Roquefort to Ricotta: a Road-Trip Through Europe

14 Nights / 15 Days • Self-Drive

Take your time and relax: this trip goes at your own pace. We include loads of great places to stay and things to do - but most of all, eat, along the way.
Jill round
Jill Fost
Sales Manager

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Enjoy a three hour guided food tour of Lyon
  • Learn some of the secrets of French cuisine on a chef-led cooking class, including a three course lunch
  • Sunset boat cruise in the Italian Riviera - providing excellent views of the towns making up the Cinque Terre
  • Be part of a truffle hunt! This entertaining excursion includes an outing with a local family and their truffle-hunting dog, a truffle-tasting (with wine) and a full lunch prepared by the family's Nonna - who also demonstrates how to make many of the dishes

INCLUDES:

  • 14 nights four star accommodations
  • Daily breakfast
  • Tours and entrance fees as mentioned in itinerary

PRICE:

CAD$4,800 + car rental

Price is per person, based on double occupancy.
All hotels are subject to availability until time of booking.

Go at your own pace - there are no schedules to meet and only one full day of driving on this relaxed itinerary. Stay in beautiful historic hotels with excellent amenities in some delightfully off-the-beaten-path locations. All of the accommodations we've included are in ideal spots in the centre of the old towns, within walking distance of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars.

We've included guided tours in some locations, but flexibility is built in: optional excursions are available throughout - these and others can be included if you wish.

ITINERARY:

DAY 1 - Arrival Day

Arrive into Lyon at lunchtime - today is unplanned, so you can choose to pick up your car rental if you wish, or just make your way to the hotel. rest of the day is unplanned - but we have plenty of suggestions depending on your interests. We recommend parking the car and walking around. It's also a great idea to get an unlimited transit pass - so you can take the metro, trams and even funiculars making up this city's excellent transit system. With Roman amphitheatres (two!), several interesting museums offering everything from cinematography and miniatures to modern anthropology, a famous Basilica and even secret passageways in the old city - not to mention an enormous variety of shops and restaurants, you simply cannot be bored.

Hotel Le Royal Lyon MGallery by Sofitel - https://www.accorhotels.com/fr/hotel-2952-hotel-le-royal-lyon-mgallery-by-sofitel/index.shtml

DAY 2 - Lyon

This morning we’ve included a special three hour guided food tour. Not only will you learn why Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of the world, you'll also sample dishes and wine from the region. The rest of the day is entirely at leisure. 

Hotel Le Royal Lyon MGallery by Sofitel - https://www.accorhotels.com/fr/hotel-2952-hotel-le-royal-lyon-mgallery-by-sofitel/index.shtml

DAY 3 - Avignon

Pick up your car rental after breakfast, then enjoy a leisurely journey to Avignon. If you go straight there, the drive is around two and a half hours from Lyon. Or if you choose to meander and explore a little, there are also many lovely stops along the way, such as the medieval perched village of Le Poët-Laval, or the famous olive cooperative at Nyons.

Once you arrive in Avignon, you'll want to explore on foot. This is a friendly city with plenty to do: the Palais des Papes (a must-see) is only a short stroll from your hotel, and from your location in the heart of the old city, you'll find no end of things to do. Wander the narrow cobbled streets, buy some cheese, wine and a baguette and sit in one of several pretty parks for a quick picnic. Pause to smell the bunches of dried lavender and bags of herbes de Provence outside the many tourist shops - then relax at a cafe and watch the world go by. The day is yours to do as you wish.

La Mirande - http://www.la-mirande.fr/

DAY 4 - Avignon

After breakfast this morning, you'll join Chef Jean-Marc Villard and a small group of other foodies for a special French cooking class. You'll start off by shopping for the fresh ingredients for your meal. As you go, Chef Jean-Marc will share his passion for French food - and he'll demonstrate it through a hands-on cooking class. Together you'll prepare and cook a three course French meal before sitting down to enjoy your creation. The rest of your day is free for you to explore.

La Mirande - http://www.la-mirande.fr/

DAY 5 - Avignon

Today is at leisure - you will find no shortage of things to do in this beautiful city. 

Or, if you'd like to go further afield and explore this famous wine region, we can offer a guided wine tasting and four-course lunch at the vineyard at Chateau des Fines Roches (extra cost; approx three hours)

La Mirande - http://www.la-mirande.fr/

Eze, France

DAY 6 - Avignon to Èze

Bid farewell to Avignon after breakfast and head out on the road again, this time towards Italy's Cinque Terre, stopping for a night in the stunning medieval coastal town of Èze.

There are several ways you can go to Èze, and while there are more direct options, we suggest leaving as early as possible (7 am) to take the scenic coastal route. This will allow you the opportunity to stop in either Marseille, St. Tropez or Monte Carlo (to name a few). But don't stay too long: Èze is waiting, perched on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean. You may well fall in love with the cobblestone streets and spectacular sea views.

Chateau Eza - http://www.chateaueza.com/chateau-eza

DAY 7 - Èze to Vernazza

Today you'll make your way to Vernazza in the Italian Riviera. There's no schedule to follow - the drive will take about three and a half hours, so if you'd prefer to stay in Èze for the morning, there is plenty to do and see. 

Once you get on the road, the drive will be scenic, and there are some pretty stops if you're interested. About halfway there is the ancient port city of Genoa (also famous for their salami). We recommend making a stop to refresh - or you could keep going for a little longer and stop in Rapallo to enjoy the coastal views over the Gulf before continuing your journey.

Vernazza is every bit as pretty as the pictures lead you to believe - ancient buildings clinging to the cliffside, curling around a little harbour, dotted with colourful flowers and sinuous vines, connected by narrow streets winding their way through tall buildings. The villages making up the Cinque Terre (and much of the surrounding area) are a UNESCO Heritage site. Once you get there and see the way this old city was built, it's immediately obvious why conservation efforts are underway to ensure that this gem is around for generations to come.

