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France - Best Tours & Trips 2019

1,350 trips to France tours from 164 tour companies. 2,141 reviews. 4.6/5 avg rating.

France is one of the most visited countries in the world. And that’s no surprise -- when you have Paris, the Riviera, Provence, Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Normandy, the Pyrenees, the Seine, the Rhone, and some of the world’s best food and wine, you’re going to draw crowds. Whether you tour France by river cruise, culinary tour, or bike tour you’re sure to agree: Viva La France!

All France tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Trip Type Trip Type Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 0 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

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Rivers & Seas

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Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

Stride Gives Back Stride Gives Back This trip visits a destination impacted by climate change. When you opt in to the Stride Gives Back program, we will donate 10% of our net revenue to organizations that help mitigate climate change in these destinations and across the globe. Learn more

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Unforgettable France

SmarTours
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
14 days
$ 250 / day
$ 3,499
From : $ 4,589
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • City Tour of Paris – Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe & more!
  • Monet’s House & Gardens (Giverny)
  • Versailles Optional Excursion
  • Cathédrale Notre-Dame (Rouen)
  • Mont St. Michel (Normandy)
  • Normandy Beaches
  • Normandy American Cemetery
  • Chateau de Chambord (Loire Valley)
  • Chateau Villandry (Loire Valley)
  • Chateau Chenonceau (Loire Valley)
  • Wine Tasting (Civray de Touraine)
  • Aix-en-Provence
  • Cezanne Studio (Aix-en-Provence)
  • Palais des Papes (Avignon)
  • Calanques Cruise (Cassis)
  • Monte Carlo Optional Excursion
  • Grasse & St. Paul de Vence Optional Excursion
Visits:
Giverny, Loire Valley, Normandy, Paris, France
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Highlights of France

G Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 160 / day
$ 1,359
From : $ 1,727
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Enjoy free time for the museums and cafés of paris
  • Go for a wine tasting in towns famous for their vineyards
  • Explore the scenery and palaces of avignon
  • Soak up some riviera sun in nice
Visits:
Avignon, Burgundy, Paris, France
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Highlights of Provence

Exodus Travels
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 244 / day
$ 1,949
From : $ 2,631
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • The beautiful Verdon Gorge
  • Local markets and villages
  • Relaxed daywalks
Visits:
France
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Grand France
River Cruise
Popular
Stride climate
This trip visits a destination that is affected by climate change

Grand France

15 days
$ 507 / day
$ 7,599
From : $ 9,347
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Visits:
Arles, Avignon, Burgundy, Lyon, Normandy, Paris, Rouen, France
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River Cruise to Northern France

ROW Adventures
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
7 days
$ 711 / day
$ 4,975
From : $ 6,119
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Visit the Abbey of Hautvilliers where the monk Dom Perignon first made Champagne
  • Visit to the world famous cellars of Moet and Chandon for a tour and tasting
  • Visits to small family-run vineyards
  • Visit Meaux and Coulomniers, one of the centres of Brie cheese
  • Visit the magnificent Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte
Visits:
Paris, Reims, France
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Paris Explorer Winter 2019 2020

Trafalgar
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 334 / day
$ 2,675
From : $ 3,611
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : N/A
Physical Level : N/A
  • N/A
  • Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • WALKING TOUR in Paris with a Local Specialist
    • SMALL GROUP SIGHTSEEING enjoy an in-depth, intimate guided tour of the fascinating Louvre Museum in a group size of no more than 25 guests.
    • ORIENTATION tour in Paris
    • VISIT the Royal Estate of Versailles including the Royal Palace, Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette's Hamlet "Le Petit Hameau" and the "village" of Montmartre
    • VIEW the Eiffel Tower, Champs Élysées, Paris Opera House, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and Notre Dame Cathedral
    Visits:
    Paris, France
    View Trip

    France Magnifique

    Collette
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    15 days
    $ 233 / day
    $ 3,499
    Travel Style : N/A
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Dine at a traditional bouchon where you will sample Lyon's cuisine.
    • Delight in a tour and tasting at a local winery.
    • Enjoy a delightful dinner at a traditional French restaurant.
    • Enjoy a relaxing cruise along the River Seine and drift past famous landmarks.
    • Travel back in history when you stand before the impressive UNESCO Bayeux Tapestry.
    • Learn the secrets of perfume making in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world.
    • Discover Avignon and enjoy free time to explore.
    • Ponder history at Normandy's Memorial Peace Museum and Omaha Beach Cemetery.
    • Explore Monaco and take in the Casino of Monte Carlo and the Cathedral of Monaco.
    Visits:
    Avignon, Loire Valley, Lyon, Paris
    View Trip

