- Join a culinary-themed walking tour in France's gastronomy capital
- Sample pours from a famous wine-growing region (Beaujolais) near Lyon
- Check out Annecy's historic art galleries, medieval sites, and glorious beaches
- Help a local host prepare one of Savoy's most famous dishes: tartiflette
- Hike to a famous glacier in the French Alps and visit the attached museum
|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|
Day 1: Arrive in Paris - Train to Lyon
Welcome to France! Upon arrival in Paris, you'll take a direct train to Lyon where you'll have the afternoon to discover this beautiful city at your own pace.
France's third most populous city (behind Paris and Marseille) is more compact allowing visitors to explore easily by foot. A good place to start is the city's UNESCO-listed Old Town and the Presque Ile—a piece of land surrounded by the two rivers of Saône and Rhône. This is where you can wander the narrow cobblestoned streets in search of the famous traboules (hidden passageways). Also recommended is a walk up to the Fourviere Basilica for a wonderful panorama over the whole city.
As for dinner, you will find yourself in the midst of hundreds of restaurants where you can choose between a range of family-owned restaurants serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, informal brasseries, and Michelin-starred restaurants like the iconic Auberge de Collonges, founded by the celebrity chef Paul Bocuse.
Day 2: Culinary Walking Tour in Lyon
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll meet a local guide to explore Lyon's fantastic culinary scene.
This unique walking tour (3.5 hours) explores the historic right bank of the Saône, known for its Renaissance architecture. The route, which includes tasting experiences along the way, will offer you the chance to admire this bourgeois architecture greatly influenced by its neighbor, Italy. In fact, the charm of Lyon's squares and streets will likely transport you to the end of the Middle Ages.
At the end of the tour, you will have some free time to check out the city's outstanding museums, great shops, and vibrant nightlife thanks to its young student population.
Day 3: Meet Lyon's Tradesmen & Producers
Today, after breakfast, you'll be picked up for a private tour that will introduce you to some of the women and men who shape Lyon's natural wonders and gastronomy scene. As you travel between tradesmen and producers in the region, sit back and enjoy the mountain views between Lyon and Saint Etienne.
First, you'll meet a friendly potter who is passionate about his trade; watch how he transforms soil into homewares and pieces of art. Next, drive in the direction of the Pilat Regional Park where you’ll get to chat with a goat cheese making family who offers tastings of their succulent Rigotte of Condrieu. After lunch, you'll discover the world of a local painter, glassblower, and wood-turner, followed by a visit to a farmer and baker who cultivates his own wheat and makes his own flour.
Following the tour, you'll return to Lyon for the evening.
Day 4: Beaujolais Tour & Wine Tasting
After breakfast at your hotel, a private guide will pick you up for a tour 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, famous for its golden stone, which lends a unique charm to the surrounding villages.
Along the route, your knowledgable driver-guide will reveal his or her passion for the region 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.
Following the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Lyon.
Day 5: Train from Lyon to Annecy
This morning, at the designated time, you'll be transferred to the rail station for your train journey to Annecy. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up and transferred to your hotel where you'll have the rest of the day to explore on your own.
Annecy is one of the most popular towns in the French Alps with forests, rugged mountains, and 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 where you can find restaurants, bakeries, and boutiques.
A few suggestions within walking distance:
The River Thiou is one of the shortest rivers in Europe, at 2.2 miles (3.5 km), with canals running through town giving it the moniker 'Venice of the Alps'.
The Palais de l'Ile—also called the "old prison"—was built in the 12th century. You can see former prison cells and visit an exhibition on architecture and heritage. Located on the river, this is the ultimate symbol of Annecy and among the most photographed monuments in France.
The Château d'Annecy (Annecy Castle) was the home of the Counts of Geneva. In the 16th century, the castle entrance was fortified with a parapet walkway. Today it houses a museum with exhibitions on art and history in the area.
