Friday, April 26, 2019

Bon Voyage Buon Viaggio Buen Vaje

April - May 2019

France (incl Gate 1 14 Day Classic France) - Rome - Florence - Barcelona

We've been to Paris, Rome, Florence and Barcelona before. This is a more relaxing visit, we've seen most of the sights but we might revisit some. There will be more time to relax and saunter, sit and watch the people go by.

The 14 day tour of France is all new territory to us and will be busy.

In Florence we plan to see Pisa and Siena as well.

We will be flying into Paris early then joining a 14 day tour of France then heading on to Rome, Florence and Barcelona before flying home.

Time difference for all three countries - +6 hours

Map created by Trip Happy

Saturday Apr 27 Toronto to Paris 

Sunday Apr 28 Arrive Paris


Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel
20 Rue Jean Rey, Paris 75015

Reservation dates  28 Apr. 2019 - 2 May 2019

This first class hotel is situated in the center of Paris, close to the Eiffel Tower.
The hotel bar, Les Aromes provides snacks and musical entertainment. Harmonies, their restaurant, offers local dishes and international cuisine. The Eiffel Cafe features typical French cuisine.

Sunday Apr 28 Paris

Monday Apr 29 Paris

Tuesday Apr 30 Paris

We booked 10 AM tickets before leaving home for Atelier des Lumieres,
Opened last year, the arts space, located in a repurposed 19th Century foundry, uses 120 digital projectors and 50 strategically-placed speakers to present immersive exhibitions based on the works of famous artists from the past and today's digital creators.

The current digital exhibitions are—Van Gogh: Starry Night and Dreamed Japan: Images of the Floating World. The “short programme” on Japanese Edo art is projected in-between the “long programme” screenings of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

GATE 1 - 14 Day Classic France

Italics are Gate 1 descriptions.

12 nights accommodations
3 nights Paris 
1 night Dijon
1 night Lyon
2 nights French Riviera 1 DINNER
1 night Carcassonne DINNER
1 night Lourdes DINNER
2 nights Bordeaux DINNER and OPTIONAL
1 night Loire Valley DINNER

DAY 1, May 1 Wednesday - Depart for France 
Depart for France

We have the day to ourselves.

Overnight Paris
Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel

DAY 2, May 2 Thursday - Arrive in Paris
Arrive in Paris, “City of Lights” and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to rest, relax and enjoy the endless delights of Paris. 
We are on our own until 5 PM.

Your tour begins at 5:00 PM when you join your Tour Manager for a Welcome Drink and orientation meeting on the wonderful journey that awaits you in France. We recommend that you select flights which arrive at Paris no later than 3:00 PM on Day 2 of the itinerary, or earlier if possible. 

Afterwards, a delightful cruise on the River Seine introduces you to the sparkling beauty of Paris at night.

Overnight: Paris
Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel   
This first class hotel is situated in the center of Paris, close to the Eiffel Tower.
The hotel bar, Les Aromes provides snacks and musical entertainment. Harmonies, their restaurant, offers local dishes and international cuisine. The Eiffel Cafe features typical French cuisine.

DAY 3, Friday - Paris City Tour

Drive along the impressive Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, Concorde Square, and the iconic Eiffel Tower, symbol of Paris. On to the celebrated "Rive Gauche", the vivacious Left Bank, where artists, philosophers and writers in a long-gone era flourished in the artistic community at Montparnasse. View the imposing Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Latin Quarter, home to many of France's higher education establishments, such as the Sorbonne. Pass the colorful Luxembourg Gardens, the second largest park in Paris and garden of the French Senate, housed in the Luxembourg Palace. 

Afternoon on our own
We've been to Versailles in This afternoon perhaps join the optional tour to magnificent Versailles to witness the grandeur of French classical architecture on the visit to the Palace and extravagant State Apartments. 

Tonight, you may wish to join the optional Montmartre Illuminations tour with dinner and wine.

Optional: Versailles Apartments (PM)
Optional: Montmartre & Illuminations with dinner (PM)

Overnight: Paris
Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 4, Saturday - Champagne Tasting, Dijon

Travel from Paris to the famed Champagne region with its magnificent stretches of vineyards as far as the eye can see. 

