The secret is out. I am enjoying another Trafalgar Tour with my mom before I walk a Camino. This time it’s the “Secrets of France” tour that starts and ends in Paris. It includes a high-speed TGV train ride that takes only three hours to get to Bordeaux in the south-west corner of France, as opposed to an eight-hour bus ride. This year it was mom’s turn to choose our itinerary, and she picked a winner!
This is our seventh annual mother-daughter trip with Trafalgar Tours. So far we have experienced the following itineraries: Spanish Wonder, Northern Italy, France, Northern Spain, Croatia, and Best of Portugal. The tours seem to get better every year! See reasons we love this tradition at Pre-Camino Tour of Portugal.
I am having too much fun to sit and write, or fiddle with wifi, so I will add highlights to this post when I have a chance. I am, however, doing occasional updates on my Facebook and Instagram accounts, so follow the fun in (almost) real-time!
Secrets of France Itinerary (in Trafalgar-Talk)
Welcome to Paris, the City of Light. France is a diverse and fascinating country with so much to offer. From architecture to cuisine, your trip reveals a host of secret regional delights and specialities. Relax after your journey or take a wander through the streets of this beautiful city. This evening, meet for a Welcome Reception with your fellow travellers and Travel Director. An orientation drive shows you sights such as the Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe.
Paris – TGV Train – Bordeaux (2 Nights)
This morning board the fast and efficient TGV train to Bordeaux. Wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century and the biannual wine fair held in the city attracts buyers from all over the world. See the sights including the magnificent Esplanade des Quinconces during your orientation. Tonight join your companions for a Regional Meal at a local restaurant.
Excursion to Pilat and Arcachon
This morning visit the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s tallest sand dune on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. A short drive will bring you to Arcachon, a town famous for its oysters. Why not sample some fresh at one of the beachside cafes during your free time. Later arrive back in Bordeaux where you have time to explore the city or perhaps join an Optional Experience to the nearby town of St. Emilion.
Bordeaux – Moissac – Albi
This morning visit picturesque Moissac on the banks of the Tarn River. The town is a stop on the Way of St. James, the pilgrim walk to Galicia. Visit Saint-Pierre Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy a Be My Guest lunch where you have the opportunity to learn about the culture and food from this region. Later arrive in Albi, birthplace of the famous French artist Toulouse Lautrec. View the UNESCO World Heritage Cathedral which dates back to the 13th century.
Albi – Villefranche de Rouergue – Rocamadour – Brive-la-Gaillarde (2 Nights)
This morning stop in the fortified town of Villefranche de Rouergue where you can explore the narrow streets and squares. At Rocamadour, a town built onto a cliff face, visit the Sanctuary and view the Black Madonna with your Local Specialist. During your free time why not try some of the regions local produce such as goat’s cheese, walnuts and foie gras?
Sarlat-la-Canéda – Lascaux Caves Excursion
This morning visit Sarlat-la-Canéda and wander through the markets where the local people shop for fresh food. Visit Lascaux, famous for its caves with paintings thought to date back over 17,000 years. The caves are now protected and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Brive-la-Gaillarde – Oradour-sur-Glane – Orleans
This morning visit the martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane where in 1944 a Nazi attack razed the town to the ground. Your Local Specialist will describe the attack and why the town has been left as a reminder of the horrors of war. Later during your orientation of Orleans view the Sainte Croix Cathedral and the statue to the ‘Maid of Orleans’ – Joan of Arc.
Orleans – Versailles – Paris (2 Nights)
This morning visit the historic town of Versailles. Why not join an Optional Experience to the palace and gardens which have played a huge part in French and European history. Later arrive in Paris. Tonight why not consider attending a Parisian Cabaret?
Today visit the second level of the Eiffel Tower with great views across the city. Later your Local Specialist reveals not just where, but how real Parisians live and shop, showing you the enchanting hidden squares and secret passages of one of Paris’s oldest historical neighbourhoods. This short insider walk finishes at one of Paris’s loveliest squares, little known to outsiders, but a real favourite of the locals. The rest of the day is yours to explore Paris. Why not travel to the Montmartre area with its local artists, visit Notre Dame or a famous museum? You could join an Optional Experience to Monet’s Gardens in Giverney. Tonight join your Travel Director and fellow companions for a Farewell Dinner.
This morning after breakfast, say ‘au revoir’ as your memorable holiday through France comes to an end.
This is when my mom flies home, and I fly to Spain for my Camino Inglés. See more info on the Secrets of France tour. Ask me for a referral discount code for any of the Trafalgar tours.
4 thoughts on “Secrets of France Tour”
You are going to love that area around Brive. While exploring the incredible cliff-town of Rocamadour, 22 years ago, I pointed to a shell symbol that was embedded into the wall of one of the buildings. “What’s that?” I asked my very historically-literate husband. “That’s a symbol of the Camino de Santiago”, he informed me, “it was a pilgrimage route during the middle ages – it must have passed through this town”. We bought a copy of the Carte des Chemins de S Jacques de Compostelle (from 1648) , which has had a place of honor on our living room wall ever since (told you we are history nerds). It wasn’t until just 3 years ago, though, that I discovered that the Camino pilgrimage was still a thing. I had no idea all of those years, and certainly never expected to go and walk that Camino so many years later. One more thing – also in Rocamadour: look for a sword that is stuck into the rock, high up on a wall. Remember the story of the dying Roland, who, in a gesture of defiance, flings his sword high up over the Pyrenees into France? Well, guess where it struck?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Is there a high speed train from Santiago to Barcelona? If so, how long does it take for this trip? Please advise. Thanks. Nancy
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Nancy, I trust the Rome2rio App for questions like this. It looks like there are no high speed trains to Barcelona. The fastest way is flying.
Go to Rome2rio.com and enter your start and end point. You will see all the transit options.