Life is a dream in France, where your senses will have a field day engaging with the art, cuisine, landscapes, and endless architectural splendors. Though you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience anywhere you go, we’ve created an itinerary that highlights the offerings of Paris and Bordeaux—two world-renowned destinations that won’t disappoint. Happy travels!
Day 1 – Arrive in Paris
Jet lag? What jet lag? You’re in the City of Light—there’s no time for jet lag! As you’ll be here for three nights, you might want to get yourself a three-day Paris Pass to help save money during your stay. This provides free or fast-track entrance to a wide range of museums, galleries, monuments, and other attractions. It also gives you free unlimited travel on public transportation within central Paris. Once you have your pass, the fun can really start.
The site of Napoleon’s crowning, this UNESCO-listed Gothic cathedral is king (or queen!) among Parisian emblems. Set aside time to admire its intricate stained glass windows before heading up the 422 steps to the tower (free entry with your Paris Pass). Here you can gaze down at the rooftops and monuments of the city and stare down a gargoyle or two. Don’t leave the cathedral without exploring the manicured gardens in the back. Depending on the time of day, this is a great spot for a peaceful Parisian picnic.
Immerse yourself in the Musée d’Orsay
Art lovers will swoon at the extensive, astounding collection of Impressionist masterpieces of the Musée d’Orsay. Housed in a converted Beaux-Arts railway station, this collection features works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and many more. And you can thank your handy Paris Pass once again for free entry into this artistic wonder.
By now your transatlantic flight has probably taken its toll on your energy level. Why not cap off your busy day with a relaxing dinner cruise along the Seine? Discover the city’s beloved landmarks illuminated in the darkness, and let your gourmet meal be the cherry on top of an unforgettable first day in France.
Day 2 – Paris
It’s your first full day in Paris! Pop into a patisserie for a pastry and a café au lait, then take the rest of the morning to explore at your leisure. Stroll through the orchards and apiary in Luxembourg Gardens or peruse the haute couture in the Marais district. How about wandering the stalls of the centuries-old market on Rue des Martyrs? There’s no wrong way to spend a day in Paris!
Eat as the French eat
It wouldn’t be a trip to Paris without a decadent wine and cheese lunch. Learn about the country’s various wine regions as you indulge in an array of local cheese and charcuterie.
The Louvre Museum is among the most revered in the world, with masterful collections spanning thousands of years. On a guided tour with priority access, you’ll receive commentary on various sections of the museum. (You’ll also get to bypass the ticket line.)
Cabaret the night away
You can’t leave Paris before catching one of the city’s unique cabaret shows. The historic Moulin Rouge may be the first venue that comes to mind, but you can get all the glitz and glamour at a fraction of the cost at Paradis Latin. Come with an appetite, because dinner is included!
Day 3 – Paris
Your morning starts bright and early! Just after 7:00am you’ll board your motorcoach for an all-day tour of the Loire Valley’s stately castles. This adventure gives you a chance to explore the architecturally stunning Chambord, Cheverny, and Chenonceau Chateaus and their immaculate grounds. The entire region is one giant UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sit back, relax, and let the picturesque villages and rolling vineyards transport you to the ultimate French experience.
Day 4 – Transfer to Bordeaux
Today you bid adieu to charming Paris and hop aboard your flight to Bordeaux—one of the most famous wine regions in the world.
Built in the 18th century as a royal square dedicated to Louis XV, the Place de la Bourse is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Bordeaux. Arguably its most iconic feature is a large, shallow Water Mirror that alternates between reflecting the facades of surrounding buildings and emitting a fine mist.
Get some wine education
Prepare for your wine tasting tour tomorrow with a visit to the Cité du Vin—a museum dedicated to the history and culture of the global wine industry. Learn about grape varieties around the world, the transformation of grapes into wine, and how wine has evolved and grown in popularity over the centuries. The high-tech building alone is worth a visit, with a futuristic spiral design inspired by the motion of swirling wine in a glass.
This 18th-century neoclassical wonder has long been considered the center of artistic life in Bordeaux. Catch an evening performance of the Bordeaux National Opera (or Bordeaux Aquitaine National Orchestra) and soak in the atmosphere created by the rich, royal hues, cupola fresco, and opulent chandelier.
Day 5 – Bordeaux
Wine tastings at three Classified Growth Chateaus are on the docket for today during your all-day tour of the Medoc wine region. You’ll learn all about the wines of the left bank (particularly the mighty Cabernet Sauvignon), and by the end of the day you’ll practically be an expert!
Day 6 – Bordeaux
It’s your last full day in France—make it exactly what you want!
Take in Bordeaux by bike or foot
Bordeaux’s extensive bike sharing program makes it easy to explore the area on two wheels. Pedal along the waterfront promenade on the left bank of the Garonne, or follow the scenic Roger Lapébie bike path out of the city toward Sauveterre-de-Guyenne. If walking is more your style, head to the Jardin Public, opened in 1746 on a plot of land deemed unsuitable for grape-growing. Here you’ll find a large, serene lake, an arboretum, a natural history museum, and the famous Guignol Guérin puppet theater.
Go shopping on the Rue Sainte-Catherine or admire the architecture of the Gothic Bordeaux Cathedral. For a journey back in time to medieval Bordeaux, a visit a fragment of the old city walls at Porte Cailhau (built in 1495) or La Grosse Cloche, the old town hall belfry.
Embrace the local cuisine while you still can!
For dinner, indulge in some regional specialties. Steak with Bordelaise sauce is a sure-fire winner, and some restaurants in the area will dedicate their entire menu to this single dish. Asparagus is also a local favorite, as are duck confit and foie gras. For dessert: canelés! These delicious, ubiquitous pastries are made with vanilla and rum and baked in a scalloped mold so they’re instantly recognizable (and instantly devoured!).
Day 7 – Fly home
It’s been quite a week! Alas, it’s time to pack your bags and say au revoir to belle France. Have a safe trip home!