La Belle France Small Group Short Tour
- 1. Explore one of the great canals of France aboard a modern canal boat.
- 2. Visit Provence and Chateuneuf du Pape.
- 3. See famous Roman sites such as the Arena and the Amphitheatre.
- 4. Explore the Champagne and Burgundy regions.
|09 September 2024
Ends 19 September 2024 • 11 days
|08 September 2025
Ends 18 September 2025 • 11 days
|07 September 2026
Ends 17 September 2026 • days
France Small Group Short tour
Odyssey offers easy, convenient, and relaxed escorted small group tours across Western Europe and beyond. We explore France’s fairy-tale natural beauty, its ancient Roman, and Imperial heritage, its World Heritage Sites, and world famous cities, all with some truly spectacular scenery along the way. This and more is all waiting to be explored on one of Odyssey’s small group tours of France, designed for the senior traveller, and led by experienced, and enthusiastic like minded people.
La Belle France small group short tour is offering unique experiences. This short, small group tour of France takes 11 days to travel east and down into the south of France. Enjoy four stays in key destinations. You stay in each city or village from 1 to 3 nights.
France is the largest country in Western Europe, bigger than Spain, Germany, or Sweden. It lies on the western edge of the continent of Europe and shares borders with six adjacent countries. Belgium and Luxembourg are to the north. Germany and Switzerland to the east. Italy is to the southeast. Spain to the southwest. This geographical position gives France several notable advantages. It is the crossroads of the European Union. It is also Europe’s farm.
La Belle France Small Group Short Tour
Each day, on this small group tour of France, we explore a particular region learning from our expert local guides about the history and contemporary society. Enjoying not only the learning and seeing aspect of this intriguing country we also enjoy breaking bread in some great cafes and restaurants exploring the regional cuisine.
The French Outdoors
A large part of French life is lived outdoors, especially in its cities and villages. On this small group tour, we experience the pavement life of French cities, and see locals congregate in the village square to play petanque, or chat, or simply drink wine as the evening approaches, instead of retreating inside their homes. Our educational tour includes visits to several culturally significant and extraordinarily picturesque regions, like Provence and Chateuneuf du Pape. Our trip to France also visits wine-making regions, where we'll have wine tasting sessions and learn more about the tradition of wine-making. Other highlights include a guided tour of Avignon.
This small group short tour of France is one of some 10 educational, escorted tours offered by Odyssey to France each year. The tour is suitable for the mature traveller, over 50, 60, or 70 as a couple or solo traveller.
Articles about France published by Odyssey Traveller.
The following list of articles, represents some of the articles published by Odyssey Traveller for mature aged and senior travellers to maximise their knowledge and enjoyment of France when visiting;
- Exploring France by rail some tips.
- Ten of the best travel books on France
- Ten things to do in France when you visit
- Designing Paris
- Paris; leaders and landmarks
- Guillamot prevents the collapse of Paris
- The elegant arcades of Paris.
- Questions about France
- Studying Gargoyles and grotesques
- Around the world in six coffees
- Ten of the best French cookery books.
- Ten of the Best art galleries in Europe to visit.
- A guide on France for mature travellers
External articles to assist you plan your visit to France.
- A guide to Alsace
- History of Alsace; Britannica.com
- Burgundy's climat; a UNSECO world heritage listing
- Avignon, the palace of Popes
- History of Avignon 15-18th century
- Exploring Chatres cathedral
- War of religion; France
- Published articles on French history.
Other Odyssey Tours:
The small group short tour La Belle France, is only one of many of the small group tours offered by Odyssey Traveller to France, you can view all the tours to France via this link.
To view the entire collection of tours to Europe click here offered to mature aged and Senior travellers each year.
For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right-hand side of this page.
Odyssey Traveller regularly offers tours designed for the active senior or mature traveller to enjoy in a small group holiday and learning environment. We also publish articles to provide more information to our loyal and prospective participants.
Day 1: Paris
Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Ampere or similar.
Upon arrival in Paris we will come to the hotel individually. Tour begins with our welcome dinner.
