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.
All breakfasts. All dinners. Stadtkeller Swiss folklore dinner and show on Day 6.
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, Excursion to Versailles, RER train to Paris
Visit to Notre-Dame Cathedral
Eiffel Tower Level Two: Optional Eiffel Tower Summit, Optional Dinner on the Eiffel Tower
Optional Visit to the Louvre Museum: Louvre Guide
Optional Excursion to the Loire Valley: Visit to the Château de Chenonceau, Lunch in Chenonceaux, Visit to the Château de Chambord, Chambord HistoPad interactive tablet
Seine River cruise
Departure transfer, TGV train Paris-Lausanne, Drive through tour in Bern, Switzerland's capital city
Optional Excursion to Mt. Pilatus: Cable car and cog railway ascent to summit, Lake cruise to Lucerne
Tour director-led walking tour in Lucerne
Stadtkeller Swiss folklore dinner and show
Schaffhausen's spectacular Rhine Falls, Rhine cruise, Sightseeing stop in Stein-am-Rhein
Guided tour at Neuschwanstein Castle, Guided tour at Linderhof Castle
Half-day city sightseeing: Local Guide, Visit to the Nymphenburg Palace and Gardens
Optional Excursion to Dachau: Dachau Memorial Concentration Camp
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.
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 in the company of a local guide. 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, discover the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Enjoy a bit of relevant French history today at the palace where the Sun King, Madame de Pompadour and Queen Marie-Antoinette all come to life. In this ultimate example of Baroque architecture, you will marvel at the lavish decoration, abundant gilding and exuberant ornamentation, particularly in the Royal Apartments of Louis XIV and in the Hall of Mirrors. Imagine the sense of self-importance that must have inflated the egos of these kings and queens.
Then, take a stroll around the Main Gardens.
Return to Paris using the efficient RER transit system.
Cross the River Seine to get to the boat-shaped island known as the Ile de la Cité, the very heart of the ancient city which the Romans called Lutetia. There, visit 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 (the 35-year-old upstart crowned himself emperor, with the Pope and all of Europe watching). Admire its bas-reliefs, statuary, gargoyles and remarkable rose windows.
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.
Availability permitting, you'll ascend to the third level of the tower.
Enjoy a three-course dinner at the restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel.
You may wish to visit the Musée de la Parfumerie Fragonard housed in the Théâtre des Capucines, a theater built in 1900 that was transformed into a museum in 1993. Its collections illustrate the history and manufacture of perfume. A mini-factory with a 19th-century copper distilling apparatus demonstrates the extraction of essences. Visitors also learn all about the esoteric artistry of the "Noses."
You may want to take the colorful Métro to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, on the rive gauche. Paris' oldest church, with a Romanesque steeple dating back to 1014, is surrounded by a quartier long popular with artists and writers. Check out celebrated cafés such as the Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots and the Brasserie Lipp which count Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Ernest Hemingway among their famous patrons.
Visit the grand Musée du Louvre. Walk along restored galleries, view ancient treasures, and don't miss the underground galleria beneath I. M. Pei's glass pyramid. You will see Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Vénus de Milo, and many other masterpieces.
The insights of a national museum guide help you to rediscover the masterpieces, delve into a particular theme, or focus on one artist's pieces. Tours are aimed at art enthusiasts and novices alike.
An excursion takes you into the very essence of the history and culture of France. See two of France's loveliest châteaux, which define the sophistication of the Renaissance.
Visit 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 as an escape route during World War II between Nazi-occupied northern France and unoccupied southern France.
Lunch is included on this excursion.
Visit the largest of the Loire Valley castles, with 440 rooms and 80 staircases. At the age of 25, King François I decided to build this sumptuous residence, but over the 32 years of his reign he spent only 42 days at Chambord! Today, visitors marvel at the park (enclosed by a wall 18 miles long), at the grand façade, and at the spirals of the Grand Escalier, which cross and recross as they rise from the Salle des Gardes to a 100-foot turret crowning a roof adorned with 365 chimneys!
Let the 3D and virtual reality technology of your HistoPad Chambord fill up castle rooms as they were in their heyday, back in the 16th century, while you listen to automatically triggered commentaries.
See Paris transformed into a wonderland like no other during a cruise along the River Seine.
There's an exciting ride aboard a high-tech TGV train, which will whisk you away through the hills of Burgundy. Your destination: Switzerland and the lakeside city of Lausanne, on the shores of Lac Léman.
Have a look at Switzerland discrete capital city, which is located in a steep-sided loop of the Aare River, with the summits of the Bernese Alps in the background. Famous residents include Albert Einstein, who worked on his theory of relativity during his stay. And Bern's famous Bear Pit is said to have inspired the American writer John Irving.
