The Finer Things Tour - September 7-19, 2022 - $3895 per person
Come along with Your Man in Europe on a fascinating sashay from a medieval French fortress town to the enchanting wine country of Burgundy. Then it’s on to the heights of the Matterhorn in Switzerland, and a spectacular finish in The City of Lights, incomparable Paris. We’ll breeze along in private vans and lovely trains passing through magnificent scenery at every turn. We’ll scurry into ancient underground warrens, walk on fantasy-like parapets, taste wine at harvest time in the vineyards, go on the world’s longest gondola ride, venture into an ice cave, and sample the many delights of Paris. Stay in charming hotels situated in the most ideal locations in every destination. Don’t miss this very special return to Europe with the guide who has travel secrets to reveal.
A Delicious Taste of Paris, Burgundy and Switzerland
September 7, Wednesday: Depart the USA on transatlantic flights into Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport. Select flights to arrive by 10:00 AM on September 8th.
September 8, Thursday: Plan to arrive at Charles de Gaulle Airport no later than 10:00 AM if possible. We’ll assemble our group as soon as everyone has arrived, and we’ll rendezvous with our driver, who will whisk us away, out into the gentle French countryside and on to our first destination,
Provins. From the time we pass through the ancient gate, we’re in for an incredible treat with this medieval walled city. Time seems to have stood still in this most picturesque town. Our boutique hotel is located in the perfect place – just adjoining the charming town square. We’ll enjoy the juxtaposition of ancient and new here. The hotel features stylish rooms, an indoor pool, spa, sauna, and exercise room, as well as a country French dining room and an enchanting underground bar – and it’s all just steps away from the atmospheric center of town.
We should arrive in Provins in time for a light, late lunch very near the hotel. It’ll be a good time for a short tour to get familiar with the place – and to check out the hotel’s amenities. Poke around in the town’s charming shops, and maybe enjoy a soothing swim in the hotel’s pool. Everyone should plan to bring a bathing suit. Don’t be shy! Later in the evening, but not too late, we’ll gather for a nice “Welcome to France” dinner at a delightful restaurant on the square. We won’t be up late; so everyone can enjoy a well-deserved night’s sleep after a very full day.
September 9, Friday: After a wonderful breakfast together at our hotel we’ll have the whole day to explore beautiful Provins. Everyone will have a Provins Pass, which will provide a personal introduction to this incredible UNESCO World Heritage site. Visiting Provins is like making a journey in time back to the Middle Ages. There you'll find the Tithe Barn, Romanesque House, Holy Spirit Cellar and the Old Hospital. Caesar's Tower is an imposing 12th-century octagonal keep with a square base, and is open to the public. Climb up to top for a great view over the rooftops and surrounding countryside. The impressive city wall and utterly charming half-timbered buildings will make you feel as if you’ve been whisked back into Medieval France. Explore the nooks and crannies of this captivating town. Walk on the parapets of the medieval fortress, and take advantage of our hotel’s comforts and amenities. Lunch and dinner will be on your own today.
September 10, Saturday: Sleep late today, and go down to have breakfast in the hotel breakfast room whenever you like. Afterward we’ll have a free morning to prepare for an amazing day. Have lunch on your own, and get ready to go to the grandstands of the Counts of Champagne, and be carried away to a time of valiant knights and beautiful princesses. At the foot of the majestic ramparts of Provins, we will celebrate the return from the Crusades of Thibaud IV, Count of Champagne and King of Navarre. While the beautiful medieval city is threatened by evil forces, our knights will have to defend themselves, fight and joust. Equestrian prowess and spectacular fights will evoke the chivalrous history of the medieval city of Provins.
But, as they say on TV, “That’s not all!” After the big show our driver will pick us up to make the short drive to magnificent Vaux le Vicompte, a château in the countryside outside Paris, for an unforgettable travel experience.
Vaux le Vicomte, the largest privately owned chateau in France, has a fascinating story, and is classified as a major historical monument. In 1641, a dashing 26-year-old parliamentarian, Nicholas Fouquet, purchased the modest manor house of Vaux-le-Vicomte and spent the next twenty years transforming it into a masterpiece which still stands as perhaps the most significant chateaux and gardens in all of France. But Fouquet’s brilliant architectural achievement enraged a jealous 23-year-old King Louis XIV, and he was arrested on trumped up charges and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1661. Vaux-le-Vicomte was closed down, its treasures seized, and the family banished. After ten years of struggle Madame Fouquet and her eldest son were finally able to recover the estate and many of its scattered contents. They lived on the estate until it was sold in 1705.
