2 Weeks in France Driver Guided Tour
Tailor your 2 week-long itinerary to suit you
Discover France in style and luxury as you travel across the regions in our executive class vehicle with your private driver guide.
Featuring highlights and iconic locations from Paris, lush wine regions in the Loire Valley and the Dordogne, and heart-melting TerraCotta brick cottages in Toulouse villages. Read on to find out what we have planned for you on our 2-week driver-guided tour.
What is included:
Day 1: Arrival in Paris
We start our tour of Paris, the city of lights, with your driver guide who will be waiting for you in the reception of your hotel. Today is a familiarization tour and we’ll drive around Paris to see all the key monuments and attractions and where possible stop for photographs.
Your tour will include Sacre Coeur at Montmartre, the Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Place de la Concord, Opera, Louver and the Arc de Triomphe.
Stop for lunch in Montparnasse in one of the pretty squares and afterward browse the local market.
In the afternoon we head to the Pompidou Center which is universally recognized as Europe’s most important center for Modern Art. The building itself is steeped in controversy due to its polarizing very modern design and huge bill – It cost almost £60 Million and that was in 1977 when it was completed! Inside the building, there is also a library housing over half a million books as well as the main gallery itself that has 200,00 modern art exhibits. Your guide will plan your visit with you to ensure that your tour takes in all the works you want to see.
Day 2: Paris
This morning we have an epicurean tour of Paris starting with the traditional French petit dejeuner (or petit dej as the calls call it) at a local boulangerie where the head baker will teach you about the different breads and pastries they bake every morning.
Top tip – if you are ever buying bread in France never go to an empty boulangerie – the French are perfectly happy to queue outside their favorite for 20 minutes rather than buy bread from a shop where they believe the bread is of inferior quality. Your tour will include a visit to an award-winning fromagerie as well as local charcuterie and poissonnerie.
Following lunch, we visited Sainte Chapelle. Usually, the Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame is at the top of everyone’s ‘must see’ list in Paris. Unfortunately for the next few years, tourists will not be allowed inside the cathedral until the renovations are completed following the disastrous fire.
If you are looking to see impressive Gothic architecture look no further than the Sainte Chapelle, built by Louis IX to house Christian relics including Christ’s crown of thorns. This stunning gothic building was built in only 7 years and cost almost a tenth of the cost of the relics housed there.
The chapel is made up of 2 parts – the Upper Chapel – for the king and his family and the lower chapel for servants of the king. As you would expect the upper chapel has to be seen to be believed, such is the opulence and extravagance of the decorations which include exquisitely carved statues of the 12 apostles and beautifully painted ceilings. The main feature of this stunning building is the stained glass windows – the world’s largest display of Medieval glass with over 600 m 2 of stained glass.
Situated close to the Chappelle is the Conciergerie, a stunning Medieval building with a dark history. The building was used as a prison during the revolution and many famous prisoners were held here until their fates including Marie Antoinette.
The building has 4 main towers, one of which is the 47 M high Tour d’Horloge is home to the oldest working public clock in Paris. This heavily decorated gilt clock was commissioned by Charles V in 1371 and was created by Henry de Vic, one of France’s most reputable clock designers.
Day 3: Paris - Giverny - Paris
Today we visited Giverny, a beautiful village nestled on the banks of the Seine, and home to the great artist Claude Monet who first visited the village in 1883 and fell in love with the area and stayed for 30 years until his death. Later in his career, his influence across the arts resulted in many other artists moving to Giverny to paint this amazing landscape.
We start our day in Giverny in the famous water garden. Monet was fascinated by Japanese culture and he spent over 10 years creating this magical water garden, selecting the best oriental trees and plants like bamboo, ginkgoes, and peonies. He also planted many different types of water lilies, the subject for the famous ‘ Nymnpa’ that he started painting in the late 1890s. We then head to the Clos Normand, which means closed Norman Garden. This part of the gardens leads up to Monet’s house and is filled with hundreds of flower beds, bursting with color. Monet was said to adore flowers and when you step foot in this garden you will see why – from daffodils and tulips in Spring through to Irises, poppies, pansies and roses later in the season the garden is an explosion of beautiful fragrance and color.
We continue our private tour into Monet’s house which has been faithfully restored and is said to be a true representation of the house’s interior. Inside the stunning yellow dining room and vibrant blue kitchen, the rooms feature many of his artworks displayed on the walls. Alongside Monet’s beautiful artworks that he created, you will also find
a collection of Japanese engravings. Monet adored all things Japanese and he built up an incredible collection of rare engravings by famous Japanese artists such as
Utamaro and Hokusai which you will see as you visit each room.
