Leading Specialists in European Barge Cruises

Hidden Treasures of France

hidden treasures small group tour toujours france provence

This tour incorporates some of the most exquisite villages, stunning scenery, colourful country markets, boutique shopping and mouth-watering food and wine that France has to offer!

Incorporating the magnificent mountains of the French Alps, the delightful, charming, and undiscovered Drome region and a superb barge cruise in historic, picture-postcard Alsace on “Panache“, we discover cultural, history and gastronomic highlights that will leave you with indelible memoriesxvideospornfreexvideospornfreexvideospornfreexvideospornfreexvideospornfreexvideospornfreexvideospornfreexvideospornfree.netxvideospornfreexvideospornfree.net. A truly unique and unforgettable French holiday!

2017 Tour Dates:
August 31st – September 16th, 2018

Tour Price:
Twin/double share: 10,380 euros per person
Single supplement: 5,800 euros per person

Detailed Itinerary

Detailed Itinerary

Friday 31st August, 2018
This evening we welcome you to Paris and the tour with drinks in the hotel bar. Please meet in the bar at 6.30 pm. Our hotel is the Chateau Frontenac, a centrally located four star hotel in a prestigious neighbourhood, close to enticing shops, cafes and restaurants.

Saturday 1st September
Today we begin our holiday with a trip on the TGV fast train to the Drome region. The Drome has a captivating array of tiny ancient villages, mouth-watering restaurants and scenic mountain backdrops, fabulous little markets and some exceptional wineries.

You can see the majestic Château de Grignan from afar, one of the most imposing châteaux in Southern France, towering over the ancient village of Grignan, surrounded by lavender fields and vineyards. We are staying here at an exceptionally charming hotel which offers us delightful interior decoration, a pool and Mediterranean Garden looking up to the perched village, and a lovely little restaurant (where we will be dining this evening). (B, D)

Sunday 2nd September

We begin the day today with a visit of the village castle, the Chateau de Grignan, which towers over the village and is full of history and interesting artifacts. We will continue on to another local village for lunch before returning to enjoy relaxation time at the hotel. (B, L)

Monday 3rd September

Two of the most fascinating periods in the history of France, are closely entwined with this region – the association of the Knights Templars and the residency of the catholic Popes in the Middle Ages.  Today we drive through the region known as the “Enclave des Papes” – the Popes liked the wine produced here so much that they established acres of vineyards and villages which today retain their medieval charm and scenic outlook – and the wine is still fabulous! This region is overlooked by majestic Mont Ventoux, one of the “scourges” of the Tour de France. Part of our morning will be a very entertaining visit to a local truffle farm.

Today we lunch at the stunning Hotel Crillon-le-Brave with spectacular views over the valley and Mont Ventoux. (B, L)

Tuesday 4th September

Vaison-La-Romaine is widely renowned as one of the most beautiful and historically fascinating villages in France. On the left bank on top of a rocky spur is the Haute-Ville, originating in the 13th century. In Medieval times the villagers settled in the heights at the foot of the castle to protect themselves from robbers and invasion. Today the castle is in ruins, but Haute-Ville is a picturesque spot to visit. There are little shady squares, ancient doorways, and narrow cobbled streets dotted with superb fountains or lined by the facades of 16th and 18th century mansions. The city, exceptionally interesting from an archaeological point of view, is surrounded by the river Ouveze. On the right bank are two different quarters: the site of the ancient Roman colony and the modern town. Archaeological digs have revealed immense, luxurious, and elaborate Gallo Roman homes. Today is market day in Vaison so the perfect time to enjoy a relaxing wander, lunch at your leisure and then we will do a historic walk with a local guide. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. (B)

Wednesday 5th September

Today we explore Avignon. Our tour encompasses the Palais des Papes, once home of the Papal Court; the Pont d’Avignon, made famous in the French nursery rhyme; and takes in the Place de l’Horloge, the charming square full of cafes nestled in the shade of the plane trees, overlooked by the nineteenth century Town Hall and Avignon Theatre.

Near Grignan is the ancient village of Saint Paul Trois Chateaux, where we dine tonight in a unique setting in a tiny former chapel. (B, D)

Thursday 6th September

Today we continue on to the stunning little Alpine/lakeside town of Annecy. A beautiful drive as we get closer to the French Alps, and we will stop for lunch along the way.

