Italian Lakes, Alpine Peaks & Rural France
13 day tour

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Combine the verdant sights of Northern Italy with the beauty of the Alps and rural France.

Highlights

Wine
Abbeys
Film Locations
Castles
UNESCO Heritage Sites
Lakes
National Parks
Mountains

Places you explore


Lake Como and Lake Maggiore - Prestigious villas, lush nature and charming villages. Fall in love with the beguiling beauty of the azure blue Italian lakes.

Lauterbrunnen – Stare in awe at this postcard-perfect village nestled deep in a valley of 72 waterfalls with views of Eiger

Gruyères – This little quaint Swiss village has it all: lush green fields, charming churches, a medieval castle, and legendary cheese and chocolate.

Lausanne - Enjoy lakeside promenades, a cobblestone town centre, cool cafes, and eclectic bars in the city located on the glimmering Alpine lake.

Sénanque Abbey - Discover the history of the abbey and the community of Cistercian Brothers.

Verdon Gorge - The deepest gorge in France has been carved by the turquoise water of the Verdon River.

Plateau de Valensole - This 800km² plateau is devoted to growing blue, violet and purple-coloured fields of lavender.

Beaune - A beautiful walled town located in the heart of Burgundy’s famous vineyards.


Your journey


Do you find holiday decisions hard? Do you enjoy lovely lakes as much as cobbled village squares? Can you never choose between a glorious mountain vista and an ancient medieval monastery?

Well, on this tour you don’t have to; because it includes all this and more.

You gorge on Gruyère cheese surrounded by alpine peaks; you wander through an ancient University in Bologna; and after a barrage of wonderful quaint rural sights, you end on the beautiful French Riviera.

Take this trip and make the most of your time to Europe.


Tour Details

Starts
08:30 - Rome
Finishes (approx.)
19:00
Nice
Luggage
You’re restricted to 20kg (44lbs) of luggage per person. This may consist of a small bag for onboard personal items and a larger suitcase or rucksack.
Discounts
  • Children between 5 and 15 (unfortunately, we don't carry children under 5 years old)
Important information
  • Pack comfortable shoes for walks up to beautiful views
  • Carry swimwear and a towel for wild swimming spots
  • Your holiday’s more fun when you protect yourself from the sun
  • This journey combines two of our tours and a free day in Paris. This means you swap your bus and guide during the journey.
  • Secure your tour with 10% deposit. See FAQs for more details.
Tour inclusions
  • Transport in a luxury mini-coach
  • Air conditioning as standard
  • The stories and services of an English-speaking guide and driver
  • 12 nights in a three-star hotel with continental breakfast
Tour exclusions
  • Entry fees to visitor attractions
  • A few European destinations charge tourist taxes. These funds help them keep the locations clean, safe, and beautiful. You usually pay these at the accommodation suppliers, and cost between 1€ and 5€ per night.

Itinerary

Day 1

  • Visit Bagno di Romagna known for its hot springs
  • Spend an evening in Bologna and stroll through its famous porticoes

You leave the dazzling capital of Italy and head north towards the region of Umbria. You stop on the way as you travel through a land of forests and valleys dotted with pretty hill-towns.

In the early afternoon, you arrive in charming Città di Castello where you have lunch. This small town with a medieval centre dates back to Roman times. And is rich in history, art plus is the place to try delicious truffles.

Next, you travel to Bagno di Romagna, a little town in the Apennines. Located on the doorstep of the Casentinesi Forest National Park and boasting hot springs, this small mountain community is an oasis of slow-life. Stroll through this charming hamlet; pop into its little palace, churches, and monasteries; or, depending on the group’s interests, head to the nearby national park to see Alferello Waterfall.

You then travel through the green countryside of the Emilia-Romagna region as you head to Bologna, where you spend the night. You arrive here in the late afternoon, so make sure to explore this city which boasts Europe’s oldest university; a beautiful network of porticoed, medieval streets; and some fine restaurants.

Day 2

  • Get captivated by the views of Lake Como framed by the Alps
  • Marvel at the stunning architecture of the unique Villa del Balbianello

Today, you travel through Lombardy, Italy’s wealthiest region with a host of magnificent lakes.

Your adventure first takes you to Lake Como, the most stunning lake in the region. Framed by the Rhaetian Alps, this Italian slice of heaven’s crystal-clear waters seduced the most famous writers of the 18th and 19th centuries.

You arrive in Lenno, a town on the west bank of the lake, where you have the whole afternoon to yourself. Stroll along the shores of the town, drink in the magnificent views, and absorb its relaxed atmosphere. Don’t forget to find a restaurant or café to savour the unique flavours of the region before you continue to explore the area.

