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Based in America but of Irish descent, I have spent the majority of my life visiting, exploring, and subsequently falling in love with all aspects of Ireland. Here at UTC, I am the resident expert on Ireland, Scotland, England, and France.
- from $20,707 PP
- 25 Nights
- April - Oct
- 2 hours from London / 9 hours from New York
From the 17th to the early 19th century a Grand Tour was enjoyed by the upper class of English society, who undertook a trip through Europe. The tour served as an educational right of passage, exposing them to classical antiquity and Renaissance art, as well as teaching them how to behave in fashionable high society. With the advent of rail and steamship travel its popularity waned, but the regions they visited remain as popular today as they did 200 years ago. This modern Grand Tour starts in Paris, before heading south to the glamours Cote d’Azur, through the natural beauty of the Swiss Alps and south, into the historic Italian cities of Venice, Florence and Rome. Follow in the footsteps of Georgian high society and discover the art, culture and nature of some of Europe’s most captivating destinations.
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- 25 nights of 4 or 5-star accommodation
- 1st class rail throughout
- 24/7 staff support
- Private transfers as noted on the itinerary
- Private tours throughout including Pairs, Rome, Venice & Florence
- Panoramic rail tours through Switzerland
- Day excursions into Provence and Tuscany
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Paris: Arrival into Paris
Your European Grand Tour begins with your arrival into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport where our driver will be there to welcome you and provide a private transfer to your hotel in the City of Lights. After check-in, the rest of the day is yours to relax and rest up for the many adventures that lie ahead. As one of the world’s most romantic destinations, you might want to soak up the enchanting atmosphere while enjoying a stroll through the neighborhood. With your hotel in stylish Saint-Germaine, you’ll be steps from chic shops and trendy cafes, perfect for unwinding with a glass of wine.
Day 2 Private City Highlights Tour
The first highlight on your itinerary will be a half-day of sightseeing tour of Paris with your own private guide. As this is such a big city, we’ve included a metro card which is a much faster and more efficient way of getting around than traveling by car. The tour can be customized to your personal interests or simply take advantage of your guide’s local knowledge that ensures you’ll take in some of the best the city has to offer. Of course, you won’t want to miss the Eiffel Tower, but some of the other must-see landmarks include the gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, Palais Garnier, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Basilica of the Sacre-Coeur that sits atop the hill of Montmartre.
At the end of your tour, your guide can also provide recommendations for the best restaurants and make other suggestions to help you make the most of the rest of your day.
Day 3 Private Half-Day Palace of Versailles Tour
A half-day trip with your private driver/guide brings you to the grand Palace of Versailles. You’ll get to walk the paths that wind through the magnificent gardens, created at the behest of the king who wanted them to magnify the glory of the palace. You’ll see the beautiful flowerbeds, fountains, lakes, and the canal where the king himself enjoyed gondola rides. Discover the over-the-top opulence inside the palace too, including the Hall of Mirrors with its 17 arched windows all featuring individual mirrors, and the prestigious series of seven rooms that make up the State Apartment with lavish Italian-style décor, painted ceilings, and marble paneling.
Day 4 Private Half Day tour of the Louvre
Morning half-day tour of the Louvre Art Museum – a must for anyone taking a Grand Tour of Europe. The museum is most famous for masterpieces like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the massive Coronation of Napoleon which measures an incredible 20 x 33 feet. The guide will take some time to understand what you like and alter the tour according to what most interests you. It’s impossible to see everything in one day, so it’s important the time here is well planned. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy the French capital at your leisure or you may choose to stay behind in Louvre and explore further.
Day 5 Avignon - transfer by train and walking tour
After four nights in Paris, it’s time to say goodbye. Your private driver will pick you up at your hotel this morning, providing a transfer to Gare du Lyon for the 3.5-hour 1st class journey south to Avignon. On arrival, you will be transferred to the hotel with time for lunch and to freshen up.
You will then enjoy a 3-hour private city tour with a driver/guide. Avignon is a very rich city historically. In the 14th century, it was the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe, which left an impressive legacy of ecclesiastical architecture, most notably the soaring, UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed fortress-cum-palace known as the Palais des Papes.
