French Vineyards and French Cuisine
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A wonderful week of culinary delights, including a French cooking lesson; a variety of vineyard visits and wine and champagne tastings; the wonderful history, art and architecture of the city of Paris and surrounding communities; and the delightful French culture. This mixture creates a most memorable vacation!
ADDITION RATE INFORMATION
Rate based on double accommodation. Single supplement applies. Single travellers can be paired with same sex roommates upon request. Single supplement $1440.00. 5% GST not included.
Day 1: Arrive ParisParis, Ile-de-France, France
This is your international flight day. Dependent on what time your flight arrives, we will have some additional activities planned for you today. International flights arrive in all day, so please inform us of your flight details in advance.
Once we have your flight details, we will know which activities you will be able to enjoy today. We will provide you with a list of options for you to choose from, as the group may not be all together until the evening. Tonight, we will all join as a group and have a welcome dinner together.
We will be using Paris as our base as we explore both the city and the surrounding areas.
Day 2: Paris Bakery, Notre Dame And Eiffel TowerParis, Ile-de-France, France
Sunday, September 8: This morning we enjoy breakfast in the hotel before we head off to experience some iconic sites of Paris, as well as some off-the-beaten-track places.
We start by departing the hotel to either walk or take the subway to our very first activity here in the beautiful city of Paris. Why a choice? Let’s see what the weather is like before we decide! We jump right into Parisian life and food with a tour of a local bakery. We will meet our expert guide, a local baker, and venture into the kitchens and production areas of a famous French bakery to find out how proper French bread (pain), cakes (gateaux) and pastries (patisseries) are made. This is no bread factory, this is an independent Parisian bakery where the work is still done by knowledgeable bakers on a daily basis. Watch as the guide demonstrates how the machinery works and how famous French baguettes are made. We learn some of the impressive history of French baking as well as some time-honored baking tips. Our baker and guide's passion for French baking comes through. Along with all of the newfound knowledge you'll gain during this boulangerie tour, you'll also leave with a freshly-baked baguette and croissant to enjoy later.
After this wonderful experience we are going off to visit the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. Here we will have a guided tour, but please note that there is no “skip the line” access here, so we may have to wait to get into the Cathedral itself. Our guided tour will let us marvel at the renowned Gothic architecture and iconic gargoyles, and hear about legends like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. We will also have the opportunity to climb to the towers for amazing views of the city.
If we like, we can pause after this tour for a street snack or a sit-down lunch, there are plenty of places in the Latin Quarter to enjoy crepes or other delicacies. We also have time to enjoy the local art vendors located along the waterway.
Today is the day to really enjoy the iconic structures of Paris, so from here we are going to hop onto a Seine River boat to head down to the Eiffel Tower. Here we do have Skip the Line tickets as well as an expert guide. Our tickets will get us not only up to the first and second observation decks, but as well to the very top of the tower! (Please note that in windy conditions they do not run the elevator all the way up, so this activity is dependent on weather conditions.)
You can have free time to enjoy the site for as long as you want. Your tour leader will suggest a time for the group to meet to head back to the hotel. The rest of the evening is free to enjoy the variety of restaurants in the area.
Day 3: Loire ValleyLoire Valley, France
Monday, September 9: This morning we will be departing quite early for our day tour to the Loire Valley. Our private transport takes us out of the city to explore the Region's wines, food and history. For centuries, farmers and food makers have been selling their products in the heart of the villages here; so we start the day by exploring a local market. Walk alone along the market stalls and feel like a “local”; taste some local products (cheeses, sausages, chocolates, olives) and enjoy the atmosphere.
Wine has been forever a huge part of the French culture. To complete our countryside experience, we will visit a lovely winery and taste various Sancerre wines (Red, White & Rosé). The winemaker and his family will be very pleased to take us through the cellar, the caves and the fermentation rooms.
A countryside tour would not be a real one without a traditional meal in a local restaurant. This is the reason why we will stop at a lovely bistro nestled in a small village. The menu will let you discover some traditional French dishes (special diet possible).
