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Secrets of Southern France & Spain

Duration
7 Days
Prices From:
US$ 1,904

Embark on a guided small group tour of some of the enchanting towns and cities in the south of France and Spain. Cross the Pyrenees, see ancient Roman architecture, and discover walled castle towns and Gothic cathedrals as you unlock the secrets of Southwestern Europe’s past.


This 7-day Southwestern European vacation takes you to several historical cities and regions in the south of France and Spain, including Carcassonne, Lourdes, La Rioja, and Segovia. It features first-class and moderate accommodations, small group tours, and is a great add-on to a stay in Paris or Madrid. 

Your journey begins in Nice, the charming city in Provence, where you’ll join your tour group and head to Aix-en-Provence, erstwhile hometown to Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne. You can visit the house where he was born as well as his final resting place before moving on to the museum of Ambrusum, which explores the Gallo-Romans that lived here 2,000 years ago. Continue into Regional Natural Park of Narbonne to appreciate the stillness of Fontfroide Abbey before reaching the walled city of Carcassonne. Carcassonne may look familiar from the popular board game or simply the fact that it’s the quintessential castle city. You’ll have a morning to explore its stone towers, spiky turrets, and zigzagging walls before continuing on to the medieval fortified town of Mirepoix for lunch and some free time to explore the main square. Continue into the Midi-Pyrenees to reach the Mas d’Azil Cave, the only grotto in Europe that you can drive through. 

Reach Lourdes, which you’ll have a day to explore. Visit the Notre Dame de Lourdes, the cathedral renowned for its healing powers, or explore the castle and ride the funicular up to Pic du Jer for stunning views over the Pyrenees. You can also get out into the wilderness with a hike through the Pyrenees heading to the village of Gavarnie.

Cross into Spain and descend into Jaca, known as the Pearl of the Pyrenees, which was founded by Romans, conquered by Moors, and then reconquered by Spaniard Christians. Continue to Yesa Reservoir for a soothing soak in the hot springs before reaching La Rioja, the rich region of wine and natural treasure. You’ll explore this region over the course of a day. Stroll alongside Tobera Waterfall, take a break next to a ruined castle in tiny Frias, and stop at vineyards to enjoy a wine and food pairing. In the afternoon, you can either enjoy a siesta in Haro or continue on to another winery for more tastings. 

Leave La Rioja behind and reach Burgos along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. You can visit the tomb of the legendary hero, El Cid, and admire the Gothic architecture before crossing the plains of Castile and Leon and arriving in Segovia, which captures Spain’s golden past. You’ll visit the Roman aqueduct as well as the Alcazar de Segovia, the enchanting castle with its tall towers complete with witches’ hats. 

Afterwards, continue on to Madrid, the Spanish capital, where you’ll spend the night before ending your vacation. 


 

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Accommodation in Madrid

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    Vincci Via 66



    Vincci Via 66 enjoys an outstanding location in Madrid's city centre, on the famous Gran Via, close to Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, and Plaza de Espana squares, the commercial areas and the renowned triangle of arts, formed by the museums El Prado, Reina Sofia …

    Vincci Via 66 enjoys an outstanding location in Madrid's city centre, on the famous Gran Via, close to Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, and Plaza de Espana squares, the commercial areas and the renowned triangle of arts, formed by the museums El Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen. The Vincci Via 66 offers a contemporary design that will surprise even the most demanding eye, with its unique twist of theatrical splendor entwined with distinctive design features ensuring that you enjoy Madrid and all its delights from the moment you step inside. The Vincci Via is located a 10-minute walk from the Royal Palace and Puerta del Sol. Santo Domingo Metro Station is 150 metres away and is just a few stops from Paseo del Prado and Retiro Park.

    Facilities

    • 24 Hour Reception
    • Currency Exchange
    • Dry Cleaning
    • Express Check In/Out
    • Internet Access - Wireless
    • Laundry Service
    • Lounge Bar
    • Room Service

    More Details

    Preferred Hotel
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    Vincci Centrum



    Vincci Centrum is housed in a building that dates back to 1920 and is protected as National Heritage. It has been completely renovated, inspired by the glamour of the 1950s and the use of natural elements typical of Scandinavian design. Strategically located in the centre …

    Vincci Centrum is housed in a building that dates back to 1920 and is protected as National Heritage. It has been completely renovated, inspired by the glamour of the 1950s and the use of natural elements typical of Scandinavian design. Strategically located in the centre of Madrid, just 300 metres from Gran Via, it finds itself in the cultural triangle formed by the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia museums.

