S & E Tour – 2008 Belgium
and Eastern France
Day 1 – Monday, August 25 - Paris
Get acquainted/re-acquainted meeting at the hotel at
5:00pm. After the meeting, Serge will probably lead a short
historical walk of the neighborhood.
Day 2 – Tuesday, August 26 – Reims
Leaving Paris this morning, we'll head north to visit the
château/museum of Chantilly with its impressive art collection
and enormous stables. After a nice picnic, it's back on the road
to Compiègne and a brief visit to the spot where the armistice
was signed to end WWI and where Hitler forced the French to surrender
in June of 1940. A short hop away from Compiègne lies
Reims, the capital of the Champagne region and our home for the next
two nights. After checking into our hotel, you'll be free to
wander the town before our group dinner or participate in some
pre-dinner "boules" in the park across the street.
Day 3 – Wednesday, August 27 – Reims
This morning we'll take a walking tour of Reims, including its
impressive cathedral where most of the kings of France were
crowned. After lunch we will take a short trip south to Epernay
through the National Park of the Montagne de Reims (it’s really more
like a big hill) and through the vineyards that produce the grapes for
the great champagnes of France. We’ll visit one of the oldest and
most pretigious wineries in the region – Moet & Chandon – where the
legendary Dom Perignon first discovered bubbly. Free time back in
Reims. Boules anyone? Art class / French class?
Dinner on your own.
Day 4 – Thursday, August 28 – Bruges
Today we head north out of Reims into Picardy and Belgium
through the killing fields of World War I. Just over the
Belgian border we’ll stop in Ypres (Flanders’ Fields) for lunch and a
WWI historical tour of the area with a local guide. Following the
tour, we’ll zoom to Bruges, one of the finest and best-preserved
medieval towns in Europe, and sample the local cuisine together in a
cozy canal-side restaurant. Two nights in Bruges.
Day 5 – Friday, August 29 – Bruges
After a guided tour of Bruges, including a visit to the
chocolate museum, you’ll have the afternoon free to hang in
Bruges. Possibilities include canal boat rides, bicycle rental,
Art class, and French class. Boules on cobblestones will be
Day 6 – Saturday, August 30 – Genk
It’s off across Belgium today with a long stop in Antwerp for a
visit to the diamond district, Rubens House, lunch and tour of the old
town center. Then it's off to obscure Genk not too far from the
Dutch border. Our Belgian bus driver, François, told us
that his wife, Gertje, made the best mussels in Belgium, so Elroi and I
made a special trip to Genk to check it out. He wasn’t lying, and
it’s the main reason for doing a one-nighter in Genk where Gertje, and
her friends will prepare the “Fête des Moules” (Mussels festival)
for the entire group. (If mussels are not your favorite dish, we’ll
arrange for something else.) There may also be a visit to a
Belgian brewery and an optional quest for the Holy Grail at a bar
selected by our esteemed driver. Sleep one night in Genk.
Day 7 – Sunday, August 31 – Luxembourg
The schedule for this morning is still a bit up in the
air. We may be doing our brewery visit this morning, but we'll
probably be making a beeline for the beautifully situated Luxembourg
City, capital of the Grand Duchy. After checking into our hotel,
we’ll take a short tour of the city and visit some of the "casemates,"
the amazing underground network of passages dug into the cliffs below
the city. You'll then be free for wandering and dinner on your
own. Sleep one night in Luxembourg City.
Day 8 – Monday, September 1 – Obernai
Heading south and east out of Luxembourg toward northern Alsace,
we’ll stop at the Simserhof gun emplacement for a tram tour and history
lesson about the Maginot line, the supposedly impregnable line of
fortresses built after WWI to keep the Germans out of France.
Then we’ll continue east for a semi-do-it-yourself visit of the ruins
of Fleckenstein castle near the border of Germany. After the tour
of Fleckenstein, we'll cruise through some beautiful country in the
northern Vosges mountains on our way to our cozy retreat in the very
pretty town of Obernai. Group dinner at the hotel. Sleep
two nights in Obernai.
Day 9 – Tuesday, September 2 – Obernai
This will be more or less a free day in the Obernai area.
Some may opt for bicycle rental and a ride through surrounding
vineyards and villages. Other possibilities include boules,
doing laundry, hanging by the pool, long walks, etc. There
will be Art/French class in the afternoon and a wine tasting featuring
the stalwarts of the Alsatian wine route – Riesling, Gewurztraminer,
Sylvaner … und so weiter. You'll be on your own for dinner
tonight with several restaurant options in the village of
Day 10 – Wednesday, September 3 – Ribeauvillé
Today we head south through the Alsatian vineyards to
that haven’t expanded their boundaries in hundreds of years. On
way we’ll visit the heavily restored, but impressive nonetheless,
castle of Haut Koenigsberg. You'll be free to wander and have
the unbelievably cute and flowery Riquewihr before we go on to
Ribeauvillé, another gorgeous Alsatian village on the "Route du
where we'll spend our last night in Alsace. (You may remember
originally had planned to go to Strasbourg. Unfortunately, nobody
our itinerary into consideration when they planned the early September
session of the European parliament. The roads into and out of
Strasbourg will be jammed with notables, tourists and police;
restaurants, hotels and streets will be packed. We elected to
Day 11 – Thursday, September 4 –
Moving through some very pretty country into the region known as
the Franche-Comté, we'll stop for lunch at the riverside town of
Ornans where Gustave Courbet lived and painted. Following lunch
in Ornans, we’ll bus down to the source of the Lison river. In
the Franche-Comté and the Jura mountains, many of the rivers
have underground sources and come gushing out of the mouths of
caves. The Lison is one of the most spectacular. This
afternoon we may include a visit of the old salt mines in
Salins-les-Bains as we head south through the Franche-Comté to
the small town of Chille on the outskirts of Lons-le-Saunier, our home
for the next two nights.
