Last Modified: 20 Nov 2013
Paris to Marrakech
Trip code: AMSBC
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Table of Contents
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
- 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.
Day 1 Paris
Bonjour! Welcome to France.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on 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.
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.
- Eiffel Tower - EUR14
- Louvre Museum - EUR10
- Musee d'Orsay - EUR9
- Palace of Versailles - EUR15
- Palace of Versailles gardens - Free
- 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
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Tours
Travel by train to Tours in the Loire Valley (approx 3 hrs).
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.
- Chateaux Villandry & Gardens
- Cycling tour
- Cathedrale St-Gatien - Free
- Hot air balloon - EUR250
- Musee des Beaux-Arts - EUR4
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 4-5 Dordogne Region
Journey south by train to the small medieval town of Sarlat in the Dordogne region (approx 6 hrs), known for its rich cuisine, prehistoric history and relaxed pace of life.
Time seems to have stood still in Sarat-la-Caneda with a slow winding river and a town so impeccably preserved that it still resembles its charming 14th-century self.
Ensure to indulge in some of the many tasty local delicacies at a streetside cafe. Ask for a 'degustation' of truffles, Confit de Canard or a host of other seasonal specialities.
Paddle kayaks on the Dordogne River (approx 15km) and take in sights such as the Chateau de Beynac.
- La Roque-Gageac Troglodyte Fort - EUR5
- Canoeing/Kayaking - EUR20
- Gabarre tour - EUR8
- Domme Caves - EUR8
- Bike hire per day - EUR20
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Bordeaux
Travel by train to Bordeaux (approx 3 hrs).
The capital of the Gascony region, Bordeaux was once an important port and trading centre dating back to pre-Roman times. However, most of the architecture visible today dates from the 18th century, considered the golden age of Bordeaux. In fact, so harmonious and successful was the large-scale remodelling of Bordeaux in the 18th century that it was later used as the model for Baron Hausmann's architectural transformation of Paris in the Napoleonic era. Wandering round the graceful, carefully-planned streets is a delight.
- Musee des Beaux-Arts - Free
- Pey Berland Tower - Cathedale St Andre - EUR5
- CAPC Musee d'Art Contemporain - Free
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Pyrenees
Head for the French Pyrenees and the spa town of Bagneres de Luchon by train and bus (approx 6 hrs).
The French Pyrenees stretch from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and form a natural 450 km long barrier between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. As well as their spectacular natural beauty, the Pyrenees are also famous for their thermal springs, where curistes (those seeking a cure) have been coming for hundreds of years. Luchon is one such spa town, and a great base for exploring the surrounding trails.
Located at the foot of the Pyrenees in a gorgeous valley, Luchon is a spa town with celebrated thermal springs and wonderful hikes up into the mountains.
Take to the hills for a day of hiking in the Pyrenees. Be prepared for some steep ascents, climbing up through the forest to a fantastic viewpoint of the mountain peaks (weather permitting). The scenery is truly alpine and absolutely breathtaking - don't forget your camera! Please note that you'll need appropriate footwear (sturdy trainers or light hiking boots) for this.
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 10-11 San Sebastian
Travel using a private transfer to San Sebastian (approx 5 hrs).
With its great beaches and vibrant old city, San Sebastian is a fantastic place to stroll along the promenade, shop and consume tapas to your heart's content, or just soak up the sun.
For a different perspective of the most central beach, La Concha, why not climb or catch a cable car to Monte Igueldo.
If you crave more culture, there's plenty of time to catch a local bus (approx 1 hr) down the road to Bilbao to visit the world-famous and architecturally awesome Guggenheim Museum.
- Aquarium - EUR10
- Catedral del Buen Pastor - Free
- Guggenheim Museum - EUR10
- Monte Igueldo cable car - EUR3
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 12-13 Segovia
Travel by train and bus to the remarkable walled town of Segovia in the heart of mountainous Castile (approx 5.5 hrs).
With its stunning backdrop of mountains, twisting alleyways, the highest concentration of Romanesque churches in the world and delicious local cuisine, Segovia is atmospheric, photogenic and memorable.
