Best of France Trip Notes

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Last Modified: 16 Dec 2012
Best of France
Trip code: AMSG
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
This tour of France is perfectly honed for lovers of all things French, who have dreamed of discovering the romance, history and culture of this intoxicating country. Travel from Paris to Normandy and the Loire Valley to Marseille, mingling with locals and sampling some of the best produce Europe has to offer. Take in ancient sights, cycle through lavender fields and, ultimately, fall completely in love with France.
Warning - this is a new trip for us!
While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.
2013 Itinerary change:
The updated price and full itinerary will be available later in 2012.
The revised itinerary is:
Day 1 Paris
Days 2-3 Bayeux
Day 4 Mont St-Michel
Days 5-6 La Rochelle
Days 7-8 Tours
Days 9-10 Lyon
Days 11-13 Avignon
Days 14-15 Marseille
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency contact
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency funds
MapYour fellow travellersVisas
ItinerarySingle travellersIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseAccommodationWhat to take
We also recommendMeals introductionHealth
Itinerary disclaimerMealsSafety
Culture shock rating TransportTravel insurance
Physical ratingGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining point A couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsCarbon offset
Spending moneyArrival complicationsFeedback
TippingFinish point
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Best of France
Itinerary
Day 1 Paris
Bonjour! Welcome to France.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the evening of Day 1.
You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Rich in museums, art galleries, monuments, fashion and fabulous food, Paris offers a wealth of major sights and hidden treasures to discover.
Wandering around the Champs-Elysees, the student-filled Latin Quarter and the bohemian Montmartre will give you a good feel for the city. The Tuileries, Plantes and Luxembourg gardens are all excellent places to enjoy a simple baguette with cheese on summer days, or head to a cafe to have a coffee - the French drink it black - and watch the world go by.
As there is limited time for sightseeing in Paris we recommend you make arrangements to arrive a few days early to see the highlights of this beautiful city.
Optional Activities
  • Eiffel Tower - EUR14
  • Louvre Museum - EUR10
  • Musee d'Orsay - EUR9
  • Palace of Versailles - EUR15
  • Paradis Latin cabaret show - EUR60
  • Arc de Triomphe - EUR10
  • Catacombs - EUR8
  • Centre Pompidou - EUR13
  • Napoleon's tomb - EUR9
  • Notre Dame towers - EUR8
  • Picasso Museum - EUR6
  • Rodin Museum - EUR9
  • Sainte Chapelle & Conciergerie - EUR8
  • Da Vinci Code walking tour - EUR20
  • Fat Tires bike tour - EUR28
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Bayeux
Journey to the coast aboard the train to Bayeux (approx 2.5 hrs).
Known in modern times for its namesake World War II battle, Normandy's chalk-white cliffs and broad pastures are dotted with relics of its pivotal role in medieval European history, and the cows that provide its famous Camembert cheese.
One of the first French towns to be liberated after D-Day, Bayeux's winding streets and wooden-framed Norman houses survived relatively unscathed. Discover the world's most celebrated embroidery, wander through the spectacular 13th-century cathedral and honour the dead at the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in Normandy.
Marvel at the vivid details of the Bayeux Tapestry, a 70 metre-long embroidered narrative of the 1066 conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy. Commissioned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William's half-brother, the tapestry illustrates the gruesome details of the battles for the English throne, including severed limbs and fields of blood, bordered by religious allegories and depictions of daily life in 11th-century France.
Head north on a bus to the D-Day beaches.
On 6 June 1944, over 45,000 Allied troops, 13,000 aeroplanes and 6000 boats launched the largest invasion operation in history. The D-Day landings signalled the start of the Battle of Normandy and, ultimately, the liberation of France. Code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, the landing beaches stretch 80km along the Normandy coast and many memorials and small museums can be found in the surrounding villages.
For a sobering reminder of the devastation of war, visit the American Military Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, where the most brutal losses were sustained by the Allies on D-Day.
Walk out on to Port Churchill at Arromanches, one of the Mulberry Harbours - massive cement marinas towed from England to facilitate unloading Allied cargo.
See casemates and German guns in their massive concrete emplacements at Longues-sur-Mer, the only remaining large-calibre weapons in Normandy.
Visit the Pointe du hoc Ranger Memorial, which bears solemn testimony to the ravages of war in the pockmarked ground and the flame-blackened German command post.
