25 days
Duration
Europe
Destination
Level 2 - Introductory to Moderate
Activity

Secret France Small group tour

Beginning in Switzerland, Zurich and crossing into France, this small group tour of France offers a new side of the wonderful country. The French Alps and the Pyrenees, are as much part of France as they are of Spain and Switzerland. Perhaps because of this, the France of the Alps and of the Pyrenees is often bypassed.

Secret France small group tour May 2018 is on Sale.  Save AUD$900.00 per person on each booking, conditions apply.

For Odyssey Travellers until 30th June 2017  we are having our annual  Pre 2018/19 catalogue release sale on some of your favourite programs.  Places are limited, they are offered on a first come first served basis.

Full payment needs to be received within 45 days of booking. Sale price cannot be used in conjunction with any Alumni discounts or vouchers issued by Odyssey Travel. This offer is for Direct sales only.

Pre catalogue release sale must finish Friday June 30th 2017.

 

The small group tour of France takes the group deep into the villages, valleys, shrines, and ski resorts of these high regions which for many tourists will always remain unvisited, hidden in plain sight. It is an intriguing journey, often following the old pilgrim pathways. But it is what lies in the history of the places that the tours visits and stays in that reveals to those with a passion for history so much more than just the village.

An additional departure for this tour is scheduled for September, click here for more details.

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.

Tour Notes
  • Group size limited to 18.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

1
Visit the underground Cathedral of St Emilion.
2
Visit Lourdes.
3
See Orleans, site of Joan of Arc’s great victory.
4
Walk on part of the Mont Blanc Massif.
5
Penetrate the Basque country on both sides of the Pyrenees.

Overview: Upon arrival in Zurich we will come to the hotel individually. Our tour begins with a welcome meeting at the hotel followed by dinner.

Accommodation: 1 night at Radisson Blue Airport or similar.

Overview: After breakfast we board our coach and head for the high mountains of the Aravis range in Haute Savoie (Upper Savoy) and the town of La Clusaz between Mont Blanc, the Lake of Annecy and Switzerland. Before arriving at La Clusaz we stop in Geneva to visit Chateau de Menthon St. Bernard and enjoy a cruise in picturesque Annecy. We will explore the mountain village of Grand Bornand and learn about the way of life here in both ancient and modern times, and sample Reblochon cheese at our hotel.

Accommodation: 5 nights at La Christiania, Hotel La Clusaz, or similar.

Overview: Today we tour Le Grand Bornard including entrance to Maison du Patrimoine.

Accommodation: La Christiania, Hotel La Clusaz, or similar.

Overview: We will visit the ski resort town of Chamonix and the picturesque Montenvers rack-railway which runs from the town to an altitude of 1913 metres. From its upper terminus, we can walk on a small part of the Mont Blanc Massif and, if conditions permit, those adventurous enough have the opportunity to visit the cave carved inside the Glacier itself.

Accommodation: La Christiania, Hotel La Clusaz, or similar.

Overview: Since ancient times, the upper valleys of the Rhône and Lake Léman (also called Lake Geneva and through which the French/Swiss border runs), have allowed for a route through the Alps between Italy and France. Today we also visit Yvoire and Thonon-les-Bains.

Accommodation: La Christiania, Hotel La Clusaz or similar.

Overview: En route to the Haute Loire region, we visit Chambéry which was once the capital of Savoie and a staging post on the way to Italy from France. The city is still the gateway to many of the skiing resorts in the Alps. We also stop for a guided tour of the city of Lyon – in former times a major centre of the silk industry in France, before travelling to Montfaucon.

Accommodation: 4 nights at Hotel Restaurant L’Avenue, Montfaucon, or similar.

Overview: Right in the middle of the Massif Central, Le Puy-en-Velay is one of the most remarkable-looking towns in France. Set in the middle of a basin surrounded by spectacular basalt plateaux and peaks, its own towering peaks – each with a distinctive church or statue – appear to be playthings tossed up from deep within the earth by giants. After our guided tour of Le Puy, we visit St. Michael d’Aiguihle.

Accommodation: Hotel Restaurant L’Avenue, Montfaucon, or similar.

Overview: Our first stop will be the small town of Tence on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, with its small Penitents’ Chapel. Next we will visit the French ski resort of Les Estables, the gateway to 8 individual pistes, major ski runs served by 5 ski lifts.

Accommodation: Hotel Restaurant L’Avenue, Montfaucon, or similar.