We will be there when the sparkling fountains will be on full display throughout the magnificent gardens using the same hydraulic systems put into place in the 1600s! Stroll and try to take in some of the finest landscaping in France. In the evening we’re in for more treats. First, we’ll have a fabulous gourmet dinner overlooking the incredible gardens. After sundown there’ll be a unique dreamlike experience: a candlelit visit of the château and its gardens! Vaux-le-Vicomte invites you to a night out of time and history, to recapture the magic of the famous party of August 17, 1661 by the flickering light of over 2000 candles. The candlelight evening will be capped off with a stunning fireworks display over the gardens. Then, after a most memorable experience, our driver will return us to our cozy hotel back in Provins.
September 11, Sunday: After a wonderful breakfast we’ll have some free time before getting ready to check out of our hotel; but we won’t be leaving Provins just yet. We’ll store our luggage at the hotel while we go to another spectacular event. The Banquet of Troubadours welcomes us into a 12th century vaulted cellar - included in the list of historic monuments of Provins - to transport us to a fabulous medieval banquet! Between each dish called the “entremets”, the best troubadours of the county will entertain us with a lively show: a medieval storyteller, jugglers, acrobatics, diabolists, and much more. We’ll discover the gastronomy of the Middle Ages with a traditional banquet around great, festive tables. We may not understand all the banter, but we’ll be treated to a thoroughly medieval adventure and a hearty meal!
After our feast we’ll pick up our luggage, and meet our driver for the journey onward to Beaune, in the heart of the Burgundy Region. Our cozy hotel is located in the very center of this most atmospheric town. Beaune is lovingly referred to as the capital of wine and there is little wonder as to why. There are countless cellars beneath the cobbled streets of Beaune tucked away in what remains of the rampart walls. The town center is beautiful, and surrounded by artfully arranged window displays, cute shops, restaurants, and galleries. On the weekends there is an open market with local foods, wines, and crafts.
Beaune has been a prosperous wine region in France since the 13th century. The Dukes of Burgundy ruled the region until the demise of the last Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, at the end of the 15th century, it has been ruled by the French since the end of the Hundred Year’s War.
After we’re all settled in, there will be time to get familiar with our new (old) neighborhood, and then have a surprising light dinner together – just to take the edge off before a richly-deserved night’s sleep.
September 12, Monday: Beaune - Bright tiled roofs, winding cobblestone streets, hearty French food, world-class wine. That just about sums it up. We’ll have breakfast together before a big day.
On a morning walking tour around the old town center, we’ll see the Basilica of Our Lady, just steps away from our hotel. This 13th-century church, with Gothic and Renaissance elements, houses fabulous 15th-century tapestries. Next, we’ll head for the Hotel of the Dukes of Burgundy with its long 15th century facade divided in two by an octagonal stone staircase tower. This historic building now houses the Burgundy Wine Museum, the first French museum exclusively devoted to wine heritage. A short walk away we’ll see Beaune’s most iconic sight, The Hospices Civils de Beaune, which first opened in 1443, and served as a hospital until the 20th Century. Our stroll to our next destination coincidentally takes us right by the perfect French restaurant for an unforgettable gourmet lunch together.
After lunch we’ll stop in at the Maison Fallot Mustard Company. They produce 5% of the mustard made in France and, as big mustard fans, we’ll have an extra treat – a mustard museum right in Beaune! Founded in 1840, Fallot still uses a millstone to make mustard “the old way” and we’ll be able to watch this famous condiment being made. Evidently, mustard caught on in the Middle Ages among the working-class population who believed it was good for digestion. Later the aristocracy decided to love it too. The mustards made here are used by top chefs all over France, and the world. There’s a great little tasting station in the shop where we can buy mustard to take home – from plain to basil or raspberry, and a raft of other flavors.
From there we’ll head just outside of town for a little guided tour of some local vineyards with a fun wine-tasting. After returning to our hotel, everyone will have a free evening and time to find just the right restaurant to close a memorable day in Beaune.
September 13, Tuesday: We’ll savor one last breakfast in Beaune before checking out of our charming hotel, and boarding a train to our next destination, Zermatt, Switzerland. Our rail journey will take us through lush French countryside, and on into the spectacular mountains of Switzerland. The route will require some quick train connections, so we’ll have to be on our toes. As we roll along, we’ll have one of Your Man in Europe’s train picnics.
