- Sample Provence wine in postcard-worthy villages
- Explore rocky inlets and swim in turquoise water
- Spend an afternoon at the Louvre
- Tour romantic Avignon & the old-world Luberon valley
- Experience the magic of Paris at nighttime
|Day 1||Arrive in Paris||Paris|
|Day 2||Chauffeured Tour of Paris in a Vintage Car||Paris|
|Day 3||Pastry Tour of Le Marais & Afternoon at the Louvre||Paris|
|Day 4||Paris to Marseille, Afternoon of Art & History||Marseille|
|Day 5||Private Boat Cruise & Photography Workshop||Marseille|
|Day 6||Cassis and Bandol Rosé Wine Tour||Marseille|
|Day 7||Arrive in Aix-en-Provence||Aix en Provence|
|Day 8||Provençal Cooking Class in Aix-en-Provence||Aix en Provence|
|Day 9||Avignon & Hilltop Villages of the Luberon||Aix en Provence|
|Day 10||Au revoir, France!|
Day 1: Arrive in Paris
Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights! 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 to explore the streets near your accommodation before dinner.
Paris is alive and thriving with activity day and night. It's the perfect city to indulge in a little shopping, with department stores like Lafayette and Printemps housing some of the best local designers around, and small boutique shops filled with unique high-quality wares.
Colorful streets and historic monuments invite visitors to stroll downtown, while narrow streets and cozy coffee shops 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.
After settling into your hotel, head out for your first look at the city. At the end of the day, head to a bar along the Rives de Seine for a pre-dinner aperitif on the terrace while you enjoy the sunset and a glass of wine. Take in the city views of the Pont Neuf, the tip of Île de la Cité, and the Pont des Arts as you watch the people and boats going by. After drinks, make your way to a local French restaurant for a three-course dinner next to your hotel.
Day 2: Chauffeured Tour of Paris in a Vintage Car
Enjoy a luxurious Parisian breakfast, then head out for a tour of the capital in a classic vintage car. Spend three hours exploring the city's most remarkable monuments, wide-open boulevards, and riverside esplanades. See the famous sights like Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower but also less-known locations like the Arènes de Lutèce, an ancient Roman amphitheater. Get to know the capital's secrets while enjoying the comfort and class of your vintage ride.
After lunch at a cozy neighborhood eatery, stretch your legs with a private walking tour. Visit historical highlights of the Île de la Cité, like the medieval Palais de la Cité and Sainte Chapelle, renowned for its floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows. Unfortunately, due to the April 2019 fire in Notre Dame, the cathedral is closed for several years for restoration, but a walk around the exterior still gives a sense of the building's magnificence.
From here, wander through the streets of the trendy Le Marais district to see historic sights like the Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris.
Wrap up the day with a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Enjoy the views from this iconic monument before ending the tour with a romantic boat cruise along the Seine.
Day 3: Pastry Tour of Le Marais & Afternoon at the Louvre
Eating pastries and enjoying art is synonymous with French culture, and you'll get to do plenty of both today. Start your day with a tour of the Le Marais neighborhood with a hyper-local guide (a neighborhood resident, in fact!) to explore the secret cafes and taste the best baked goods in the city. Spend two hours sampling crépes, crème brûlée, pain au chocolat, espresso, chocolates, macarons, and more.
Visit the city's oldest food market, the Marché des Enfants Rouges, and try your hand at haggling for your favorite treat. As you walk, learn about world-famous pastry chefs: Poîlane, Jean-Paul Hévin, Jacques Genin, Pierre Hermé, and others.
In the afternoon, it's time to explore the Louvre, the world's largest art museum. Skip the lines and head right to the classics, as well as your personal favorites. Get up close to Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, then get some fresh air at the Tuileries Garden. In the evening, explore the Champs Elysees and the majestic Arc de Triomphe.
Day 4: Paris to Marseille, Afternoon of Art & History
Start the day with a transfer to Marseille, in the south of France. Arrive at the airport or train station, then head to the hotel via a private transfer.
After checking in, head out to explore this historic city on the Mediterranean coast. "Historic" might even be an understatement—with 2600 years of history under its belt, this is France’s oldest city. It's so old, in fact, that its foundations date back to the ancient Greek colony of Massalia around 600 BCE.
Spend the day visiting the city's historic neighborhoods, like the colorful district of Le Panier. This is the "Old Marseille," where the city has its roots. It's a working-class enclave on the central port and is the picture of Mediterranean beauty with medieval plazas, ancient churches, and brightly colored facades of the tenement buildings. You'll also find street art on the walls in the form of colorful frescoes.
Other must-visit areas of Marseille include the city center, the waterfront, the hilltop basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde, and the roman monastic foundation of Saint-Victor Abbey. You can also follow a walkway to Fort Saint-Jean, a fortification dominating the port that was built in 1660 by Louis XIV. Be sure to pay a visit to the fascinating Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM), which features permanent exhibits devoted to the history of these regional societies from ancient times to the present day.
End the excursion in Vieux-Port, in the heart of the city, where you can finish the day by enjoying a good pastis or beer as the sun goes down.
