• Colmar
  • Stained glass in Reims Cathedral
  • Kaysersberg
  • Wine tasting in Burgundy
  • French Alps near Chamonix
  • Annecy
  • Côtes du Rhône Vineyard
  • Port of Marseille

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Best of Eastern France in 14 Days

The bountiful vineyards, classic villages and hearty cuisine of Eastern France are legendary. Starting in the effervescent Champagne capital of Reims, you'll spend 14 fascinating days with your Rick Steves guide, exploring Colmar's cobbled lanes, Alsace's meandering Route du Vin, Verdun's historic battlefields, Burgundy's fabled Côte d'Or, Chamonix's majestic mountains, Provence's scenic Côtes du Rhône, and ending with a harborside toast in Mediterranean Marseille. Join us for the Best of Eastern France in 14 Days!

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of France come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 18 group sightseeing events • Reims walking tour • Reims Cathedral • Champagne Cave visit and tasting • Verdun WWI battlefields tour • Colmar walking tour • Unterlinden Museum tour • Colmar wine region excursion • Alsatian wine tasting • Beaune walking tour • Hospices de Beaune tour • Market day in Beaune • Beaune wine tasting • Boat cruise on Lake Annecy • Hiking orientation in French Alps • Vaison la Romaine Roman ruins tour • Orange Roman Theater tour • Rhone Valley wine tasting • Tour of Marseille...and more
  • All group transportation from Reims to Marseille
  • 13 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves' France and Provence and the French Riviera guidebooks, French phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to France's Champagne Region

Just 45 minutes from central Paris by frequent TGV (bullet) train, the effervescent city of Reims is famous for its royal history, its towering cathedral...and Champagne. We'll meet at around 5 p.m. at our hotel for a short "bienvenue à Reims" meeting. Then we'll take an orientation walk through the heart of Reims, followed by time to get acquainted over dinner together. Sleep in Reims (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: All Day in Reims

We'll spend our morning on a walking tour through Reims' historic city center, where we'll learn about the design and history of its glorious Gothic cathedral. Rivaling Paris' Notre-Dame in beauty and prestige, more than two dozen kings and queens of France were crowned here over the course of six centuries. The cathedral and its surrounding neighborhood were virtually destroyed during WWI, then rebuilt during the Art Deco age, which is delightfully reflected in the design and décor of Reims' downtown buildings. Today we'll also learn about this region's most famous product — Champagne — with a tour and tasting, courtesy of a local producer. Dinner will be on your own this evening. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 3: Battlefields and Lessons of Verdun

We'll meet our bus and driver today and take a short drive to the historic WWI battlefields at Verdun. We'll visit the ruins and monuments of one of Europe's costliest battles of attrition, where hundreds of thousands of French and German soldiers perished. Our day will end in France's Germanic region, the Alsace, the ultimate Franco-Germanic blend. Tonight we'll share a dinner of Alsatian specialties in the town of Colmar, where we'll sleep (3 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: All day in Colmar

Today is devoted to exploring the enchanting town of Colmar. We'll take a walking tour this morning, wandering over its cobbled lanes lined with leaning, half-timbered buildings, and learn about the historic importance of the community's canals. We'll wrap things up at one of Rick's favorite museums in Europe — the Unterlinden — home to the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald. You'll have this afternoon and evening free to explore more of the city's sights and pedestrian-friendly lanes, and to enjoy more Alsatian specialties on your own. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: The Route du Vin

Let's take off and explore the region's scenic Route du Vin, where colorful villages and vineyards carpet the foothills of the Vosges Mountains — birthplace of the region's very dry Rieslings and aromatic Gewürztraminers. We'll visit Albert Schweitzer's hometown village of Kaysersberg and find the perfect winery to sample some local varieties. Then we'll return to Colmar, where you'll have the late afternoon and evening free. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: A Hearty Taste of Burgundy

