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Accommodations in centrally-located three-star or four-star hotels. Rooming on a triple basis. Double rooms: $320 per person.
Round-trip transportation on scheduled airline. Deluxe touring motorcoach. Paris Metro Carnet (10 tickets).
All breakfasts. One lunch. Seven dinners.
Services of a specially-trained passports Tour Director throughout.
Entrances and activities as noted on itinerary.
passports provides and pays for a Post Departure Travel Protection Plan that includes coverage for Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss or Delay, Medical Expense and Evacuation and more.
Paris City Sightseeing: Local Guide
Visit to the Louvre Museum
Visit to Notre-Dame Cathedral
Optional Seine River cruise
Optional Moulin Rouge Cabaret Show: One-way transfer
Optional Excursion to Fontainebleau (by coach): Fontainebleau Castle with audioguide
Eiffel Tower Level Two: Optional Eiffel Tower Summit (subject to availability), Optional Dinner on the Eiffel Tower
D-Day Beaches, Visit to the Normandy American Cemetery, Film at the Arromanches 360 circular cinema
Visit to Mont Saint-Michel Abbey
Visit to the Château de Chenonceau, TGV train Paris-Nice, Arrival transfer
Optional Excursion to Monaco (by train): Round-trip train Nice-Monaco
Excursion to Grasse and St. Paul-de-Vence: Fragonard Perfume factory visit
Weeks, or even months of preparation come to fruition at last as you board your airplane bound for Europe and the glittering jewel at her heart, Paris, the "City of Light." Bienvenue!
Settle into your hotel, then set out to explore one of the world's most beautiful capital cities.
Time permitting, you may want to head to Montmartre, Paris' highest hill and its most celebrated bohemian district. Artists still flock to the charming Place du Tertre, as they did when Toulouse-Lautrec painted the French Cancan dancers at the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret. Visitors enjoy panoramic views of the city as they make their way to the Sacré-Coeur, the white-domed basilica that anchors the Parisian skyline.
Set out on a coach tour of the city. On the Right Bank of the River Seine, see Napoléon's Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysées, the Place de la Concorde, and the exuberant Opéra Garnier. On the Left Bank, you'll drive by the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, the Latin Quarter, the Luxembourg Gardens, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
A local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Paris, will accompany your group.
Enter the Musée du Louvre and walk along grand galleries filled with treasures. See Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Vénus de Milo sculpted between 130 and 100 BC, the 19th century painting depicting The Coronation of Napoléon among many other masterpieces.
Enter Notre-Dame de Paris. This cathedral has presided over centuries of glorious and somber French history, from its construction in the Middle Ages to its desecration during the French Revolution, and the coronation of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1804. Admire its bas-reliefs, statuary, gargoyles, and remarkable rose windows.
See Paris transformed into a wonderland like no other during a cruise along the River Seine.
This evening, enjoy a show at the Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill). There's indeed a windmill on the top of this famous building, which is one of the landmarks of the district known as Pigalle, at the foot of the Montmartre hill. The Moulin Rouge presents a truly fantastique cabaret show, albeit a little risqué!
The transfer back to the hotel is provided for the 11 pm show.
Enjoy some free time in Paris.
For a change of pace, go have a look at 21st-century Paris at the Quartier de la Défense, on the outskirts of the city. Admire la Grande Arche, a feat of modern architecture with its hollow cube large enough to contain Notre-Dame. See how it is situated in near-perfect alignment with the Arc de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre (you may want to take the elevator to the top for a better perspective). Check out Les Quatre Temps, a huge shopping center located nearby.
Board your coach and head to Fontainebleau. This town, which nearly became the capital of France, is remembered chiefly as Napoléon and Joséphine's retreat.
Visit the sumptuous château first built by King François I. See the vast Cour des Adieux, where the Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte abdicated in 1814, the imperial apartments, and the grounds, often considered to be more beautiful than the park at Versailles.
Take an elevator to the deuxième étage of the most famous cast iron structure ever built, la Tour Eiffel, for an unforgettable panorama of Paris.
Ascend to the third level of the tower.
Enjoy a three-course dinner at the restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel located on the first level of the Eiffel Tower.
Travel to Normandy.
