Cosmos

Gems of Italy, France & Spain (6330) - 2014 / 2015

19 Day Tour from Rome to Madrid


Gems of Italy, France & Spain
The gorgeous shores of Barcelona
The gorgeous shores of Barcelona
Take in the beautiful sites of the French Riviera
Visit the world famous Roman Forum
Madrid at dusk
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping Center in Milan, Italy
Visit stunning Florence and the Ponte Vecchio
Lyon, France
Visit the great Colosseum in Rome
Visit the ancient Roman Forum
TOUR FOR 8+ PEOPLE

Vacation Overview

This Mediterranean journey takes you from Rome to Paris to Madrid, with many fascinating stops along the way. Your vacation begins in Rome with two overnights and guided sightseeing that visits the Roman Forum, St. Peter’s Square, and the Colosseum. Next up: Florence, “Cradle of the Renaissance;” the romantic floating city of Venice; and Milan, capital of fashion. Also visit fascinating Montecatini, Parma, and Verona. Cross the border into France for two nights on the elegant French Riviera, then on to Avignon to see the Palace of the Popes. Overnight in Lyon before reaching Paris, the “City of Light,” to experience all its main highlights. Explore the wine-growing area of Bordeaux, then reach Bilbao on the Atlantic Coast. Cross to the Mediterranean shores of Spain via Pamplona and spend two nights in lively Barcelona, the city of Gaudi. On to Valencia, host of the America’s Cup sailing event, then arrive in fabulous Madrid, the capital of Spain, for the grand finale of your exciting adventure.

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Headsets throughout the tour

Sightseeing:
Visits to Montecatini, Venice, Verona, Èze, Avignon, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Pamplona, Bilbao, Valencia, Cuenca, Aranjuez

Scenic Highlights:
Emilia-Romagna region, Po Valley, Italian & French Rivieras, Loire Valley, Landes region, Basque Country

Guides:

Local Guides for city sightseeing in Rome, Florence, Parma, Milan, Lyon, Paris, Amboise Castle, Barcelona, Madrid. Professional Tour Director while touring

NOTE:

  • December 15 Departure - Christmas lunch in Paris and New Year's Eve in Madrid.


Day 1Arrive in Rome, Italy

Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore this ancient capital. In the afternoon, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.

Day 2Rome

Rome, the “Eternal City,” is a city steeped in history, vibrantly alive and exciting, and absolutely unique! Included sightseeing with a Local Guide starts in St. Peter’s Square, followed by a visit to the Roman Forum and iconic Colosseum. (B)

Day 3Rome–Florence–Montecatini

Travel to Florence, “Cradle of the Renaissance” and city of the powerful Medici dynasty. The included walking tour with a Local Guide features most of the city highlights. You will see Piazza Santa Croce, beautiful Piazza Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia dei Lanzi, and the impressive Piazza del Duomo with its cathedral housing the Giotto Campanile, and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistry, known as the “Gate of Paradise.” Later, a short drive delivers you to the spa town of Montecatini for an overnight. (B,D)

Day 4Montecatini–Parma–Venice Area

This morning, by way of Cisa Pass, head for Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region, made famous by its ham and parmesan cheese. Included sightseeing with a Local Guide introduces you to the city’s hidden treasures. Later, continue into the farmland of the Po Valley for two overnights in the Venice area. (B)

Day 5Venice Area

Venice is more like a marvelous film set than a real live city, with its criss-crossing canals, gondolas and water buses, arched bridges, palaces, and quiet little piazzas. The included orientation starts with a boat ride to St. Mark’s Square and is followed by time at leisure and a chance to watch Venetian glassblowers fashion their delicate objects as they did centuries ago. Don’t miss out on the quintessential Venice experience: an optional gondola ride along the picturesque canals with a local troubadour to serenade you. (B,D)

Day 6Venice Area–Verona–Milan

Stop in Verona, medieval setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. See Juliet’s house and balcony, and stroll around the picturesque market square. Then, on to vibrant Milan, hub of Italy’s economic miracle and the capital of fashion. Enjoy a short city sightseeing tour with a Local Guide. (B)

Day 7Milan–Italian Riviera–Èze, France–French Riviera

An early start this morning as you journey south with views of the Italian Riviera. Continue to France for a visit to a perfume workshop in Èze before traveling along the celebrated Côte d’Azur. (B,D)

Day 8French Riviera

Take the opportunity today to enjoy all that the delightful French Riviera has to offer. Maybe join an optional excursion to the picturesque hilltop town of St. Paul de Vence and later Monte Carlo by Night excursion with dinner. (B)

