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Discover France, the Great Rail way

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

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Rail Tours in France

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

Highlights

  • Exclusive Small Group Tour
    Relish an intimate look around one of the region's most historically significant castles and sample wines from a rising star of the French vintnery scene.
    Chateaux of the Loire Valley
  • Pont du Gard & Châteauneuf-du-Pape
    Visit the Pont du Gard, a spectacular ancient Roman aqueduct and one of France's most recognisable landmarks.
    Avignon, the Rhone & Provence

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 28 tours for you matching: France

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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2020MayJunAugSepOct

7 days from $1,735 pp

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Five-Star Seine Cruise

Cruising the scenic Seine on board the MS Renoir, explore the world of the Impressionist artists, from Monet's famous garden at Giverny to the city galleries of Paris and Rouen. With flexible shore excursions available, you can choose what you want to do whilst enjoying the romantic scenery of what is arguably France's best-loved waterway. Experience the very best of Northern France, from the world-changing D-Day landings to the enchanting cities and towns which inspired the artists of the Impressionist movement.

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2020MayJunSep

7 days from $2,105 pp

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Beautiful Bordeaux & The Dordogne Cruise

Experience a part of France renowned for its beautiful landscape and explore it in the most leisurely way possible, on a river cruise sailing through the picturesque Gironde Estuary.

Good food and great wine are in abundance on this hugely inclusive cruise exploring the Bordeaux region. Enjoy complimentary wine with each dinner and an exclusive wine tasting on board.

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2020MaySep

7 days from $1,595 pp

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Lake Maggiore, The Centovalli Railroad & Rhine Cruise

Delight in two great European countries, Italy and Germany, on this 16-day vacation which blends fantastic rail excursions with relaxing river cruising. Unwind beside the Great Italian lakes of Maggiore and Orta, enjoying included wine tastings and garden tours, before an immersive Rhine cruise through some of Germany's most scenic towns and landscapes.

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2020MayJun

10 days from $5,185 pp

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Provence and The Elegant Rhône

Discover the timeless elegance of France's beautiful Rhône on board the MS Amadeus Provence. Experience a memorable cruise, enchanting cities, natural wonders and more.

Visit quaint Lyon, holy Avignon and charming Beaune, and admire the magnificent Ardèche Gorge as you drift down this peaceful river.

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2020JunAug

8 days from $2,385 pp

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Five-Star Rhine Cruise

From Switzerland to the Netherlands, this spectacular cruise reveals the majesty of the Rhine River in all its fairytale glory. We uncover beautiful valley gorges, splendid halftimbered towns and many of the remarkable cities that line the banks of this grand old river. Sailing through four countries, we uncover unique experiences including German heritage rail journeys, French city tours and Dutch steam trains.

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2020JunJulAugSepOct

8 days from $1,965 pp

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Carcassonne & Cathar Castles of France

From timeless vineyards and sun-drenched 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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2020MayJunJulSepOct

7 days from $2,305 pp

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Beautiful Bordeaux & The Dordogne Cruise

Experience a part of France renowned for its beautiful landscape and explore it in the most leisurely way possible, on a river cruise sailing through the picturesque Gironde Estuary.

Good food and great wine are in abundance on this hugely inclusive cruise exploring the Bordeaux region. Enjoy complimentary wine with each dinner and an exclusive wine tasting on board.

… see more
2020MaySep

7 days from $1,965 pp

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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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2020MaySepOct

7 days from $2,025 pp

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French Riviera & Rhône Cruise

Discover the enchanting allure of Nice and the French Riviera on this dazzling tour, before continuing to Lyon for an exquisite 7-night cruise on board the MS Amadeus Provence.

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2020JunAug

11 days from $3,195 pp

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Biarritz & Bordeaux Cruise

What better way to start your cruise than with time strolling the sandy beaches and delightful ocean promenade of Biarritz. Travel on the pretty La Rhune Mountain railroad as it winds its way through the Pyrenees to rise above the low clouds in the dramatic rocky mountains.

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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2020MaySep

10 days from $2,390 pp

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Cities of Provence & The French Riviera

Explore the south of France from Avignon to Nice on this small group tour, with capacity for just 20 travelers.

Enjoy exclusive accommodation in some of the region's most impressive boutique hotels, experience the high life of the sparkling French Riviera with afternoon tea at the famous summer retreat of the Rothschild family, and immerse yourself in the culture of Provence and the Côte d'Azur with sightseeing tours led by local guides.

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2020MayJunSep

7 days from $2,625 pp

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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 theaters 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 Railroads

Rail travel in France is both delightful and practical. High speed trains run on many routes and punctual service makes traveling 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 railroads all over France, with 550 trains in operation.

French Cuisine

French cuisine is renowned for its culinary artistry, flair and flavor. 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 specialties 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 colorful stew of fish and shellfish flavoured with saffron.

France has always been internationally recognized 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 fall 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'.

Traveler’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 color and cheer is held annually in Nice on the southern coast and features a parade of magnificent floats of all shapes and sizes. 

When dining in French restaurants, there is normally a service charge included in your bill which goes to the staff. Extra tipping is always appreciated and this amount should be around €1 for every €20 spent.

In the cities, French people are often reserved and this can sometimes seem rude to some travelers. However, if treated courteously and respectfully, they will respond in kind, becoming quite friendly and open. In the countryside, by contrast, the people tend to be much more welcoming and amiable, perhaps in part due to a slower paced and more laid-back lifestyle when compared to that of their metropolitan counterparts.

Yung-Mei Choi
Yung-Mei
Dimitri Zgonis
Dimitri
Vaugnel Fletcher
Vaugnel
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