Arrive in Paris at any time. There are no planned activities, so check into the hotel (check-in time is approx 3pm) and enjoy the city. In the evening, meet your fellow group members to go over the details of your trip. Check the notice board or ask reception for the exact time and location of this group meeting. After the meeting head out for a meal in a nearby local restaurant (optional). Please make every effort to arrive on time for this important meeting. If you are delayed please leave a message with the hotel or contact one of the emergency contact numbers in your trip dossier. The leader will then leave you a message at the front desk, letting you know where and when to meet up. The City of Lights is unlike any other place on earth. Known for its glorious monuments, museums and markets, from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, Montmartre to the Marais, Paris has something for everyone. Discover for yourself Paris’ “Je ne sais quoi.”
Today, our destination is the charming town of Beaune, known for its Pinot Noirs and local markets. In the afternoon we take a short walk into the historic centre, and enjoy a winetasting as an introduction to the region's famous vintage. In the evening we can enjoy an optional dinner together here in the heart of one of France's most distinguished culinary and wine-producing regions, Burgundy. On your free day you have time for a day trip to nearby Dijon, famous not only for its mustard, but for world-class museums and handsome architecture. Or maybe explore the famous Beaune Hospice, founded in 1442 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of the Duke of Burgundy; the Hospice is a charity organisation providing hospitals and other services for the needy. The more active may want to explore the countryside around the Cote d'Or vineyards by bike or on foot. Bike hire is readily available in Beaune and your CEO can help you arrange this. Estimated Travel Time: 3.5 hours
Today we take the train south from Burgundy to the heart of Provence and the spectacular walled medieval town of Avignon. You will have plenty of time to explore the beautiful town of Avignon with its impressive medieval fortress, papal palace, Pont St Bezenet and top-notch museums, as well as many pretty tree-lined squares bustling with cafés and restaurants offering mouth-watering Provençal cuisine. Avignon is famous as the town to which the Popes fled when leaving the corruption of Rome in the 14th Century. The palace they built, 'Le Palais des Papes,' is the world's largest Gothic edifice. The walls surrounding the town were erected by the Popes in the 14th Century to keep the plague and invaders out during the turbulent middle ages, when Avignon belonged to the papacy and not the French crown. We visit this magnificent relic on Day 5, and also include the Pont St Benezet - the ancient bridge over the River Rhone which features in the nursery rhyme "Sur le Pont d'Avignon" Please note, on some departures the trip will visit Avignon and include the Palais des Papes and the Pont St Benezet as scheduled, but will actually stay overnight in the nearby historic cities of Nimes or Arles. Estimated Travel Time: 5 hours
We keep moving south-eastwards to the glistening Mediterranean coast and the Cote d'Azure's cosmopolitan capital, Nice. Soak up the sun-seeking atmosphere under the palm trees of the seafront promenade, tick off some must-see museums, explore the ancient Roman city of Cemenelum, wander the narrow winding streets of the romantic old town, and while away the evening in some of France's best bars and trendy restaurants. We will take a day trip to the famous and tiny principality of Monaco, the world’s second smallest country, contained within a mere 1.95 sq/km. Soak up the atmosphere of royalty and chic glamour as you stroll its manicured streets and are whisked up its network of lifts and escalators, passing palaces, lush gardens and of course the famous Monte Carlo casino, en route. Estimated Travel Time: Avignon to Nice: 3.5 hours Estimated travel time Nice to Monaco: 1 hour each way
Today we head along the coast by train and across the border into Italy and the region of Liguria. Spend two nights by the stunning Cinque Terre National Park, where five little villages are built into the rocks between the beach and the hills. Hike, swim, indulge in the local delicacies like Focaccia and fresh seafood, and watch amazing Mediterranean sunsets. Follow centuries-old footpaths and mule tracks that lead through olive groves, vineyards and orchards. On Day 9 we walk the Cinque Terre coastal path from Riomaggiore to Monterosso (approximately 5-6 hours), giving you the best taste of the villages and countryside, terraced hills and vineyards sloping down to the sea. Estimated Travel Time: 6-7 hours
Today we head east by train, away from the coast, first to Pisa, where we stop for a visit to the Field of Miracles to see the famous leaning tower (entrance fee not included), and then on to the heart of Tuscany, Florence. Florence (Firenze in Italian), was founded in the 1st Century B.C., and personifies all that is beautiful in Italian civilization. It is the capital of the region of Tuscany, with a population of approximately half a million people. The fathers of Italian painting, Cimabue and Giotto lived here, along with innumerable other prominent artists. It is the birthplace of the Italian language (thanks to Dante Alighieri) and of Europe’s richest cultural period, The Italian Renaissance. Florence’s cultural and historical impact attracts thousands of international travellers each year, and cannot be underestimated. In the summer, life in Florence can be found in the streets and squares. Outdoor cinemas, music, dance and theatre enliven most squares every evening. Get to know Florence on your own: visit the marvellous multicoloured Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, the medieval Ponte Vecchio or the Medici Chapels. Take a break at Piazza della Signoria with a gelato or a coffee before hitting the vivacious Piazza San Lorenzo to bargain for discounted woollen and leather goods. The options are truly endless. We take an evening walk (weather permitting) up to Piazzale Michelangelo for that most famous and photographed vista of sunset over the city. Estimated travel time to Pisa: 1.5 hours Estimated travel time Pisa to Florence: 1.5 hours
Today we board a train south to the bustling Italian capital, Rome. Unquestionably Rome exudes history; from its Catacombs that entombed early Christians, to the Colosseum where gladiators battled to the death and on up to Palatine Hill, the traditional site of Rome’s founding. Located near the centre of the Italian peninsula on the Tiber River, it is both the capital of the Latium region and the country as a whole. Nicknamed the Eternal City, it is also home to the pope, whose residence, Vatican City, is a sovereign state within the city of Rome. The city is enthralling, with perhaps more to see than any other place in the world. Eating in Italy is deeply embedded in the country’s culture, and dining in Rome consists of many courses, and can sometimes seem to last forever! In addition to the many and legendary cultural attractions,the city offers a vibrant nightlife - a fitting final destination on our journey through the best of France and Italy. Estimated Travel Time: 2.5 hours
You are free to depart at any time on Day 13.