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Paris to Marrakech


Head south from Paris to Marrakech on this 22-day exploration, full of European highlights with a taste of Northern Africa. Starting in Paris, you’ll take your fill of pastries and romance and then hop on a train to Nimes, watching the southern landscape roll past as you go. Explore the ancient Roman ruins from ages past, then jump back on board and head into Spain, stopping in Barcelona for tapas, sangria and a little dose of Gaudi architecture. Continue to Madrid before crossing the border into Portugal. Soak up the sun in the Algarve, then cross the Gibraltar Strait into Morocco, where you can get lost in the labyrinth of the ancient city of Fes, wander the medinas of Marrakech and tuck into a tajine or two. If you’re looking for an adventure, this is it!

22 days, from

$6,405

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: BMSMC
Style: Original
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  France Morocco Portugal Spain
Accommodation: Hotel (21 nights)
Transportation: Train , Ferry , Metro , Private vehicle , Public bus , Taxi
Included Meals:

  • 16 breakfasts
  • 1 lunches
  • 1 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Explore the city of love as you wander the streets of Paris. Discover the secrets of Montmartre – the famed 18th arrondissement loved by artists and bohemians throughout the years.

  • Look in wonder at the architecture of Barcelona, from the incredible feats of Gaudi at the La Sagrada Familia cathedral and Casa Batllo to the Gothic Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar and the ultramodern Torre Glories

  • Soak up the sun on the coast of Portugal in the Algarve, exploring caves and caverns and sip on samples of port in the wine bars of Lisbon.

  • Lose yourself in the ancient city of Fes, wandering through the winding lanes and alleys of the medieval city and exploring every inch of the incredible medinas.

  • Delight at the sights and sounds of Marrakech’s main square, Djemaa El Fna, where you’ll find street performers, henna artists, street food and a buzzing hive of activity.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Paris

Bonjour! Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights. Your trip kicks off with a welcome meeting at your hotel at 6 pm. After you meet your fellow travellers and trip leader, you might choose to head out for an optional welcome dinner at one of the gorgeous local restaurants or explore the surrounding neighbourhoods and discover why this city is known for its romantic appeal.

Day 2: Paris

This morning after breakfast, you’ll hop on local transport to Montmartre – one of the most romantic enclaves within Paris, over 2000 years old. Discover the squares, churches and why this district has been popular with artists for generations on an included Urban Adventure tour. Starting with a deliciously buttery croissant, your local guide will take you past the homes of Van Gogh and Picasso to a secret spot with awesome panoramic views. Discover the Sacre-Coeur Basilica from a unique perspective and the last remaining vineyard in Paris (maybe grab a glass of wine here if the mood calls). End your walk by joining the locals with an included lunch at a typical French brasserie that serves up all the delicious traditional specialities of the regions of France - sit back and enjoy the Parisian ambiance as well as the excellent food. This afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore Paris as you wish. Maybe head to the iconic Louvre or climb the Eiffel Tower to tick some major sites off the bucket list.

Day 3: Nimes

This morning, you’ll have some breakfast then leave Paris behind. Take a fast train to Nimes – a city in the south of France known for its well-preserved Roman monuments, left over from the Roman Empire. When you arrive, enjoy free time to explore and find some lunch and then head out on a leader-led walking tour. Marvel at the exterior of the Arena of Nimes – a magnificent Roman amphitheatre from 70 AD. Imagine the ancient spectacles that took place here and enjoy the panoramic views from the top, before heading to the Maison Carree – a remarkably well-preserved Roman temple. Admire the intricate facade and maybe visit the museum inside to learn more about its history. Continue to Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle – a lively square surrounded by beautiful buildings. This is a great spot to soak in the local atmosphere and people-watch. Walk past Nimes Cathedral, Jardins de la Fontaine and Place d'Assas – a charming square full of cafes and shops. Maybe find the perfect spot to sit and people-watch here, as you wait for sunset.