Zermatt’s panoramic views include one of the most iconic mountains in the world: The Matterhorn. Our boutique chalet-style hotel is right in the heart of the town, and features wonderful views, as well as a beautiful indoor pool, a sauna, and a spa tub. Our main street, Bahnhofstrasse, is lined with boutique shops, hotels and restaurants, and also has a lively après-ski scene. After settling in we’ll have some free time to check out our new surroundings before a nice “Welcome to Switzerland” dinner together.
September 14, Wednesday: After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we’ll walk down our main street to the Gondola station just a few minutes away. There we’ll board our gondola for the spectacular trip from Zermatt up to Glacier Paradise. At the top of Glacier Paradise, you can usually view a whopping 38 four-thousand-meter peaks (13,000 feet) and 14 glaciers! The gondola ride itself is worth the experience. This is the world’s highest cableway, and it will give us a birds-eye and close-up view of the glacier 500 feet below. We would normally need to be in a helicopter to see these views! Up on the mountain Zermatt offers the highest and largest year-round ski area in the world, with guaranteed snow 365 days of the year! The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the highest cableway in Europe.
While we’re up there we can have lunch overlooking the ski slopes. Everyone will be on your own at the self-service ski resort café. We’ll also pay a visit to the ice cave, with its labyrinth of ice tunnels and sculptures it is a great adventure. They even have an ice bar and an ice slide! Be sure to bring some warm clothes for this whole day’s experience.
After our return from the heights, everyone will have a free afternoon and evening to explore Zermatt and have an oh-so-cozy dinner on your own.
September 15, Thursday: We’ll have another excellent breakfast at the hotel, and then enjoy a free day in Zermatt. At this point in our epic journey, a nice day to do nothing much might be welcome.
Hang out at the hotel, have a swim and maybe try out the sauna, or take this advice from Bruno Mars:
But for those who want to do more, here are some possibilities:
Explore the historic heart of Zermatt with a stroll through Hinterdorf (which means rear village). Narrow alleyways are lined by about 25 old wooden houses and barns, some built on stilts to keep out pesky rodents wanting to get out of the cold. Built between the 16th and 18th centuries, the atmospheric alleys and homes add to Zermatt’s unique village charm. It’s impossible not to wonder how former inhabitants managed to make it through the cold winters in these ramshackle houses. Keep an eye out for the memorial fountain. The fountain is dedicated to famed Zermatt mountain guide Ulrich Inderbinen, who climbed the Matterhorn over 350 times.
Visit the Matterhorn Museum (Zermatlantis) - You don’t need to be a history buff to find lots to interest you at the Matterhorn Museum. Most of the museum is actually subterranean and it offers an immersion experience into Zermatt’s history. You’ll find original village houses, mountain climbing equipment, and learn of the tragic and triumphant history of some of the world’s most daring adventurers and alpinists.
Or take a glorious hike. There are numerous hikes that are possible, from 1 or 2 - hour strolls to challenging mountain trekking. The local tourist office will steer you to just the right alpine adventure.
Lunch and dinner will be on your own today.
(NOTE: Depending on weather conditions we may swap what we do on the 14th & 15th)
September 16, Friday: After our last alpine breakfast at our hotel, we’ll check out of the hotel and get an early start on our train journey to Paris. Parts of our return journey to France will take in entirely different scenery, so we’ll really enjoy another spectacular experience in just riding the train. Plus we’ll have another train picnic with delectable Swiss specialties.
We arrive in The City of Lights in time to check into our wonderfully-located boutique hotel on magical Ile St. Louis; and afterward everyone will have some free time to explore our island home and just enjoy the ambiance of The City of Lights. For those who would like to join in we’ll have an orientation and casual walking tour of our nearby vicinity.
A little later everyone will need to plan on dinner on your own. The little bistro on our street, the St. Regis, offers a very good – and authentic – French menu at reasonable prices. Or you may want to pick up some supplies at the little grocery store next door, and find a nice spot by the Seine to have a picnic. After a big travel day get a good night’s sleep in our cozy hotel.
September 17, Saturday: – After a very nice breakfast together in a charming bistro, we can decide what everyone would like to do in Paris today. Since some guests will have already been to Paris it’s difficult to plan a schedule of activities to suit everyone.
