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Cuisine & Culture: Paris, Champagne & Bordeaux

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Toast to culture, toast to wine, toast to a country whose bountiful offerings and beautiful cities are just the tip of the iceberg on this memorable gastronomic rail journey through France.

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20232024
9 days From $2,575 per person
Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary

2023 Tour code: CI-PCBR-23

About the tour

Fill your days with French cuisine and culture on this expedition highlighting four renowned regions: Paris, Champagne, the Loire Valley, and Bordeaux. Enjoy travel to each section of the country by high-speed train, noting the changes in the terrain as you move from city to countryside and deep into the heart of wine country. Additionally, private transfers and a mixture of small group and private touring add an element of luxury to this memorable journey. In Paris, taste your way through a culinary epicenter on a guided food tour. As you move to Reims in the Champagne region, savor the world's most famous sparkling wine at several renowned growers. The journey continues to Tours in the Loire Valley, home to numerous wineries and sprawling chateaux - both of which you are invited to explore on a driving tour through the valley. The lush surroundings of the Loire Valley lead the way toward the coast as you venture further south to Bordeaux in the world-famous Bordeaux wine region. Here, enjoy a private walking tour of the ancient city and an outing that awakens the senses to the region's culinary offerings. Enjoy tastings of wine and food at local chateaux and a visit to Saint Emilion, which stands as the oldest wine-producing city in the area. The tour concludes as you return to Paris by train. Whether it is wine or medieval history you seek, there is nowhere that captures your heart quite like France.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Paris

The most romantic city in the world and a place where history, culture, and world-renowned cuisine await around every corner, France's capital is an apex of adventure. Arrive in Paris and enjoy a private transfer from the airport to your centrally located hotel. Take a few hours to get settled into your new location. Perhaps stroll through your neighborhood to get acquainted with your surroundings.

This evening, a nighttime city tour showcases the city's grandeur in the soft glow of electric lights. Board a panoramic bus to discover the most significant neighborhoods and Parisian landmarks, including Notre Dame de Paris, the Invalides, Île de la Cité, and the Latin Quarter. Learn more about Paris's history and watch its story unfold through its varied architecture. Your excursion also includes other ways to look upon stunning sights, including a cruise on the Seine and priority admission to one of the most famous structures in all of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, from which you can look out over the various arrondissements and buildings. Overnight Paris.

Day 2 - Culinary Explorations in Paris/ Train to Champagne Region

The nuances of French gastronomy are beloved worldwide, and today, they are yours to uncover as you taste your way through the heart of Paris. Join a small group for this 3-hour excursion, during which a knowledgeable guide leads you through a picturesque neighborhood to five local establishments. Each stop in this culinary epicenter offers a new flavor profile, technique, or iteration of a beloved dish. This laid-back trip allows you to open your senses while mingling with locals and familiarizing yourself with authentic cuisine.

Following the excursion, a private driver greets you at your hotel to transfer you to Paris's train station, where your high-speed TGV train waits for your journey to Reims in the Champagne region. It takes under an hour to travel from Paris to northeastern France, where Reims has sat as the "Coronation City" for millennia. On arrival, make your way to your hotel independently, and then enjoy the rest of the day sightseeing through this ancient destination at leisure. You may wish to relax in one of the local champagne houses or grab a bite in one of the cafés that line the cobblestone streets. The intricate Reims Cathedral sits as the city's centerpiece and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Palace of Tau. If Roman artifacts pique your interest, Reims has those, too. Set in the Place de la République, the Porte de Mars is the largest remaining Roman gate in the world. Overnight Reims.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 3 - Champagne Tasting in Reims

Bubbly, champs, sparkling wine: Whatever you call it, Reims has it. After all, the Champagne region is famous for just that, Champagne. This morning, set out for a half-day tour of some of the area's most impressive wine growers to taste three different types of Champagne, all grown locally. The tour includes a stop in Hautvillers, the village where Dom Perignon lived, and a scenic drive through Champagne vineyards. Enjoy pauses at picturesque lookouts and plenty of time to take pictures if you desire. Of course, no Champagne tour would be complete without a tasting, and you are lucky enough to taste the sparkling wine at three small family growers. Each step of the adventure comes with its own hints in creating the world's favorite celebratory drink.

Return to Reims following the tour with the rest of the day at leisure. Reims is home to several fantastic museums, including the Museum of the Surrender and the Reims Champagne Automobile Museum, as well as several places to see art. Overnight Reims.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 – To the Loire Valley by Train

Grand chateaux and miles upon miles of lush scenery beckon during today's travels into the fertile Loire Valley. Set along the banks of the Loire River, this valley is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its stunning architecture, charming small towns nestled amid orchards and vineyards, and long history as an epicenter of activity in France. Watch its history and beauty unfold as you travel from Reims to Tours by high-speed train.

