This two-week adventure covers a great deal of ground while offering a range of unique excursions that capitalize on France's culture, cuisine, and scenery. Start the trip in Nice where you'll take a cooking class and check out towns along the Mediterranean coast. Then pick up a rental car and make your way to Provence, followed by Annecy at the foot of the French Alps. This is where you'll hike for two days—while staying at a mountain hut—before finishing in Paris, the 'City of Lights'.

Highlights

  • Spend your first full day shopping and cooking lunch with a chef in Nice
  • Attend an art show in a former quarry featuring enormous moving images
  • Get your fill of landscapes in the French Alps during a two-day hike
  • Help a local host prepare one of Savoy's most famous dishes: tartiflette
  • Take walking tours with Parisian experts in Le Marais and the Île de la Cité

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nice - Explore the City Nice
Day 2 French Cooking Class in Nice Nice
Day 3 Visit Eze & Monaco Nice
Day 4 Pick-Up Rental Car - Drive to Saint Rémy de Provence Saint Rémy de Provence
Day 5 Visit the Carrières de Lumières & Chateau des Baux Saint Rémy de Provence
Day 6 Private Tour of the Luberon Saint Rémy de Provence
Day 7 Drive from Saint Rémy de Provence to Annecy - Return Rental Car Annecy
Day 8 Mont Blanc Hike (Day 1 of 2) Mountain Hut
Day 9 Mont Blanc Hike (Day 2 of 2) Annecy
Day 10 Savoy Food & Nature Tour Annecy
Day 11 Train from Annecy to Paris Paris
Day 12 Ile de la Cité & Latin Quarter Walking Tour Paris
Day 13 Le Marais Walking Tour Paris
Day 14 Depart Paris  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nice - Explore the City

Welcome to the South of France!
Kick off in the South of France!

Welcome to Nice! Upon arrival at the airport or train station, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city center. From here, 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-Réparate, Opera House, and Palais du Justice 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; the city is known for dishes made with olives and seafood, like salade niçoise.

Day 2: French Cooking Class in Nice

Cook with fresh local produce
Cook a French meal using fresh local produce

Today you can take some time to enjoy Nice after breakfast before starting a half-day French cooking class. At the designated time, you'll make your way to a central location in the city where you'll meet your chef and fellow participants for this small-group comprehensive course.  

The next four hours will be spent preparing a fabulous three-course meal—one that you can easily replicate back home—using seasonal ingredients. Learn some French techniques, tips, and professional tricks along the way. You can also ask questions and exchange ideas with your chef and classmates. 

Since cooking goes hand-in-hand with tasting and sharing, everyone will gather together to eat the meal, accompanied by wines, at the end of class.

Day 3: Visit Eze & Monaco

Aerial view of the Mediterranean from Eze village
Aerial view of the Mediterranean from Eze village

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll have the entire morning to explore more of Nice at your leisure. In the afternoon, you'll be picked up by a local guide for a small-group tour of Eze and Monaco (4 hours). 

The first stop your guide will take you to is Eze, a medieval village with crafts shops and breathtaking views from its perched setting. During your visit, you'll take a guided tour of the perfumery Fragonard, for a real taste of Provence.

Next, head to the gorgeous old town of Monaco where you can visit the Prince's Palace of Monaco, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, and Cousteau Oceanographic Museum. You'll also take a tour of Monte-Carlo and drive the amazing Grand Prix circuit. There will be some free time to browse the luxurious shopping options, stroll through beautiful gardens, or simply watch the rich and beautiful with their megayachts in their favorite haunt.

Finish today's tour with a drive along the spectacular Lower Corniche, which harbors ancient villages and modern marinas while checking out the Bay of Villefranche. You'll eventually return to Nice where you can enjoy the rest of the evening as you please.

Day 4: Pick-Up Rental Car - Drive to Saint Rémy de Provence

Provençal scenery
Provençal scenery

This morning, you'll be transferred to the rental car agency to pick up your rental car for the next leg of the trip: Provence!

Once you're in the car, head towards the slow-paced lifestyle of the Provençal region starting with a stop in Aix en Provence. Bathed in the sunshine of its wonderful climate, the beauty of "Aix" is visible everywhere—especially in its lively streets and squares. In summer, languid days are easily spent strolling the shady boulevards, while the balmy evenings are perfect for sitting at outdoor terraces and cafés.

The city boasts two interesting historic areas: Vieil Aix and the Mazarin quarter divided by the beautiful avenue Cours Mirabeau. Other cultural attractions include the world-class Garnet Museum, Cézanne's art studio, and a trail of sites that Cézanne frequented.

Later in the afternoon, you'll drive to nearby Saint Remy de Provence located in the majestic setting of the Alpilles, between Avignon and Arles. Winding streets of the historic center offer private mansions from the Renaissance era and the 18th century, along with beautifully restored homes, chapels, and convents. Meanwhile, squares adorned with old fountains, as well as artists studies, cafés, and restaurants are all invitations to enjoy the Provençal way of life. 

Enjoy an evening soaking in the charm of this town's shaded boulevards and typical Provençal way of life.