This morning we'll drive from the Teutonic tidiness of Alsace to the red-tiled villages of Burgundy and its bustling wine capital of Beaune. After some free time for lunch, we'll hit the ground walking with a tour of the town and its eye-opening medieval charity hospital, Hospices de Beaune. Tonight we'll have a Burgundian dinner together. Sleep in Beaune (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 7: Market Day and Vineyards

It's outdoor market day in Beaune! Your morning will be free for rubbing elbows with locals sampling smelly cheeses, creamy patés and fresh produce while doing their weekly shopping. This afternoon we set off for Burgundy's legendary and beautiful Côte d'Or wine country, where we'll have lunch together at a local domaine, along with a tasting of its celebrated harvest. We'll return to Beaune later this afternoon, where you'll be free for discoveries and dinner on your own. Escargots, anyone? Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 8: To the Alpine Peaks of Chamonix

This morning we'll make a bee-line for Europe's highest point, the Mont Blanc, arriving in the picturesque resort town of Chamonix in time to get acquainted with all the Alpine thrills this charming city offers. This evening we'll enjoy a traditional dinner of raclette or fondue together. Sleep in Chamonix (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 9: Free Day in the French Alps

Today is your day to enjoy the wonders of the French Alps. Weather and lifts permitting, your guide will help you make your way up the Aiguille du Midi gondola and find the right trail to hike, rewarded with stunning views of nearly 16,000-foot Mont Blanc and a supporting cast of Alps that seem to stretch forever. Or if you prefer, simply find a view table in Chamonix and take the day off in après-ski style. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 10: From Peaks to Provence

Sit back and rest those hiking muscles as we spend our day driving south to sunny Provence, enjoying the countryside along the way. We'll stop for lunch and a boat ride (weather permitting) in exquisite Annecy — hands-down France's most beautiful lakefront town. We'll arrive at our history-rich, Provençal destination of Vaison la Romaine in time to get oriented and enjoy dinner together. Sleep in Vaison la Romaine (3 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 11: Roman Provence

We'll spend our morning sifting through the 2,000-year-old site of ancient Vaison la Romaine. There, we'll tour the ruins of a sprawling Roman mansion and the 6,000-seat Roman theater that is still used for performances today. Consider this a warm-up act for the most impressive of all Roman theaters — the Theater of Orange — which we'll drive to and experience this afternoon. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.

Day 12: The Vineyards of Côtes du Rhône

This morning, we'll drive through some of Europe's most picturesque villages and vineyards, stopping here and there along the way. One of our stops, at a favorite winery, will bring us a refreshing lunch and the chance to sample some formidable Côtes du Rhône wines at their source. We'll return to Vaison for free time this afternoon. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 13: Hill Towns to Harbors

Today we'll continue south through Provence's intoxicating countryside, making our way to the seaside city of Marseille, where we'll tour its historic center and port with our local guide. This afternoon you’ll have time to explore more of Marseille including the city-capping Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica. Tonight we'll share travel memories and toast new friends at our farewell dinner together. Sleep in Marseille (1 night). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast

Marseille's airport is an easy 30-minute bus, shuttle, or taxi ride away. For those staying longer, your guide will be happy to send you off in the right direction and help with any trip planning needs. Au revoir et merci!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of Eastern France in 14 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.

Reviews

Terri

Tulsa, OK

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved it! The end of the tour was a bit too much in one days time. Leave a little later and skip the stop in Aix-en-Provence though it was a nice stop, a little too long and it made the day too busy. Very rushed once we arrived in Marseille. I enjoyed seeing the Notre Damede la Garde basilica in Marseille, but something in this final day schedule for this tour needs to change.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visting, learning about and touring the Chateuax and picnic lunch provided by Daniela and Lisa. Time together eating a picnic with the guides and group was fun! The Colmar region vineyard tour with Gean-Claudeand the wine tasting. Was fun and a very interesting learning experience."

