After arriving at CDG Airport, meet your driver in the arrivals hall for a private transfer to your hotel. 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.
After a breakfast, you'll be picked up at your hotel at 8:00 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. Nearby is 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, time to leave the cosmopolitan and celebrated capital and head to Dijon. You'll depart from Gare de Lyon station on the TGV in 1st class for the short 90 minute ride to the mustard capital of the world. After checking into your hotel, you'll find this town easy to explore on foot, and offers much more than their popular condiment. Stop at the Ducal Palace, home of the Dukes of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries, now the town hall. Inside the palace is Dijon's Fine Arts Museum, hosting a diverse collection of Islamic weapons and glassware, Oriental porcelain, African ceremonial mask, Egyptian antiquities and Roman art from Switzerland and Germany. Nearby on the north side of the Church of Notre-Dame is Dijon's symbolic owl, Parcours de la Chouette, sculpted in the 1500's.The stone has been buffed shiny by centuries of people touching it for good luck and making a wish. Tradition says that you should do this with your left hand when you pass, or your wish won't come true.
The Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne in the cloister of a 17th-century Bernardine Cistercian monastery, presents rural life and city life in Burgundy from the 1700's. And if you want to know more about the history of Dijon mustard, the museum provides all the details of this condiment.
(Breakfast, Paris; Accommodations, Dijon)
The morning is at your leisure. In the afternoon, meet your guide at the hotel for a Private Cote de Beaune Wine Tour. This entertaining, informative 4-hour tour with your English-speaking driver-guide, will acquaint you with some of Burgundy's most prestigious wines. Your tour will include 2 cellar visits at local wineries and 2 wine tastings. And with a maximum tour capacity of 7 people, you're ensured of a personalized tour. You'll taste a selection of Cóte de Beaune and Cóte de Nuits wine, and your hosts will introduce you both white and Pinot Noir red wines, Along the way, you'll pass medieval villages, Roman churches, and historic abbeys. This evening at dinner, use your new-found knowledge to pair a fantastic burgundy wine to accompany your meal.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Dijon)
After breakfast, make your way to the rail station for the scenic ride to Lausanne. Nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Lausanne is the capital and biggest city of the canton of Vaud. After checking into your hotel, the remainder of the day is at your leisure.
(Breakfast, Dijon; Accommodations, Lausanne)
After breakfast, meet your guide at the hotel for a 2 hour Private Walking Tour. Your guide will highlight all the famous sites in Lausanne, from Ouchy by the lake, to the Olympic Museum, the International Olympic Committee, the Roman ruins, and the Thai Pavilion. Going through some of the green parks, you will see the university of Lausanne (UNIL) and the well-known polytechnic school (EPFL). From there, you'll make your way to the town center; built on three hills and crossed by two rivers. Pass through Saint-François square in the heart of town, and the Flon, formerly a handicraft area that has evolved into the center of Lausanne's nightlife.
When you reach the medieval "Cité" on the hill, you'll walk to the castle of St.Maire, where local regents have been sitting for six centuries, and then to the old Academy, significant for its role in the 16th century Reformation, and finally to the cathedral, the most remarkable example of Swiss Gothic architecture. When leaving the cathedral, you will take the wooden stairs down to Palud square and the town hall where the market takes place twice a week. The last square to visit is the Riponne with its Palais de Rumine; an impressive example of neo-renaissance architecture and former seat of the University. After the tour, you can stop for lunch, and continue to explore on your own.
(Breakfast & Accommodations, Lausanne)
After breakfast, enjoy your brief 45 minute train ride along Lake Geneva. Arriving in the stately city of Geneva, and after checking into your hotel, the remainder of the day is at your leisure.
(Breakfast, Lausanne; Accommodations, Geneva)
Today is free for independent sightseeing, and you'll find an array of attractions to discover. A stroll around Vieille Ville, Geneva's beautiful Old Town, is a must. Its main cobble stone street, the Grand-Rue, shelters the Maison de Rousseau et de la Literature at No 40, where the 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born. Nearby, the part-Romanesque, part-Gothic Cathedral St-Pierre is where Protestant John Calvin preached from 1536 to 1564. Beneath the cathedral is the Site Archéologique, an interactive space safeguarding fine 4th-century mosaics and a 5th-century baptismal font. You can trace Calvin's life in the neighboring Musée International de la Réforme. Geneva is also home to some quite unique communities, such as the "Greenwich Village" of Carouge. Here, you will find even more cafes, shops, and trendy bars, made even more interesting by their Bohemian flair. For art lovers, head over to the Bains District. It's home to a number of world-renowned galleries and is also considered a European platform for modern art.
The Musée International de la Croix-Rouge is a compelling and sobering multimedia exhibit at Geneva's International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. The litany of war, documented in films, photos, sculptures and soundtracks, is set against the noble aims of the organization founded by Geneva businessmen Henry Dunant in 1863. In addition, there are excellent temporary exhibitions on display.
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!