I will take my conservative American friends by the hand and show them the best that France has to offer. The beauty and charm of the City of Light. The Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Trocadero, Versailles, Les Champs Elysees, Le Louvre, L'Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and one of my very favorites: Le Sacre Coeur. Paris is everything beautiful and enchanting you've ever imagined and more. It is, as most visitors agree, the most beautiful city in the world. We'll visit the city by motor coach but also take the time to pause, visit, stroll, and take in the sights and sounds of this magical city.
Ken Chase, your Conservative Tours host and Parisian guide.
What do you say we start on Les Champs Elysees savoring a café "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!
Would you like to see where the insurrection by the French Resistance fighters started in the heart of Paris (next to Notre Dame) against the Nazi occupiers? Did the Roman Empire make it this far north? Yes; it did, and you'll see the proof.
We'll make a special excursion to the playground of the Sun King: Versailles Palace, just outside the city. Versailles is the palace by which all others around the world are measured for beauty and grandeur. The anecdotes of palace events, big and small, are quite entertaining; but the magnificence of the edifice as well as the palace grounds will leave one and all impressed. We're going to take a little extra time to go behind the palace and take in the stunning gardens which are part and parcel of Versailles.
After our visit to Versailles perhaps a fitting locale for evening dining would be Le Procope, where every philosopher, writer, statesman and thinker worth his salt called home after 6:00 PM. A lovely dining experience in a setting unrivaled for history.
Paris is the quintessential walking city, and you'll have free time to stroll the medieval passageways near Saint Michel and the grand boulevards like the Champs Elysees. During our night tour of the city you'll see every jaw-dropping beautiful monument illuminated in a way that only Paris knows how: L'Opera, Place de la Concorde, L'Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, La Mairie, Notre Dame, Le Louvre, and of course, La Tour Eiffel.
The Bullet Train to Reims
A visit to France, however, would not be complete without a ride on a genuine bullet train, known as the TGV. We've arranged an optional day trip to Reims, which is a beautiful small city that serves as the world headquarters of Champagne. We'll visit the caves to see how this special drink is made, and then we'll enjoy a tasting session of a world renowned brand, like Veuve Cliquot or Moet Chandon. Next we'll see a Roman arch that's as well preserved as the arch of Constantine in Rome itself! We're not done! We'll enjoy lunch at perhaps the best known restaurant in the whole country: Le Boulingrin, a bistrot style diner right out of the 1920's. The manager, Denis, will take good care of his friends from America. He always does!
Before we board the bullet train for our 45 minute shot back to the City of Light there is one more stop to make just around the block from the restaurant. We will visit the red brick school house that General Eisenhower used to convene the allied high command as well as the remnants of the Nazi regime, in the person of General Jodl, to accept the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich. The room has remained unchanged (giant wall map used by Ike, furniture, fixtures, etc.) since that historic day.
We'll visit the hallowed ground of the D-Day Beaches, where in 1944 our young men, from every corner of our glorious nation, braved murderous odds to throw back the Wermacht and liberate not just a nation but all humanity. The freedom of mankind was in the balance. Our young men, side by side with our British and Canadian allies, stormed ashore that fateful day in June, 1944. We'll retrace their steps and finish by paying homage and respect at the site where our countrymen were interred.
Battle of the Bulge
For those who can't get enough of the heroism of our men in uniform you may join our resident Bulge historian for a full day in the Ardennes Forest area of Belgium and Luxembourg reliving the Battle of the Bulge.
We'll head out early on the Bullet Train from Paris and be back that evening around 10 PM, also returning on the Bullet Train. Bastogne. Diekirch for the great museum. Houffalize. St. Vith. Patton's resting place among his men in Hamm, Luxembourg.
OPTIONAL TOUR EXTENSION 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. GORDES. NIMES. ARLES.
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.
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 strait 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 you're 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.
Next we’ll take our first class seats on the luxurious bullet train from Provence and arrive in the City of Light just 3 hours later!