    The France - Paris Untour

    7 days
    $ 250 / day
    $ 1,749
    From : $ 2,361
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Explore Paris and Rouen
    • Visit Eiffel Tower and Luxemburg Gardens
    • Discover Notre dame cathedral
    • Visit Giverny and Palace of Versailles
    • Explore Sacré-Coeur
    Visits:
    Champs-Élysées, Eiffel Tower, Giverny, Musée d’Orsay , Notre Dame Cathedral, Palace of Versailles, Paris, Rouen, The Louvre, France
    View Trip

    10 Day Treasures of France

    STORY Land & Sea
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    10 days
    $ 658 / day
    $ 6,579
    From : $ 8,092
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • STORY Exclusive Chateauneuf-du-Pape Winery Experience
    • Experience Amazing Village on the Riviera
    • Pont du Gard sightseeing immersion walk
    • Enjoy Sightseeing immersion to Les Baux
    • Visit Pont Neuf and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame
    Visits:
    Avignon, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, The Louvre, France
    View Trip

    Burgundy River Cruise Adventure

    G Adventures
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    8 days
    $ 240 / day
    $ 1,919
    From : $ 2,360
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Cruise up the canals of burgundy aboard the danièle
    • Sip local wines and sample regional dishes
    • Cycle through villages and vineyards
    • Relax in the onboard jacuzzi as the scenery glides by
    Visits:
    Burgundy, Dijon, Paris, France
    View Trip

    Self-Guided Walking the French Riviera

    Explore!
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    8 days
    $ 158 / day
    $ 1,260
    From : $ 1,701
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Grasse- Enjoy the scent of the famed perfume village
    • Paradise Path - Scenic ascent to Gourdon for spectacular views
    • Dramatic, varied scenery - Deep gorges, waterfalls, river valleys and coastal views
    • French cuisine - Mouth-watering local delicacies and wines
    • Cote d'Azur - Walk from the mountians to the Mediterranean
    Visits:
    Alps, Cannes, France
    View Trip

    Journey through Southern France from Bordeaux to ...

    Collette
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    10 days
    $ 400 / day
    $ 3,999
    From : $ 4,919
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Indulge in the wines of Bordeaux, Medoc, Saint-Émilion and Dordogne Valley.
    • Revel in a wine-paired, multi-course dinner.
    • Savor farm tastings throughout the French countryside.
    • Venture to the Medoc wine region along the stunning "Route des Châteaux."
    • Uncover the medieval city of Saint-Émilion.
    • Hunt for truffles with a local chef and his truffle-sniffing dogs.
    • S
    Visits:
    Avignon, Bordeaux, France
    View Trip

    Compelling Corsica: Kayaking in Corsica, France

    ROW Sea Kayak Adventures
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    9 days
    $ 422 / day
    $ 3,795
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Visit Ajaccio
    • Visit of Corsica’s impressive megalithic art
    • Explore Bastia
    Visits:
    France
    View Trip

    Bordeaux Bike and Barge

    UTracks
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    8 days
    $ 212 / day
    $ 1,699
    From : $ 2,379
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
    Highlights
    • Experiencing the iconic wine district of Bordeaux by comfortable barge
    • Cycling through vineyards and villages enroute
    • Savouring local wines and regional specialties
    • Discovering the city of Bordeaux, the region's cultural centre
    • Admiring the chateaux and architecture
    Visits:
    Bordeaux, France
    View Trip

    Headwater - Dordogne River Walk, Self Guided

    Exodus Travels
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    9 days
    $ 305 / day
    $ 2,749
    From : $ 3,711
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Unspoilt scenery, woodland valleys, well-marked tranquil riverside paths
    • Pretty medieval villages; traditional Perigourdine markets, fairytale chateaux
    • La Roque Gageac, one of /'Les Plus Beaux Villages de France'/
    • Wonderful river wildlife: heron, coypu,kites, kingfishers, buzzards and dragonflies
    • Friendly, family-run hotels, all with pools and good food
    Visits:
    France
    View Trip
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    Top France Experiences and Attractions

