Parisian cobbles, Roman churches, Swiss mountains and Venetian canals are all yours to explore, as the list of iconic highlights is endless as you travel across France, Italy and Switzerland. Take in the Colosseum, the art of the Renaissance, the beauty of the French Riviera and Pisa’s Leaning Tower in a perfectly planned whirlwind of a vacation. Handcrafted for those who like to travel fast and pack in the experiences, this 13-day tour celebrates many of Europe’s most famous wonders as you see...
Paris – Starting the French Adventure
As you arrive in Paris, you will be unable to stop your smile as the chatter of Parisians, and the smell of croissants really do fill the air. Your eyes will soon find the Eiffel Tower, dominate as it surges towards the sky. The Arc de Triomphe, a legacy from a different artistic time is no far away, and then the Place de la Concorde, where dark chapters from French history whisper from the walls. You will never grow tired of all there is to see, but you do need an excellent guide to make sense of them all. Every building has a history, and as you take a tour along the River Seine, you will come to understand their place in Parisian culture. As you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel near the river, and your short afternoon tour will introduce you to Paris with your evening free to settle in.
Paris – The Louvre and Versailles
Masterpieces stretch out through the Louvre Museum, each another chapter in the history of Western art. Take in the Venus de Milo for insight into Ancient Greece, so serene as it gazes towards the heavens. Move next to the headless Nike of Samothrace, another piece of sanctified marble. And then there is the Mona Lisa, grand Renaissance canvases, and oil swirls from many different centuries. If there is one museum you cannot miss in Paris, it is the Louvre, even if you are not into art. Your guide will tailor your route through the galleries, so you will sidestep some of the mundane and focus on the true masterpieces.
Stop for lunch on Boulevard Haussmann and watch the crowds roll by, especially the shoppers coming from the boutiques. Spend your afternoon at Versailles, and step behind the ropes to find yourself in the palace’s reception rooms, places that used to host visiting royalty. Chandeliers glisten, oil portraits line the corridors, and every chair appears to be an ostentatious antique. France is a city with its own style, and the Versailles Palace never disappoints, especially as you tuck in areas that are usually closed to the public. You have an all-access pass and will follow a private tour with a dinner in the gardens, a lovely contrast to yesterday’s dinner in the city.
Lucerne – A Stunning Journey Through the Alps
Passing hay bales and wheat fields, you will travel east through France. Stone villages top the hills and vineyards glisten in the sun, and then you ascend. Twisting and turning, you will enter the crisp mountain air of the Alps. Stop at the intersection of France, Italy, and Germany and look out on all three countries from one little point. Drive on and wind deeper into the snow-dappled landscape, the mountains rising higher and higher as you arrow in on Lucerne. This will be a relatively long journey, just over six hours by road, but it is beautiful as the landscape changes when entering Switzerland. Nothing is planned for this evening, and you might consider a traditional cheese fondue restaurant in the old town.
Lucerne – Deep in the Mountains
Taking a walk in the Alps is an incredible experience, whether it is for 30 minutes or three hours. River waters trickle past as a glacial-carved valley opens out before your eyes. Hiking trails spider out into the mountains, and the echo of cowbells comes down from verdant fields. Feel the tranquility and the majesty of nature, and then spend an afternoon in the city tucked between the peaks. Lucerne stretches across the centuries, its architecture a well-preserved mix of Baroque and Gothic. Townhouses reflect in the lake, bridges make up classic Swiss photos, and there is a massive lion carved into a rock. This area is one of Europe’s cutest little stops, and the best place to properly break the overland journey into Italy.
Milan – La Scala and the Duomo
The mountains rise and keep rising as the snowline grows closer and closer as higher and higher into the Swiss Alps you go, soon above the trees and the cows. The road will zig-zag up and back and up and back, and then you stand on a quiet road, looking across at Italy and Switzerland. It will only be three hours to Milan, but you can double that as there will many photo stops on the way. The Italian city comes alive in the late afternoon, so you will be just in time as you arrive. Watch the light bounce off a cathedral that took 600 years to build, and be mesmerized by Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the most glamorous of all shopping arcades found anywhere in the world. Take a peek inside the Church of Santa Maria Della Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supperstretches across the nave.