Your day by Lake Como wouldn’t be complete without visiting a splendid villa, so make sure to see Villa del Balbianello. This 18th-century mansion is as magnificent as it is famous. The interior is filled with artwork, and the terraced gardens and vistas will take your breath away. And when you visit this place, you’ll feel like a movie star because this was used as a set from Star Wars Episode II and James Bond’s Casino Royale.

Full of natural and architectural delights, you continue to Lugano in the late afternoon, where you spend two nights.

Day 3

  • Admire the harmonious blend of lakes and the mountains in Locarno
  • Explore stunning Stresa and the beautiful Borromean Islands

Breathe in the fresh mountain air as you leave Lugano and continue to explore the stunning lakes on the border of Italy and Switzerland.

You have a comfort break in Locarno, an Italian-speaking resort city in Switzerland on Lake Maggiore. With 2,300 hours of sunshine a year, numerous palm trees, and an air of elegance, this city is hard to leave.

Next, you jump over to Italy again and travel along Lake Maggiore to Stresa. You’ll be entertained for the whole afternoon by this town’s belle époque villas, lovely promenade, and cobbled streets. You can also take a boat to the magnificent Borromean Islands to uncover their artistic, historical and natural delights. Or, if you crave for striking vistas, get the cable car ride to the summit of Mount Mottarone that rises nearby.

After an exciting afternoon, you swap the lake for mountains and head to Varese to enjoy its pretty old town and grand art nouveau villas.

In the evening, you return to Lugano for your second night.

Day 4

  • Fall in love with Lauterbrunnen, one of the most quintessential Alpine villages
  • Stare in wonder at the Staubbach Falls, Europe’s highest free-falling waterfall

Today, you delve into the mountainous heart of Switzerland where the soaring Alps are intertwined with green meadows, glittering lakes and cute villages.

Your first short stop is in Altdorf, a little town with a famous monument to William Tell. Hear the story of the legendary folk hero who symbolized the struggle for political and individual freedom.

Then, you travel through some of the most scenic roads of the country, where every turn looks like a postcard photo. But just when you thought that the landscape can’t get any more magnificent, you arrive in Lauterbrunnen.

This little village is the epitome of the alpine paradise. It’s located in an immense U-shaped valley framed by sheer mountain crags. It offers great views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, some of the most well-known mountains in the area, and it’s decorated with a staggering 72 waterfalls.

You have almost the whole afternoon to explore this quintessential Swiss village. Start from admiring the chalet-style houses and eating some Swiss specialities. Then, stare in awe at Staubbach Falls, Europe’s highest free-falling waterfall located right at the end of the main street. If you still crave more, you can go slightly off the beaten track and visit Trümmelbach waterfalls, a series of 10 glacier waterfalls.

After you’ve soaked up the peace and beauty of the rural landscapes, you head to Lausanne, your home for two nights and an ideal place for an evening stroll along Lake Geneva.

Day 5

  • Savour the quintessential flavours of Gruyères
  • Try celebrity-spotting in glamorous Gstaad
  • Visit the iconic Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva

Man does not live on landscapes alone, so today you’ve got a chance to savour the famous culinary heritage of Switzerland.

You head to the medieval town of Gruyères full of cobbled streets and quaint houses decorated with flowers. But you didn’t come here to admire the charms of the village. You came to try that nutty, semi-hard cheese the world raves about. And the best place to do this is at the local cheese factory, La Maison du Gruyère, where you can learn the history and production secrets of this delicious cheese.

Alternatively, if you have a sweet tooth, visit Maison Cailler; a chocolate factory with a series of interactive, multi-sensorial experiences and chocolate tasting. Just remember to leave some space for other specialities like fondue and marvellous meringues with double cream.

After trying some of the gastronomic highlights, you get back on the road and venture through the unspoiled landscapes of a regional nature park to Gstaad for lunch. It might be a timber-lined village surrounded by mountains and pastures, but it’s popular with celebrities and exudes the glitz and glamour.

From here, you travel back to the shores of Lake Geneva to visit another Swiss icon, the 13th-century Chillon Castle which boasts a spectacular location. You arrive back in Lausanne early in the evening.

Day 6

  • Stroll leisurely through charming Dole, the City of Art and History
  • Discover the quintessential flavours of famous Chablis wines in their birthplace

You leave lovely Lausanne, travel through the brooding scenery of the Jura Mountains, and head into France. You’re now in the rural landscapes of the Franche-Comté region known for its beautiful nature.