    Top France Experiences

    Enjoying a glass of wine on a Rhone River cruise while watching the French countryside glide by

    Swimming in the Riviera

    Trekking through the Pyrenees to the Spanish border for incredible mountain views  

    Visiting the beaches of Normandy, stormed by Allied troops in World War II 

    Biking through Bordeaux or Burgundy and stopping to taste the vintages at a centuries old winery

    Exploring the quaint region of Provence

    view more

    France Trip Reviews

    2,141 France Tour Reviews - Summary 96% Recommend

    4.6 out of 5
    Excellent 1,550
    Great 443
    Average 92
    Disappointing 31
    Terrible 25
    Value
    4.6
    Guide
    4.6
    Activities
    4.6
    Lodging
    4.6
    Transportation
    4.6
    Meals
    4.6

    Tour Reviews Write a Review

    Thank you Ayana and Jared!

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    From panic to success!
    Had some issues with getting my trip rescheduled after a family emergency . Ayana & Jared were most helpful in getting it resolved and helping straighten out the confusion. I look forward to my new travel plan with the company.

    Read more
    Operator Aer Lingus Vacation Store

    Great value/itinerary

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 4.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 4.0

    I was pleasantly surprised that in 9 days we fit in a lot of sightseeing in 4 countries. I ususally plan my own trips with a full itinerary but this was the first tour we've taken where I left the planning to the Gate 1. It did not disappoint. I feel like we saw everything that I would have planned for us to do on our own. I don't feel like I have to return to any location to see things we missed. Also the other people on the tour were fun and we all got along well even with the wide age ranges. I highly recommend this tour and Gate 1.

    Read more
    Operator Gate 1

    Traveling with ACIS takes all the…

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    Traveling with ACIS takes all the anxiety and pressure off of me and I can concentrate on enjoying the trip with my students and embracing the new adventure.

    Read more
    Operator ACIS

    Would absolutely recommend!

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    Had a wonderful time in Greece during Spring Break! The Tour Director was incredible, very knowledgeable, and connected well with the students on the tour.

    The trip was definitely geared towards teenagers, meaning we were on the go all the time - seeing as much as we possibly could! I can see how some adults would not enjoy the trip, because it was NOT a vacation.

    The hotels were clean and comfortable, but not anything spectacular. Perfect for what we were using them for - just to sleep! The meals fed our hungry teenagers and were tasty.

    Other reviews on this site talk about their poor experience with customer service - I didn't experience that. Everyone I spoke to was helpful and polite.

    Overall, EF provided a quality trip experience geared towards the students on the tour. As an adult, I would have preferred some things be different but I had to remember that the trip wasn't about me - it was about my student!

    Read more
    Operator EF Educational Tours

    We had a wonderful trip!

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 4.0
    • Meals 4.0

    We had such a wonderful time on a tou! Excellent hotels, a lot of activities and interesting guides, fast paced adventure with some free time that was really nice and we visited all the cities in Europe I was dreaming about in one trip!

    Read more
    Operator Discovery Nomads

    A knowledgeable, interesting and friendly local guide

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    Travelsphere never let us down. Over the past 15 or so years we have travelled with them 8 or 9 times, on short breaks to Paris and Germany, and longer ones to Canada, Italy and America. Our latest was last weekend on the "Experience Riga" trip....it was wonderful, we had a terrific Tour Manager in Gerry, a knowledgeable, interesting and friendly local guide in Gita and they ensured that our trip to this fantastic city was a triumph. I want to go back there as soon as possible!

    Read more
    Operator Travelsphere

    France Tours and Travel Guide

    France Attractions & Landmarks Guide

    France is one of the most visited countries in the world. And that’s no surprise -- when you have Paris, the Riviera, Provence, Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Normandy, the Pyrenees, the Seine, the Rhone, and some of the world’s best food and wine, you’re going to draw crowds. Whether you tour France by river cruise, culinary tour, or bike tour you’re sure to agree: Viva La France!

    tour of Paris, of course, is on most everyone’s France tour itinerary, with sights like the Louvre (so huge it could easily take a month to cover beyond the Mona Lisa), Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, the Latin Quarter, the Marais, and the Seine with its Bateaux Mouches boats and dozens of bridges offering a walkway or river ride through the center of it all. 

