This personalized tour of Holland, Belgium & France was designed by tour managers, Ron and Rita Lazet to showcase some of the favorite sites in their home countries. Visit charming villages, view picturesque landscapes, taste wines at an origination vineyard, sample local cuisine and explore ancient ruins.
Ron & Rita Lazet have been long-time tour managers with Image Tours, and have been frequently asked by travelers to plan a tour through Holland and France; in 2018 they were so excited to finally have the opportunity to design a personalized tour through Holland and France. This tour combines exciting sightseeing locations with a variety of experiences. They will lead you through UNESCO World Heritage Sites, visit the Normandy Beaches, tour a Loire Valley castle, walk through ancient towns, taste wines, sample local cuisine, relax on the French Riviera, and so much more!
This 18-day tour includes 24 meals, escort, motor coach transportation in Europe and TGV high-speed train between Nice and Paris.
DAY 1 – Overnight flight to Europe.
Refer to “Preparing for your Departure” in your Trip Documents for easy check-in procedures. Take time to relax on your transatlantic flight with the assurance that Image Tours has taken care of all the details.
DAY 2 – HOLLAND . . Arrival at Amsterdam Airport. Upon arrival, clear passport control and collect your luggage. Refer to your “Arrival Instructions” page in your Trip Documents for directions on where and when to meet your tour manager. Board your deluxe motor coach for a pleasant drive through the neatly-groomed Dutch lowlands. Much of the Dutch countryside is at or below sea level and is characterized by canals, dikes and windmills. Check into your Rotterdam area hotel in the early afternoon, allowing time to freshen up and relax before the “Welcome to Europe/Get-acquainted” dinner at the hotel. (Dinner)
DAY 3 – HOLLAND . . Kinderdijk – Delft – The Hague – Rotterdam. As you approach Kinderdijk, you will be delighted by Holland’s largest concentration of old windmills. This system of 19 windmills, built around 1740, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a photo stop, travel to Delft to be captivated by quaint streets lined with medieval architecture, friendly cafés offering Dutch pancakes, and inviting shops selling the famous Delft Blue earthenware. Drive through the neighboring city of The Hague, seat of the Dutch Parliament and the Royal Family, before heading to a dairy farm for insight on the production of Gouda cheese. An included dinner offers a tantalizing sampling of Dutch favorites before returning to your Rotterdam area hotel. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 4 – HOLLAND . . Rotterdam – Zeeland – Veere & BELGIUM . . Bruges. Following a bus tour through the harbor city of Rotterdam, travel across the bridges, dikes and islands of Zeeland. This southwest province of Holland is protected from the sea by an engineering feat known as the Delta Works which were constructed after the North Sea Flood of 1953. Stop for photos of the Zeeland Storm Surge Barrier and continue to the historic harbor village of Veere for an independent lunch. After crossing into Belgium, end the day with an independent dinner at one of the charming cafés located along the cobbled streets of Bruges. (Breakfast)
DAY 5 – FRANCE . . Rouen – Bayeux – Normandy. A drive past Calais will bring you to Rouen, famously associated with Joan of Arc and Claude Monet, the impressionist painter. A walk through Rouen leads you back in time to witness inspiring sites such as the phenomenal Roman Catholic Gothic Cathedral with the tomb of Richard the Lionheart. Continue to Bayeux to admire the famous Bayeux Tapestry, a 1000 year old embroidered cloth nearly 70 meters (230 feet) long, depicting events that led up to the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. Consider the stories told today during dinner at your hotel in Normandy. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 6 – FRANCE . . Normandy Beaches. The entire day is spent touring the famous Normandy Landing Beaches. Stop in Sainte-Mère-Église, the site where paratroopers landed during WWII as portrayed in the movie “The Longest Day.” Next, visit the bunkers and museum at Utah Beach. After an independent lunch, see the German fortifications at Pointe du Hoc and the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. Reflect on the sights of the day during a relaxing independent dinner, near your Normandy hotel. (Breakfast)
DAY 7 – FRANCE . . Amboise – Chenonceaux – Loire Valley. This day is devoted to the enchanting Loire Valley. Instead of staying in busy Paris, the royal families of the 16th to 19th century preferred to live in this peaceful area along the Loire River. Stop for an independent lunch in Amboise, a lovely town crowned by the château of King Charles VII. In the afternoon, during the interior visit of Chenonceau, discovery a one-of-a-kind castle with a fascinating history. This castle uniquely spans the River Cher and is surrounded by expansive gardens and forest. Following a scenic drive, you will spend the night at a hotel in the Loire Valley. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 8 – FRANCE . . Saint-Émilion & Bordeaux.
