Itinerary Highlights
  • Soak up the different atmospheres (and cuisines) along the way, from the secret alleyways of Vieux Lyon (literally 'Old Lyon') to Mont Blanc
  • Stay in family-friendly and stylish accommodation, including a legendary retreat perched above Chamonix
  • Guided tours of Lyon and Beaujolais, cruise on Lake Annecy and trip to France's largest glacier Mer de Glace... it's all in the itinerary
  • Smartphone app, recommended places to visit and our local Concierge service: all reasons to travel with us

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In Lyon and the Alps, you'll love…

Being a Musketeer in Perouges - Pralines - Marvelling at the view over breakfast in Montenvers - Pretty shepherd's hut accommodation - Sailing on the Saone - Lyon's awe-inspiring Place des Celestins (and extraordinary car park) - Fondue Savoyarde on the lake - The beautiful interior design at the Annecy hotel - Quenelles - Lyon's mind-boggling miniature museum and cinema - Annecy's animated film museum - Ice cave and Mer de Glace - Spotting herons in the Dombes and the sound of singing frogs and jumping carps - Tasting blueberry lemonade - Walking in the forest - Swimming in Lake Annecy - Cooling waters of the Rhone - A cattle and mountain pastures museum in France.

Saone and Rhone

The highlights of this trip include a metropolis,
glacier and lake and rolling countryside. Lyon, France's second city, wouldn’t feel quite so eclectic if it only had one fixed attraction. The capital of the Gauls is united, the link between Macon's hills and the alpine valleys. Home to stunning medieval villages made of golden stone, begin in Beaujolais, whose adventurous nature and fruity wines have long made it a land of plenty. Old Medieval cities and beautiful cellars await you after the delights of the vineyard. Then head towards lovely Lyon. A privately guided tour is a great way to discover both Lyon's gourmet mysteries and the secret traboules (passageways) of the Saint-Jean quarter. Next, gain some height and take to the water; in the form of two exciting adventures. Firstly ice, at France's largest glacier: the Mer de Glace, between Chamonix and Mont Blanc, and then water, atLake Annecy. The majestic Alps are the perfect place to soak up fresh air and the great outdoors as a family. Whether it's by foot, bike or boat, exploring these magnificent landscapes is great for the body and mind. From the Chateau d'Annecy to the iconic Imperial Palace (1913) and the Salesian sites in the surrounding mountains, everyone will find something they love in this rich and varied town.

Your trip

This is a perfect road trip. Enchanting and spectacular beauty is everywhere you look, so staying focused on the road ahead is the hardest part of driving during this trip. Even the children will love the travelling part and be glued to the windows, mesmerised by the views. The first two hotels, one rural and the other urban-inspired, offer a bright and stylish atmosphere that caters for everyone's tastes. Both gardens feature a pretty wooden shepherd's huts. An historic and elegant retreat sits on the water's edge. Annecy's hotel is beautifully decorated and very child-friendly, too. Each leg of the trip features a fabulous trio: a guide, tour and cruise. In Macon and Lyon, the fascinating tours can be adapted to your family's desires and interests. Your guides go above and beyond to make sure you're immersed in the spirit of your destination. Each leg is two days, giving you plenty of time to do a little exploring on your own. Nature guides you through the trip, from the Beaujolais hills to the Glières Plateau, and everything in between.

Route

Everything is 100% tailored to you
DAY 1

Flight to Lyon - Macon

Pick up your hire car and drive to Macon. Two-night stay a little south-west of the town, in the vineyards of Saint-Amour. This beautiful family home is a delightful mix of fruit trees, pretty lawns, stone walls and white shutters. Your hosts are wonderful. The pretty rooms exude a laidback charm, the style is just right and perfectly in keeping. In the morning, the kitchen opens for breakfast. In the evening, while the children are still enjoying the sweetness of the outdoors, sneak into the cool cellar for an aperitif - the house holds a small treasure trove of bottles. Later, enjoy a game of pool and then head to bed for a great night's sleep and dreams of the French countryside.

