Highlights of France
Day 1: Paris
Bonjour. Welcome to Paris, France. Your 'Highlights of France' adventure begins with a welcome meeting, which is usually at around 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. After the meeting, head out for dinner with your new travel companions for your first taste of renowned French cuisine in a local Parisian restaurant. If you arrive early into the city, Paris offers a wealth of major sights and things to do. Simply walking through the pretty little lanes of the Latin Quarter, lazing in the elegant shop-lined streets of St Germain, wandering down the opulent Champs-Elysee and meandering through the winding bohemian streets of Montmartre will also give you a wonderful overview of the city. Notes: If you can't
Day 2: Paris
After breakfast this morning, the rest of your day is free to explore Paris. From incredible art galleries and imposing monuments, to world-renowned shopping, quaint cafes and hidden treasures, Paris is a wonderful city to explore. Discover the artistic treasure trove housed in the world-famous Louvre, where you can see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Join the Thinker in his eternal contemplation at the Rodin Museum. Visit the Musee d'Orsay, home to some of the most famous Impressionist paintings. Climb the Eiffel Tower (or take the lift) for some impressive aerial views of Paris. Study the Notre Dame Cathedral with its vast rose window and menacing gargoyles. Take a trip out to the vast and opulent Palace of Versailles. Head underground to experience the atmospheric spider-web of catacombs. Hop on two-wheels to glide around the city or take a walking tour of the major sites. Maybe while away a few hours sitting with a baguette and cheese in the Luxembourg or Tuileries gardens and
Day 3: Chateau Stay
Today you'll be transported back to the elegance of a bygone era when you travel to an idyllic French chateau, spending the night amid spectacular scenery. Firstly, board the train to Dijon, and then change to a private minibus that takes you to the chateau. The journey shouldn’t take longer than 4 hours in total. Your home for today is atmospheric Chateau Saint-Sabine. Built on the foundations of a 9th century monastery, the land and village have passed through the hands of various Lords and prominent members of the House of France. In 17th century, the chateau as it looks today started to gain shape thanks to de Messey family, who bought up the property and its surrounds when they decided they would rule as lords over the local area. Later, the chateau served as a private house until the 2011, when its current hosts took charge, renovated, and opened it to the public in today’s magnificent shape. The chateau sits in 8 hectares of lovely park, home to many free ranging animals such as
Day 4: Dijon/Beaune
Leave the beautiful chateau behind and travel back to Dijon today (approximately 45 minutes). From your base in Dijon, discover one of France’s wealthiest provinces in the region of Burgundy. Dijon was once one of the greatest centres of art, learning, and science in Europe, with rulers that rivalled the King of France and monasteries that threatened the supremacy of the Pope. Today it retains a dynamic and elegant air. Perhaps visit Moutard Maille shop in your spare time to learn some details about mustard. This world famous condiment comes in many tastes and you can try them all in this shop. At first it may not sound like the most exciting activity, but this is in fact a great attraction! In the afternoon you can take a walk around the city on a route called the ‘Owl’s Trail’, finding medieval and Renaissance architecture dotted on every street. A handy little booklet takes you to 22 of Dijon’s historic monuments. Alternatively, visit the distinguished 1787 Musée des Beaux-Arts ,
Day 5: Dijon/Beaune
After breakfast this morning, you'll have some free time in Dijon. Explore the palace of the former rulers of the region or stroll along the Burgundy canal. Later you’ll visit one of the region’s most famed wineries in Beaune, the walled town in the centre of Burgundy (approximately 40 minutes). On arrival in this ‘wine capital of France’, perhaps enjoy lunch at the Michelin-recommended restaurant (at your own cost) of Le Caveau des Arches. Hidden in the vaults beneath a 16th-century fortified bridge, you'll enjoy impeccable service, a lively, buzzing atmosphere, and have the opportunity to try exquisitely prepared dishes such as roasted veal filet mignon or scallop risotto. After the hearty feast, enjoy a wine-tasting session in one of Beaune's local cellar doors. Learn about the importance of ‘terroir’ in Burgundy, and discover how wine is the heart and soul of the region. More than just a drink, it’s a philosophy, a religion, a love. Continue this gourmet indulgence when you return
Day 6: Avignon
