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Best of Eastern France tour

In the reviews for Eastern France there were comments that the hotels and food were not very good. We are considering this trip and would like comments on the hotels, food and anything else from people who have taken this tour recently.

Posted by
183 posts

My wife and I took this tour last May. We were not disappointed at any place where we stayed, where we ate, or what we did as part of the tour. We had a great guide and bus driver and only 12 tour members.

Posted by
11450 posts

Don.. I just went and read the reviews for that tour.. of all of them.. only one complained about the food or hotels.. so I am a little confused...are you really worried when all the other reviews were so positive.

There is no pleasing everyone every time.. one complaint.. I would not worry about.. especially since there are a dozen glowing ones.

Posted by
1015 posts

Hi. I took this tour 5 years ago. At the time, we ended Ville-France-sur-Mer, so I have no perspective on Marseille. This was one of my favorite tours. I travelled solo. Granted, times and hotels change and even the same tours back to back may stay at different hotels.

My experience:

Reims: I arrived really late after my plans were disrupted by the Icelandic volcanic ash. The hotel room was old and quaint; one of those that make you wonder how they could shoe-horn bathrooms in all the rooms. I missed the dinner.

Colmar: I would have to check my notes, but am pretty sure we stayed at Maison Martin Jund. My room was decorated in rustic wooden decor and was not particularly handsome, but there was nothing wrong with it. I was there in spring and it rained. One night, it rained so as to discourage traipsing around town for a restaurant. The hotel opened their restaurant (usually closed that night) especially to accommodate those of us who expressed disappointment in not being able to dine there. The meal was fantastic, and ever since, I search for the asparagus recipe they served. I think I will have to return as I have not been able to locate it online.

Beaune: Not my favorite hotel. The room was a bit worn and I was on the ground floor, subject to passersby for the local market. Again, there was nothing I could not manage. I had my introduction to escargot in Beaune; very yummy.

Chamomix: I had a splendid top-floor room with great views of mountains. I felt so snug that I could imagine living there. Our group meal was very enjoyable with Raclette and other local fare. My first introduction to food from the Savoy and something I look up each winter for a tasty hearty meal.

Vaison-la-Romaine: A bit of a hike on arrival, but the climb seemed to diminish with familiarity. We stayed in the old part of town in a truly magnificent hotel. I had such a view. On opening my window for the first time, I had an "Enchanted April" moment. Also really memorable meal in hotel courtyard with candles and hanging lamps. Hotel had a pool. Such fun.

My experience is that there are some truly memorable fantastic rooms on each trip and some just ok, nothing wrong with them, just maybe not enchanting. I have mixed views of the group meals since I frequently cannot eat all that is delivered. I enjoy the introduction to local are, but maybe not the quantity which I think is more than would be served if we were not part of a group. As I recall, we had some tasty picnics on this tour.

I hope to return to the Alsace sometime soon. And the memory of Vaison-la-Romaine is calling. Don't let a poor review or two put you off. This is a tour with a wide variety of experiences, more diverse than many.

Posted by
16941 posts

To me, a few bad reviews is encouraging and validates the reviews over all. I know some people who will only be satisfied with a hamburger, or consider anything other than a burnt steak as "raw". These people also write reviews.

Posted by
1857 posts

We took this tour in June. The hotels were just fine and the food was also. We had to carry our luggage up stairs at a couple of hotels so if that is an issue for you then pack light (which is always a good idea). Our guide (Daniela) and bus driver (Andrej) were awesome. We loved the Alsace so much that we are going back on our own in December for the Christmas markets in Strasbourg and Colmar. We had wonderful experiences on this tour that we would not have had on our own such as the lunch at the Mourchon winery. We loved Chamonix and had perfect weather when we were there. We had plenty of time on our own to explore. I hope this helps. PM me if you have any other questions such as the names of the hotels.

Posted by
1783 posts

Hi Don, we took this tour in May 2015 and had a great time. All of the hotels were fine - centrally located, and clean. You will encounter some steps, so be prepared and pack light.

I wasn't thrilled with two of the group dinners - both in Colmar. To balance that out, the rest of the dinners ranged from good to excellent (fondue & raclette in Chamonix!).

In addition, there were several lunches included that we weren't expecting. We had a wine tasting with the Count at the Chateau de Rully, followed by a fantastic, gourmet picnic on the grounds. Another tasting at the Mourchon Winery was followed by an excellent lunch on the estate. We also had a lot of fun at a happy hour in Chamonix where everyone brought something - wine, cheese, bread, olives, chocolate - wonderful!

Send me a private message if you want more info. I hope you enjoy the tour as much as we did!

Posted by
1007 posts

Hi Don.

I took this tour in 2009 when it was brand new and although there were some kinks to work out, it was my favorite tour. Then I met my husband and he liked this itinerary so much that we took this tour again just this June. I can tell you from direct comparison that the quality of food took a huge nose dive, as did some of the hotels. I was particularly irritated with this fact, given that the dollar was so strong against the Euro.

Our hotel in Vaison was very cute and charming, but when it's 100 degrees outside, you have no a/c and are on the attic floor, one tends to get a little cranky. Especially for three nights. There was no sleep to be had for my husband or I.

As for the food, again, I had direct comparison from the prior tour and the food was not up to par. Our guide said that many of the better restaurants just don't want to serve tour groups anymore. So RS tours are basically relegated to whomever will take them. we are foodies as were a few other people on our tour and in a foodie country like France.....we ate not so well. Also, my husband doesn't eat fish and we noted this on the pre-tour form. There were TWO of the group dinners that had fish with no alternative. Unacceptable.

I think it's worth noting that many people don't post a review to the tours.....they just simply won't take them again. I know that was the case with another couple on our tour. They were so disappointed and this was their first RS tour.

