PRESIDENT’S CHOICE GASTRONOMICAL TOUR OF BURGUNDY, PARIS AND PROVENCE

There are several countries with a gastronomical culture as rich as the country is old, and France is, by any expert’s measure, in the Pantheon of gastronomy. We’ll embark on this special event tour with a visit to some of my favorite dining establishments in Paris. We’ll pay special attention to sampling some regional cuisines of the country, paired with the perfect wines, before we take the Bullet Train to Beaune, where we’ve barely left the train station and already our motor coach is traversing the wonderful “Route des Grands Crus”.  A wine lover’s paradise and dining fit for a king and queen—–Burgundy!

  • Paris and all her great monuments: The Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Les Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde, Notre Dame, Le Louvre, La Sorbonne, L’Opera, Place Vendome, La Bastille.
  • One gastronomical dinner in Paris.
  • Three gastronomical dinners in Burgundy.
  • Two gastronomical dinners in Provence.
  • Wine tasting at a famous Burgundy producer and an introduction to the art and science of wine production.
  • Cooking lesson from a professional French chef, complete with dining.
  • First class on the TGV (France’s famous bullet train).
  • Admission to one of Burgundy’s best castles, Le Clos de Vougoet.
  • Le Sacre Coeur & Monmartre.
  • Excursion to famous destination department stores Printemps & Galeries Lafayette—tips on how to buy and save.
  • Les Hospices de Beaune.
  • Le Palais des Papes in Avignon.
  • Provence of The Roman Empire in Nimes and Arles.
  • Built in free time in Paris to visit the museums of your choice.
  • Option in Paris to spend your free time with your host.

Les Champs Elysees – Paris- The Eiffel Tower

What do say we start on Les Champs Elysees savoring a cafè “grand crème?” I would award a prize to the first person who can pass by a “patissierie” (pastry shop) without stopping to gaze in awe but I’d never actually have to award the prize because no one can resist the beauty. This is Paris!!! You will fall in love with this jewel of civilization the way I have time and time again.

Have you ever phoned a loved one from the top of The Eiffel Tower? Now’s your chance!

The Bullet Train to Burgundy

After our fourth day in Paris we’ll board the TGV, which we call the bullet train, and head southeast towards the region of Burgundy, (Bourgogne.) The Burgundy region is every bit as famous as Bordeaux in terms of fine wine, although it’s best known for its whites while Bordeaux is best known for its reds. Burgundy is verdant and conjures images of picnics outdoors on a sunny hillside, replete with local wines, cheeses and saucisson (the dried, cured and seasoned pork sausage.) Did somebody say “don’t forget the French bread?”

Wine Route

We’ll head off in our comfortable motor coach to discover the “Route des Grands Crus,” a series of the greatest wine growing plantations in the region, with a stop in the famous Romanee Conti, where we’ll amber among the pristine vines of this landmark and see the massive entrance gate. A visit to Burgundy would be incomplete without a true “degustation” session, (a tasting.) But we’re going one better; we’ve arranged to have an accomplished chef entertain and instruct us with a fun discussion on how to buy the best ingredients and then he’ll give us a lesson in fine French cooking—and yes, you’ll be able to taste his “haute cuisine.”

Burgundy is also known for its stunningly beautiful chateaux (castles.) My friend Jean has chosen what he rates as the best of them all to visit, Le Clos de Vougoet, and, time permitting, we’ll also stop and marvel at Le Chateau de Savigny. Jean has had a home here for 30 years and has run countless tours of Burgundy and I’m sure you’ll agree that Le Clos de Vougoet is a masterpiece. The small city of Beaune is a jewel of architecture and we’re going straight to the main attraction, Les Hospices de Beaune museum.

The Bullet Train to Provence

PROVENCE has always been known as a unique corner of France that has all the attributes of the rest of the country; i.e.; history, cuisine, culture, joie de vivre—but the inhabitants of Provence have one undeniable advantage: the sunshine that is sometimes lacking up north is in abundance in Provence!  We’ll start our discovery of Provence in “l’arriere pays” that is: the back country, away from the sea and into the heart of old Provence, land of lavender, sun baked olive groves, dining al fresco, and a sip of pastis.

LES BAUX DE PROVENCE. UZES. PERNES LES FONTAINES. ISLE SUR LA SORGUE. CAVAILLON. FONTAINE DE VAUCLUSE. GORDES. NIMES. ARLES. SAINT REMY DE PROVENCE. AVIGNON.

As our motorcoach traverses this beautiful region we’ll make one our first stops the village of Les Baux de Provence. The terrain and climate here are quite similar to the American Southwest, i.e.: dry and sunny. Marvel at the symmetrical placement on craggy slopes of the vineyards and be taken aback from time to time at the stunningly rich color of the lavender fields that attracted Cezanne, Van Gogh and Chagall. We’ll visit the quintessential villages of Provence like St. Remy, Les Baux, Allauch, Remoulins and Uzes.

Avignon

Better known must see stops include The Palace of the Popes at Avignon, the Roman Amphitheatre in Arles and the Roman Arena in Nimes. My two favorites in Provence as concerns history would be The Pont du Gard and the Maison Carre in Nimes. Both are breathtaking in their beauty and architectural prowess. Marseille is like a second home to me. We’ll head straight for my favorite location in the city: Notre Dame de la Garde. The view is stunning! The German Luftwaffe left a few reminders of its occupation here. I’ll point them out to you. The American army left a gift as well (not to be confused with the larger gift of liberating the country) You’ll be surprised to see it and proud to do so!

Le Vieux Port de Marseille

Of course we’ll also see Le Vieux Port (the focal point of the city which is not only an active port of pleasure craft but also retains its ancient function of small fish market only ten feet from the water!) The fishmongers themselves are as colorful and “salty” as their selection of fish; and they’ll be happy to take a few snapshots with you and the gorgeous Vieux Port as a background. The fish couldn’t be any fresher than at Le Vieux Port, and I hope you see some that strike your fancy because a little later in the day that could be your lunch. Yes; for the fish eaters among the group we will visit one of the best restaurants in France to dine on the famous fish stew of bouillabaisse.

Cassis / Les Calanques

The coast of Provence is studded with beautiful villages, one of which is Cassis. We’re going to take a leisurely boat ride a short distance from Marseille to Cassis. Along the way we’ll pass up close to Les Calanques, a nature reserve on the coast, accessible only on foot. When the most beautiful photographs of the Mediterranean show up in a travel magazine, very often they are shots of Les Calanques! As we head out of Le Vieux Port on our ship we’ll also pass Le Chateau d’If, which lies just off the coast and was the island prison setting for The Count of Monte Cristo.

Farewell Dining Event

Our last evening in Provence will be a chance to dine in style, and this elegant dinner is included in your package. This being a tour whose focus is gastronomy, I’ll see if I can’t make an exception at this last feast of French cuisine so that you can enjoy an excellent wine of your choosing from any region of France. This is a chance to learn how certain wines are paired with certain dishes, and why.

On our sixth day in Provence we take the bullet train for a short ride back to Paris and say good bye to the City of Light, until we meet again, or as they say in Paris, Au Revoir!