    Popular France River Cruises

    Cruise travel continues to be on the rise for all budgets and one of the top trends is river cruising, particularly for baby boomers. Seniors, and even millennials are also stepping aboard in larger numbers but no matter the budget, a big attraction of river cruising is its intimacy.

    Ocean liners can tower in size and accommodate thousands of passengers. River cruise ships on the other hand are designed to navigate narrow waterways, locks and low bridges which gives passengers a quite different experience. You can delight in exploring from the decks of a sleek ship joined by only about 100-150 other passengers.

    If you are thinking of exploring France by river, it’s helpful to know the regions and cities of France that can be accessed by a river cruise vessel. This will help you decide the best French river cruise for you.

    There are four major rivers in France with the Seine, Rhone and Garonne/Dordogne rivers being the most popular for river cruises. The Loire is the longest river and starts high in the southeastern mountains. It flows north, then west into the Atlantic. 

    1. Seine - sourced from the mountains of southeastern France and flows to the northwest. From the capital city of light and love to the World War II beachheads including Omaha Beach, Paris to Normandy is a popular Seine river cruise, with some tour operators including excursions to London. River cruising in Northern France may also take you along the Seine’s eastern tributary, the Marne, where you can savor brie from a master cheesemaker in the heart of the Brie region. 

    1. Rhone - sourced from the Alps of Switzerland, directly east of France. The Rhone “kisses” its northern tributary, the Saone, at the city of Lyon, the second largest urban area of France, a part of which is a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. There are both Northbound and Southbound Rhone river cruises; a southbound cruise will take you straight south through the Rhone Valley, known for the intensely fragrant lavender fields of Provence, olive groves that produce some of the highest quality olive oil on earth and of course, the vineyards. Most notable is the Burgundy region, one of the classic French wine regions. The river meets the Mediterranean Sea near Marseilles, northwest of the French Riviera. Marseilles is the largest port and second largest city in France. 

    2. The Rhine river, from its source in Switzerland, makes its way north not only through France but also, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and the Netherlands. Rhine and Rhone river cruises allow you to see the sites of France, Germany and beyond. Use Stride’s search tools to help you zero in on the trip that speaks to you!

    3. Garonne/Dordogne rivers and Gironde estuary - sourced from the Spanish pyrenees that lie on the border between Spain and France, a Garonne river cruise will take you north into France then west towards Bordeaux, yet another famed wine region and Unesco World Heritage site. Bordeaux is second to Paris for its plethora of preserved historic buildings. Just after Bordeaux, the Garonne flows into the Dordogne river, forming the Gironde estuary before it empties into the Atlantic. France river cruises in this region are newer to the European river cruise offerings and perhaps not yet as popular as cruising the Seine and Rhone. Some focus only on the city of Bordeaux and the surrounding communes of Cadillac, Pauillac and Libourne while others include regions beyond.  

    Top Regions in France

    The extraordinary diversity of mainland France can be better appreciated with some knowledge of its geography, all of it packed into an area just under the size of two states of Colorado.

    France is bordered not only by the Atlantic on its western coast but also the Ligurian and Meditteranean Seas on its southeastern coast. It boasts eight mountain ranges. The Alps and Pyrennes are the most impressive in size with Mont Blanc in the Alps rising over 15,000 feet above sea level, the 11th highest in the world. 

    France has a number of overseas departments and regions, most of which are relics from its colonial empire but the mainland and Meditteranean island of Corsica are divided into 13 regions, each with its own wonder.

    Use Stride’s filter features to choose everything from traveler’s age preference to travel theme. Below are the regions and their highlights, listed by cardinal direction which will help you to more easily visualize and book your French tour

    1. Northern France 

    Normandy - Just east of Paris. Discover the historic D-Day landing beaches and the majestic cliffs of the Alabaster Coast that inspired so many of the French Impressionist painters. See the water lily ponds of Claude Monet’s famous painting come to life in the village of Giverny, where he lived from 1833 to 1926. You can also visit the gardens on his property. There are over a thousand sites and attractions listed on the Normandy tourism site, making it one of the top regions to visit in France. Normandy Tours »

    Ile de France - The city of Paris makes this another top region in France. Be awestruck by the Eiffel tower and encaptivated by the art at the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre. Less than 20 miles from Paris, visit the Chateau Versailles, Disneyland and Euro Disney. Paris tours with or without other stops in France and beyond will help you get started. 