Annecy is considered one of the “hidden gems”– a tiny French version of Venice or Amsterdam, with narrow streets that are lined with stone arcades cluster around riverlets and are connected by footbridges and waterside walkways. Flowers are everywhere, in boxes hanging from latticed windows, growing in old stone urns. On Tuesdays and Fridays much of the old town becomes an outdoor street market that is noted for its array of local cheeses. The lake, with its fringe of villages and castles encircled by Alpine crags, still retains much of that pristine tranquillity that captivated Rousseau and so many others. Because the lake – 10 miles long and up to 2 miles wide – is fed largely by underground sources, its surface is unusually still. We are staying in a boutique hotel in the heart of the old town. (B)

Friday 7th September

This morning we explore Annecy and visit the fascinating historic chateau that overlooks the town. It is one of Annecy’s market days today, spreading throughout the old town. This afternoon plenty of free time to stroll through the old quarters of Annecy, or window-shop under the arcades or along the quays lining the canals. You may wish to hire a bike and ride along the shores of the like – it’s a superb ride! This evening we are going to take an evening boat cruise on Lake Annecy, including a gourmet dinner and drinks. The cruise passes beautiful villages and ancient chateaux perched on the shores of the lake – with the Alps looking in the background. (B, D)

Saturday 9th September

Today we will drive one of the most picturesque circuits in the Alpine region – along the stunning Tarentaise Valley connecting Albertville, Bourg Ste Maurice, and finishing at Chamonix, where we will take a chairlift up to magnificent Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe. This evening we will dine at the famous Auberge de Pere Bise in the medieval village of Talloires. The Auberge is a 100-year old inn that offers superb cuisine overlooking the lake. (B, D)

Sunday 10th September

This morning we will leave Annecy to continue on to the final part of our holiday, a fabulous barge cruise on board the beautiful “Panache”. This idyllic cruise includes some of the best cuisine and wine you will experience in France, provided by our private on-board chef! The large cabins and spacious flower filled deck area, complete with Jacuzzi, provide a perfect, relaxing environment from which to enjoy picturesque Alsace. (B, D)

Monday 11th September
Morning cruise to Arzviller through the game filled natural park and forest of the Lorraine. A candlelit meal will be served whilst passing through the two Arzvillier tunnels – one of the highlights of the week. In the afternoon we tour the interesting town of Sarrebourg, including visits to the 13th century chapel containing remarkable stained-glass windows designed by Marc Chagall, and the impressive museum with its collection of Roman and Medieval artefacts. Then, returning to the barge there is enough time for a stroll along the path of the old lock system around the Arzviller boat lift.  Dinner on board (B, L, D)

Tuesday 11th September

This morning we descend the Arzviller boat lift. This unique barge elevator allows a vessel to glide effortlessly down the mountainside in minutes, thus avoiding 17 traditional locks and an additional day’s navigation. This is followed by a visit to Fusion Libre.  After lunch we visit the mountain top village of La Petite Pierre with its medieval castle fortified by the personal architect of Louis XIV, Sebastien Le Prestre Vauban. After a short drive, we tour the outstanding René Lalique collection and see over 500 exceptional examples of Art Nouveau and Art Deco glassware, chandelier and designs depicting the Belle Epoque era. in Nearby Wingen-sur-Moder is also the World War II battleground where American infantry confronted some of Germany’s most seasoned veterans.  Before dinner we enjoy the outstanding views along the Zorn valley from the nearby 12th century castle ruins. Dinner ashore at Restaurant des Vosges. (B, L, D)

Wednesday 12th September

We start the day with a visit to one of the local bakeries to watch skilled bread makers and patissiers at work preparing their delicious creations. Then a morning cruise through the Valley of the Zorn and forest to the enchanting village of Saverne, where history traces back over 20 centuries to the Gallo-Roman Times. We moor at the foot of the Chateau de Rohan, also known as the Versailles of the Alsace with its monumental classicistic façade. Depart the barge and transfer to the hilltop 11th century Château du Haut Barr, a former residence of the bishops of Strasbourg with its Roman chapel and Gothic choir, before strolling the narrow streets of Saverne. Dinner on board (B, L, D)

Thursday 13th September

This morning we visit the farmers’ market before enjoying a cruise through the beautiful Alsatian countryside to the picturesque village of Waltenheim-sur-zorn. After lunch we take a scenic drive into the rolling Vosges hills and Route des Grands Crus, where the finest wines of Alsace are produced, followed by a private wine tasting with the Mosbach family. of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir and Riesling have been produced here for over 200 years. Dinner on board. (B, L, D)

Friday 14th September

Today we will finish the cruise in Strasbourg at Parc d’Etoiles in the heart of Strasbourg. After lunch enjoy a tour of the beautiful Capital city of Europe including, of course, a visit to the 12th century Gothic pink sandstone cathedral, home to an astronomical Renaissance clock and massive spire. We visit Place Gutenberg and pass the impressive Protestant church of St-Thomas, leaving enough time to explore La Petite France, a pedestrian area brimming with half-timbered houses, boutique shops and cafes. Returning to the barge we enjoy our Captains Farewell Dinner on board – this is a highlight of any cruise! (B, L, D)

Saturday 15th September

This morning we say goodbye to our wonderful crew and disembark the barge, to return to Paris. This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner at a chic local restaurant. (B, D)

Sunday 16th September

This morning after breakfast the tour ends.

Tour Inclusions: Meals as per itinerary, private air conditioned buses on day tours, private guides, accommodation in exclusive luxury hotels throughout the tour, all entries and excursions, the full time services of your tour director.

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