The bountiful vineyards, classic villages and hearty cuisine of Eastern France are legendary. Starting in the effervescent Champagne capital of Reims, you’ll spend 14 fascinating days with us, exploring Colmar’s cobbled lanes, Alsace’s meandering Route du Vin, Verdun’s historic battlefields, Burgundy’s fabled Côte d’Or, Chamonix’s majestic mountains, Provence’s scenic Côtes du Rhône, and ending with a harborside toast in Mediterranean Marseille.
Considering the Wine Regions of France from a touring perspective it would be foolish to suggest that in a visit to any region that one could offer a definitive assessment of the regional wines. Rather we have attempted to give you a snap shoot and hopefully a guide for your journey of discovery in the vineyards of France.
Cham' is a destination popular the world over. In the streets of this high-mountain town you'll hear languages from every corner of the globe. But the people who come to this 'summit meeting' share the same way of thinking, the same love for mountaineering, its legends and its ethics.
When you're out shopping in the town centre, wherever you are look up and you'll see 'it' there… 4,810 metres (15,781 ft) of rock, snow, ice and dreams of things to come.
Spend a day or two in a Rhone wine village and it could turn out to be the best days of your holiday. Its here that you first encounter the Mediterranean spirit and climate which make everything seem better.
Welcome to France’s Champagne Region
Just 45 minutes from central Paris by frequent TGV (bullet) train, the effervescent city of Reims is famous for its royal history, its towering cathedral…and Champagne. We’ll meet at around 5 p.m. at our hotel for a short “bienvenue à Reims” meeting. Then we’ll take an orientation walk through the heart of Reims, followed by time to get acquainted over dinner together.
All Day in Reims
We’ll spend our morning on a walking tour through Reims’ historic city center, where we’ll learn about the design and history of its glorious Gothic cathedral. Rivaling Paris’ Notre-Dame in beauty and prestige, more than two dozen kings and queens of France were crowned here over the course of six centuries. The cathedral and its surrounding neighborhood were virtually destroyed during WWI, then rebuilt during the Art Deco age, which is delightfully reflected in the design and décor of Reims’ downtown buildings. Today we’ll also learn about this region’s most famous product — Champagne — with a tour and tasting, courtesy of a local producer.
Battlefields and Lessons of Verdun
We’ll meet our bus and driver today and take a short drive to the historic WWI battlefields at Verdun. We’ll visit the ruins and monuments of one of Europe’s costliest battles of attrition, where hundreds of thousands of French and German soldiers perished. Our day will end in France’s Germanic region, the Alsace, the ultimate Franco-Germanic blend.
All day in Colmar
Today is devoted to exploring the enchanting town of Colmar. We’ll take a walking tour this morning, wandering over its cobbled lanes lined with leaning, half-timbered buildings, and learn about the historic importance of the community’s canals. We’ll wrap things up at one of Rick’s favorite museums in Europe — the Unterlinden — home to the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald. You’ll have this afternoon and evening free to explore more of the city’s sights and pedestrian-friendly lanes, and to enjoy more Alsatian specialties on your own.
The Route du Vin
Let’s take off and explore the region’s scenic Route du Vin, where colorful villages and vineyards carpet the foothills of the Vosges Mountains — birthplace of the region’s very dry Rieslings and aromatic Gewürztraminers. We’ll visit Albert Schweitzer’s hometown village of Kaysersberg and find the perfect winery to sample some local varieties. Then we’ll return to Colmar, where you’ll have the late afternoon and evening free.
A Hearty Taste of Burgundy
This morning we’ll drive from the Teutonic tidiness of Alsace to the red-tiled villages of Burgundy and its bustling wine capital of Beaune.
Market Day and Vineyards
It’s outdoor market day in Beaune! Your morning will be free for rubbing elbows with locals sampling smelly cheeses, creamy patés and fresh produce while doing their weekly shopping. This afternoon we set off for Burgundy’s legendary and beautiful Côte d’Or wine country, where we’ll have lunch together at a local domaine, along with a tasting of its celebrated harvest. We’ll return to Beaune later this afternoon, where you’ll be free for discoveries and dinner on your own.
To the Alpine Peaks of Chamonix
This morning we’ll make a bee-line for Europe’s highest point, the Mont Blanc, arriving in the picturesque resort town of Chamonix in time to get acquainted with all the Alpine thrills this charming city offers. This evening we’ll enjoy a traditional dinner of raclette or fondue together.
Free Day in the French Alps
Today is your day to enjoy the wonders of the French Alps. Weather and lifts permitting, your guide will help you make your way up the Aiguille du Midi gondola and find the right trail to hike, rewarded with stunning views of nearly 16,000-foot Mont Blanc and a supporting cast of Alps that seem to stretch forever. Or if you prefer, simply find a view table in Chamonix and take the day off in après-ski style.
From Peaks to Provence
Sit back and rest those hiking muscles as we spend our day driving south to sunny Provence, enjoying the countryside along the way. We’ll stop for lunch and a boat ride (weather permitting) in exquisite Annecy — hands-down France’s most beautiful lakefront town. We’ll arrive at our history-rich, Provençal destination of Vaison la Romaine in time to get oriented and enjoy dinner together.
We’ll spend our morning sifting through the 2,000-year-old site of ancient Vaison la Romaine. There, we’ll tour the ruins of a sprawling Roman mansion and the 6,000-seat Roman theater that is still used for performances today. Consider this a warm-up act for the most impressive of all Roman theaters — the Theater of Orange — which we’ll drive to and experience this afternoon.
The Vineyards of Côtes du Rhône
This morning, we’ll drive through some of Europe’s most picturesque villages and vineyards, stopping here and there along the way. One of our stops, at a favorite winery, will bring us a refreshing lunch and the chance to sample some formidable Côtes du Rhône wines at their source.
Hill Towns to Harbors
Today we’ll continue south through Provence’s intoxicating countryside, making our way to the seaside city of Marseille. including the city-capping Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica.
Tour Over After Breakfast
Marseille’s airport is an easy 30-minute bus, shuttle, or taxi ride away. For those staying longer, your guide will be happy to send you off in the right direction and help with any trip planning needs.