Secrets of French Gourmet Tour: A Treasured Culinary Journey

A 11 day trip to France 
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Sample tradition and discover majesty during your cruise down the Rhone River in search of the decadent soul of French cuisine. Colorful macaroons and delicious chocolates fill the display windows of chic boutiques and charming vintage-age shops. The delicate aroma of seafood accentuates the ambiance of a restaurant located in a historic abbey. Medieval villages pepper the banks of the Rhone River. Roman ruins highlight the layers of history spanning the South of France. You will taste your way through cities and villages, and indulge in marvelous vineyards during your custom tailored France gourmet tour.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Paris, Lyon, Tain-l’Hermitage, Tournon-sur-Rhone, Viviers, Valence, Avignon, Roussillon, Arles, Pont du Gard

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: First Taste of Parisian Lights and Flavors

Paris is a delectable city in both its monuments and cuisine. The scent of freshly baked macaroons lingers in the doorways of local bakeries. Indulgent, creamy sauces top savory steak dishes. Pastries overtake window displays. Diamonds in boutique jewelry shops glint in the passing sunlight. Your private transfer greets you at Charles de Gaulle Airport upon your arrival in the decadent city. You make your way to the heart of Paris to your hotel located on the Boulevard des Capucines. Quintessential trees line the wide avenue, casting refreshing shade over the walkways. At dinner, you venture to a traditional French restaurant on the famous Champs Elysees.

The Arch de Triomphe crowns the boulevard with Place de la Concorde separating the end of the street with the Tuileries Gardens. The original grandeur of the Champs Elysees accentuates the opulent cuisine of the restaurant. Enjoy the succulent lobster with creamy tagliatelle pasta topped with orange zest. For dessert, you order a crumbly blueberry shortbread biscuit topped with bourbon vanilla ice cream. Your guide leads you through the famous city lights after your meal. On the Left Bank of the Seine River, the Eiffel Tower lights up the sky with 20,000 special bulbs glittering for five minutes on the hour until 1:00 a.m. Consider learning more about your tour companies in France, and explore the endless possibilities in which they can craft your dream France itinerary. 

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

Day 2: Illuminating the Sweetness of Paris

In the morning, the aroma of freshly baked croissants drifts out of the bakeries and the streets of Paris. Parisians linger at street-side café tables, enjoying their cappuccino. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel and leads you through a remarkable culinary tour of the city, capturing the sweet flavors. Patrick Roger Chocolaterie is located near the famous Parisian university of La Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter. Narrow cobblestone lanes wind around the neighborhood, providing insight into the look and feel of Paris before the 19th century.

The proprietor, for whom the shop is named, holds the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France, a prestigious award recognizing a person’s unique abilities. Rich and luxurious chocolates fill the display cases. Elegant boxes line the walls, highlighting the chic Parisian style. The shop is known for its combination of interesting flavors, such as lime and caramel. The shop uses the best cocoa beans from around the world. The boutique also features massive hand-carved chocolate sculptures meant to raise awareness for animals on the verge of extinction.

After your chocolate tour through the historical neighborhoods of Paris, you continue to your pastry class for a private lesson in the art of Parisian sweets. Learn from a chef at the famous École Lenôtre cooking school, located in a pavilion near the Presidential Palace. Your class is designed with your particular tastes in mind, teaching you deceptively simple techniques and impressive recipes. At the end of your instruction, you have a collection of fresh, flavorful macaroons or dessert tarts to enjoy.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Savory Traditions

Couples walk along the cobbled lanes lining the banks of the Seine River. They sit in the sweeping shade and snack on a variety of cheeses, enjoying a relaxing moment in the often fast pace of Paris. In the morning, your guide meets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to the Marché d’Aligre, the largest outdoor and covered market in the city. The atmosphere fills with bustling locals and jovial vendors. Vivacious flowers decorate a portion of the market, filling the air with bright aromas. Oranges and strawberries cast a rainbow of colors along the rows of fruit. The purveyors Sybille and Remy Costaz display their fruit like jewels, presenting high quality produce near the entrance to the covered market.

Your guide picks ingredients along the way and escorts you to a private kitchen. Use the ingredients chosen by your guide during your time at the market to create a traditional Parisian lunch. You begin with a simple but delicious Croque Monsieur. You grill the bread in butter, place the cheese over the toasting bread and watch the cheese melt from the heat. The cheese coats the outside of the bread. Ham fills the inside of the sandwich. The buttery and decadent creation is a perfect introduction to the flavors of a local lunch.