This historic province in the northeast of France, formerly ruled by the Counts of Champagne, is best known for the sparkling white wine that bears its name.

 In Epernay, visit one of the renowned cellars, learn more about the process and enjoy tastings of this very expensive bubbly delight. Its main boulevard is the elegant residential Avenue de Champagne, with its timeless neoclassical villas and Victorian town houses. 

Then continue to Dijon, once home to the Dukes of Burgundy, a vast center of wealth and power. View the striking Dijon Cathedral and the Ducal Palace, a remarkably well-preserved Gothic structure that served as the royal residence for the estates of Burgundy. 

Dinner on our own. Hotel does not have a restaurant. Lots of restaurants close by.

Overnight: Dijon

Hotel Le Jura
The hotel is situated in Dijon's city center. The Dijon Cathedral is within a half mile walk, and the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon is within a mile walk.
Beverages are available at the hotel's on-site bar.

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 5, Sunday - Beaune's Burgundy Vineyards, Lyon

Depart Dijon via the Route des Grand Crus to Beaune, celebrated capital of Burgundy wines, nestled in the heart of France's finest vineyards. The facilities and cellars of many prominent wineries, large and small, are situated in Beaune itself. This walled city still displays its original battlements, ramparts, moats and a historical old town. 

A walking tour takes you to the lively central square, with its gourmet cafes, fashionable clothes, and local wine stalls. Enjoy a tasting at one of the local cellars. At the Hotel-Dieu de Beaune, founded to help the poor and needy, see the original building converted to a museum - a perfect example of 15th-century French architecture. 

Then, drive south to 2000-year-old Lyon at the meeting of the Rhone and Saone Rivers. Upon arrival, visit Place Bellecour, an enormous square in the heart of the city flanked by a famed statue of Louis XIV. Ascend Fouvière Hill to view the Roman amphitheater and magnificent gardens that overlook the city.

Dinner on our own.  
Overnight: Lyon
Radisson Blu Hotel
This first class hotel is located in the heart of the business district next to the famous part-Dieu shopping mall and near to Lyon's many attractions. 
Hotel offers an informal French brasserie named "Bistro de la Tour" and a more formal atmosphere at "Arc en Ciel" serving fine regional cuisine with lovely views of the city. Le Ciel de Lyon is an panoramic bar on the 32nd floor with live music.

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 6, Monday - Fields of Provence, French Riviera

Heading south, pass the Olympic city of Grenoble at the foot of the French Alps on your way through the colorful landscapes of Provence, an inspiration for the early Impressionist painters. Here, Matisse, Van Gogh and Picasso created their masterpieces inspired by the region's incredible beauty and soft light. 

Travel past the olive groves and pine forests to the picturesque fortified town of Sisteron, nestled between the mountains and the sea, with its hilltop villages and impressive remains of 14th-century walls. 

Continue towards Cannes, the "star" of the dazzling French Riviera, famous for the International Film Festival, glitzy hotels, and beautiful people. 

Next, a visit to a French perfumery. Hear about the many ways to produce this major export and try some of the popular fragrances. The aromas are amazing! 

Tonight, at dinner with wine, a taste of the French Riviera's specialties.

Overnight: French Riviera

AC Ambassadeur Antibes, Juan Les Pins
The hotel is situated in the town of Juan Les Pins. The Gare de Juan Les Pins railway station is about a half mile away
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 7, Tuesday - Full Day in the French Riviera

A full day to enjoy the countless extravagant delights of the Cote d'Azur and your resort in the quintessential Mediterranean twin towns of Antibes and Juan-Les-Pins, known for their long sandy beaches and energetic nightlife. Relax on the beach, suntan at the pool, shop to your heart's content and just "people-watch" from a seaside café. 

Don't miss the optional excursion to the Picasso Museum at Chateau Grimaldi, where he painted and lived. 
Depart from your hotel in the morning to explore the town of Antibes and discover the fortification walls, explore the quaint streets, and visit the historical area. 

Pass Billionaire's Quay, a beautiful world-renowned harbor home to some of the world’s largest yachts! 

Picasso stayed at the 16th century Chateau Grimaldi shortly after World War II and donated several works to the restored museum which you will also visit.
Approximate tour duration is 3 hours.

