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Bienvenue a Paris[D]
The tour commences with Welcome Drinks and Dinner. [D] We meet in the hotel bar at 6pm.
on the Great Trains of Europe Tours begins with a buffet breakfast [B]. Our morning's sightseeing includes Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel tower. The afternoon is free for your own sightseeing. The Louvre will be closed tomorrow, so if you wish to visit Mona Lisa today’s the day. We are spoilt for choice of restaurant this evening.
Most Paris museums are closed Tuesdays, but the Orsay (home of the Impressionists) and the Marmottan (a mansion with more than 50 Monets) are open today. A day out of Paris today: full day to the Somme Battlefields; or an afternoon excursion to Monet’s Garden at Giverney to admire the water lilies? Details of both options will be provided closer to departure.
To Sarlat, Dordogne[B][D]
Our luggage is taken on ahead as we head South at 300kph on the high speed French TGV to Bordeaux (lunch available on board) where we change to the little local train winding its way through the world famous Bordeaux vineyards into the Dordogne region. The walled mediaeval market town of Sarlat is our home for 3 nights. As our luggage arrives we settle in for 3 nights. The village has 5,000 inhabitants and 11 restaurants in the Michelin red book.
Excursions from Sarlat are offered each day and included in the tour cost, but feel free to enjoy lazy days in our ‘home’ village.
Our day begins with a visit to the walled ‘bastide’ town of Domme, with excellent shopping and a fine view of a vast sweep of the Dordogne River Valley. It is Market day in Domme. After an early lunch, we wind along the banks of the Dordogne River on 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.
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.
To Villeneuve-les-Avignon, Provence[B][D]
Our luggage is taken on ahead, as we join our cross-country trains, via Toulouse, to the historic Provence village of Villeneuve-les-Avignon. Excursions from Villeneuve are offered each day and included in the tour cost. Our hotel boasts an excellent restaurant where we have our included dinner tonight.
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”. Today is Market Day. We move on to Fontaine de Vaucluse for lunch beside the waterfall.
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.
Off the beaten track again today as we drive through some of Provence’s favourite villages – hilltop Gordes (market day), Bonnieux, rainbow-coloured Roussillon, and Loumarin - with stops for coffee, lunch & shopping.
To Santa Margherita Ligure[B][D]
An early start for the TGV train along the French Riviera to Nice, then a progression of slower local trains across the Italian border to our seafront hotel in Santa Margerita Ligure, just north of the Cinque Terre. Our luggage awaits our arrival.
Cinque Terre - Santa Margherita Ligure[B]
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.
Portofino - Santa Margherita Ligure[B]
A leisurely stroll or short bus ride brings us to uber-touristy Portofino.
To San Gimignano, Tuscany[B][D]
An early start today, so that we can get to San Gimignano before its Market Day ends. Our luggage is transported on ahead as we wind along the Mediterranean coast and into 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]
A drive off the beaten track today through Southern Tuscan vineyards and olive groves to visit two beautiful hilltop villages and wine centres - Montalcino and - after lunch - Montepulciano.
San Gimignano, Tuscany[B]
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.
San Gimignano, Tuscany[B]
This is a good day (Melbourne Cup Day, Aussies or Presidential Election Day, Americans) 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’. Anyone fancy a day trip into Florence? Pisa is also a possible destination for a day trip. Your tour guide will provide details. [B]
Our luggage is taken on to Rome as we wind our way through the Vale of Chianti on the local slow train to Florence, where we change to Italy’s High Speed Frecciarossa to the eternal city, Rome. Our included dinner is not tonight, but on our final night, but let’s go the Piazza Navona anyway for pizza as the fountains play.
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.
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. Our Farewell Dinner tonight.
Grazie e arrivederci
Our tour ends after breakfast this morning.
$AUD 13,950 per person Twin Share.
Land Content only (i.e. join in Paris and leave in Rome).
Single Room Supplement $AUD 2,000.
Enquire about our competitive air fares.