5 French Tours that will have you saying “Oh la la!”

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Mais, oui! France has a lot more to offer than the Eiffel Tour
Mais, oui! France has a lot more to offer than the Eiffel Tour

Mais, oui! France has a lot more to offer than the Eiffel Tour

With a French grandmother, it is a good thing I love France as much as I do. But, I mean, what’s not to love about France? It is the ultimate tourist destination offering everything from bustling, historic and romantic cities like Paris, to quaint villages with cobblestone streets, to vineyards, to beautiful beaches and rocky coastlines. France has a little bit of everything to offer anyone. Plus, with mind-blowingly delicious baguettes, sumptuous stews, terrific sauces and too-good-to-be-true dishes of all kinds, French cuisine will amaze your taste buds and wow all of you senses. I also realize, however, that after growing up traveling to France and living there for a year that I may possess some advantages when it comes to knowing the best way to get around France. It also doesn’t hurt that I can speak the language, which means French people like me a lot and I can easily get around pretty much anywhere in the country. For those of you out there who dream of visiting France, and eating and drinking your way through the country, then there are some great small adventure tours that will show you the best and most exciting parts of France just as if you were traveling with an expert. Plus, some of these tours are so great, even a seeming expert on France, would love to take one.

So, you may be thinking, “A travel tour? Isn’t that what old people do?” The answer is no. On these adventure tours, you certainly will not be sitting next to blue-haired Edna and her American flag t-shirt wearing husband Bob. In fact, many of the tours in France are independent (like renting a villa in Provence), active (like the 8-day guided walk through the Dordogne) and exciting (like the winter symphony trip). Care to bike past the most magnificent chateaus in the world? These tours make it possible (and carry your stuff from place to place). Today there are tours designed specifically for the independent, adventure traveler. That’s right—active, interesting and adventurous tours that allow travelers to explore and experience a foreign place. For tours that are in groups, they keep the groups small, usually capping out at 16 people, so you won’t be traveling around with some awkwardly huge group of gawking tourists. These tours also don’t just scratch the surface of the places you visit. In fact, by using a combination of local and experienced guides, you’ll often see and experience MORE than you would on your own. I mean, I would just love to go along with you and show you around myself (all expenses paid of course), but to be honest, you’ll save a lot more money signing up for one of these tours and probably will get more out of it. Also, because these tours have already been developed to showcase the best of the best, you’ll save yourself from countless hours of potentially pointless research trying to find out where to go and what to eat. Don’t you want to be able to return from your fabulous French vacation and tell your friends and tell your friends about the to-die-for bistrot you went to or the amazing castle you wouldn’t have known about had it not been for your tour guide? Oh, and don’t worry, you definitely won’t be experiencing France from the window of some bus the entire time. These tours have you moving about the country in a wide variety of transportation methods, which include your own two feet, trains, bikes and barges. So, pack your beret and get ready for the trip of a lifetime. Bon Voyage!

Winter Symphony

Be a part of cafe society along the boulevards of Paris and then enjoy the crisp mountain air of the Alps. Visit the great Italian monuments and use your free time to see even more or to shop for bargains in the markets and boutiques of Florence and Rome. End your tour in wonderful Vienna, the city of baroque palaces and delectable desserts.

Mediterranean Magic

Spanning 6 countries, this tour truly has it all. From the architectural wonders of Vienna, the ancient Coliseum and Pisa’s leaning tower to the modern malls and boutiques of sun-drenched Barcelona. Use your free time to get lost in the alleyways of the Croatian city of Split and then dip your toes in the azure blue waters of the Dalmatian coast. Join the jet set on the French Riviera and if you like good food then make time for spicy peri-peri, fresh seafood, tapas and pizzas galore. Try Sangria, sherry, Rioja reds, fine French wines, Austrian beers and perhaps a sip of rich Slovenian plum brandy.

Aix-en-Provence Apartment Rental

Birthplace of Cezanne, city of 1,000 fountains, the Florence of Provence – whichever way you look at it, Aix-en-Provence is brimming with cultural delights. Visit a cathedral boasting a medley of architectural styles, roam boulevards flanked by opulent mansions or rub shoulders with chic locals in the boutiques on Marius Reinaud. Follow Cezanne’s footsteps through town or head out to experience the gorgeous countryside. Of course there’s also the food, and with markets selling fresh produce almost every day, take the opportunity to discover floral honey, fresh chevre, firm olives and sun-kissed fruit. This is your independent adventure, so on the way back to your private apartment, pick up some local wine to enjoy a true taste of Provencal life.

Battlements and Barges

Float through medieval villages and idyllic countryside on a private barge. Lend a hand to crew the vessel, learn to master the locks, and meet fellow seafarers and local landlubbers along the way. An engineering feat in its day, the canal was created as a shortcut for sailors to avoid the treacherous Iberian Peninsula pirates. Today it provides a perfectly gentle adventure – watch the world go by, explore local markets and indulge in some of France’s finest wines along the way.

Cycling the Loire

This trip lets you explore the country’s truly magnificent medieval heartland in a relaxed fashion. Cycle past the homes of French Kings, visit fairytale castles, discover prehistoric caves, and follow in the footsteps of Joan of Arc. End it all with some delicious Loire wine and cuisine. Break out of the usual tourist mold and get active!

Dordogne–8 day Guided Walk

The fertility of the land and the number of rivers has made the Dordogne valley a favored home for mankind for thousands of years. A history of struggle and conflict has left its mark on the architecture of the region – the landscape is dotted with fortified castles, while luxurious chateaux are noticeably absent. The depth of the gorges matches the height of the rocky crags and your route through this beautiful region takes you past some of the most spectacular scenery in France. Take an adventure with the sun on your back and the wind in your hair and feel free to lose yourself in the provincial landscapes and medieval villages.





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