Discover Eastern France Tour: Vineyards, Villages & Cuisine

A 12 day trip to France 
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Storybook towns and dramatic mountain peaks, indulgent cuisine and ancient history create an unforgettable panorama on your custom Eastern France tour. Breathtaking cathedrals forge Gothic skylines. Battlefields of the Great War stir the emotions of locals and visitors alike. Tunnels carved into glaciers change colors with the passing sunlight. Experience the majesty of mountains. Indulge in the local village charm. Discover the contagious enthusiasm locals have for their regional wines. The alluring fragrance of lavender fields and the tranquil view of an ancient theater combine to form the perfect image of the landscape.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Reims, Verdun, Colmar, Route du Vin, Vosges Mountains, Beaune, Chamonix, French Alps, Annecy, Vaison-la-Romaine, Marseille

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Opening Champagne

Reims is a small town with a considerable history. Beautiful pedestrian boulevards wind alongside art deco cafes and fine dining establishments cast in candlelight. The dazzling spire of the Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame towers over the cobblestone plaza. You arrive at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris and continue east into the region of Champagne. The beauty of the city emanates from tranquil trees shading elegant squares. The grandeur emanates from Reims’ history as the coronation site of French kings. The Musee des Beaux Arts houses a permanent collection, featuring works spanning from Antiquity to the 19th century; it possesses a display of the evolution of paintings, drawings, and tapestries. The building was erected in the late 18th century and continues to introduce locals and visitors alike to the variety of Flemish, Dutch, German, and French artists. Consider reading a France travel review or two, and incorporate some of our other travelers' favorite experiences into your own itinerary.  

What’s Included: dinner, transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Reims’ Radiant History

In the morning, the sunlight washes over the façade of the Archbishops’ Palace, known as the Palais du Tau. The building was erected in the late 17th century and housed French princes before their coronations. Cafes set tables and chairs on the wide walkways, providing space for patrons to enjoy an espresso and watch people stroll past. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel and leads you on a full day tour of Reims. The history and beauty of the city are palpable. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims shows the finer details of French Gothic architecture.

The cathedral was first erected in the 13th century over a previous church. The towers rise to a height of 266 feet above the foundations. The large exterior arch frames the rose window. The interior nave reaches a length of 455 feet. An upper and lower rose window provides ample light, embellished with the glowing hues of the stained glass. The splendor of the church surrounds you, including a paved stone in the nave that commemorates the baptism of Clovis I, the first king of the Franks. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Finding the Fields

The scent of freshly baked brioche fills the local bakeries and spills out onto the streets of Reims. The 11th-century Basilique Saint-Remi is the oldest church in the city and maintains vaulted roofs pointing toward the heavens. The structure was damaged during World War I and the subsequent repairs took nearly 40 years to complete. After breakfast, your guide escorts you from the hotel to the countryside. The quaint town of Verdun sits on the banks of the Meuse River. The Chatel Gate commemorates the walls of the medieval city. Military tunnels create a maze beneath the 17th-century castle that visitors can wander through.

Outside of town are battlefields of the First World War. The battles at Verdun exemplified the strategy of a “war of attrition,” in which both sides tried to win by gradually depleting the resources of the enemy. A memorial on the northern slope of Ravin de la Dame commemorates June 12, 1916. Pathways lead from the stone gate into the submerged trench where soldiers once fought for their country. The legend says that after a night of heavy shelling, the earth caved in. When a Colonel returned to his unit, he found their rifles protruding from the ground and their bayonets intact. The memorial was unveiled in 1920 and stands to remember those who have lost their lives.  

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Calming Colmar

Colmar is the capital of the Alsace wine region and resembles a quintessential 15th-century storybook town. Cobblestone alleys weave in and out of large squares in the heart of Old Town. Half-timbered houses overlook the serene canals. Bridges cross over the narrow water passages. The neighborhood of Petite Venise is known for its tranquil collection of canals and colorful building facades. People glide across the water on rowboats and enjoy a leisurely pace. Sugared-almond trees shade the walkways. Geraniums blossom opulent white in the summer. The historic street of Rue des Tanneurs once housed the leather tanners who dyed clothing.

