Perfect for first-timers, this weeklong itinerary kicks off in the French capital where you'll summit the Eiffel Tower, gain skip-the-line access at Le Louvre, and sample some of Paris's best bakeries and chocolatiers. Then, ride a high-speed train to Avignon—your base for exploring the Provence region with canoeing and biking tours as well as a trip to a national park along the Mediterranean to finish the adventure

Highlights

  • Hit the streets of a famous neighborhood in Paris (Le Marais) with a local guide
  • Cruise along the Seine after dusk to see emblematic sites over dinner
  • Paddle a canoe on a famous waterway that became an inspiration for poets
  • Take an easy bike tour on Provençal backroads and vineyards
  • Relax at Calanques National Park on your own following a morning boat tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris - Explore the City Paris
Day 2 Chocolate & Pastry Tour - Free Time Paris
Day 3 Visit Le Louvre Museum - Dinner Cruise on the Seine Paris
Day 4 Train to Avignon - Canoeing on the River Sorgue Avignon
Day 5 Biking in the Alpilles - Free Time Avignon
Day 6 Cruise in Calanques National Park - Free Time Avignon
Day 7 Train to Paris - Depart France  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris - Explore the City

Sunset skyline aerial view from the L'Arc de Triomphe
Sunset skyline over the City of Lights

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). 

Enjoy the rest of the evening exploring Paris on your own!

Day 2: Chocolate & Pastry Tour - Free Time

A quiet street with restaurants in the bohemian Marais district
A quiet street in the bohemian Le Marais district

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll make your way to Le Marais. Located in the heart of Paris, this famous neighborhood is renowned for its grand architecture, boutique shops, and fine food.

While here, meet your guide and explore the district's hidden gems with a food-connoisseur and experienced chef trained by Pierre Gagnaire. Stumble upon a pastry shop, a chocolate shop, a Franco-Russian tea store, and even a store solely dedicated to absinthe! Indulge yourself in the best ice cream you will find in Paris and delicious treats from various bakeries. Finally, you'll visit a shop stacked with 1001 spices from across the world.

Your guide will also share fascinating stories behind this district while you take in the charming atmosphere and beautiful sights of the quaint roadside cafes, the Jewish Quarter, and the stunning mansions.

Following the tour, you'll have the rest of the day to continue enjoying Paris however you'd like.

Day 3: Visit Le Louvre Museum - Dinner Cruise on the Seine

Skip the line at this world-famous museum
Skip the line at this world-famous museum

Today, after breakfast, you'll make your way to the 1st arrondissement for a morning visit to Le Louvre Museum with skip-the-line-access tickets. 

Le Louvre is one of the largest and most important museums in the world. Housed in the expansive Louvre Palace, its most recent addition—the glass Louvre Pyramid—serves as the museum's iconic main entrance thanks to renowned American architect I.M. Pei.

Le Louvre's collection was first established in the 16th century as the private collection of King Francis I. One of the works of art he purchased was the Mona Lisa painting, and the collection grew steadily thanks to donations and purchases by the kings. Today, the museum has a collection of over one million works of art, of which about 35,000 are on display spread out over three wings of the former palace. Make sure to allow plenty of time to experience the highlights!

Following the museum, you can spend some time exploring more of the city on your own perhaps walking through Tuileries Gardens across the street. 

Later in the evening, you'll make your way to the Seine for a 2.5-hour dinner cruise, which includes multiple courses, a selection of fine wines, and musical entertainment—a fitting way to end your Paris portion of the trip!

Day 4: Train to Avignon - Canoeing on the River Sorgue

Spend the afternoon canoeing down the River Sorgue
Spend the afternoon canoeing down the River Sorgue

This morning, you'll be picked up at your hotel by a private driver and transferred to the Gare de Lyon train station for the high-speed (TGV) train to Avignon.  The route takes just under 3 hours. 

Upon arrival, you'll pick up your rental car from an agency in the train station. Then, drive to your hotel in Avignon's historic center, which includes magnificent architecture including the Popes' Palace and the Saint Bénézet Bridge, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Since this is your home base in Provence, you'll have more time to explore in the coming days. 

