24 days
Duration
Europe
Destination
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate
Activity

Small group tours Rural France

On this small group Rural France programme, we spend 24 days exploring France beyond its bustling cities. During this tour you will explore the pastoral and provincial splendour of Rural France through French rural towns. France's rural villages and towns have resisted the dual siege of the automobile and the property developer. This decision has long protected the rural landscape, thus avoiding the incursions that laid waste to provincial centres in so many other European nations.

As you will see, many of France’s beautiful towns remain untouched by the depredations of the last century. Within their walls the villagers conduct their daily lives much as they have done since Napoleonic times. These villages, or communes, maintain lives based on villagers' needs, rather than for those who seek to profit from them.

We start and finish this vacation program in Paris and explore small towns in France. This small group tour of rural France is limited to a maximum of 18 people. Travellers are escorted by a Program Leader, who works with a number of local professional guides who will give information about the towns of France and take you to the best restaurants and shops to rest your feet.

On these guided tours, they share with you the culture and the history of rural France. Topics include the local taxation system, the European Union and its impact on rural village life and the regional centres, as well as commentary about the history of the pays, an area whose inhabitants, sharing common interests, enter into a planning contract to build a community. Pays can translate to "region", as in Pays de la Loire.

Small group tours Rural France Itinerary

After beginning the program in Paris, we travel to the picturesque village of St-Gervais-d'Auvergne. En route, we pause at the elegant city of Orléans, site of Joan of Arc's turning point victory over the English in the 100 Year War. We then travel to the spa resort of Vichy. Vichy was the  seat of France's World War II collaborationist government and is also  the source of the famous mineral water. We continue to St-Gervais-d'Auvergne and check into our hotel.

Set in the Puy-de-Dome region of the Auvergne in the southern-centre of France, St-Gervais-d'Auvergne is the region’s capital. From here we then visit Saint-Flour, perched on the Auvergne's highest volcanic outcrop, where we have a full day walking tour of the town. This is quintessential medieval France surrounded by the rugged beauty of the region's volcanic landscape.

Other Highlights of France

Other highlights include visiting Avignon. Avignon is a walled city which was once the seat of the Popes. We travel as well to Uzes and the Pont du Gard in Languedoc-Roussillon. We will also stop off at the great citadel of Carcassonne, one of Europe's largest and best-preserved medieval fortresses. We also take time to explore the pre-historic Caves of Lascaux II. The Camargue, separated from the rest of France by 140,000 hectares of wetlands, pastures, dunes, and salt flats, will also feature on our itinerary.

This guided educational small group tour of rural France is one of many journeys offered by Odyssey Traveller each year. These programs are typically for the senior or mature-aged couple or solo traveller seeking a cultural or historic tour into France. If you want to go on a Seine river cruise, on walking tours through the Loire Valley, a visit to Versailles or the Sacre-Coeur Basilica on the summit of Montmartre or the French Riviera, or an exploration of Monet's Giverny, click here to see all of Odyssey travellers tours to France. 

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;

For all the articles published by Odyssey Traveller, please click through to this link

External articles to assist you plan your visit to France.

 Other Odyssey Tours:

The small group tour of Rural 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.

About Odyssey Traveller

 

We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to 12 people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada  and Britain. Our maximum number of people on a tour is 18 mature aged travellers.We have some 150 tours and offer 300 scheduled departures on offer each year. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.

Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities.

Odyssey Traveller scholarship for Australia & New Zealand University students.

We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals. Students can apply for the scholarship by clicking on this link to find out more details. 

Join our loyalty program when you join an international small group tour.

Every International small group tour taken typically contributes to your membership level in our  Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with Odyssey Traveller, discounts in tour pricing for direct bookings accrue from your third tour with Odyssey Traveller. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member with us, please see this page.

For more information on Odyssey Traveller and our educational small group tours, visit and explore our website, and remember to visit these pages in particular:

Alternatively, please call or send an email.

Tour Notes
  • Group size is limited to a maximum of 14 participants.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

1
See Avignon, the working walled city which was once the seat of the Popes.
2
Explore the Camargue, separated from the rest of France by 140,000 hectares of wetlands, pastures, dunes, and salt flats.
3
Travel back many millennia to the pre-historic Caves of Lascaux II.
4
Visit the great citadel of Carcassonne, one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved medieval fortresses.
5
Visit Uzes and Pont du Gard in Languedoc-Roussillon.

Overview: Upon arrival in Paris, we will come to the hotel individually. There will be some free time to explore Paris’s monumental architecture which reflects the city’s diverse and interesting history. Our tour will commence with a tour orientation and a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: 1 night at Mercure Raspail.

Overview: After checking out from our hotel, we will depart Paris for St-Gervais-d’Auvergne. En route, we pause at the elegant city of Orléans, site of Joan of Arc’s turning point victory over the English in the 100 Year War. Then we travel to the spa resort of Vichy, seat of France’s World War II collaborationist government and world-famous mineral water. We continue to St-Gervais-d’Auvergne and check into our hotel. Set in the Puy-de-Dome region of the Auvergne in the southern-centre of France, St-Gervais-d’Auvergne is the region’s capital.

