The very small size of the groups (7 women only) allows us to visit authentic, small and non-touristy places. France off the beaten path on our escorted nine-day tours from the Alps to Provence for small groups of 7 women: accommodation in our 19th century farmhouse house with spectacular views on the Alps, four-course gourmet dinners every night prepared just for you by Valerie, cultural visits as well as local product tasting every day with a bilingual guide, Jackie.
Taste over 20 wines and over 30 cheeses, homemade chocolate, walnut oil and liqueurs. Discover quaint towns, markets, castles, gothic churches, medieval hilltop villages, outdoor cafes, the Alps and its glaciers, etc. In the evening, enjoy the gourmet dinners and the camaraderie of your friends by the fireplace.
Day 1: Welcome Champagne Reception.
We will pick you up at the Lyon airport, early in the afternoon. Upon your arrival at our fully restored 19th-century French country home, you will relax and enjoy a champagne reception with authentic local finger foods and drinks. In the evening, a traditional sumptuous buffet will be prepared especially for you.
Day 2: Historical Lyon.
This day will be dedicated to the discovery of magical Lyon, a World Heritage city known as the Capital of Gourmet Cuisine. The Fourviere Basilica, with its breathtaking view of the city, will be our first stop. You will also explore the superb Roman Theater built in 43 AD, and then on to the Renaissance quarter, the second biggest renaissance quarter in the world, listed World Heritage by UNESCO.
Day 3: Spellbinding Chartreuse and Liqueur Tasting.
We will then visit the Chartreuse cellars, the longest liqueur cellar in the world, where you will learn all about the making of this world famous beverage. This is where, from a secret recipe guarded by the monks for centuries, the Chartreuse liqueur has been produced from over 130 plants. You will have the opportunity to taste over 10 different kinds of Chartreuse liqueurs.
Day 4: Breathtaking Mont Blanc, the heart of the Alps.
The Montenvers train will take us on a journey through deep forests and splendid vistas overlooking the valley. Traveling along impressive peaks, you will arrive at the unique Mer de Glace ("Sea of Ice") glacier. You will have the thrill of exploring the inside of this glacier through a tunnel carved in the ice and of viewing its never-to-be-forgotten exhibit of ice sculptures.
Day 5: Medieval castle.
On that day, we will take our time to visit our village (Chelieu). If you do not choose to sleep in, you can join us on a gentle hike though the picturesque fields and woods surrounding the guesthouse. After the picnic at the guesthouse, you can take a nap in the garden or have a drink in the village café. We will then visit the extraordinary Virieu castle, built over eight centuries. The highlights of the visit are the magnificent medieval kitchen, the bedroom of King Louis XIII and the grand salle.
Day 6: Romantic Bourget Lake and Walnut Oil Tasting.
We will drive east along the Rhone River, through beautiful vineyards and picturesque villages to the lovely village of Chanaz. We will attend a walnut oil making demonstration in a 19th-century mill. This is a unique opportunity that can't be missed since this mill is the only one left in France listed historical monument. You will of course have a chance to taste the delicious and organic walnut, hazelnut and almond oils as well as the homemade jams. We'll stop for lunch by the emerald Lac le Bourget and the majestic cliffs of the Alps. In the afternoon, we will visit the flamboyant gothic Abbey of Hautecombes. This majestic 13th-century abbey is the burial place of the Dukes of Savoy and the last king of Italy.
Day 7: Chocolate Tasting.
This day is designed to give you an authentic flavor of the French countryside and village life. Valerie will open her own house to you. Be her guest and feel at home. We will experience the local market day and buy fresh food at La Halle, a 13th-century covered market where the locals meet. In the afternoon, we will visit a chocolate exhibit and do some chocolate tasting.
Day 8: Magnificient Cliffs and Caves.
We will be heading towards the breathtaking mountainous region of Vercors, bordered by 300 km of cliffs on the very edge of the Alps. You will have the unique opportunity to take a memorable trip into the heart of the earth when we'll explore the famous Choranche cave, with its thousands of impressive tubular stalactites and its lake of emerald green. After lunch, you'll have free time to visit Pont-en-Royans, the picturesque 16th century village where the houses are actually suspended above the river. Stroll though the maze of narrow streets or walk along the river.
Day 9: Departure.
After our last breakfast together, we'll drive you to the Lyon airport in plenty of time to catch your flight home.
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