On Quai de la Poissonerie, you stroll along the former quarters of the fishers. Musee d’Unterlinden was established in the 19th century inside a 13th-century Dominican convent. The museum houses the 16th-century Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald. The piece has three separate angles at which it can be viewed, creating a collection of narratives. When the wings are closed, the altarpiece displays the Crucifixion. The opened outer wings depict important festivals in the liturgical year. When the inner wings open, images of the saints and the Twelve Apostles appear.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Passions of the Route du Vin

In the morning, the scent of blossomed geraniums blends with the aroma of fresh chocolate croissants. The golden crusts of brioches glow in the display windows of the local bakeries. Your guide leads you onto the Route du Vin to discover the vibrant villages and stunning vineyards draping the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. Half-timbered buildings painted with bright blue hues or chocolate tones fill the town of Kaysersberg. The river rushes against the backside of the houses and feeds into the emerald trees outside of town. The 13th-century church has a Roman style and contains a 16th-century altarpiece.

Locals lounge at a small café in the main plaza and sip Tokay, a local term for Pinot Gris. Your guide leads you into a small winery in the heart of the city to sample some of the preferred varietals of Alsace. Your host pours a sample of the Gewürztraminer. You uncover hints of lychee and sweet rose on the nose. The wine inherits sweet flavors from the fruity aroma. You take a sip and find a refreshing and comfortable flavor of peach and cantaloupe that lingers on your palate.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Immersing Yourself in Beaune

Today you leave the enchanting streets of Colmar for the vineyards, markets, and history of Beaune in Burgundy. The town exclaims its unofficial status as the capital of  Cote d’Or through its passion for regional wines. On Saturday, the market brims with vendors along the streets near Basilique Notre-Dame. Colorful fruits fill the stands, from strawberries to raspberries. Mounds of fresh garlic provide a distinctive aroma. An indescribable amount of cheeses is displayed near a jovial butcher, eager for people to taste his paté.

Your guide leads you to the Hospices de Beaune, a 15th-century hospital that treated Burgundy’s poor. The geometric designs painted on the roof tiles, along with the slopped rooftops highlight the structure’s Flemish design. The half-timbered gallery is more than 160 feet long. It maintains its original furniture and stunning wooden roof. The 15th-century altarpiece of The Last Judgment by Rogier Van der Weyden once stood in the chapel. Today, the museum displays the seven-foot by 18-foot painting.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 7: Into the Alpine Peaks

In the morning, the cobblestone streets of the market are empty. Outside of town, vineyards carpet the landscape and shimmer with bright emerald leaves. The earthy scent of Burgundy’s soil rises from beneath the vines. You make your way into the mountains and settle in the alpine resort town of Chamonix. The summit of Mont Blanc, the highest point in Europe, and towers over the Chamonix Valley at 15,770 feet above sea level. Meadows stretch across the hills. Streams rush against the rocky outcrops and beneath the swaying grass.

The alpine scenery is captivating at any time of the year. Trails meander through the highlands and prairies. Ski lifts connect hard to reach plateaus. The jagged rock, known as Aiguille du Midi, resembles a finger and soars above the glaciers. The mountain peak offers a 360-degree view of the Alps. A glass path allows you to step along the sky, providing a view straight down to the mountains. Paragliders use Plan de l’Aiguille as a starting point, located at 7,778 feet above sea level. You can see them floating through the air.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Splendor of the Alps

The Arve River rushes through Chamonix. Snowmelt and glaciers of the valley feed into the waters, giving the river a cold temperature and a pure flavor. At breakfast, you delight in a freshly baked croissant, accompanied by a view of the encircling mountains. The day is yours to enjoy the mountainside and meadows as you desire. Visit the Musee des Cristaux for a fascinating display of crystals, rocks, and minerals from around the French Alps or venture up Le Brevent, the highest peak bordering the western side of the valley.