Following your tour of the house, we then stop for lunch at one of the charming brasseries located around the village.
In the afternoon you will be taken on a private tour of the Impressionist Museum which features works from many famous Impressionist artists as well as a permanent exhibition of Monet’s works. End your tour with a visit to the colorful and contemporary museum gardens that feature fountains and wild prairies.
Following your private tour sit back in your air-conditioned car and let your diver guide take you back to your hotel in Paris.
Day 4: Loire Valley - Chambord
Today we head to the Loire to spend a few days exploring fairy tale castles and tasting the best this region has to offer including spectacular vin de la Loire to meaty rillettes and local cheese such as Port Salut and Valencay (Valençay is a pyramid shape cheese with the top section cut off – legend has it that after his defeat in Egypt Napoleon stayed in the Loire and when he was given this pyramid-shaped cheese he was so incensed that he chopped the top of the cheese off, hence the shape today).
The Loire Valley is known for its picturesque landscapes, beautiful rolling hillsides sprinkled with villages along the banks of the majestic river Loire and is also called the ‘Garden of France’
No trip to the Loire would be complete without visiting the truly incredible chateau of Chambord, the park and grounds of the castle alone are as big as central Paris and it is the largest park in Western Europe covering 5440 hectares and 32 kilometers of walls.
Commissioned by King Francis I and imagined by the great Leonardo da Vinci, the Chateau de Chambord is the largest and most majestic castle of the Loire.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site calls the site “the architectural equivalent of the Mona Lisa.” The incredible double-helix staircase is just one reason. It is a world-renowned, architectural marvel! The palace comprises 426 rooms, 83 staircases, 282 fireplaces as well over 4,500 objets d’art on display in superbly recreated apartments in the chateau.
In 2001 a study started aimed to replicate exactly the palace gardens as created during the reign of Louis XIV and in 2017 this study finally came to fruition with the reopening of the gardens.
The result today is incredible and awe-inspiring with more than 800 shrubs, 600 trees, over 200 rose bushes, 15,250 border plants, and 18,874 m² of lawns. A garden fit for a King!
Day 5: Loire - Amboise
Today we head to Amboise, a city famous for its connection to Leonardo da Vinci who lived and eventually died here.
Our first stop is the incredible Chateau d’Amboise, which was home to King Charles VII and Louis XII. The chateaux have evolved over the centuries and are now smaller than originally built but the imposing turrets and huge stone castle walls still dominate the skyline.
Inside the chateau, rooms are restored in both Gothic and Renaissance styles with elaborate tapestries and fine artworks throughout. Your private tour will also include a tour of the beautiful formal gardens before we head to the next chateau in Amboise Château du Clos Lucé.
Not only home to the great artist Leonardo da Vinci, but it was also home to both Mary Queen of Scots and Anne Boleyn, The chateau was bought by Charles VIII and turned into a Royal residence and it was Francis I that asked Da Vinci to come and visit Amboise. The great artist had lost his Italian patron and so he made the trek to Amboise by mule (over the Alps). He brought some of his artworks including the Mona Lisa with him, which explains why the most famous painting in the world is in Paris and not Rome!
Your private tour will also reveal the tunnel that Francis I had constructed from his residence in the Chateau d’Amboise to Clos Luce that enabled the King to meet with the great artist privately. This chateau is considered the only real home Leonardo had throughout his life and both the chateau and its gardens pay home to this great artist with several of his inventions made into life-size models dotted throughout the grounds.
Our day ends with a tour of Amboise, a beautiful Medieval town with narrow cobbled streets and half-timbered houses, the perfect destination for aperos whilst you watch the sunset.
Day 6: Loire Valley - Tours - Bordeaux
We spend the morning visiting Tours, twice the home to the French government in 1870 and 1940 and the largest city in the Department, but not the capital (this is Orleans).
We visit the old town, le Vieux Ville, and explore the Medieval streets and houses, all wonderfully preserved. In the heart of the old town is the impressive Gothic Saint-Gatien Cathedral – its sheer size dominating the area around it. This enormous building is as impressive inside as out with its vaulted knave and highly decorated stained glass windows and beautiful rose windows.