Tours is beloved as the capital of the Loire Valley, and you will see why as you arrive. On arrival, transfer on your own to your hotel, followed by time to begin your explorations. You may wish to grab a bite in one of the abundant street-side bistros or step back in time with a visit to the Old Quarters. Here, the narrow, cobbled streets are adorned with an array of old-world buildings, including traditional half-timbered row houses and gorgeous stone structures. Overnight Tours.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Wine and Chateaux Tour

Despite being a fantastic destination on its own, Tours is well-known as the Gateway to the Loire Valley. This is incredibly convenient, as today you get out and explore the valley's most famous offerings, from its majestic estates to its fantastic wine, on a full-day guided expedition. Depart from the hotel this morning with an expert guide at the wheel and enjoy the fruitful scenery of the valley as you venture toward two elaborate chateaux. You have plenty of time to soak in the ambiance of these properties and to look over their postcard-perfect surroundings. Even better, each stop's gastronomic offerings leave little to be desired. Savor delicious morsels and tastings of wine produced onsite at the estates. Thanks to the Loire Valley's incredible waterside position and mild climate, fresh produce is as abundant as the glorious views. Following the tour, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Overnight Tours. 

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 - Train to Bordeaux/Private Walking Tour of Bordeaux

Yet another incredible wine region lies ahead as you leave Tours this morning and head toward Bordeaux. Transfer to Tours' train station on your own and board the train for the relaxing journey toward France's west coast. The city of Bordeaux is set along - and divided by - the Garonne River. The larger Bordeaux wine region is built around the water, divided into two halves by the Gironde Estuary and its two off-shooting rivers, the Garonne and the Dordogne. This positioning has been crucial to the area's longstanding legacy as a premier wine region, not only because of the rich soil found around the riversides but also because access to the rivers and the Bay of Biscay has made transport convenient for centuries.

As your train arrives in the city of Bordeaux, transfer to your hotel on your own for check-in. Soon after, join a professional tour guide on a private walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage city. Known as Port of the Moon, Bordeaux has an unmatched history that spans the centuries, with the first signs of human life appearing in the region as early as 6 B.C. While you will not see any artifacts quite that old as you explore, there are plenty of historical sites that unravel the tale of this romantic destination. As you wander the streets, look upon sites such as the oldest building in the city, the Saint Seurin Basilica, built in the 6th century, and the breathtaking Saint Andrews Cathedral. Enjoy the all-encompassing feeling that comes with walking around Old Town and the liveliness that comes with a city built around the water. As you stroll, your guide is an excellent resource to learn about the city's history, from its Roman ties to its battles. Following the tour, you can continue exploring the pretty streets, the sweeping main boulevards, and charming squares on your own. Overnight Bordeaux.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Wine Tour to St. Emilion

Take the morning at leisure to continue immersing yourself in the wonders of Bordeaux. You may wish to stroll along the riverside, perhaps stopping off at one of the bountiful eateries for a bite to eat or a coffee with magnificent views. The Place de la Bourse and its reflecting pools are beautiful, as is Jardin Public, a thoughtfully landscaped public park that has been a respite for Bordeaux's citizens since 1746. There are few better places to learn about wine than the La Ciudad del Vino. Its unique architecture immediately draws the eye, and inside, a treasure trove of information about the world and the role wine has played in its development awaits.

This afternoon, set out for an excursion into the Bordeaux region, exploring beautiful chateaux and a medieval village on the Right Bank along the way. Views of the water and verdant countryside filled with vines lead the course as your driver ventures between locations. Enjoy stops at two estates, one a smaller, family-run property and another renowned as a classified growth estate, as well as tastings of traditional French products with an aperitif. A highlight of this journey comes as your small group joins a wine tasting class where the knowledgeable instructor offers tips for tasting the distinct flavors of Bordeaux wine. The outing continues to the medieval village of Saint Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage city that is the oldest active wine producer in the Bordeaux region. Enjoy time to explore the old cobbled streets here and to look upon significant buildings, including the partially underground Monolithic Church, Collegiate Church with its serene cloister, and numerous chateaux and medieval structures. Saint Emilion's lovely squares and wine houses make this atmospheric destination one you are not likely to forget. We return to Bordeaux this evening with the rest of the night at leisure. Overnight Bordeaux.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Return to Paris by Rail

From coastal southwestern France to the country's beating heart in the north, today's travels see you back to Paris by train. Make your way to the Bordeaux station independently for the journey, and as you board, settle in for a route that presents the essence of France's landscape: vineyards, small towns, and established cities. The trip to Paris takes just over three hours to complete. A private car awaits you at the Paris station to drive you to your conveniently located hotel. You may spend the day however you wish, sightseeing or relaxing at a sidewalk cafe.

Alternatively, you may join an optional excursion:
Consider a guided tour of the Louvre, including skip-the-line access. Alongside an expert, walk right into the world's most famous art museum. As you walk between exhibits, learn little-known facts and in-depth information about some of the museum's most well-known pieces, including the Mona Lisa and the Coronation of Napoleon. This is also the perfect opportunity to find paintings you may not have noticed while exploring on your own. Alternatively, you may wish to take a dinner cruise on the Seine and watch the city's sights unfold around you. The boat moves leisurely to give you the most impressive views of those Parisian landmarks visible from the water. Overnight Paris.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 9 - Tour Conclusion

After sampling world-class wine and visiting regions with a history spanning multiple centuries, your French odyssey ends this morning with a private transfer from your hotel to Paris's airport for your return flight home. 

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Train

TGV
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