Day 9French Riviera–Avignon–Lyon

First, head to Avignon today for an included visit of the magnificent Palace of the Popes (audio-guide included). Then, on to Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for an overnight. (B,D)

Day 10Lyon–Paris

Start the day with included guided sightseeing. Then, travel through the picturesque Burgundy vineyards and fields toward Paris, the French capital and “City of Light.” Tonight, don’t miss the optional cabaret outing—a true Parisian spectacle! (B)

Day 11Paris

Included sightseeing with a local expert starts with an inside visit to incomparable Notre Dame Cathedral and then takes in many of the must-see Parisian sights: the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Opéra, La Sorbonne, Madeleine, the Pyramid near the Louvre, the Invalides, and Champs Elysées. Optional excursions to other famous Parisian sights are also available. (B)

Day 12Paris–Amboise–Bordeaux

Start the day by motoring south along the Loire River to Amboise for a visit with a Local Guide to its splendid 11th-century castle that was a favorite of French kings. Continue through the Grand Champagne wine-growing area and head towards Bordeaux on the banks of the Garonne. (B,D)

Day 13Bordeaux–Biarritz–Bilbao, Spain

Leave the Landes region. Visit Biarritz, an ancient fishing village turned trendy seaside resort, before crossing the border into Spain. Overnight in the Basque capital and port town of Bilbao. (B,D)

Day 14Bilbao–Pamplona–Barcelona

Depart Bilbao this morning and stop in Pamplona, capital of the ancient Kingdom of Navarra, before reaching Barcelona, Catalonia’s lively and beautiful capital. (B,D)

Day 15Barcelona

This morning’s included sightseeing with a Local Guide features a drive around Montjuïc to see the Olympic Stadium and a great panoramic view of the port and city. You arrive at the city center’s Plaza Catalunya and to Paseo de Gracia to marvel at Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces in the Houses Batlló and Mila and the Sagrada Familia (entrance fees not included). (B)

Day 16Barcelona–Valencia

Pass through fragrant orange groves and charming seaside resorts past Tarragona and on to Valencia, known for having hosted the America's Cup in 2005. Join the optional excursion drive along wide avenues lined with fig and palm trees, and along the old quarter’s narrow streets past fine gothic houses and typical patios. (B)

Day 17Valencia–Cuenca–Aranjuez–Madrid

Leave the coast and head inland, stopping in the historical towns of Cuenca and Aranjuez, situated on the Castilian Plain. Travel on to Madrid, the Spanish capital, with time to enjoy a relaxed evening. (B)

Day 18Madrid

Situated 2,180 feet above sea level, the Spaniards say Madrid is the nearest thing to heaven. Guided sightseeing starts with a full panoramic drive by way of the Avenida Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Parliament Square, and a picture stop outside the Royal Palace. The optional trip to Toledo is most rewarding, too! The splendid setting of this old walled city above the Tagus was made famous in El Greco’s painting, and even now it’s like a great open-air museum. (B,D)

Day 19Madrid

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)

Transportation:
Scheduled transatlantic flights and airport transfers in Rome and Madrid if Cosmos issues the air tickets. Touring by private first-class air-conditioned motorcoach. Canal boat ride in Venice


ROME Park dei Massimi (F)
MONTECATINI Bellavista Palace (F)
VENICE AREA Antony Palace (F) at Marcon or Holiday Inn (F) at Marghera
MILAN Holiday Inn Garibaldi Station (F)
FRENCH RIVIERA NH (F) at Nice or Park Inn (ST) or Campanile Nice Airport (ST) or Ibis Styles (ST)
LYON Ibis Styles (ST) or Park Inn (ST) at Mâcon
PARIS Forest Hill (ST) at La Villette or Holiday Inn Express (ST) at La Villette
BORDEAUX Mercure Bordeaux Centre (ST)
BILBAO Abba Parque (ST)
BARCELONA Porta Fira (F)
VALENCIA Abba Acteon (F)
MADRID Rafaelhoteles Ventas (F)

Buffet breakfasts; 8 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.

GIUSEPPE MOZZONI

Years of Experience: 8 years

There's sage travel advice that "When in Rome, do as the Romans do!" That's my goal...to help every traveler experience Italy through an Italian perspective. We'll get to the heart and soul of each town-the sights, sounds, and flavors that make each place so unique. You'll definitely come away with a better understanding of why we say, "Italians do it better!"

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As recommended by Budget Travel