Take the train to Avignon today, which takes around three hours in total. This charming city is located on the left bank of the Rhone River in the south-east of France. The journey is idyllic, so make sure you have a camera at the ready. On arrival into Avignon, check in to your hotel and then take a walk around this walled city that was once home to French popes for more than a century. Go on an included visit to the grand and imposing Palais des Papes (Pope's Palace), a 14th century Gothic palace that was built for Pope Clement V when he moved here to escape the chaos of Rome. The vast palace is a mix of twisting corridors, large stone halls, and spacious courtyards. You’ll also walk along the iconic remains of the broken bridge of Pont St-Benezet, famous as the subject of the French song ‘Sur le Pont d'Avignon’. Afterwards, you can take a riverside walk through apple orchards, or relax with a café au lait and croissant on one of many squares overflowing with cafés and small restaura
Day 7: Avignon
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. Taking the train to Arles is a popular option, as the city has an abundance of Roman monuments and a strong association with the arts. If you stay within Avignon, comb the city's own impressive collection of art – even outside there’s artwork to be found, with 50 trompe-l’œil frescoes that celebrate past Festival d’Avignon dotted around the city. Perhaps hire a bike to see more of this picturesque valley and head to one of the city's amazing bakeries. You can even go as far as putting a baguette in your basket! There are a number of interesting museums and galleries to explore, including the recently opened Collection Lambert, a contemporary art space in an 18th-century townhouse and courtyard. You could also stroll the footpaths of the verdant river island of Île de la Barthelasse after hopping on a ferry service from the bridge, with views back across to the city. In the evenings, there are many small French bistros that serve up the grea
Day 8: Aix-en-Provence
Leave Avignon this morning and continue your French journey, through heartland scenery that has long attracted the brushes of Impressionist painters, to the French Riviera (Cote d'Azur) town of Aix-en-Provence. Boasting a rustic French appearance, high-end shopping and a pure Provencal climate, Aix is the ideal place to finish your French adventure. Enjoy a walk in the heart of this most ‘Parisian’ of cities – wander around Roman ruins to soak in some of the region’s stormy history and get lost in the medieval tangle of streets with old mansions dating back as far as 16th century. Aix-en-Provence (‘Aquae Sextiae’ in Latin) was founded in 122 BC and was named for its healing thermal springs. It’s also often referred to as the ‘city of a thousand fountains’. If you're an artistic soul, don't miss out on the Centre d`Art Caumont – and then maybe follow in the footsteps of the likes of Paul Cézanne, Ernest Hemingway, and Emile Zola with a drink in the famous café of Les Deux Garçons. Perha
Day 9: Aix-en-Provence
Your 'Highlights of France' adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. There are no more activities planned and you're able to leave the accommodation at any time.
Discover Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama
A whirlwind tour of 3 amazing countries. Nicaragua is still in its infancy as far as tourism goes. Lake Nicaragua, volcanoes, wild life are all mind blowing, particularly the visit to the Masaya crater (where visits are limited to 10 minutes owing to the effects of sulphur in the air). The scenery, landscape and rain forests of Costa Rica are not to be missed, especially walking around Arenal. The Caribbean coast of Panama is superb for dolphin watching and visiting indigenous villagers on their own island.
Discover Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama
It was an amazing trip - I was attracted by the variety it offered and it didn't disappoint: wildlife/National Parks, colonial cities, Caribbean Islands, mountains and of course the Panama Canal. We got a great sense of Central America including its history which is fascinating. So many different boat rides too which were great. It was the first time this trip had been run and they just need to sort a couple of the hotels out which they said they will do - the majority were lovely.
Very busy and fascinating insight into three beautiful countries, led by excellent guides and accompanied by an enthusiastic group of fellow travellers.
Travellers not tourist .....
Just back from a wonderful adventure travelling the length of Nicaragua , Costa Rica and Panama . Rid yourselves of preconceptions about war torn Nicaragua , over populated Caribbean beaches and that Panama is only about hats and canals and you will have a great experience .Travel from Volcano to jungle and experience the wildlife, geography and culture of this little travelled path through Central America . Be prepared for early starts and busy days along with the excitement of some rustic boat rides into the interior and you will not be disappointed - ..