Tonight, see glamorous Monte Carlo's lights glisten as you travel along the magical seaside Corniche on the optional night tour.
Tonight, drive to the Principality of Monaco to see the route of the Grand Prix, the luxury boats in the harbour and view the Prince's Palace, atop the famed "Rock". 

Stop at the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino, one of the Riviera's most photographed landmarks.* Monte Carlo is the epitome of wealth and glamour; a prime destination for royalty and some of Hollywood's most famous actors and actresses. Enjoy the lights of the dazzling Corniche road coastline as you return to your hotel.

*Please note that ripped or light-colored jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, tracksuits, sports clothing, shorts and beachwear, sandals and flip-flops for gentlemen, and sneakers will not be permitted.
Approximate tour duration is 6 hours.

Optional: Picasso Museum Tour (AM) BOOKED
Optional: Monte Carlo by Night (PM) BOOKED
Overnight: French Riviera

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 8, Wednesday - Avignon, Pont du Gard, Carcassonne

This morning journey on to Avignon, the "City of Popes" named after seven popes who reigned there during the 1300s. 
Admire the Place de l'Horlorge, the city's main square and the vast Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), a fortress-like palace that once served as the papal residence. 
View the famed Bridge of Avignon, the city’s landmark. 

Lunch is in the historic center on your own before traveling to the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River dating from 19 AD, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

End the day in the fairytale medieval town of Carcassonne. 

 Enjoy dinner with wine together at the hotel tonight

Overnight: Carcassonne

Mercure Carcassonne Porte de la Cite Hotel
The hotel is within a half mile walk of the medieval city of Carcassonne and the Château Comtal. The Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse is within a mile walk of the hotel.
La Vicomte restaurant serves a variety of regional dishes for lunch and dinner. Beverages are available at the hotel's bar.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner Hotel

DAY 9, Thursday - Carcassonne, Lourdes, Candlelit Procession

This morning’s walking tour takes you around Europe's best-restored ancient fortified city with its over fifty towers and turrets, still standing today. Stroll along the cobbled streets to the St. Nazaire Basilica, adorned with magnificent stained glass and intricate carvings. 

Afterward, indulge in a tasting of various medieval beverages, including Hippocras. This spiced wine, was highly prized during the medieval era. 

Following the tasting, time at leisure for lunch on your own. 

Your journey continues to Lourdes, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, that rose to international fame in 1858 when visions of the Virgin Mary were described at the Grotto of Massabielle. The town is now a major site of Roman Catholic pilgrimage and of reported miraculous healings. 

  Dinner together.

Overnight: Lourdes
Gallia Et Londres, Lourdes

The hotel is ideally situated within close proximity of the Sanctuaries in Lourdes. Le Musee de Lourdes, Sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes and Musee Grevin are no more than a half mile away.

Witness the stirring candlelight procession tonight, which has unfailingly taken place since the 1800s. 9 PM 1 hour

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 10, Friday - Visit Lourdes, Wine Tasting in St. Emilion, Bordeaux

In Lourdes, visit the sacred church, sanctuary, and grotto where the apparitions took place and behold the healing water spring from the grotto, believed to possess healing properties. Time to reflect on your own before departing this holy city. 

Afterward, drive north through magnificent rolling landscapes to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of St. Emilion. In this fertile area, viticulture was first introduced by the Romans and further intensified in the Middle Ages. The tradition was carried on by the monk Emilion, who was the first to begin commercial wine production. Views of the city include Romanesque churches and fascinating historical ruins stretching along steep and narrow streets. 

Enjoy a wine tasting and then free time to wander on your own in this delightful town before continuing to Bordeaux. 

   A lovely evening tonight! Dine together at a local restaurant in Bordeaux accented by fabulous wines and local flavors

Overnight: Bordeaux

Mercure Bordeaux Chateau Chartrons, Bordeaux
The hotel is located in the old Bordeaux wine merchants district.

  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 11, Saturday - Tour of Bordeaux

Morning tour of Bordeaux, on the crescent-shaped Garonne River, with its rich architectural and cultural heritage. Bordeaux is distinguished for the wines that bear its name, considered by connoisseurs to be amongst the best in the world. The city tour begins at the Place des Quinconces, the largest square in Western Europe with its mighty pillar centerpiece, the Girondist Column. In the historic Old Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, view the beautiful Grand Theatre built in 1780 and the Victory Arch, an amazing piece of Roman architecture. 