Posted by
1783 posts

Regarding April’s comments,

“Our hotel in Vaison was very cute and charming, but when it's 100 degrees outside, you have no a/c and are on the attic floor, one tends to get a little cranky. Especially for three nights. There was no sleep to be had for my husband or I.”

We took the May 24, 2015 tour. It was warm in Vaison (90’s) and on the first night we thought we didn't have air conditioning. My friend mentioned it to another tour member the next day. He explained the (a bit quirky) way it worked, and we were good to go.

“Also, my husband doesn't eat fish and we noted this on the pre-tour form. There were TWO of the group dinners that had fish with no alternative. Unacceptable.”

Did you talk to your tour guide about this? I'm allergic to strawberries, noted it on the pre-tour form, and mentioned it to the guide on the first night of the tour. He went out of his way to talk to the servers to be sure the desserts didn't include any strawberries. At one place (on my birthday) he even arranged for a special dessert for me.

I’m not discounting your comments, just wondering if there might have been some mis-communication.

Posted by
1007 posts

To Donna,

We stayed in Befroi in Vaison la Romaine. My understanding is that there is no ac in the entire hotel, but especially in the annex and yes, we asked. There was a single fan and when I asked for a second I felt like we were asking for the unthinkable.

As for the fish issue, yes we did discuss it with the guide. She said that we need to say on the pre tour forms that we are ALLERGIC to fish to have the RS team accommodate us. Not liking it is inadequate.

Again, it was the second time I took the tour. Just wasn't impressed so much so that it was likely our last Rick Steves tour.

Posted by
1783 posts

Hi April, sorry you had a bad experience. We stayed at a different hotel (Hotel Burrhus) in Vaison. I liked it there and the air worked fine once we figured it out. Guess you had a different guide too. We had Patrick and he was very good.

Posted by
3660 posts

We took it in the Fall of 2015 and don't have any real complaints about the food or hotels. In fact, the food was always great and the hotels were between "really good" and "great". Unless you are one who demands absolute top drawer accommodations and are picky, picky about meals, then you have nothing to worry about. Some folks just b&*^h to hear themselves rant and get upset because the sun doesn't come up in the east the way they think it should. GO and ENJOY!! It is a great trip.

Posted by
21 posts

"We took it in the Fall of 2015"
I have to admit I'm one of the people who b&)ch sometimes, When I see some peoples tours include extra's that my tour didn't, like time travel, I get jealous. I know Rick says when you are on one his tours you need to be able to travel out of your comfort zone, but wow!!

Posted by
11450 posts

Sorry .. have to agree that "not liking " something would be impossible for ANY tour company to accomadate.. you do have the option to opt out of a dinner.. but I will admit I am surprised they had no option to offer you.. we had a mother and daughter on our tour who were Celiac.. they were always accomadated.. in one place we stayed the hotel even had gluten free pasta made special just for them.
We also had a little girl with deathly allergies to peanuts and tree nuts.. she was always accomadated and they also served her an alternate dessert one night when we all had some sort of cake that I guess had nuts in it.
I think the key was.. besides the fact these were health issues.. is that besides marking it on tour papers then also talked to guide at beginning of tour.

I really do think not liking something is sort of a tough on you situation.. because with 25 people on tour there are folks who do not like a lot of things.. it would be impossible to accommodate everyones likes and dislikes.

The tour information does make it clear there may not be ac in all hotels, or elevators. I think people need to read the tour information carefully before deciding a RS is for them, they are not for everyone..

RS tours are not for people who consider themselves serious foodies . They can of course indulge in great restaurants on their free nights... but the group meals , while very good most times.. would never be considered gourmet by a true foodie. I think most people who take RS tours do understand this though.. its a mainstream tour.. done VERY well.. on a smaller scale then the large bus tours with 40-50 people, but its not meant for those who are expecting fine gourmet dining and deluxe hotels. The hotels are clean and comfy.. in good locations, the food is usually local favorites.. which can be simple , but usually well done.

I should also bet that more people take multiple tours with RS then decide they disliked their tour and never take one with them again.

Posted by
1007 posts

To Pat....are you able to accomadate (or accommodate) the OP's original question as to whether or not you have actually taken this tour? That may be helpful commentary to assist him in deciding whether or not he actually wants to take the tour.

Posted by
11450 posts

That was your review wasn't it April.. lol

One bad review should always be taken with a grain of salt.. and one should consider THEIR personal requirements before taking any tour.. RS or everyones standards differ.. when considering the quality of any tour ( hotel reviews too) one really needs to consider what really matters to them.

Don.. if food really matters.. if getting special requests for menus matter( for other then allergies etc), then do not take a RS tour. The food is generally considered good, to very good by the majority of people who have taken the tours.. with some exceptions of course.. its not gourmet dining.

Also RS tours try to make everyone happy.. but they can't cater to special requests..

Posted by
3493 posts

I've not been on that specific tour, but of the 10 I have been on the food and hotels varied a lot. The trend I have seen is that it has been an upward direction in quality for hotels. Food is hit or miss on quality and quantity for the group meals. Since I have not repeated any tour (yet) I can't say if things have changed for a specific tour over the years.

My issues with food may have simply been that I am used to eating the way I do and did not adjust to the local norms. Nothing we were served as part of a group meal has ever been inedible. :-)

Also, nowhere we have ever eaten has the restaurant not been able to accommodate dietary restrictions. There have always been options offered if requested -- vegetarian, vegan, no beef, no seafood, etc. Sometimes the guide may not remember and the restaurant has a fixed menu for the group but all it takes is a mention to the waiter that I can't eat a specific item and something else has always been provided without any complaint. The ice cream dessert I got in Brussels, for example, made everyone say wow when compared to their strawberry parfait (deathly allergic to strawberries).