But first, it's time to drive to a meeting point in Fontaine de Vaucluse (just under an hour) for a canoeing excursion on the River Sorgue—a famous waterway with emerald clear water that became the source of inspiration for many poets over the last centuries. The canoe route travels all the way from Fontaine de Vaucluse to Isle sur la Sorgue lasting two-hours and roughly 5-miles (8 km). 

Back on dry land, you can then drive to the Provençal town of Gordes for a panoramic photo stop. If you have any energy left, enjoy a 30-minute hike on the 'Ochre Trail', which traverses a former ochre quarry.

You can then discover another hilltop village called Bonnieux with beautiful winding streets before driving through more authentic landscapes to arrive in Lacoste. Enjoy a panoramic photo stop in this old village best known for its most notorious resident, the Marquis de Sade, who lived in the castle during the 18th century.

Your last stop of the day before returning to Avignon for the evening is the village of Menerbes—famous thanks to the author Peter Mayle who chronicled his first year as a British expatriate in his book A Year in Provence.

Day 5: Biking in the Alpilles - Free Time

Les Baux de Provence
Drive through villages like Les Baux de Provence

After breakfast in Avignon, you'll set out for another outdoor adventure—this time by bicycle. First, make the drive from your accommodation to the meeting point in Saint Rémy de Provence (30 minutes). This is where you'll ride around the Vineyard of the Alpilles by bike during a half-day tour. This is an easy route along Provençal back roads where you'll also visit the Domaine of Valdition—a producer of wine and olive oil since the era of François the 1st. 

Following the bike tour, you can drive to Les Baux de Provence in the early afternoon. Built on a rocky outcrop, the citadel of Les Baux offers incomparable panoramic views over the plains and Alpilles mountain range. Architectural masterpieces can be seen and admired at every corner of the cobblestone lanes that criss-cross this old village, along with art galleries, craft workshops, boutiques, museums, and gourmet restaurants.

Along with the château of Les Baux, make sure to check out the Carrières de Lumières—a veritable open-air museum offering enormous moving images of famous artists in a former quarry that is not-to-be-missed.

If there's time, you can also drive to the Pont du Gard. This is the highest aqueduct built in the Roman empire 2,000 years ago and the first antique monument visited in France. Located between Montpellier, Marseille, and Avignon, this site is a real landmark of Provence and the south of France. Because of its historical value and exceptional condition, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

Day 6: Cruise in Calanques National Park - Free Time

Port Pin in Cassis
One of many stunning inlets near Cassis

This morning, you'll make the drive from your accommodation in Avignon to the port town of Cassis along the Mediterranean Sea—a route of approximately 1.5 hours.

This is where you'll board a small boat with fellow passengers leaving the quaint port of Cassis behind to visit a series of inlets formed by limestone cliffs, which in turn created a series of beautiful little bays. In fact, the area has a very specific eco-system that has been protected since 2012 when the entire 20-mile stretch was designated as Calanques National Park. The park's 21,000 acres (8,500 hectares) spans between Marseille, Cassis, and La Ciotat with endless trails and places to explore for every fitness level. It's a great place to soak up some sun, go for a swim, and take in the views.

Once you disembark the cruise, you're free to explore more of the park or stick around town. Cassis inevitably evokes a colorful fishing port and is one of France's outstanding wine-growing areas. The entire landscape—built like an amphitheater by the sea—is exceptional with a lush green setting mounted on the blue water of the Mediterranean.

In the late afternoon, you'll return to Avignon to enjoy your last night of the trip, perhaps sampling Avignon's sophisticated dining options ranging from casual cafés to chic bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants.

Day 7: Train to Paris - Depart France

Explore more of Avignon before departure
Explore more of Avignon before departure

It's time to say goodbye to France! After breakfast, make sure to cover all the Avignon sites you may have missed earlier in the trip including the Saint Benezet Bridge along the Rhone River.  

At the designated time, you'll make the drive back to the rental agency to drop off the car. Then, board the TGV train which takes you straight to Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport for your departure flight home. Au revoir! 

Map

Map of Paris & Provence Family Adventure - 7 Days
Map of Paris & Provence Family Adventure - 7 Days