Day 1: USA – Geneva
Tour members will meet at the airport three hours prior to departure to organize group and check in. Dinner and breakfast will be served in flight.
Day 2: Geneva – Annecy – Lyons (190 kms, 2 h 30)
Arrival in Geneva. Welcome by your guide and private coach. Depart to Annecy, set upon Lake Annecy, one of the most beautiful areas in the French Alps. We enjoy a nice waking tour in the quaint medieval quarter with markets and Venice-like canals. We then drive to the Basilica of the Visitation overlooking the city of Annecy. The Basilica contains the relics of St Francois de Sales (1567-1622) and St Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641) who founded the order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Annecy in 1610. We then proceed to Lyons and for our first night. Welcome dinner and overnight at our hotel in Lyons.
Day 3: Lyons, Paray le Monial, Nevers (250 kms, 3 h 30)
After breakfast we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Lyons, the second largest city in France. Tour ends at the Basilica of our Lady of Fourvière atop the Fourvière Hill, offering a magnificent view on the city. The Basilica of Fourvière is a typical example of the French 19th century religious architecture and one of the busiest sanctuaries sites in France. For more than a thousand years The Virgin Mary has been honored here. We enjoy a guided tour of the Basilica. Next, we depart for Paray-le-Monial. The town welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, attracted by its cultural and spiritual patrimony. We visit the Chapel of the Visitation were Christ appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque during the year 1673, 1674 and 1675 “telling her about the ingratitude of mankind and offering his Sacred Heart as a “token of His Love”. We then attend a Mass in the roman Basilica of the Sacred Heart constructed in the 11th century. Following Mass, we proceed to Nevers, where we have our next dinner and overnight in this peaceful city.
Day 4: Nevers, Burgundy Wineries Beaune (150 kms, 2 h 00)
After breakfast, we visit Nevers where Bernadette Soubirous arrived from Lourdes after the apparitions. We visit the Saint Gildard Monastery – today Espace Bernadette Soubirous - where Bernadette Soubirous lived, meditated and prayed from 1866 to 1879. Today we can see her relics in the chapel. Then we drive in the direction of Beaune and visit one of the many wine cellars for a tasting of the famous wines of the region. In the afternoon we arrive in Beaune, considered the wine capital of Burgundy. We visit the old town and its narrow streets surrounded by ramparts and then visit of the Hotel Dieu which functioned as a hospital until 1971 and is still houses famous wine auctions that take place every year in November. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Beaune.
Day 5: Beaune, Vezelay, Fontenay, Paris (410 kms, 5 h 00)
Following breakfast, morning visit of Vezelay: here we enter into the world of symbolism of light, architecture and sculpture through models and images before an escorted visit of the basilica. Emphasis will be placed on the presentation of the Great Tympanum, a major work of Romanesque art. Finally we walk the foot of the hill surrounding Vezelay, start of one of the roads to Santiago, past the Cross where St. Bernard preached the 2nd crusade, via the Franciscain Cordelle chapel, up to the ramparts before reaching the esplanade behind the basilica on the terrace which offers wonderful views across the valley. Then we drive to Fontenay, one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in Europe. Founded in 1118 by St. Bernard in a swampy valley, the abbey remains in pristine condition despite having been constructed more than eight centuries ago. Most rooms are perfectly preserved: church, dormitory, cloister, chapter house, heating, monks’ room and forge. We continue to Paris with the motorway, and reach the French capital in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paris.
Day 6: Paris
After breakfast we have a guided sightseeing tour of Paris visiting: the Opera house, the Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. Also see the Trocadéro, the Invalides and the Louvre Museum. After lunch visit Montmartre, the Place du Tertre, with its many painters and caricaturists and then, the white domed basilica of Sacré-Coeur. Dinner and overnight in Paris.
Day 7 and 8: Paris or surrounding (optional)
We have different options in and nearby Paris: stay in Paris and discover on your own the French capital and their deluxe boutiques along the Champs Elysées, have a day with your children in Eurodisney closed to the French capital, day excursion to Versailles and its castle, Lisieux, city of Ste Therese, or Chartres with its cathedral, or the castles on the Loire river.
Day 9: Departure
Transfer to the airport for our flight back to the US, the end of a memorable pilgrimage.