This tour features three glorious days in Paris, right during the European soccer championship that France hosts this year, a recipe for Champagne atmosphere. After that we will descend to the Mediterranean and explore some of its most flavorful and off the beaten track treasures. Eleven days of French adventures from the top of Notre Dame to the Calanques de Cassis and the Valley of Marvels. This fluid itinerary will tone your fitness and leave you with a defining experience. We will be staying in elegant accommodations, with superb food and wine. Photography will be important, and I will be happy to provide assistance and foster a forum for photography throughout the tour. Most of the transport will be by train, high speed ones and a rare line featuring virtuose engineering from Nice through the Southern Alps.
DATES: June 18 to June 30.
Limited to 12 travelers, plus me and a possible sidekick.
$6,250. per person in accommodations for two. Price includes air fare, hotel, meals, wine and other beverages during meals, transportation, entrance fees when applicable, and should be considered all inclusive, save for beverages in your room or at the bar and other services that you might want to enjoy that are not part of the group activities. Accommodation for one or more than two may be available and will be priced if demand occurs. The tour includes two nights in high altitude lodge where comfort will be adequate but limited.
The itinerary below is subject to modification due to the speed of the group and the fact that one may only plan so much ahead of time.
Please email me using the "Contact me" button on the left of the footer, at the bottom of this page if you want to book or have any question.
Des Amants dans mon Café
Marseille, Ansel Adams en Méditerranée
On the slopes below the Valley of Marvels
Valley of Marvels
Le Démon sur la Baie des Anges
Boutique in the Palais Royal
View from the Train near Nice
Aube de l'Humanité
Vallée des Merveilles
Sospel on You
*Saturday June 18: Departure from RDU via Delta direct flight to Paris.
* Sunday June 19: Arrival in Charles de Gaulle Airport, and transfer to Paris with Air France Shuttle. Hotel.
This day will be dedicated to acclimating and relaxing after the trans-Atlantic flight. Relaxing stroll to the magnificent Place des Vosges where Victor Hugo used to live and Lunch at La Tartine, a legendary nearby wine bar. We will then continue our walk through the Isle Saint Louis to Notre Dame, the Luxembourg garden, before enjoying a drink, possibly a delicious Alsacian beer at La Palette where I shot the photograph on the left which is part of my Pantheon. Dinner.
* Monday June 20: Trocadéro, Eiffel Tower, lunch in the rue Cler area. Musée D'Orsay, Jardin des Tuileries, Palais Royal, Place Vendôme, Dinner.
* Tuesday June 21:Shopping, Père Lachaise, Belleville, Pigalle, Montmartre. Dinner in Montmartre.
* Wednesday June 22: High Speed train to Marseille. Hotel near the Old Port. Lunch on the Old Port.
Stroll on the Cannebière, the old neighborhood of Le Panier where Zinedine Zidane grew up, and the new revamped district of La Joliette. Dinner.
Thursday June 23:Train to Aix en provence. Visit of the market, one of the most spectacular markets in France. Lunch.
District of the Quatre Dauphins. Bus to Vauvenargues, where we will pass by Picasso's castle on our climb to the top of the montagne Sainte Victoire, one of Cezanne's favorite subjects. Dinner and train back to Marseille.
Friday June 24: We will leave marseille by boat from the Old Port to La Ciotat through the hard to reach stunning calanques. Great opportunity for a once in a lifetime type of dip.
Apéritif on the port in Cassis, Best Western Hotel with roof top infinity pool. Dinner in the Calanque de Figuerolle in la Ciotat.
Saturday June 25:Early stroll in La Ciotat. Train for Nice, then Train for Tende.
Tende is a two hour train ride from Nice, and about the double by car. This is because the train cuts through the mountains through a series of bridges and tunnels pushing the boundaries of railroad track engineering. During the train ride you will discover an area that sits on the cultural fault line between France and Italy. The place was always disputed and people in medieval times built those improbable villages perched on top of peaks that were unassaillable then and are now marvels to see. Italian influence is everywhere, dipped in French flavor, and the mix is never as palpable as in the frescoes and faux paintings on the villas walls. This by the way is were the Rostagnis are from, descendants of Visigoths who settled in the Valley de la Roya.
Dinner and hotel near Tende.
Sunday June 26:Bus to where we meet the guide for our trek. The hike to the Valley of Marvels is strenuous (700m height differential), although totally manageable.
Picnic on the way. Arrival at Alpine Lodge (2100m). Hike to altitude Lake of the Devil. Dinner and finish with very locally made liquor for alpinists.
Monday June 27:Hike through the Valley of Marvels, which will take us 2500m high, and 4000 back in history when humans from the age of copper where roaming to this altitude to prey the Gods. They left carvings in the stone that have been preserved to these days. Seeing those carvings in this remote hard to find rocky location (even today with a map), in my experience forces a reflection on the human specie and its psyche, promoting reflection on the evolution that we have been through in the last 4000 years.
Through the "Baisse de Valmasque" we will continue our exploration through the Valley of Valmasque and its three altitude lakes offering a stunning environment rich in flore and animals hardy found anywhere else.
Well deserved dinner and night at the Alpine Lodge of Valmasque (2200m).
Tuesday June 28:Descent back, bus to tende. Train to Sospel and Lunch. Train back to Nice. Hotel and leisurely walk in town and on the "Promenade des Anglais."
Dinner in the old city.
Wednesday June 29:Morning stroll on the "Promenade des Anglais," as it is difficult to get too much of that. Marché aux Fleurs, the Old Port, capture the view seen on the photograph "Le Démon sur la Baie des Anges," at left. Shopping. Dinner.
Thursday June 30:Depart from Nice International Airport to JFK via Air France direct flight, and then flight to RDU.