Best of France

Best of France
With chic sidewalk cafés on the Champs-Élysées, glamorous beaches in the French Riviera, abundant grape vineyards in Bordeaux, and Gothic castles in the Loire Valley, this tour introduces students to the culturally rich and diverse regions of France.
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Day 1 Start tour
Day 2 Bonjour Paris
Meet your tour director and check into hotel
Paris city walk
Île de la CitéNotre Dame Cathedral visitÎle St. LouisLatin Quarter visit
Dinner in Latin Quarter
Details: Paris city walk
This city was made for walking. Stroll grand boulevards with sweeping views of the city, pristine parks with trees planted in perfect rows, and narrow streets crowded with vendors selling flowers, pastries and cheese. Then head to the Île de la Cité, a small island in the Seine, to see Notre Dame Cathedral.
Details: Louvre visit
The world's largest art museum, the Louvre is housed in a Medieval fortress-turned-castle so grand it's worth a tour itself. You walk through the 71-foot glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei and added in 1989, and step into another world--one with carved ceilings, deep-set windows, and so many architectural details you could spend a week just admiring the rooms. The Mona Lisa is here, as well as the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory (the headless statue, circa 200 BC, discovered at Samothrace). The Louvre has seven different departments of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and antiquities. Don't miss the Egyptian collection, complete with creepy sarcophagi, or the collection of Greek ceramics, one of the largest in the world. (Please note the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.)
Day 3 Paris landmarks
Paris guided sightseeing tour
Arc de TriompheChamps-ÉlyséesEiffel TowerChamp de MarsÉcole MilitaireLes InvalidesConciergerieTuileriesPlace VendômeOpera House
Optional  Versailles guided excursion  $80
State ApartmentsHall of MirrorsGardens of Versailles
Details: Paris guided sightseeing tour
What's that huge white arch at the end of the Champs-Élysées? The Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 after his victory at Austerlitz. Your licensed local guide will elaborate on this, and other Parisian landmarks. See some of the most famous sites, including the ornate, 19th-century Opera, the Presidential residence, the ultra-chic shops of the Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, and the gardens of the Tuileries. You'll pass the Place de la Concorde, where in the center you’ll find the Obelisk of Luxor, a gift from Egypt in 1836, and the Place Vendôme, a huge square surrounded by 17th-century buildings. Spot chic locals (and tons of tourists) strolling the Champs-Élysées. Look up at the iron girders of the Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 World's Fair to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. See Les Invalides (a refuge for war wounded), the École Militaire (Napoleon's alma mater), and the Conciergerie (the prison where Marie Antoinette was kept during the French Revolution).
Day 4 Paris--Nice
Travel to Nice on the TGV (Europe’s fastest train)
Day 5 Monaco, Èze & Nice
Monaco & Èze tour director-led sightseeing
Prince’s PalaceParfumerie visit in Èze
Nice tour director-led sightseeing
Vieux NicePromenade des Anglais
Details: Monaco & Èze tour director-led sightseeing
On the Mediterranean coast, five miles from the Italian border, lies the tiny, glittering independent state of Monaco. Ruled by the Grimaldi family since the 13th century, Monaco is the epitome of French Riviera glamour. Your Tour Director will lead you on this brief adventure. Charles III opened a casino in the 1850’s to avert financial straits; needless to say, his plan worked--so well, in fact, that Monaco is a nearly tax-free state. Drop in on Prince Rainier (OK, see his house, the Palais du Prince), and visit a parfumerie in nearby Èze, where rich scents are made from local flowers such as jasmine, rose, and lavender.
Details: Nice tour director-led sightseeing
The Côte d'Azur's largest city spills down the hillsides to pebble beaches that line the shore. Your Tour Director will show you around the narrow pedestrian streets and tiny squares of "Le Vieux Nice" (Old Town), which is sprinkled with old palaces and mansions. Stroll down the Promenade des Anglais, which runs parallel to the water. Backed by Nice's grand hotels, the Promenade was built in the 19th century for the British who flocked here en masse.
Day 6 Côte d'Azur--Provence
Travel to Provence
Provence tour director-led sightseeing
AvignonPont du Gard visitNîmes amphitheater visitLes Baux de Provence
Details: Provence tour director-led sightseeing
Lush lavender fields, olive groves, terra-cotta roofs, and ochre walls lit by golden sunlight...Your Tour Director will guide you through the splendor that is Provence. Explore legacies of the Roman Empire like the Pont du Gard aqueduct, a sophisticated work of engineering that is intact after more than 2,000 years, and visit the Nîmes amphitheater. Built by the Romans, it was once the site of gory gladiator and animal combat, and is still used today for performances and bullfights (some things never change). Also see the medieval ruins of Baux-de-Provence.
