France

The grand cities and charming provincial hideaways of France conjure scenes of the finer things in life, which for the French may just as likely mean gilded palace halls or the simple pleasure of a morning croissant executed with exceeding care. Food and wine are taken seriously here, and produce from the market is selected as carefully yet instinctively as the day’s outfit. There are multiple regions to explore outside of what you generally hear, so find what speaks to you.

 

Where to Go in France

To visit Paris is to fall in love with Parisian life lived in the streets, effortless bistros and cafes, wide shaded boulevards, harmonious architecture, unrivaled art museums, and self-possessed air. The capital of France is surrounded by the populous region called Île-de-France. Come to see the iconic monuments in the ‘City of Lights’, the lavish Palace of Versailles, the royal hunting lodge and scenic forest at Fontainebleau, and the opulent château estate at Chantilly.

Normandy is pastoral countryside, historic coastal towns, and a dramatic WWII stage. Come for the wide beaches, belle-epoque seaside resorts, bucolic countryside, camembert cheese and calvados brandy, artistic heritage, half-timbered architecture, and to pay your respects at the D-Day beaches and memorials. Giverny, Rouen, Beuvron-en-Auge, Honfleur, Bayeux, and Mont St Michel (on the border with Brittany) are a few names to remember.

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean with the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south, Brittany offers exceptional coastlines and history. Come for sandy beaches, charming half-timbered town centers, quaint fishing villages, and pre-historic megaliths at Carnac.

The Loire Valley is synonymous with dazzling châteaux and fabulous tales of royalty. Next door, the Pays de la Loire is home to the city of Nantes, the former capital of Brittany. Come for castle-gazing, biking and riverside walks, wine tasting, and the family beaches on the western coast.

The southwestern corner of France, known as Nouvelle-Aquitaine, stretches down to the Spanish border to encompass Cognac, Bordeaux, and Biarritz. Come for the vineyards and famous local pastries of Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion, long sandy beaches on the Atlantic Coast like Arcachon, the villages and castles of Dordogne, and the prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux.

France’s Pyrenees mountain range, on the border with Spain, provides a wild terrain and mountain playground for outdoor pursuits and exceptional views. Neighboring Languedoc touches Spain at Catalonia and offers a long coastline of vast beaches, dramatic countryside, impressive gorges, the fairy-tale walled city of Carcassonne, and Roman monuments at Nîmes and Pont du Gard.

Provence is combined with the Côte d'Azur region to make up one of the most fascinating and beloved destinations for visitors. The area includes a string of high-profile resort towns along the Mediterranean coastline, as well as Medieval and Roman history, lavender fields, olive groves, and the mountainous Provencal Alps with tranquil stone-built villages. Come for enchanting scenery, beaches and sunbathing, medieval villages, upscale resorts, yachting, hiking, local market days, typical Mediterranean dishes, and to soak up the sublime inspiration of French painters.

The French Alps provide visual and physical stimulation in the form of a stunning alpine landscape packed with active pursuits for skiers, hikers, climbers and cyclists, all crowned by Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak. Come for a rush of adrenaline at Chamonix, charming historic towns like Grenoble and lakeside Annecy, the fondue and raclette of the Savoy area, and the spa towns of Auvergne.

In east-central France, Burgundy is a wealthy area (a legacy of powerful dukes) known for its famous vineyards and historic places like Beaune, Dijon, Vézelay and Fontenay. In the same region is Franche-Comté, visited for its unspoiled scenery, picturesque villages, and outdoor activities.

Today included as part of the Grand-Est region of France, Champagne attracts visitors for its Champagne caves filled with bottles of bubbly, the cellars of Épernay, and the grand cathedral of Reims. Get out in nature via the tempting landscape of the Ardennes, bordering Belgium.

The historically contested eastern region of Alsace & Lorraine offers an intriguing blend of French and German culture. Alsace offers real-life fairytale villages, the captivating capital of Strasbourg, a wine route and plenty of breweries. Lorraine shares a border with Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany and draws visitors for its history of wars and invasions.

Home to Amiens and Lille, the northern Hauts de France region is most famous for its battlefields and memorials commemorating the ‘Great War’. Come for the WWI trenches and cemeteries from the Battle of the Somme, the impressive cathedral at Amiens, the Flemish flair of Lille and Arras, the beautiful village of Gerberoy, and the seaside resorts of Calais.                                              

The island of Corsica boasts some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. Come for jaw-dropping coastal roads, diverse landscapes, mountain trails, picturesque towns, white-sand bays, sapphire seas, and boating trips.

 

Typical First-Time Itinerary for France

For a first trip to France, we recommend hitting the classic highlights of Paris, Provence and the French Riviera. Planning this itinerary with a private driver and one internal flight means you can cover all the main sights in 8 to 9 days. Some clients may prefer Normandy for its historical significance.

 

 

What is Included?

In general, our custom travel itineraries include everything needed to ensure a smooth trip. This can always be modified according to your needs and where you are in your stage of planning:

  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast daily
  • Airport transfers
  • Transfers between destinations (whether by car, van, boat, train, ferry, etc.)
  • Private or group sightseeing as requested (including entrance fees)
  • Personalized support, with contact before, during and after your trip

We are also happy to provide when requested:

  • Flights between North America and Europe
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa assistance

Our programs do not include:

  • Optional gratuities to guides, drivers, yacht crew etc.
  • Laundry and personal items
  • Bottled beverages or alcohol, and meals where not listed
  • Hotel city tax