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France

Home to fine cuisine, romantic cities and world-class wines, France is a fantastic destination for an elegant holiday abroad. 

Rail Tours in France

Escorted holidays to enjoy France's History, Culture and Cuisine

Tantalising romance, magnificent art and astonishing gastronomic excellence make up the unapologetically refined culture of France. From beautiful stretches on the French Riviera and the seductive luxury of Monaco in the south, to the snow-domed peaks of the French Alps in the east, from gentle rivers snaking through the green and gold fields of Brittany to the sophistication of Paris, the capital of romance, it's easy to see how France remains at the top of so many bucket lists across the world. 

This is a nation which has been the height of fashion and artistic prowess throughout the centuries, home to a wealth of artists, poets, musicians and philosophers, each inspired by this land of Champagne, culture and charm. On a more poignant note, this magnificent country was also the site of some of the fiercest fighting in WWII, including the ferocious Normandy landings on the beaches of D-Day and the battles of Operation Dragoon. 

We’ve found 18 tours for you matching: France

Carcassonne & the Canal du Midi

From timeless vineyards and sundrenched, rugged hills to imposing Cathar castles and historic abbeys, join us on a remarkable tour showcasing the very best of Languedoc. We explore the iconic walled Cité of Carcassonne, enjoy an excursion to the 'Ville Rose' city of Toulouse and immerse ourselves in local market life.

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Avignon, the Rhône & Provence

Discover Avignon, the Rhône and Provence. Inspiration for artists including Vincent Van Gogh, this region of France oozes history, charm and atmosphere. Staying in the delightful city of Avignon, we explore Roman Provence and enjoy a lunch cruise along the Rhône.

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Biarritz & Five-Star All Inclusive Bordeaux Cruise

Superb sandy beaches, a mild climate and a delightful ocean promenade have drawn visitors to Biarritz for years, then swap the sea for the Garonne and Dordogne, two of France's most scenic rivers, as you enjoy a relaxing cruise through one of Europe's most famous wine regions.

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Five-Star Bordeaux & The Dordogne Cruise

Enjoy this relaxing cruise through one of Europe's most famous wine regions. From the handsome city of Bordeaux, we navigate the Garonne and Dordogne, two of France's most scenic rivers, enjoying the unique landscapes lining their banks.

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A Portrait of the Impressionists' Seine

Cruising the scenic Seine, explore the world of the Impressionist artists, from Monet's famous garden at Giverny to the city galleries of Paris and Rouen. This is a tour that delivers the very best of Northern France.

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Bordeaux, Rioja & The Pilgrim's Trail

Spain's spectacular northern shores yield a beautiful stretch of untouched coastline, rising proudly from the Atlantic Ocean. This tour takes you to some of the fantastic highlights of the region, beginning in the refined wine city of Bordeaux in France, and curling down across the border into the natural paradise of northern Spain.

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Châteaux of the Loire Valley

Discover the alluring charms of the Loire Valley on a small groups tour to France. Relish an intimate look around one of the region's most historically significant castles, sample distinctive wines from a rising star of the French vintnery scene, and enjoy accommodation in a prestigious 5-Star hotel, which is of course another Château.

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La Rochelle & France's Southwest Coast

Fresh seafood, sweet cognac and a seagull train, France is nothing if not surprising. Join us on our brand new tour to La Rochelle and explore a corner of the country that often gets overlooked to discover a myriad of fascinating maritime curiosities.

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The Loire Valley & A Portrait of the Impressionists' Seine

Explore the some of the most famous châteaux the stud the verdant Loire Valley and relax in the charming French town of Blois before joining a scenic cruise along the Seine that delves into the world of the Impressionist artists, from Monet's famous garden at Giverny to the city galleries of Paris and Rouen.

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Nice & the Côte d'Azur

The wonderful hilltop towns of fragrant Provence combine with chic resorts and the glamorous principality of Monaco on this exciting rail tour of Nice and the Côte d'Azur. Join us as we discover the French Riviera, which has long been a favoured destination of the rich and famous.