There is no set itinerary; it’s a “choose your own adventure” day. Select the museums and landmarks you most want to see, and off you go! You may want to check out the fabulous Musee d’Orsay, one of the world’s premier art museums. This magnificent museum – across the Seine from the Louvre – is wonderful in that it can be covered fairly well in about a half-day. Or choose to spend the whole day at the Louvre, or go on a “treasure hunt” to see your favorite small museum. You might want to head for some essential sight-seeing: the Arc de Triumph and Champs Elysees, or Place de la Concorde. Assistance and advice in choosing and getting to various attractions will be offered. There’s something great for every taste. Lunch will be on your own today.
In the early evening we’ll rendezvous back at our hotel to get ready for a nice dinner together and a fantastic experience that only a very few visitors to Paris even know about, and one you will surely never forget!
September 18, Sunday: We’ll have another fun breakfast at our favorite bistro, and then have a free day so everyone can further explore Paris. Very nearby, and quite easy to reach on foot are Ile de la Cite and one of the stops for the BatoBoat, a boat line on the Seine that travels to 9 stops along the river – all near important Parisian sites. Your ticket is good for 24 hours, and you can hop-on, hop-off as many times as you like. Lunch will be on your own.
Spend the day doing your favorite things, but be ready to get back together in the evening for very special event and, later, a blow-out “Farewell to France” dinner in the Latin Quarter.
September 19, Monday: Depending on departure flight times, we may have time for one last bistro breakfast before heading to the airport. Because everyone may have different flight times, transportation charges to Charles de Gaulle Airport are not included in the trip cost. We can work with each other to coordinate taxis that can make the airport run at different times this morning.
We’ll be sad to say goodbye to France, and our travel friends; but we’ll be happy that we’ve had a heck of an adventure!
Total Trip Cost: $3895.00
A $500 deposit per person is required to confirm a reservation for the tour – payable by May 1st, 2022. The balance may be paid in smaller payments at any time, but the full balance is due no later than July 20, 2022. Payments may be made by check or credit card via PayPal. All credit card payments incur a 3% fee. Guests will receive a travel packet with detailed information after booking.
What’s in store for us?
This tour is custom-planned for a small group of no more than 10 guests. Even if you are a seasoned traveler, you have never experienced France and Switzerland like this. We’re sure the journey will captivate you. You’ll be part of a magical adventure - complete with music, gourmet picnics, and surprises that will delight you at every turn. There are no exhausting bus rides or inconveniently-located hotels.
This is not a “Big Bus Tour”. There will be no wake-up calls at 5 AM to herd onto the buses. Our travelers will have a friendly, extremely knowledgeable guide for the entire trip – not just a bus driver and hum-drum contracted tour guide. We do our best to set the mood, to weave a spell, and to make yours a total experience. Hotels and most restaurants on the entire tour have been selected for their very specific location or high level of “atmosphere”. The small group size allows us to personalize the experience in a way large groups simply cannot do. We make it easy, comfortable and stress-free. No guest has to worry about the details of where we are going next. You will feel as if you are not a tourist, but a guest of your European friends.
This is a complete tour; and the prices are not increased during the trip through unexpected charges for “extra” tours and arrangements you must handle on your own. If there will be any optional tours or activities not included in the cost everyone will be advised well before signing up for the tour. Most meals are included, and those that are not included are detailed in the itinerary.
Your Tour Guide: Larry Ivy is the Tour Coordinator and guide for Your Man in Europe, and a long-time veteran of European travel and unique private tour-leading. Larry wants just one thing: for you to have “the best time of your life”!
Tour Includes: Eleven (11) nights of overnight accommodation (based on double occupancy) in exceptional, very specially selected hotels, eleven (11) breakfasts, five (5) lunches, and six (6) dinners; all ground transportation; and First Class rail travel (where available), admissions to all attractions described in the tour itinerary, knowledgeable guide services, and standard gratuities. Guests, however, are encouraged to offer tips for exceptional service.
There will be no additional charges for the tours and events specifically included by Your Man in Europe. There may be extra charges for tours not included in the detailed itinerary. These are optional activities.
Not Included: Airfare to Paris and returning from Paris, optional travel insurance, extra beverages (meals will include one beverage and will be budgeted accordingly); a la cart or premium menu selections beyond the established meal allowances; between meal snacks; gratuities for extra services such as baggage porters, or for superior service (normal gratuities are included in the trip cost); souvenirs; and privately arranged activities.
Also: All overnight accommodations, as well as railroad and minibus travel will be NO-SMOKING.
This tour is strictly limited to a maximum of 12 guests traveling together
Mail checks to Your Man in Europe, Larry Ivy 2608 S University Drive, Fort Worth TX 76109