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

Day 4: Luscious Lyon 

The merry-go-round at the base of Montmartre fills the area with music. The pearly white façade of Sacre Coeur tops the hillside overlooking the Parisian rooftops. The glass pyramid rising out of the courtyard of the Louvre glints in the sunlight. The morning is yours to enjoy the splendors of Paris at your leisure. Stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens or visit the stunning Musee Rodin, which contains a collection of more than 6,600 sculptures. Your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to Gare Lyon train station for your first-class journey to Lyon, France. The city claims the title of the “Culinary Capital of France.” Elegant neighborhoods along the Rhone River and Saone Rivers reflect the heritage of Lyon and the whole of France. The Saint-George Quarter represents an Old World charm.

Your private transfer leads you from the train station to your waiting cruise ship moored on the Rhine River. Settle into the comforts of your cabin before venturing to dinner at a celebrated restaurant on the shores of the Saone River. You hear the chords of a fairground organ echoing through the wide halls of the former abbey. The restaurant provides a luxurious and elegant meal inside the historic structure. For a celebrated dish steeped in the French tradition, you order the rack of lamb roasted with thyme. The herbaceous aroma reaches the table before the plate. The lamb has been meticulously prepared, with a firm crust and tender interior, adding another unforgettable layer to the perfect meal.

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

Day 5: Gourmet Lyon

In the morning, the cafes open their doors and set out their tables along the walkways of the city. Chefs prepare the local specialty known as quenelles, a type of fish dumpling in a rich cream sauce. The historic neighborhood of Croix-Rousse slopes up the hillside; staircases and curved walkways angle up the hill, alongside the colorful houses. Covered passageways function as public hallways, passing through private homes. These walkways date back to the silk workers who once transported fabrics around the town. Your guide leads you through the vibrant city in the morning, paying special attention to Les Halles de Lyon, the celebrated indoor food market. The marketplace has served as a center for life in the city since the 1850s.

The aroma of freshly baked breads accompanies the enticing visual of rows upon rows of local cheeses. Sausages dangle from vendors’ stalls. Fresh fruit provides an appealing array of color. Locals relax at one of the many restaurants serving incredible cuisine made with freshly chosen ingredients. Breads and pastries fill the le boulangerie (French bakery). In Quartier Saint-Jean, you stroll through the medieval streets north of the cathedral. Cobblestone lanes lead to quiet courtyards. Picturesque restaurants line the square of Place Neuve Saint-Jean. The 15th-century mansion of Hotel de Gadagne houses the Lyon History Museum, which offers visitors a chance to view the city’s glorious history, from antiquity to the Middle Ages. 

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

Day 6: Entering the Walls

In the morning, the sunlight reflects off of the waters of the Rhine River. Your cruise cabin has floor to ceiling windows, providing pristine views of the riverbanks. The ship is more than 360 feet long, and docks in the town of Viviers, known for its bordering walls. Cathedral of Saint Vincent was erected in the 12th century. An impressive bell tower rises above the rooftops. Vaulted ceilings decorate the interior, creating a spacious feeling. The original narrow cobbled streets meander through the heart of the town, designed during the Middle Ages. The countryside contains an enjoyable slower pace. Cafes fill galleries in historic buildings. Ornamental carvings decorate the façade of the mansion-like Hotel de Tourville. The ancient stone bridge crosses the Esoutay River using 11 supporting arches. Romans erected the bridge between the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

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

Day 7: The Pleasures of Provence

The South of France contains intriguing history and enticing cuisine. The ship moors on the Rhone near the Roman city of Arles. The sunlight spreads across the houses, evoking a familiar image captured by the celebrated artist Vincent Van Gogh. Greek settlers laid the foundations for the Roman colony in 49 BC. The amphitheater remains intact with a diameter of nearly 335 feet long. A column near the entrance indicates the height of the original cloister, allowing people to access the performances that consistently take place inside the 20,000-seat edifice.