Travel south, stopping for an independent lunch, before arriving in Saint-Émilion. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with history dating back to pre-historic times. As early as the 2nd century, Romans planted vineyards in what was to become Saint- Émilion. Narrow streets with Romanesque churches and ancient ruins make this an interesting village to explore. After checking in for a two-night stay in Bordeaux, hub of the famed wine region, your hotel will host an included dinner. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 9 – FRANCE. . Bordeaux. After an introductory walking tour, set off for personal exploration of this exciting city. Some 1810 hectares of Bordeaux are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city offers museums, endless shopping, and stunningly designed public areas. The afternoon includes wine tasting at a vineyard and a drive along one of the famed wine roads. Pass by the distinctive Vineyards of Château Mouton Rothschild, Margaux and Saint-Estéphe. Return to Bordeaux to sample French cuisine during an independent dinner. (Breakfast)
DAY 10 – FRANCE . . Lourdes. Today’s travels will take you to France’s scenic south. Stop for an independent lunch at one of the romantic villages along the way. In the early afternoon, reach Lourdes, a primary Catholic pilgrimage site. This small town sits on the edge of the Pyrenees mountain range, a breathtaking barrier along the border of France and Spain. After an included dinner at the hotel, you may wish to take part in the Torchlight Marian Procession, a tradition in Lourdes since 1872. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 11 – FRANCE . . Lourdes – Carcassonne.
In the morning, take some extra time to explore Lourdes. Visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. Stop for an independent lunch on your way to Carcassonne, a fortified settlement, first built during the 12th century. This hilltop fortress is famous for its 53 watchtowers and double walls. Dinner is included at your hotel in Carcassonne. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 12 – FRANCE . . Pont du Gard – Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Avignon. Looming three tiers high, stretching fifty kilometers, and made with over fifty thousand tons of stone, the Pont du Gard Aqueduct arches stoically across the Bardon River. After taking some photos, continue to Châteauneuf-du-Pape for an afternoon of wine tasting. With your wine in hand, savor the views of winding streets, rolling hills and grape-laden vines. Your hotel for the next two nights is at the center of Avignon, an excellent location to partake in French cuisine during your independent dinner. (Breakfast)
DAY 13 – FRANCE . . Saint-Rémy-de- Provence – Les Baux-de-Provence – Avignon. Depart Avignon for a visit to the hospital in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence where Vincent van Gogh voluntarily confined himself in 1889, a year before his death. The hospital gardens, Roman ruins adjoining the property, and surrounding landscape became the subjects of van Gogh’s paintings. Later, discover Les Baux-de-Provence, a hidden gem tucked amongst the mountains. With sandy colored buildings set into the rocks, it is unclear where town and mountain meet in this petite commune. Return to Avignon for an independent dinner. (Breakfast)
DAY 14 – FRANCE . . Cannes – Nice. The rolling landscapes of the Provence region give way to the playful scenes of the Riviera. During an independent lunch in Cannes, use your free time to see the Cannes Film Festival Theater and Walk of Fame. Make a stop in Grasse, perfume capital of the world, before reaching your hotel in Nice, the pearl of the Riviera. After taking time for an early independent dinner in Nice, the tour manager will offer a transfer into Monte Carlo, departing at 7:00 p.m. and returning by 11:00 p.m. (Breakfast)
DAY 15 – FRANCE . . St. Paul de Vence – Nice.
Depart the hotel for a morning visit to the walled hilltop village of St. Paul de Vence. Marc Chagall lived and painted in this village for the last 19 years of his life. After seeing the views for yourself, it is not hard to understand why. Return to Nice around 1:30 p.m. for a leisurely afternoon. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a “Farewell Dinner,” as this will be your last included dinner as a group. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 16 – FRANCE . . High Speed Train to Paris. Transfer to Nice train station to board the TGV high speed train. Take in the scenery during your relaxing journey north through the French countryside. You may wish to purchase some lunch items at the Nice train station or you may purchase lunch in the rail dining car. In only five hours you are transported to Paris. Check-in and freshen up before an independent dinner at the hotel or at one of the many Parisian bistros in the area. (Breakfast)
DAY 17 – FRANCE . . Paris. Enjoy a full day in Paris. A morning transfer will be provided to the Place de la Concorde. Your tour manager will direct you to the location of the principal sights, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, Eiffel Tower, Opera, Galeries Lafayette department store, Louvre, Orangerie Museum and Champs-Élysées. The choice is yours. In the late afternoon, return to your hotel. Your tour manager will invite you to take the metro to the Montmartre district, the Old Town of Paris. Walk through the romantic narrow streets making discoveries around every corner. Montmartre provides wonderful options for your independent dinner. (Breakfast)
DAY 18 – Daytime flight back to the U.S.A.
Transfer to the Paris Airport for the return flight home. (Breakfast)