Venice – Exploring the City of Canals
Now in Italy, you will travel by train on the country’s high-speed railway that is perfect for connecting the major cities. Relax in your first-class carriage and watch the landscapes zoom by, from the industrial outskirts of Milan to the fair streets of Shakespeare’s Verona, and then to the Venetian waterside. The only way to explore the City of Canals is in a gondola, so you will cruise down the Grand Canal as majestic townhouses reflect the afternoon light. Travel beneath ancient bridges and look out across the heart of an empire. Your boat will stop at your hotel and is available to take you anywhere in the city, so head out on your own steam to see what remains of ancient Venice. Wander through San Marco Square, the vast facade of Doge’s Palace, and stop at a gelateria along the cobbles.
Rome – Impressions of an Ancient Empire
Venice to Rome is a three-hour journey through the heart of Italy, a connection between two great empires. Meet your guide and go walking, past the columns of the Roman Forum to the Colosseum, where history seems to spill from every stone slab. Double back to the Pantheon, such beauty to both the dome and inscribed walls. Now onwards through the Baroque city crafted by Borromini, his churches an exquisite look into 15th-century Rome. See the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain, the lavish showpieces juxtaposed with Roman relics. This is a city that always takes your breath away, and you will need somewhere to recollect on all that you will have seen. So eat dinner on a piazza terrace, odes to antiquity all around and savor every minute.
Rome – The Vatican City and More of Rome
Wake to another day in Rome as the Vatican City awaits. Columns send shadows across St Peter’s Square, leading your eyes towards the sculpture-dotted facade of St Peter’s Basilica. Inside the great church, you will feast your eyes on the works of Michelangelo, Raphael and Bramante, and then you can keep admiring all of the art in the Vatican Museums. Famous frescoes cover the Sistine Chapel, murals grace the altars and the rooms with galleries of priceless Christian art from the early centuries. These museums are a surreal experience and necessitate having the extra day in Rome, and this afternoon is deliberately left free. After some busy days of travel, now is your chance to rest and energize yourself for what is still left to come.
Florence – The Sights and Sounds of the Renaissance
Florentine domes mark the horizon as bells are ringing, echoing down the back streets. The sound of footsteps mixes with the hum of chatter, especially in the main square. Renaissance architecture is all around, and it can be hard to know where to point your camera. Piazzale Michelangelo, Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery are all around you, and there are plenty of photos to take, but the beauty of Florence usually lies in what’s seen in between. There is a harmony between the buildings, such as wonder in the vernacular, such artistic attention to detail. Travel here by high-speed train and spend a full day touring the city, from the earliest Renaissance structures to Michelangelo’s David and a cathedral that will seem too grand to seem real. There is amazing food here as well, and your guide can provide some restaurant recommendations to suit your tastes and your mood.
Genoa – Iconic Places From Old Italy
Move next to explore old Italy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa a famous photo stop on your journey west. You will be back on the road now, driving out of Tuscany and back towards France. Pisa’s tower is impressive, but it is just one part of the city’s architectural jigsaw, with the cathedral and baptistery just as remarkable. Eat lunch on the main square before your guide takes you to Genoa, a cultural mecca that stretches back 2,600 years. Admire the pastel-colored buildings along the coast, explore the main palace, and then spend a final evening in Italy. Genoa’s old quarter is a fitting last stop, full of places to eat authentic food while being surrounded by remarkable architecture.
Nice – Sublime Stretches of Mediterranean Coastline
The road ascends, and high above the coast, it goes as you travel along steep cliffs that provide endless panoramic views. Take a sharp turn, and the road descends. Down, down, down it goes into the small settlements that are hidden beneath the cliffs. Monaco is one of these, and it is hard to reach the location part of its appeal. Go on a walking tour here, first to the Prince’s Palace, then the Courthouse, next to the cathedral and a perfume factory. Walk along the harbor, enjoy lunch in a glamorous restaurant, and then head back to the cliffside road to continue your journey to Nice. You will now be on the French Riviera, and the experience is all about the coast. So walk the promenade, sip cocktails at sunset, and feel the balmy atmosphere of southern France.
