The France You' ve Dreamed Of
DAY 1: Arrival in Paris (tour starts on a Saturday)
DAY 2: Morning private food tour of Paris
DAY 3: Private 1/2 day tour of Paris (The Louvre & Sainte-Chapelle)
DAY 4: High speed train to Avignon
DAY 5: Gourmet Provence
DAY 6: Les Baux and Arles
DAY 7: Cassis and the Mediterranean
DAY 8: Avignon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape
DAY 9: La Vie Provençal
DAY 10: Departure day
- Relax in the care of your multi-lingual dedicated local tour leader
- Discover slow travel: a perfect balance of sightseeing and time at leisure
- Explore the French countryside, where towns, historical sites and quaint villages all have a story to tell
- Savor tasty regional cuisine and wines
- Visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world - Paris
- Discover the incredibly preserved 800-year-old stone battlements of Avignon and the impressive Pope’s Palace
- Wander through Medieval hilltop towns, see the lavender fields of Provence (limited to June & July tours)
- View the natural wonder of the Calanques National Park on a private 3-hour boat tour
- Visit one of the most beautiful towns on the Mediterranean, Cassis
NEXT CHANCE TO GO: June 04 to 13, 2022
PRICING: from $4,877USD per person (double occupancy)
Indulge in the laid-back, country-chic lifestyle of Provence, world-renowned wineries, and Paris, the city of lights
Arrival airport: Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
Departure airport: Marseille Provence Airport (MRS)
The city of lights, Paris, and the south of France holds so many charms that it must rank at the top of anyone’s bucket list. The region of Provence is one of the oldest areas of France, having been occupied since prehistoric times. In fact, the coast of Provence has some of the earliest known sites of human habitation in Europe. Artists have been painting in Provence since prehistoric times as well, and you can view cave-paintings of bison, seals, auks and horses dating to between 27,000 and 19,000 B.C.E. The Romans made the region into the first Roman province beyond the Alps and called it Provincia Romana, which evolved into the present name. They ruled the area from the 2nd century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. during which time aqueducts, baths, arenas, theaters, villas and monuments were built, many of which can still be seen today. Experience the magic of Provence: cypress and olive trees, red-tile roofs, the scent of wild thyme and lavender, medieval villages, colorful markets and of course, sun-filled landscapes, the very same that inspired the Post-Impressionists. On this 10 day tour, you will not only visit Paris but also discover why the region of Provence has inspired generations of artists like Van Gogh and Cezanne.
I invite you to come along with me to experience great cuisine, wonderful people and authentic France. Do not miss the chance to discover treasures both famous and beyond the beaten path. Come experience France like never before!
Day by Day Itinerary
DAY 1: ARRIVAL PARIS (Saturday June 4)
Private transfer to your boutique hotel in the 7th arrondissement in Paris: Hotel Bosquet Relais including daily breakfast for 3 nights. Located on the Rive Gauche, or Left Bank, the 7th arrondissement is set in the heart of Paris, offering the perfect mix of the city’s grandest sites combined with the village-like atmosphere of this quintessentially Parisian neighborhood. Overflowing with charm and boasting an ideal central location, the 7th arrondissement is one of Paris’s most desirable neighborhoods. You are walking distance from the market street Rue Cler, the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, wonderful cafés, bistros and boutiques shops, and of course, the Seine river.
DAY 2: FOODIE TOUR OF PARIS
After breakfast, enjoy a 3-hour private food tour with your local expert guide at one of the local markets. This tour will provide an interesting variety of tasting samples with explanations from your guide as to the "why they have become a must-eat of the French culture". Feel at home while you browse along the olives, breads, cheeses, fruits or charcuteries. Join your guide to step into one of the most famous bakeries in the area to taste the bread and hear why this baker is renowned for placing the mighty French baguette back into the center of attention.
