Essence of Paris, Bordeaux, Dordogne & Provence Tour

A 11 day trip to France 
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An appreciation of the finest is France’s gift to the world. Experience what the French call “ne plus ultra,” the ultimate in quality — from exceptional art and exquisite chocolates to the best vintage wines and seductive perfumes. On this luxury Paris, Bordeaux, Dordogne and Provence tour, you’ll visit the incomparable capital city of Paris, elegant Bordeaux and lovely wine châteaux in the Médoc. The tour continues in the rustic Dordogne, with its storybook villages, and then concludes in charming Provence, allowing you to bask in the southern sun. Along the way, you’ll enjoy leisurely gourmet meals and stay in wonderful upscale accommodations.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Paris, Bordeaux, Dordogne, Provence, Médoc, Avignon, Aix en Provence, Saint-Émilion, Bergerac, Marseille, Ménerbes 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Welcome to France! Arrive in Paris and Take a Sightseeing Tour

Arrive at the Paris airport and meet your private transfer to your hotel in central Paris. After checking into your hotel and taking some time to relax, you’ll depart for the first of many tours of France. This tour takes you to the most famous monuments of the "City of Lights," Paris. You will see the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées, Montmartre and the Left Bank with its famous cafes and bistros. You’ll stop at the beautiful Place du Trocadéro, one of the city’s most monumental squares, where you can admire perfect views of the Eiffel Tower. Continue to Montmartre, a charming quartier (neighborhood) on a hill in the north of Paris. Most of the scenes in the movie Amelie were filmed in this quartier. Conclude the tour at the Notre-Dame de Paris, the Gothic cathedral that is one of the most iconic sites in Paris. After the tour, you’ll return to your hotel and enjoy dinner. Choose from one of the wonderful restaurants near your hotel.

What’s Included: transfer, dinner, accommodation

Day 2: Paris Gourmet Food Tour in the Morning and Louvre Museum Visit in the Afternoon

This morning, you’ll meet your English-speaking guide in the lobby of your hotel to begin your gourmet food tour of Paris. The tour takes you to famous gourmet shops and an open-air market. Along the way, you’ll sample amazing baked goods and refined pâtisserie treats. You’ll also enjoy a wine tasting accompanied by delicious appetizers. Consider learning more about your France tour operators who strive to fashion your itinerary to your particular interests, desires, and tastes. 

Visit the world-famous Poilâne Bakery on the Rue de Cherche-Midi. Try a warm croissant or tarte aux pommes (apple tartlet) that have just come out of the oven. Continue to La Grande Épicerie, one of the most upscale Parisian grocery stores. You’ll see the finest caviar, cheese and charcuterie displayed as if they were jewels!

Your next stop is the exquisite Pierre Hermé pâtisserie shop, founded by the most renowned pastry chef in Paris. Pierre Hermé considers pastry making to be an art, and is his life passion. He always strives for perfection and novelty. Sample some of his world-famous macaroons and some of the other pastries that look too pretty to eat. Next, you will experience the ambiance of an authentic Parisian open-air food market on the Rue de Buci. Here you’ll see Parisians shopping for fresh ingredients to prepare their evening meal. Then you’ll reach the Rue de Seine to enjoy a wine tasting and sampling of appetizers at the trendy Da Rosa Cantina and épicerie.

Visit the “Maison du Caviar,” a Parisian institution that offers a selection of the very best caviar (Beluga, Oscietre, Sevruga), displayed in a beautiful setting. You may purchase caviar to take home with you. Stop into the “Maison de la Truffe” to see their selection of highly praised truffles. The truffle is a luxurious ingredient used in French gastronomic recipes. For a sweet ending to the tour, enjoy a stop at the renowned Ladurée Pâtisserie and Salon de Thé (Tea Salon) at 16 rue Royale, the original boutique that opened in 1862. Considered the finest pâtisserie in Paris, Ladurée is most famous for its macaroons (different flavors of almond cookies filled with buttercream, chocolate ganache or jams). Try one of the rose-flavored macaroons for a heavenly tasting experience!

After your scintillating food tour, you’ll enjoy a guided visit to the Louvre, the most important museum in Paris. As the former residence of the Kings of France (including Louis XIV, known as “the Sun King”), the building was once among the largest palaces in the world. The architecture exemplifies classic French style. The Louvre Museum houses a magnificent collection of ancient sculptures and masterpieces of European art. To walk through the Louvre is to step back into the history of France while admiring the most exquisite paintings in the world. Divided into seven sections, the Louvre Museum galleries are organized by century and country of origin.