Day 2: Reims
Accommodation: 2 nights at BW Hotel de la Paix or similar.
Today we board our coach for the Champagne Region and visit one of the local champagne cellars in Épernay. After free time for lunch, we travel to the city of Reims.
Dinner tonight will be in a local restaurant.
Day 3: Reims
Accommodation: BW Hotel de la Paix or similar.
Reims, the centre of the Champagne Region, was the site of the coronation of the majority of the French kings. This morning we meet our local guide for a walking tour of the city, including a visit to the magnificent Cathedral and the Surrender Museum.
After a free afternoon to explore the city, we attend a special champagne dinner.
Day 4: Beaune
Accommodation: 4 nights at Hotel Henry II or similar.
En route to Beaune we will make 2 stops. The first, at Troyes, offers the opportunity to explore a delightful town with many well-preserved, half-timbered houses and 10 churches all remarkable for their stained-glass windows and exquisite sculptures. We continue with an afternoon visit to the hilltop town of Vézelay and its Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene – one of the largest Romanesque churches in France and only just shorter than Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The Basilica is said to guard the remains of the “Sinner Saint” and was one of the departure points for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Dinner tonight will be in the hotel.
Day 5: Beaune
Accommodation: Hotel Henry II or similar.
After breakfast today we travel through the picturesque countryside to the village of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois. A guided tour of the castle will be followed by a regional lunch in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon we explore one of the great canals of France aboard a modern canal boat. The Burgundy Canal, opened in 1833, was the first navigable connection between Burgundy and the Paris basin. It leads from St. Jean de Losne on the river Saône, past the city of Dijon to Migennes on the river Yonne and then on to the Seine. Our cruise will take us from Vandenesse to Pouilly, through several locks and the summit pound tunnel. Dinner tonight will be at your own arrangement.
The grape plays an important role in this city and the surrounding regions. In fact, the annual wine auction at the Hospices de Beaune (Hôtel-Dieu) is considered by many wine experts to be the primary wine auction in France. The town is surrounded by an incredible collection of celebrated wine villages.
Burgundy is noted as the home of some classic French dishes such as coq au vin, oeufs meurette (eggs poached in red wine), and boeuf bourgignon. It is also famous for its escargots (snails).
Day 6: Beaune
Accommodation: Hotel Henry II or similar.
This morning our local guide will take us on a walking tour of Beaune including a visit to the magnificent Hôtel Dieu with its multi-coloured tiled roofs. The afternoon is free for our own exploration of the town.
Historically Beaune is intimately connected with the Dukes of Burgundy who endowed the city with many treasures. On a plain near the hills of the Côte d’Or, Beaune is a walled city, with about half the original battlements, along with ramparts and moat, still in excellent state of preservation.
Dinner will be in a local restaurant.
Day 7: Beaune
Accommodation: Hotel Henry II or similar.
The city of Dijon is famed for mustard and gingerbread. The conundrum is that the gingerbread has no ginger. It is known as pain d’épice, or spice bread!
On our guided walking tour of Dijon, we will have the chance to taste both these products and to explore the historical monuments of the city. Lunch will be in a local restaurant and will feature some of the local popular dishes.
During the afternoon we will drive through some of the prestigious wine-producing villages and will enjoy a tutored wine-tasting experience. Dinner will be at own arrangements tonight.
Day 8: Beaune to Avignon
Accommodation: 3 nights at Hotel Cloître St Louis or similar.
Our drive south takes us via the Saône and Rhône Valleys to Avignon. On arrival we will have a guided walking tour of the city including a visit to the Palais des Papes. Our hotel, inside the city walls, will be the venue for our dinner tonight.
Avignon is considered amongst the greatest of Europe’s walled cities. Always powerful, it reached its zenith during the time of the Babylonian captivity of the Popes (1309-1377).
Day 9: Avignon
Accommodation: Hotel Cloître St Louis or similar.
During our next 2 days we have all-day excursions in Provence – a region where there are some of the best-preserved Roman remains in Europe.
