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SMALL GROUPS BACK-ROADS TOURING


SCENIC BACK ROADS TOURING - SMALL GROUPS WITH UP TO 18 PASSENGERS
GIVING YOU THE LOCAL EXPERIENCES OF TRAVELLING THROUGH FRANCE AT A LEISURELY PACE
STAYING IN BOUTIQUE ACCOMMODATIONS - OFFERING CULINARY DISCOVERIES

By limiting our group sizes to a maximum of 18 passengers, we are experts at providing a friendly, relaxed, and flexible form of touring. In fact, our belief in the advantages of small group travel underpins everything that we do – from the type of vehicles that we use, to the places we visit, and the accommodation that we hand select. In many ways, it couldn’t be further from a typical coach touring experience.


LA BELLE FRANCE

NORMANDY, BRITTANY, & THE LOIRE VALLEY

  • 9 Day tour
  • 15 passengers maximum
  • Cost per person A$3,820 Twin-share
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NORMANDY, BRITTANY, & THE LOIRE VALLEY


Step into a land of renowned artists and royal crusaders, hilltop monasteries and valley castles. This tour takes us from France’s dramatic northernshores to châteaux-sprinkled countryside, breaking off to see WWII sites, explore centuries-old villages and sample home-grown delicacies.


ITINERARY

Day 1 PARIS – HONFLEUR

Our first impressions of France are formed in Giverny, Normandy, at the home of one of the world’s most celebrated artists – Claude Monet. The vivid colours in every room paint a picture of his life and the gardens outside are brimming with every shade of flower. We carry that image with us all the way to Honfleur. With a harbour lined with a parade of tall, brightly painted merchant’s houses, it’s one of the most beautifully preserved old ports in Normandy – and our home for the next two nights. Bustling cafes and restaurants line the pavements. So what better way to celebrate the start of our trip than with a welcome dinner together. (D)
Overnight: Hotel des Loges (or similar)

Day 2 HONFLEUR – NORMANDY – HONFLEUR

On the menu today is Normandy’s ‘back country’. We take the road less travelled to Livarot where a renowned dairy produces wonderful cheeses –and invites us to sample them. Of course, cheese is made even better when followed up with drinks. So we track the Route du Cidre towards Beuvron-en-Auge, voted one of the most beautiful villages in all of France. From cool, crisp ciders to heady, amber-hued calvados, it’s here that we pause to taste the fruits of the region’s orchards – a delicious end to our day. (B)
Overnight: Hotel des Loges (or similar)

Day 3 HONFLEUR – NORMANDY BEACHES – CALVADOS

We turn our attentions to the windswept shoreline, where history has left an enduring mark not just on the landscape, but the lives of countless people around the world. At the Normandy Beaches, we stand at the sites of the D-Day Landings of 1944. Afterwards, there’s the opportunity to pay a poignant visit to the American War Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, which is in a peaceful spot overlooking Omaha beach. When bed beckons, we find ourselves in a countryside hotel not far from the coast. (B, D)
Overnight: Ferme de la Ranconniere (or similar)

Day 4 CALVADOS – BAYEUX – MONT ST MICHEL – DINAN

Time to unfold another layer of Normandy history this morning with a trip to see the remarkable Bayeux Tapestry. The town of Bayeux is a find in itself, which we enjoy exploring afterwards.That afternoon, we drive onto enchanting Mont St Michel, crossing the tidal causeway to wander the buzzing island village. There’s even time to visit the medieval monastery, which crowns the hilltop and gazes imperiously back to the mainland. To top off a charmfilled day, we spend this evening in Dinan – and it’s yours to enjoy. (B)
Overnight: Hotel le D'Avaugour (or similar)

Day 5 DINAN

With a whole day to yourself in Dinan, you can really get under the skin of this Gallic gem. Picture ancient ramparts, a hotchpotch of timbered houses, a postcard-pretty quay and 13th century castle. You’ll get a sense of its arts and crafts heritage in the quirky shops and galleries that line the cobbled streets, with talented craftspeople ranging from bookbinders to glassblowers plying their trade here. And it has little bars and restaurants to suit every taste. (B)
Overnight: Hotel le D'Avaugour (or similar)