Inside there are various chapels, including one dedicated to the local hero, Jean d’Arc, and a stunning 16th-century organ that has been carefully restored to replicate exactly how it would have looked when first constructed. Tours were also strategically important in WWII and was home to a large American base – the contribution of the Americans in the war is recognized in the city by the famous Woodrow Wilson bridge over the Loire.
We head to one of the many riverside restaurants for lunch ‘with a view’ – overlooking the magnificent river Loire.
In the afternoon your driver guide will take you to the station where you will travel by TGV to Bordeaux, just around 2 hours away by high-speed train.
On arrival in Bordeaux, your chauffeur will be waiting for you by the platform and will take you and your luggage to your hotel for the next few days in the Bordeaux region.
Day 7: Bordeaux
Nestled on the SE Atlantic seaboard lies Bordeaux, France’s 5th Largest city and as of 2007 both the city and its port were granted UNESCO World Heritage status. This coastal city includes the largest estuary in Europe and is home to over 350 Monuments Historique, only Paris has more historically significant buildings.
Your private tour starts at the Place De la Bourse – (Stock Exchange square) this was created by Jacques Gabriel who may be better known as the principal architect behind Versailles. Next to these impressive Neoclassical buildings is the more contemporary Water Mirror, the world’s largest reflecting pool and was created in 2006. This 3,7000 sq foot pool is made from granite slabs and is covered with 2 cm of water. Every 15 minutes steamrolls across the surface creating perfect photo opportunities. La Grosse Cloche (the Big Bell) is certainly worth a visit and dates back to the Middle Ages where you can still visit the prison and dungeons in the Bell’s gateway.
Nestled amongst Bordeaux’s impressive architecture you will find over 35 Michelin-starred restaurants as well as the longest shopping street in Europe -Rue Sainte Catherine at 1.2Km long. From designer fashion houses to local artisan craft shops this street has something for everyone.
Day 8: Bordeaux - Arcachon
Next, we visit the relatively new town of Arcachon. Napoleon III, a regular visitor, and lover of the area signed township deeds in 1857 creating this new town. Its popularity grew in the early-mid 19th century when it became a health destination for TB sufferers who would visit to take advantage of the clean sea air and ocean. Latterly, once the railway was extended here Arcachon became popular for the elite of Paris and Bordeaux, and its most famous residents were probably Dumas and Toulouse -Lautrec. Today it is a chic holiday destination, famed for oysters, spectacular period architecture, and the Pilat dune and we have a relaxing day visiting the best this pretty city has to offer.
The town is split into 4 main areas, named after the seasons – each with a very distinct vibe. We start in the Ville d’hiver and take a tour of the stunning villas and mansions from the 19th century which represent fantastic examples of various architectural styles from huge rambling Swiss chalets, to colonial and neo-gothic villas; there is an eclectic mix of styles on show. Your guide will point out some of the most famous villas on your tour including Villa Faust which is based on a Moorish castle, and Villa Trocadero an enormous building built in the style of a luxury Swiss ski chalet!
Next, we head to one of the most amazing natural attractions (and in fact the second most visited natural attraction in the whole of France) – the impressive Dune du Pilat. This enormous dune contains over 60 million metric cubes of sand and is an incredible 110 meters high, 500 meters wide and over 2.5 Km in length, It is Europe’s tallest sand dune and from the top, you have wonderful views of the Arcachon Basin, the Banc d’Arguin nature reserve and the Bassin d’Arcachon. There are steps and a handrail and so it is a relatively easy climb.
In the afternoon relax on one of the many beautiful beaches in the area – for those of you wanting to go more off the beaten track your driver guide will take you to some of the less well-known coves to explore.
In the evening head out to one of Arcachon’s well-known award-winning seafood restaurants and sample the local delicacy: freshly caught oysters.
Day 9: Basque Country - Bayonne
We venture into the heart of Basque territory today and head out to Bayonne, famed the world over for ham but also and also a much less well-known fact is that Bayonne is a huge center for the production of chocolate. During the Spanish Inquisition, many of the cocoa traders living in Spain were from the New World and so fled to nearby Bayonne in France to escape the Inquisition.
Bayonne is also known as the capital of French Basque Country – this is an area of land between SW France and NE Spain. As soon as you arrive in Basque you will notice the red and white flags everywhere, these colors represent everything Basque. It’s not only the dominance of red and white flags that show this is a distinct part of France – the street signs are all written in French and Eurasia, the official language of Basque. It is strange to think that an area of land between France and Spain has a language that has no basis in French or Spanish (a language isolate) and is considered the oldest language in Europe developed in Prehistoric times.