Lisa

Olmsted Falls, OH

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time with Daniela and Lisa as our guides. We thoroughly enjoyed the combination of history and wine. We continue to enjoy the once in a lifetime experiences the Rick Steves tours provide, such as wine tasting with a Count!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite WOW moment was the tour of the Mourchon vineyard followed by lunch in their backyard overlooking the vineyard. Our second most favorite WOW moment was the fort in Verdun. This was a very moving, eerie experience. I'm glad we learned more about the fate of the French and German soldiers."

Janet

Camas, WA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enthusiastic leaders, outstanding fellow trippers, wines and foods galore, plus interesting small towns and regions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Spending an afternoon walking through a vineyard tasting ripe grapes, then tasting wines made from the different varieties."

John

Seabeck, WA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I thought the experience memorable. The commentary enlightening, and some of the sites will be etched in my brain for ever. About the only thing that could have been better was the weather

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many; The cathedral of Reims, The streets of Colmar, and Vaison The market of Beaune, and Aix, Alsace vineyards Mourchon winery Theater at Orange, And of course the sites of picturesque Chamonix"

Ronald

Normal, IL

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Relaxing,like the fact we stay in a hotel multiple days,like the guides knowledge of local history,geat food and wine , I like the free time that we have, I like the small groups

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Top on the mountain in Chamonix"

Charles

San Antonio, TX

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best group of travelers yet!! DW did a great job.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chamonix!!! What a place."

Carol

Kennebunk, ME

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well organized and efficient. Daniela was very knowledgeable and entertaining. Lisa always willing to help in any way, and "holy cow" could Hielde park a bus. The people on the tour were delightful and made the experience that much more enjoyable. The variety of wine regions traveled were so diverse in their offerings ,everyday was an adventure. The food, wine and company a prefect combination. This was our second tour and we will continue to join other tours in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we travel up on the Aiguille du Midi cable car to view Mont-Blanc that was a wow experience. The weather was prefect and see could see forever. It was a day we will always remember. The Gallo Roman ruins in Vaison la Romaine were incredible. Our local guide was very knowledgeable. The wine tour and lunch at Mourchon Winery was a delightful and enjoy our new friends. The Saturday market in Beaune was a sampling of life in the region."

Sandra

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We did so much in just 14 days! Our guide, bus driver and entire tour group were a joy to be with. There was a nice mix of champagne/wine tasting, art, and history. Colmar was my favorite town.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our traditional raclette and fondue dinner in Chamonix was an over-the-top experience."

Barbara

Canton, MI

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was really great, the itinerary, the guide, the tour members, the food and wine, all outstanding. Each day brought a new high point. I really appreciated having three nights in two of our stops. It made the tour seem less rushed even though the days were very busy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had two "wow" moments. The first was the sound and light show at the Reims Cathedral. Usually that type of thing is not "my thing" but this was amazing. The other "wow" was the view from the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix. It was truly breathtaking."

Neil

Greenwood Village, CO

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a very enjoyable time seeing a wide variety of sights: charming villages, the Alps, Roman ruins, medieval villages, cathedrals, castles and chateaus. I learned a lot about the history of Europe. All in an efficient and fun way to travel.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the medieval center of Colmar."

Rita

Carlsbad, CA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour had the perfect balance of group activity and free time. The cities we visited were interesting and the activities had something for everyone in the group. I especially enjoyed the day at the Mourchon winery. The owners and their family were gracious, informative and delightful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several "wow" moments. My favorite location was Vaison la Romaine and the Hotel Bellfroi. The town was lively and the hotel was charming, with the best food on the tour! Also, the glaciers in Chamonix. Very fortunate to have seen them and the sites from the mountain. Although it was overcast from the hotel, the gondola rose above the clouds and there was sunshine and blue skies - it was magical. Everyone took too many pictures that day!"