    Hauts de France - The Opal coast, so named for its opalescent light sits on the English channel. Visit the floating gardens and gothic cathedral of Amiens or Lille, the old capital of the Flemish region. 

    2. Southern France

    Provence-Alpes-Cote d’ Azur - One of the top regions in France for tourists whether for the beaches and resorts of the French Riviera, including Monaco, Nice and Cannes, the lavender fields of Provence or the gothic and renaissance buildings of Avignon.

    For outdoors enthusiasts, Calanques National Park is a top destination in Southern France, greeting visitors with inlets of turquoise waters bordered by steep walls of rock.  

    Corsica - The French military leader and emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, came from Corsica. The island is located about 145miles from the southern coast. Many of the tours to Corsica include hiking. 

    Occitanie - Explore Toulouse, the pink city, known for the variety of bricks used in its buildings. In Nimes you’ll find the best preserved Roman amphitheater in the world and in Cathar County, the fortified city of Carcassonne with its imposing wall further fortified by 52 towers. 

    3. Central France

    Centre-Val-De-Loire - A top region of France known for its vineyards and chateaux (castles), homes to French kings of the Renaissance. The area is seen by many, many tourists from their bikes.  

    Loire Valley Tours

    4. Eastern France

    Grand Est - Includes the regions of Alsace-Champagne-Ardennes-Lorainne. Tours to Alsace often take you to the bordering countries of Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland.

    You may have guessed that visits to the tasting cellars of the champagne vineyards will be on your itinerary and perhaps the Route des Vins - the Alsace wine road. In its capital, Strasbourg, you’ll find the oldest Christmas market in Europe and for those inclined to military history, the Grand Est has plenty to tell from both World Wars. There are also several forests and parks to explore. 

    Auvergne-Rhone Alpes - Glide down the slopes of world class ski resorts like Chamonix and Val D’Isere. See Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe and aptly called the “roof of Europe.” Auvergne, one of the largest protected natural reserves in Europe has more than 100 hot springs and nearly as many volcanoes.

    Activities for both the summer or winter visitor may leave you with a shortage of energy but easily replenished by a visit to the spa and then perhaps some sustenance in the form of cheese, both of which the area is also known for. Tours to the French Alps »

    Bourgogne-Franche Comté - A top region in France known for its Burgundy vineyards, river tourism, medieval and renaissance castles. Dijon, one of the best preserved town centres in France is in the Burgundy region.

    In France Comte which borders Switzerland the Jura Mountains and Vosges massif create a beautiful landscape varying in elevation and filled with lakes and forests. And if you haven’t tried Comte cheese, now’s the time. It’s one of the most highly produced in France. Tours to Burgundy »

    5. Western France

    BretagneBrittany is known for its Celtic history among other things. The Bretons, who speak Breton, not French, are a Celtic ethnic group native to the area. The names given to different areas of the coast speak to its diversity: Jade, Emerald, Wild and Pink Granite. A land of myths, legends, moorland and medieval towns. Tours to Brittany often include Paris, Normandy and the Loire Valley.

    Pays de la Loire - South of Brittany is the western Loire. It, too, has its castles and vineyards although not as well known as the central Loire valley. You’ll find more of the dramatic Atlantic coastline, a masterpiece of religious architecture and the largest monastic site in Europe: the Abbey of Fontevraud. The second most visited theme park in France after Disneyland Paris is also in the western Loire, Puy Du Fou. 

    Nouvelle Aquitaine - Located south of Pays de la Loire, Nouvelle Aquitaine was the first spa region in France. Dax is the most well known - since Roman times - but is just one of a whopping 30 spa towns. Not a spa-goer? Stay and enjoy fine sandy beaches and Bordeaux wine paired with food from one of the many Michelin starred restaurants. 

    Food & Wine in France

    France is not only the birthplace of the Michelin hotel and restaurant reference guide, now more than a century old, but its cuisine of “intangible cultural heritage” was designated a UNESCO cultural object in 2010. Accordingly, French cuisine - including its cheese and wine - is a source of great national pride. Indeed, the French way of life is inseparable from its gastronomy.

    The Michelin guide publishes annual guides for hotels and restaurants in many countries these days but in France when the guide is published each year it sparks such a media frenzy that it has been compared to that of the Academy Awards. The loss or gain of a star can have significant consequences and as such, a chef can fall or rise from his or her celebrity level status in just one day. 