Details: Pont du Gard visit
A true masterpiece of ancient architecture, the Pont du Gard aqueduct is one of the most beautiful Roman constructions in the region. Discover more about this startling monument as you follow the course of its history through the ages.
Day 7 Provence--Carcassonne
Travel to Carcassonne
Details: Carcassonne interactive sightseeing activity
The turrets and ramparts of this medieval citadel look as if they were drawn by a story book illustrator. The oldest sections of the wall were built by the Romans in the 1st century, but most of Carcassonne's current character is from the 13th century. From the battlements you can see over green plains and hills all the way to the Pyrenées. Follow your Tour Director on an interactive adventure through this preserved city that will bring the portcullis and drawbridge, restored houses and watchtowers to life!
Day 8 Carcassonne--Bordeaux
Toulouse city walk
Details: Travel to Bordeaux via Toulouse
Travel to Bordeaux, the city that is synonymous with the wine trade, by way of Toulouse. Nicknamed "the pink city" because of its brick buildings, Toulouse has a quiet Mediterranean feel, and often seems more Spanish than French.
Day 9 St. Emilion & Arcachon
Details: St. Emilion & Arcachon excursion
Two of the most beautiful towns in the region are the walled city of St. Emilion and the resort town of Arcachon. Arcachon sits in a pine forest, and is a popular boating center. St. Emilion is filled with houses of golden limestone and surrounded on all sides by vineyards. It was founded in the 8th century, when persecuted Benedictine monks settled here, expanding the underground caves into a system of tunnels and chapels. Eventually they carved the Eglise Monolithe out of a cliff and the building now dominates the town square.
Day 10 Bordeaux--Loire Valley
Travel to Loire Valley via Cognac
Authentic French brasserie dinner
Details: Cognac distillery visit
Find out what makes the Cognac Region famous on your guided tour of a local brandy distillery.
Day 11 Loire Valley castles
Loire châteaux tour director-led sightseeing
Azay-le-Rideau visitChâteau de Chenonceau visit
Troglodyte Village guided visit
Details: Loire châteaux tour director-led sightseeing
France’s aristocrats began building defensive castles in the Loire Valley in the 11th century. A few hundred years later, their descendants created pleasure palaces among the lush green forests and wandering waterways. Today, sumptuous Renaissance castles stud the banks of the silvery Loire River, the longest in France. First stop: Azay-le-Rideau. This castle’s limestone turrets and slate spires are set on an island in the middle of the Indre River. Almost completely surrounded by water, the castle mixes Gothic and Renaissance styles to fairy-tale effect. But few castles can compete with Château de Chenonceau. Built on a series of arches over the Cher River, Chenonceau was designed by a woman in the 16th century. It was once inhabited by Catherine de Medicis, who commissioned the delicate spirals and the formal gardens, and had the bridge covered by a two-story stone gallery.
Details: Dinner in Troglodyte Village
Dug by men from the XIIth century onwards to extract the stone, “the tuffeau” destined for building, The Cave aux Moines was used as far back as the beginning of the XXth century to cultivate mushrooms. The beginning of the cave and the first metres of the galleries were used by people to live; that kind of living was called the "troglodytes". Here people and animals lived as a community.
Day 12 Loire Valley--St. Malo
Travel to St. Malo
St. Malo interactive sightseeing activity
Church of St. VincentTomb of Jacques Cartier
Details: St. Malo interactive sightseeing activity
For centuries, this walled seaport on the English Channel was known as the city of pirates. The pirates are gone, but the granite town remains, always seeming to be reaching towards the green-blue sea. With your Tour Director, embark on an interactive adventure that will bring St. Malo to life! Including a visit to the Cathedral St. Vincent, begun in the 11th century but not finished until the spire was mounted in 1987. It houses the tomb of Jacques Cartier, who discovered the St. Lawrence River and founded Quebec.
Details: Crêperie dinner
Indulge in one of France’s most delicious culinary traditions—the crêpe. These thin pancakes can be wrapped around tasty fillings from fromage (cheese) to chicken. For dessert, have a sweet crêpe with chocolate, Nutella, or just a slathering of butter and a sprinkle of sugar.
Day 13 St. Malo--Normandy
Travel to Normandy
Details: Mont-St-Michel monastery visit
Perched high on a tidal island at the mouth of the Couesnon River, the Mont St-Michel Monastery rises impressively from behind the fortified walls of an old fort. Explore the narrow streets and old buildings before climbing to the center of the island to see the church itself.
Details: D-Day beaches
See the D-Day beaches where on June 6, 1944, thousands of Allied troops landed in an effort to recapture the coast from Germany. All along the beaches, deserted German bunkers have been turned into memorials and the stark white crosses and stars that mark the cemeteries are grim reminders of the war.