On 6 June 1944, over 45,000 Allied troops, 13,000 aeroplanes and 6000 boats launched the largest invasion operation in history. The D-Day landings signalled the start of the Battle of Normandy and, ultimately, the liberation of France. Code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, the landing beaches stretch 80km along the Normandy coast and many memorials and small museums can be found in the surrounding villages.
For a sobering reminder of the devastation of war, visit the American Military Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, where the most brutal losses were sustained by the Allies on D-Day.
Walk out on to Port Churchill at Arromanches, one of the Mulberry Harbours - massive cement marinas towed from England to facilitate unloading Allied cargo.
See casemates and German guns in their massive concrete emplacements at Longues-sur-Mer, the only remaining large-calibre weapons in Normandy.
Visit the Pointe du hoc Ranger Memorial, which bears solemn testimony to the ravages of war in the pockmarked ground and the flame-blackened German command post.
Included Activities
  • D-Day beaches
Optional Activities
  • Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux Tapestry( - EUR8
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 4 Mont St-Michel
Take a train south to Pontorson and change for a bus to the island-abbey of Mont St-Michel (approx 2.5 hrs).
From the extreme tides of the bay to the tip of the abbey's spire, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mont St-Michel is rich in natural, architectural and mythological history.
According to the Celtics, Mont St-Michel was a sea tomb and the destination of souls after death. In the 8th century, a visitation from the Archangel Michael led to the building of a chapel on the summit, beginning the island's varied history as a place of worship, a Benedictine centre of learning, a garrisoned fortress and a prison.
Tour the stunning abbey with its glorious mix of architectural styles, including the Norman-Romanesque nave and transepts dating from the 11th century, a Flamboyant Gothic choir built in the 15th century, and one of the oldest ribbed vaulted ceilings in Europe.
Be there as the dramatic tides sweep the bay, exposing large swathes of white sand beyond the island's ramparts at low tide, only to be surrounded by the sea a few hours later.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-6 La Rochelle
Travel by train to the seaside port of La Rochelle (approx 7 hrs).
Once a major Atlantic seaport and a gateway to North America, La Rochelle's bright limestone facades and medieval towers gave rise to its nickname of La Ville Blanche ('the white city'). Wander through arcaded walkways and past half-timbered houses in the pedestrianised old city, over cobblestones partly fashioned from the ballast of ships returning from early French-Canadian settlements.
Check out the lively covered market that's been hawking fresh local produce here for hundreds of years, or gaze out on the thousands of yachts moored at the marina from the Les Minimes artificial beach.
Admire the view across slate-tiled rooftops and out to sea from the 14th-century defensive towers that, in times of war, protected the harbour with an enormous chain strung between them. Climb the Tour de la Chaine or the pentagonal Tour St-Nicolas.
Spot 18th-century graffiti by English privateers on the Tour de La Lanterne, a 15th-century conical lighthouse and one of the oldest towers of its kind in the world.
Take a day-trip to one of the several islands scattered about the port. Relax on the beaches of car-free Ile d'Aix, cruise to the fortress-island of Fort Boyard (the setting for a French adventure TV show), or while away hours cycling on the sun-drenched Ile de Re.
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 7-8 Tours
Travel by train to Tours in the Loire Valley.
Located between the Loire and Cher rivers, Tours is acclaimed as a 'town of art and history'. It's easy to see why as you explore the narrow streets, the outdoor cafes and bars in the main square, and the Rue Colbert and Rue Grand Marche, lined with gorgeous half-timbered houses.
Bicycles are a great way to explore the gentle countryside of the Loire and its magnificent historic chateaux. Enjoy a day's cycling and tour the Chateau Villandry with its beautiful 16th-century ornamental garden. The trip is a mostly flat 36 km. Please note that you'll need appropriate footwear (no flip-flops) to cycle in.
Included Activities
  • Cycling tour
  • Chateaux Villandry & Gardens
Optional Activities
  • Cathedrale St-Gatien - Free
  • Hot air balloon - EUR250
  • Musee des Beaux-Arts - EUR4
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Lyon
Head south-east through central France to Lyon and the Rhone Valley (approx 5 hrs).
