A unique opportunity to explore France, away from busy airspaces!
Highlights include: overnights in grand country chateaux, fine dining, an ancient walled city, wine tasting in the Champagne region, flying the Alps, the French Riviera, the Loire Valley, a full day touring the Normandy beaches and, since we start near London England, Windsor Castle. If you like great hotels, beautiful scenery, food and wine, this is the tour for you!
Day 1 – London, England
Welcome to Europe and the start of your adventure vacation!
It begins in our hotel across the street from Windsor Castle, home of the royal family. After breakfast we travel to the West London Aero Club, our home base aerodrome for the trip. The Tour Director will start things with a trip overview which is followed by an initial briefing from the Lead Pilot. Pilots will “meet” their planes and have a chance to check them over. All the charts and documents needed for the trip will be distributed at this time.
Non-pilot passengers are encouraged to attend this first day’s briefings.
Days 2 – White Waltham
Pilots will spend the day having more briefings and completing their check rides. Depending on time and availability, there are some warbirds on the field that are available for joy rides.
Please speak to the Tour Director in advance so that we can make an inquiry.
Non-pilots are very welcome to join these briefings as well but may prefer to explore the area. A tour of Windsor Castle is highly recommended and downtown London is a short train ride away.
Day 3 – Caen
Wheels up! We turn towards the coast to fly over southern England before crossing the English Channel. Our arrival port and first stop is Caen. Bienvenue, you are now in France!
Tonight we enjoy our first chateau and a wonderful meal in one of it’s grand dining rooms.
Feel free to explore the grounds and flower gardens before retiring for the night.
Days 4 – Caen
The focus of our day is the story of D-Day and the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Our local tour guide will take us to all the key stops, including the beaches, the cemeteries and more. This tour is both moving and inspirational as we develop a deeper appreciation of the events of that day.
Before returning to our country chateau, we will take time to see the Bayeux Tapestry, which records the history of a different invasion, the Norman conquest of England in 1066. This “document” is a true historical treasure.
Days 5, 6 – Bordeaux Region
The Bordeaux Region is one of the great wine growing areas of France. We will be fully immersed in that environment as we will spend time on an estate winery with a family that has been making wines for 13 generations.
We will tour their property, dine with them and learn about the challenges and rewards of being a regional winemaker it today’s markets and, of course, sample the wines!
We will also take a tour of the local area, with visits to nearby villages and to Blaye, where we will tour the 17th century citadel which protected the city of Bordeaux.
Days 7, 8 – Carcassonne
More wonderful scenery as we first fly along the Atlantic Coast and then alongside the Pyrenees Mountains.
Our destination is Carcassonne, a medieval walled town dating back over 1500 years. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Our hotel, in the old city itself, has been created by connecting several of the ancient buildings to create a unique structure.
We have a full day to explore and take in the atmosphere of this amazing place! A half-day guided tour will give us its history and help you get your bearings before you are on your own. There are many wonderful shops, great restaurants and incredible photos to be taken. If you are a photographer, we do recommend taking some time for night photography; the walls are lit and exude a totally different atmosphere.
Days 9, 10 – Nice
After departing Carcassonne, we will divert to the north to fly over a modern engineering marvel, the Millau Viaduct, before heading for the Mediterranean coast. After reaching the sea we fly along the dazzling French Riviera coastline, another leg where you will want to have your camera ready.
Our hotel is in old Nice, close to the flower market and overlooking Nice’s famous seafront, the “Promenade des Anglais”, so you will be able to head out immediately and wander. There is much to see and do; shopping, waterfront cafés and walking along the sea wall.
During our full day there we will have a walking history and food tour of old Nice. You will come away with real insight into the local culture and history, and be well fed! By early afternoon you will be able to explore some more on your own.
If you would prefer to take the full day to visit either Cannes and Monaco, just let us know.
Tonight’s dinner is at your leisure.
Day 11 – Annecy
While our travel time today will be shorter, it will be spectacular as we fly, weather permitting, over the Alps. Our destination is Annecy, located on pristine Lake Annecy at the edge of the alps. Before checking into our hotel we will take time to see the old town, with its canals and old style architecture.
Our accommodation this night is another gem, a converted abbey in a small nearby village beside the lake. It is well known locally for its beauty and its restaurant, which is where we will dine.
Days 12, 13 – Epernay
We take a wonderful, leisurely breakfast before we depart for Epernay, in the heart of the Champagne region of France, just a short distance away.
Our hotel is located in the countryside, near the town of Epernay. It has a warm and relaxed ambiance and a very nice spa which you can enjoy after we check in. It also has a beautiful flower garden. Dinner will be in the hotel’s fine dining restaurant.
While in Epernay, we will tour the underground cellars of the Champagne Mercier house. Their unique tour includes an underground train, a sampling session and of course an opportunity to buy some fine champagne.
After lunch in town, we will visit a smaller, family run champagne house where will we go into the vineyards themselves and their winemaking facilities. Unlike the larger houses, they control the process from grapes to bottled champagne, which will give us a unique insight into the business.
For those who may wish to visit Paris instead, you can take the train into Paris in the morning and be back by evening. Your Tour Director will be pleased to assist in making arrangements.
Day 14 – Honfleur
Another France-only experience today as we fly along the section of the Loire Valley known as the the “Land of 1000 Chateaux”. We will see many of the most famous of them so have your cameras at the ready!
Our destination is a channel port which is one of the few to have survived WWII intact. It has many unique buildings and shows us what French towns looked like hundreds of years ago. We will only have a short time there, but you will be able to wander about and see the ancient churches, buildings and museums. Dinner will be at a local café alongside the port.
Day 15 – White Waltham / Marlow
On our return to the UK, we cross the English Channel and fly over the white cliffs of Dover, as so many airmen did in WWII. Then up the Thames Estuary and north of central London before arriving back at White Waltham. We will have a celebratory drink at the club bar before heading to our final overnight in Marlow right on the Thames River, and a short distance from London.
Day 16 – Depart Marlow
We say our farewells after breakfast at the hotel. Don’t forget to exchange email addresses so you can stay in touch with your new friends.
On behalf of Air Safaris International, thank you for joining us on this trip to France. Do tell your friends and we look forward to seeing you again soon on another tour!