On our first day our guide will take us to Orange to visit the 1st-century Triumphal Arch and Roman Theatre. Regarded as one of the finest and best-preserved in the entire Roman world, the theatre is the only one to have preserved a statue of the Emperor Augustus. We continue with a guided walk in the excavated town of Vaison-la-Romaine. A visit and tasting at one of the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape cellars will complete our day. Dinner will be at the hotel tonight.
Day 10: Avignon
Accommodation: Hotel Cloître St Louis or similar.
On Day 10 we continue our Roman theme with another all-day excursion – this time to Arles, the city situated on a low hill at the point where the Rhône River branches into 2. Here the famous Roman sites such as the Arena and the Amphitheatre are the focus for us. We will also see the famous Cathedral of St. Trophime with its magnificently carved 12th century doorway. Arles also has associations with Vincent Van Gogh, who spent about 15 months here during 1888-89. We take an afternoon visit to St Rémy de Provence, where Van Gogh painted some of his last works. We also visit the ancient site of Glanum.
Dinner will be at our hotel with more regional dishes.
Day 11: Avignon
Our tour ends after breakfast.
- Itineraries may change if flight schedules, site availability, and other inclusions have to be amended prior to departure.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 10 nights of hotel accommodation including breakfast.
- Meals as per the itinerary.
- All excursions, entrance fees, and local guides.
- Gratuities and necessary tips.
- Services of Odyssey Program Leader for the duration of tour.
- Transport in comfortable and modern coaches.
- Detailed information booklet.
What’s not included in our Tour
- International airfares and departure taxes.
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking / hiking up to 8 kilometers per day on uneven ground.
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
Book With Confidence
If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Brilliant trip with an excellent guide and driver. Even converted my sports -orientated husband into appreciating cathedrals and architecture! Love the 'all-inclusive' aspect, not having to bother with meals, tipping, etc. Made it a real holiday for me.
Participant Sep 2014
This tour was such a good mix of the different areas of France, good food, good wine, good company and amazing sights.
Participant Sep 2014
Travelling in a small group was great. The tour gave you a good taste of France's history and its wine regions.
Participant Sep 2014
La Belle France is a delightful tour through some of the most beautiful regions of France. Rouna ensured that everything ran smoothly and that we saw so much.
Participant Sep 2015
Reading List Download PDF
The History of Modern France: From the Revolution to the War on Terror
With the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the next two centuries for France would be tumultuous. Bestselling historian and political commentator Jonathan Fenby provides an expert and riveting journey through this period as he recounts and analyses the extraordinary sequence of events of this period from the end of the First Revolution through two others, a return of Empire, three catastrophic wars with Germany, periods of stability and hope interspersed with years of uncertainty and high tensions. As her cross-Channel neighbour Great Britain would equally suffer, France was to undergo the wrenching loss of colonies in the post-Second World War as the new modern world we know today took shape. Her attempts to become the leader of the European union is a constant struggle, as was her lack of support for America in the two Gulf Wars of the past twenty years. Alongside this came huge social changes and cultural landmarks but also fundamental questioning of what this nation, which considers itself exceptional, really stood - and stands - for. That saga and those questions permeate the France of today, now with an implacable enemy to face in the form of Islamic extremism which so bloodily announced itself this year in Paris. Fenby will detail every event, every struggle and every outcome across this expanse of 200 years. It will prove to be the definitive guide to understanding France.
How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People
Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think is a warm yet incisive exploration of the French intellectual tradition, and its exceptional place in a nation's identity and lifestyle
Why are the French an exceptional nation? Why do they think they are so exceptional? An important reason is that in France intellectual activity is regarded not just as the preserve of the thinking elite but for almost everyone. French thought can sometimes be austere and often opaque, yet it is undeniably bold and innovative, and driven by a relentless quest for the regeneration of humanity. Sudhir Hazareesingh traces its tumultuous history in an enormously enjoyable and highly original manner, showing how the French ways of thought and life connect. This will be one of the most revealing books written about them - or any other European country - for years.