Try not to eat all your bread because next door is a famous cheese shop. Your guide will select the most popular cheeses but also some more surprising options for you to try. As you leave the cheese shop, it is time for a some excellent local coffee. After the authentic French morning coffee, it is time to discover the area a bit more and even see remnants of Roman history. Along the way enjoy some of the best views on Notre Dame Cathedral. Even if the building was heavily damaged a year ago, you can still admire its grandeur and elegance. Along with the historical anecdotes, you will also learn about famous French dishes and regional specialties. It is after all during the Middle Ages that famous French refined cuisine started!
Toward the end of your tour, step onto Paris smallest island, Saint Louis island. It is a residential spot, full of quaint little shops and restaurants. Probably the best ice cream in Paris is at Berthillon's. They have delicious creations such as strawberry-basil or chocolate-orange. Stroll the island, where many famous French actors have elected to live, and spot the private mentions of the 1600's. To finish your tour in luxury, your expert has selected the best of Parisian chocolates. Did you know that wine and chocolate go really well together? The tour ends at a local family-owned cellar where you get a tasting of three varieties of wines.
DAY 3: HALF-DAY GUIDED TOUR PARIS
After breakfast, enjoy a private 6-hour guided tour of Paris with your local expert guide including entrance to the Louvre and La Chapelle.
The Louvre is one of the largest palaces in the world, now a sprawling art museum. The museum houses Western works of art dating from the Middle Ages to 1848, in addition to collections of ancient oriental, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman civilizations, as well as graphic and Islamic arts. From room to room, the former royal palace reveals its masterpieces to the public: the Mona Lisa, The Raft of the Medusa, the Venus de Milo, and The Winged Victory of Samothrace just to name a few. It is home to some 400,000 works of art, 35,000 of which are on permanent display. With its 800 year-old history, the Louvre has been influenced by numerous architectural trends, from the medieval fortress of the 12th century to the glass pyramid by Pei (1989).
Nothing can truly describe the feeling you get when you first set foot in Sainte-Chapelle, a small royal chapel just a short walk from Notre Dame. With its stunning stained-glass windows, among the oldest in Paris, the Sainte-Chapelle is a gem of Gothic architecture in the heart of Paris. Welcoming over 900,000 visitors each year, the medieval chapel is one of Paris’ most magical sights.
Paris is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the world. It is certainly one of the most romantic and historic as well. Today is your day to spend it as you choose. From the incredible art galleries and imposing monuments, to the world-renowned shopping, quaint cafés and hidden treasure, Paris is a wonderful city to explore. There’s so much to see! Here are some recommendations for your time at leisure:
- Pick up delicious macarons, check out the many specialty food shops, shop in some of the most prestigious shopping areas of Paris, or simply sit at a café and partake in the Joie de Vivre.
- Visit the Musée d'Orsay , Arc de Triomphe, and a host of other wonderful attractions
- Take a stroll through the pretty little lanes of the Latin Quarter. Laze in the elegant shop-lined streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, wandering down the opulent Champs-Élysées and meandering through the winding bohemian streets of Montmartre will also give you a wonderful overview of the city.
- Relax with a baguette and cheese in the Luxembourg gardens, one of Hemingway’s favorite retreats, watching the French go about their daily life.
- Visit Père Lachaise cemetery, the world’s most visited cemetery due to its ornate tombs and moving memorials to the rich and famous such as Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Walk over to Parc de Belleville, the highest park in Paris which has views rivaling those from the hill of the Basilica at Sacré-Cœur but without the mass of other tourists.
DAY 4: TRANSFER TO PROVENCE
After checkout from your hotel, your private transfer will take you the Paris-Gare-de-Lyon train station for your train journey from Paris to Avignon (high-speed TGV train-3h15 direct with first class tickets). A private transfer is included from the train station in Avignon to your hotel in St. Remy.
St. Remy, one of the oldest, loveliest villages in Provence is where you will be spending the next 7 nights. You can settle into your charming hotel and enjoy the outdoor garden before our first meal together.