The collections of Antiquities, Italian Paintings and French Paintings are particularly rich. You’ll see the artistic highlights of Western Civilization, including the 2,000-year-old “Nike of Samothrace” statue, known as the “Winged Victory,” the “Venus de Milo” also from antiquity, the ten-meter wide “Coronation of Napoleon” by Jacques-Louis David and of course the famous “Mona Lisa” painting by Leonardo da Vinci. After your visit, you’ll return to your hotel for a leisurely dinner. Enjoy a refined meal at a traditional French restaurant or perhaps try a more casual bistro that serves heartier country cuisine such as “Coq au Vin” and “Boeuf Bourguignon.”

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Travel from Paris to Bordeaux and Visit Two Wine Châteaux

This morning after breakfast, you’ll depart for the train station for your first-class train ride to Bordeaux. Upon your arrival, you’ll be greeted by your tour guide and provided a private transfer to your hotel that is just outside of Bordeaux. After checking into your hotel and taking some time to freshen up, you’ll depart for your tour of the renowned wineries that surround the city of Bordeaux. Your tour guide is a specialist in the Bordeaux region. Her knowledge of Bordeaux wines is recognized by the very best sommeliers of the region.

Your first stop on the tour is Château Smith Haut Lafitte. World famous for its elegant red wine and sophisticated white wine, Smith Haut Lafitte is a beautiful château on an ancient vineyard that dates back to 1365. In the 18th century, the Scotsman George Smith purchased the property, creating the manor house that is in use today, and exported wine to England. If time permits, you will also visit Château Olivier, an amazing property from the 13th century that produces some of the best wines of the region. For many years, Château Olivier has offered magnificent wines of the AOC Graves appellation (among the six wines under the prestigious “Growths of Graves” classification). Graves is a wine district in the Bordeaux region characterized by its gravel soil that has a richness allowing for outstanding viticultural heritage. The highly renowned Bordeaux “Growth of Graves” wine owes its superior quality to the special soil found in this wine-growing region.

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

Day 4: Enjoy a Bicycle Ride through the Countryside around Bordeaux

After breakfast, get ready for today’s exciting cycling adventure. There are several interesting biking routes that begin in and around Bordeaux and continue through the beautiful landscape of vineyards surrounding Bordeaux. One interesting route takes you through Entre-Deux-Mers, a specific wine-growing region between the Garonne River and the Dordogne River. (“Entre-Deux-Mers” translates to “In Between Two Seas,” which is used more in the figurative sense.) The relatively flat ride offers splendid views of the rolling hills and forests in the distance. If you continue about 20 or 30 minutes outside of Bordeaux, you will reach the Abbey of Sauve-Majeure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 11th-century church was on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrims’ route, an important spiritual journey for many Christians during medieval times. For lunch, you could enjoy a gourmet meal at the charming renowned restaurant. Ask your guide to call ahead and make a reservation for you. After lunch, you’ll continue the bicycle tour through beautiful vineyards on the way back to your hotel.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Wine Tasting at Prestigious Wine Châteaux in the Médoc

This morning, you’ll meet your guide at the lobby of your hotel. You’ll begin with a scenic drive through the Médoc (a famous wine-producing area in the Bordeaux region) and then will visit several important wine châteaux in this region. The first stop is at the Château Beychevelle, one of the highlights of the Médoc. This winery is renowned for its Grand Cru Classé wines as well as its classical châteaux and stunning gardens. The Château Beychevelle’s most prestigious wine is the 4th Grand Cru Classé of the Margaux appellation, which demonstrates a distinctive character that has been shaped by three centuries of viticulture. You’ll continue your wine tour at Lynch-Bages Estate, located just outside the city of Pauillac, on a gravely outcrop with ideal soil conditions. This Pauillac appellation is known for its high-quality wines, distinguished by their richness and dense, deep color. These wines are particularly known for improving over time; as the wines age, they develop exquisite bouquets of great delicacy. Most of the wines produced on the Lynch-Bages Estate are made primarily from Cabernet-Sauvignon grapes, resulting in bold red wines with rich tannins and great aging potential.