Day 6 DINAN – ANGERS – CHINON

We’re deep into fairytale territory when we travel towards the Loire Valley, a landscape whose skyline is peppered with the turrets of castles. Our first port of call is Angers, once the medieval stronghold of the Plantagenet kings. It gives us a chance to get up close to a moat-encircled castle and admire a beautiful tapestry. Then we move on to Chinon where dinner at a local restaurant awaits. (B, D)
Overnight: Hotel Diderot (or similar)

Day 7 CHINON – CHÂTEAU DE VILLANDRY – CHINON

Our first château of the tour is the last of Loire’s greats: Château de Villandry. There is plenty of time for us to explore its majestic interiors and even more magnificent grounds. Be sure to peek out of an upstairs window for a birds-eye view of the parterre planting, with intricate patterns laid out in meticulously trimmed hedges and vivid flowers. Taking it all in is thirsty work. So on our way back to Chinon we enjoy a detour at a regional winery and linger over a glass or two. (B)
Overnight: Hotel Diderot (or similar)

Day 8 CHINON – CHÂTEAU DE CHENONCEAU – MONTLOUIS-SUR-LOIRE

Château de Chenonceau gives us the opportunity to stroll through manicured gardens and explore the fascinating museum. While at our own château, deep in the heart of the Loire Valley, we turn into lords and ladies of the manor with a night spent in stately surrounds – but not before a guided tour of the gardens and an indulgent farewell dinner. (B, D)
Overnight: Chateau de la Bourdaisiere (or similar)

Day 9 MONTLOUIS-SUR-LOIRE – CHARTRES – PARIS

A fitting finale to our tour is a visit to the celebrated cathedral of Chartres, reckoned to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in France. Its soaring spires and ornate 13th century stained glass windows are a sight to behold, and a beautiful image to take back to Paris where we say “au revoir”. (B) 


Tour Inclusions

  • 8 nights’ accommodation
  • Driver/tour leader
  • Luxury mini-coach transportation
  • European breakfast daily
  • 4 x evening meals
  • Cooking demonstration & dinner
  • Cheese tasting
  • Cider & calvados tasting
  • Wine tasting
  • Guided château garden tour
  • Included Entrances: Monet’s House & Garden at Giverny, Angers Castle, Bayeux Tapestry, Mont St Michel, Chateau de Villandry & Chateau de Chenonceau.

PARIS TO NICE via the Alpes and Wineries

Reference: BRT

CHAMPAGNE, BURGUNDY, THE ALPS, PROVENCE

  • 9 Day Tour 
  • 15 Passengers maximum
  • Cost per person A$4,220 Twin-share 
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CHAMPAGNE, BURGUNDY, THE ALPS, PROVENCE

Glasses glinting with bubbles and rich red wines. Windows that open out on soaring mountains, charming villages and fragrant fields of flowers. Join us on a bon voyage through quintessential France as we go on an adventure infused with Gallic charm.


ITINERARY


Day 1 PARIS – CHÂTEAU DE VAUX-LE-VICOMTE – REIMS – AY

So lavish that its first owner was arrested for daring to outdo King Louis XIV, Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte makes a magnificent opening act for our adventure. Glasses glinting with bubbles and rich red wines. Windows that open out onto soaring mountains, charming villages and fragrant fields of flowers. Join us on a bon voyage through quintessential France as we go on an adventure infused with Gallic charm. Next comes Reims in Champagne, where treasured reminders of its medieval heritages stand beside elegant art deco buildings. One such gem is the UNESCO-protected Cathedral of Our Lady, which we take time to explore. Finally, our road winds into Ay, a quiet town in the Champagne region where we enjoy a welcome dinner. (D)
Overnight: Hotel Castel Jeanson (or similar)

Day 2 AY – CHAMPAGNE – AY

The pop of a cork. The fizz of thebubbles. The clink of toastingglasses. Today is devotedto discovering Champagneand its liquid riches. Epernayis arguably its epicentre, sowe pause here to stroll upAvenue de Champagne, linedwith many famous merchantshouses and cellars. Then it’s onto La Côte des Blancs, wherewe visit an artisan producer.After wandering through thevineyards and watching thepressing and distillation process,we sit down together to enjoya crisp, refreshing glass or twoof the final product. Our roadback to Ay takes us through thebeautiful Montagne de Reimsarea, known for its Pinot Noir. (B)
Overnight: Hotel Castel Jeanson (or similar)