Louise

Greenwood Village, CO

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was very skeptical about going on a group tour but I was trying to keep an open mind. I had planned a few trips on my own with many problems and troubles and I was definitely ready to give that chore away. I thought this was a fabulous way to travel. I loved having all the arrangements made for me and all of the sight seeing defined and organized. The real surprise was the tour leader, Tony. She was wonderful--so incredibly knowledgable, friendly, flexible, creative, fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many on this lovely tour. I guess the views from the top of Aiguille du Midi of the peaks above Chamonix. It could have been the beautiful french lunch on the lawn of the home of the winemaker in Seguret (which was never going to happen if I had been arranging this wine tasting). it could be the basic camaraderie of the entire group at various moments. The well organized day after day notices about what was happening and what to expect."

James

Nanoose Bay, BC

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As expected, it was great overall. Our tour group all had similar interests and got along splendidly. We saw everything that we wanted, the food and wine were great and we made good friends in the bargain. The only problem was that the tour was over too soon.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The city of Colmar with its half timbered, picturesque houses was high on my list, but also the Roman ruins of Vaison la Romaine."

Russell

Canton, MI

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our eighth RS tour and it lived up to our expectations. As usual, the mixture of structured and free time provided a nice mix to help learn and absorb the local color and culture. The tour group was a one of the more congenial groups we have experienced on RS tours. Many good times were enjoyed together. Almost ideal weather, of course, facilitates any trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably going up to Aiguille du Midi at Chamonix. We were blessed with clear blue skies that morning with only scattered low clouds. The views from there were breathtaking rivaling many we have experienced in Switzerland."

Nancy

Hermosa Beach, CA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time, Toni was so educated with history and personal life experiences, I wanted to learn about french culture, and I learned. Information kept flowing as did lovely scenery, food and wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can there be two? Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi was nearly heart stopping. I have been on many mountains, this was special. I don't know how Rick Steves does it but once up there it was a Disney or rather film moment, cue the mountain climbers, paragliders, helicopters. Second, the beautiful lunch at the Mourchon vineyard. Again, I have been on many vineyard tours but Hugo clearly and interestingly led us through the process."

Mike

Lacey, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We covered exactly what we were seeking and several extras we hadn't anticipated. Patrick did a great job of explaining the history and customs.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seguret is a village of 112 perched on a hill overlooking vineyards and a beautiful valley."

Karen

San Diego, CA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Even though I had prepared a little for the trip by looking up our destinations on-line and read other people's experiences of the same trip, there is just nothing that can substitute for actually being there, "boots on the ground." We arrived in the time zone a day early, and plunged into our holiday ready to roll. Even though we were met by rainy weather at the beginning, our spirit of adventure led us to new and enjoyable "discoveries." We find travel to be empowering as well as satisfying.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think it was emerging from the narrow walkway onto the square in Colmar, being immersed in a fairy tale village of half timbered buildings, cobbled streets, flowers everywhere - I couldn't stop beaming. We had perfect weather in Chamonix, so Mont Blanc and the French Alps were gorgeous, and even the loooong walk up to our hotel, le Beffroi, was charming, as were the worn stone circular stairs to our room in this 16th century building! Dinners in the courtyard there were magical!"

James

Mason Neck, VA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was our sixth RS tour and it met our expectations by providing another memorable tour. We will continue to use RS for our European travel.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The vineyard tour, wine tasting, and lunch at the Mourchon winery just outside the village of Seguret."

Jane

Nipomo, CA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was wonderful. We especially enjoyed being in smaller cities and villages instead of large cities. We also enjoyed the high quality local guides who were so knowledgeable about their local areas.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For my husband, the "wow" moment was being at the top of the Aguille de Midi on a clear beautiful day and spending time marveling at Mont Blanc and the surrounding area. For me, it was staying in the Medieval village in Vaison La Romaine. What a treat to stay in a 15th century building, and hike up to a 12th century castle ruin just a little distance away. We also loved the winery tour and picnic at Domaine Mourchon. What a treat!"