DAY 2

Macon

Already in the itinerary - tours of Beaujolais and Dombes. Saint-Amour is the most northerly of the ten Beaujolais Crus. Gamay is a purple-coloured grape variety used to make red wines, most notably grown in Beaujolais. Characteristic notes of peach and apricot are among the aromas that make up this floral and fruity bouquet. Two wine experts will be your guides for the day, explaining all this through the menu. Indulge in a tasting visit to a wine-grower. There's often be a bit of snobbery about Beaujolais wines. By the end of this trip, any lingering doubts about this wine's place in the pantheon of France's finest will be long gone. In Oingt, discover one of the most beautiful villages in France. In the sun, the blazing houses made of golden stone – crinoidal limestone pigmented by iron oxide – are a magical sight to behold. And find out why children love to visit Trayne-Cul street (literally 'drag your bottom')! Dombes has over a thousand nutrient-rich fish ponds filled with carp and pike, making it an extraordinary landscape to visit. This huge wetland also attracts hundreds of species of birds. The magnificent Medieval town of Perouges has been miraculously and meticulously preserved and transports visitors back into the 15th century. Listen carefully and might almost hear the ghostly sounds of galloping. End the trip by enjoying the famous sweet speciality of 'Galette de Perouges' (a delicious sugary cake).

DAY 3

Macon - Lyon

Drive to Lyon. On the way, stop at the Royal Monastery of Brou, a religious complex located in Bourg-en-Bresse. We'll leave it to you to unearth the fascinating history, but it was Marguerite of Austria (1480-1530) who made it a jewel of Flemish Gothic art. In the church, admire the particularly spectacular tombs of Marguerite and her husband Philibert le Beau. The children will quickly learn the fascinating difference between elegant recumbent effigies and cadaver tombs.
Two-night stay in Ecully, a city to the north-west of Lyon and a popular holiday resort since the Renaissance. The property dates back to the 19th century and is the epitome of chic French style. There are distinct Mediterranean vibes here. The hotel is a beautiful blend of old and new. Wooden floors alternate with terracotta tiles; some rooms are spacious, others are cosy and intimate. The antique furniture and decorative elements have all been carefully chosen to achieve perfect harmony. In the garden, a little shepherd's hut serves as an extra room, which is just as beautiful and luxurious as the main house. Delicious breakfasts are served in the large kitchen or on the terrace.
Included in the itinerary - Private cruise on the Saone River. After a quick safety talk, embark in your small boat for a leisurely cruise along the river, from the new Confluence district – with its orange, blue and apple green buildings – to the Couzon-au-Mont-d'Or dam, and back. Head to the foot of Fourviere hill, along from Vieux Lyon and its Renaissance beauty, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; explore Croix-Rousse hill where the canuts (silk workers) famoulsy worked naked and Blandine became a martyr; the 12th century chapel of Notre-Dame on Ile Barbe; legendary chef Paul Boscue's house in Collonges; and finally, Couzon, which is home to Abode of Chaos, the controversial contemporary art museum. The banks of the Saone exude a cool, languid charm.

DAY 4

Lyon

Included in the itinerary - tours in one of France's best food markets 'Les Halles Paul Bocuse' and in Vieux Lyon. Lyon is dubbed France’s capital of gastronomy, and it's easy to see why when visiting this heavenly food market. Explore over 50 stalls featuring the best of Lyon's gourmet delights with a fellow food lover and guide. Opposite a traditional Armenian grocery store, spot the best smoked salmon in the city and creamy foie gras; farther away, cured saucisson hang like appetising stalactites above generous bowls of calf's feet; an array of freshly-caught fish lies on a bed of ice; the butcher's pieces are laid out artistically; cheeses compete to be the ripest, saint-marcellin cheese wants to escape from its wrapper Skilled fingers delicately shuck oysters, and a bottle of Macon wine should always be to hand. Enjoy lunch in a traditional Lyonnaise restaurant in Vieux Lyon and try some of Lyon's specialities including 'quenelles' (say 'qu'nelle' to sound like a local), 'tablier de sapeur' (beef tripe), 'poulet au vinaigre' (chicken cooked in vinegar), 'andouillette' (sausage), 'pruneaux au vin' (prunes in red wine), while sitting elbow to elbow with other happy customers. Careful, the 'gratin de pâtes' (pasta bake) and ' tarte à la praline' (praline pie) are seriously addictive. Then, it's time for a wander. The quarter's facades, courtyards, galleries, staircases, corridors and passageways are an enchanting sight to behold with their elaborate Renaissance architecture and evocative power. The recently-restored St. John's Cathedral (12th-15th centuries) offers a splendid collection of antique and contemporary stained-glass windows. Travel on Lyon's funicular railways to reach the Gallo-Roman sites of Fourviere, under the Basilica of Notre-Dame (1872-1884 and designed by Pierre Bossan); the huge mosaics that decorate the nave are truly breathtaking and scenes from the Battle of Lepanto are majestically played out before your eyes.
Option - Priority pass tickets to the 'Musée des Confluences', a science centre and anthropology museum.