Take to the streets on foot or bicycle and discover Lyon, a city founded by the Romans in 43 BC with a rich history as a medieval publishing giant, a silk-weaving capital, a cinematic pioneer and the victim of an infamous Nazi chief. Today Lyon is a prosperous and dynamic city with top-notch cultural museums, a buzzing social scene and gastronomic cred.
Explore the underworld of Lyon via the many traboules and miraboules - dark, secret passageways - that criss-cross the old quarters. Some date from Roman times while others were constructed to transport silk in wet weather. On the cobblestone streets above, wander through Vieux Lyon beneath medieval, Renaissance and Gothic facades, and even some gargoyles. Bohemian Croix Rousse delights with an outdoor food market, artisan workshops, and murals illustrating its silk-weaving history.
For one of the best art collections outside of Paris, visit the Musee des Beaux-Arts, picnic in its cloister garden, or stroll over to beautiful place des Terreaux, where a 19th-century fountain by the Statue of Liberty sculptor takes pride of place.
Take the funicular up Fourviere Hill and admire the spectacular view over the city from the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere, or discover Roman ruins at the nearby Gallo-Roman Museum.
Make like a local and get stuck in to a meal at a bouchon (small, friendly bistros that serve traditional Lyonnais cuisine), eat your oyster breakfast out on a sunny terrace or get your fine-dining fix at one of the city's Michelin-starred establishments.
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 11 Le Puy en Velay
Head south by train over the volcanic pastures of the Massif Central region, to the town of Le Puy-en-Velay (approx 3.5 hrs).
A place of pilgrimage for the great medieval kings of Europe and for humble pilgrims on their journey to Santiago de Compostela, Le Puy-en-Velay's most striking sights are perched dramatically upon ancient lava pinnacles, high above the town.
The Cathedrale Notre Dame sits upon the largest peak, with the old town fanning out from its base. Each morning pilgrims embarking on the 1600km journey to Santiago de Compostela are blessed here. Take the steep stairs up through impressive arches to this heavily restored Romanesque cathedral with its Byzantine and Moorish decorations, and its venerable 17th-century Black Virgin.
Crowning the steepest of the volcanic plugs is Chapelle St-Michel d'Aiguilhe, its traces of 12th-century frescoes and glorious views a just reward for the 276-step climb to the top.
Make sure to try the jewel-like Puy lentil, which gets its nutty, firm texture from the volcanic soil surrounding the city, or the region's infamous bright green firewater, Verveine.
Included Activities
  • Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe Chapel
Optional Activities
  • Le Puy-en-Velay Cathedral - EUR10
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 12-13 Avignon
Take to the fields of Provence on the train to Avignon (approx 4 hrs).
An elegant, walled city at the apex of Provence's most picturesque valley, Avignon was the home of French popes for more than a century. Today, its legacy is an impressive collection of art, a grand papal palace and the Pont St-Benezet, immortalised in song as the Pont d'Avignon.
Be stunned by the largest medieval Gothic palace in the world, the Palais des Papes. Built in the 14th century after Avignon became the official residence of Pope Clement V, its sprawling grandeur decimated the papacy's income during construction. The fortified halls are now mostly undecorated, but the cavernous chapels speak volumes about the wealth of the papacy.
Spanning the Rhone River from Avignon to Villeneuve-les-Avignon, the Pont St-Benezet was completed in 1185, only be repaired and rebuilt several times until the 17th century, when 18 of its 22 spans were washed away. Record your own version of the famous song at the bridge's museum.
Included Activities
  • Palais des Papes
Optional Activities
  • Bike hire - EUR15
  • Museum Calvet - EUR6
  • Museum Lapidaire - EUR2
  • Museum of the Petit Palace - EUR6
  • Museum Requin - Free
  • Roure Palace - EUR5
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 14-15 Marseille
Take a train towards the Mediterranean Sea and the lively town of Marseille (approx 30 min).
The rousing port of Marseille, France's oldest and second-largest city, leant its name to country's national anthem during the French Revolution. Today, still one of Europe's most important ports, Marseille is a dazzling fusion of cultures, with souq-style bazaars alongside Provence produce stalls and local artisan shops. Don't leave without slurping a bowl of bouillabaisse, the local fish stew.