The Roman baths were erected in the 4th century for Emperor Constantine’s private use. The 16th and 17th-century houses and private mansions fill the neighborhood of St. Trophime. Yellow rocks and red soil contrast the lush trees and lilac covered mountains. Van Gogh stayed at the nearby monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole while recuperating from mental fatigue. He stayed for more than three months and created 142 oil paintings and over 100 drawings. A stone staircase leads to the upper floor. The room in which the artist stayed has been recreated to the specifications of the time period in the late 19th century. Outside the window, you can see the fields that inspired Van Gogh to paint “Wheat Field with a Reaper.” 

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

Day 8: Luster of Avignon

The Palais des Papes sits on the banks of the Rhone River. The structure was erected in the 13th century and became the home of seven consecutive popes in the 14th century. From a distance, the palace resembles a fairytale castle, adding to the majesty of Avignon. Visitors can meander through 20 historic rooms across the 161,458-square-foot estate, including the pope’s private chambers. The sensational frescoes of Italian artist Matteo Giovannetti decorate a separate room. The 12th-century bridge Pont Saint-Bénézet contains 22 arches and once spanned the entire Rhone River. Until the 17th century, the route acted as the most important transportation method crossing the river.

Today, the bridge only crosses a portion of the Rhone. Outside of the city lies the remarkable Pont du Gard, a famous Roman aqueduct crossing the River Gardon. The structure contains three arched tiers standing at a height of 160 feet. The sound of rushing water echoes through the trees. Mortar reinforced the stone to ensure minimal wear from the constant stream of water. Pont du Gard is the best-preserved section of the aqueduct that once spanned from Uzés to Nimes.

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

Day 9: Various Hues of the Countryside

Today, you step away from the shores of the Rhone River and venture deeper into the Provencal countryside. The aroma of lavender sweeps across the hills. The landscape around the town of Roussillon shines a rusty red in the sunlight. The area holds the largest ochre deposit in Europe. Green pine forests surround the tawny colored homes of the town. Tranquil streets lead to small squares and hidden lanes. The pleasant ambiance stems from the serene landscape, charming homes, and a view overlooking the countryside. In the afternoon, you venture to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a region located between Avignon and Orange encompassing more than 7,900 acres of vineyards.

Village homes nestle into the base of the dazzling 14th-century Papal castle. Fountains sprinkle refreshing mist into the air. With more than 200 days of sunshine and a soil consisting of small round pebbles, the region produces full-bodied wines in the south and light, spiced wines in the north. Enter a local winery with more than six acres dedicated to producing red wine grape varietals. Numerous old vines date back to the 1800s. Your guide leads you into the tasting room after your tour. You find a wine with a stunning nose of black cherry and spices. You sip the wine to find an elegant round texture topped with cassis and licorice flavors.

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

Day 10: Savory Layers of the Rhone Valley

In the morning, the cruise ship docks in the medieval town of Tournon-sur-Rhone. A magnificent castle crowns the rock rising above the riverbanks. The courtyard was erected in the 10th century. The castle’s north wing was constructed in the 14th century. The 18th-century mansion De La Tourette contains spiral staircases appropriated from an earlier century. Stone fortifications protect the cobbled streets. The town of Valence embodies authentic French southern charm. The Kiosk de Peynet tops the Champs de Mars. The pavilion offers a wonderful view of the decorative gardens and Park Jouvet.

Sculpted figures adorn the 16th-century home of Maison de Tetes. Figures from Ancient Greek nobility and mythology, along with theological characters decorate the inner courtyard and corridors. The market square inside the old city center fills with rich cuisine throughout the day. Decadent treats found in the countryside, from asparagus to truffles, fills the marketplace. Your private guide leads you through the market in search of celebrated goods symbolic of the culture in the Rhone Valley. You settle into the gourmet cooking school for a demonstration of wine and cheese pairings, which allows you to taste and savor the food and wine until the last drop. 

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

Day 11: Leaving from Lyon

The boat moors on the riverbanks of Lyon. Elements of the Roman city of Lugdunum, which was erected in the 1st century BC as the capital of Gaul, continue to decorate Lyon in the Museum of Archeology. A magnificent Hercules sculpture provides a towering presence inside the gallery. A 1076-square-foot mosaic depicts images related to Neptune, god of the oceans. The Grand Theater stands near the museum exhibit and remains part of the complex containing the oldest ancient ruins in France. The theater was erected in 15 BC, housing dramatic performances. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the dock and escorts you to Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 



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