Day 3 AY – CHABLIS – DIJON

Now to swap fizz for the dry, pure white wines of Chablis. Here we visit a traditional cellar, where barrels are piled high under arched ceilings that have stood for hundreds of years. Guided by an expert tasting master, we sip the best local wines. Afternoon brings us to Dijon, where you have the evening free to explore this attractive city known for its gothic grandeur. (B)
Overnight: Maison Philipe Le Bon (or similar)

Day 4 DIJON – BEAUNE – BEAUJOLAIS – LYON

Walled Beaune, the beating heart of the Burgundy wine region, is our first port of call, where we visit the peaceful Hospices of Beaune. Founded as a hospital for the poor in the 15th century, it also has its own vineyards and hosts a prestigious wine auction each year. Next we drop by a sprawling wine estate in the verdant Beaujolais countryside before continuing to Lyon. A warm welcome comes courtesy of a meal in a traditional Bouchon Lyonnais – a type of bistro known for a convivial, relaxed atmosphere that accompanies authentic, hearty dishes. (B, D)
Overnight: Grand Hotel des Terreaux (or similar)

Day 5 LYON

Today you’re free to explore Lyon at your own pace. Saunter along the riverside, whose banks are flanked with tall, colourful houses. Learn about everything from the early days of cinema to classic cars at the museums. Visit traditional ateliers, where time-honoured crafts are still practiced. Or simply take a seat in one of the many restaurants to discover why Lyon claims the title of ‘gourmet capital of France’. (B)
Overnight: Grand Hotel des Terreaux (or similar)

Day 6 LYON – RHÔNE VALLEY – URIAGE-LES-BAINS

We’re back on the wine trail as we venture into the Rhône Valley, home to some of France’s oldest vineyards. After a private tasting session at Tain l’Hermitage, source of the famous Hermitage wines, we climb into the French Alps. Take in swoon-worthy mountain views from Villard-de-Lans, before we continue on to the romantic spa town of Uriage-les-Bains. (B, D)
Overnight: Grand Hotel d'Uriage (or similar)

Day 7 URIAGE-LESBAINS - SAINT-PIERRE-DECHARTREUSE - URIAGE-LESBAINS

Deep in a green valley between towering peaks, we find Grande Chartreuse Monastery. Before we see the complex itself, we drop by the Chartreuse museum to learn about its history – along with the origins of the Carthusian Order who built it. We stroll to the monastery and enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the stunning scenery, before driving on to the monks’ distillery in Voiron. Here they make the famous Chartreuse liquor, whose recipe dates back to the 18th century – and we’re treated to a taste. (B, L)
Overnight: Grand Hotel d'Uriage (or similar)

Day 8 URIAGE-LES-BAINS – SISTERON – FORCALQUIER

Our road turns south towards Provence today, with Alpine slopes giving way to rugged hills and wildflower meadows as we drive through the Drome region. We stop in Châtillon-en-Diois, a pretty town surrounded by sheer cliffs and forests, before continuing to Sisteron. This medieval commune, strewn over a deep turquoise river between a mountain pass, is the gateway to Provence. The citadel, which crowns an impressive rocky hilltop, pairs fascinating history with sweeping views. Finally, we reach Forcalquier, where we settle in for a farewell dinner and final overnight stay at a charming 18th century farmhouse. (B, D)
Overnight: Hotel Charembeau (or similar)

Day 9 FORCALQUIER – ENTREVAUX – NICE

Our closing day takes us deeper into exquisite Provençal countryside. Entrevaux, a medieval town set between rolling green countryside and a deep blue sky. Nice, elite resort and shining capital of the French Riviera, soon beckons. And it’s here that our tour ends, among the golden beaches and clear waters of the Côte d’Azur. (B)


Tour Inclusions
  • 8 nights' accommodation in boutique hotels
  • Driver/tour leader
  • Mini-coach transportation
  • European breakfast daily
  • One lunch
  • 4 x evening meals
  • 4 x wine tastings
  • One liquor tasting
  • Entrance fee included to: Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, Reims Cathedral, Hospices of Beaune, Musée de la Grande Chartreuse and Citadel of Sisteron..