Day 12 – Friday, September 5 – Lons-le-Saunier/Chille
On the full day out of Chille we’ll start with a visit to the
perched village of Château-Chalon which also happens to be the
mecca for lovers of the famous “vin jaune” (yellow wine) of the Jura
region. After a wine tasting with one of the local vintners,
we’ll walk a few blocks through the village to sample the the products
of one of the local comté cheesemakers.
Baume-les-Messieurs, spectacularly situated at the juncture of three
glacially-formed blind valleys, will be our next destination where
we'll have lunch and visit the village and its medieval Abbey.
Art/French class before dinner.
Day 13 – Saturday, September 6 – Annecy
This morning we won't waste any time in getting to the freeway
and zooming to the lakeside town of Annecy in the foothills of the
French Alps. The flower-lined canals of old Annecy have charmed
the judges of the “village fleuri” (flowered village) contest so many
times that they finally excluded the town from the competition.
We should arrive in Annecy in time for lunch followed by an optional
orientation cruise around the beautiful Lac d’Annecy, the cleanest lake
in Europe. Group fondue tonight. Sleep two nights in Annecy
Day 14 – Sunday, September 7 – Annecy
According to new European regulations our driver will have to
take today off, but there are still many options. Those who have
never taken the Aiguille du Midi gondola up the side of Mont Blanc may
want to take the train to Chamonix for the day. Others may want
some down time in Annecy’s old town or may opt for a day by the
lake. There may also be an option, weather permitting, for a hot
air balloon ride. There will, of course, be the traditional
late-afternoon paddleboat race on Lake Annecy. French/Art
Day 15 – Monday, September 8 – Vaison-la-Romaine
After a relaxed departure from Annecy, we’ll bus west and south
toward Provence and stop for lunch and perhaps a wine tasting in the
Côte du Rhône wine region south of Lyon. After lunch
we’ll follow the Autoroute du Soleil (“Freeway of the Sun”) down into
the Vaucluse in northern Provence where we’ll check into our hotel in
Vaison-la-Romaine. Vaison is actually three – three – three towns
in one: the modern 19th and 20th century town, the partially excavated
Roman town, and the medieval old town across the river. Group dinner at
the hotel. Sleep two nights in Vaison-la-Romaine.
Day 16 – Tuesday, September 9 – Vaison-la-Romaine
Today is market day, and Vaison’s Tuesday market is one of the
biggest and best in Provence. You can choose to spend your entire
morning at the market, or you may want to leave mid-morning for a hike
over the hill of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The hikers will
have the option of stopping in the vineyards for another wine tasting
on their way to meet the rest of the group for lunch on a shaded
terrace just outside of the wine village of Gigondas. We will
also schedule an afternoon visit of the Roman town in Vaison with a
local guide for those who haven’t yet seen it or those who would like
to see it again. Art/French class. Boules. Dinner on your
Day 17 – Wednesday, September 10 – Villefranche-sur-Mer
Today’s itinerary is subject to change, but right now we’re
thinking of heading south first thing in the morning to the Luberon
where Peter Mayle lived and wrote A Year in Provence. A morning
balloon flight may be an option here as well. Those that don't go
ballooning will be able to hang out in the quintessential
Provençal village of Roussillon and visit the mini-Bryce Canyon
created by the ochre mines. After lunch in one of the Luberon
villages, we'll work our way back to the “autoroute” that will lead us
to the French Riviera and beautiful Villefranche-sur-Mer. Sleep
two nights in Villefranche.
Day 18- Thursday, September 11 – Villefranche-sur-Mer
There are many villages to explore in the hills above the
Riviera (Eze, Roquebrune, La Turbie, etc.), but you may just want to
hang in Villefranche. Other options include Monaco, Antibes,
Cannes, etc., but you may be on your own for transportation (train,
local buses) for some destinations. Last night dinner in
Day 19 – Friday, September 12 – Tour over after breakfast.
An easy taxi ride to the Nice airport, or if you choose to stay
over for a few more days on the Riviera, we’ll be glad to suggest other
things to see and do.
Well, there you have it. Natural beauty, great wine, great food,
great art, fascinating history, terrific towns and villages – you know,
the usual. Everything has gotten more expensive in Europe in
general, and the dollar isn’t rebounding as strongly as we thought it
would, so we’re going to have to ask for $3900 per person this time,
but well worth every centime.
Here’s what’s included:
All lodging in 3-star (or better) hotels.
Bus transportation from Paris to Villefranche.
Breakfast every day.
Roughly half the lunches and half the dinners.
Admission costs and/or guided tours of all sites
visited by the entire group.
Art lessons with Elroi
French classes with Serge.
Here’s what’s not included:
Travel insurance (we recommend that you get some)
Cost of optional activities not involving entire
group (bikes, ballooning, paragliding, etc.)
Individual non-group meals.
The increase in the price means that the balance per person is now
$3500. If you decide that you still want to go with us, we would
like you to send us half of the remaining balance ($1750 per person)
by March 1, 2008. The remaining $1750 must be paid no later
than July 1, 2008. After March 1, 2008 there will be no refunds,
and that includes the original deposit. Feel free to e-mail me
(email@example.com) or call me (206-522-7559) if you have questions
or need to discuss things.
Make payments to S & E Tours LLC, 11036 40th Ave. NE,
98125. We’ll send you some papers to sign and the list of
optional activities and dinners that are not covered by the tour
package price and for which we must make reservations. The $400
deposit is non-refundable unless we have to cancel the tour for some
reason. Elroi et moi are truly looking forward to this tour,
traveling with many of you again, and making some new
hope you will all be joining us in France.
For more information firstname.lastname@example.org
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