Your first stop of the day is Dole, a charming town set in the stunning countryside of the Doubs valley. It boasts the status of ‘A City of Art and History’ thanks to its wonderful historical area, medieval streets, and interesting museums. To get the real flavour of this place, stroll along the town’s narrow streets, canals and bridges and taste some of the local cheeses.

Back on the road, you head to Chablis, the home to the region’s famous dry white wines. This picturesque walled town will enchant you with its medieval timber-framed houses. Savour your lunch and go wine tasting in a nearby winery to discover some of the best Chablis. Or if you like wine trivia, peruse the impressive collection of 8,000 items in the Corkscrew and Vineyard Museum.

In the late afternoon, say au revoir to the medieval town and journey to Paris through the lush landscapes of Burgundy.

You will say goodbye to this group here and will join a new group on the morning of day eight.

Day 7

  • Admire Notre Dame and the city skyline as you stroll along the Seine River
  • Come face to face with some of the most marvellous masterpieces in Louvre Museum

You have a free day in the capital of France, one of the most glamorous cities in Europe.

From the world’s biggest attractions, museums, and churches to charming streets, cafes and boutiques; Paris can keep you captivated for days.

With so much to see and do, you should focus on the crème de la crème of the city’s attractions.

In the morning, get your obligatory croissant or baguette and head to the most iconic arrondissements (districts). Start with the Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine. Admire Notre Dame and pay your respects to the building which means so much to France and the world.

Then, contrast the 12th-century edifice of the cathedral with the shimmering glass pyramid of the Louvre museum. The exhibitions here boast tens of thousands of works of art spanning many centuries.

After you’ve pondered over Mona Lisa’s smile and seen some of the biggest masterpieces, find a café or a bistro for a well-deserved rest.

No visit to Paris is complete without at least a glance at the Eiffel Tower, so stroll along the banks of the Seine to this iconic structure.

And in the evening, you can go on a romantic cruise, sit in a French wine bar, or see a traditional Parisian cabaret at Moulin Rouge. But don’t let Paris bewitch you too much, because tomorrow is your next leg of the tour.

Day 8

  • Wander through the old town of Auxerre full of timber-framed medieval houses
  • Admire the flamboyant Gothic architecture of the Hospices de Beaune in the heart of Burgundy

You depart the cosmopolitan city of Paris and watch the lowlands turn into the landscapes of northern Burgundy.

Your first stop of the day is historic Auxerre. This rural town boasts one of the best restored medieval quarters in northern Europe. You’ve got time here to stretch the legs and discover the narrow lanes, lovely open squares, and half-timbered houses.

You then travel to the remote village of Vézelay. Perched on a hill in the sea of greenery, this commune clustered around a UNESCO basilica is a perfect stop for lunch.

Once you’ve tried the local specialities, you travel through the unspoiled forests of the Morvan Regional Nature Park. The scenes of lakes and rivers make you feel far away from the Parisian metropolis.

In the early evening, you arrive for your overnight stay in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy. It’s time to indulge yourself in two great French passions, food and wine.

Day 9

  • Explore the ruins of Cluny Abbey, a powerful religious centre in the Middle Ages
  • Savour some of the best Burgundy wines in a beautiful location

Bonjour! Today you travel through Burgundy to the dignified Cluny Abbey. In its heyday, this religious centre was one of the most powerful Christian capitals in medieval Europe. You’ve got time to explore the quiet cloisters of this stunning monastery and ponder over its former glory.

Then you head to Vienne, a town steeped in Gallo-Roman heritage. Its old quarters hide spectacular ruins of a Roman temple and theatre. Enjoy your lunch here and discover more of the town’s fascinating past before you continue your journey.

In the afternoon, it’s time to delve into the wine region of Côte-Rôtie to appreciate some of the best local vintages in a charming winery.

After you’ve satisfied your taste buds, you venture south to the famous Ardèche area. In the evening, you arrive in Tournon-sur-Rhône, a welcoming little town sitting upon the river Rhône. You spend two nights here.

Day 10

  • Take in the spectacular stone arch created by the torrents of the Ardèche river
  • Discover the world and art of Palaeolithic people in the replica of the Chauvet Cave

It’s time for something more majestic. It’s time to discover the rugged heart of Ardèche.
In the morning, your driver takes you along the scenic roads of a regional natural park to Aubenas, a city full of architectural treasures. But that’s just the beginning of today’s highlights.

Next, you follow the serpentine of the Ardèche river to Pont d’Arc where the water’s torrents etched an iconic natural stone arch in the limestone.