The Cathedral of Saint-Pierre is home to a number of artworks and Baroque pieces from the 19th century. Outside the cathedral, the 16th century Hotel Lambert was home to Francis de Sales (bishop of Geneva from 1601-1622).
- The Porte Sainte-Claire is one of the gateways into town, next to the Gallo House which has an 18th-century facade.
- Saint-Maurice has a flamboyant Gothic style and houses some interesting paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Day 6: Savoy Food & Nature Tour
After breakfast, you'll be picked up for a fun and interactive excursion in Savoy—a French territory in the Western Alps not far from Annecy. This unique tour is dedicated to the specific cuisine, terroir, and natural environment found in this part of the country.
Your driver will first take you to the small village of Saint-Ours, where you'll meet your host at a cheese cooperative—an adventure in itself. This is where you can choose and taste the variety of cheese that will be used a little later for lunch. You'll quickly come to find that your friendly host has lived in the area for years and will share everything about the area's farms, farmers, and “terroir”.
Next, you'll travel to your host's house where you'll spend some time helping with the preparation of one of Savoy’s most famous dishes: a tartiflette made with potatoes, reblochon cheese, and onions.
After lunch, your afternoon will be filled with conversation, explanations, and insight about Savoy, including forests and everything found in them. Your host will also help you concoct your own herbal tea and Christmas Wine to take home as souvenirs.
Transfer back to your hotel in Annecy after this excursion.
Day 7: Free Day in Annecy
Today is a free day to explore Annecy and nearby surroundings any way you'd like!
If you're visiting during the warmer months, consider heading to the lake where you can sunbathe on the beach, swim, and partake in a range of watersports available for rent.
For a bit more culture, head to the edge of town and visit the Basilique de la Visitation built in the 20th century. This is the home of the tomb of François de Sales and Jeanne de Chantal—both buried in rich copper sarcophaguses. The monument also offers a magnificent view of the town.
You can also cross the delightful Pont des Amours (Lovers' Bridge), a delicate-looking iron bridge constructed in 1907. Take a pretty walk along the lake edge to the Impérial Palace. Opened in 1913, the palace is now a luxury hotel with a casino, public garden, and beach.
Day 8: Train from Annecy to Chamonix - Guided Tour
At the designated time, you'll transfer to the rail station in Annecy for your train to Chamonix in the heart of the French Alps. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up and transferred to your hotel where you'll drop your bags and begin 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.
Your tour guide—a local historian—will help you retrace the history of mountaineering in these alps, which attracted British and Americans in the 19th century. The town has a history dating back 500 years, and the transition from a quiet village to major resort started in the early 20th century, culminating in the Winter Olympics at Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. Of course, the opportunity to see Mont Blanc itself also attracts many visitors.
Downtown Chamonix is a lively place with fancy hotels, outdoor gear stores, and plenty of restaurants including a two-Michelin-starred restaurant called Albert 1er. While in town, look for the building with the huge mural. Each person in the painting is a famous figure in Mont Blanc's history starting at the top with Marie Paradis, a waitress, and the first woman to reach the summit of Mont Blanc in 1808.
Day 9: Montenvers Glacier Excursion
After breakfast, get ready for an exciting day-trip to Montenvers, which includes an easy half-day hike.
First, meet your guide at the Chamonix train station where a charming red train will lead you to the famous Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in France and one of the biggest attractions in the Chamonix Valley. Access to the grotto includes a journey of 430 steps on both the outward and return walk from the top of the glacier gondola lift. The Gallery of Crystals features a collection of the finest crystal specimens in the Mont Blanc massif.
While here, you'll also have access to the Glaciorium. Established in 2012, this museum features an entire exhibition dedicated to glaciology, with interactive and educational presentations all about glaciers, how they form, and their history. It also answers questions related to climate and the environment, and how glaciers will change in the future.
Following the tour, you'll return to Chamonix where you'll have the rest of the day to spend at leisure.
Day 10: Depart Chamonix
It's time to say goodbye to France! At the designated time, you'll connect to the train station or airport for your departure or onward connection. Au revoir!