Day 4: Nimes

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and then head out on a day trip by public bus to Pont du Gard. This magnificent aqueduct bridge spans the Gardon River and is a marvel of Roman engineering. You can walk across the bridge and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Explore the site’s museum for an insight into the history of the aqueduct, explore the exhibits and learn about its significance during the Roman era. The Pont du Gard is located on the Gardon River, and there are designated areas where you can swim to cool off. If the weather calls for it, consider renting a kayak and seeing the bridge from a different perspective. Maybe bring along a picnic or some snacks to enjoy by the riverside. This afternoon, you’ll take the bus back to Nimes, where you can spend the rest of the day however you wish.

Day 5: Barcelona

You’ll have some free time in Nimes to explore, relax or head to a local café and enjoy the local delicacies. After, take a local train to Barcelona – the capital and largest city of Catalonia in Spain. When you arrive, you’ll head to a group dinner at a local tapas restaurant. Enjoy an array of delectable small plates that represent the very heart of Spanish cuisine. From perfectly grilled chorizo to refreshing gazpacho, these dishes celebrate the diversity and the richness of local ingredients. Sharing dishes with your group and with the locals fosters a sense of community that lies at the centre of tapas culture. Raise your glass to the beauty of Spanish food and friendship as you get to know the locals and feast on endless delights.

Day 6: Barcelona

On a leader-led walking tour of Barcelona, see some of the city's main sights, including a visit to Antonio Gaudi's incredible La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. The architect worked on this hugely ambitious project for decades until his death, and it remains in constant construction. Along with the Camp Nou football stadium, it’s possibly the city's most iconic landmark. Gaudi was the master of the unique Catalan Modernista architecture that Barcelona is known for, and his work is dotted all over the city. Maybe check out the Neo-Gothic mansion of Guell Palace, or the wave-inspired structure of Casa Batlo this afternoon. For more insight into the artist himself, head to the Gaudi House Museum inside Parc Guell, home to a long, mosaic-covered bench overlooking the city. Tonight, maybe finish the day with a sip of red wine from a porro – a traditional glass pitcher.

Day 7: Madrid

Hop on another train towards Madrid and when you arrive, head on an orientation walk that will introduce you to the city's most iconic landmarks. Discover the bustling Puerta del Sol – the symbolic centre of Madrid. Admire the iconic Tio Pepe sign, the statue of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree (the city's emblem) and the impressive Plaza Mayor – a historic square surrounded by stunning architecture. Take note of Mercado de San Miguel – a gourmet food market where you can sample tapas, fresh seafood and local delicacies – you might want to return here later! Try some delicious churros along the way and then continue to the Royal Palace – an architectural marvel and testament to Madrid's royal history – and the Almudena Cathedral. Maybe step inside for a moment of tranquillity and end in the bustling Gran Via. Tonight, maybe ask your leader for the best dinner spots and join your group for a celebratory farewell dinner.

Day 8: Madrid

Today is a free day in Madrid. See if you can bag a deal at the local flea market El Rastro, or make like Ernest Hemingway and tuck into a plate of suckling pig at Restaurante Sobrino de Botin (a favourite of the iconic novelist). You’ll have another welcome meeting tonight at 6 or 7 pm (depending on common area availability) to greet your new travel buddies before heading out for an optional group dinner. Perhaps get into the mind of a Madrileno with some tapas and Rioja.

Day 9: Salamanca

Say farewell to Madrid this morning and head northwest by public transport to the historic university town of Salamanca. Situated among beautiful pastures and rolling green hills on Spain's northern plateau, this rose-hued medieval town is great to explore on foot. Your leader will take you on an orientation walk when you arrive, where you can explore the central Plaza Mayor and see the Renaissance and Baroque architecture that the city is known for. Plaza Mayor is a true centre of local life – not only is it architecturally unique, but it also thrives with activity as locals meet for coffee, tapas or cocktails on the square. The rest of your afternoon is free. You can admire the intricate detail of the Casa de Las Conchas (or House of the Shells), see the contrasting Old and New Cathedrals, or climb to the top to get a view across the terracotta-coloured rooftops. Thanks to the large student population, the town has a vibrant nightlife, so maybe soak up the vibe tonight with a few drinks.