After lunch, a guided visit and some free time in the Middle Age village of Sancerre. Its houses and “chateaux” of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries will delight lovers of old stones and architecture. Lose yourself in the narrow streets for a romantic walk and take some gorgeous pictures of the Loire-Valley.
To finish the day, on our way back to Paris, we will visit one of the family-owned castles of the Loire Valley. You can imagine your life at the end of the 19th century in this 500-hundred-year-old castle. Take some time in the vegetable garden where the family is still growing incredible flowers.
We return to the hotel late in the day and you have the evening on your own.
Day 4: Paris Cooking Class And Arc De TriompheParis, Ile-de-France, France
Tuesday, September 10: We will be meeting our instructor at a cookery school in central Paris at 9:00 am to begin our class. This is a 6-hour class, so we start with a croissant and a cup of coffee or tea before heading to an open-air food market near Paris' Latin Quarter, where we'll pick up the ingredients for our meal and taste some cheeses with our instructor. We begin our lesson by planning our 3-course lunch menu, which includes an appetizer, main, and dessert course. Then, we get started under the watchful eye of our instructor. As you prepare your meal, pick up tips and gain insight into traditional French cooking techniques. After two hours in the kitchen (and a glass of wine or two), we head through to the dining table with our fellow cooks. We sit down to the delicious meal we’ve prepared and enjoy white or red wine. You'll also learn the fine art of pairing food with wine. Before leaving, you'll receive electronic copies of your recipes so you can recreate the dishes at home.
After this wonderful experience we will need some walking time! We will head over to the famous Arc de Triomphe for a visit. The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l'Étoile — the étoile or "star" of the juncture is formed by its twelve radiating avenues. The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. We have time to climb all the way to the top to enjoy views of the Champs-Élysées.
After the visit we can wander our way down this famous street, and, if we feel like it, walk back to our hotel, perhaps stopping for a glass of wine or dinner along the way.
Day 5: VineyardsPouilly-Fume, France
Wednesday, September 11: You can start the day with breakfast in the hotel before our private transport and local guide pick us up to enjoy a special day of wine tastings and discoveries in some fabulous French vineyards. After a comfortable ride in the deluxe minibus, we will start the day by visiting a working cheese farm where you can taste the iconic “Crottin de Chavignol” goat cheese. In the workshop you will learn about the process and will enjoy spending some time in the barn with the goats. If you like, you can also have some free time to shop in the farm store.
From here we head to the wine regions of Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre and/or Coteaux du Giennois, where we will visit two vineyards and meet some passionate winemakers who will let us visit their wineries and taste their wines (red, rosé, white). We will discover the wine-making process, and visit caves and fermentation process rooms. We will walk in the fields of vines where we will discover how the soils can affect the taste of the wines.
We are going to enjoy lunch in a quaint village. The classic French set luncheon menu we selected is the traditional French one, made only with fresh local products (special diet provided on request).
From here we travel to a hilltop Middle Ages village, where we will visit a wine museum and walk in narrow streets where the signs of the past can be seen at each corner. You will have the time to enjoy some heartbreaking scenery and bring back home some lovely local souvenirs.
Day 6: Museum And The LouvreParis, Ile-de-France, France
Thursday, September 12: You can sleep in a bit this morning if you like. We will be heading out to the the Musee Jacquemart-Andre mid-morning. This is a fantastic little museum which showcases 29 art masterpieces, as well as the beautiful furnishings of the mansion itself. This mansion is self-guided with an audio tour, so you can take your time as you move through it. The audio tour provides a commentary on the history of the museum and its collections, and more specialized information on the context of the Second French Empire, the life of the bourgeoisie and the great collectors in the 19th century. We are also going to enjoy a light lunch here. Housed in the mansion’s former dining room, the Café Jacquemart-André is one of the most beautiful tea rooms in Paris (and serves the best quiche we have ever eaten).
