September 2023 Europe’s ‘Off the Beaten Track’ Tour
From Rome to Paris via the hill villages and market towns of Tuscany, the Cinque Terre & the South of France.
Experience: Monet’s Garden, Village Market Days, Sistine Chapel. 3 nights each in Paris & Rome
21 Day European tour.
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Book with Confidence Guarantee:
Our European inbound operators have guaranteed that, should there be travel restrictions imposed by our government, the deposits paid will be rolled over to the same tour the following year, with guaranteed seats.
Day 1, Monday, Sep 4th
The tour commences today in our 4 star boutique hotel beside the Roman Forum. Get to know your fellow travellers at Welcome Drinks and Dinner. [D]
Day 2, Tuesday, Sep 5th
Every day on the Great Trains of Europe Tours starts with a full Buffet Breakfast [B] Today's sightseeing focuses on Classical Rome and includes entrances to the Pantheon, the Forum and the Colosseum. “Roma - non basta una vita!” (Rome - one life is not enough!) Join your Tour Leader for a stroll to the Trevi Fountain after dinner. If you throw three coins in the fountain, your return to Rome is guaranteed, so the legend goes.
Day 3, Wednesday, Sep 6th
Catholic Rome today, including entrances and a guided tour of St Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's masterpiece. The fashion shops on the Via Condotti are open this afternoon. Dinner in the Piazza Navona as we watch the water play in Bernini's fountains?
To San Gimignano, Tuscany[B][D]
Day 4, Thursday, Sep 7th
Our luggage is transported on ahead as we commence our love affair with the Great Trains of Europe, taking our reserved First Class seats on Italy’s flagship train, the High Speed Eurostar Italia.
Then a slower pace through archetypal Tuscan countryside - vineyards, olive-groves and cypresses - down the Vale of Chianti and up the hill to San Gimignano. This walled hilltop village with its 13 towers, standing almost unchanged since the 12th century, is our home for 4 nights.
Short day excursions from San Gimignano are provided (and included in your tour cost). You may choose to join the excursion or simply stay in San Gimignano and relax.
San Gimignano, Tuscany[B]
Day 5, Friday, Sep 8th ^ Top ^
A drive off the beaten track today through Southern Tuscan vineyards and olive groves to visit two beautiful hilltop villages and wine centres – Montalcino, where it Market Day, and - after lunch - on to Montepulciano.
San Gimignano, Tuscany[B]
Day 6, Saturday, Sep 9th
Today is the second market day in San Gimignano, focussing on food. Enjoy. It is also a good day to climb the tallest tower for panoramic views of the Vale of Chianti, and to visit the small cathedral with its Ghirlandaio painting. You recall Judi Dench’s efforts to preserve it in the film ‘Tea with Mussolini’.
San Gimignano, Tuscany[B]
Day 7, Sunday, Sep 10th
This morning we explore the artistic gem of Siena, which stands today much as it did in the twelfth century. You know it from “My House in Umbria” and “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Where better to take lunch than at one of the open air trattoria on the Campo? This is the historic city square, the setting for the Palio horse race in the summer. On the way home to San Gimignano we visit the walled village of Monteriggioni.
Day 8, Monday, Sep 11th
A local train along the North West Coast of Italy brings us to the Cinque Terre. We arrive in our seafront hotel in Santa Margerita Ligure.
Day 9, Tuesday, Sep 12th
Today we take a boat ride down the Italian Coast past the five villages more commonly known as the Cinque Terre, making stops at two of the villages. Elevenses, a ridiculously long lunch in a seafront restaurant or just a sundowner overlooking the Mediterranean? Back to our hotel tonight.
Day 10, Wednesday, Sep 13th ^ Top ^
A leisurely stroll or short bus ride brings us to uber-touristy Portofino.
To Villeneuve, Provence[B][D]
Day 11, Thursday, Sep 14th
Along the Mediterranean today and across the French border to join the high speed French TGV train to Provence and the historic village of Villeneuve-les-Avignon. Excursions from Villeneuve are offered each day and included in the tour cost.
Day 12, Friday, Sep 15th
Off the beaten track again today as we drive through some of Provence’s favourite villages – Lourmarin (market day), hilltop Bonnieux, rainbow-coloured Roussillon, and Goult - with stops for coffee, lunch & shopping.
Day 13, Saturday, Sep 16th
A visit this morning to the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct dating from Classical times. Then we move on to van Gogh country and the village of St. Remy, ending the day in the walled city of Avignon, seat of the Popes from 1309 to 1377.
The afternoon is free in Avignon.
Day 14, Sunday, Sep 17th
The nearby village of L’Isle-Sur-la-Sourge prides itself on being France’s second largest antiques centre. Visa cards with chronic fatigue syndrome have been known here. L’Isle-Sur-la-Sourge is a very attractive town with streams and water wheels, nicknamed the “Venice of Provence”. We move on to Fontaine de Vaucluse for lunch beside the waterfall. We stop in hilltop Gordes for sweeping views of the Luberon.
To Sarlat, Dordogne[B][D]
Day 15, Monday, Sep 18th ^ Top ^
An early start from Provence, across Southern France to the Dordogne and the walled mediaeval market town of Sarlat. As our luggage arrives we settle in for 3 nights.
As before, excursions from Sarlat are offered each day and included in the tour cost, but you are free to choose those that appeal to you or simply potter about our ‘home’ village.
Day 16, Tuesday, Sep 19th
Winding along the banks of the Dordogne River today we make our way to the mediaeval cliff-face village of Rocamadour - very much ON the beaten track. Pilgrims have come to visit the Black Madonna since the 12th century. Later we visit the walled ‘bastide’ town of Domme, with excellent shopping and a fine view of a vast sweep of the Dordogne River Valley.
Day 17, Wednesday, Sep 20th
The morning is free in the village of Sarlat. This is a ‘foodie’s’ paradise with a vast array of gourmet shops. In the afternoon we visit one of France’s most beautiful gardens, the nearby Jardin d’Eyrignac. [B]
Day 18, Thursday, Sep 21st
We farewell Sarlat and enjoy a change of pace - a leisurely journey, trundling down the Dordogne Valley and through Bordeaux vineyards before a transfer to a High Speed TGV to Paris at 300 kilometres an hour. Settle in to our Left Bank Hotel.
Day 19, Friday, Sep 22nd
This morning's sightseeing includes Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. There is time to visit Mona Lisa in the Louvre. We are spoilt for choice of restaurant this evening.
Day 20, Saturday, Sep 23rd ^ Top ^
The museums and boutiques beckon today. This afternoon there is an excursion to Monet’s Garden at Giverney to admire the water lillies. Our Farewell Dinner tonight.
Day 21, Sunday, Sep 24th
Our tour ends after breakfast this morning.
Escorted Tour costs:
$AUD 12,950 per person Twin Share.
Land Content only (i.e. join in Rome and leave in Paris).
Single Room Supplement $AUD 2,000.
Enquire about our competitive air fares.
What’s included?^ Top ^
- All stops 3 or 4 nights
- 4 star city centre hotels and historic village inns with buffet breakfasts
- 6 dinners
- First Class rail travel in reserved seats with full luggage handling between hotels
- An Australian historian Tour Director
The TOUR COST does NOT include:^ Top ^
- Hotel incidentals (eg. Mini-bars, telephone calls, laundry), airport and departure taxes, local transport in any city,
- optional excursions listed or meals other than breakfast and the one restaurant dinner in each city - the first night in each new city, except Paris where it takes the form of a farewell dinner. On other nights, the Tour Leaders are available to accompany group members to local, authentic restaurants.
About the 2023 “Off the Beaten Track” European tour
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