The afternoon is yours to independently explore this beautiful city. Choose to stroll down Rue St. Catherine, a main pedestrian thoroughfare running through the historic district. 

This evening, an optional dinner in the Bordeaux countryside will complete the day.

Bordeaux to Cadillac is 42.6 km.
Depart late afternoon for a scenic drive south of Bordeaux, along the Garonne River, to go for wine tasting at one of the famed wine estates in the region. Bordeaux and its neighboring countryside with a total vineyard area of over 120,000 hectares earned itself a fine reputation after centuries of wine growing. 

Then on to Cadillac, for a stroll in the lovely walled town, towered over by an impressive castle, to have a typical French dinner, served of course with wine!
Approximate tour duration is 5 hours.

Optional: Bordeaux Countryside with Dinner (PM) BOOKED
Overnight: Bordeaux
Mercure Bordeaux Chateau Chartrons, Bordeaux
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 12, Sunday - Cognac Tasting, Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley

Depart Bordeaux to the enchanting town of Cognac, world-famous for the grape-based spirit produced here for over 300 years. Visit one of the cellars, hear about the history of cognac and enjoy a tasting! 

Onward to the very heart of the magnificent Loire Valley, brimming with treasures waiting to be discovered. For centuries, royalty and nobility built their magnificent chateaux here, inspired by the lush forests and rich farmlands. 

Tour the elegant Chateau de Chenonceau. Stretching across the river Cher, the chateau boasts a 197-foot gallery, built over a series of arches. 

Take some time to explore the extravagantly furnished rooms and formal gardens, added by the mistress of Henry II, Diane de Poitiers. 

Continue to Amboise, a delightful riverside town with an imposing castle.

Continue to the hotel for overnight. 

 Enjoy dinner together tonight at the hotel

Overnight: Loire Valley

Novotel Amboise, Amboise
The hotel is comfortably situated in the heart of the Pays de la Loire, in the center of a landscaped park, opposite the Château d'Amboise. Clos Luce is just within a mile of the hotel.
The hotel offers an on-site bar, Le Troubadour and a restaurant, Cote Jardin serving French cuisine.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner Hotel

DAY 13, Monday - Farewell in Paris

Begin by crossing the Loire River and head back to the capital city of Paris for time at leisure to independently discover this city with its never-ending surprises.

Perhaps join the optional tour of the Louvre Museum where you will enjoy the expertise of a professional guide. 

Afternoon on our own.

Tonight, gather together for a Farewell Dinner in a Parisian bistro, including wine as you bid au revoir to your new-found friends and a fascinating journey through France.

Optional: Louvre Museum Tour (PM)
Overnight: Paris
Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel 

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 14, Tuesday - Depart France to Rome
Bon Voyage! Transfer to the airport for your departure flight
Meals: Breakfast


Hotel Sant'Angelo
Via M Dionigi 16, Rome, RM, 00193 Italy

Reservation dates 14 May 2019 - 17 May 2019






Located in San Lorenzo, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Florence Botanical Gardens, Statue of David, and Gallery of the Academy of Florence. Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower and Piazza del Duomo are also within 15 minutes. Florence-Le Cure Station is 15 minutes by foot and Florence Santa Maria Novella Station is 19 minutes.
Hotel Features

This smoke-free hotel features a bar/lounge





Flight Florence to Barcelona

Ayre Hotel Caspe
Carrer de Casp 103-109, Barcelona 08013
Reservation dates 21 May 2019 - 25 May 2019
Located in Eixample, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of L'Auditori and Arc de Triomf. Barcelona Zoo and Tivoli Theatre are also within 15 minutes. Barcelona North Bus Station is only a 4-minute walk and Arc de Triomf Station is 6 minutes.
Hotel Features

This hotel features a restaurant, a fitness center, and a bar/lounge. WiFi in public areas is free. Additionally, a coffee shop/café, self parking, and a business center are onsite.






  1. The holiday looks just wonderful and I hope it matches your expectations. I can tell a lot of planning has gone into the trip. Do have a brilliant time.

    1. Thanks so much, Andrew and John says thanks too. I love the planning part.


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