La Grande France

16 Day Small Group Tour from Paris to Nice with Albatross

Read 11 reviews and enjoy exclusive savings on Albatross 16 Day La Grande France. Five of France's seductive regions... the graceful châteaux of the Loire Valley, the glorious Dordogne, the land of the Cathars in the Languedoc Roussillon, to ancient Provence and the more

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4 Star
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Guided Tour
Trip Style
Guided Tour
Scenic / Cultural
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Scenic / Cultural
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118 Reviews
Trip Reviews:
4.0 out of 5
11 Reviews
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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 Château hotel where we spend the next three nights. This evening we enjoy a welcome drink before dinner in our hotel. (D) Stay: Château de Rochecotte
2 Château Chenonceau and Tours
This morning we enjoy a visit to the magnificent Château Chenonceau, spanning the River Cher on a series of graceful arches. Possibly one of the most photographed of the Loire châteaux this was the former home of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. Explore the stunning gardens and interior of the château. 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. Here in the underground rooms you will see on display, 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. (B)
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. (B/D)
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 will 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. (B/D) Stay: Hotel de Selves
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. (B)
6 Rocamadour & Gouffre de Padirac Caves
This morning we will visit the ‘pilgrimage town’ of Rocamadour. Incredibly picturesque, this town sits on a tributary of the Dordogne. High above the old town are churches and monastic buildings, whilst below is an old town dating back centuries, and which once welcomed those on the ‘Pilgrims Trail’. In the afternoon we change our focus from man’s creations to that of nature, as we enjoy a visit through the astounding caves of the ‘Gouffre de Padirac’. This 25 kilometre underground system boasts massive galleries and chambers. A visual feast and beautifully lit, we also experience a 500 metre boat ride inside the caves to emerge into the spectacular ‘Grand Dome’. Tonight, in Sarlat, we enjoy dinner in local restaurant. (B/D)
7 My Time’ in Toulouse and Couiza
Today we visit the vibrant city of Toulouse. Set on the banks of the Garonne River, this beautiful city is nicknamed ‘La Ville Rose’ or Pink City, due to the extensive use of terracotta bricks and tiles. Your time will be at leisure in the magnificent main square flanked by the 120 metre long façade of the ‘Capitole’ – a grand 18th century town hall fronted with pink and white marble columns. Make sure you spend time wandering amongst the shops and pavement cafés of the Vieux Quartier (Old Quarter). We now enter the land of the Cathars, in the lovely Languedoc Roussillon region. Here, in the village of Couiza we stay three nights in the wonderful 16th century, castle style, Château des Ducs de Joyeuse. Dinner is included in your château. (B/D) Stay: Château des Ducs de Joyeuse
8 Old town of Carcassonne and Couiza
This morning we are joined by a local guide as we explore the ramparts and old town of Carcassonne. The medieval castle, with its gigantic double walled fortifications and 53 watchtowers, is the 2nd most visited site in France outside of Paris. Dating back to the 13th century, Carcassonne is an extraordinary timepiece and after our guided tour we have quality time to explore this magnificent castle city. Mid-afternoon we return to our château hotel to relax and enjoy our delightful surroundings. Here we can try our hand at Pétanque (Boules), the traditional French village sport. Playing Pétanque in front of our 500 year old château – this is the real France at its very best! Dinner tonight will be in the village at the traditional bistro, Le Carnotzet. (B/D)
9 Beautiful Mirepoix and Rennes-le-Château
A leisurely start today as we head across the vine covered hills to enjoy lunchtime in the perfectly preserved time capsule of Mirepoix. Without doubt this is one of the most beautiful medieval town squares in Europe, with its colourfully painted, half-timbered houses that date back to between the 13th and 15th centuries. Sitting atop centuries old wooden rafters carved at the ends with monsters, animals and gargoyles, these rows of shuttered houses provide shady covered walkways for cafés and shops.   In the afternoon we will visit the Bérenger Saunière Museum and Domain in the nearby hilltop village of Rennes-le-Château. This village and its church are famous for so many conspiracy theories surrounding the treasures of the Knights Templars, the secret location of the Holy Grail and even the remains of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Early evening we will assemble in our Château’s old vaulted chapel to enjoy a tasting of the excellent local wines, before dinner. (B/D)
10 Canal du Midi and Aigues-Mortes
This morning we take a scenic drive past the dramatic, mountain perched, ruined Cathar castles of Puilaurens and Quéribus and then on to the outskirts of Béziers where we stop to marvel at the Ecluses de Fonserannes, a unique staircase of locks on the Canal du Midi. Created in the mid 19th century, and still working perfectly, these seven wooden locks stretch over 300 metres and raise the leisure boats and cruisers up over 21 metres. An extraordinary engineering feat! Later we will drive into the famous Camargue region and enjoy a visit to Aigues-Mortes. The 13th century walls of this historical town form a striking contrast to the vast salines (salt flats) that encircle it. Take the chance to climb the ramparts and walk around the city. Later we continue to medieval Avignon, beside the River Rhone, where we stay three nights. (B/D) Stay: Cloitre Saint Louis or Novotel Avignon Centre or Avignon Grand
11 Nimes, Pont du Gard and Avignon
Today 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 and right in the middle you will find the Maison Carrée Roman temple, and the giant Arena of Nimes – the best preserved amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. On our way back to Avignon this afternoon, we have included a visit to walk across the spectacular Pont du Gard – an imposing 2000 year old Roman aqueduct which was built with giant stones weighing up to six tonnes. In a beautiful setting, this remarkable structure spans 200 metres between the craggy hillsides of the River Gard. Your evening is free to discover your own little restaurant or bistro in Avignon’s old town. (B)
12 ‘My Time’ in Avignon, Les Baux and St Remy
A leisurely morning in Avignon. Do as much or as little as you wish. Mid afternoon we journey to the crumbling castle and once deserted village of Les Baux to discover the craft shops and cafés scattered throughout the ruins. Set on the craggy hillside, this rejuvenated town is an extraordinary sight. We have also included entrance to enjoy a stunning audio visual art show – the Carrières de Lumières. Inside an abandoned quarry you will have a totally unique sound and vision experience as classic works of art are projected as massive fresco all around you, onto the walls and ceilings. We then continue to the romantic town of St Remy to explore and enjoy a special Provençal dinner in a local restaurant. (B/D)
13 Cassis, Calanques Cruise and Nice
First stop today will be in the old fishing village of Cassis, on the Côte d’Azur. From here we enjoy a morning cruise to explore some of the incredibly picturesque Calanques. These rugged inlets with steep cliffs tumbling into the crystal clear, azure waters are best viewed by boat. Lunchtime will be at leisure in the picturesque harbour of Cassis. Later we continue to Nice, nicknamed the ‘Queen of the Riviera’, where we stay the next three nights. (B/D) Stay: Hotel Aston La Scala
14 ‘My Time’ in Nice, Villa Ephrussi and Monaco
Your morning is entirely free in the elegant resort town of Nice. 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. Make sure you visit the wonderful fresh food, local produce and flower markets which are amongst the best in France! In the afternoon we will visit Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat and the fabulous Villa Ephrussi – home of the Rothschild family. We have included a 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. Late 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. (B)
15 Grasse, Cannes and St Paul de Vence
First stop this morning will be in the hill town of Grasse where we will enjoy a visit to a local perfumery. Then, dropping down to the coast, we will stop 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 finale, 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. (B/D)
16 Nice on the Cote d'Azur
Your tour ends today after breakfast. (B)