Amble around the pedestrianised Le Panier. Once the site of a Greek market, it was dynamited in 1943 and rebuilt, today it is the perfect place to find food and artisan products handmade in Marseille. Take a break (and maybe a picnic) in the Jardin du Pharo, which overlooks the Mediterranean. At Vieux Port, watch boats dock with the day's catch as they have for thousands of years.
Head up the hill by foot, bus or train to the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde for spectacular views across the port. Built in the 19th century, the limestone basilica is comprised of a Romanesque-style crypt dug out of the rock and an upper Neo-Byzantine church with intricate mosaics and murals. The northern façade was visibly damaged by fierce fighting in World War II, during Marseille's Battle of Liberation. A gold-leaf gilded Madonna and Child watches over the city from the bell-tower.
Step in to literary history and explore the Chateau d'If. Made famous in Alexandre Dumas' book, The Count of Monte Cristo, this fortress-turned-prison sits on an island off Vieux Port, and has housed political prisoners of all stripes.
For an idyllic break from the bustle of the city, take to the sea and explore the Calanques, small inlets punctuating the coastline, often with little patches of beach to relax on.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • AMSG Single supplement (AMSG)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Paris to Madrid (AMSF)
  • Paris to Rome (AMKR)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Physical rating

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
BOOKING MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE:
To avoid disappointment we have outlined (where applicable) some important information on some of the major museums and attractions in Europe. Some of our groups have experienced long lines of up to four hours to visit some of the major sights, while some sights are so popular they are booked out completely months in advance, making it impossible for you or your leader to arrange a visit while you are on the trip. Please note that many museums and attractions in Europe are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where possible. If applicable we've given you information in the day-to-day itinerary which outlines which day of the trip is a suitable time to make your reservations, as well as any other information that may help with planning your visit.
Money Exchange
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Tipping
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest EUR1-2 per person per day for local guides.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline EUR3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Single Supplement available on this trip. Please enquire with your booking agent for further details
Accommodation
Hotel (14 nts)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Meals
3 Breakfasts
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
EUR 525.00
Transport
Train, Bicycle, Bus
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point
Hotel Charma
14 Bis rue des Maraîchers
Paris
75020
FRANCE
Joining point description
Hotel Charma is located near le Marias and Place de la Bastille. Rooms include tv, ensuite bathrooms and mini bar. Other hotel features include free iron, safe deposit box, lift and internet access.
Joining point instructions
Directions from Charles de Gaulle Airport:
By Taxi
The taxi fare from Charles de Gaulle to central Paris is around EUR35-45. The journey takes an average of 45 minutes.
By Train
RER Line B will take you from CDG Terminal 3 to central Paris in approx. 30 minutes. Departures from métro and RER stations are from 06.00 to 23.00 daily. Fare is EUR9.10. From Châtelet les Halles change to metro line 1 to Porte de Vincennes (direction Château de Vincennes) exit onto Cours de Vincennes and walk east approx 50m, then turn right into Rue des Maraichers.
Directions from Orly Airport:
By taxi
Taxi fare from Orly to central Paris is around EUR50.
By train
Orlyval will take you to Antony Station where you can take RER line B to Chatelet Les Halles. Departures from métro and RER stations are from 06.00 to 23.00 daily. The combined métro/RER/Orlyval fare is EUR9.10. The average trip time from Orly to Chatelet is 30 minutes. From Châtelet les Halles change to metro line 1 to Porte de Vincennes (direction Château de Vincennes) exit onto Cours de Vincennes and walk east approx 50m, then turn right into Rue des Maraichers.
We recommend you exercise extreme caution while travelling on public transport in Paris due a high incidence of pickpocketing.
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point
Hotel Relax
Place de l'Opera, 4, Rue Corneille
Marseille
13001
FRANCE
Phone: 33 491331587
Fax: 33 491556357
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Morocco / Europe Office can be reached on Tel: +212 (0) 66192 2693. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ON THIS TRIP (EXCLUDING RUSSIA, UKRAINE, TURKEY):
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
WATER BOTTLE:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
Cold tap water in France is generally safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap or public water fountains.
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Other common scams operating in Europe include ploys to get you fined on the metro without a validated ticket. Ensure that you always travel with a validated ticket (have your ticket stamped). Another common scam is used by children who distract you with a map or a newspaper and while you are attending to them, steal your valuables.
BIKE HELMETS:
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches that modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 182.00 kgs per pax.
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.