Arrive at CDG airport, and meet your driver for a private transfer to your hotel. After checking in, the remainder of the day is at your leisure to rest or explore your surroundings. Your Paris Visite pass becomes valid from the first use. Activate it when it's convenient for your schedule. The entire day is billed towards the duration time so it's best to activate the pass early in the day (NOTE: the Metro operates from 5:30am to about 1:00am). The pass for Zones 1-3 includes travel within central Paris including stops near all major tourist sites however, it does NOT include entrance fees. For dinner, your options are unlimited, whether it's a haute cuisine restaurant or a simple bistro. While canvassing the city, look at the menus posted, and if you find something appealing, have your hotel make a reservation for you. Not only do the French prefer that, more importantly it guarantees you a table.
After breakfast, meet your guide at the hotel for your Small Group Versailles tour. The Mercedes mini-van will accommodate a maximum of 8 passengers to ensure a more personal tour. Along the way, your guide will inform you about the history of Versailles and court life during the Sun King's reign. With its chateaux, gardens, and parks, Louis XIV was the creative force of Versailles, turning the palace into a sumptuous estate and the envy of European monarchs.
Your visit will include the State Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, the King and Queens apartments, and the renovated Royal Chapel. After the visit to the State Apartments, your guide will accompany you to the gardens and park, which stretch beyond the chateau. At the foot of the chateau, you'll admire Andre Le Notre's stunning creation of the parterres, designed to be viewed from the terraces. You will see the "Grand Perspective", which draws the eye to the horizon with its Latona and Apollo fountains. As you stroll through the flower bedecked parterres, you'll see the various groves in the gardens: the Salle de Bal and the Colonnade, the Enceladus. After your visit to the park and gardens, you'll return to Paris and your hotel.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Paris)
Today is free for independent exploring. Take advantage of your CityGuide and the Visite Pass to experience all that Paris has to offer. You can shop on Boulevard Haussman in Galeries Lafayette or Printemps with real Belle Epoque grandeur, or cross over the chic Left Bank with their numerous boutiques. Walk through the bohemian Montmartre neighborhood and enjoy panoramic views of Paris from the steps at Sacre Coeur Basilica. Not to be is nearby Place du Tertre, with many local artists plying their trade. Don't hesitate to bargain, but only if you're paying cash. The area is surrounded by cafes and crepe stands, so an ideal place to pause for lunch. Spend time in a couple of smaller art museums; the Orangerie in the Tuileries and Musee d'Orsay on the other side of the river. For history lovers, there's Invalides, the military museum holding the tomb of Napoleon, and the Pantheon. Some of France's best-known authors and scientists are interred in this former church including Voltaire, Curie, Braille, and Alexandre Dumas. If you prefer an "outdoor museum", Pére Lachaise Cemetery sits in the 20th arrondisement in the northeast area of Paris. Some of their more famous residents include Chopin, Moliere, Edith Piaf, and Oscar Wilde.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Paris)
After breakfast, make your way to Gare de l'Est station, and board in 1st class on the TGV Lyria for the 3 hour ride to the charming town of Basel. Nestled along the Rhine River, Basel is located at the juncture of the French, German and Swiss borders, which just adds to its multicultural appeal. After checking into your hotel, the remainder of the days is at your leisure to rest or explore on your own .
(Breakfast, Paris; Accommodations, Basel)
Today is at your leisure for independent sightseeing. Basel is famous in its own right; Switzerland's third-largest town and the birthplace of tennis great, Roger Federer. It's an tourist-friendly town, making it easy to explore. The two sides of Basel are joined by six bridges over the Rhine, as it makes a sharp turn before flowing north to become the German-French border. It's the higher left bank where you'll find the old town and cultural attractions. For art lovers a stop at the Kinstmuseum is a must. In 1967 the citizens voted to buy some Picasso paintings. When the famous Spaniard found out, he was touched by the vote in confidence in his art, and offered four works as a gift, cost-free! Besides Picasso, you'll find major works by Gauguin, Van Gogh, Corot, Cézanne, Braque, Picasso, Kandinsky, Léger, Chagall, Klee, and Dali. Stroll through the Marktplatz in the city's historic old town where you can pick up all the fresh foods you desire or sample some local delicacies. Then wander through Basel's Indoor Market, with specialties from all over the world, under one, massive domed roof. In addition to the Kunstmuseum, there are over 40 museums to choose from, including the world's largest collection of stuffed teddy bears, an all together unusual walk through the history of pharmacies and a top-notch natural history museum.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Basel)
After breakfast, depart from the Basel rail station for your short 1 hour ride to Zürich; the largest city in Switzerland, and famous for its artworks, shopping and scenery. Zürich is consistently rated one of the top cities in the world for wealth, livability and quality of life. After checking into your hotel, relax or head out to explore the city.
(Breakfast, Basel; Accommodations, Zürich)
After breakfast, you'll meet your guide at the Sihlquai Bus Parking departure point near Zürich Main Station (HB) by 9:45am for a Best of Zürich City Tour. Your tour will include the shopping and business center Bahnhofstrasse, the Limmatquai with its medieval Old Town and a stop at Lindenhof, where the brave women of Zürich saved the city from the invaders. You'll continue past the biggest clock-face of Europe on St. Peter`s church, the Guild-Houses, Lake Zürich, the University quarters, the gorgeous mansions of the Zürichberg and finally Fraumunster Church with its world-famous Chagall-Windows with detailed explanations. The tour ends in the Old Town, providing the perfect segue to have lunch in this area. Zürich's diverse food scene offers an array of high-quality international cuisine or traditional Swiss specialties.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Zürich)
Today is free for exploring additional sites of the city and the surrounding area. The Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum), the biggest in Switzerland, is by far the most visited, with a permanent exhibition on the History of Switzerland. The Kunsthaus gallery offers works by Monet, Fuseli and Dada. Two of the more famous churches to view are the Gothic Fraumunster church and the Romanesque Grossmunster. both important Zürich landmarks. If you wish to leave the city, cross Lake Zürich by ferry and ride a cable car to Felsenegg with stunning views of the town, the lake, and the snow-capped Alps. If the weather is nice, take a 1-hour cruise on Lake Zürich or wander around the Niederdorf district in the Old Town, where the many of the car-free streets are full of antiques and trendy boutiques. And top off your day with a stop at the Sprüngli Cafe for chocolates. In the evening, what better way to end your stay than enjoying a typical fondue dinner at a local restaurant.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Zürich)
After breakfast, meet your driver for a private travel to the airport or rail station for your return home or on to your next Avanti Destination!