course, Champagne pairings.

Make one more stop at a family-run boutique winery, where you can see behind the scenes into the traditional vat room, press, and cellar. You'll stroll past the maturing bottles in the cellar before sampling some of their bestsellers. Return to Reims in the early evening, with time for a stroll before dinner or an early turn-in.

Day 3: Reims to Strasbourg & Discover Petit France

Traditional houses in La Petite France, Strasbourg
Traditional houses in La Petite France, Strasbourg

Transfer to one of Paris's central stations with a private driver, then take the high-speed train to Strasbourg. On arrival, you'll be greeted by your private driver. 

Check in to your hotel, then enjoy a private walking tour of Old Strasbourg. The city is an old university town, famous for its gastronomy and its architecture. Located just a few miles away from the German border the city has, for centuries, swung between French and German sovereignty, giving the city a charming bi-cultural atmosphere. 

See the city's famous astronomical clock, then continue your tour to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Several of Strasbourg's medieval churches, like Église Saint-Thomas or Église Saint-Guillaume, are worth spending time in this afternoon. End your tour at the Janus Fountain, then enjoy a free evening in the city.

Day 4: Exploring the Wine Route on a VW Kombi

Vintage 1959 Volkswagen Kombi
Vintage 1959 Volkswagen Kombi

Today you'll have the opportunity to discover Alsatian specialties on your gourmet day out. Start the day with a kougelopf tasting (traditional Alsatian cake), then load up into your private VW Kombi for a seventies-themed wine tasting. 

Your first stop is to the village of Ribeauvillé, known for its medieval old town and the fortified castles that surround the city. During the Middle Ages, the Lords of Ribeaupierre built three fortified castles, the ruins of which still dominate the town and surrounding hills to this day. You can access all three by a short hiking footpath up the mountainside.

In the afternoon, visit the Hôtel de Ville, or town hall (18th siècle), to see the city's prestigious collection of silver goblets, which were given to the town by the Comtes de Ribeaupierre. Continue to the 13th-century Butchers’ Tower and the House of the Fiddlers, famous for its 17th-century decorated façade. 

Afterward, return to Strasbourg to enjoy the evening in the heart of the city.

Day 5: Train to Colmar & River Cruise of the Canals

Canal in Colmar
Canal in Colmar

After breakfast, take the regional train south to Colmar. Check in to the hotel and relax a bit, then head out to explore the city. 

Colmar's half-timbered houses and peaceful canals are fairytale-like, especially in spring when foliage and flowers drape over the streets. Walk around the weaving cobblestone lanes of the Old Town and the cheerfully-painted houses in Little Venice, Colmar's loveliest neighborhood. The narrow Lauch River flows through here, alongside colorful buildings and impeccably restored homes. The best way to see this part of town is by a short river cruise—today's afternoon activity. It's part of the city tour, and takes you under several of the Old Town's arching bridges. 

In the later afternoon, explore the city's restaurants and cafes before one last evening stroll around the river. G'sundheit!

Day 6: The Ridge Road in Alsace & Haut Kœnigsbourg

Unterlinden Museum
Unterlinden Museum

Start with a leisurely morning lie-in or visit the Unterlinden Museum, one of the oldest museums in France. The collection is housed in a former convent, with cloister archways soaring overhead.

In the afternoon, meet your driver and guide near your hotel to set off down the wine route, with a stop for a tasting. Keep going to make your way up the Ridge Road, part of the boundary between the Alsace and Lorraine regions along the Vosges mountain range. You'll stop at the red sandstone turrets of the Château du Haut Kœnigsbourg. From atop its ramparts, you can take in the views of the Vosges, the Black Forest, and even the Alps on a clear day.

Day 7: Villages of Alsace Tour

Historic town of Eguisheim
Historic town of Eguisheim

Set out today for a tour of some of the quaint villages of the region. You'll start in Hunawihr, best known for its 16th-century fortified church that has been serving both the Catholic and Protestant communities since 1687, followed by Riquewihr to try some of the wines from its hillside vineyards. Visit Eguisheim next, full of pink buildings, flowers, and flowing wines.