Proceed to one of the prettiest Swiss lakeside cities.
This excursion takes you to the top of the world with the ascent to the summit of Mt. Pilatus, nearly 7,000 feet high. Up one side of this towering peak by cable car; down the other side, through mists and tinkling cowbells, by a narrow-gauge cog railway train (the steepest in the world for this form of traction).
Enjoy a 60 minute lake cruise across the "Lake of the Four Forest Cantons" from Alpnachstad to Lucerne.
Explore Lucerne's Old Town. You may want to feed the ducks from the ancient wooden Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge). Pause at Thorvaldsen's Lion Monument (or Lion o\df Lucerne), near the remarkable Glacier Gardens. See the large and noble Jesuitenkirche, one of the landmarks that explain why the rural alpine areas in central and southern Switzerland remained Catholic following the Reformation.
A fondue dinner and folklore performance are included tonight at the Stadtkeller. Brightly colored skirts, yodeling, and ten-foot mountain horns set a joyous context you'll long remember.
Travel to the colossal Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen. Goethe described the spectacle of the mighty river plunging from a height of 70 feet as "the source of the Ocean."
From Schaffhausen, board a river steamer which wafts you serenely along one of the loveliest stretches of the Rhine to Stein.
Discover one of Switzerland's most picturesque medieval towns, set at the foot of a wooded hill crowned by a castle. Along streets like the Hauptgasse and the Rathausplatz you'll see an unrivaled ensemble of half-timbered houses with oriel windows and elaborate frescoes, each with its own theme. Flowering window boxes and bubbling fountains add to the overall charm.
Proceed to the shores of Lake Constance, one of Europe's largest lakes, known as the Bodensee in these parts.
Follow a splendid scenic route today into fantasyland to visit the dream castles built by Bavaria's "mad" King Ludwig II.
Today, follow a scenic route into fantasyland.
Enjoy a guided visit to the dream castle built by Bavaria's "mad" King Ludwig II. About Neuschwanstein, the model for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty's castle, it is said that Ludwig employed a stage set designer rather than an architect. The result is pure theatrical fantasy, stimulated by the King's fancy for Wagnerian music: from artificial grottoes to ornate rooms to dazzling views of the Alps from the belvedere.
The "Passion Play" town surrounded by lofty Alpine summits is also renowned for its woodcarving industry. Landmarks include the Parish Church and the many ancient houses adorned with frescoes.
Keep your camera ready as you travel into Ettal, home of King Ludwig's Linderhof Castle, nestled in the Ammergau Alps.
Discover with your guide a 19th-century rococo palace with lavish apartments that reflect King Ludwig's longing for the opulence of the 18th century. Within the Linderhof Park, you'll come across pools, waterfalls, and terraced gardens inspired by the Italian Renaissance.
A sightseeing tour in München takes you around the impressive Theresienwiese, site of the famous annual Oktoberfest. In the center of the city discover the grand set-piece boulevards of the Ludwigstrasse and Maximilianstrasse with their Neoclassical palaces, and the monumental Feldherrnhalle where, in 1923, Hitler failed in his attempt at the coup d'état known as the Munich Putsch. See the student area of Schwabing, Königsplatz, the Residenz, the Frauenkirche, whose 300-foot-high onion-domed towers symbolize the Munich skyline, and the historic Marienplatz. The tour ends with a performance of the red-coated mannequins in the Town Hall Glockenspiel.
A half-day local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Munich, will accompany your group.
Visit Nymphenburg Palace, once the summer residence of the Bavarian sovereigns. See rooms decorated in their original Baroque style from the 17th century, as well as Rococo and Neoclassical decor. The gardens were landscaped in the 18th century by an employee of André Le Nôtre, who designed the gardens of Versailles.
The afternoon is unscheduled.
Don't miss the colorful open-air Viktualienmarkt (produce market) or a shopping safari along Neuhauserstrasse.
Check out the priceless masterpieces housed in the renovated Alte Pinakothek, or the Greek and Roman sculptures on display at the Glyptothek.
Set out for a town located a mere twelve miles from Munich.
Visit KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau, the somber concentration camp which has been preserved as a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
The town of Dachau itself, paradoxically, has long been renowned for the beauty of its scenery and the gaiety of its summer festival.
Memories of clean cities and fast, sleek automobiles all blur together as you bid auf Wiedersehen to Germany at Munich's airport. Your suitcase filled with memorabilia, arrive home later today, eager to share your discoveries with family and friends.
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