After visiting the first two wine châteaux, you’ll have a chance to enjoy a gourmet lunch at the Restaurant Le Saint-Julien. This elegant traditional restaurant is located in a typical country “Maison” in the village of Saint-Julien. The building was once the only bakery in Saint-Julien in the 1860s. The menu focuses on classic French specialties such as Foie Gras (duck or goose liver), steak with fries as well as more contemporary choices like shrimp ravioli and tuna tartare. On your return to Bordeaux, you’ll drive along the lovely “Route des Châteaux” of the Médoc region. Look out for the impressive châteaux set amidst the lush green vineyards. You will have a chance to stop at other wineries of your choice. One suggestion is the famous Château Lafite Rothschild, also part of the Pauillac appellation. Another interesting winery is the Château Cos d’Estournel in the Saint-Estèphe appellation. This château features unique architecture, and the estate also possesses a fascinating history. The estate has been exporting wine all over the world, as far away as India, for over two centuries. After your tour of Médoc wine country, you’ll return to your hotel in the late afternoon. Spend a relaxing evening at your hotel, including a leisurely meal.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Tour of Saint-Émilion Village, Travel to the Dordogne, and Lunch in Bergerac

Start your day with an early breakfast at your hotel and then meet your guide in the lobby. Today you’ll begin your tour in the Saint-Émilion wine region, the oldest wine region in the Bordeaux area. Saint-Émilion also has some of the most charming villages of the surrounding Bordeaux wine regions. UNESCO designated this territory as a World Heritage Site. The first stop is in the village of Saint-Émilion, the name associated with renowned red wines but also a worthy tourist destination in itself. Enjoy a guided walking tour through this ancient village with its charming cobblestone streets, medieval buildings and spectacular panoramic views. On this in-depth tour, you’ll see the town’s famous sites including Europe's largest underground church.

Your next stop is in the picturesque village of Bergerac in the Dordogne Valley, listed by UNESCO as a “Biosphere World Reserve.” Enjoy lunch at your leisure in one of the town’s excellent restaurants. After lunch, you’ll continue traveling through the idyllic Dordogne Valley until you reach the village of Trémolat. This idyllic little town on the peaceful Dordogne River is rich in history and full of charm. In Trémolat, you’ll be treated to a tasting of foie gras (a local gourmet specialty) at a prestigious “maison de fois gras” (production house). The tour concludes with a drop off at your hotel in Trémolat. Enjoy a delicious meal for dinner and restful night’s sleep in the quiet countryside of the Dordogne.

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

Day 7: Visit Lascaux II Caves, Guided Walk in Sarlat, Canoe Ride on Dordogne River

Get ready for an action-packed day. After breakfast, you’ll meet your guide in your hotel and then set off to see an amazing site in Dordogne. You’ll visit the Lascaux II Caves. This meticulous replication of the prehistoric Lascaux caves allows visitors to experience the beauty of prehistoric paintings. In gorgeous shades of deep red, rich ochre and black, the animal drawings (horses, oxen and bison) show a sense of perspective and movement. The actual prehistoric caves are now closed to tourists to protect the site from damage. After the guided cave tour, you’ll enjoy lunch and then travel to the city of Sarlat. This charming historic city is filled with wonderful examples of Medieval and Renaissance architecture and pleasant public squares. Enjoy a guided sightseeing walk on a lively market day. You’ll also visit the 16th-century Maison de La Boétie (birthplace of writer Étienne de la Boétie), the Fountain of Sainte-Marie, and the grand 14th-century Gothic-style Hôtel Plamon. Your day of adventure concludes with a two-hour canoe ride down the gentle Dordogne River, and then you’ll be dropped off at your hotel.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Travel from Bordeaux to Marseille and Transfer to Aix-en-Provence

This morning, you’ll be provided a private transfer to the Bordeaux airport for your flight to Marseille. Upon your arrival at the Marseille airport, a driver will meet you and take you to your hotel in Aix-en-Provence. Deep in the heart of Provence, Aix offers the charm of tree-lined boulevards, elegant 18th-century buildings and ancient squares filled with gurgling fountains. Enjoy a pleasant stroll around the city this afternoon. Be sure to take a walk down the Cours Mirabeau in the center of the city, once a street for horse-drawn coaches. This beautiful leafy avenue links the elegant Mazarin quarter with the historic shopping district of Aix. You’ll find wonderful terrace cafés for enjoying a leisurely “pause café” (coffee stop) and interesting shops that you’ll want to browse. Another must-see site in Aix is the colorful outdoor market on the Place Richelme that is open daily. This bustling market has a vibrant ambiance and offers an insight into the everyday life of locals. Tonight, dinner is on your own. Be sure to try a traditional restaurant that specializes in authentic Provençal cooking, a delicious and light Mediterranean cuisine based on olive oil, fresh vegetables, and aromatic herbs.