Curtis

Redmond, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed the whole trip; it had great variety and an enjoyable group of fellow travellers. We were very fortunate to have beautiful weather most of the trip especially in the scenic areas of Chamonix, Lake Annecy, and Colmar. Note:This is a combined report from both Marion and Curt.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Curt's favorite "wow" was the trip to Aiguille du Midi. Marion's favorite "Wow" was the walk on the roof of the Cathedral of Reims plus the picturesque old town of Colmar with its flowers, canals, and old buildings. We both thought the Roman Theatre at Orange was the most impressive historical site. The tour of Verdun was the most dramatic, grim, and somber site!"

Judith

Story, WY

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tram ride up to Mont Blanc. All of the chamois experience was a highlight for me."

Joan

Georgetown, TX

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Julie was an outstanding tour guide, always was interested in us and making sure we thoroughly enjoyed our experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Theatre in Orange was amazing. To think that it was built so long ago and is still standing today."

Kathleen

Cambridge Springs, PA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From start to finish the trip was wonderful. The variety of scenery, experiences and wonderful food offerings was outstanding. Our guide was so knowledgeable and familiar with each new place and circumstance. She guided us through it all seamlessly. We experienced a diversity of locations- large towns, small quaint villages, an Alpine village and accompanying majestic outdoor scenery, and finally Marseille on the water. Wine and cultural offerings were terrific.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chamonix was a highlight for me. I'd never been near a glacier before and staying at the base of the mountains with Mt. Blanc nearby was amazing."

Patricia

Haymarket, VA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Everything!"

Denise

Los Alamos, NM

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I've been to France several times, but this was the first time in all the cities and towns we visited. I liked the variety of cuisine, scenery, wine and customs. The mix of stops included wineries, museums, castles, Roman ruins -- a good blend. The pace seemed more relaxed than some of our other trips without too many long days in the bus. We only look at tours that stay 2 and 3 nights in locations. It gives one a chance to get to know a place. In short, it was good fun and I learned lots!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I thought maybe I'd say it was discovering that the French serve fries with salad and omelets and mussels... But seriously I'd have to say it was the painting of the Madonna with the Rose in Colmar. Maybe because I expected to be awed by the Isenheim altarpiece and expected the Madonna painting to come in second. But it didn't for me."

James

Los Alamos, NM

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Theater at Orange, Marseillies old town and port area with the renewal!"

Denise

Ventura, CA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous and I would highly recommend it. By staying at each stop more than one night, we could relax and, with some free time, had the opportunity to explore and really get a flavor of each town. Each stop was so unique that each stands out like an individual jewel from the others. A far cry from "if it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium" type of trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved Vaison la Romaine and want to return one day and stay for a week or 2. The tour of the Roman ruins, as well as the tour of Domaine de Mourchon and the lunch prepared by the owners are great memories. I also would like to return to Colmar. I didn't believe that any town could possibly be as beautiful as the photo in the brochure, but it's even more beautiful that the photo!"

Rebecca

St Paul, MN

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful time again (our third ETBD tour). We like the size of the group. The beautiful weather (except for Beaune and Annecy) made the small villages delightful. Loved the color: the flowers, the food, all of it. The hotel at Vaison was especially charming.....except the walk to it! I also loved the little courtyard in Beaune where we had Happy Hour. Our guide, was wonderful. Shopping for our picnic at the local market was fun and a good team activity.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The gondola ride at Chamonix. The lovely outdoor lunch served to us at the residence of the vineyard...and the walk back to town! The rushing river outside of our hotel in Chamonix. The beautiful flowers/colors everywhere. The light show on the cathedral in Reims. The amphitheater at Orange was a big wow."

Wendell

Ventura, CA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well planned and laid out. Exellent guide and excellent driver. A fun group of people to be with. Rushing from Vaison la Romaine to Aix for a quick stop then off to Marseille for a walking tour and then on the little train up to the cathedral was too much for one day, particulary the last day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to choose only one so I will choose two. The wine visits in Rully and then in Provence. These were places we would have never known about otherwise. It was sobering to visit Verdun and see the futility and tragedy of war."

