Provence, the Pyrenees & La Rioja
13 day tour

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A soul-stirring journey through ancient pilgrimage sights, grand mountain ranges, and delectable wine regions.

Highlights

Wine
Walks
Abbeys
Roman Ruins
UNESCO Heritage Sites
National Parks
Lakes
Mountains

Places you explore


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

Cluny Abbey - Discover the remains of the largest Medieval monastic order in Western Europe.

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

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

Lourdes - Situated in the Pyrenean foothills, Lourdes is an important Catholic pilgrimage site and a town of rich cultural and natural heritage.

Gavarnie Waterfalls & the Pyrenees - Stare in awe at the beauty of the tallest waterfall in France in the majestic Cirque de Gavarnie.

La Rioja – The famously delicious wines here perfectly compliment the views of the Cantabrian Mountains.

Segovia – Feel the magic of the city as you discover its Roman Aqueduct and stunning fairy-tale castle.


Your journey


A sanctuary with curative waters, an ancient monastery, and rolling vineyards managed by monks: The ancient pilgrim routes of Western Europe are blessed with miraculous moments.

On this trip, you discover the history of European Christianity in Lourdes, Cluny Abbey, and more of France and Spain’s spiritual sights.

But it’s not just the religious monuments that’ll astound you.

You also venture through the famous lavender fields of Provence, explore the beautiful ridges of the Pyrenees, and indulge your sins with the wines of Burgundy and Rioja.

Satisfy your soul on this journey through France and Spain.


Tour Details

Starts
08:30 - Paris
Finishes (approx.)
19:00
Madrid
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
  • Your holiday’s more fun when you protect yourself from the sun
  • This journey combines two of our tours and a free day in Nice. 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

  • 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 World Heritage 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 2

  • 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 explore the Roman houses before you have lunch.

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

In the afternoon, you delve into the wine region of Côte-Rôtie to appreciate 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 3

  • 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 travel higher up in the mountains to visit Grotte Chauvet 2. Get a glimpse into the prehistoric art and life of Palaeolithic people when you explore the replica of a UNESCO World Heritage cave on a guided tour.

Amazed by the talents of our ancestors, you travel back through the spectacular landscapes carved out by the adamant river.

You arrive in Tournon-sur-Rhône in the early evening.

Day 4

  • 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 and hear about the monks who still live here before you 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 Manosque for two nights.

Day 5

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

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

You journey across 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, so have your camera at hand.

After a traverse through the mountains, you stop to take in the spectacular views of the immense lake of Sainte Croix and descend to the village of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon.

Next, is a village that literally clings to a cliff face, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Enjoy your lunch and decide how you want to spend your time here. You can visit ateliers selling the local pottery or climb 262 steps leading to a beautiful chapel perched above the village.

After lunch, we head towards the western side of Verdon Gorge to admire the spectacular vistas of this natural wonder.

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

Day 6

  • 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 eastern part of Verdon Gorge. 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 Verdon Gorge. 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. 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.

Day 7

  • Stroll along Promenade des Anglais, the most famous stretch of coast in Nice
  • Pop in to the Cours Saleya market to try some delicious local specialities

Bonjour! Today is your free day to explore Nice La Belle, the capital of the French Riviera. This city is famous for its sparkling sea, 19th-century mansions, and glamorous promenades and boulevards.

Sun worshippers can familiarise themselves with the city on a quick hop on hop off bus and then spend the rest of the day on the beach.

Intrepid explorers can grab a map and delve into the Vielle Ville (the Old Town): a maze of shady alleys, colourful facades, and local shops and restaurants. When you explore this area, make sure to stroll to Cours Saleya, the lovely market which will make you crave a few more breakfasts than you usually have.

Next, you can pop into an art museum or a gallery. Among the more prominent ones, there’s the Matisse Museum with the world’s biggest collection of the impressionist’s work and Masséna Museum inside a magnificent Belle Époque mansion.

Once you’ve had your art fix, choose a café or a restaurant and try some of the unique Provençal and Niçoise flavours of the region.