Day 5: Private Boat Cruise & Photography Workshop
Spend the morning discovering the hidden gems of Marseille. Just a stone's throw from the tumult of the city center, you'll find one of the world's most beautiful coastal regions. Make your way to the port, then set sail on a private boat tour. Your personal skipper will navigate to the day's first stop: the Frioul Islands archipelago. With its little port and famous Château d'If, this neighborhood of Marseille includes four small islands with great views of little rocky coves and the ancient castle.
From here, continue your tour to Malmousque to explore hidden rocky inlets and turquoise water—perfect for a dip in the water. Finish your trip at the beautiful Vallon des Auffes, an ancient fishing port located under a huge bridge. You'll have ample time for swimming in these hidden coves, which are difficult to access without a boat.
Back on solid ground, enjoy the golden afternoon hour with a local photography guide. Bring your phone or camera with you and explore the colorful streets of Marseille while improving your photography skills with your photographer guide's help.
At the end of the day, enjoy dinner in the city center.
Day 6: Cassis and Bandol Rosé Wine Tour
On the coast of France's southeastern Provence region lie two charming Mediterranean villages: Cassis and Bandol. Besides the old-world charm, these villages are known for their breathtaking natural beauty.
Cassis sits on the edge of Calanques National Park, which boasts hidden coves and large limestone sea cliffs. Bandol is known for its crescent white-sand beach, which appeals to sunseekers of all stripes. Both areas, however, are deservedly famous for their hundreds of acres of vineyards that produce stellar wines. On a full-day wine tour of these two villages, you'll get to sample some of the best.
Provence, in general, is renowned for its fine rosé wines, but Cassis is more famous for whites while Bandol is known for reds and rosés. You'll visit some of the most famous wineries in this region and enjoy tastings overlooking beautiful terraced vineyards and the Mediterranean Sea. The tastings also include tours of the facilities for some insight into the production process. Plus there's a stop at Cap Canaille, which overlooks Cassis from the east, for even more jaw-dropping views. The excursion ends with a leisurely lunch back in the postcard-worthy fishing village of Cassis.
Return to Marseille in the evening.
Day 7: Arrive in Aix-en-Provence
In the morning, transfer from Marseille to Aix-en-Provence, a half-hour drive away. Spend the morning exploring the famous city on a two-hour guided walking tour and uncover the rich heritage, art, and culture that defines the city. Stroll 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. 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 includes a walk along the Cours Mirabeau, a busy thoroughfare lined with leafy trees and full of markets and cafés—perfect for people watching. Keep your eyes peeled for ruins dating back to the days of the Roman Empire.
Spend the afternoon exploring the city on your own. Visit the flower market and the Provençal food market to find local specialties such as macarons, calissons, goat’s cheeses, olive oil, honey, and fantastic local wines. Wander the narrow streets go shopping in the fashion boutiques of this “mini-Paris," or relax with a luxurious spa or hammam.
Enjoy dinner on your own at one of the city's incredible farm-to-table restaurants.
Day 8: Provençal Cooking Class in Aix-en-Provence
The southeastern French region of Provence is like a postcard. This is the land of the Riveria, and medieval hillside villages, and 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 foodie tour of one of the most beautiful towns in all of France, Aix-en-Provence.
On this day-long cooking adventure, you'll browse the myriad food markets of Aix's Old Town, meet local purveyors, and pick up some of the fresh regional produce that the area is famous for, like herbes de Provence, olive oil, truffles, figs, honey, and more. You'll bring these ingredients to the home of your host and then work on recipes and prepare the feast. 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 local wine to pair with your meal.
Upon arriving at the country home, you can 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. After approximately two hours of cooking, it will be time for everyone to sit down at the long convivial table and share in their gastronomic creations.
Later in the afternoon, you'll return to Aix en Provence where you'll overnight.
Day 9: Avignon & Hilltop Villages of the Luberon
After breakfast, travel about an hour northwest of Aix-en-Provence to the medieval city of Avignon. There's centuries of history here, as this is where Pope Clemente V moved his court in the 14th century. For several decades thereafter, it was the seat of the Catholic popes.
Spend the day exploring the city on a guided walking tour. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Le Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) and the Pont Saint-Bénézet medieval bridge, subject of the famous 15th-century song Sur le Pont d’Avignon. You'll also visit Avignon Cathedral, Doms Garden, Saint Pierre Basilica, and the Place de l'Horloge, Avignon's main square.
From here embark for the surrounding Luberon region, an area known for its countryside vineyards, orchards, and postcard-worthy hilltop villages. Travel at a leisurely pace as your guide takes you to the village of l'Isle Sur la Sorgue, famous for its outdoor weekend markets, antique stores, and old wooden waterwheels churning over the Sorgue River, which bisects the town. There are few better spots to enjoy a relaxing lunch than here in town, which is exactly what you'll do.
After eating, head to Gordes. This is arguably the most beautiful of all the hilltop villages in the Luberon. The skyline of Gordes is dominated by its fortified castle, and from its winding cobbled streets you can look out to wide views over the valley and surrounding hills. From Gordes, it's just a few kilometers to the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Sénanque, a Cistercian abbey founded in the 12th century.
This caps the day's eight-hour tour—from here, head back to Aix for the night.
Day 10: Au revoir, France!
After breakfast, take a private car or train transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. A bientôt!