Sudhir Hazareesingh was born in Mauritius. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and has been a Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Balliol College, Oxford, since 1990. Among his books are The Legend of Napoleon (Granta, 2004) and Le MytheGaullien (Gallimard, 2010). He won the Prix du Memorial d'Ajaccio and the Prix de la Fondation Napoleon for the first of these, and a Prix d'Histoire du Senat for the second.
The Discovery of France
Ten years ago, I began to explore the country on which I was supposed to be an authority . . .
France is a country famous for its intellectuals, its philosophers and writers, its fashion, food and wine. And yet the notion of 'the French' as one nation is relatively recent and - historically speaking - quite misleading. In order to discover the 'real' past of France, Graham Robb realised it was not only necessary to go back in time, but also to go at a slower pace than modern life generally allows. The Discovery of France, illuminating, engrossing and full of surprises, is the result of Robb's 14,000 mile journey across France on a bicycle.
Winner of both the Duff Cooper and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prizes, The Discovery of France is a modern non-fiction classic, a literary exploration of a remarkable nation. From maps and migration to magic, language and landscape, it reveals a France few will recognize.
Lower Normandy: French Impressions
The sixth in the popular French Impressions series, taking the form of a personal travel narrative exploring the three departéments of Lower Normandy. As well as reviewing more than a hundred towns and villages and tourist attractions, the book looks at the historical events and peoples which helped form the unique character of this part of France. The book also features the recipes and background to many traditional and unusual Norman dishes. In all, a complete celebration of one of Frances most beautiful and fascinating areas.
From the D-Day Beaches to the birthplace of William the Conqueror, George East’s unique style paints a gloriously coloured picture of some of the most visited and intriguing parts of Normandy. Learn about where your favourite cheeses come from, along with recipes for exciting and traditional dishes.
Cambridge Illustrated History of France
In a tour de force, Colin Jones gives a gripping, superbly and intelligently illustrated account of the political, social and cultural history of France, placing an innovatory emphasis on the impact of regionalism, class, gender and race in French heritage. Ranging from prehistoric menhirs to the Pompidou Centre, from Louis XIV's Versailles to twentieth-century highrises, from Marie Antoinette to Marie Claire, The Cambridge Illustrated History of France is host to lively and penetrating new insights that take us through the shaping of France from the earliest times to the brink of a new millennium. Combining superb illustration with outstanding scholarship, the diversity of the French heritage--scientific and artistic, national and regional--is explored with an engrossing and accessible style. Special features on places, people and events, a glossary, and a further reading section enhance this engaging book that will appeal to history buffs and students of French history and culture. Colin Jones is also the author of the Longman Companion to the French Revolution and The Cultural Atlas of France.
France: A History: from Gaul to de Gaulle
John Julius Norwich
I can still feel, as if it were yesterday, the excitement of my first Channel crossing (as a child of nearly 7) in September 1936; the regiment of porters, smelling asphyxiatingly of garlic in their blue-green blousons; the raucous sound all around me of spoken French; the immense fields of Normandy strangely devoid of hedges; then the Gare du Nord at twilight, the policemen with their képis and their little snow-white batons; and my first sight of the Eiffel Tower...This book is written in the belief that the average English-speaking man or woman has remarkably little knowledge of French history. We may know a bit about Napoleon or Joan of Arc or Louis XIV, but for most of us that's about it. In my own three schools we were taught only about the battles we won: Crécy and Poitiers, Agincourt and Waterloo. The rest was silence. So here is my attempt to fill in the blanks...
John Julius Norwich (at 88) has finally written the book he always wanted to write, the extremely colourful story of the country he loves best.
From frowning Roman generals and belligerent Gallic chieftains, to Charlemagne (hated by generations of French children taught that he invented schools) through Marie Antoinette and the storming of the Bastille to Vichy, the Resistance and beyond, FRANCE is packed with heroes and villains, adventures and battles, romance and revolution. Full of memorable stories and racy anecdotes, this is the perfect introduction to the country that has inspired the rest of the world to live, dress, eat -- and love better.