    Facilities

    • Bar
    • Parking
    • Room Service

    More Details

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    Vincci The Mint



    Located in the city center, 500m from Puerta del Sol - close to shops and restuarants ranks 18 on trip advisor in 2017

    Located in the city center, 500m from Puerta del Sol - close to shops and restuarants ranks 18 on trip advisor in 2017

    Facilities

    • Laundry
    • Luggage Storage
    • Meeting Rooms
    • Reception Bar
    • Room Service
    • Terrace
    • WiFi

    More Details

Duration
7 Days
Prices From:
US$ 1,904

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Nice - Carcassonne

You say 'au revoir' to glamorous Nice and head west towards Aix-en-Provence. This classy city is full of lively streets, elegant fountains and leafy squares. You can explore the winding streets and visit local cafes; or trace the life of Paul Cezanne, from the house he was born to the painter's atelier and final resting place. Next on the agenda is the archaeological site and museum of Ambrussum. This is where the Gallo-Romans existed 2,000 years ago. It's located on one of the most ancient Roman routes and gives you an insight into the history of this region. Continue south and leave the Romans behind as you delve into the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Narbonne. This peaceful area is a haven for Fontfroide Abbey which held considerable power during the Middle Ages. Enjoy the tranquility of this place and breathe in the fresh air before you travel to the walled city of Carcassonne.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Day 2

Carcassonne - Lourdes

After breakfast, explore the fascinating city of Carcassonne. Carcassonne has more stone towers, spiky turrets, and zigzag battlements than you can shake a sword at. Next, travel to the fortified medieval town of Mirepoix for freetime or lunch. Here, you can enjoy the local specialties in the main square surrounded by timber-framed houses before we head deeper into the Midi-Pyrenees. Next, instead of travelling up the mountains, you descend to the fascinating underground world of The Mas d'Azil Cave. The immensity of the grotto (the only one in Europe you can drive through) and the rich discoveries will leave you speechless. In the early evening, you arrive in Lourdes, a small Pyrenean town and a spiritual centre.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Day 3

Lourdes

Today, enjoy exploring Lourdes at your own pace. There's the soaring sanctuary of Notre Dame de Lourdes, a nearby castle, and a funicular ride to the top of Pic du Jer for a great view of the Pyrenees. Alternatively, you can spend half a day in Lourdes and half a day on tour exploring the village of Gavarnie deep in the Pyrenees. It's a perfect opportunity to wander around this little commune and try some local specialties. And if you feel the wilderness calls you, you can spend the whole day with us in the great outdoors. Why not go on a hike to Cirque de Gavarnie? The effort is worth it, this majestic amphitheatre-like valley with tumbling waterfalls will reward you with one of the Pyrenees' most stunning vistas.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 4

Lourdes - Haro, La Rioja

It's time to travel through the impressive Pyrenean mountain passes into Spain. You start your journey through this massive national park and descend into Jaca. This Spanish town is nicknamed 'Pearl of the Pyrenees' and has a captivating history. It was founded by the Romans, conquered by the Moors, and taken over again by the Christians. Ponder over the bravery of the locals as you explore the city and savour your lunch. Hopefully, you've got your swimwear with you, because you head to Yesa Reservoir, where you may find thermal pools for bathing. And if the water level is low, you can even have a free spa treatment when you plaster yourself with skin-softening mud. Alternatively, if you don't want to get out your swimming costume, you can spend your afternoon visiting the peaceful Leyre Monastery built on a mountain range overlooking the greenish and bluish shades of the reservoir. Refreshed by the afternoon's adventures you head to La Rioja region, the wine connoisseur's heaven.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Day 5