Overview: The rural region of Saint-Agrève is located between the high Doux and Eyrieux valleys and the Haut-Lignon plateau. We will visit the ski resort of Lalouvesc and Lamastre, a small town located southeast of France in the Ardèche. Then we will see Montfaucon-de-Velay and its celebrated chateau.

Accommodation: Hotel Restaurant L’Avenue, Montfaucon, or similar.

Overview: En route to our next destination we stop at the magnificent new creation of Lord Norman Foster, the viaduct of Millau. Later we explore the city of Rodez with our guide, capital of the Aveyron Department with its famous grey-rose cathedral before travelling to Figeac.

Accommodation: 6 nights at Hotel des Bains or similar.

Overview: Today we will visit Cordes sur Ciel (Cordes on the sky), which was renamed in recent times because of the way it rises above low lying mists on winter mornings. Here we meet our local guide for a walking tour.

Accommodation: Hotel des Bains or similar.

Overview: Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is perched on a cliff overlooking a meander of the River Lot and is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. We also visit Cahors, popular with writers and artists over the centuries.

Accommodation: Hotel des Bains or similar.

Overview: We will spend a morning in the medieval hilltop town of Najac with its spectacular castle. The afternoon will be spent in the city of Albi with visits to the magnificent Cathedral of Ste Cécile and the renowned Toulouse-Lautrec Museum.

Accommodation: Hotel des Bains or similar.

Overview: We will take visits to the Bastide towns of Villefranche de Rouergue (with its market) and Sauveterre de Rouergue, as well as continue the Toulouse-Lautrec theme as we visit his family home, Château de Bosc, at Naucelle.

Accommodation: Hotel des Bains or similar.

Overview: Conques (pronounced “conk” and named for the shell-shaped structure of the land) is home to a magnificent Romanesque church and the only medieval shrine that still survives intact on the pilgrimage route across the Pyrénées to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We begin our guided walking tour visiting St. Foy Church and the Treasury.

Accommodation: Hotel des Bains or similar.

Overview: Our “en route” stops today will include the rose-red city of Toulouse and the modern pilgrimage site of Lourdes, one of the Europe’s great shrines and centres of spiritual and natural healing.

Accommodation: 5 nights at Hotel Baratxartea or similar.

Overview: From the Basque town of Sare we will explore Cambo-les-Bains, a spa town in the French Basque country, which pioneered cures for respiratory disease, and the home of Edmond Rostand, author of “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Throughout our visit to Cambo-les-Brains we learn about Basque cakes. We also explore the picturesque town of Ainhoa, regarded as “one of the most beautiful villages in France.”

Accommodation: Hotel Baratxartea or similar.

Overview: After our city tour of San Sebastián, the capital of the Basques in Spain, we visit Iglesa de Santa Maria. After lunch we continue to Pamplona, the place of the running of the bulls in Spain, for a guided visit.

Accommodation: Hotel Baratxartea or similar.

Overview: We board the train to the fabled La Rhune mountain in the heart of the Basque country, and explore the fishing port of St Jean de Luz.

Accommodation: Hotel Baratxartea or similar.

Overview: Today we complete our exploration of the Basque country with time in the village of Sare and town of St Jean Pied de Port at the base of the Roncevaux Pass, one of the traditional crossing points of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella in Spain.

Accommodation: Hotel Baratxartea or similar.

Overview: Today we explore the city of Biarritz (French capital of the Basques), an ancient Basque farm and the factory in Anglet where Pelota gloves are manufactured.

Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel de la Nehe, Dax, or similar.

Overview: Our next stop is St. Emilion, famous for its wine, and for the world’s only and largest underground cathedral, carved out of a cave. After our guided visit, we travel to Tours.

Accommodation: 1 night at Ibis Tours Centre or similar.

Overview: Today we visit the beautiful, historical Château Azay-le-Rideau, Câteau of Chambord and the city of Orleans – the site of Joan of Arc’s epic victory over the English in the 100 Years War. Our journey ends in Paris, the city of Light.

Accommodation: 1 night at Le Magellan Hotel, Paris or similar.

Overview: Our tour ends after breakfast.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 24 nights of hotel accommodation.
  • 24 breakfasts and 10 dinners.
  • Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
  • Transport and field trips as indicated.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • Services of a Tour Leader.
  • Detailed tour information booklet.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • International airfares and taxes.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.

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Secret France Small group

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