Avignon – Basking in the French Countryside
Cannes and Avignon are two contrasting destinations that summarize the feeling of this tour. Across France, Italy, and Switzerland you will likely have remarked on how a short geographic distance can bring such a massive shift in culture and style. Cannes is old-world glamour, where chandeliers twinkle in the restaurants and even the sidewalks appear to be polished. Avignon is a Catholic legacy, where the Papal Palace and fortifications remain just as they were in the 14thcentury. So after a morning in Cannes, where you jump into the glitz of a particular era, you will end up in nearby Avignon, where everything feels thoroughly medieval. Along the way, you will cross parts of southern France, vineyards, and villages all around as the road curves to yet another World Heritage Site visited on this tour.
Marseille – Departure
Spend your morning relaxing in Avignon, taking another walk around the cathedral and glancing out at the bridge that no longer crosses the river. Enjoy your final coffee and croissant, and then set off towards Marseille. You will depart from this bustling French city, taking 13 days of contrasting memories back home.
- Discover the wonders of two capitals as Paris and Rome are packed full of world-famous highlights
- Take beautiful journeys by road as you drive through the Swiss Alps and from Italy to Monaco along the Mediterranean
- Lounge along the water and compare a day in Venice with a day on the French Riviera
- Explore Tuscany, from the Renaissance in Florence to Pisa’s Leaning Tower
- Relax in Switzerland with your days in Lucerne a mix of medieval charm and majestic mountains
- Connect with French history in destinations like Avignon and Versailles
- Tick another country off the list with a stop in Monaco
- Marvel at the churches and cathedrals that range from St Peter’s Basilica to Milan’s Duomo
- Whizz across Italy on high-speed trains, each journey offering great views of the country’s landscapes
This handcrafted tour will bring you to the grandest of Europe’s highlights as you see the places that have shaped the history of the world. Savor the artistic inspiration that changed design forever as you travel landscapes that you will forever carry in your soul. This will be a journey of endless impressions, seen at a fast pace as you travel through the best of three countries. Almost every night there will be somewhere new, but Europe is not that big, so while you are regularly on the move, there is enough time to enjoy where you are going. This tour is designed for first-time visitors to Europe with a focus on the essential sights. Without going too far off the beaten track, your city guides will tailor each day’s plans, so there is the opportunity to adapt your daily schedule to include the places and the experiences you are most interested in.
Compare Milan’s Gothic Duomo with St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, and then meander through the Swiss Alps and along the French Riviera. Cruise the River Seine in Paris and gondolier down Venetian canals, and then immerse yourself in Florence’s Renaissance neighborhoods, contrasting the experience with Paris’s 19th-century cobbles. Sit back on grand piazzas and wonder at how such places were built so many centuries ago. Dine on the distinctive foods, from French patisseries to Italian gelato, and then toast to so many of Europe’s wonders over just 13 days of travel.
You will begin and end in France, with your first couple of days in Paris all about legendary sights. Cruise along the River Seine to glimpse most of them, and then discover the wonder of the Louvre and Versailles, among other places. Travel by road to Switzerland, an exquisite journey up and into the Alps. Lucerne is a laid-back medieval town surrounded by mountains, a good place to relax amid nature and enjoy many classic Swiss experiences. It will be an equally impressive mountain journey to Milan, up and over and then down into a city that is full of grand architecture.
Most of your Italian travel is done by train, with modern high-speed services giving you some time to relax while taking in the stunning views of the country. Travel to Venice and begin with a gondola discovery tour. Zoom to Rome the next day, and a couple of days will allow you to explore Ancient Rome, the Baroque Middle Ages Rome, and the best of the Vatican City. It is then under 2 hours by train to Florence, the beautiful city of Michelangelo and Raphael. From there, make a stop in Pisa on route to Genoa, a lovely port city on the Mediterranean, and then journey by road to the French Riviera with destinations like Cannes, Nice, Monaco and Avignon part of your last couple of days.
$4,103 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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