A year in Provence
Peter Mayle and his wife did what most of us only imagine doing when they made their long-cherished dream of a life abroad a reality: throwing caution to the wind, they bought a glorious two hundred year-old farmhouse in the Lubéron Valley and began a new life. In a year that begins with a marathon lunch and continues with a host of gastronomic delights, they also survive the unexpected and often hilarious curiosities of rural life. From mastering the local accent and enduring invasion by bumbling builders, to discovering the finer points of boules and goat-racing, all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life are conjured up in this enchanting portrait.
Becoming Bourgeois: Love, Kinship, and Power in Provincial France, 1670–1880
Christopher H Johnson
Becoming Bourgeois traces the fortunes of three French families in the municipality of Vannes, in Brittany—Galles, Jollivet, and Le Ridant—who rose to prominence in publishing, law, the military, public administration, and intellectual pursuits over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Revisiting complex issues of bourgeois class formation from the perspective of the interior lives of families, Christopher H. Johnson argues that the most durable and socially advantageous links forging bourgeois ascent were those of kinship. Economic success, though certainly derived from the virtues of hard work and intelligent management, was always underpinned by marriage strategies and the diligent intervention of influential family members.
Johnson's examination of hundreds of personal letters opens up a whole world: the vicissitudes of courtship; the centrality of marriage; the depths of conjugal love; the routines of pregnancy and the drama of childbirth; the practices of child rearing and education; the powerful place of siblings; the role of kin in advancing the next generation; tragedy and deaths; the enormous contributions of women in all aspects of becoming bourgeois; and the pleasures of gathering together in intimate soirées, grand balls, country houses, and civic and political organizations. Family love bound it all together, and this is ultimately what this book is about, as four generations of rather ordinary provincial people capture our hearts.
The Bayeux Tapestry
Simone Betrand and Sylvette Lemagnen
The Bayeux Tapestry is one of the most famous works of art of Medieval Western Europe. Unique of its kind, its name is linked with the town where it has been kept for nine hundred years. It relates the story of the conquest of England in 1066 by William of Normandy, who since then has been known as William the Conqueror. With Contemporaneous with the events it descrihes, it depicts more than 1500 figures, horses, animals of all kinds, ships, castles ... Emhroidered in colored wool, They stand out from a background of linen cloth 70 meters long. The daily life of the period unrolls before our eyes adding extra interest to the historical narrative.
Is Paris Burning?
Larry Collins and Dominique La Pierre
"'Is Paris burning?' was a question that Hitler persistently put to his commander in the French capitol during August 1944. Thus begins the absorbing account of the liberation of Paris. You will be moved by the descriptions and want to see Paris to witness what history allowed to survive. Is Paris Burning? is researched with meticulous and riveting detail, well narrated and certain to keep you intrigued."
All the Light We Cannot See
A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II, from the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr. The book won the Pulitzer Price in 2015 for Fiction.
D-Day Landing Beaches: The Guide
This spectacular, large format, full color, new book is quite simply the most impressive book of its type we have seen. Packed with over 200 photographs, maps and charts, the book is divided into the sectors associated with the Normandy landings in 1944.
Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train
In one of the most inventive travel books in years, Ina Caro invites readers on twenty-five one-day train trips that depart from Paris and transport us back through seven hundred years of French history. Whether taking us to Orléans to evoke the miraculous visions of Joan of Arc, to Versailles to experience the flamboyant achievements of Louis XIV, or to the Place de la Concorde to witness the beheading of Marie Antoinette, Caro animates history with her lush descriptions of architectural splendors and tales of court intrigue. Organizing her destinations chronologically from twelfth-century Saint-Denis to the nineteenth-century Restoration at Chantilly, Caro appeals not only to the casual tourist aboard the Metro or the TGV but also to the armchair reader of Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. Caro's passion for and knowledge of France―its soaring cathedrals, enthralling history, and sumptuous cuisine―are so impressive that Paris to the Past promises to become one of the classic guidebooks of our time.