Day 5: Visit the Carrières de Lumières & Chateau des Baux

Monuments in Provence
Monuments in Provence

Today you'll visit two key sites in Provence: Carrières de Lumières (Quarries of Lights) and Chateau des Baux

In the heart of Alpilles, the monumental Carrières de Lumières hosts extraordinary multimedia shows on the ruins of an old stone quarry. There are 70 projectors that display on open-air walls—as well as the ground and pillars of the quarry—where you can watch works by the greatest names in art history, in high definition.

Next, you'll visit the Chateau des Baux, a fortified castle built during the 10th century, located in Les Baux de Provence. This is one of the most beautiful historic sites in France. Built atop a rocky outcrop with views of the Alpilles and the surrounding region, the château provides unique, magnificent views over the surrounding vineyards, olive groves—and sometimes you can even see the Mediterranean sea on the horizon.

Day 6: Private Tour of the Luberon

Hilltop village of Gordes
The hilltop village of Gordes

After breakfast, you'll be picked up by a private guide for a full-day tour of the most beautiful villages of the Luberon.

Named after the mountain range running east to west between Cavaillon and Manosque, the Luberon is a Provençal patchwork of hilltop villages, vineyards, ancient abbeys and mile after mile of fragrant lavender fields. It’s a rural, traditional region that still makes time for the good things in life, particularly fine food and wine. In fact, nearly every village hosts its own weekly market, packed with stalls selling local specialties, especially olive oil, honey, and lavender.

Your guide will show you some highlights at a slow pace allowing you to take as much time as you possibly can to soak up the scenery and authentic atmosphere.

Day 7: Drive from Saint Rémy de Provence to Annecy - Return Rental Car

The canals and streets of Annecy
The canals and sidewalk cafés of Annecy

Today you'll depart Provence and drive to Annecy where you'll drop off your rental car. From here, you'll have the rest of the day to explore this walkable town on your own.

Annecy is one of the most popular towns in the French Alps with a setting that combines 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 8: Mont Blanc Hike (Day 1 of 2)

Drive to the French Alps
Make a drive into the French Alps

In the morning, you'll be picked up at your hotel by a private driver and transferred to the starting point of your two-day hike at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in France.

Over the next few days, you'll encounter beautiful pastures, summits, gardens, lakes, and villages as you hike through this stunning section of the French Alps. Equipped with a hiking roadbook and maps (and a packed lunch), you'll make your way to a mountain hut for your overnight stay surrounded by nature. Dinner will be served here alongside your fellow trekkers.

Day 9: Mont Blanc Hike (Day 2 of 2)

A trail near Mont Blanc
A hiking trail near Mont Blanc

After breakfast is served at your hut, you'll complete the second half of your two-day hike in Mont Blanc. Get ready to discover more spectacular panoramas that will take your breath away! 

At the end of the trek, you'll return to your starting point where you'll be picked up and transferred back to Annecy where you can enjoy a celebratory post-hike dinner in town.

Day 10: Savoy Food & Nature Tour

Have a tartiflette for lunch
Dine on a tartiflette for lunch

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 11: Train from Annecy to Paris

Welcome to Paris!
Welcome to Paris!

Today you'll be picked by a driver and transferred to the train station for your journey 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. 

Spend the remainder of the day resting after the journey and exploring the city at your own pace.

Day 12: Ile de la Cité & Latin Quarter Walking Tour

Cafe in the Ile de la Cité
A café in the Ile de la Cité

After breakfast, you'll start the day with a two-hour walking tour of Paris that includes the Ile de la Cité along with an in-depth exploration of the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral. Your dedicated expert guide and history addict will retrace the building of this 12th-century medieval gem and tell you all about the long-forgotten details lurking in the shadows.

Then, you'll cross the Seine river to discover the northern edge of the vibrant Latin Quarter and wander some of the oldest streets of Paris. Last but not least, your guide will take you to the neighborhood's most iconic intellectual hotspot: a bookstore called Shakespeare & Co!

Following the tour, you are free to continue exploring the city on your own.

Day 13: Le Marais Walking Tour

Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris

Today, you join a guided walking tour in Le Marais where you can dive deep into one of Paris's trendiest and most historic districts.

Located in the 4th arrondissement, the area is filled with leafy streets, hip boutiques, galleries, cafés, and nightlife. This is also the place to visit if you want to discover hidden treasures such as private mansions and medieval squares, along with more symbolic places such as the Place des Vosges. This grassy area (great for picnics) is home to elegant arcades and the Musée Victor Hugo, where the writer lived.

Your guide will offer local suggestions and anecdotes along the way about what makes this quartier so unique.

Day 14: Depart Paris

A street in Montmartre near the Sacre Couer
A street in Montmartre near the Sacre Couer

It's time to say goodbye to France! At the designated time you'll be picked up from your hotel by a private driver and transferred to the airport for your departure home or next destination. Au revoir! 

Map

Map of Nice, Provence, Paris & the French Alps - 14 Days
Map of Nice, Provence, Paris & the French Alps - 14 Days