This holiday takes advantage of convenient train connections from London to Lyon to visit the Beaujolais valley and then on to the beautiful city of Carcassonne. The Beaujolais region is famed for its wine and the countryside is a patchwork of extensive vineyards and pretty villages. The second part of this itinerary is based in the walled city of Carcassonne; a mediaeval citadel famous for its 53 watchtowers in another area of vineyards and hills.There are a few different options to get to Lyon by train, as you can travel by Eurostar to Lille, Paris or Marne la Vallee before continuing on to Lyon. Travelling through Lille or Marne la Vallee the connection is a simple change of platform within the same station. If you wish to spend time in Lille or Paris this can be arranged. Explore the Beaujolais countryside by hire car for three days, before continuing by train to Carcassonne where you spend three nights before returning to the UK on a daytime train service. It is also possible to take an overnight sleeper train from Carcassonne to Paris then catch a morning Eurostar back to London, or to break the journey with a night in Paris. Alternatively, we can arrange air travel back to the UK from the nearby Toulouse Blagnac airport. Please speak to one of our travel specialists for further information or advice.Click here to download a pdf with full details of some of our rail holidays to France.DAY BY DAY ITINERARYDay oneLeave London St Pancras at approximately 11am on the Eurostar to Lille Europe, where you change to a high speed TGV servce to Lyon. On arrival into Lyon station, at about 7pm, collect your hire and drive to Chateau de Bagnols where you spend three nights. The Chateau de Bagnols is set amongst the rolling hills and vineyards of the Beaujolais valley, approximately 20 minutes away from Lyon.Days two and threeYou have the next two days at your leisure to explore Beaujolais. There are many vineyards to visit and countryside walks. The city of Lyon is well worth visiting too, offering sites of interest such as the Roman amphitheatre in Fourviere as well as examples of mediaeval and Renaissance architecture.Day fourDrop your hire car off in Lyon and depart by train to Carcassonne, leaving at about 11am. The rail journey from Lyon to Carcassonne takes a little over three hours travelling by high speed TGV which whisks you southwards through the Mediterranean cities of Montpellier and Narbonne, then inland to Carcassonne. On arrival in Carcassonne, take a taxi to the Hotel de la Cite where you stay for three nights in the heart of the mediaeval city.Days five and sixThe next two days are at leisure to explore Carcassonne. Hotel de la Cite is in the centre of this hilltop city making it a great base from which to explore its atmospheric cobbled streets on foot. The mediaeval heart of the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, but the Canal du Midi is just as beautiful and a day trip along the river can be enjoyed either walking or by boat.RETURN OPTION 1 – DAY TRAINSDay sevenOn your last day, you depart Carcassonne by train at about 8am. You take a different route back allowing you to admire the contrasting scenery of central France as you head first to Toulouse, before boarding the TGV service to Paris. You change stations here and arrive on the Eurostar back into London at around 9.30pm. RETURN OPTION 2 – SLEEPER SERVICEDay sevenAlternatively you could choose to catch the Intercites sleeper service leaving Carcassonne a little before 11pm. We recommend travelling first class in a four berth couchette for maximum comfort. Day eightThe train arrives into Paris around 7.30 am and you finish your rail holiday by catching a morning Eurostar back to London.PRICESFrom £1,475 per person for first class rail travel.From £1,285 per person for second class rail travel. Prices based on two sharing a double or twin room.What’s included?First or second class travel on all trains (as above) including EurostarAt the hotels: 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard Room at Chateau de Bagnols near Lyon3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard Room at Hotel de la Cite in CarcassonneCategory A car hire for the duration of your stay at Chateau de BagnolsWhat’s not included?Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (though we can arrange this on request at additional cost)Meals other than breakfast at the hotelsAny services not mentioned aboveDatesThis rail holiday can be arranged throughout the year. Timings can vary depending on the month and day of the week.For more information regarding rail services to and within France, view our train guide.
Below is some information regarding each of the hotels featured in this touring itinerary. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations - please contact us for full details.Chateau de Bagnols – 4 star deluxe – Beaujolais Valley near to LyonThe Chateau de Bagnols is one of France’s great treasures, a monumental chateau set amidst the rolling hills and vineyards of the Beaujolias valley. The historical building dates from the 13th century and guests enter by means of a drawbridge. The hotel has just 21 individually decorated rooms and suites, decorated with antique furniture and restored frescoes – a testament to the chateau’s rich past. The hotel’s restaurant, La Salle des Gardes, boasts a Michelin star and is renowned for fine food in the majestic dining room.See more detail on Chateau de Bagnols.Hotel de la Cité – 5 star – CarcassonneThe Hotel de la Cite occupies a privileged position on the site of a former palace inside the medieaval walled city of Carcassonne. The hotel has preserved many of the original features including wood panelling, beamed ceilings and floral tapestries. There are 47 guestrooms and 13 suites with an emphasis on traditional styling matched by contemporary comfort. The Hotel de la Cité features a Michelin starred restaurant, La Barbacane, located in a large neo-Gothic room with magnificent fireplaces and high ceilings. There is also a heated outdoor pool, boutique spa and and wellness centre.See more detail on Hotel de la Cite.
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Paris Airport Main airports are in Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon, with scheduled and low cost airlines flying into the country from all over the UK. Currency Euro (£1 = Euro 1.24) Size Roughly 600 miles wide and 700 miles long Population 66 million Average temperature Varies dramatically, from about 8 degrees in winter in Brittany to 26 degrees in summer in Corsica, with snow on the Alps and Pyrenees year-round
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