Haro, La Rioja

You wake up in a hilltop town surrounded by the vineyards of La Rioja. This is a fantastic base for exploring this rich region where wine has been cultivated since Roman times. In the morning, you venture off the beaten track to Tobera in Montes Obarenes Nature Park. You travel through mountains and forests and arrive in the picturesque hamlet with Romanesque hermitages. Here, you go for a relaxing walk to Tobera waterfall and have a comfort break in the nearby Frias. This tiny medieval city is as old as it is beautiful and is adorned with a ruined castle that will make you stare in wonder. Next, you jump over to the Basque Country. Here you take in views of Sobron Gorge and River Ebro, which nurtures the precious vineyards of La Rioja. After this scenic morning, you've got an opportunity to uncover the culture and history of the wine of this fertile land. You've got a chance to call on a local bodega where you can savour the aromas and flavours of this beverage. You may also try a superb food and wine pairing to complete your experience. If you think it's time for your siesta, you can stay in Haro and relax for the rest of the day. But if you still want to carry on indulging in the regional delights, you can enjoy more excellent wine in another winery. Whatever you do, spend your evening discovering gastronomic gems of Haro.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 6

Haro, La Rioja - Madrid

Say farewell to La Rioja and the vineyards because it's time to travel to Burgos. This proud city, situated on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, is famous for its Gothic cathedral looming over the skyline. Marvel at this jewel of Spanish architecture and visit the tomb of Burgos' favourite and most roguish son, El Cid. You then travel through the vast plains of Castile and León and arrive in Segovia. This city still has the spirit of an old Spanish city and is steeped in history. Start uncovering the city's rich heritage by gazing in awe at the perfectly engineered Roman aqueduct now standing in the vibrant centre. Then wander the cobbled streets and get dazzled by Alcazar de Segovia. With soaring towers and turrets topped with slate witches' hats, this castle looks like straight out of a fairy tale. So much so it supposedly inspired Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. Drink in the last panoramas of this magnificent city and travel south where the grand metropolis of Madrid awaits you in the evening.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Vincci Capitol

Vincci Capitol is set on Madrid's Gran Via, a few meters from Callao Metro Station. This stylish hotel features a roof terrace with impressive city views, a spa and rooms with flat-screen TVs. The Capitol offers Art Deco-style design, and its soundproofed rooms are spacious and air conditioned. Each has a pillow menu, a minibar and a hairdryer. A daily breakfast is served, including products for celiacs. The popular Puerta del Sol District with its many bars and restaurants is just 500 metres from the hotel. Plaza Mayor can be reached in 10 minutes, by foot.

Meal Plan Full Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Vincci Capitol

More Info  Alternative Accommodation

Location View map
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    Vincci Capitol



    Vincci Capitol is set on Madrid's Gran Via, a few meters from Callao Metro Station. This stylish hotel features a roof terrace with impressive city views, a spa and rooms with flat-screen TVs. The Capitol offers Art Deco-style design, and its soundproofed rooms are spacious …

    Vincci Capitol is set on Madrid's Gran Via, a few meters from Callao Metro Station. This stylish hotel features a roof terrace with impressive city views, a spa and rooms with flat-screen TVs. The Capitol offers Art Deco-style design, and its soundproofed rooms are spacious and air conditioned. Each has a pillow menu, a minibar and a hairdryer. A daily breakfast is served, including products for celiacs. The popular Puerta del Sol District with its many bars and restaurants is just 500 metres from the hotel. Plaza Mayor can be reached in 10 minutes, by foot.

    Facilities

    • 24 Hour Reception
    • Air Conditioning
    • Laundry Service
    • Lounge Bar
    • Luggage Storage

    More Details

    Preferred Hotel
Day 7

Madrid City Hotels to Madrid Airport

Duration30 Minutes

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

2020: May 11, 25; Jun 8,  22;, Jul 6,  20; Aug 8, 17, 31; Sept 14

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • 1 night moderate or first class accommodation in Carcassonne
  • 2 nights moderate or first class accommodations in Lourdes
  • 2 nights moderate or first class accommodations in La Rioja 
  • 1 night moderate accommodation in Madrid
  • Transport in luxury mini-coach
  • Professional tour guide and driver
  • Breakfast daily 

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • Entry fees to visitor attractions
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

OTHER INFORMATION: 

Transfer to the meeting point (Day 1) and transfer on the last day of the escorted tour (Day 6) to Madrid hotel is not included.  Unless arranged, you must make arrangements for these transfers. 

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.

DP NICTPK7DMADES
14 Sep 2020
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