A TASTE OF THE BORDEAUX REGION

Reference: BRT

Bordeaux Region - Biarritz - Lourdes - Carcassonne - Albi and Sarlat...

  • 9 Day tour
  • 15 passengers maximum
  • Cost per person A$4,010 Twin Share
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Biarritz - Lourdes - Carcassonne - Albi and Sarlat...


MIDI-PYRENEES, SARLAT & SAINT EMILION  

Earthy truffles. Exquisite wines. Time to savour the finer things in life in South West France. As we seek out Bordeaux’s gastronomic gemsand treasured vineyards, we’ll travel over soaring mountains and along the Atlantic coast, into enchanting castles and otherworldly caves.


ITINERARY

Day 1 BORDEAUX – ARCACHON BAY – BIARRITZ

In a region of outstanding natural beauty, where better to begin our sojourn through South West France than in Atlantic-Ocean-fringed Arcachon Bay? Towns and villages are dotted along the coastline, but we make a beeline for La-Teste-de-Buch. After stopping to see the Great Dune of Pilat – Europe’s highest sand dune – we get our first taste of coastal cuisine. And what a way to start: with fresh oysters and a glass of local wine from one of the port’s traditional cabins. Appetites whetted, it’s time to go south to Biarritz. With its sublime beaches and spectacular medieval churches, this bayside city is sheer elegance – and our home for the night. To round off our first day, we gather together for a welcome dinner in a local restaurant. (D)
Overnight: Hotel Georges VI (or similar)

Day 2 BIARRITZ – BAYONNE – BIARRITZ

Time now to indulge our cultural sides in Bayonne, just a short drive from Biarritz. This handsome fortified city is brimming with heritage sites, so it’s little wonder it was named ‘City of Art and History’ in 2012. Peruse it at your own pace before we return to Biarritz together. With so many restaurants to entice every palate, relish an evening at your own pace. (B)
Overnight: Hotel Georges VI (or similar)

Day 3 BIARRITZ – LOURDES – MIDI-PYRÉNÉES

We turn to the east and briefly on to Pau, focussing our camera lenses on this town’s postcard-worthy good looks and majestic castle. Our journey then carries us through the peaceful Midi-Pyrénées region, pausing en route at the spiritual town of Lourdes that’s been a pilgrimage point for many years. This close to the Pyrénées, you’ll be forgiven for thinking we’ve stumbled across a film set. With rivers deep and mountains high, swathes of forest and hidden waterfalls, this dramatic landscape is a real heart-stealer. And we’ll no doubt reach for our cameras once more to capture our view. In keeping with the spirit of our surroundings, we settle down for the night into comfortably rustic accommodation before tucking into dinner. (B, D)
Overnight: Hostellerie des Cedres (or similar)

Day 4 MIDI-PYRÉNÉES – CATHARE COUNTRY – CARCASSONE

On the trail of knights, we continue our own crusade through the Midi-Pyrénées and its picture-perfect Bastides.These character-filled towns are one of the biggest and best-preserved collections of medieval townscapes anywhere in Europe. Onwards through Cathar country and we reach a sociable hour for a glass of wine. And what better place to choose than with a local producer of this region’s speciality – sparkling Blanquette. Fully refreshed, our final stop of the day is the feather in the cap of the Langue doc region – Carcassonne. As the sky darkens, the towers and turrets of this magnificent fortified city light up, taking on a magical air. We’re lucky enough to be staying within the castle walls, beginning with a group dinner in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Overnight: Hotel Le Donjon (or similar)

Day 5 CARCASSONE

Medieval-style market stalls, rampart walkways, lookout posts with eye-popping views – with a whole day to play with, you can uncover Carcassonne’s chivalric secrets at your own pace. Just be sure to step outside the old city walls. With the idyllic Canaldu Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a short saunter away, it’s ideal for walkers. (B)
Overnight: Hotel Le Donjon (or similar)

