La Grande France Tour
15 Wonderful Days
- Leisurely 3 night stays
- Small group size from just 10 to 28
- Genuinely inclusive, no additional on tour costs
- Character hotels in superb locations
- Designed for Australians & New Zealanders
- 'My Time' guaranteed
Join the lively Saint Louis festival in Sète on our August departure. Ask us for details.
- Stay 3 nights in the enchanting Château Rochecotte nestled in its own gardens and grounds, in the spectacular Loire Valley
- Enjoy the gardens and interior of the elegant Château Chenonceau
- Visit Amboise and Da Vinci’s residence – Château du Clos Lucé
- Visit the classic 16th and 18th century gardens of Château Villandry
- Explore Tours and relax in the cafés on Place Plumereau
- Stay 3 nights in perfectly preserved Sarlat-la-Canéda
- See the tragic village of Oradour-sur-Glane, destroyed in WWII
- Cruise down the River Dordogne past medieval castles
- Stay 5 nights in the delightful city of Montpellier
- Enjoy a guided tour of the huge fortified town of Carcassonne
- Visit the walled city of Aigues-Mortes set in the salt flats of the Camargue
- Walk across the spectacular Pont du Gard and explore the Papal City of Avignon
- See the Arena of Nimes, the best preserved amphitheatre in the Roman Empire
- Experience the extraordinary Carrières de Lumières sound and light show in the quarries of Les Baux
- Visit the medieval Knights Templar castle village of La Couvertoirade in the Causse du Larzac and enjoy a tour and tasting in the Roquefort cheese caves
- Cross the Tarn Gorge on the astonishing Millau Viaduct
- Stay 3 nights in the old town of Nice
- Discover the dramatic Calanques on a coastal cruise along the Côte d’Azur
- Explore Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo
- Enjoy a farewell dinner in the artisan village of Saint Paul de Vence
Don't just tick the big boxes
Day 1: Paris to Loire Valley
Your tour commences this morning in central Paris. After meeting your Tour Manager we board our coach and make our way south-west to the verdant Loire Valley where, during the 15th and 16th centuries, the Kings of France and their courtiers created their grand holiday palaces. What better way to be introduced to the wonderful Loire Valley than our afternoon stop at Chambord to view the magnificent château. This enormous château was created by King Francois as a hunting lodge within the surrounding grounds, which consisted of over 5000 wooded hectares. Later we continue to our wonderful hotel where we spend the next three nights. This evening we enjoy a welcome drink before dinner in our hotel.
Day 2: Château Chenonceau, Amboise and Tours
This morning we enjoy a visit to the magnificent Château Chenonceau, spanning the River Cher on a series of graceful arches, to explore the stunning gardens and interior of the château. Possibly one of the most photographed of the Loire châteaux, this was the former home of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. Later, we stop to explore the charming riverside town of Amboise, on the banks of the River Loire, with its Royal Palace, where Leonardo da Vinci once lived as a guest of King Francois I. We have included a visit to da Vinci’s residence – Château du Clos Lucé. In the underground rooms you will see forty machines designed by this amazing inventor. This evening will be free in the old town of Tours around Place Plumereau, to discover your own provincial bistro for dinner.
Day 3: Fontevraud, Chinon & Château Villandry
Our first stop of the day will be a guided visit of the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. The romanesque abbey church with its royal tombs and the renaissance cloister, have all been beautifully restored and the complex is now a museum and cultural centre.
Lunchtime will be spent exploring Chinon, with its massive castle looming over the narrow cobblestoned streets of this riverside town. In the afternoon we will visit the gardens of Château Villandry. Inspired by the classic gardens of the 16th and 18th century, different levels of the gardens include ponds, topiary, ornamental hedges and an extraordinary kitchen garden covering 12,500 square metres.
Day 4: Oradour-sur-Glane and Lascaux
This morning we make a poignant visit to the ‘ghost village’ of Oradour-sur-Glane. In June 1944, without apparent provocation, soldiers from the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division massacred all the inhabitants of this quiet, little village. The village was then destroyed. The village was never rebuilt and has been preserved as a memorial to this awful atrocity. We have included entrance with audio guides to the museum ‘Centre de la memoire d’Oradour’. Later we continue to Lascaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its magnificent Palaeolithic cave paintings. Whilst the actual caves themselves are now closed to the public, we visit the nearby Lascaux IV museum to see the superb replicas of the cave paintings found in the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery. As a finalé, we continue to the Dordogne Valley with its sleepy villages, medieval châteaux, meandering rivers and lush landscape that so epitomises French rural life. We stay the next three nights in the perfectly preserved Sarlat la Canéda, one of the most stunning towns in France.
*25 May & 7 September departures stay at Hotel de Selves in Sarlat.
Day 5: Sarlat, River Dordogne Cruise and picturesque Domme
A guide joins us for the whole day. First we explore the medieval, architectural time capsule village of Sarlat. Noted for its gourmet food, cheeses, pâté and foie gras, Sarlat is also famous for its beautifully preserved old town with its café filled squares and delightful cobblestoned alleyways. In the afternoon we will drive to the nearby village of La Roc Gageac, set beside the pretty Dordogne River. Here we will board a barge and drift slowly down the River Dordogne past medieval castles. Later we visit the incredibly picturesque village of Domme. We have included a ride on the petit train up through the ramparts to the town square. You will have time at leisure to explore the sleepy village and enjoy the sweeping views across the Dordogne Valley.
