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Discovery Tour of French Alps and Provence, 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
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2670 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2670 Euro (EUR)

If the violet fields of Provence, majestic Alps, charming hilltop villages, sophisticated wines, award-winning cuisine and ancient ruins, and so much more lure you enough, then come on this trip. You won't regret it!

Day 1: Pick Up and Yvoire on Lake Geneva
Pick up from the Geneva Airport or Hotel or the Annecy Train Station between 9am and 11am. We recommend that you arrive the day before due to the early pick-up and because this day will be spent touring.

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. If time allows, we’ll make a stop or two on the way back to the Lodge for breathtaking views and quaint Alps villages.

A welcome dinner will be served at the hotel. Meals at the lodge are prepared by a professional chef and are not typical hotel cuisine. Coq au Vin, wild berry tartes, lamb chops smothered in fruit and rosemary sauce - these are samplings of previous tour meals.

Day 2: Mountains and Glaciers
In the morning, we will do a sightseeing tour of the stunning scenery of the Col des Aravis on our way to Chamonix. In Chamonix, you'll take the cable car up to the top of Aiguille du Midi (see video on right), 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’ll take the train up a mountain to the Mer de Glace (Glacier) 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.

Day 3: Local Food Specialties, History and Medieval Annecy
In the morning, we’ll take a tour of the Maison de Patrimoine, a restored ancient chalet/farm and, time permitting, visit a pottery workshop of a local artist, where you’ll have the opportunity to buy pottery at below market rate prices. We'll visit the village of Grand Bornand and then take a driving tour of the local Alps landscape and visit a traditional fromagerie (cheese making farm). June is ‘flower season’ so you’ll see many varieties of rare and colorful flowers dotted throughout the pastures and mountains on our drive. In September, the vineyards are getting ready to be harvested and the autumn colors begin to show their beauty. You will have lunch at the farm's restaurant, Rustic Refuge, and indulge in the local cheeses of the Col des Annes, including Reblochon and Tomme de Savoie. Savoie is known for some of the best cheeses in the world.

Then on to the Medieval town of Annecy, known as the Venice of the French Alps with its numerous ancient canals running throughout the town. Annecy is surrounded by majestic mountains and sits on one of the most beautiful lakes in France. After an orientation tour, you have the opportunity to visit inside the famous Isle de Palace Museum, one of the most photographed buildings in France, or wander on your own.

The day will end with a boat ride on the cleanest lake in France, Lake Annecy. The boat drops you off in Talloires, a quaint, ancient town with a 16th century Abbey which has been turned into an exclusive hotel.

Day 4: To Provence - Wine Tasting and Visit to Historic Avignon
Today we leave the majestic Alps and drive to the gentle rolling hills of Provence. We will arrive in Chateauneuf du Papes for a wine tasting at Verger des Papes, located just yards from the ruins of the Pope’s Palace, which date to the 1300’s. The Popes of Rome moved to Avignon during the 14th century and built their Palace in the city and their vacation homes in the vineyards. The views from the ruins are stunning and the wines you’ll taste are among some of the best in this famous wine region. While enjoying the views, you'll be served a Picnic prepared by the Lodge. Chateauneuf du Papes was the first region in France to launch the AOC regulatory institution to ensure the quality of its wines.

The final stop of the day will be the historic city of Avignon. Once a tiny port town on the Rhone, the arrival of the Popes in the 14th Century transformed the village into a powerful center of politics and religion. The magnificent Popes Palace, historic architecture, street performers and lovely shops will enchant you. You’ll have time to visit the city on your own before we head to our new accommodations. Our accommodations are either at a private French 'villa farmhouse' or a lovely hilltop boutique hotel with rooms built into the hillside, and includes exceptional dinners and a pool. Either way, our Provencal accommodations reflect the warmth, quaintness, and character of the Provence region and are well-located to keep our driving times to a minimum. Dinners will feature the specialties and local products of Provence.

Day 5: Ancient to Modern History, Romans to Van Gogh
The morning will be spent following the footsteps of the Romans from the 1st Century BC, and Van Gogh of the 19th Century AD. Wander the narrow streets of Saint Remy de Provence, discovering squares, attractive boutiques, street performers, and art galleries that make the town’s historic center so appealing and lively. Saint Remy has one of the finest French markets in France and you can spend some time roaming the streets and purchasing local products and gifts.