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Biarritz & the Atlantic Pyrenees

Superb sandy beaches, a mild climate and a delightful ocean promenade have drawn visitors to Biarritz for years. Here we see the region's lovely coastal resorts, the mighty Pyrenees and the unique Basque heritage.

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Chamonix, Mont Blanc & Five-Star Rhone Cruise

Be whisked away to the soaring mountains of the French Alps, as you journey on the spectacular Mont Blanc express and enjoy the colourful charms of Chamonix. After your time in France, cruise down the Rhône in style as you sample the culture and way of life on this elegant waterway.

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French Culture

France has famously enjoyed a long and storied cultural heritage. The French affinity for art has produced some of the greatest masters ever known, as well as a number of original schools of art. Some of these painters include such names as Impressionists August Renoir and Claude Monet, post-impressionists Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin. and realist Edgar Degas. Literature also has its part to play in French culture, with notable works by famous authors such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne and Voltaire.

France is also the nation of many well-known composers and musicians across a variety of genres, with Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Paul Dukas as well as gypsy-jazz creator Django Reinhardt all hailing from the country. In the theatres and cinemas, French drama includes the talents of figures such as Brigitte Bardot, Vincent Cassel and Gérard Depardieu.

A big part of the French lifestyle is sport. Like much of Europe, the national sport of France is football, which was introduced by the English in 1872. Cycling is also important, with the Tour de France considered one of the most prestigious in the international cycling calendar. Other major sports include basketball and rugby.

French Railways

Rail travel in France is both delightful and practical. High speed trains run on many routes and punctual service makes travelling by rail reliable and relaxing. 

The French TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse ('high speed train') is one of the ten fastest passenger trains in operation in the world. Designed in the 1970s, these trains are electric with overhead lines and they run on railways all over France, with 550 trains in operation.

French Cuisine

French cuisine is renowned for its culinary artistry, flair and flavour. Should escargots de bourgogne (snails in garlic butter) or cuisses de grenouille (frog's legs) not be to your taste, then there are countless other French classics and specialities to enjoy such as baked Camembert cheese, moules marinières; mussels cooked in a white wine broth, soupe à L'oignon, an onion soup traditionally served with a unique crust, cassoulet, a popular stew of duck and beans, and bouillabaisse, a colourful stew of fish and shellfish flavoured with saffron.

France has always been internationally recognised as one of the major wine producers in the world with the French city of Bordeaux considered by many as one of the viticulture capitals of the world. Each wine is classified by where the grapes are grown, with French wines including such classic varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Along with these well-known brands, France is full of lesser-known yet equally excellent wine producers such as Domaine Chesneau and Château de Pennautier. Both of these, as well as Bordeaux itself, feature as excursions in Great Rail Journeys tours.  

French Climate

France's climate varies with location, but is generally mild and temperate throughout the year. The north and west of the country are the coolest and experience most rainfall, whilst the Mediterranean coast enjoys the driest, warmest and sunniest weather. Spring and summer are the best times to visit anywhere in the country unless you're a snow sports enthusiast, whilst autumn is typically the wettest season. 

French Language

French is a beautiful and expressive language which is exceptionally easy on the ear. Besides the commonly known yes ('oui'), no ('non') and hello ('bonjour'), handy French expressions include 's'il vous plait' which means 'please', 'merci beaucoup' which means 'thank you very much' and 'c'est combien?' which means 'how much is it?'. 'S'il vous plait' is pronounced 'See- voo-play', 'merci beaucoup' is pronounced 'mer-see boo-coo' and 'c'est combine?' is pronounced 'say-com-beeyan'.

Traveller’s notes

Perhaps the most important day in the French calendar is Bastille Day, which celebrates the French Revolution of the 18th century. Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille Fortress in Paris on the 14th of July, at the culmination of the revolution. Festivities on this day include an impressive military parade through Paris' Champs Elysees.

Another event of note in France is the Nice Carnival. This wonderful cornucopia of colour and cheer is held annually in Nice on the southern coast and features a parade of magnificent floats of all shapes and sizes. 

Helen Laverack
Helen
Julie Pacalon
Julie
Lynne Broadley
Lynne
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