Details: Arromanches Museum visit
Ingenious military engineering allowed the Allied forces to land at Arromanches on D-Day. Barges towed 600,000 tons of concrete across the English Channel, sinking them to create an artificial harbor, and then 33 jetties and 10 miles of floating roadways allowed the troops to land in France. Learn about this feat and other at the Arromanches Museum, where dioramas, interactive displays, and models detail the Allied landing.
Day 14 Normandy--Paris
Travel to Paris via Rouen
Rouen tour director-led sightseeing
Rouen Cathedral visitOld Clock
Details: Rouen tour director-led sightseeing
Like Paris, the port city of Rouen is divided in two by the Seine. Your Tour Director will take you through the medieval cobblestone streets of the city where Joan of Arc was burned in 1431. See the Old Clock surrounded by half-timbered houses and shops, and visit Notre Dame cathedral, a favorite subject of Claude Monet. With its lacy Gothic façade and mismatched spires, Rouen’s cathedral is one of the most compelling in France. Hitler certainly thought so—the first time it caught fire in WWII, he ordered his troops to save it. See the inspired interior, with its columns topped by carved faces, and learn about the history of the church. Fun fact: one of the steeples is called the Tour de Beurre. It was built with money donated by a group of wealthy people who wanted to eat butter during Lent.
Details: Seine River cruise
See the city from the water on an hour-long cruise along the River Seine. The Seine cuts right through Paris, dividing the city in half. See the Eiffel tower rising up on the Left Bank, the walls of the Louvre on the Right Bank. A guide will point out other monuments and architectural marvels as you pass, many of which are illuminated by clear white light at night.
Day 15 End tour

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    Day 15 Start extension to London
    London city walk
    Thames RiverTrafalgar SquareNational Gallery visitPiccadilly CircusCovent GardenLeicester SquareSoho
    Details: Eurostar Chunnel crossing
    You're so close, why not continue to London? Take the Eurostar under the English Channel. Faster than you can say...anything, in French, you'll whiz through a tunnel and arrive in London.
    Details: London city walk
    Step outside your hotel for a stroll through the heart of the English-speaking world. In this city of nearly seven million, you'll see everything from 12th-century fortifications to modern skyscrapers, royal parks to street art. Your Tour Director will lead you to some of the most famous sites. Walk along the Thames River. Cross Trafalgar Square. See bustling Piccadilly Circus. Pass trendy shops and cafés in Bohemian Soho on your way to Covent Garden, a 13th-century fruit and vegetable garden transformed into a maze of narrow streets and pedestrian walkways burgeoning with street performers, open-air markets and boutiques.
    Details: National Gallery visit
    Located in an impressive domed building right in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery houses a rich collection of over 2,000 works of art dating from the mid 13th century to 1900. Explore the beautiful marble hallways to see famous paintings by Van Eyck, Turner and Van Gogh.
    Details: Classic fish & chips dinner
    Nothing’s more British than fish and chips—there are eight fish and chip shops (“chippies”) for every McDonald’s in the country. Head to an authentic pub with your Tour Director for a taste of this national food, generally served with malt vinegar.
    Day 16 London landmarks
    London guided sightseeing tour
    Buckingham PalaceBig BenHouses of ParliamentWestminster AbbeyTower BridgeHyde ParkSt. Paul’s Cathedral
    Details: London guided sightseeing tour
    Join a licensed local guide for an in-depth look at London, from the royal haunt of Buckingham Palace (the official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II) to the slightly more democratic Speakers’ Corner of Hyde Park, where anyone can pull up a soapbox and orate to his heart’s content. You’ll see the changing of the guard (season permitting), the clock tower of Big Ben with its 14-ton bell, and Westminster Abbey, where almost every English king and queen since William the Conqueror has been crowned. After a stop at the Houses of Parliament, continue on to the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral, the masterpiece of London architect Christopher Wren.
    Day 17 End tour
    Map of Best of France Educational Tour
    Tour Includes:
    • Round-trip airfare
    • 13 overnight stays (15 with extension) in hotels with private bathrooms
    • Full European breakfast daily
    • Dinner daily
    • Full-time services of a professional Tour Director
    • Guided sightseeing tours and city walks as per itinerary
    • Visits to select attractions as per itinerary
    • High-speed TGV train to Nice
    • High-Speed Eurostar Chunnel crossing on extension
    • Tour Diary™
    • Note: On arrival day only dinner is provided; on departure day, only breakfast is provided
    • Note: Tour cost does not include airline-imposed baggage fees, or fees for any required passport or visa. Please visit our Fees FAQ page for a full list of items that may not be included in the cost of your tour.
    We are better able to assist you with a quote for your selected departure date and city over the phone. Please call 1.888.310.7120 to price this tour with your requested options.
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    3703.00 total fee
    Basic Options

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