The afternoon takes you to Turckheim, home of a famous night watchman whose calls in Alsatian of "take care of fire and light" echo through the streets to prevent house fires. It's the only place in Alsace that preserves the important 13th-century tradition, which is maintained primarily for touristic reasons. Nightly tours with the watchman are available at 10 PM each night from May to October.

Continue with a trip within the walls and narrow streets of Kientzheim, known for its half-timbered houses and privately owned castles. End your tour in Kaysersberg, voted the favorite French village of 2017 for its beauty. There will be plenty of wine tastings, history, architecture, and much more over the course of your outing.

Day 8: Drive from Colmar to Annecy

Winter in Annecy
Winter in Annecy

Pick up a rental car this morning to make your way to Annecy. The drive takes roughly 4 hours along any of the multiple routes you can choose to deliver you to the picturesque blue lake and surrounding city.

As you approach the city, you'll pass locals and travelers alike enjoying the towns stunning natural surroundings by bike, canoe, and even parapentes. After checking in to your hotel, leave your car to explore the Old Town on foot. The colorful 16th- and 17th-century buildings are home to restaurants, bakeries, and boutiques, and as you wander past the many canals running through the streets, you'll see why the town is called the Venice of the Alps.

Walk along the lakefront or pick up a bicycle, electric scooter, or pair of rollerblades to propel you along before you choose from one of the many restaurants for dinner.

Day 9: Alpine Cheese & Savoie Wine

Tomme, a French goat cheese
Tomme, a French goat cheese

Meet your guide in the center of town, then take off for a day of exploring the alpine region and its products. You'll taste local cheeses, like Tomme and Reblochon, as well as several white wines on the lower slopes. 

Enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and glimmering Lake Bourget below you. Head into the seemingly infinite rows of wine grapes to explore four historic vineyards—Parc de Chartreuse, the Chaîne de l'Epine, the Parc des Bauges, and the Combe de Savoie. You'll get to taste rare varieties of grapes, such as Chignin Bergeron, the Mondeuse Rouge de Savoie, and the Marestel.

After the wine tasting, meet the cows who make the milk for the iconic cheeses, then try some cheese yourself to round out the tour. After the half-day experience, return to your hotel.

Enjoy a quiet evening in Annecy, or head to the nearby village of Talloires for dinner. The area has an abundance of restaurants, from Michelin-starred dining to neighborhood favorites with a relaxed atmosphere.

Day 10: Transfer to Geneva & Flight to Nice

Nice port
Nice port

Drive to Geneva, then drop off your car on the French side and fly to Nice International Airport. 

Nice sits at the northern end of the French Riviera, near the border with Italy. Nicknamed Nissa La Bella ("Nice the Beautiful") for its artistic spirit, grand plazas, and crescent-shaped pebble beaches. Nice is inarguably the French Riviera's most popular city. The narrow cobbled streets of its old town, Vieille Ville,  are lined with pastel-colored buildings and a plethora of shops selling everything from soap to wine. 

Spend the day exploring the city on your own. Pick from the following options to make the most of your time in the coastal town: 

  • Explore the Greek quarter, which dates back to the time of the Ancient Greeks of the Massalia region around 350 BCE
  • See remains of the Roman amphitheater and area in the historic Cimiez neighborhood 
  • While in the Cimiez neighborhood, visit two other notable landmarks: the opulent Excelsior Régina Palace, where Queen Victoria of England used to spend her summers, and the Musée Matisse, a museum showcasing the works of the expressionist master Henri Matisse
  • Visit the ornate 20th-century St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which was built by the Royal Family for the Russian community of the French Riviera
  • Go for a stroll along the quays of Port Lympia and take in views of the water
  • End your day with a stop at the historic Negresco Hotel, where you can enjoy an aperitif in style and make a toast to your very own slice of the Belle Époque.

Day 11: Au Revoir, France

French Riviera by night
French Riviera by night

After breakfast, take a private car or train transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. A bientôt!


Map

Map of Highlights of Eastern France: Reims, Strasbourg, Colmar, Annecy, & More - 11 Days
Map of Highlights of Eastern France: Reims, Strasbourg, Colmar, Annecy, & More - 11 Days