This is one of two different itineraries for small group tours I offer in France. See the details below and contact me if you are interested for your group of friends and relatives. This tour is what I consider to be the best to cover this area of Eastern France, but it can be customized if you wish to. Email me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
—– FROM PROVENCE TO BURGUNDY, A 12 DAY-TOUR—–
This small-group (six people maximum) tour was designed for flexibility. We can accommodate variable weather conditions just as we can accommodate your interests and energy levels to provide opportunities for adventure and exploration in addition to those described below.
We’ll travel in a comfortable mini-van that will allow us to reach hidden treasures you won’t experience on larger tours.
Here is the important information:
Cost is $4,985 per person based on double occupancy (a single supplement can be arranged.)
Tour starts in Vaison-La-Romaine (Northern Provence) and ends near Mâcon (Southern Burgundy).
Tour price covers: accommodation of superior double or twin quality every night of the tour; all breakfasts; 8 other meals; transportation by mini-van throughout the tour; services of a professional tour guide (Virginie Moré) for all itinerary activities; admissions for all group activities mentioned on the itinerary. This means you aren’t paying extra for any of the excursions we make or sites we visit as you would on other tours.
Pick-up in Orange and drop-off at Mâcon-Loché TGV train station or the town of Mâcon. You must arrange for your own transportation to the town of Orange and from the town of Mâcon (both have a TGV station). I am happy to answer any questions you have in advance of the tour to help you prepare.
If you have any questions about this tour please email me directly at: VirginieMoreTravel@gmail.com
France is the most visited country in the world for several good reasons. Most North Americans travelers stay on the well-known tourist roads, but there are still places in France that are off-the-beaten path. Join us for this adventure from Northern Provence to Southern Burgundy to experience this less traveled route, treasured by the French.
Zigzagging our way north along the Rhône River valley, we will delve into Prehistoric, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance France to learn how a rich history has shaped France and left some historic monuments while experiencing traditional local cultures and French “joie de vivre”.
France has a reputation for amazing food and on this trip we will embrace local products, shop at typical farmers markets, celebrate fine regional and gastronomic restaurants and have hands-on experiences. We will also train our palate through three different wine “terroirs”: the southern Côtes-du-Rhône, famous for its varietal blends; the northern part of the Côtes-du-Rhône Valley, where Syrah is celebrated; and the lesser known but easy-going Beaujolais and Mâconnais wines in the north.
On our adventure, we’ll take in the natural beauty of land from rolling and terraced vineyards to deep gorges, river scenery and unspoiled countryside. We will also enjoy small town life and the welcoming and relaxed city of Lyon. Our small group will allow you to feel like a local as you connect with genuine French people during your relaxing vacation.
Detailed information: From Provence to Burgundy, a 12 day-tour*
Day 1: Welcome to Provence
After being picked up at the train station of Orange, you will comfortably settle in your Provençal B&B in the picturesque town of Vaison-la-Romaine, our home for the next three nights. We will take a stroll through the old Roman town before enjoying our first evening meal together.
Day 2: Roman Provence
Today begins with an immersion in the Gallo-Roman time in Vaison-La-Romaine, followed by the discovery of one of the best-preserved theaters of the Roman world and a remarkable Triumphal Arch, both UNESCO world heritage sites, in nearby Orange. You will be free to explore this typical working town and find a café on a quiet square for lunch. This afternoon we will enjoy a drive in the rugged “Dentelles de Montmirail” mountains to take in the views on vineyards before exploring a small provençal village. To finish the day, you will be free to explore more Vaison-La-Romaine or relax contemplating views of the Mont Ventoux summit, legendary to cyclists.
Day 3: The Côtes-du-Rhône Vineyards
On day three, we’ll learn about two Provençal specialties: olives and “santon” (the small traditional terracotta figurines). Our drive through rolling hills of vineyards leads us to a local winery. We will taste how modern technology, traditional winemaking methods and the “terroir” blended together give some formidable Côtes-du-Rhône wines. We will then pair these wines with a picnic lunch of local produce in the vineyards. We then head back to Vaison-La-Romaine where you could explore the medieval part of the town perched on a hill and climb to its ruined castle to sweep in more views of the valley.
Day 4: Gorges of the Ardèche
Today we’ll drive along immense canyons, abrupt chalky-white cliffs and thick forests. Overlooked by a dramatically engineered little road, the gorge of the Ardèche River ranks among the most imposing natural sites in France. Our hotel for tonight waits for us on the Gorge and is a short walk away from the bucolic “Pont d’Arc” natural bridge. We will partake in a traditional French dinner.