Our tour starts today with a private tour of the Basque Museum, which charts the history of the Basque people and hosts the largest collection of Basque exhibits including boat building, sporting, and woodworking artifacts. Our next stop is the Bayonne cathedral, an imposing Romanesque and Gothic building whose twin spires dominate the horizon. Originally constructed in 1213 to be a place of worship for pilgrims to stay on the way to Santiago de Compostela.
Inside the cathedral admire the huge vaulted ceilings decorated with ornate stone carvings, the numerous artworks, and the many chapels on each side of the building as well as the shrine of Saint-Léon de Carentan, bishop of Bayonne in the 9th century.
Your private tour will also include a visit to the cloisters, built in 1240 and are amongst the largest in the whole of France.
Following your private tour head down the Rue d’Espagne, and have lunch in one of the local brasseries
In the afternoon we head to Chocolate Street, a section of the old town filled with artisan chocolatiers, and have a tour of the workshop and factory and learn about why this area of France produces such high-quality chocolate. Your tour ends with the obligatory chocolate tastings, what a lovely way to finish the afternoon.
In the evening choose from one of the many waterfront restaurants and sample local fresh seafood paired with delicious French Basque wine.
Day 10: Basque Country - Biarritz
Just a few Km south of Bayonne lies the coastal city of Biarritz, originally conquered by the Romans and named Aquitania in the 6th century, but the first settlers were in fact Vikings who realized the great fishing potential of the town and many Scandinavians made their way here, renaming the town Bjarnihus, which is where the name Biarritz originally comes from. In around the 1850’s Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie commissioned a palace to be built on the beach which elevated the city’s social status amongst the elite in Paris and London. Queen Victoria and Prince Edward had many holidays here and this, along with the construction of the famous Hotel Casino Paris, served to cement Biarritz as a destination for the rich and famous.
We started our private tour of Biarritz at the Cathedrale de St Eugenie, which sits on a hill above the Vieux Port. It was built in 1856 in opulent Roman-Byzantine style and was built in honor of Napoleon III’s wife Empress of France. Inside the grand interior, there are spectacular stained glass windows designed by Merson, ornate stone carvings, and incredible-looking fonts that were constructed with seashells from Manilla.
From here we head to Porte des Pechers, a tiny village within a village consisting of around 60 ‘crampettes’ – small white-washed cabins set into the rocks with green red, or blue shutters (think Greek Islands, not SW France!) We stop for lunch in one of the converted crampettes overlooking the busy harbor.
After lunch visit the (the Rock of the Virgin) Rocher de la Vierge, so called after the Holy Virgin statue which sits on top of a huge rock that can only be reached via a footbridge, not any footbridge but one designed by Gustave Eiffel. Your guide will tell you about the legends and tales surrounding the rock and why the statue was built here.
Biarritz is also known as the California of France and is widely recognized as one of the places in France for windsurfing, surfing, kite surfing, and sailing. You will have a private lesson in the watersport of your choice and really make the most of the Atlantic wind. For any golf enthusiast amongst you, there are 12 great and somewhat challenging courses in and around Biarritz including Biarritz le Phare, the second oldest golf course in Europe.
For those less sporty this afternoon we embark on a Basque cookery masterclass where you will learn how to cook famous dishes from the region such as piperade, lamb axoa, and Basque cake with a local award-winning chef.
Day 11: Tarbes
Our next destination is Tarbes, a beautiful Medieval town perfectly positioned in SW France and home to the birthplace of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who served as supreme commander of the Western Front during WW1 and was responsible for leading the charge that ultimately defeated Germany. The armistice was signed in his private carriage and many, if not all French towns and cities have a road/building or monument named after this great soldier.
We start our day with a visit to the birthplace of Foch which has now been turned into a museum and there are many genuine exhibits including documents and photographs from the war displayed here. Our next stop is the Musée de la Déportation et de la Résistance, which charts the Resistance movement in the area and includes amazing moving exhibits including accounts from escaped prisoners, internees, prisoners of war, and importantly personal stories from some of the key resistance fighters in Tarbes. Tarbes was SO central to the Resistance in this part of France that it was awarded the ‘Croix de Guerre’ (War Cross)
Lunch in one of the many cafes and brasseries which are dotted around the main square and try some locally produced foie gras or poule au pot made with Poule Noire d ‘Asterac – Bigorre.