NOTE: if you are choosing to start your tour with us in Provence and are arriving into the airport in Marseille, we will add a private transfer to bring you to St Remy to meet the rest of the group and your tour host for the welcome dinner.
DAY 5: GOURMET PROVENCE (Market day from 7am to 1pm)
Market day in St. Remy! Start the day at the beautiful Provencal market in St. Remy de Provence. You have the option, at an additional cost, to book a cooking class following the market visit.
We'll meet as a group in the afternoon to explore some of St. Remy's most important historic sites. These include the famous archaeological site, the City of Glanum, a fascinating first century BCE site which was settled by Celtic Ligurians, Greeks, and then the Romans. This is one of the largest and oldest archaeological sites in France. After your visit to Glanum you will continue onto St. Paul de Mausole, the hospital where Dutch painter Van Gogh admitted himself as a patient after his “crisis” in Arles. After your visit to St. Paul de Mausole you will have time to explore the town on your own
DAY 6: LES BAUX and ARLES
Your day starts with a guided walking tour of the historic city of Arles on a private walking tour with a local guide. Arles is a walkable town noted for its narrow winding streets that inspired paintings and drawings by both Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Van Gogh produced a number of his works here, like his paintings of the yellow café, hospital and Roman Ruins.
Here in Arles you have 2000 years of history to discover, including remnants of the Roman Empire as early as the 2nd century BCE. Your tour with a local expert guide will include the Roman Amphitheater.
After lunch, a short drive will take you to the Village of Les Baux de Provence, in the Alpilles Mountains (meaning baby Alps), a 1000 year-old village, a Huguenot stronghold. A special treat is the Carrieres de Lumieres (entrance tickets included), a stone quarry turned into an art gallery. This is a must-see attraction. An outstanding display of art and lights projected onto towering white blocks of stone, creates a unique and dramatic work of art!
DAY 7: CASSIS & THE MEDITERRANEAN
We’ll spend a full day in the picturesque, wine-producing village of Cassis, France. This spectacular coastal village dates back to 500 BCE, it is surrounded by vineyards, and it is bordered by the Mediterranean sea, colorful cliffs and beach. For centuries artists have been drawn to the light in this part of France, particularly to the unspoiled beauty of nearby Cassis, one of the prettiest coastal towns on the Riviera. Cassis is most famous for Les Calanques: dramatic white cliffs with finger-shaped fjords and tableaux of sailboats, pristine beaches, and aquamarine waters. Stroll through this village’s pedestrian streets for photo-ops of the colorful port, historical architecture, and beautiful vineyard-dotted coastline. It’s market day also in Cassis, and coastal markets offer a completely different experience to that of inland Provence. Peruse the vibrantly-toned stands, taste artisan products, and photograph the colorful products on offer.
DAY 8: AVIGNON & Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Today begins with a visit to the 14th century city once home to seven consecutive Catholic popes, the Papal city of Avignon. Your 3-hour private guided tour with a local expert guide includes admission to the Pope’s palace, and the Benezet Bridge.
Partake in a gourmet lunch with wine tour and tasting at nearby Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the country’s premier wine-growing regions, to celebrate the flavors of Provence and local wine. Only a small ruin remains of the château, but we’ll take it all in and sip the flavors harvested from the land around us.
DAY 9: La Vie Provençal
Today, we are off on an amazing drive into the Luberon, 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 –fine food, even finer wine. Nearly every village hosts its own weekly market, packed with stalls selling local specialties, especially olive oil, honey, and lavender.
Our first stop of the day is at the hilltop village of Gordes, designated as one of the most beautiful villages in France, a tiered village rising like a giant wedding cake over the rivers. Part of the fun of exploring here is getting lost on the back lanes, stopping for coffee at a quiet village café, and taking as much time as you possibly can to soak up the scenery. We’ll spend time in Menerbes (made famous by author Peter Mayle in his book “A year in Provence”).
Next, you are off to Roussillon, which is also listed as “one of the most beautiful villages of France” but looks completely different!