Outside the city is the Saint Paul Hospital/Mausole where Van Gogh spent his final days. It is also where he painted 150 of his paintings. You will see some of the very scenes that he painted onto his canvases, and have the option to go into the Hospital to see the room where he stayed. Across from the Hospital are two of the largest monuments of the Glanum Ruines, dating to the Romans in the 1st Century BC. We’ll make a photo stop before moving on to Nimes.

Nimes is a typical Provencal city with some of the finest Roman architectural remains in existence, including the Amphitheatre and the Maison Carree. The Mason Carree is one of the best preserved temples to be found anywhere in the territory of the former Roman Empire. Also, well-preserved is the Amphitheatre which dates from the end of the 2nd Century AD. If you are a history buff, you’ll enjoy this visit immensely.

Not to be missed is the Pont du Gard, just outside of Nimes. The Pont du Gard aqueduct is a 31 mile structure built by the Romans to carry water from a spring at Uzes to the Roman colony of Nimes. The aqueduct was primarily built underground and took a long, winding route that crossed the gorge of the Gardon, which required the construction of an aqueduct bridge. Thus the Pont du Gard was born. Dating to the 1st century AD, it is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and is the best preserved. After our visit we’ll head back for a Provencal dinner and an evening of relaxation.

Day 6: Luberon and Lavender
This morning, we're off to see the Senanque Abbey. The fields have the enviable reputation of being the most beautiful lavender fields in Provence, particularly from a photographer’s perspective. While high season isn't until late June, July, and August, we have seen some lavender on our visits to the area during June. On our September tour, we focus more on activities around the grape harvest and autumn colors, but we'll leave that as a surprise. After our stop, we'll move on to visit the characteristic, Provencal hilltop town of Gordes, which dates back to pre-Roman times and was a religious center until the 12th Century. Today it is known for its scenic views, medieval streets and quaint shops.

Next is Roussillon, another lovely hilltop town with stunning views, each framed by the red ochre cliffs for which the city is so famous. Stroll the city and, if you don’t mind pink feet, take a 30 minute easy walk on the ochre trail to get an up-close look at this amazing red clay which was used for centuries to make red paint.

Day 7: Les Baux de Provence and Historic Arles
Les Baux de Provence offers scenic views, unique shops, and ancient architecture. The town is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. The hilltop town’s outstanding Medieval and Renaissance heritage, combined with a sense of hospitality, make it the "Flagship of Provence". Outside the town are olive groves, olive oil mills, and vineyards. A special treat, also minutes away from Les Baux de Provence, is the Carrieres des Lumieres, a stone quarry turned into an art gallery. This is a ‘must-see’ event. The exhibits change seasonally but the concept remains the same: projecting works of art onto towering white blocks of stone, creating a unique and dramatic work of art.

The afternoon will be spent in Arles, another historic, walkable town. The visit will include the Roman Arena and the Roman Theatre, as well as walking in the footsteps of Van Gogh.
This evening is special. You'll be saying au revoir to France with dinner at a Provencal Michelin Star restaurant, prepared by a renowned French Chef. This is one of the finest restaurants in Provence so it will be a memorable meal and evening, and a wonderful way to end your delightful week in France.

Day 8: Departure
After breakfast, transfers to Avignon where you can take the TGV Bullet trains to Paris and the south or west of France.

If you are flying out of Geneva, we will drive you to the city the same day, arriving in the early evening, so please plan on staying the night a Geneva hotel, leaving the next day (unless you have a red-eye flight that night).

Au Revoir and Bon Voyage!

Supplemental Tour Information:
Note: The Mont Blanc mountain range tours are dependent on weather and rock slide conditions and is subject to occasional closures of the cable car and train for safety reasons. These closures are rare in June or September, but we need to mention it anyway.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Pick up from Geneva hotel or airport or Annecy train station; Drop off at Avignon or Geneva at the end of the tour
- Your hotels/accommodations
- Your guides and drivers and transportation
- All of your dinners, all of your breakfasts and 2 lunches (including dinner at a Michelin Star Restaurant
- Wine and local product tastings
- Your boat ride between Annecy and Talloires
- All of your entrance fees to activities, unless you choose something not on the itinerary or an optional activity

Price Excludes:
- Your airfare to and from Annecy/Geneva or Avignon are not included.
- Five lunches at reasonably priced restaurants
- Basic medical travel insurance, which is required for the tour
- Personal expenses
- Gratuities

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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