Accommodation: 4 nights at Castel 1904 Hotel.

Overview: We will have a full day tour of Saint-Flour, perched on the Auvergne’s highest volcanic outcrop. This is quintessential medieval France surrounded by the rugged beauty of the region’s volcanic landscape. We will return to our hotel and have the opportunity to find a local restaurant for dinner.

Accommodation: Castel 1904 Hotel.

Overview: Today we will enjoy the view from Le Puy Mary, with its unspoiled landscape and panoramas of lush and verdant moorlands. We will explore Salers, one of the Auvergne’s most attractive medieval villages, and the charming town of Tournemire, which is a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful French Villages. During our visit we will explore Chateau d’Anjony, which was built in 1430 by one of Joan of Arc’s companions, Louis d’Anjony.

Accommodation: Castel 1904 Hotel.

Overview: This morning our local guide will lead us on a walking tour in the surrounding countryside. We will visit Orcival before stopping at a viewpoint to see Les Roches Tuiliere et Sanadoire at Lac de Guery. We will view Mont Dore, then return to our hotel.

Accommodation: Castel 1904 Hotel.

Overview: This morning we will check out of our hotel and depart for Uzes, a charming medieval town in the Languedoc-Roussillon area near the Pont du Gard and the Roman aqueduct. It is a market town and a centre of gastronomy. New Zealand’s premiere television cuisine personality Peta Mathias conducts her famous cooking schools in this medieval village during the summer months. En route to Uzes, we will pause at Le Puy, with its shrine-topped volcanic towers. We will arrive at our accommodation in time for dinner.

Accommodation: 6 nights at Hotel Patio de Violette or similar.

Overview: Today our local guide will join us to explore the stunning villages of the Gorges de l’Ardeche in the Rhone-Alpes. Experience the grandeur and beauty of the gorges with limestone cliffs rising to 300 metres. We will stop at Aigueze to enjoy the view before returning to our hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel Patio de Violette or similar.

Overview: Today we will join our local guide for a full day tour. We will visit the delightful port of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to see its Romanesque steeple and stroll through the narrow paved streets following the tracks of the pilgrims. We will also visit the fortified city of Aigues-Mortes, where we will enjoy a guided tour of the town. We will return to our accommodation for dinner.

Accommodation: Hotel Patio de Violette or similar.

Overview: Today we will explore the impressive Roman city of Nîmes, established by the Romans more than 2 millennia ago. We will walk in the footsteps of the Roman amphitheatre’s ancient spectators and experience some of France’s best preserved classical buildings, including Maison Carree, with our local guide. We will stop at a local vineyard for a tour and tasting, then continue to the Roman city of Arles. The city boasts impressive Roman monuments, of which the earliest – the arena, the Roman theatre, and the cryptoporticus (subterranean galleries) – date back to the 1st century BC.

Accommodation: Hotel Patio de Violette or similar.

Overview: We will continue our journey to St-Rémy-de-Provence, which features an ancient Gallo-Roman interior, circled by the remnants of its circular 14th century wall and a protective circle of buildings. It was here where Van Gogh painted Starry Night. We will visit the site of the Roman Village of Glanum and the St. Paul de Mausole monastery, where Van Gogh admitted himself for treatment. We will join our local guide for our walking tour of the town of Les Baux de Provence, located on a rocky plateau in the heart of the Alpilles, which provides a breathtaking panoramic view down over Arles and the Camargue. We will return to our accommodation for dinner.

Accommodation: Hotel Patio de Violette or similar.

Overview: Today we will visit the Pont du Gard, the intact Roman aqueduct running between Uzes and Nimes. In Roman times 200 million litres of water a day flowed to the citizens of Nîmes 25 kilometres away. We will continue to Avignon, where we meet our local guide to see the main sights of the city, including the Palais des Papes, or Popes’ Palace, a monumental structure which transformed this sleepy provincial town into a centre of European power.

Accommodation: Hotel Patio de Violette or similar.

Overview: After breakfast we will check out of our accommodation and depart Uzes for Carcassonne. En route we will pause to view the spectacular bridge at Millau, which towers above the Tarn Valley. It was designed by the British architect Lord Foster and it is the highest road bridge in the world. We will have time to explore Beziers, a charming small city. We will stroll along the café-lined and tree-lined Allées Paul Riquet and gaze up at the majestic Cathedrale Saint Nazaire, which can be seen on its hilltop perch from almost anywhere in the city. Tonight, we enjoy dinner in the hotel.

Accommodation: 5 nights at Le Donjon Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we will take a boat trip on the famous Canal du Midi, then meet our guide for a walking tour of the delightful medieval city of Carcassonne, which is an ancient double walled fortified town, considered the best preserved in Europe. Free time this afternoon in Carcassonne will allow us to explore the city.