DAY 10: DEPARTURE DAY
A private transfer to the airport in Marseille for your flight home is included in your tour package for today. You may also choose to extend your stay in France. Please check with Audrey for options and pricing.
- Unwind for 9 nights at charming, boutique style, locally owned accommodations that offer French hospitality, comfort and local character (standard rooms with daily breakfast included):
- 3 nights in Paris at Hotel Bosquet Relais (or similar)
- 6 nights in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at Hotel Sous Les Figuiers (or similar)
- Embark on private guided tours with local expert guides and skip the line entrance tickets:
- The Louvre Museum and the Sainte Chapelle in Paris
- Arles and its Roman amphitheater
- Avignon with Pope's palace and the Benezet bridge
- 2nd floor Eiffel tower (no guide)
- Carrieres de Lumieres in Provence (with your host Audrey)
- Enjoy hand-picked experiences:
- 3-hour food tour in Paris with a local expert
- Taste local world-class wines with lunch in Châteauneuf-du-Pape
- 3-hour private boat ride to view the dramatic white cliffs of the Calanques National Park
- Private transfers (pick up at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, drop-off at Marseille airport) and private transportation throughout the itinerary
- The services of your host, Audrey, fluent in French and English
- Gain insider access to the French way of life
- Enjoy leisure time to choose your own optional experiences
- Sample regional cuisine for your welcome dinner in Saint-Remy
- Rest assured that we will never guide you into a tourist trap shopping experience or surprise you with hidden fees.
- Taxes & Fees: Local VAT taxes and government fees, city tax, gas, highway tolls, city access licenses and permits, parking fees
NOTE: In the grand European tradition, I believe that dinner is a celebration of good food and wine, a celebration of culture and a celebration of family and friendship. Hosting this celebration is one of the joys of being a tour manager. I guide you to your favorite dish … or help you choose something you’ve never tried before. I choose the perfect wines and throw in some local delicacies to broaden your palate and surprise you a bit. When we are at a cooking lesson or a wine tasting, rest assured that you'll go home with new knowledge that will increase your appetite for more. On every tour, I have included dinners as a group as well as nights on your own. Of course, you are always invited to join me at my favorite places or as I explore new and interesting restaurant finds. I also have recommendations and would be happy to make reservations for you.
Audrey's Gold Standard
I've personally tried, tasted and tested every single experience, ensuring quality and authenticity. If it doesn’t meet my personal stamp of approval, it won’t be on your tour!
What's Not Included
- Passport fees, visa fees, immunization costs, entry clearing fees (when applicable)
- Optional enhancements like room upgrades
- Additional sightseeing, activities and experiences outside of your itinerary
- Early check-in or late check-out from hotels
- Personal charges such as laundry, phone calls, SIM cards or room service
- Lunches, dinners and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), unless specified in the itinerary
- Travel insurance (strongly recommended)
- Your international and domestic airfare
- Porterage: Please note that you'll need to carry your own luggage up and down stairs at hotels and across cobblestone
Travels with Audrey RECOMMENDS YOU BOOK EARLY as hotel availability may occasionally be an issue due to popularity, capacity of unique accommodations, and/or high season. A supplemental fee may be applied if our normal set of hotels in each city is not available. Hotels are booked based on availability at time of booking. If a specific hotel is not available, a similar quality or location will be chosen. Your hotels will be finalized about 90 days prior to the tour (after receipt of full payment) and will be available in your pre-tour documents mailed to you within 30 days prior to your tour.
There is frequent confusion over the terminology used for hotel rooms. A “double” room is recognized as meaning a room with a double bed, which may be two single beds pushed together. A “twin” room is a room with two single beds. A “single” room tends to be smaller than double or twin rooms. Triples are usually two-bedded rooms plus a roll-away cot and not recommended for comfort. Some properties offer 1 double and 1 single bed, or 1 double and 1 pull out sofa
Please note that the hotel staff assigns rooms to guests. Some rooms may include stairs. A specific view is not guaranteed. As we work mainly with luxury historic inns and small upscale boutique hotels, rooms differ in size and layout. In general, Italian bedrooms and bathrooms are smaller compared to US standards. Each room has its own en-suite bathroom with shower and/or tub, hair-dryer, and basic toiletry set. Please contact us if you have specific requests/needs.