Betsy

Monrovia, CA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every day I kept saying, "I'm really looking forward to today because we're doing _____". I think that the tour was just really well designed with all the variety that France offers. I had a great time, and all the tour arrangements went so smoothly. One of the reasons I picked this tour was that it included bigger cities, smaller villages, the Alps and Provence. I saw art museums, vineyards, architecture, cusine, historical areas--just everything.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going up the gondola out of Chamonix to the top of the Alps. So unique and singular, definitely the "high" moment."

Dennis

Beaverton, OR

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steve's tour and it was beyond our expectations. Everything from our guide, the scenery, history, accommodations, and weather were wonderful. All of the people are the tour were great and very engaging. Our bus driver, Hilda, was outstanding. Her driving skills were suburb and her personality was even better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our "wow" moment was at the 12,650 foot level at the base of Mont Blanc. It requires two gondola rides to reach this point. The prior day it had rained, but this day was clear blue skies and unbelievable views. Dress warm, as temps are about 20 degrees, but it is well worth the experience."

Patricia

Winona, MN

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was our fifth Rick Steve's tour and it rated right up with the other four. I felt so taken care of. Rick would be very proud of our tour guide. He was a true Frenchman who loved his country. As we traveled along on the bus, he made great use of the time filling us in on the history of the area we were going through at the time. The local guides all loved their areas and enjoyed sharing this love with us. They were all very enthusiastic.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had many WOW moments and can't pick out just one. I loved the medieval charity hospital in Beaune. I felt like a child again riding in the back of a pickup truck taking us to the Domaine de Mouchon Winery. It was by choice as I grew up getting rides in the back up a pickup truck with my country relatives so I knew I would enjoy it again. My first glance at the glacier on Mont Blanc was breath taking. Seeing bones through a window at Verdun was very moving."

Robert

Victoria, BC

Tour: 05/19/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

France is a big country and we enjoyed seeing more than just the big cities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mt. Blanc in Chamonix. Took the trip to the very top and was breathless with the view & the breathing!"

Weather

France / Paris

Paris Weather


France / Nice

Nice Weather

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in France before your tour begins, spending time in Paris or Strasbourg are logical choices. Reims is only 45 minutes and Strasbourg only two hours from central Paris via TGV (bullet) trains. Use Rick Steves' France guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of French, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Paris: visit the Eiffel Tower; walk the Champs-Elysées and climb the Arc de Triomphe; tour the Louvre and Orsay Museums; or take a day trip to Versailles.

If you'd rather spend your pre-tour time in Strasbourg, visit the cathedral, wander the waterways and stroll through the city. From Strasbourg it is a two-hour train ride to Reims. In Reims visit the Museum of the Surrender (Musée de la Reddition) or add a Champagne tour at Mumm (we will not taste here as a group).

Transportation

Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). It's easiest to fly into Paris and home from Marseille. Paris and Marseille are transportation hubs, making travel before or after your tour quite easy. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to our Favorite Links page and look under "Transportation."

You may want to arrive early to spend time in either Paris or Strasbourg before taking the train to Reims to meet the tour. Another option is to book a round-trip flight in and out of Paris and then take the train (6 hours), drive, or fly from Marseille to Paris and spend at least one night in Paris before flying home.

For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines

Read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips and decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Trip Resources

Learn more about France: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Packing

While it is important to pack light, there are some items we'd like you to consider when packing for this tour. Weather and lifts permitting, you will have the opportunity to go to top of the Aiguille de Midi and/or hike in the Alps while in Chamonix. It can get cold up there. We recommend bringing a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction and some warmer clothes. Regardless of season, the weather in the Alps can be cooler than expected especially at the higher altitudes.

For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.