Accommodation: Le Donjon Hotel or similar.

Overview: Our first visit will be Lastours to see the chateau perched on its rocky outcrop. Lastours’s 4 castles date back to the Middle-Bronze Age. Lastours has the tomb of a young girl known as “the princess with the necklace.” Her body was covered with objects such as amber pearls and jewelry, evoking Mycenaean or Egyptian art. Our next stop is Caunes-Minervois to visit the Benedictine Abbey. We will then view the castle remains at Minerve before returning to our accommodation for dinner.

Accommodation: Le Donjon Hotel or similar.

Overview: We will enjoy a guided tour of the castle remains at Saissac. Next we will see the Jardins de l’Evieche in St. Ferrol. We enjoy free time in Montoleiu in the afternoon and evening.

Accommodation: Le Donjon Hotel or similar.

Overview: Our local guide will meet us this morning to drive to Mirepoix for a walking tour, where we will see the central square with its covered medieval walkways. We will carry on to Montsegur where we will view the castle from the village, before returning to our accommodation.

Accommodation: Le Donjon Hotel or similar.

Overview: After we check out from our accommodation, we will depart Carcassonne for Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. We will travel first to Albi, where our local guide will lead us on a city tour, including the entrance to the Toulouse Lautrec Museum and the cathedral. After we have lunch individually, we continue to Cahors where we will have some time to explore at leisure. Dinner tonight is at our hotel in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.

Accommodation: 6 nights at Hotel Cro Magnon.

Overview: After a morning at leisure, we will travel to La Roque Gageac where we will join our cruise on the Dordogne River before returning to our hotel in Eyzies-de-Tayac.

Accommodation: Hotel Cro Magnon.

Overview: Today we will visit the fortified town of Collonges la Rouge before visiting the pilgrimage town of Rocamadour. We will then visit the religious centre and view the Black Madonna, and return to Les Eyzies-de-Tayac.

Accommodation: Hotel Cro Magnon.

Overview: This morning we will visit the impressive chateau in Hautefort and then continue to the village of Badefols. Our next stop is a visit the medieval village of Saint Robert, before travelling to Brive la Gaillarde to visit the local distillery of Denoix for a tour and tasting.

Accommodation: Hotel Cro Magnon.

Overview: Today we will visit to the picturesque town of Sarlat and the village of Domme with its spectacular views of the Dordogne. Sarlat dates back to the Viking era and is renowned for having the highest number of listed historical monuments in Europe. We will take a tourist train to the fortified medieval town of Domme, where we will see the trapezoid city plan from a viewpoint. Before arriving at our hotel we will visit the National Museum of Pre-History at Eyzies-de-Tayac. We will have dinner at our hotel this evening.

Accommodation: Hotel Cro Magnon.

Overview: Our local guide will meet us again this morning to lead us for a visit to the caves of Lascaux II, a copy of the decorated prehistoric caves at Lascaux. The caves are famed for Paleolithic cave paintings, dating from the dawn of time. They primarily consist of images of gigantic prehistoric creatures known from fossil evidence to have once roamed Europe. Next we will continue on to explore the attractive village of St. Leon sur Vezere, then the caves of Le Roque St Christophe.

Accommodation: Hotel Cro Magnon.

Overview: We will check out of our hotel this morning to depart for Paris. We will make a stop en route at Chambord to visit the chateau. On arrival in Paris we will take a short orientation tour of the city. This evening we will gather for our farewell dinner.

Accommodation: 1 night at Mercure Raspail.

Overview: Our Rural France tour will end this morning after breakfast.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 23 nights of hotel accommodation.
  • 23 breakfasts and 10 dinners.
  • Transport and field trips as indicated.
  • Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
  • Touring by comfortable and modern coach.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • Detailed tour information booklet.
  • Services of a tour leader.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Return economy class international airfare and departure taxes.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Meals not listed on the itinerary.
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
map_image_772106906.jpg
rural France
Haute Savoie France
French Vineyards, with poppies nearby
Carcassonne at sunset, France
Lavender field, Valensole, Provence, France

Tour Reviews

July 8, 2016

These tours give the client a real learning experience, instead of going from market to market as some travel organizations do.
Also, staying at least 3 nights or more in the one location one gets a feel for the area, and the memory of it is not ever forgotten.

July 8, 2016

Apart from meeting nice people, being well looked after and seeing wonderful places, one of the best aspects of Odyssey Tours is that we stay in one place for several days and do not have to pack and unpack very often.

July 8, 2016

I loved the rural France trip. It exceeded my expectations for sure. I saw so much and learnt many new things about French history and culture. Every guide we had was knowledgeable, friendly and each brought their own personality to the role. I am sure that I will reflect on this trip as a particular highlight in my travel agenda. Congratulations to Rouna for making a difficult job seem easy!

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