Once you’ve feasted your eyes on this natural wonder, you can choose what to do next. A little down the road, you can visit Grotte Chauvet 2; a replica of a cave decorated with prehistoric art that gives you a glimpse into the life of Palaeolithic people. Alternatively, you can enjoy more of the natural landscapes carved out by the adamant river.

You head back to Tournon-sur-Rhône in the late afternoon.

Day 11

  • Stare in wonder at the colossal Palace of the Popes in the historic centre of Avignon
  • Delve into the narrow winding streets of the honey-coloured village of Gordes

Provence has many dreamy and seductive faces. And today you’re going to discover more of this inspiring region.

First on your agenda is Avignon. You have time to explore the historic centre and the soaring Palace of the Popes. This fortress was the hub of the Roman Catholic world when the popes fled the political pressures of Rome. Grab a bite to eat, stroll through the streets, and discover the youthful vibe of the city before we move on.

In the afternoon, we head east to Sénanque Abbey nestled among the Luberon hills. If you’re searching for an iconic shot of a medieval monastery surrounded by fragrant lavender fields, you’ve come to the right place. Explore the quiet cloisters, meet the monks who still live here and continue your journey deeper into the hills.

Next, get a taste of traditional Provençal life in Gordes, one of the most beautiful villages in France. This honey-coloured hamlet clinging to the edge of a hill is a perfect place to admire the grand vistas of the Luberon valley.

After a day of savouring the charms of the region, you head to Sisteron for two nights.

Day 12

  • Peruse famously fine pottery in the atmospheric ateliers of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
  • Breathe in the inebriating scent of lavender in the fields of Valensole Plateau

Today you follow the trail of quaint villages and lavender fields as you delve into the Verdon Regional Nature Park.

The first stop is at a village that literally clings to a cliff face, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Here, there are a few of options to choose from. You can take in the spectacular views, visit ateliers selling the local pottery, or climb 262 steps leading to a beautiful chapel perched above the village.

Then you travel to the shores of the immense lake of Sainte Croix and the village of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon. The water looks tempting here, so pack your swimwear and try some water sports or bask in the sunshine.

Next, head to Valensole and the Valensole Plateau where lavender, ‘the soul of Provence’, grows. These fields of ‘blue gold’ and sunflowers are some of the most famous in the world. And they stretch as far as the eye can see. If you’ve got a soft spot for this aromatic flavour, try some of the local dishes.

Intoxicated with today’s experiences and sights, you arrive in Sisteron in the evening.

Day 13

  • Dare to look down into the great depth of Verdon Gorge
  • Set your sights on beautiful Saut du Loup Waterfalls

Impressive canyons, magnificent mountains, idyllic villages and the French Riviera. This is today’s exciting journey through Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Alpes-Maritimes.

Your first stop is the commune of Castellane, the gateway to the Verdon gorges. Stretch your legs and wander through the maze of picturesque narrow lanes. And if you’re keen on history, you can visit a place where Napoleon stopped for lunch on his return from Elba.

Next, you travel to the Point Sublime of Gorges du Verdon. Brace yourself, because this spectacular view will make your heart race. It’s the best viewing point for admiring the sheer cliffs, the vastness of the canyon, and the turquoise colour of the river Verdon.

Then, you travel onwards through the mountains, forests, and hillside vineyards until you reach Saut du Loup Waterfalls where you have a short walk. And just before you leave the mountains and plunge down to the glamorous French Riviera, you visit your last idyllic village, Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Take some photos of this hamlet that’s affectionately called the ‘city of violets’ and say au revoir! to the lush countryside.

In the early evening, you arrive in Nice.

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Accommodation

Where does this tour stay overnight?

You stay one night in Bologna, two nights in Lugano, two nights in Lausanne, two nights in Paris, one night in Beaune, two nights in Tournon-sur-Rhône, and two nights in Sisteron.


To get more information about your accommodation, please contact our friendly team 3 weeks prior to departure.


How does the accommodation work?

A good night’s sleep is often needed for a good day of travel.

So, we’ve hand-picked three to four-star hotels in remote coastal villages, bustling towns, and mountain valleys.

Your accommodation is included in the tour price; and when you book your trip, you can choose whether you want double rooms, twin rooms, or single rooms.

In Paris, Nice, Madrid, Lisbon, and Rome, you stay at a hotel by the airport. These have excellent transport connections all across the city and let us avoid contributing to central traffic congestion.


Are there any extra accommodation costs?

The price you see is for all your tour's accommodation and for the tour itself. This figure is based on shared accommodation. When you're booking your tour and select a single room, an additional single room supplement will be added to the price.


FAQs

Do I need a visa to take this tour?

