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Cultural Highlights of France

offered by supplier M20552 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 day(s)
Group Size: 5 - 16 people
Destination(s): France  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey  
Season: June - September
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2670 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2670 Euro (EUR)

The 'French Alps Tours' is a favorite for photographers and lovers of beauty. Wander the medieval town of Annecy, nicknamed the Venice of the French Alps, and take a boat ride on its crystal blue lake. Are you a foodie? Taste chocolates, cheeses, wines, local liquors, and hazelnut oils at local tasting events and regional producers. Ride the cable car to the top of the 13,000 square foot Aiguille du Midi mountain.

Itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival and the Historic Village of Yvoire
Pick up from the Geneva Airport or Hotel or Annecy Train Station between 9am and 11am. After pick-up, we'll take a drive through the historic center of Geneva and then head to Yvoire, a French medieval village which sits on Lake Geneva. We'll explore the town and have lunch before heading back to your Aravis Chalet Lodge in the mountains overlooking Annecy, France.

Day 2: Mountains, Glaciers and Stunning Views
We'll start the day with a sightseeing tour of the gorgeous scenery of the Col des Aravis on our way to Chamonix. In the morning in Chamonix you'll take the cable car up to the top of Aiguille du Midi, a 12,600 foot mountain in the Mont Blanc mountain range, to see the magnificent views. There are several viewing platforms where you'll see breathtaking views, so bring your camera. In the afternoon, you will take the train up to the Mer de Glace where you'll have the opportunity to walk through the glacier's colorfully lighted cave of ice or just view the Glacier itself from the observation decks.
Dinner at the Aravis Chalet Lodge.

Day 3: Local Food Specialties, Culture and History
Today we'll visit the village of Grand Bornand, including a pottery workshop where typical Savoyard pottery is made. You'll have the opportunity to buy some at exceptional prices. Afterwards we'll take a driving tour of the local Alps landscape, including wild flowers and spotted cows, and visit a traditional fromagerie (cheese making farm). You will have lunch at the farm's restaurant, Rustic Refuge, and indulge in the local hams and cheeses of the Col des Annes, including Reblochon and Tomme de Savoie. The lunch is included in the price of the tour. Savoie is known for some of the best cheeses in the world. Perhaps on our way down to Grand Bornand we'll see the farmers bringing the cows home for milking. You will certainly hear their bells.

Day 4: Annecy and its Spectacular Lake & Fier Gorges
Annecy, named the Venice of the French Alps, is a lovely Medieval and Renaissance town and sits on one of the most beautiful and cleanest lakes in France. The town is surrounded by gorgeous mountains that are shared with Switzerland, just 20 minutes away.

In the morning, we'll make a stop at the French Resistance Museum and Cemetery in Thones to learn about the acts of bravery of the local heroes during War World II. The French Alps were a stronghold for the French Resistance during the war. Afterwards, we'll visit Chateau Montrottier to walk the grounds and enjoy the views from this Medieval Castle. A few minutes away are the Gorges de Fier. The Gorges have a cliff hanging, spectacular walkway that clings to the sides of the narrow, deep gorge. You'll have the opportunity to take the walkway and enjoy the views and the thrill of the experience.

After your Annecy visit, you'll take a scenic boat ride to the opposite side of the lake to see Talloires, a quaint, ancient town with a 16th century Abbey, which has been turned into an exclusive hotel. Tonight you pack for our move to our new castle hotel in Challes les Eaux.

Day 5: Tastings and Abbey Day
We start the day chocolate tasting at a Chocolaterie Artisanale in the small village of Bellecombe en Bauges in Savoie. What a great way to start your day! After our visit, we're on to Chanaz, a quaint village which sits on the canals of the Jongeiux region. Stroll through the streets or walk to the top of the bridge for lovely views of the village. The highlight will be our visit to the Walnut & Hazelnut Grinding Mill where you'll watch the owner grind his specially selected hazel and walnuts the old fashioned way - with a grind stone. You'll have the opportunity to taste the oil and buy the handmade walnut and jam products.
After the Abbey, we'll go to Chateau Lucey, a local Savoie Vintner, where you'll have the opportunity to learn how the wines are made and to taste several of the local varietals. Savoie has both red and white wines, and some are quite good. This particular region has some of the best wines in Savoie and has won awards for its quality vintages. The Chateau itself is an ancient, but fully restored, castle/chateau that was once owned by General and Count Boigne in the late 1700's (who was the city of Chambery's benefactor).

Day 6: Historical Tour of Lyon and Free Time
The morning will include our drive to Lyon and then take the funicular up to the Notre Dame Fourviere Basilica and Roman amphitheater. After lunch you can join us for a short tour of the main streets of old town with a visit to a few traboules (secret passageways), ending at Saint Jean Cathedral with its astronomical clock. Afterwards you'll have a few hours to go shopping for the afternoon or visit the excellent Beaux Arts Museum nearby. Lyon is known for its culture, architecture, festivals, silk industry, and ancient history, beginning with the Romans.
Dinner at the Chateau Comte.

Day 7: Chambery and St. Hilaire du Touvet Funicular
We'll take a walking tour of Chambery and then give you time to do some final shopping and sightseeing of this enchanting, fairytale-like city. If you prefer, you can visit the Beaux Arts Museum, in place of the tour. The town is known for its Trompe L'oeil paintings used throughout the streets and Cathedral. We'll meet for lunch at a traditional Savoyard restaurant specializing in the local cuisine (this lunch is included in the price of the tour).

After lunch, we'll drive to the St. Hilaire du Touvet Funicular. The funicular (or retro cable car) was built in 1924 and is the second steepest funicular in Europe. Prior to the funicular, the only way to the town of Saint Hilaire du Touvet, which housed a sanitarium for Tuberculosis patients, was by foot or mule. The Funicular takes you on an exciting 20-minute ride to the top, all the while gazing at stunning views of the surrounding Alps. Once at the top, you can watch the parasailers jumping off the cliffs and floating down to the landing platforms far below. This is a breathtaking ride which we added to our tour to ensure our final day is one of our best.

Our final dinner together will be at the renowned Atmospheres Restaurant which sits on the mountain overlooking Lake Bourget. This exclusive restaurant, which has been awarded a Michelin Star, serves a stunning dinner which includes an entree, your main dish, and your dessert, not to mention the palate cleansers and little extras brought during the course of your meal. This experience is not only a joy for your palate but also for all your senses since the presentations of the dishes are pure works of art, the smells are heavenly, and the service impeccable. You can order from an extensive wine list, as you please. (The meal, but not the alcohol, is included in the price of the trip). It is fitting that such a unique trip culminates in this magnificent gastronomical experience.
Last night at the Chateau Comtes.

Day 8: Saturday - Departure
After breakfast, transfers to the Chambery train station and/or the Geneva Airport or a hotel (leaving the Chateau between 8am and 10am)

Au Revoir and Bon Voyage!

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Most land costs are included except for four lunches and some alcohol.

About This Supplier
Location: France
Joined InfoHub: Oct 2010

My partner and I provide summertime sightseeing tours of the French Alps. My partner, Karibuni, has been providing tours in France for 14 years and I joined him in creating exciting, authentic France tours in 2009. We both have lived in the French Alps for years. We added a new tour that includes the French Alps and...

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