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Iconic and intimate, full of history and vibrant with modern life, France is an enchanting place to
explore as a family. Go beyond the well-worn tourist track to discover the secrets of this magical
place, from the engine room at the Eiffel Tower to a private lavender farm in Provence. Take a kid-friendly tour of the Louvre, step into the studio of Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence, and walk in the
footsteps of ancient Romans across the soaring Pont du Gard.
Glide down the Seine in a glass-enclosed boat, getting a swan’s-eye view of the iconic sites of
Paris while eating a delicious dinner.
Go behind the scenes at the Eiffel Tower on a private tour of an underground World War I bunker and the engine room that powers the tower’s hydraulic elevators.
Join a chef in the kitchen to learn how to make baguettes and pastries.
Picnic amid lavender fields on a visit to a family farm in Provence, and kayak under the soaring
arches of the breathtaking Pont du Gard.
Itinerary - 7 Days
Day 1 — Paris
Arrive in Paris and settle into our hotel on the city’s Left Bank. Our adventure begins with a special dinner as you drift down the river Seine in a glass-enclosed boat. Taste delicious French cuisine as we glide past some of the most iconic sites in Paris: the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame. Parc Saint Séverin (D)
Day 2 — Paris
Set out on foot this morning to discover the medieval heart of Paris with a guide. Imagine how artists designed the dazzling stained glass windows at Sainte-Chapelle and cross over one of the city’s famous bridges to the Île de la Cité, home to the Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame. On the neighboring island of Île Saint-Louis, stop for lunch overlooking the Seine at a lively brasserie. This afternoon, visit the incomparable Louvre Museum on a uniquely informative and entertaining tour designed especially for families. View some of the fabled pieces of art in the collection —works by Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, and of course, the Mona Lisa. Parc Saint Séverin (B,L)
Day 3 — Paris
Start the day off with a special treat: a private backstage tour of the Eiffel Tower. We’ll have exclusive access to a World War II military bunker and the secret passages under the Champ de Mars and then step into the engine room to see the machines that power the tower’s hydraulic elevators. Take a ride up to the second floor for an amazing view of Paris and cap off the adventure with lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel, a family-friendly restaurant on the first floor. This afternoon, meet up with our pen pals at a local Parisian bakery to learn from a boulanger the art of making macaroons. Team up with your new French friends to design your own delicious pastry. Parc Saint Séverin (B,L)
Day 4 — Paris/Aix-en-Provence
Climb aboard a first-class car of a high-speed TGV train and zip nearly 500 miles across France in just under three hours, taking in beautiful countryside vistas along the way. Our destination is Aix-en-Provence, a charming Provençal town founded by the Romans around A.D. 123. After lunch in town, set out on foot to explore the city center with a guide, following cobblestone streets to bubbling fountains and stopping in to visit the studio of the artist Paul Cézanne, who immortalized this lovely region in his paintings. Grand Avignon Hotel (B,L)
Day 5 — Aix-en-Provence/Avignon
Take a drive into the heart of lavender country and through the foothills of Mont Ventoux to the
Aroma Plantes Distillery, a family run lavender farm.
The owners take us on a guided tour of the lavender distillery for a close-up look at how perfumes and oils are drawn from these vivid purple flowers whose healing essences have been used for centuries. Then head into the fragrant fields and stop for a classic French picnic of cheese, fresh bread, and charcuterie. On our hike, collect sprigs to make your own lavender sachet keepsake. Return to Avignon and tour the Papal Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Plunge into the splendor of the papal court before its return to Rome in this 14th century masterpiece that is the largest medieval fortress and biggest gothic palace of Europe. Tonight, dine on delicious southern French cuisine. Grand Avignon Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Aix-en-Provence/Languedoc/Nîmes
Travel westward into the Languedoc region for a full-day exploration of the area surrounding the Roman founded
town of Nîmes. Spend today at one of the most magnificent ancient sites in the south of France: the Roman aqueduct known as the Pont du Gard. This soaring stone bridge spans the River Gardon in three tiers of arches, often perfectly mirrored in the water below. Explore the site by walking across the top, some 160 feet above the river and kayaking below. The calm waters and gentle flow make the ride perfect for all levels and ages. After taking in the views during a picnic lunch, linger at the site to visit the museum on a private tour especially for kids learning about the Romans’ many creative ways of sourcing and using water or travel to the nearby town of Nîmes, home to numerous Roman ruins including the Maison Carrée—one of the best preserved Roman temples in the world. Celebrate our aventure française at dinner at a renowned Provençal restaurant in Aix tonight. Grand Avignon Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Aix-en-Provence/Marseilles
Transfer to the airport in Marseilles this morning to catch your flights home. (B)
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room in 2017 add $850, in 2018 add $900. International airfare to Paris and return from Marseilles is not included in the expedition cost.
About this Expedition
We tap into National Geographic’s vast network to design unique travel experiences for the whole family, filled with hands-on activities and memorable moments. A special aspect of this expedition is the Kid to Kid Connection, which links every young traveler with a pen pal of similar age in France. We'll meet up with our pen pals at a cooking school for a hands-on lesson with a professional chef. Work together to make typical French specialties like baguettes or pains au chocolat and design—and bake—your very own pastry! In our chefs hats and aprons, we'll get to know our new Parisian friends and learn the words for your favorite foods in French.
Our dynamic Expedition Leaders enrich each experience with their insights, knowledge, and energy, and a Young Explorer Leader joins every group to facilitate fun activities that help kids get the most out of the places we go. As we travel, we’ll also meet up with fascinating people doing meaningful work in the field.