You may need a Schengen Visa to travel throughout Europe. Check the official tourism website of the country you’re visiting for up-to-date and reliable information. Travel between countries is easy because there are no passport checks at the borders.


Do I need to pay all at once?

Our Europe Tours have flexible payment options to help you budget for your dream holiday.

If you book more than three months before your tour departs, you can reserve your trip with a deposit of 10% or more. The full payment is required three months before your departure.

Call us on +44 (0) 131 226 3133 or email tours@rabbies.com to pay a deposit, discuss more payment options, or let us know of any changes to your travel arrangements.


Do you offer hotel pickups in the departure cities?

Europe's historic city centres are full of narrow streets and winding roads. So, to speed up your departure and avoid contributing to congestion issues, we only start our trips from the airport hotel specified in your departure information.

Our friendly team will send you more information about your departure location closer to your departure date.


When should I get to the departure point?

Arrive at the hotel lobby 15 minutes before your departure time. Unfortunately, we’re unable to wait for you if you’re late due to vehicle restrictions. But depending on your situation, we may be able to help you catch up with your tour.


What are your cancellation policies?

We have a cancellation period of 42 days for our Europe tours. If you cancel your trip before this period, we give you a full refund minus a 10% admin charge. If you cancel inside this timeframe, you’re liable for the cost of the tour package.

We understand how disappointing it is when you have to cancel a trip with us, so please contact our friendly team who will try their best to resell your ticket and refund you.

Click here to view full terms and conditions.


What is a guaranteed departure?

It's simple: you book, you go. This means we'll never cancel your tour because of a minimum numbers policy.


What can I expect?

Your friendly driver and guide are passionate about the places they visit and know all the local gossip. This means your tour itinerary can change a little due festivities, attraction opening hour changes, and spontaneous photo opportunities.


Can I pre-book a specific seat?

Due to logistical reasons, we're unable to let you pre-book a seat on the bus. But our comfortable mini-coaches have huge windows, So you always get a good view.


Are there toilets on the bus?

We like to keep our coaches small, nimble, and odour free. This means we have no on-board toilet facilities, but you frequently stop in local towns and villages for comfort breaks.


Are the tours suitable for people with mobility issues?

Most people can comfortably enjoy our tours, but it's worth bearing in mind that we often include optional short walks in scenic locations. Please also be aware that many of the old European towns are built on steep hills with cobbled lanes, and you may have to carry your own luggage at times.

So that we can ensure you're comfortable travelling with us, please let us know about any special requirements or needs at the time of booking. If you have any more questions, simply email tours@rabbies.com .


Do you take children on your tours?

Unfortunately, we’re unable to have children under the age of five on our Europe tours.

You can ask us about the tours we recommend for younger children. And if your child is less than 1.35m tall, you should let us know, so we can provide them with a suitable booster seat.


How much time do I get off the bus?

We want you to enjoy your trip to Europe. And we believe the best way to do this is to get you off the mini-coach and out exploring. So, we give you plenty of stops to take photos, go walking, and explore ancient ruins.


Why do you exclude visitor attractions?

We exclude visitor attractions in your tour price because it lets you travel your way. It means you can pamper yourself with a luxury lunch or skip an attraction whenever you feel like it.


Do we need to bring our own lunch?

You don't need to pack or bring along food on the mini-coach. We stop in small European towns, villages, and rural eateries where you can choose whatever meal pleases both your taste buds and your budget.


What should I do if I have too much luggage?

It’s more enjoyable to travel with light luggage. You can take less by cleaning clothes along the way. Most hotels provide affordable laundry service.

But if you're travelling with more than 20kg, don't worry! There are left luggage facilities close to all our departure points, and courier companies who could ship your excess luggage on to your chosen destination. Our team are happy to help if you need any suggestions or recommendations.


Should I tip the driver and the guide?

Let's be honest, our drivers and guides would never refuse a cheeky bonus. But it's up to you, and the amount is entirely at your discretion.


What about travel insurance?

We highly recommend you take out travel insurance, so you can enjoy a stress-free journey.


What is ABTOT?

You're protected by ABTOT when you choose to let us book your accommodation on a multi-day tour. This means you can claim back anything you've paid us if we run into any issues. Read our terms and conditions for more information.

Our packages are covered by the Package Travel Regulations. For full details of your key rights please click here.


I have more questions, who can help me?

If you have any more questions, call us on +44(0)131 226 3133, email tours@rabbies.com, or check out our full FAQs.

4 reasons to choose Rabbie's

Travel the local way on small group tours of 16 people or fewer

You'll have a guaranteed experience, or your money back

Guaranteed departures: you book, you go

Our eco-friendly tours support local communities

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