DAY 5

Lyon - Chamonix

Drive to Chamonix. Two-night stay at the romantic mountain retreat of 'Terminal Neige - Refuge du Montenvers'. This hotel dates back to 1880. The charming stone building is complemented beautifully by white shutters trimmed in red, while the inside features elegant larch panelling. Here, soak up the warmth of one of the finest chalets in the Alps. Marvel at countless objects scattered throughout the rooms testifying to a fascinating history of mountaineering. The rooms feature modern amenities and a sophisticated alpine style. The restaurant stretches over a large terrace, overlooking the Aiguille du Dru mountain. The chef serves the finest mountain cuisine where the ingredients of the Alps steal the show, including snails, morel mushrooms, meats and Reblochon cheese. And, of course, fondue: the perfect family meal.

DAY 6

Chamonix

Included in the itinerary - Mer de Glace with a private guide. The Alps first became a popular holiday destination in the second half of the 18th century, thanks to William Windham, Richard Pococke and Horace-Benedict de Saussure. These gentlemen went on to start an incredible trend that brings you here today to the foot of Mont Blanc. When the masses have left, enjoy some quality time with the glacier. Whether you're old or young, you can't help but admire such a spectacle. Not to mention the crisp air, light and cool from the altitude and the jaw-dropping colossal ice. The powerful land forms that surround the creep of the glacier make for an epic panorama. Summer brings dark green vegetation, an intensely blue sky, and sparkling white snow, while shades of matte grey provide contrast to the colours of the landscape.
A cable car followed by 400 steps allows you access to a cave dug in the ice where events are held and near the hotel, the Glaciarium traces the history of the glacier, explains its characteristics, and evaluates its future prospects.
Optional - Canyoning excursion.

DAY 7

Chamonix - Annecy

Drive to Annecy. Two-night stay close to the castle. One side of the hotel opens out onto the street, while the other offers lake access via Quai de la Tournette. The property is a beautiful 19th-century mansion with a garden. From the outside, everything seems refined and quiet. Yet inside, the decorators really went all out. More precisely, they gave each space its own personality, mixing styles - graphic, soft, eco-friendly, vintage, design, etc. - and offering each guest their own little corner. From the hotel, you can walk and bike, go Nordic walking or water-skiing, go out on the lake, visit old Annecy, etc.

DAY 8

Annecy

Included in the itinerary - Lake cruise and tasting. Walkers will find a wealth of options in Annecy. You'll never have far to go to find something new and exciting. The city's true treasure, however, is the lake. Its clear, peaceful and gentle waters reflect the ring of mountains that surround it. Plus, you can see mallards, mute swans, goosanders, and coots without even setting foot in the water. On sunny days, you can swim in this 'high-altitude sea'. Its grassy beaches are just as beautiful as those made of sand. You can head out on the water in a boat, looking at the city and the mountains from new angles. Take the opportunity to taste some regional wines: Abymes, Apremont, Crepy, Riprapture, Chautagne, to name a few of the whites; each pair well with alpine cheeses in their own way.
Optional - Introduction to organic market gardening.

DAY 9

Annecy - Geneva - return flight

Drive to Geneva Airport and return the car. Return flight.

A Rough Idea of Price

Dependent on season, accommodation and activities
The estimated cost for this trip is £1,600 to £2,200 per person. This trip is tailor-made to your exact specifications so prices will fluctuate. The final cost will vary according to several factors, including the level of service, length of trip and advance booking time. The exact price will be shown in your personalised quote. The average cost for this trip is £1800 per person.
  • Outbound flight to Lyon and return flight from Geneva, with a scheduled airline
  • Airline taxes
  • Car hire for eight days
  • Two-night stay in Macon in a family room (room only)
  • Private guided tours of Beaujolais and Dombes
  • Two-night stay in Lyon in a family suite (room only)
  • Private cruise on the Saone River and tours in one of France's best food markets 'Les Halles Paul Bocuse' and in Vieux Lyon
  • Two-night stay in Chamonix in a family suite with half board
  • Tour of the Mer de Glace glacier
  • Two-night stay in Annecy in a family room, (room only)
  • Private tasting cruise on Lake Annecy
  • Our local Concierge service
  • A few of the benefits of travelling with us
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