Day 6 Provence Regional Day Trip
A full-day private tour will bring you to discover charming Provencal villages, historic towns, and landmarks in the beautiful region of Provence. Highlights include the small village of Saint-Remy, where Vincent van Gogh painted some of his most famous masterpieces. The village of Les Baux-de-Provence, located on a dramatic rocky outcrop, comes complete with a ruined castle and is consistently voted one of the most beautiful in the country. You’ll also visit the coastal town of Arles which was an important Roman settlement. It’s home to a very impressive amphitheater dating back to 90 AD. Along the way, your trip will be broken up by a gourmet 3-course lunch with wine and a visit to a local winery for a tour of the vineyards, followed by a tasting.
Day 7 Day at leisure in Avignon
After a busy day yesterday, enjoy a relaxed breakfast at your hotel. You’ll have the day free to explore Avignon, enjoying its relaxed feel at your own pace. You might want to simply wander the streets of the old town, stopping for coffee and lunch. The gardens at Rocher des Doms are lovely to stroll while the storied Avignon Les Halles street market with its cafes, vertical garden, and stalls selling local produce, meats, and cheeses is always enjoyable to explore. Alternatively, you can choose to take a more in-depth tour of Palais des Papes which you will have visited briefly two days ago.
Day 8 Private transfer to Nice
It’s time to head to your final destination in this part of the tour, Nice, the capital of the French Riviera along the southeast coast of France. Cultural rich and glamorous, it offers a wonderful Mediterranean climate and attracts foodies from across the globe. Transfer time is three hours, but it’s a very scenic drive that will allow you to relax while enjoying the views of the dramatic, mountainous countryside of Provence. Upon arrival to Nice, you’ll have time to explore a little independently and perhaps enjoy dinner along the seafront. Tomorrow you’ll get to experience it more in-depth with an expert guide.
Day 9 Private walking tour of Nice
You will be met at your hotel by a private guide for a 3-hour walking tour of Nice. The city has an enticing mix of old-world charm, Mediterranean elegance, and real-city grit. Attracting tourists, including celebrities, since the 1700s, with its art and natural beauty, including beaches, highlights include the sweeping Promenade des Anglais which gets its name from the English expat patrons who funded it in 1822. Colline du Château at the eastern end of the seafront offers the best panoramic views of the city. The old town itself (Vieux Nice) is known for its maze of winding streets that creep up the hillside, a colorful flower market, and excellent fish restaurants. Nice’s old town is quite compact, so once you have your bearings it’s time to explore independently. Or, you might just choose to unwind with a cup of coffee in one of the many sidewalk cafes on Place Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Day 10 French Riviera Day Trip to Cannes, Monaco and Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Today’s private tour will bring you to some of the most popular towns on the French Riviera starting with a visit to Old Town Antibes where you’ll be awed by the “floating palaces” at Billionaire’s Quay. Discover the handprints of immortalized stars in the Cannes Film Festival Palace, the venue for the world-famous Cannes Festival, then travel to scenic Grass to explore its historic center. Filled with tall, narrow homes painted in bright pastel hues, ancient buildings and squares, it’s become famous for its perfume production. Your tour includes a visit to a historic perfume factory, revealing the world of perfume from antiquity to the present.
Day 11 Transfer to Geneva and onto Montreux
Today you will be picked up and transferred to Nice-Ville Station for your exciting journey from the Mediterranean coast to the foothills of the Alps. After a straightforward change in Lyon continue into Switzerland. Here, the train is king, and traveling by rail is very easy. Trains are clean, on time and always depart from the same platform, so there’s rarely any confusion. It’s also much quicker than negotiating mountain roads by car. The journey between Nice and Montreux is only around 4hrs but it’s a lovely run. For those with more time, we recommend a night in Lyon or Geneva.
On arrival in Montreux it’s an easy walk to the hotel, or a private transfer can be arranged at an additional cost.
Day 12 Montreux
After a long day yesterday, today is free for you to relax and enjoy Montreux at your leisure. You might want to just enjoy a coffee and a stroll along the promenade, which, in summer, is lined with flowers and sculptures, or maybe head to Chillon Castle, one of the most famous and picturesque in Switzerland, dating back to the 14th century.
Day 13 Montreux to Interlaken
This morning you will board the Goldenpass Express in 1st class for the beautiful journey to Interlaken. The journey is just over 3hr from the Vaud Riviera on Lake Geneva to the majestic peaks of the Bernese Alps. While the route is over 100 years old the trains are fresh and modern with large windows and raised seats all to help maximize the views. Highlights include the charming timber-framed stations, Vernex Lake and the dramatic rock formation of the Diemtigtal Nature Park. On arrival it’s a short walk to the hotel, or a private transfer can be arranged at an additional cost. The afternoon is free to enjoy the town at your leisure.
