The best of Europe in one country...that's how I describe 'Villages and Vineyards of Eastern France'.
Beautiful Reims with a Parisian feel, thought provoking WWI battlefields in Verdun, delicious German rustic food and half timbered houses of Colmar, the heart of rural France and the wine route in Burgundy, the magnificent Alps and Swiss fondue in Chamonix, vineyards and hilltowns of Provence and the famous French Riviera on the Mediterranean with its Italian influence.
Mom and I joined this tour August 31, 2009 and yes, it was amazing!
This country has so many different cultural experiences along its borders, and this is just the eastern side. Remember that we haven't even began to describe the various wine selections found throughout these regions. I will say right now, I have never drank so much wine in my life. Now I understand why they eat so much bread.
France is a wonderful country for any first time traveler to Europe. It's so nice to learn just one language and culture instead of jumping borders every few days. I think this tour allows people to adapt to travelling in a foreign place and get comfortable with cultural differences, but also to experience some of the most amazing aspects of Europe from the sea to the mountains.
"So, this is me (Erica) and my mom (Bonnie). We are excited to get going on our trip. Mom still hasn't learned to pack light. She packs extra everything and plans on putting bags under the bus. I tried to reason with her, but it was no use. I will give her a thumbs up for never complaining when we had to carry our bags up the stairs or over the cobblestone. My mom is a trooper and a wonderful travel partner.
Tour Leader: William
I loved having William as our tour guide. Being from around Beaune, William was able to teach us so much about living in a rural setting.
We learned about French culture, work life, art, history, schools, food, language, music and, of course, wine.
Even though I may have fallen asleep everyday on the bus, I found his stories and lectures to be so informative. One time I fell asleep at the front when he was speaking and looking right at me - I was so embarrassed. But drinking wine all day and night makes a person tired.
I will always remember William's no worries attitude and how he would saunter through the streets.
Bus Driver: Peter
Did Peter get a haircut during the tour?...Nope. He was my bus driver in 2008 on the 14 Day Best of Europe Family tour. I was so excited and very surprised when I saw Peter outside the bus. We hugged and William looked shocked and confused, almost on the verge of appalled. Why would we hug? Do we know each other? (Hugging is considered a bit personal in France...they would rather kiss kiss).
After the whole "Big bus don't fit!", I don't know if Peter will ever considered driving with William again. But it did showcase Peter's amazing driving skills (see Provence).
Tour Assistant: Julie
This was Julie's first Rick Steves tour. She is an American living in France and works as a tour guide at the Guedelon Castle in the heart of Burgundy (see picture below).
I toured this castle and met Julie in 2008 on the 14 Day Best of Europe Family tour. She came over to the place we stayed that night and helped serve dinner. Its such a small world.
I loved learning about the cultural differences through Julie's past experiences. This was a highlight of having Julie as our assistant guide. She was funny, warm and just as excited as us to see all the places.
She moved to France not knowing the language or how difficult it would be to live in a different country. She learned a lot by making mistakes and this makes her such a strong independent women.
Please note that some of the small photos in groups are photo albums that can be opened and viewed larger....enjoy!