This is indeed Second World War country: sobering memorials, bunkers, and occasional remnants of barbed wire. Three-quarters of a century after D-Day, the beaches of Normandy are still referred to by their WWII code names.
Just over the coastal bluffs, in Colleville-sur-Mer, lie the 9,387 military graves of the American Cemetery. The endless, crisp rows are poignant reminders of heroic days that changed the outcome of World War II.
Stop on the cliff that overlooks the landing beach of Arromanches to watch the impressive Normandy's 100 Days, a HD film with surround sound that's presented in a circular cinema. It places spectators in the middle of the Battle of Normandy, thanks to archival footage.
Proceed to the medieval harbor known as la Cité des Corsaires for famous native seafarers such as Surcouf, who captured countless English ships, and Jacques Cartier, who sailed to the New World and up Canada's St. Lawrence River in 1535. Saint-Malo is perched on a rock at the mouth of the River Rance, its only link to the mainland a narrow causeway.
See how the Mont rises out of the sea mists, its spired abbey church perched upon a mountain of granite.
On your way up the hill for a visit to the abbey, you will walk along steep streets filled with tales of pilgrimages and of prisoners who were once kept on this small island.
On the way back, spend some time browsing in the village's souvenir shops. Have a look at the surrounding seabed, a flat sandy expanse at low tide, where incoming tides are said to rush in as fast as a galloping horse.
Vineyards color the roads of the Vallée de la Loire. The poet Joachim du Bellay spoke eloquently about the douceur angevine of the sister province: in Touraine, you will feel the douceur tourangelle of a region regarded as the Jardin de la France.
Arrive in Tours, hometown of Saint Martin and of the novelist Honoré de Balzac. Of particular interest is the renovated Vieux-Tours with its Gothic cathedral, towers and timbered houses.
Discover the prettiest of the Loire Valley châteaux, which spans the River Cher. In 1547, King Henri II gave this property to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. On her orders, splendid gardens were added and a bridge was built to link the castle to the other bank of the Cher. The famous gallery later erected upon that bridge by Queen Catherine de Medici served, during World War II, as an escape route between Nazi-occupied northern France and unoccupied southern France.
Travel by coach to Paris.
Today, there's the excitement of a ride on a Train à Grande Vitesse (no clickety-clacks on these smooth rails), from Paris all the way to Nice. Time flies aboard the streamlined cars which, inside, look and feel like an airplane.
You're on your way to the Côte d'Azur, famous for its sunny climate, the turquoise Mediterranean, and the vedettes de cinéma who inhabit the surrounding hills.
Enjoy some free time in the Côte d'Azur today.
Make your way to Cannes to consort with movie stars on the sandy beaches and brush off the paparazzi on the Boulevard de la Croisette. This is where the elite society of Europe comes to be seen. Gardens filled with flowers, palm trees, villas and luxury shops make it one of the most elegant promenades on the Riviera. The marina is filled with yachts of celebrities and cruise ships bound for idyllic Mediterranean islands.
Make your way to the SNCF station to board a train bound for the glittering Riviera city known as Le Rocher (The Rock).
Enjoy an excursion through the scenic arrière-pays where sharp hills rise a mere stone's throw from the limpid waters of the Côte d'Azur.
An extraordinary hilltop site clothed in flowering bushes belongs to Grasse, the international hub of the parfumerie industry. Tons of orange blossoms, rose petals, jasmine and lavender flowers, and others, are processed each year in and around Grasse. A large proportion of the perfume bottles sold throughout the world contain essences distilled there. Fragonard is the name of the town's largest parfumerie and of its most renowned citizen, the 18th-century rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard.
Visit the Fragonard factory to see the process of distillation, absorption and extraction of perfume essences. Hear about the esoteric artistry of the "nez."
Discover a village celebrated for its high-perched setting typical of the fortified towns that once guarded the kingdom of Provence. Saint-Paul-de-Vence can boast about its nearly intact medieval ramparts and its famous resident artists, such as Modigliani, Bonnard, Chagall, and the American writer James Baldwin, who died in St. Paul in 1987.
Le retour, hélas... These thoughts are on your mind as you head for Nice's airport. Full of the warmth of Provence's Mediterranean climate and culture, race the sun westward and arrive home later today, eager to share your discoveries with family and friends.
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