Day 5: Prehistoric Ardèche
This morning we will go back to prehistoric times on a guided tour of the cavern of Pont d’Arc. A perfect replica of one of France’s largest and most impressive prehistoric caverns awaits us. Not discovered until 1994, the original Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cavern holds the oldest (36,000 year old) and best preserved man-made images anywhere. Since its discovery it has been accessible only to researchers and artists who created the world’s biggest replica of cave paintings. We then drive deeper into the Ardèche region along the twisting and scenic road leading us north. In Tournon-sur-Rhône, our classy 18th-century mansion-hotel welcomes us for two nights. The top of the town offers dramatic views on the big river and on the hillside famed vineyards of M. Chapoutier and Paul Jaboulet. Tonight you’ll be on your own for dinner, but your guide will be on hand to point out dining options.
Day 6: Chocolate & Wine!
The French have a love affair with chocolate and wine. We will start our morning with a chocolate workshop at the famous Valrhona “Cité du Chocolat”. After lunch, we will hike up in the vineyards for an overview of the area, become familiar with the amount of manual labor needed to make some of the best wine of the Rhône Valley, and later visit a small family-owned winery where we will taste the locally celebrated Syrah grape of the Saint-Joseph AOC wines.
Day 7: Roman and Catholic Lyon
Today we drive north along the Rhône River to Lyon, our home for the next two nights. We will learn why the second (or third!) biggest city of France bears the following titles: Capital of Gaul, Capital of Food, Capital of Catholicism, Capital of Renaissance, Capital of the Resistance … After an orientation of the heart of the city, the 19th-century Presqu’île, you will enjoy the local farmers market and great views from the bank of the Saône River before we get to the top of the Fourvière hill to see where the city started 2,000 years ago. After an unusual tour of the 19th-century basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière, you will be able to visit the Gallo-Roman museum or linger enjoying the expanding views of the city. We will meet later for dinner together in one of Lyon’s many traditional restaurants.
Day 8: Renaissance & Resistance Lyon
This morning we will open doors taking us back to the 16th-century when Lyon was the French Renaissance capital of silk and an important banking place. We will visit the Gothic cathedral, explore the local “traboules” and imagine how resistance fighters used these secret passageways during World War II. For lunch, your guide will recommend eating in a “bouchon” (local name of the numerous restaurants serving typical Lyonnais food such as “quenelle” –pike fish dumpling). For the rest of your day, you will have the choice among several fine museums such as the Resistance and Deportation History Center, giving a thorough understanding of the importance of Lyon in the Resistance, or the Fine Arts Museum, one of the most important art museums in France after the Louvre, or just enjoying the slow pace of this beautiful city.
Day 9: A Medieval Day in the Countryside
You will start your morning at the colorful market to shop for your lunch: “rosette” salami and “praline” tart could be on your Lyonnais picnic list! Our picnic ground today: the medieval fortified town of Pérouges, voted one of the most beautiful villages of France. Its preserved half timbered-houses, tortuous pebble streets, and the rare fortress-church make Pérouges a dream come true for photographers. Our afternoon drive takes us through the Dombes region and its thousand ponds, attracting migratory birds, and to the magnificent Royal Monastery of Brou, voted in 2014 the favorite monument of the French. The church, built in the early 16th-century in exuberant Flamboyant Gothic style, has a remarkable roof with glazed, Burgundy-style tiles, superb stained-glass windows, and one of the few preserved rood screens in France. We then make our way to the Beaujolais wine region.
Day 10: Food & Wine of the Beaujolais
We start the day early at Chatillon’s farmers market, one of the quaintest of France under its 15th-century wood covered market place, “Les Halles“. The food is fresh and colorful; even the local “Bresse” chickens sport the French flag colors! After the market we will learn about the local Beaujolais grape: Gamay. After a light lunch paired with wines. We will enjoy a family dinner tonight in our B&B.
Day 11: Mighty Cluny & Scenic Drive
A 30-minute drive this morning will take us to the town of Cluny from where in the 10th century Benedictine monks started dominating the western world from their mighty Abbey. This mother of all abbeys, which was subject to no authority other than that of the Pope himself, peaked in the 12th-century but was almost completely destroyed during the French Revolution. The remains are proof of its former prestige and influence and the town itself still has plenty of fine surviving Romanesque buildings. After lunch in the old town, we are a short drive away from the hike to the top of the iconic Rock of Solutré, a rare geological phenomenon overlooking the region and its prehistoric site of the eponymous Solutrean Paleolithic culture. After our visit, we will head back home and finish our French adventure with a gastronomic experience for our last dinner together.
Day 12: Tour Ends After Breakfast.
We’ll have breakfast together before saying our goodbyes and heading home or making connections to other destinations. Your guide will drive you to the Macôn-Loché TGV train station, only a few minutes away from our B&B and less than two hours away from Paris by train, or to the town of Mâcon.
*Itinerary subject to minor changes.