Albatross Inclusions

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Journey Highlights
  • 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
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the huge fortified town of Carcassonne
  • Stay 3 nights in the centre of medieval Avignon
  • Walk across the spectacular  Pont du Gard
  • Experience the extraordinary Carrières de Lumières sound and light show in the quarries of Les Baux
  • Enjoy a special Provençal dinner in St Remy
  • 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, plus visit a perfumery in Grasse
  • Enjoy a farewell dinner in the artisan village of Saint Paul de Vence
Trip Inclusions
Over $1,600 value of extras already included
  • 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
  • 15 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
  • Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
  • Hand Selected Albatross Experiences - barge cruise Dordogne, 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 on most coaches and at hotels
  • Albatross Travel App and ‘On Tour’ Travel Map
  • Albatross Memories Photobook
Included Meals
  • 26 Meals – including breakfast daily (B) and 11 dinners (D)
  • Tea, coffee and a complimentary beverage with all included dinners
  • Welcome drink Loire Valley
Trip Notes
  • Accommodation, itinerary and inclusions subject to change.
  • Prices are for land/cruise and internal flights as specified only. Flights not specified are not included.
  • 9 June & 30 August departures stay at Hotel Plaza Madeleine in Sarlat on Day 4.
  • 9 May departure stays at Hôtel Jules César M Gallery in Arles on Day 10.