    Quiche, bouillabaisse, cassoulets, souffles, coq a vin, crepes and creme brulee are some of the traditional French foods with which you are probably familiar. Generally known for its heavy sauces, meat-centric dishes and decadent desserts, one of the secrets to staying relatively trim is that the French eat for pleasure - and they don’t eat that way every day.

    Whether over lingering lunches, 3 hour dinners or even longer sojourns to the cafe they’ve generally walked to, travel writer and author Rick Steves claims that the French have a legislated 35 hour work week and a self imposed 36 hour eat week. 

    The physical diversity of France lends itself to a tremendously diverse production of cheese. There are 41 traditional regional cheeses designated AOP or “Appellation d'Origine Protégée” meaning that they cannot be produced, processed or developed outside of the region from which they came due to the recognized expertise and terroir.

    The designation protects against fraud and is a guarantee of quality. Other varieties number up to 400 by some estimates, although with sub varieties included, the number jumps to 1000. Cheese maps show the unique varieties produced in each region. But alas, what is food in France without its wine? Top culinary and wine tours in France »

    France disputes the title of largest producer with Italy and Spain but if ranked by area planted in vines, did you know that title belongs to China, then Spain? There are over 400 AOPs (AOPs replace the earlier AOC designations). Other classification systems are not as strict as those of the AOP; for example, IGPs (Indication Géographique Protégée). 

    Rather than get lost in the complexity of the classification system, just start tasting! Generally, you’ll find lighter wines in the north and fuller bodied wines in the south where it is sunnier.

    Below are the top wine regions in France and their main varietals, in order of highest to lowest acreage of vines. “Sante!” (To Your Health) 

    Languedoc-Roussillon Main Varietals:
    White Wines: Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne
    Red Wines: Grenache, Syrah, Carignane, Cinsaut

    Bordeaux Main Varietals:
    White Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Muscadelle
    Red Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec

    Rhône Valley Main Varietals:
    White Wines: Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier
    Red Wines: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre

    Loire ValleyMain Varietals:
    White Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne
    Red Wines: Cabernet Franc, Cot (Malbec)

    Burgundy Main Varietals:
    White Wines: Chardonnay
    Red Wines: Pinot Noir, Gamay (in Beaujolais)

    Champagne Main Varietals:
    White Wines: Chardonnay
    Red Wines: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier

    Alsace Main Varietals:
    White Wines: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc
    Red Wines: Pinot Noir

    Cycling Tour Packages in France

    There’s something about using your legs to propel you over terrain, especially terrain as beautiful as that of France. Cycling tours in France range from easy to extreme with the majority of them being moderate.

    On the extreme end, hop in your saddle to tackle easier climbs at the start of your Pyrenees trip but find your legs pumping hard over Col du Tourmaletm, one of the most popular mountain passes in the Tour de France at just under 7,000’.

    But have no fear, there are more moderate Cols to climb on Tour de France cycling tours or for an easier ride, cycle the backroads of Provence. For moderate riding, cycle the Loire Valley and there’s even a number of self-guided cycling tours in France.

    The Riviera and Provence

    A visit to France may include a tour along the Mediterranean Sea. The glamorous and sometimes ostentatious French Riviera beach resorts include Cannes (site of the film festival), Nice (the largest city), Cap Ferrat, and St. Tropez.

    The Riviera is just part of sunny Provence in southeastern France, which is tucked between the Rhone River, Italy, the Alps and the Mediterranean. It’s a land where sea air, mountain gorges, vineyards, medieval villages, Roman ruins, olive groves and lavender fields combine to create a sensuous medley of sights, scents and tastes.

    The light in Provence is so striking that painters such as Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso were all drawn here, immortalizing the landscapes, architecture, and people.

    Provence is home as well to France’s second largest city and major port, Marseilles, which displays North African influences and is known for bouillabaisse, the local fish stew. All this has helped make Provence France’s number one tourist destination beyond Paris.

    Top France Travel Companies

    Things to Know Before You Go

    Weather in France

    The geographic diversity of the French regions, as you might imagine, lends itself to diverse weather patterns. In general, it will be temperate with summer averages ranging 61-75°F and winter averages ranging 32-46°F.

    Winter weather is gray although milder in the south uness the wind is blowing; colder and wetter in the north. Snow could be an issue during the winter months if you are in higher elevations.