Day 6: Rocamadour & Gouffre de Padirac Caves
Hand Selected Experience
A natural wonder
Day 7: Old town of Carcassonne and Montpellier
Day 8: Nimes and Aigues Mortes
This morning we visit Nimes, where a local guide will join us for a walking tour of this remarkable city. Dating back to the bronze age, the central part is traffic free. Right in the centre you will find the Maison Carrée Roman temple, and the giant Arena of Nimes – the best preserved amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. Later we will drive into the famous Camargue region and enjoy ‘My Time’ in Aigues-Mortes. The 13th century walls and ramparts fully encircle this historical town and form a striking contrast to the vast salines (salt flats) that encircle it. This evening we have included dinner in a local wine estate.
Day 9: Montpellier, ‘My Time’ and Sète
Day 10: La Couvertoirade, Roquefort and the awesome Millau Viaduct
A leisurely start before we drive inland to the UNESCO listed Causse du Larzac region. Our first stop will be at the medieval village of La Couvertoirade, which was voted one of the ‘Plus Beaux Villages de France’ (most beautiful villages of France). The village was transformed into a dramatic fortified castle by the Knights Templar approximately 800 years ago; the flower bedecked, narrow, cobblestoned streets are steeped in history and the little church is littered with secret Masonic signs. Later, equivalent to the height of the top of the Eiffel Tower, we take the extraordinary Millau Viaduct across the mighty Tarn Gorge. After visiting the Viaduct Museum, we enjoy lunchtime at leisure in Millau. Next stop Roquefort! We have included a guided tour down through the Caves and a tasting of varieties of this rich tasty cheese. ( And the salami infused with Roquefort is quite unbelievable! ).
Day 11: The Pont du Gard, Avignon and Les Baux
Day 12: Cassis, Calanques Cruise and Nice
Hand Selected Experience
Cruise the picturesque Calanques
Day 13: ‘My Time’ in Nice, Villa Ephrussi and Monaco
Your morning is entirely free in the elegant resort town of Nice. Make sure you visit the wonderful fresh food, local produce and flower markets which are amongst the best in France! Take time to stroll and shop amongst the winding streets and perhaps enjoy lunch in one of the attractive seaside restaurants. Nice also boasts a number of art museums.
This afternoon we will visit Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat and the fabulous Villa Ephrussi – home of the Rothschild family. We have included a self-guided tour through this exceptional villa, perhaps the grandest on the Côte d’Azur, to see Béatrice Ephrussi’s grand apartments, tapestry and porcelain collections, and the magnificent gardens. We have also included afternoon tea in the restaurant, which boasts enormous views along the Azure Coast.
Later this afternoon we have also included an excursion to Monaco. Following the scenic drive along the ‘Moyenne Corniche’ to the city of Monte Carlo we will see the Royal Palace before time in the old town to enjoy dinner at leisure.
Day 14: Cannes and St Paul de Vence
Our morning is spent in the extravagant seaside resort of Cannes. Famous for its movie stars and the Cannes Film Festival, we have time to explore the old port town and ‘La Croisette’ – the seafront promenade lined with palm trees, upmarket boutiques, cafés and grand hotels. As a finalé, we will drive in to the foothills of the Alpes Maritimes to the old town of St Paul de Vence. With its imposing ramparts, overlooking the Provençal countryside, the wonderful natural light attracted an artists’ colony. Soon they were followed by film directors and movie stars, then galleries and shops. We enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 15: Nice on the Cote d'Azur
Your tour ends today after breakfast.
Incredible Value Inclusions
- ALL excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
- Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
- Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
- 14 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
- Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
- 21 Meals – including breakfast daily (B) and 7 dinners (D)
- Tea, coffee and a complimentary beverage with all included dinners
- Welcome drink Loire Valley
- Hand Selected Albatross Experiences – Dordogne barge cruise,
- Calanques cruise, visit Carrières de Lumières, Villa Ephrussi afternoon tea
- Local guides as described in the itinerary
- ALL tips to your Tour Manager, Driver and Local Guides
- Personal audio system whilst on tour
- Free WiFi at hotels
NO additional ‘on tour’ costs!
Hotel Château Belmont, Loire Valley - 3 nights
Located close to Tours old town, this 4 star hotel is housed in a grand building (we would rather not describe it as a château) and set in 6 acres of manicured parklands. The bedrooms are elegantly designed and feature modern amenities.
Hotel Plaza Madeleine, Dordogne - 3 nights
Oceania Le Métropole, Montpellier - 5 nights
Brilliantly located right in the town centre, this excellent 4 star hotel is perfectly situated to enjoy ‘My Time’ relaxing in the bustling heart of town.
Le Méridien, Nice - 3 nights
A wonderful well - paced holiday with many varied activities. Great group of travellers. Each new destination was an unexpected treasure!
This tour had all the elements that make a successful holiday. First, the canvas of places and tourist sites we visited were splendid. Second, the people that make up the tour, they were an excellent group. Third, the coach driver, he was a thorough gentleman, good company and above all an excellent driver. Lastly, our Tour Manager was absolutely marvellous and defnitely a 'rare gem'. I have noticed the Albatross difference.
Our tour guide Karen was fabulous. So nice, so helpful and so patient. I cannot speak highly enough of her. I love the Chateaux, gardens, churches, flowers, boat rides, three night stays and the caves. Thank you Albatross Tours and Karen for looking after me and giving me such a wonderful holiday.