La Malà - http://www.lamala.it/en/

DAY 8 - Vernazza

Cinque Terre is made up of 5 villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. If you're feeling active, there is a route linking all of the villages (although parts of the original, more direct coastal path were destroyed by landslides in recent years).

If you're looking for something a little more ambitious and "off the beaten path" we also have a guided hike available for an extra cost. This excursion includes a walking tour of Levanto and hiking from Levanto to Monterosso, with incredible views of the Cinque Terre Riviera at the top. You will also visit Saint Antonio Abate Churches’s ruins and the Monterosso historical city centre.

The best way to experience the true beauty of the seaside villages is by boat. So, this evening we have arranged a sunset boat tour with a welcome drink and snacks.

La Malà http://www.lamala.it/en/

DAY 9 - Vernazza

Today is free to explore this beautiful region. You'll find plenty to do and see - but we also have an optional excursion available if you wish: join a boat excursion to San Fruttuoco to see the Benedictine Monastery - a beautiful and popular trip.

La Malà -http://www.lamala.it/en/

DAY 10 - Vernazza to Lucca

Today you will say goodbye to the coast and head to the medieval walled town of Lucca, about a two-hour journey. Lucca is a beautiful town surrounded by cobblestone streets, watchtowers and endless patios to grab a fresh Italian meal, a cool drink or a coffee and just watch the Italian world go by. You'll park the car while you're in Lucca: driving in the old city is not permitted - which is no problem, because everything is within walking distance. Explore on your own.

San Luca Palace Hotel - http://www.sanlucapalace.com/

DAY 11 - Lucca

Lucca itself is a wonderful place to wander and relax, but it's also a great base for day trips to nearby Pisa and even Florence. They're not far by car, but if you don't want to drive, you can easily hop on the train for an impromptu day trip.

Or, if you'd like to just sit back and enjoy, we have an optional excursion to the glorious Tuscan countryside (extra price) this excursion departs late in the morning from the lobby of your hotel. Your guide will take you through the Tuscan countryside to visit some local wine producers and of course, sample some wine. You'll stop for lunch at one of the vineyards before heading back to Lucca where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

San Luca Palace Hotel - http://www.sanlucapalace.com/

DAY 12 - Lucca to Montefalco

Today you'll check out of your hotel and drive to Montefalco: the journey is about three hours if you go directly, but there are many places to stop - including beautiful Siena. 

Montefalco is one of Italy's medieval hill towns - and as with most old towns, the action all revolves around a central plaza. Your hotel is right in the old quarter, and you'll have a variety of places to eat and things to see. 

Palazzo Bontadosi Hotel & Spa http://www.hotelbontadosi.it/

DAY 13 - Montefalco

You'll have an early start today: you're going on an authentic truffle hunt! Join a small group to head out with a local family and their truffle-hunting dog. This is an entertaining and celebratory affair - after all, truffles are not difficult to catch once you find them. After the "hunt" you'll of course taste these delicacies and sample the local wine (we are in Italy after all). Once everyone has a chance to taste everything, the group then heads back to the family farm to join Nonna - the Family’s grandma - to learn how to make fresh pasta and a few other traditional delicacies.

Then it's finally time for lunch. Don't be surprised if by now a large group of family and friends from the village have assembled: this usually turns into a big traditional Umbrian mountain lunch. The atmosphere is always jovial and friendly - and more wine helps everyone overcome any language barriers.

After your strenuous excursion, we strongly recommend a relaxed afternoon; perhaps it's a good day to check out the on-site spa? Located in the beautifully restored wine cellar, the hotel's spa has a saltwater pool, steam rooms and saunas and of course massage services. Ahhh.

Palazzo Bontadosi Hotel & Spa http://www.hotelbontadosi.it/

DAY 14 - Montefalco to Rome

Today you will make your way towards your last stop, Rome. The drive from Montefalco to Rome is around two and a half hours if you drive straight through. But if you're not in a rush to get to the city, we suggest you to make your way to Orvieto for lunch and a chance to stretch your legs. If you'd like to spend a little longer, you might want to check out Orvieto's fascinating underground maze of over 1,200 tunnels and chambers - but please allow us to suggest a reputable guide! 

If you do make the stop in Orvieto, it'll take about an hour and a half to get to Rome, and since most flights to North America depart in the early morning, we've included an airport hotel to make things as easy as possible. 

Golden Tulip Rome Airport

DAY 15 - Departure Day

Today your journey officially comes to an end. If you'd like to stay longer and explore Rome - or make any other changes to this itinerary, please ask. The options are endless!

Please Note:

  • The hotels listed here may be substituted for similar properties based on availability when booking 
  • All of the optional inclusions can easily be added into the price
  • Is this itinerary too long? We can easily change the start or end points, or offer different routes based on your starting airport. Just ask!

Options:

  • Ask us about affordable airfares and pre- or post-stay options 
  • This tour is for a minimum of two people, but we can easily arrange for a larger group
Are you interested in this trip or one like it? Get in touch - I'd love to help!

1.877.926.2500
jill@thetravelsociety.com
Jill round
Jill Fost
Sales Manager

Price is per person based on two people sharing a standard room. Other room types: please inquire. Proof of insurance is mandatory; if you need to purchase trip cancellation or health insurance please inquire. For full Booking Conditions, please see thetravelsociety.com/booking-conditions/ Tour is operated by The Travel Society, Inc., 174 Spadina Ave., Suite 404, Toronto, ON, M5T 2C2, Canada; 1 (877) 926 2500; TICO Registration #1280649