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Eastern France 2019

Three years ago I took my first RS tour to Sicily. It was fantastic! Our tour guide was terrific as were the local guides. I travelled solo and was amazed at how friendly and inclusive all of my tour mates were. The hotels were fine, (some were much more than fine) and the included meals were great.
I am thinking of joining the Eastern France tour in August 2019 and have read the reviews. I am still nervous about pulling the trigger. Has someone been on this tour recently? Can you describe some of the hotels (a/c, stairs) and meals and the quality of the itinerary? I have been to France several times but have never been to this region. Thanks so much.

Posted by
83 posts

I did not take a RS tour to eastern France, but have travelled there independently and on a river cruise, enjoying it very much. If you like charming old towns, vineyards, good wines and food, then the RS tour should just add to the experience. Someone else will have to fill you in on the tour hotel situation. The food in this region is a combination of French and German. Everything I ate was very good. I would think this particular RS itinerary would be a little slower paced and more relaxing than some of the other tours.

Posted by
29 posts

My first RS tour was the best of eastern France in late September of 2014. It's difficult to leave Seattle summers and therefore travel in the fall. It's towards the end of the tour season and fall temps are cooling off from summer heat i.e. I don't recall any rooms on that tour having or needing AC; just an open window sufficed. You might have a flight or two of stairs, but each hotel was better than the one before in my humble opinion. The hotels are centrally located and convenient for walking tours, but might include a little local street noise as you drift off to sleep at night. For me it just added to the whole experience in being in France. Hotel in Vaison-la-Romaine had ancient, wide, well-worn, stone staircase, if only could talk. The hotel in Nice (where our trip ended) had elevators. Breakfast at hotels were delightful with meats & cheeses, cereal, and various pastries; but you could have a boiled egg is you like. Most group dinners were just fine, although there was a disappointing beef bourguignon in Beaune. It tasted like Mom's in Minnesota than Chef Francoise in France. I'm a wine guy and loved sampling the specific wines from where they originate where ever we went; heaven. Don't know how you want to qualify the itinerary, but I found it active and flexible free time enough for me. You get immersed in history and culture more so than going alone. In fact I took this first tour alone and am leaving for Paris in a few weeks to the Loire Valley to south France and then join the best of Italy immediately following. I enjoy people and look forward to meeting my new travel partners in the coming weeks. Be prepared if you go; you will want to move to Colmar if you could:-)

Posted by
221 posts

We were in France during the entire month of September of 2014 and the weather was quite nice. This summer is much hotter in Europe so I'm not sure how the weather would be. We participated in the Loire to the South of France and the Eastern France tours back to back. Once we finished the first in Nice, we spent an extra night and trained over to Monaco for the day. Then we flew back to Paris and trained to Reims to join the second tour. We thoroughly enjoyed both tours. Hotels were very good but older than on some tours but incredibly charming and comfortable. Good bathroom facilities and excellent meals. Go for it!! You will not regret your decision!!

Posted by
2145 posts

We did this tour in late August/early September 2017 and loved it. If you enter "Eastern France" in the search box at the top, there is an excellent review posted 10 months ago by TravelingMom. She may chime in here soon to add her thoughts. In the meantime, I'll try and jog my memory. I may need come back and edit for accuracy.

Our tour started late August in Reims and ended early September in Aix-En-Provence. The RS office has tweaked the final destination several times. And, as you're probably aware, hotels change, too. We arrived a day early in Reims and the hotel was Grand Hotel Continental. It's on a pedestrian-only street (except for the cars driving down a ramp to parking garage) and located centrally within an easy walk from the train station. They had elevators and, if they had A/C, we didn't need it. Reims is a university town and school started the week we were there, so rooms facing the Main Street had more noise. We were on the back by the park and had some noise but not anything that kept us awake. Hotel St. Martin in Colmar had A/C but it was broken. Must be unusual, because they gave those of us in that building 2 bottle of private label wine as an apology. Loved the hotel staff, elevator and location. Beaune was Hotel des Remparts and we were happy with our room up a flight of stairs. I'll have to check if it had -A/C, but we were comfortable and Beaune was hot. It was also centrally located. Chamonix was Hotel Gourmets et Italy. It had an elevator, but no A/C. The fabulous views made up for that. In Vaison-la-Romaine we stayed at Hotel Beffroi. It's across the river and up a steep hill from where the bus parks, but the hotel shuttled our luggage. No A/C or elevator but it did have a pool and the stairs were easy to navigate. In Aix we stayed at the modern Hotel Negre Coste - A/C and elevator with a central location.

We enjoyed the meals, as well as a picnic on the grounds of a chateau after wine tasting. There was one meal in Vaison that I didn't love, but there was so much good food on this tour, I was glad to have one meal that was easy to push a way. I know we had some vegetarians on the tour and the majority of the time they were happy with what they got. In Chamonix, the group dinner entailed cooking our meat on a hot stone in front of us, as well as a fondue. This tour covers such a wide range of cuisines that you end up with quite a variety. In Reims you're eating food that will fit with champagne and in Colmar you're eating a more Alsatian style (although there were several excellent fish restaurants here). Our guide made some excellent suggestions for meals on our own.

We did have some people on this tour who were very fun, but seemed more particular about their hotels and food and didn't share our enthusiasm. It was our 4th RS tour and lived up to its advertising. The itinerary covered churches, champagne tasting, Verdun, art museums (Unterlinden) vineyards, chateaus, Hotel Dieu in Beaune, Mont Blanc and hiking/walking, a boat ride in Annecy, visit to a santon maker,
Orange and did I mention wine tasting? The group really bonded and I think, and hope, the single travelers felt included.

Posted by
470 posts

Posie, this tour is excellent. It was the favorite of our 6 RS tours and I have put a link to the review I wrote. A large part of our love for that tour was because of Chris our tour leader who made every single day a delight. Another large part was because of new friendships with some kindred spirits. Of all our tours, this one provided us the most diversity of geography and time to savor rather than sprint.

If you have read my posts, you know that hotels are important to me and not all RS hotels are "charming, centrally-located and/or family run". I believe the Eastern France tour may not use the Continental in Reims as it was going to be undergoing renovation because as our leader Chris said "It is a bit tired huh?". Ramparts in Beaune is a charming hotel, and I believe it was a fluke that we were assigned the room we had. Our leader said that they are not supposed to assign RS folks to the top floor. Even with that a challenge, the hotel was infinitely better than some of them on our recent England RS tour. The charming hotel in Vaison was for sale while we were there, so that situation may have changed as well. Pity, as it was such a memorable hotel and location.

The deep irony in the fact that this was our favorite tour is that we were previously not impressed with France, especially Paris. ( Yikes. Hope that admission doesn't get me flamed.) We tire of museums quickly, and this tour helped us realize that our current travel preferences are for smaller locales where just sitting around watching and talking to people takes precedence over "seeing stuff". You still see some amazing things on this tour, but the focus is really about embracing the culture, food and ambiance of each region visited.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/rs-eastern-france-tour