In the afternoon, you can burn some of these delicious calories off as you stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais. This gorgeous stretch along the coast is framed by the azure water on the one side and lined up with the palm trees on the other.

In the evening, head to the Old Port to explore wine bars and pubs and absorb the city’s nightlife. But remember, don’t let your soirée become too crazy because you continue your tour tomorrow morning.

Day 8

  • Admire a palette of ancient architecture and leafy avenues in Aix-en-Provence
  • Enjoy the serenity of Fontfroide Abbey

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 delve into the winding streets and visit local cafés or walk in the footsteps of Paul Cézanne and follow a special pedestrian route through the city.

Continue your journey south 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 tranquillity of this place and breathe in the fresh air before you travel to the walled city of Carcassonne, your base for the night.

Day 9

  • Traverse the medieval monuments of Carcassonne
  • Delve into humanity’s prehistoric past in the Mas d’Azil Cave

Wake up, enjoy your breakfast, and start exploring this fascinating medieval city. Carcassonne has more stone towers, spiky turrets, and zigzag battlements than you can shake a sword at. So, it will come as no surprise it boasts a UNESCO World Heritage title.

All this sightseeing must have worked up your appetite, so we travel to a small town on the edge of the Pyrenees for lunch. After you’ve enjoyed the local specialities, we head deeper into the Midi-Pyrénées.

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; a spiritual centre and your home for two nights.

Day 10

  • Explore the spiritual beauty of Lourdes, the most visited pilgrimage shrine in the Christian world
  • Choose to go for a hike to the hidden waterfall of Cirque de Gavarnie

Today, it’s up to you how you spend your time.

You can stay in Lourdes and discover the sites 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 the morning on tour exploring the village of Gavarnie deep in the Pyrenees.

And if you feel the wilderness calls you, why not spend the whole day in the mountains and 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.

Whichever option you choose, you return to Lourdes and enjoy the local atmosphere in the afternoon.

Day 11

  • Journey through the peaks and valleys of the Pyrenees
  • Discover one of the most enchanting monuments in Navarre, Leyre Monastery

It’s time to travel through the impressive Pyrenean mountain passes into Spain. You venture through this massive national park and descend into Lanuza, a small town boasting spectacular views. Grab a coffee and continue your mountain crossing to 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.

Next, you head west to the Sea of the Pyrenees, Yesa Reservoir and the peaceful Leyre Monastery. Built on a mountain range overlooking the reservoir, this serene place has been a refuge for the ancient monarchs and bishops of Navarre.

After the afternoon’s adventures, you head to La Rioja region, the wine connoisseur’s heaven, to spend two nights in Haro.

Day 12

  • Soak up the famous wines of La Rioja region
  • Savour the flavours and picturesque Nature Parks of the Basque Country

You wake up in a 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 travel through mountains and forests of Montes Obarenes Nature Park to a hilltop town of Frías. This tiny medieval city is adorned with a ruined castle that will make you stare in wonder.

Next, you jump over to the Basque Country. Here you drive through Sobrón Gorge and the River Ebro, which nurtures the precious vineyards of La Rioja.

You have 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.

Now you know the local wine, uncover the culture and history of this drink in Vivanco Wine Museum in Briones. After discovering the long-lasting relationship between human and wine, you return to Haro where you can spend your evening discovering gastronomic delights.

Day 13

  • Learn the terrific tales of the folk hero El Cid while aside his famous tomb
  • Appreciate ancient Roman engineering at the grand Aqueduct of Segovia

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 place 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 Alcázar de Segovia. With soaring towers and turrets topped with slate witches' hats, this castle looks like it's 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.

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Accommodation

Where does this tour stay overnight?

You stay one night in Beaune, two nights in Tournon-sur-Rhône, two nights in Manosque, two nights in Nice, one night in Carcassonne, two nights in Lourdes, and two nights in Haro.


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.


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 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.



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

BTA_2018.png Green Tourism Award Scottish Thistle Awards Winner 2015/2016 TC_2018_WHITE_LL_R-112x105.png queens-award.png Scottish Tourist Board 5 Stars
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