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

Day 9: Morning Sightseeing in Aix-en-Provence and Afternoon Visit to Avignon

After breakfast at your hotel, you’ll meet your guide to set off for a guided tour of Aix-en-Provence. You can visit the Pavillon de Vendôme, an elegant 17th-century pavilion bordered by a French ceremonial garden. Formerly the home of Duke of Vendôme, historians now consider the residence to house his lover Lucretia de Forbin Sollies, known as the “Beauty of Le Canet.” Take some time to wander around the splendid gardens and the museum. Continue strolling the pleasant streets until you reach the 12th-century Church of Saint Jean de Malta, the first Gothic church built in Aix-en-Provence. This church was created for the Knights of Malta, a group of medieval friars devoted to hospital care. Conclude the tour in the old town: See the Cathedrale d’Aix-en-Provence (dedicated to Saint Sauveur) that dates back to the 5th century and constructed in following centuries with many interruptions until the 15th century. Soak up the grandeur of this medieval masterpiece.

Today you’ll have lunch at your leisure. Try a refined restaurant serving Provençal cuisine, such as Les Bacchanales. This elegant gastronomic restaurant has a charming dining room with a typical wood-beamed ceiling. The kitchen prepares delicious classic Provençal dishes. After lunch, you’ll continue your tour with a drive to the historic city of Avignon, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guide will take you on a walk around Avignon to see the most important landmarks of the city, including the Palais des Papes. This magnificent former “Palace of Popes” stands as testimony to the power of the Christian Church in the 14th century. The Palais des Papes dominates the city of Avignon and is considered to be one of the most inspiring Christian sites in the world.

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

Day 10: Visit the Village of Ménerbes and the 12th-Century Abbaye de Sénanque

After breakfast, you’ll meet your guide at the hotel to begin the journey to Ménerbes, named “One of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.” Take a pleasant drive through the Provençal countryside until you arrive at this quaint village in the Luberon, one of the most beautiful regions of Provence. The Luberon is a delightful place of charming hilltop villages surrounded by vineyards and orchards. Many artists, including Cezanne and Van Gogh, came to this region to paint the natural landscapes illuminated by bright Provençal sunlight. Ménerbes was made famous by Peter Mayle, who wrote A Year in Provence. The village has splendid views of the Luberon Mountains, the Monts de Vaucluse plains, and the white-capped Mont Ventoux. With a rich historical heritage, Ménerbes has an impressive Citadelle that was built between the 12th and 16th centuries. You may visit the Domaine de la Citadelle in Ménerbes and the Musee du Tire-Bouchon (a corkscrew museum) just outside of Ménerbes. You can also visit the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin (House of Truffles and Wine) in the Luberon for an educational tour about wine and truffle production. You will learn about different types of truffles, winemaking methods and how to pair certain wines with food.

Continue your tour with a visit to Gordes, a charming old village in an exceptional location. Gordes is also listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France.” While strolling around the narrow streets, you will discover lovely ancient doorways and arcades. From many vantage points in the village, there are panoramic views of the Luberon Valley and mountains. Next you will visit the historic Abbaye de Sénanque, tucked away in a quiet valley north of Gordes. This exquisite valley flourishes with vibrant lavender fields during the summer. Abbaye de Sénanque is one of the finest examples of Romanesque-style Cistercian architecture and is still in use; Cistercian monks live and worship here, much in the same way as when the abbey was initially built in the 12th century. The monks are also famous for producing artisanal honey, lavender perfume, and fine liqueurs.

The journey continues in Roussillon, an ancient village surrounded by a stunning landscape. In the heart of one of the world’s biggest ochre sites, Roussillon is renowned for its magnificent red cliffs and ochre quarries. The striking shades of red, yellow and brown earth form a striking contrast to the hillside’s lush green pine trees. Enjoy lunch on your own at Le Clos de la Glycine, a gourmet restaurant in a picturesque setting. Sample the culinary wonders of Provence as you soak up splendid panoramic views of the restaurant’s terrace. During the summer, verdant vines and periwinkle wisteria shade the terrace pergola. After lunch, you’ll have a chance to visit a former ochre quarry and stroll along the colorful ochre pathways. You can also learn about how this natural resource is used by visiting the "Conservatoire des Ocres et Pigments Appliqués" located in an old ochre factory. The guided tour concludes with your return to Aix-en-Provence in the late afternoon.

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

Day 11: Tour Concludes with Departure from Marseille Airport

Your France vacation concludes today after breakfast at your hotel. You’ll be provided a private transfer to the Marseille airport in time for your return 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.