    As for the summer, recall the record heat France sweated out during the summer of 2019 when temperatures reached 115°F in Verargues, Southern France while even further north in Paris, thermometers hit 108°F! 

    There are four climate zones in France:

    1. Oceanic (Atlantic) climate of western France - Brittany, Normandy, Loire Valley, Western Loire - average rainfall spread over many days and modest average temperature variations

    2. Continential, or transitional, climate of central and eastern France - Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Ile de France (Paris) - cold winters, hot summers 

    3. Mediterranean climate of southeastern France - Provence, Cote d’Azur, Corsica - hot, dry summers and while damp but mild, rainfall between October and April 

    4. Mountain climates above 2,000’ see heavy rainfall with snow falling 3-6 months a year  

    Best Time to Visit France

    Late Spring and Fall

    Late Spring and Fall is the time to avoid crowds while still being relatively assured of good weather. You will miss the summer festivals but for those that are crowd averse, this may not be a factor.

    Note that a few National Holidays fall in May: Labor Day and WWII Victory Day are May 1st and 8th respectively; Ascension Day falls 39 days after Easter Sunday. 

    July or August 

    Traveling in July and August? Be prepared for hoards of crowds in the Riviera, coast of Brittany, Dordogne and Alps as these are hot spots for vacationing Europeans. In August, businesses often close although not to the degree noticed by tourists. If you enjoy festivals, there are plenty to choose from!

    Winter 

    Winter has its own beauty but during the winter months, some tourist sites and information offices might not be open or they might have limited hours. Smaller towns and villages might also be hunkered down with closed restaurants and shops. 

    Is France Expensive?

    If you’re wondering how much it costs to vacation in France, like anywhere you may travel, it depends on how you plan your trip. France is one of the top destinations in the world and Paris, in particular, does have a reputation for being expensive.

    But so does New York and just like France, traveling there for the budget minded can be accomplished.

    Some things to consider when traveling to France on a budget

    1. Factor in the time of year you’re traveling - shoulder seasons are less costly for air and hotel; regardless, book flights well in advance

    2. Factor in your mode of travel: barge, river ship, self-guided, cycling, train, etc.

    3. Exchange rates

    4. To avoid inflated tourist rates while dining out, first look at the menu posted outside then take note: if locals are eating there, it’s most likely a good choice

    5. Sit at the bar, where prices are cheaper, not at a table

    6. Most expensive French cities: Nice, Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon 

    7. Most expensive French regions: the Dordogne, Meditteranean and the Loire Valley

    8. Less costly: central France 

    9. Shop at local open air markets and second hand flea markets (brocantes)

    France tours on Stride features per day costs. Using the price filter from lowest to highest you’ll find 4 day trips for as low as $71/day and on the higher end, ultra luxury 7 day trips costing over $7,000/day. 

    Who Will Enjoy Traveling to France

    Perhaps the question is, who wouldn’t enjoy traveling to France?! There is so much for the French traveler to experience, it’s no wonder that France is a top worldwide destination.

    Beaches, mountains, valleys of grapes and lavender, rivers to cruise, 45 natural and cultural world heritage sites, Disneyland Paris, gastronomy, wine and shopping...there’s something for just about everyone.

    If mobility and / or walking on uneven ground is a concern, speak with your tour operator as many of the smaller towns and villages have uneven cobblestone which may not be suitable, depending on your situation. If traveling through subways, they involve quite a bit of stair climbing and while many of the accommodations are historically charming, they might not be fully accessible for those using a walking aid.   

    While it’s hard to go wrong with a trip to France, if you’re not curious about the language, people and its customs you might have a harder time making meaningful connections. Of course, this isn’t unique to France. Be respectful and courteous. Say “hello” and even better, “Bonjour” (“hello” in French) to start a conversation.

    Make an effort to speak the most basic of phrases - this can go a long way. Just as Americans don’t expect a foreigner visiting America to speak English, we shouldn’t expect the French to speak to us in English. Many do speak English by the way, especially in Paris, so be mindful - if you are complaining about something, a local might be listening. And do keep in mind that Americans have their own reputation, one that isn’t always positive. 

    Learn some French etiquette, a word derived from French after all. Doing so will give you a much deeper appreciation - and connection to - the country and its people, as will learning some common phrases.

    All France tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.6 for all France trips.

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