Day 14 Interlaken & the Schilthorn
Free day to enjoy Interlaken. Set on the shores of Lake Brienz and surrounded by mountains, the town is known as the capital of outdoor adventure in Switzerland, everything is on offer here from a gentle stroll in the hills to mountain biking and skydiving.
As you will be in possession of a Swiss Rail Pass we recommend taking the train and cable up the Schilthorn via the pretty car-free village of Murren. The panoramic revolving restaurant at the summit, Piz Gloria, was featured in the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The views across the valley are unforgettable and the champagne brunch is definitely worth waking up early for! Due to the sometimes unpredictable weather in Switzerland, we do recommend booking activities on arrival to avoid disappointment.
Day 15 Jungfraujoch Railway
Enjoy one of the most incredible day excursions Switzerland has to offer and travel by rail to the top of the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe at 11,332ft. The summit, which includes the Top of Europe Restaurant and museum, overlooks the eternal snow of the Aletsch Glacier and from here there is an almost continuous line of over thirteen,1230-foot-high peaks and views down to Swiss Mittelland towards the Vosges, a true sight to behold. On the return journey, you may choose to jump off halfway down and enjoy one of the many hiking routes around Grindelwald.
The journey time up to the summit is about two hours. Be sure to pack some warm clothes so you can enjoy the outside viewing platforms in comfort, it can get very cold!
Day 16 The Glacier Express
Depart Interlaken by train to Brig where you will join the Glacier Express to St. Moritz. This is a very easy transfer across the platform and a lovely cafe right opposite if you have some time to wait.
Billed as Europe’s slowest express train, the Glacier Express is truly one of the world’s great train journeys. Taking 8.15 hours to travel just under 150 miles, the route runs from Brig to St Mortiz the country’s most glamorous resort. Along the route, the spectacular mountain scenery unfolds outside the train’s panoramic sightseeing windows, as you sit back and enjoy a luxury 5-course menu with accompanying wines. For an aperitif, some delicious cocktail or to exchange with fellow travelers, the Glacier Bar is the perfect place to visit. Thanks to the compass on the ceiling none of the many turns will be missed. On arrival in St Moritz, it’s an easy transfer to your hotel.
For those wishing to extend their time in Switzerland we advise at least two nights here to enjoy the lake or some hiking.
Day 17 The Bernina Express & Lugano
This morning return to the station in St. Moritz and enjoy the spectacular journey south to Tirano in Italy. This is one of Switzerland’s, if not the world’s most beautiful one-day train rides. The trip takes approximately 4 hours covering a distance of just 40 miles, through 55 tunnels, and a whopping 196 bridges! The main highlights include the Bernina Pass, past the Morteratsch Glacier, reaching its highest point at Ospizio Bernina,7,391 feet above sea level, where even in the height of summer icebergs dot the lake. While on the descent the train runs round the famous nine-arched Brusio Spiral Viaduct opened in 1908.
On arrival in Tirano, there is time for lunch before a scenic bus ride through the countryside back into Switzerland, to the glamorous lakeside town of Lugano in the Italian-speaking Ticino region. Check in to your hotel and enjoy the evening at leisure.
Day 18 Lugano & Venice - via Milan
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast at the hotel overlooking the lake before transferring to Lugano Station for the journey across northern Italy to Venice. The route takes you via Milian where you may choose to stop for a couple of hours to enjoy lunch and the spectacular Duomo di Milano, which took almost 6 centuries to complete! (It is essential you inform us if you wish to make the stop a different ticket is required)
On arrival in Venice St Lucia Station, you will be met for a private water taxi transfer to your hotel – the only true way to arrive in ‘The Flaoting City’!
Day 19 Venice: Half-Day Tour of Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Cathedral & Glass Showroom
An in-depth half-day tour explores many of the highlights of Venice, including St. Mark’s Square where it all begins. You’ll meet our guide at the square to begin your walking tour which includes the remarkable landmarks here like St. Mark’s Cathedral. As there can be no narration inside, before entering your guide will tell you all about the basilica’s history and then you’ll get to explore the beautiful interior. There will be time to visit the glass showrooms as well where you can browse or purchase authentic Venetian glassware. Visit Doge’s Palace, a fine example of gothic-style architecture with an ornate façade, climb the golden staircase and cross the Bridge of Sighs that links the palace to a historic prison on the other side of the canal.