After this fabulous little museum, we are going to head to the more famous art museum of Paris: the Louvre. The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement. While we know that one afternoon may not be enough to enjoy every aspect of the Louvre, it cannot be missed!
We will meet at closing time to return to the hotel. The evening is free for you to enjoy.
Day 7: ChampagneChampagne, France
Friday, September 13: A day trip to Champagne is an experience of a lifetime, and today is the day! The “famous brands” of Champagne have made this wine unique; and, today, we are visiting not one, but two, of the most prestigious maisons: Mumm* and Moët & Chandon*.
We are picked up from the hotel by our driver and local guide. The drive will give our guide a chance to learn more about our expectations, to share with us the schedule for the day and to serve a nice, complimentary breakfast. By now we should be experienced, but for those who are still not too familiar with wines and the French way of making them, the wine expert will share his passion with us.
Arriving in Reims, the main city of Champagne, we will first visit Mumm*, with a full, guided visit of its cellars and a tasting of some beautiful vintages. We will also stop to visit the Reims Cathedral, a UNESCO world heritage site. Arriving in front of the Reims Cathedral, you will be astonished by the beauty of this millenary jewel, where French kings were coronated. You will walk into this masterpiece of Middle Ages architecture with information that has been prepared for you. And, of course, our local guide will share with you his passion for food by tasting various local specialties.
For lunch, we have selected an iconic restaurant built in the Art Deco style before World War II. The traditional three-course meal we have chosen will provide a pleasant break in a quiet environment.
After a short drive to Epernay, located in the heart of the Champagne vineyards, we will visit our second Champagne producer, Moet & Chandon within Dom Perignon cellars*. Follow in the footsteps of Emperor Napoleon I, Tsar Alexander I and King George V of England, as well as many others who came to Epernay. Their guide will show you the hidden secrets of their beautiful cellars; and, at the end of the visit, we will taste some great Champagne.
To finish the day, we will walk in the lovely village of Hautvillers where Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk, created Champagne wine more than 3 centuries ago. You will see the grave of Dom Perignon and you will visit a third house of Champagne! A family-owned vineyard for more than 8 generations.
*Please note that cellars may be closed at any time under the wineries rules. In such an event, we will visit wineries that we consider to be equivalent.
At the end of the day we return to Paris for a free evening.
Day 8: Paris Free DayParis, France
Saturday, September 14: Today, you can enjoy breakfast in the hotel before enjoying a full day on your own in the magnificent city of Paris. There are so many things to see and do, and your tour leader can help arrange additional tours, entrances to sites, or other activities as you wish. Please note that any additional activities today will be at your own expense.
This evening, we will meet for our farewell dinner as a group. Our transport picks us up from the hotel to take us to our special destination. Located 34 miles (55 km) southeast of Paris, Vaux-le-Vicomte was built in the 1600s by the King of France’s finance minister, who ended up in jail for his extravagant residence. Subsequently, this baroque château inspired Louis XIV to be even more extravagant with his new Palace of Versailles. When we arrive with our guide, we start with a visit to the Carriage Museum to see various horse-drawn vessels. Then we head to one of the onsite restaurants for our 3-course candlelit dinner, which includes a glass of red or white wine, coffee and water. All dishes are prepared with seasonal French ingredients from local markets. As the sun sets after dinner, you can explore the château and gardens independently, marveling at the romantic atmosphere created by 2,000 candles. Listen to your provided audio guide to hear about Vaux-le-Vicomte’s history and design. As you walk around the garden, recorded classical music plays to enhance the elegant scene. This will be a fantastic end to your vacation.
Day 9: Paris To Home CityParis, France
Sunday, September 15: Flights depart all day, so you may have some free time in the city before being transferred to the airport. Of course, you can enjoy breakfast in the hotel this morning before departing. Your tour leader will transfer you to the airport and we say goodbye.
Small group tour with maximum 8 travellers. 35% deposit required at time of booking. Final payment due 60 days prior to tour start date.
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