Jardins Massey (Gardens of Massey) is a stunning 11-hectare formal public garden and our next stop after lunch. It was created in the 19th Century by Placide Massey, not only a local of Tarbes but more importantly, the royal gardener to King Louis Philippe I and also responsible for the management of the Gardens of Versailles, The garden has received one of the highest accolades in France and is a ‘Jardin Remarquable’, one of less than 300 across the whole of France. Explore the gardens with your guide and visit the Orangerie as well as the incredible cloisters with a total of 40 arches situated in this exotic garden paradise.
At the end of the afternoon, your driver-guide will take you to Toulouse where you will be based for the next 3 nights.
Day 12: Toulouse - Albi - Toulouse
Your driver guide today will take you north-eastwards out of Toulouse to the incredibly beautiful city of Albi, built on the shores of the river Tarn. The Cathedral of St Cecile is the most imposing building in the city and dominates the skyline as you head into the city.
It is here we start our private tour and it is easy to see why this building and the surrounding ecclesiastical buildings have been given UNESCO World Heritage Status. The sheer size of the structure is impressive and it is said to be the largest brick building in the world. The bell tower is 78 M high and the building really looks more like a fortress. Inside are beautiful highly intricate stone carvings and sculptures with religious friezes and paintings along the walls and ceiling.
Just next door to the cathedral is the original Bishop’s House which is now home to the Toulouse Lautrec museum. Henri Toulouse Lautrec was born in Albi and definitely takes pride in place as the most famous resident. The museum itself is a majestic building and was constructed to show the strength and importance of the Catholic church. Your private tour of the museum will give you an insight into the life and times of this famous artist and an understanding of each of his most important works which are displayed here. We finish the museum tour with a guided tour of the beautifully manicured formal gardens surrounding the Bishop’s house.
Next, we continue through the old town with its narrow streets lined with art galleries, artisan patisseries, and cafes and bars. Stop for lunch and admire the view towards the Vieux Pont – (meaning Old Bridge) constructed over 1000 years ago and still in use today as it is an iconic landmark of the city – our driver guide will take us there later on the way back so we can get some great pictures.
After lunch, go for a stroll along the riverbanks and take in the beautiful views of the city across the river – many of the famous pictures of Albi tend to be taken from the other side of the river and your guide will point out the best spots to get perfect pictures.
At the end of the day, your driver-guide will take you back to your hotel in Toulouse (not forgetting to drive past le Pont Vieux) for you to spend the evening at leisure.
Day 13: Toulouse - Castelnaudary - Toulouse
About 45 mins drive south of Toulouse is Castelnaudary – famous for being the home of Cassoulet, and where you can find Le Grande Basin – the largest body of water on the Canal du Midi.
The incredible 241 Km Canal du Midi connects the Mediterranean to Toulouse and was created in the 17th Century and is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
We explore the Grand Bassin and the various monuments and the enormous obelisk by the Seuil de Naurouze watershed and your guide will explain to your the history of the Canal du Midi and why it is one of the most popular and certainly one of the most picturesque canal routes in Europe.
Your tour will then take you into the city itself where you can stroll through the market and sample charcuterie from one of the market stalls before heading to one of the many restaurants lining the leafy avenues of the city. Try local specialties such as confit du canard, but if it is your first time at Castelnaudary then you should try the cassoulet. As we are self-proclaimed as the cassoulet capital of the world, what better place to try authentic cassoulet made with beans grown in the Lauragais and local duck confit?
In the afternoon we head back to Toulouse for some important last-minute present shopping! Depending on what you are looking for, your driver-guide will take you to the best part of the city. Most guests love the Carmelite Quarter which is the perfect place to find artisan chocolatiers and patisseries, many of them will ship to your home address directly.
Day 14: Transfer from Toulouse
This morning your driver guide will be waiting to take you and your luggage to your next destination. Relax and finish your coffee whilst your driver guide takes care of your luggage and when you are ready step into a perfectly air-conditioned luxury car ready for your next journey.
Request a custom 14-day tour of France
If you would like our tour planning specialists to amend any aspect of the above 2-week itinerary, or even handcraft a totally custom one for you, then we would be delighted to do so at no cost.
Simply complete our online inquiry form and our tour planning specialists will get started for you.
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Salut from France! I’m Debbie, founder of Luxury France Tours.
Having developed into a Francophile on a trip to the French Alps many years ago while still in school, I moved to France after a career traveling the world led to me meeting my (now) French Husband in Johannesburg. I created Luxury France Tours as a way of sharing my love of France & igniting this passion in others.