Day 20 Morning at Leisure - Transfer to Florence
You’ll enjoy a morning at leisure in Venice this is the perfect time to stroll through the historic back streets and admire palaces, churches, and piazzas – getting lost is part of the fun. For lunch, indulge in seafood risotto or cicchetti, and try Venice’s famous Bellini cocktail. Then it is time to say farewell to Venice taking a private transfer to the train station for a journey on the high-speed train to Florence, which takes approximately 3hrs. In the evening take a romantic stroll through the city and admire the incredible architecture and vibrant atmosphere is the Tuscan capital.
Day 21 Florence: Half-Day Walking Tour of Florence & the Accademia Gallery
Today you’ll get an expert introduction to Florence the birthplace of the Renaissance movement in Europe and an essential stop on any Grand Tour in the 18th century.
The morning’s walking tour brings you to the famous Santa Croce Church where legends like Michelangelo and Galileo are buried. Head to the famous cathedral of Florence and Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall that overlooks Piazza della Signoria before exploring the Accademia Gallery, with the original David, Michelangelo’s renowned sculpture with its incredible details that make it so life-like. It was moved here in 1873 to join paintings by Raphael, Daddi, and Botticelli. After the guided portion of your tour, you’ll have free time to explore before returning to your accommodation at leisure.
Day 22 Florence: Full-Day San Gimignano & Siena
Enjoy a day trip to the medieval hilltop towns of San Gimignano and Siena, exploring the latter independently, taking in the spectacular skyline with its towers that date back to the 11th century. Afterward, enjoy a typical local meal at a farmhouse nearby. Continue to Siena where our local guide will be waiting to lead you on a walking tour. Visit the world-famous Piazza del Campo, a hub of life that hosts the famous biannual II Palio horse race. It’s lined with the 13th-century City Hall and 335-foot-high Torre del Mangia bell tower. You’ll take in many other sights from the gothic Duomo to the Battistero too.
Day 23 Rome: Morning at Leisure, transfer to Rome via High-Speed Train
Enjoy the remainder of your time in Florence at your leisure. You might want to just wander through the streets with surprises to discover around every corner or head to the Uffizi Gallery, home to some of Itay’s finest masterpieces – booking a skip-the-line ticket is essential, please inform us in advance if you wish to do this
In the afternoon you’ll take a private transfer from your hotel to the train station. From here, catch the high-speed train to Rome. After checking in you’ll have the evening to yourself, whether you’d like to rest up from your long journey or get out and enjoy a preview of what’s to come. It’s the perfect time to head to one of the medieval squares. Find a good spot at an outdoor café or wine bar to take in the scene and do some people-watching with a glass of tasty Italian wine in hand.
Day 24 Half-day tour of Ancient Rome
The Roman Colosseum and the Roman Forum make up the heart of ancient Rome and today you’ll meet our local guide for a tour of the amphitheater that was inaugurated in the 1st century AD. It sat more than 50,000 spectators who came to watch the savage battles between man and beast that took place through 532 AD. Next, you’ll head to the Roman Forum which occupies a site that lies adjacent to the Colosseum. It was completed in 80 AD but has roots dating to 500 BC, hosting the oldest structures of the ancient city, including the Regia, a former royal residence.
Day 25 Half-day Vatican City & Museums Tour
Our driver/guide will pick you up for a private half-day tour of Vatican City which includes the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Square, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Founded in the 14th century, the museum features one of the greatest collections of Renaissance art, including sculptures, frescoes, and tapestries. Marvel at the renowned Sistine Chapel with its ceiling painted by Michelangelo considered a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art. You’ll visit the Gallery of Geographical Maps and the Gallery of Tapestries too, all led by your guide who will provide expert insight throughout the tour. Take the rest of the day to explore at your leisure.
Day 26 Rome: Departure
This morning your Grand Tour will come to an end. Our driver will meet you at your hotel for transfer to the airport where you can head out on further travels or catch your return flight home. While it’s never easy to leave, you’ll have many memories from this jam-packed itinerary, and probably lots of photos, to take along with you. And, of course, there’s always next time, many an 18th-century gentleman partook in more than one grand tour of Europe in his lifetime!
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them.
- Gratuities for local guides
- We strongly advise all guests purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Visas if required
Let’s make this itinerary yours.
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