Day 6 CARCASSONE – ALBI – SARLAT

A small town that’s big on charm, historic Albi is this morning’s first stop. We’ll lookout for the 13th century Gothic Sainte-Cécile Cathedral before stepping inside Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. By the time we get to Sarlat-la-Canéda and check in to our hotel for the night, we’ll have entered the Dordogne region. (B)
Overnight: Grand Hotel de Sarlat (or similar)

Day 7 SARLAT – VÉZÈRE VALLEY – SARLAT

Sublime scenery scattered with handsome château, medieval towns and quaint villages is the Dordogne’s calling card. Our travels across it take in the prehistoric painted Lascaux II Caves and the pretty Les Eyzies village, curled up in the heart of the Vezere Valley. The route we take follows the ‘Royal Road’, winding between craggy rocks and flowing river until we get to a local truffle farm. Local guides will give us an exclusive lesson in seeking out these rare delicacies. That brings us to Sarlat and bags of time to linger over its charms with an evening of leisure ahead of us. (B)
Overnight: Grand Hotel de Sarlat (or similar)

Day 8 SARLAT – BEYNAC-ETCAZENAC – SARLAT

Visitors to Sarlat come away calling it one of the most beautiful cities in all of France. But we’ll find out for ourselves. It’s an architectural treasure trove, with buildings crafted from honey-hued local stone that have stood the test of time despite a turbulent history. One of the best places to appreciate them is in the Old Town. Golden-stone houses pop up in riverside Beynac-et-Cazenactoo. Looking down over the mall is a grand cliff-top chateau, from where we have spectacular Dordogne Valley vistas. On this, our last night together, a final feast awaits in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Overnight: Grand Hotel de Sarlat (or similar)

Day 9 SARLAT – SAINTÉMILION – BORDEAUX

Before we set our sights on home, we make time for Saint-Émilion. Here, old timber-framed houses of yellow limestone line narrow streets, in a town wrapped in grape-laden vineyards. This is the epicentre of Bordeaux’s world-renowned ‘heavy reds’ and our chance to sample some of the region’s best wines – saying a final “santé” before it’s back to Bordeaux. (B)

The tour finishes at 5:30pm 


Tour Inclusions

  • 8 nights’ accommodation
  • Driver/tour leader
  • Mini-coach transportation
  • European breakfast daily
  • 4 x evening meals
  • 2 x wine tastings
  • Oyster tasting
  • Truffle farm experience
  • Included Entrances: Albi Cathedral, Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Lascaux Caves II & Chateau de Beynac.

PROVENCE & FRENCH RIVIERA

Reference: BRT

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, AVIGNON , CANNES & ARLES

  • 9 Day small group back road tour
  • 15 Passengers maximum 
  • Cost per person A$4,495 Twin-share
Enquire Now

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, AVIGNON , CANNES & ARLES

The lavender-carpeted fields of Provence. The staggering sight of Gorges du Verdon. The movie star looks of Cannes. The French Riviera has it all, and on this tour we’ll soak up its history, glamour and natural beauty.


ITINERARY

Day 1 NICE – ANTIBES – VENCE

Antibes may be an old port with boatloads of historical charm, but the luxury yachts make this very much a 21st century playground. We get a sense of both its heritage and jet-set style as we wander the narrow streets and impressive harbour. Then we swap Antibes for Vence, with its colourful canvas of medieval streets and market stalls. It’s no surprise swathes of artists have been captivated by this city. We linger here overnight to find out more, beginning our stay with a welcome dinner together. (D)
Overnight: Hotel Cantemerle (or similar)

Day 2 VENCE – CANNES – GRASSE – VENCE

This morning we make our way to the sublime village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Then it’s time to channel your inner film star as we arrive in Cannes – famous for its glamorous festival, glitzy hotels and utterly chic boutiques. There’s much to see here, so we go our separate ways to allow plenty of time on Promenade de la Croisette. Wooing us away from the shoreline is Grasse, a hillside town north of Cannes that’s famous for creating world-class perfumes. The end of the day brings us back to Vence and the light-filled Chapelle du Rosaire – a masterpiece of contemporary design conceived by Henri Matisse. Look for the vivid and abstract stained glass windows, and the stark black-lined depictions of the Madonna and Child on the walls. (B)
Overnight: Hotel Cantemerle (or similar)

