Headsets throughout the tourSightseeing:Visits to Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Carcassonne, Montserrat, Saragossa
Scenic Highlights:Rhône Valley, Provence, Costa Dorada
Local Guides for city sightseeing in Paris, Avignon, Barcelona, Madrid. Professional Tour Director while touring
Day 1Arrive in London, England
Check into your hotel. This afternoon, you may want to start exploring the lively British capital. Uniformed Hosts are available to help you make the most of your stay.
Today you can spend the entire day savoring our rich program of optional activities: consider a panoramic tour of London’s landmarks, visit the Tower of London with the stunning Crown Jewels, or choose an excursion to magnificent Windsor Castle, primary residence of Britain’s royal family. Tonight, maybe a leisurely cruise on the River Thames? (B)
Day 3London–Paris, France
Transfer to the railway station and board the high-speed Eurostar train. You’ll zoom up to 150 miles per hour, traveling through the undersea Channel Tunnel (Chunnel) and arriving in just over two hours in fabulous Paris, the “City of Light.” Meet your Tour Director and transfer to your overnight hotel. (B)
Paris is a world-class city that probably has more familiar landmarks than almost any other city in the world. You’ll see many of them this morning with a Local Guide during the included city tour. View Napoleon’s famed Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the Champs Elysées, the opulent Opéra, the monumental Eiffel Tower, and much more. This afternoon, you’ll feel like a French aristocrat as you join the optional walking tour through Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles with its incomparable Hall of Mirrors and breathtaking landscaped gardens. This evening, why not join an optional welcome dinner? (B)
Today, board the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) for the journey to Avignon, the fortified “City of Popes” and capital of the Vaucluse region. Enjoy an included visit of the Palace of the Popes, seat of the papacy from 1309 to 1377 instead of Rome. Then, free time lets you explore the cobblestone streets and squares, and view the Pont Saint Bénezet (Saint Bénezet Bridge), constructed in 1171 and made famous in the song Sur le Pont d’Avignon. (B,D)
Day 6Avignon. Excursion to Arles & Aix-En-Provence
Today, an included excursion takes you to Arles, the most famous of all Provence towns and known the world over by the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. Visit the Roman amphitheater, dating back to the 1st century and built to hold over 20,000 spectators. In the afternoon, continue to Aix-en-Provence, one of France’s most elegant cities. Take a leisurely walk through the city center, discover colorful squares, explore shaded Cours Mirabeau with its famous cafés and fountains, barter for souvenirs at the quaint Place de Verdun flea market, or enjoy a glass of local wine in one of the outdoors cafes. Return to Avignon for an overnight. (B)
Day 7Avignon–Barcelona, Spain
Head for the France-Spain border this morning. En route, visit Carcassonne, the most medieval-looking city in France. Fortifications, ramparts, castle walls, and drawbridges from the Middle Ages are still well preserved and certainly worth seeing. Later, head to Barcelona, Catalonia’s lively and beautiful capital. (B)
Sightseeing with a Local Guide includes a drive around Montjuïc to see the Olympic Stadium and to admire the great panoramic views of the port and city. The drive continues to Plaza Catalunya and Passeo de Gracia in the city center to see the greatness and eccentricity of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces in Houses Batlló and Mila and the Sagrada Familia (entrance fees not included). This afternoon, enjoy the included visit to nearby Montserrat, a multi-peaked mountain and site of a Benedictine abbey thought by some to be the location of the mythical Holy Grail. The monastery was founded in 1025, and its Virgin of Montserrat Sanctuary dates back to 592. There’s time to stroll around the picturesque squares and streets before wine tasting at a local wine cellar. A scenic drive along the Costa Dorada returns you to Barcelona. (B)
Today, take in scenic vistas of the Spanish countryside as you travel to Saragossa, situated on the banks of the River Ebro and an important agricultural center. A short visit introduces you to the city, which was once residence to the kings of Aragon, and more recently, hosted the Expo 2008. Later, head to Madrid for two overnights. (B,D)
Spain’s capital and largest city, Madrid is situated 2,180 feet above sea level—the “nearest thing to heaven,” according to the Spanish. This morning, enjoy the city’s main highlights on an included guided sightseeing tour. Later, maybe join an optional excursion to El Escorial, a world-famous monastery and the political center of the Spanish Empire under Philip II, and the Valley of the Fallen, a memorial honoring those who fell during the Spanish Civil War. (B)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
Transportation: Scheduled transatlantic flights and airport transfers in London and Madrid if Cosmos issues the air tickets. Eurostar train London–Paris; TGV train Paris–Avignon; on the Continent, private first-class air-conditioned motorcoach.
Buffet breakfasts; 2 dinners
With Cosmos, there’s no better way to get to know your destination than through the eyes of your Tour Director. Averaging over a decade... we’d like you to meet a Tour Director, who is representative of the type of expert that will be with you on your vacation.
Years of Experience: 7 years
I love guiding travelers through Europe and turning their travel dreams into reality! It's extremely rewarding to work toward the mutual understanding and respect of cultures and peoples. I put all my energy into what I do, and I feel utmost gratitude when guests leave me with tears of happiness in their eyes and the promise to come back.