Prepare for Your Trip
European travel in general involves a lot of walking, much more than we are used to in the US. Most of our tours include city walking tours, visits to hilltop towns and villages, and meandering through cobbled streets. Keeping active and incorporating long walks into your busy schedule in the weeks before your departure will make your vacation much more rewarding.
- Don’t Overpack: A challenge even for some experienced travelers! Plan to wash or dry clean some clothes during your travel. Some hotels and villas we choose offer laundry and dry cleaning services and towns and cities have laundromats. Most also provide hair dryers. Toiletries and cosmetics can also be purchased at your destinations. Please contact us if you need some assistance.
- It is your responsibility to obtain the required documents to travel to Europe. Please verify with your own country's travel laws and government agencies. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your return date.
The first day on tour is your arrival day into the city in which we meet. So you would be flying no later than the day before from the United States or Canada. It is your responsibility to get to the city where and when the tour begins. When making flight arrangements, please allow sufficient time to claim luggage and clear customs in order to join the included transfer from the airport to your hotel. For all pre-designed tour packages, we meet for our first orientation walk of the tour at 3:00PM (15:00) on tour start date in the hotel lobby. The tour ends when you check out of the hotel on your last day on tour.
Note: Please make note or inquire with us as to the meeting time on that first day on tour. This should be done prior to you making any flight or train bookings so that it is clearly understood that the arrangements will fit in with our times. Your train or flight should arrive between 09:00AM and 12:00PM-noon (no later) on Day 1 of the tour to allow you enough time to check in to your hotel, freshen up and meet for the orientation walk with our other group guests.
Remember, airfare is a completely separate arrangement from your land tour. It is your responsibility to arrive at the point of tour origination.
- All prices are subject to change until a deposit has been made for your tour. Please bear in mind that each hand-crafted pre-packaged itinerary showcased on the website represents a typical itinerary, and the actual details may vary due to season and special events. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances may arise. Itinerary changes are also made to improve the tour and your experience. Prices are subject to change with global exchange rates. Please be aware that equivalent dollar costs are based on exchange rates and are contingent upon a fluctuating currency market.
- All quoted prices are subject to changes based on Euro dollar/US dollar exchange rate, until balance is paid. Once the deposit has been received, the price is locked, regardless of exchange fluctuations prior to the tour . Variations in price will be made only if Euro value increases 5% or more from the time of reservation to the time that balance is due. Any variations in price, which may or may not increase your balance, will be communicated by email.
- Air Conditioning: Hotels and mini-buses/vans used are air-conditioned for your comfort. European air conditioning should be considered as a climate-control system; most have three settings for the fan, plus a "cool" setting. Very few of the European systems actually have a temperature setting. In general, the amount of cool air that is produced from a European air conditioning system may be less than what you may have in your own home. Some hotels in Europe do not operate their air conditioning systems on a year round basis, but only during certain months of the year.
- Mobility: All of our tours involve walking and require our guests to board and disembark our vehicles several times a day making this tour unsuitable for those with reduced mobility. You must be able to walk up and down hills, on uneven surfaces and stand for extended periods of time.
- Itinerary Changes and Price Flexibility: We pledge to make every effort to operate all our tours as advertised. We reserve the right to alter or curtail the itinerary, or substitute sightseeing, hotels, and/or transportation as deemed necessary.
Please note: while we do our best to adhere to our published itineraries, they may be changed at the discretion of the tour leader (local host) due to weather conditions and any other unforeseeable circumstances.
The purchase of TRAVEL INSURANCE is strongly recommended to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. A Protection Plan can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.
Visit Paris and the south of France with your host Audrey
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