Day 3 VENCE – AIX-ENPROVENCE

Dotted with gravity-defying mountain villages and reach for-your-camera scenery, The Var is ideal driving country. We travel through it on our way to Aix-en-Provence, stopping at a handful of characterful villages as we go. When we reach the Old Town of Aix, we dive into a network of narrow streets lined with spectacular architecture and centuries-old monuments. We even get time to pay a visit to Hôtel de Caumont, an elegant 18th century château on an urban scale, which houses an art centre. (B)
Overnight: Hotel Cezanne (or similar)

Day 4 AIX-EN-PROVENCE – SAINT-RÉMY-DE-PROVENCE

This morning is yours, and you could use it to discover and revisit the sights of Aix-en-Provence. When we come back together, we head off to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, pausing in some of the pretty villages scattered throughout the Luberon. (B, D)
Overnight: Hotel Sous Les Figuiers (or similar)

Day 5 SAINT-RÉMY-DEPROVENCE – ORANGE – SAINTE-CÉCILE-LES-VIGNES – SAINT-RÉMY-DE-PROVENCE

Our first stop today is the magnificent Roman Theatre in Orange. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is extraordinarily well preserved, especially its striking arch. By this point, we’ll be ready for a flavour of this area’s culinary heritage too. So we make our way to Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes where a private vineyard, delicious wines and a Provençal lunch await. Back in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, we have an evening to ourselves. (B, L)
Overnight: Hotel Sous Les Figuiers (or similar)

Day 6 SAINT-RÉMY-DEPROVENCE – PONT DU GARD – AVIGNON – ARLES

Roman engineering. Catholic architecture. It must mean we’re en route to Avignon. We pay a visit to the iconic Pont du Gard, an impressive two-tier Roman aqueduct that carries us on a journey back in time. Onwards to Avignon, we cross sublime landscapes before we enter this 14th century city to see its sights. At the top of our list are the Palace of the Popes, which towers over the historic centre, and the legendary Saint-Bénezet Bridge. By the time we reach Arles, in the heart of the Camargue region, we’ll be ready for a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Overnight: Hotel Le Calendal (or similar)

Day 7 ARLES

Museum and gallery hop by morning. Spend the afternoon tracing the brush strokes of Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. And in between, pull up a chair in a cosy bistro or shady square to watch the world go by. Whatever you feel like doing in Arles, the whole day is at your disposal. We can point you towards the Roman amphitheatre, baths and monastery. Or you could discover the city’s bullfighting heritage and artistic side all by yourself. There are thousands of years of history and culture to uncover here. (B)
Overnight: Hotel Le Calendal (or similar)

Day 8 ARLES – LES BAUX-DEPROVENCE – GORGES DU VERDON

We make for the mountains today and venture into the ‘LittleAlps’. First up is the Huguenot stronghold of Les Baux-de-Provence. Here we marvel at the extraordinary Carrières de Lumières, where works of art are projected on to the walls of this former quarry. Finally, we arrive at the sensational Gorges du Verdon – for many, the jewel in this region’s crown. This centuries-old canyon, circled by quaint villages, captivates from the moment you see it. It’s so spectacular that we stay in the area overnight to truly appreciate it, and settle down to a final dinner together. (B, D)
Overnight: Hotel & Spa Gorges du Verdon (or similar)

Day 9 GORGES DU VERDON – CASTELLANE – NICE

It’s time to say goodbye today, but not before one last trip. Our tour’s last stop sees us in the cobbles of Castellane. Look out for the dazzlingly high Chapelle Notre-Dame du Roc and groups of locals venturing off, oars in hand, on rafting and kayaking expeditions along the nearby rivers. After that, we return to Nice where we bid one another “au revoir”. (B)


Tour Inclusions

  • 8 nights’ accommodation in boutique hotels
  • Experienced Back-Roads tour leader
  • Luxury mini-coach transportation
  • European breakfast daily
  • 4 x evening meals )D),
  • One lunch with wine tasting (L)
  • Included Entrances: Rosaire Chapel, Hôtel de Caumont, Roman Theatre of Orange, Palais des Papes, Pont Saint-Bénezet, Pont du Gard and Carrieres de Lumières.