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Discover the main attractions as well as the hidden gems of two colorful countries—France and Spain—on this exciting vacation stretching from Paris to Madrid. Among the less known tour highlights is Carnac, with its megaliths—standing stones—dating back to 4500 to 2000 BC - and learn about their mysteries with a local expert. You’ll also witness many UNESCO World Heritage Sites sure to please history fans. Among these, visit Bordeaux, where a walking tour with a local expert features the important highlights of these 362 historic monuments; spend time wandering around Mont St. Michel, an 8th-century abbey that sits on a rocky isle. Spain’s Ávila was founded in the 11th century and the town’s medieval walls were built to protect Spanish territories from the Moors. Marvel at Burgos’ limestone cathedral, dating back to the 13th century. In Segovia, visit the well-preserved Roman aqueduct, built around 50 AD, and the gothic cathedral, dating to the 16th century. The “grande dune du Pilat”, the great dune of Pilat, along with the Landes landscapes will make unforgettable scenic highlights of this France and Spain tour. You’ll also spend time in some attractive coastal towns. In France, visit Brest, nestled on one of Europe’s most beautiful harbors; La Rochelle, with its historic port dominated by three medieval towers; and Rochefort, built to defend the French navy in the 17th century and today known as one of France’s most beautiful villages. In Spain, visit Biarritz, an ancient fishing village turned trendy seaside resort, and Santander, a coastal city renowned in the 19th century as a tourist destination for Spanish elite. From the UNESCO World Heritage Sites to the picturesque coastal towns, this France and Spain tour is perfect for value-minded travelers!
Day 1: ARRIVE IN PARIS, FRANCE.
Check into your hotel with the rest of the day free to explore France’s vibrant capital city. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.
Day 2: PARIS.
Paris is a world-class city with more familiar landmarks than perhaps any other city in the world. During your included sightseeing tour with a Local Guide, view the famous sights. Later, feel like a French aristocrat on an optional walking tour through the expansive Palace of Versailles. This evening, join us for an optional welcome dinner. (B)
Day 3: PARIS–MONT ST. MICHEL–ST. MALO.
Depart from the "City of Light" and travel towards the unique beauty of Mont St. Michel. This 8th-century abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that creates an inspiring scene as it stands sentry on a small island just a kilometer off the French coast. Later, drive along the shoreline on your way to the fortified seaside resort of St. Malo for a walking tour. (B)
Day 4: ST. MALO–CARNAC–NANTES.
Travel towards Carnac, known for its STANDING STONES erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany—one of the most extensive Neolithic collections in the world. Visit one of the sites with a Local Guide and learn about the mystery of the Carnac stones. Then, head for Nantes, located on the Loire River. Visit the CASTLE of the Dukes of Brittany, and the CATHEDRAL of St. Peter and St. Paul, which took 457 years to complete and features a unique external pulpit. (B)
Day 5: NANTES–LA ROCHELLE–ROCHEFORT–BORDEAUX.
Two coastal towns are on the agenda today. First, stop at picturesque La Rochelle. Situated off the Atlantic Coast in the Bay of Biscay, it is known as La Ville Blanche (the White City) due to its luminous limestone facades that reflect the bright sunlight. Next up: historic Rochefort with its naval beginnings that date back to Louis XIV. Continue to Bordeaux. (B,D)
Day 6: BORDEAUX.
Built on the banks of the Garonne River, Bordeaux is a flourishing port town known as the “Pearl of Aquitaine.” A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to 362 historic monuments, some dating back to Roman times. Join your Local Guide for a walking tour featuring all the important highlights, including Esplanade des Quinconces, one of the largest squares in Europe. The afternoon is at leisure or you may join an optional excursion. (B)
Day 7: BORDEAUX–DUNE DU PILAT–LES LANDES–BIARRITZ–BAYONNE.
Drive to Arcachon today to see the amazing DUNE OF PILAT the highest sand dune on the continent. Then, sit back and enjoy a scenic drive through the Landes of Gascony, the largest maritime-pine forest in Europe. Later, arrive in Biarritz, and ancient fishing village turned trendy seaside resort. Spend the night in Bayonne. (B)
Day 8: BAYONNE–SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN–BILBAO–SANTANDER.
Leave France and cross into Spain’s Basque Country. Visit San Sebastian, one of just two designated European Capitals of Culture in 2016 and a foodie hotspot! On to Bilbao, where you’ll discover a colorful tapestry of architecture, history, natural beauty, and tantalizing cuisine. Enjoy free time for leisure activities—maybe a visit to the world-famous Guggenheim Museum, considered one of the 20th century’s great architectural masterpieces. Later, head to the port city of Santander, a renowned tourist destination for Spanish elite in the 19th century. (B)
Day 9: SANTANDER.
Enjoy a whole day at leisure to do as you please! Maybe enjoy a relaxing day on the beach or discover the local bodegas serving the typical pinchos. (B)
Day 10: SANTANDER–BURGOS–SALAMANCA.
Heading inland, stop in Burgos, former capital of the unified Kingdom of Castile-León for five centuries. Visit the magnificent limestone CATHEDRAL of Santa Maria, dating back to the 13th century. Continue on to Salamanca. Be sure to spend some time wandering around the Spanish-baroque Plaza Mayor, the heart of the city and widely regarded as one of the most beautiful squares in Spain. (B,D)
Day 11: SALAMANCA–SEGOVIA–MADRID.
Journey to pretty Segovia, set on a rocky hill. Visit its landmarks, awe-inspiring Roman AQUEDUCT, and gothic CATHEDRAL before heading to Madrid. (B)
Day 12: MADRID.
Not only is Madrid capital of Spain, but because it is situated 2,180 feet above sea level, the Spanish rightly say it is the nearest thing to Heaven. This morning, enjoy the city’s main highlights on the included guided sightseeing tour. Consider also joining an optional excursion to one of the many important sights surrounding Madrid. (B,D)
Day 13: MADRID.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
Sightseeing & Activities:
MONT ST. MICHEL
Guided visit of the pre-Celtic standing stones
Visit the Castle and Cathedral
LA ROCHELLE & ROCHEFORT
Guided walking tour
See the amazing Dune of Pilat
BIARRITZ, SAN SEBASTIAN & BILBAO
Visit the cathedral
Visit the Roman aqueduct and gothic cathedral
Guided sightseeingTouring by private, first-class, air-conditioned motorcoach with free Wi-Fi
Buffet breakfasts daily; 3 dinners
Prices are per person based on double room occupancy.
Single room supplement:
No triple room reduction.
Extra nights per person in Paris:
in single room $133-$230, in twin $70-$118, in triple $91-$155
Extra nights per person in Madrid:
in single room $121-$132, in twin $60-$68, in triple $59-$63
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