Reviews (11)

16 Day La Grande France reviews from past clients of Global Journeys.

“La Grande France, Lake Garda & Tuscany”
- NSW, Australia Jun 2017 5 Helpful Votes

Many highlights on this combined tour; too many to nominate. France was wonderful and I especially liked the small medieval towns such as Sarlat La Caneda, Les Baux, Avignon and St Paul de Vence. I also enjoyed Cap Ferrat, Nimes, Nice and Cannes, and Provence in general too. What I enjoyed most about the Italian extension was the easy pace; not just the three and four night stays but the amount of free time. The highlight there was Lucca. Cinque Terre was lovely but I wasn't terribly more

Reply from Albatross:
Thank you for your feedback Pam, we are glad you enjoyed France as much as we do! I will ensure your feedback is passed on to our operations and product team in relation to parts of the itinerary and the accommodation in Couiza, which generally scores very well with our travellers. Thank you again for taking the time to give us your feedback.

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“Good trip”
- WA, Australia Sep 2016 4 Helpful Votes View Photo

Enjoyed Albatross 'La Grande France'. Tour was a bit tiring, on the go all the time with not much free time and getting to hotel late afternoon and spending too much time at lunch stops and some excursions. We did see a lot of different things which was interesting. Our tour guide was knowledgable and young. Hotels were good but a couple weren't in good locations, not near to towns so were a bit isolated, I see Albatross have changed some of these now so would be better. Would highly more

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“Le Grande France”
- NSW, Australia Sep 2016 2 Helpful Votes

We enjoyed our first tour through France and Northern Italy. The pace was busy however that said we definitely would not have visited so many amazing places if done independently. Our Tour Manager for France was an excellent, highly informative girl from the UK and we were very impressed with her knowledge of each destination and her organisation skills, she also went above and beyond for one injured passenger. The lunchtime breaks and independent excursion times were definitely not long more

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“France and Italy”
- NSW, Australia Jun 2016 2 Helpful Votes

Early June was flooded out in Paris and surrounds, including the Loire Valley. Road closures unfortunately meant that we didn't get to see the chateaux we were looking forward to. We also missed out on river trips etc. Overall, France proved to be more interesting than Italy with more variety of places to visit. The hotels varied in their comfort, some very good, some not so good. The coach in France was better than the one in Italy in that it had fewer seats and more leg room. We feel more

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“14 day Albatross tour of france”
- NSW, Australia May 2016 4 Helpful Votes

We were on the first ever tour of this name and some things did not go to plan - like the bus was too long and wide for some of the country roads we went on - but that said the sights we saw were just amazing and it was the poor bus driver that had to navigate the roads not us. And for that we were truly thankful. The inclusions were fist class and the pace turned out to be full on but what an amazing tour. 14 days of action and some of the sights that you would not think much about prior more

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Prices & Dates

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Trip Starts Trip Ends Status Offer Save Now Our Price  
Sunday 18 Aug 2019 Monday 02 Sep 2019 345per person 8,282per person Sold Out
Friday 30 Aug 2019 Saturday 14 Sep 2019 352per person 8,445per person Sold Out
Friday 13 Sep 2019 Saturday 28 Sep 2019 340per person 8,157per person Sold Out
Sunday 18 Aug 2019 Monday 02 Sep 2019 419solo traveller 10,055solo traveller Sold Out
Friday 30 Aug 2019 Saturday 14 Sep 2019 426solo traveller 10,218solo traveller Sold Out
Friday 13 Sep 2019 Saturday 28 Sep 2019 410solo traveller 9,834solo traveller Sold Out
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Trip Notes
Trip prices are per person, and reflect applicable discounts. Discounts are subject to availability, exclusive to Global Journeys and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Trip prices are correct at the time of the products going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking. All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however are subject to change by Albatross. Full terms & conditions are available here.