Take a sightseeing walk of the World Heritage-listed old town, taking in the breathtaking and romantic Alcazar castle, an inspiration to Walt Disney, and where Queen Isabel met with Columbus before he set sail on the epic journey that lead to the discovery of the Americas.
With the largest and best preserved Roman aqueduct of its kind anywhere in the world and a towering 16th century cathedral, there's plenty of history to discover during free time in Segovia. For something different, there are two rivers bordering the medieval walls, and an extensive green belt park with miles of shaded walks.
- Casa de los Picos - Free
- City walls - EUR2
- Esteban Vicente Museum - EUR2
- Segovia Fortress - EUR4
- Segovia Museum - EUR1
- Zuloaga Museum - EUR1
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 14-15 Madrid
Journey by train to Madrid (approx 1 hr).
With incredible restaurants, art galleries, shopping and nightlife on offer, Madrid is a truly world-class city that exudes confidence and style through every pore.
While away hours on the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk, for a panoramic perspective of Western art history. Start with the Museo del Prado, one of the world's finest collections of European art from the 12th-19th centuries and an unmissable stop on any art tour. Discover modern Spanish masters, including Picasso and Dali, in the Museo Reina Sofia's 20th century collection. Finish with the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which spans eight centuries of European painting.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
- Abono Paseo del Arte (3 museum combo voucher) - EUR18
- Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - EUR8
- Museo del Prado - EUR14
- Real Jardín Botánico - EUR2
- Museo Reina Sofia - EUR6
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 16 Salamanca
Head north-west by bus to the historical university town of Salamanca (approx 3.5 hrs).
Situated amongst beautiful pastures and rolling green hills on Spain's northern plateau, the rose-hued medieval town of Salamanca is a hidden gem. Its citizens speak the 'purest' Spanish in Spain - Castilian. This is why Salamanca is so popular with people from all over the world who want to learn the language. Salamanca is a real university city - Spanish students are everywhere and you can travel practically everywhere by foot.
Your leader will take you on a sightseeing walk where you can explore the central Plaza Mayor and discover the historic stone buildings that the city is known for. Plaza Mayor is a true centre of local life. Not only is it architecturally beautiful, but it buzzes with activity as locals meet and take coffee, tapas or cocktails on the square.
Inspect some of the unique architecture, such as the distinctly decorated Casa de las Conchas (House of the Shells).
Salamanca is known for its many festivals and generally holds at least one every month of the year. They are big celebrators of music and entertainment, showing off traditional costume and fiestas in honour of ancient leaders of the city. Ask your leader about festivals taking place or research it in preparation for your trip so you don't miss out on the excitement!
- Cathedrals rooftop - EUR4
- Art Nouveau & Art Deco Museum - EUR3
- Bullfighting Museum - EUR3
- Unamuno House Museum - EUR2
- Old Cathedral - EUR4
- University of Salamanca - EUR4
- Casa de Las Conchas - Free
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 17-18 Coimbra
Head further west by bus and cross the border into Portugal to the laidback city of Coimbra (approx 5 hrs).
A beautiful and ancient town, Coimbra features typical white stone with several excellent examples of colourful azulejos tiling. Some of the historical buildings were originally built in the 12th century, and you can find some of the best examples of Romanesque churches and elegant museums in Portugal.
Your leader will escort you on a walk to help you orientate yourself in the maze of alleyways. Half the fun of Coimbra is just to wander and explore.
The region produces a major red wine that is distinctly known for its smooth texture, deep colour and rich brownish tone as it ages. Rose is among one of the most popular types of wine enjoyed alongside a platter of traditional yellow sausage - alheira - garnished with varieties of goats cheese. It is common for the culture to include piri piri (small fiery chillies) in traditional dishes, as well as cinnamon, vanilla and saffron, for intense flavours.
Experience the local tradition of fado - soulful, beautiful music that tells mournful tales of unrequited love or sailors lost at sea. Coimbra Fado is unique in that you'll also hear amusing student's tales about the struggles of academic life and the tyranny of their tutors, as well as serenades to be sung from underneath a lover's window. Performances are held daily in a lovely old chapel in the heart of the old town.
Kick back and relax on a short boat tour to take in the view of Coimbra from a different angle.