Mar de Glace is France’s largest glacier, located on the northern slopes of Mont Blanc massif. The glacier is more than three miles long from end to end and reaches a depth of 660 feet. A train takes you up the mountainside where you ride a cable car the remainder of the way to the Grotte de la Mer de Glace. Wander through the frozen tunnels to witness the ice walls shifting colors in the drifting sunlight. Ice sculptures decorate the network of tunnels, combining human ingenuity with natural wonder.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, accommodation

Day 9: Colorful Glaciers to Scented Lavender

In the morning, the sunlight glints off the snowcapped peaks of the French Alps. Wildflowers blossom along the trails meandering through the prairies. At breakfast, you sip a frothy cappuccino and savor the comforting warmth. Your guide escorts you down the mountains and away from the looming summit of Mont Blanc. In the town of Annecy, the blue lake mirrors the surrounding mountaintops and bright green trees. Dense woods carpet the foothills. Pastel hues erupt from the building facades of Old Town. Geraniums blossom on windowsills and large turrets protect the 14th-century chateau. The town takes you into a fairytale town.

You take the time to enjoy a walk down Avenue d’Albigny, the walkway hugging the shore. Plane trees shade the path. Locals bicycle around the lake, which encompasses a surface area of more than 10 square miles. Relish the narrow cobblestone lanes and picture-perfect buildings mirrored in the water’s calm surface. You continue your journey out of the mountains and into the countryside. The hills of Provence roll along the horizon in shades of gold and green. Lavender fields add a herbaceous fragrance to the air.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 10: In with the Old

In the morning, you notice the 20th-century buildings from the legacy of the Roman Empire sweeping across France’s largest archeological site. The medieval town sits atop a rocky cliff overlooking the valley. Seven hills encircle the valley. A 1st-century bridge spans the Ouvéze River. The semi-circular arch is nearly 30 feet wide with a length of 55 feet. The House of the Laurelled Apollo covers 21,527 square feet. Antique stately homes pepper the site, offering insight into the prestige of farmland.

The theater was already constructed by the middle of the 1st century AD, located at the northern edge of town. A temple podium and traces of the ancient aqueduct border the theater remains. The stadium seating was carved into the natural slope of the hillside to accommodate the layers of rows. The orchestra extends to a length of more than 98 feet.  On the hillside, the counts of Toulouse constructed the dramatic castle in the 12th century. Interspersed cypress trees offer touches of greenery between the limestone cliff and buildings. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 11: Pleasures of the Port

Today your guide greets you at the hotel and escorts you to the city of Marseille, the second largest city in France. The cosmopolitan ambiance arises from the trade routes and markets in the harbor established more than two millennia ago with the arrival of Greek sailors in the 7th century BC. The powerful stone fortress turned prison of Chateau d’If sits on a small island outside of the harbor. The prison was immortalized in Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale The Count of Monte Cristo. History weaves through the artsy atmosphere and hidden squares of the city, leading you to the bustling quarter of Le Panier.

Artisan shops line the cobblestone streets. Locals open their windows of the terraced housing and watch the activity of the neighborhood. The aroma of chocolate emanates from a charming chocolaterie. The Cathedrale de la Major divides the old port from the new port. The 19th-century basilica has a neo-Byzantine style with a striped façade shaped from Florentine marble and Cassis stone. The original structure was built in the 12th century. The cupola rises to 231 feet. An elaborate stairway leads you to the neighborhood of La Joliette along the waterfront. Ferries depart from the port. Marvelous galleries display contemporary and modern French artwork.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 12: Farewell France 

In the morning, the diverse cultures of Marseille are apparent in the variety of breakfast cuisine. Cafes offer mint tea and honey-drenched pastries. Some establishments serve cappuccinos and golden croissants. Tearooms in Old Town create elegant spaces for a cup of British tea. The city has evolved with the range of cultures that have settled within the historical and contemporary walls, traveling from near and far along the aquatic trade routes of the Mediterranean. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in the lobby of your hotel. You have one last view of the port and a fabulous panorama of Marseille on your way to the Marseille Provence Airport for your flight home.  

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized France vacation packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $400 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $350 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day

The customized package will include hotels, airport transfers and other transportation within France, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24x7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.