Head out into the countryside in search of ancient Roman ruins (approx 30 mins return by bus). The ruins of Conimbriga, from which the town of Coimbra got its name, are rich in mosaics and a great insight into ancient Roman life. Spend as little or as much time here as you like, as there are several options to return - including a walk through the countryside to the unspoilt rural town of Condeixa (approx 3 km).
There's also plenty of time to visit the university, one of the oldest in the world and situated in a former palace. With its ancient library, beautiful throne room turned assembly hall, and even student prison cells, there are many interesting tales and legends to be discovered here.
- Boat tour - EUR6
- Conimbriga ruins - EUR5
- Portugal Dos Pequenitos - EUR4
- University of Coimbra - EUR5
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 19-20 Lisbon
Take a train through the countryside of central Portugal to Lisbon (approx 3.5 hrs).
One of Europe's most pleasant and affordable capital cities, Lisbon combines the best elements of Portuguese life, offering fantastic architecture, a multicultural population, delicious seafood and non-stop nightlife.
Included is an orientation/sightseeing walk led by your group leader.
Visit the medieval Citadel in the city centre. Lisbon is a city swarming with endless angular white houses and buildings with distinct red terracotta rooftops. From the citadel, this makes a sharply contrasting panorama when viewed against the deep blue of the sky and ocean.
Lisbon has a number of remarkable museums of modern and ancient art, such as Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, National Museum of Contemporary Art, National Coach Museum, and Carmo Archaeological Museum. However, Lisbon isn't all history and culture - Bairro Alto is the centre of the city's nightlife with various bars and restaurants where fado, traditional Portuguese music, can be enjoyed.
Try some braised squid or hot pickled pork at a local restaurant for an authentic native taste. For those not as daring, go for a green bean dish or a delicious bread-based dessert instead.
Take a day trip into the mountainous region of Sintra, just 45 mins away by train. This starkly beautiful area offers great walking, stunning cliff-top palaces and unique Moorish architecture.
- National Art Museum - EUR3
- Fado House - EUR2
- Folk Art Museum - EUR3
- Gulbenkian Museum - EUR3
- Puppet Museum - EUR2
- Naval Museum - EUR3
- Oceanarium - EUR10
Pension (2 nts)
Days 21-22 The Algarve
The southern coastline of Portugal is known for its fertile plains, rich with orange and olive groves, fig trees, almonds and maize fields. Long beaches and hidden coves await us as we journey by bus to the Algarve (approx 5 hrs).
With a historical old town and stunning sunsets, our base in Olhao offers a more relaxed pace of life.
Visit some of the Algarve's lesser known areas with beautiful walking paths and golden sandy beaches.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 23 Jerez
Leave Portugal for the hills of Andalucia, travelling by bus to the traditional and historic town of Jerez (approx 7 hrs).
With its ancient Alcazar (Moorish fortress), beautiful eclectic cathedral and huge selection of high quality tapas bars, Jerez is an undiscovered jewel in the heart of Andalucia. Its most famous export is sherry, with the drink deriving its name from the town.
Enjoy a bodega tour and sample the sherries on offer.
- Bodega tour and sherry tasting
- Moorish baths - EUR1
- Alcazar - EUR3
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 24-25 Chefchaouen
Travel by bus to the port town of Algeciras (approx 3 hrs), with its spectacular view of the Rock of Gibraltar.
Board a ferry and cross the straits to the chaotic and buzzing city of Tangier (approx 1.5 hrs).
Travel by bus to Chefchaouen, which is in the centre of a mountainous agricultural region (approx 3 hrs).
Chefchaouen lies beneath two mountain tops, known as Ech-Chaoua - 'the horns'. Chefchaouen means 'look at the horns'. It's among Morocco's most attractive towns and it's easy to appreciate the idyllic surroundings offered by this tranquil town. With its blue and white houses and evocative atmosphere, this is a wonderful place to chill out.
We will meet our local guide to explore the maze of streets in the beautiful blue and whitewashed Chefchaouen. Learn about general life in a small Moroccan community, have a look at a communal bakery, watch local women do their laundry and walk up to a former church from where we have a beautiful view over the town nestled between two mountain peaks. A popular shopping destination for handicrafts, carpets, blankets or woolen garments, you may also see the artisans at work.
Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat. Take a stroll through the ancient medina, go hiking in the Rif mountains or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by. If you're feeling peckish, the goats' cheese on offer is a popular treat enjoyed by many visitors.
- Walking tour with local guide
- Hamam (public baths) - MAD100
- Henna tattooing - MAD50
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 26-27 Fes
Take a public bus to Fes (approx 5 hrs).
Fes is the most complete medieval city in the Arab world. The most ancient of Morocco's imperial cities, it exists suspended in time.
Take a guided walk to discover the treasures of the Medina, a living monument to an ancient past and still very much alive with the many craftsmen, markets, tanneries, ceramics and mosques. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania, one of the city's most beautiful buildings which has recently been restored and is now open for visits.
We'll also visit the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramic factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way.
Consider a visit to the Palais Jamai for an evening drink. Watching the sun set over the huge medina whilst hundreds of prayer calls vie for attention is an experience you are likely to remember forever.
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 28-29 Marrakech
Travel by train to Marrakech (approx 8 hrs).
Marrakech is a feast for the senses. Be enticed by the alluring scents and brilliant colours of the spice markets, the sounds of the musicians, the rich folds of carpets, delectable foods, acrobats and perfumed gardens.
See the Koutoubia Mosque and its superb minaret - famous throughout the world as one of the greatest minarets and the 'sister' to the Giralda in Seville.
Go to the Palais Bahia, a superb example of Muslim architecture.
Explore the ruins of the Palais Badi, reputedly one of the most beautiful palaces in the world in its time.
Visit the Saadian tombs - a recently uncovered gem of the Medina.
All of the above can be a challenge to locate, but that is all a part of the experience of exploring the phenomenal medinas of Morocco! As we only have a short time here in Marrakech, if you really want to explore this fascinating city we suggest you stay for a few extra nights.
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.
- Saadien Tombs - MAD10
- Koutoubia Mosque and minaret - Free
- Palais Badi - MAD10
- Henna tattooing - MAD50
- Hamam (public baths) - MAD250
Hotel (1 nt)
- AMSBC Single Supplement (AMSBC)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Madrid to Marrakech (ZMSH)
- Paris to Madrid (AMSF)
- Rome to Marrakech (ZMSXC)
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.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Hotel (26 nts), Pension (2 nts)
Bus, Bicycle, Kayak, Metro, Private vehicle, Train, Public bus, Ferry, Taxi, Minibus
Hotel Des Arts
2 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac
Phone: 33 143797257
Fax: 33 143790660
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) please follow the instructions on your voucher in order to find our driver. Should you have any problems locating your driver, please call the number for our transfer company on the voucher in the first instance. Should you continue to experience any difficulties, please call the emergency number for our local operations team which is available on the 'Emergency Contact' section of these trip notes.
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.
Hotel Le Caspien
12, rue Loubnane
Phone: 212 52442 2282
Finish point description
Centrally located in the Gueliz district 5mins walk from Avenue Mohammed V, the Caspien hotel has 40 rooms all with en-suite bathrooms, A/C, TV, telephones. The hotel has a small swimming pool and 2 restaurants.
Finish point instructions
Marrakech Menara Airport is approx. 5km from the city centre. Petite taxis (small cars which are light brown in colour) can easily be hailed from the street, or ask the hotel to assist. Negotiate the fare before getting in and aim to pay no more than 100MAD (150MAD at night).
Departure from Casablanca:
For those of you that are flying out of Casablanca: Trains from Marrakech to Casablanca, depart on the hour every 2 hours between 5:00am and 9:00pm and cost EUR8 for 2nd class and EUR12 for 1st class. The trip is scheduled to take 3 hours & 10 minutes and is subject to frequent delays.
From Casablanca Voyageurs Station, trains run to the Casablanca airport every hour at 5 mins past the hour. First departure is at 5:00am and the last departure at 10:00pm. The trip takes 35 minutes. Check the useful website (in French) for more information - www.oncf.ma
Alternatively, from Casablanca city the 25km taxi ride to the Casablanca airport costs MAD250 (EUR25)
What to take
On this trip, you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly 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 to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. 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.
Carbon Offset C02-e 351.00 kgs per pax.