Day 10: Coimbra

Head further west by private bus today and cross the border into Portugal to the laidback city of Coimbra. Coimbra will be your base for the next two nights. Sitting dignified on the banks of the River Mondego, Coimbra was once the capital of the county, and its royal heritage can be felt in its ancient streets and buildings. On arrival, your leader will escort you on a walk to help you orientate yourself in the maze of alleyways of this riverfront city. Half the fun of Coimbra is wandering and exploring, so use your free time getting to know the city. Coimbra features typical white stone buildings with several excellent examples of colourful azulejos tiling. Some of the historical structures were originally built in the 12th century (like the Cathedral Se Velha), and you can find some of Portugal's best examples of Romanesque churches and elegant museums here. The University of Coimbra – the oldest in Portugal – and the famous baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina, with its 18th-century bell tower. These highlights of the city are a must-see for any wanderer!

Day 11: Coimbra

Enjoy a free day in Coimbra today, before attending a traditional Fado performance later tonight. Fado songs must follow a particular structure and though this traditional music can be about anything, it popularly features mournful tunes with lyrics about the sea or the life of the poor. In Coimbra, male university students would often serenade their sweethearts with this music, with songs tending to be literary translations or following themes students can relate to. In your free time, maybe head out into the countryside in search of the Roman ruins – the ruins of Conimbriga are rich in well-preserved mosaics and offer a great insight into ancient Roman life. There are several options to return, including a 3 km walk through the countryside to the unspoiled rural town of Condeixa. If you have time, you can take a short boat tour of Coimbra, to see the city from a different angle.

Day 12: Lisbon

Today, jump on a bus through the countryside of central Portugal to Lisbon. As one of Europe's most pleasant and affordable capital cities, Lisbon combines the best elements of Portuguese life, offering fantastic architecture, a multicultural population, delicious seafood and non-stop nightlife. Head out on an orientation walk around Lisbon, located on the banks of the Tagus (Tejo) River. Much of Lisbon’s character and charm lies in its renovated buildings, grand boulevards and impressive castles and churches. Visit the medieval citadel in the city centre (the Citadel of Sao Jorge Castle), which dates back to Moorish times and sits on the highest point of the Old Town. Look down on a city swarming with endless angular white houses with distinct red terracotta rooftops. Your afternoon is free to explore as you wish – maybe head to the grand Naval Museum for an insight into the history of Portuguese navigation. If you want to sample some Portugese nightlife, Barrio Alto is the place to head this evening.

Day 13: Lisbon

Today is free for you to explore more of Lisbon. Or, you could take a 45-minute train ride out to the mountainous region of Sintra – an absolute jewel of Portugal where you can see the beautiful Pena Palace. This area offers great walking options, stunning cliff-top palaces and unique Moorish architecture. The 8th-century Castle of the Moors looks down on the Old Town, and the views from the battlements across the Serra de Sintra mountain range are stunning.

Day 14: The Algarve / Olhao

Take a bus journey to the southern coastline of Portugal, the Algarve. Known for fertile plains rich with orange and olive groves, fig trees, almonds and maize fields, this region is perfect to explore. Your base is Olhao, the Algarve’s biggest fishing port. With an active waterfront, Moorish buildings and bustling old quarters, the city has a Northern African feel. Upon arrival check in to your home for the next two nights and use the rest of the day to discover Olhao. You may wish to wander the city centre or perhaps try Olhao’s famous fish restaurants along the waterfront on Avenida 5 de Outubro, the eastern Algarve’s food mile, filled with delicious and authentic local flavours.

Day 15: The Algarve / Olhao

Olhao is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a series of barrier islands, creating a beautiful landscape of canals, salt pans, lagoons and sandbanks. Today board a local passenger boat and head out to one of these islands, Ilha de Culatra, where you can wander along a series of boardwalks, leading away from the fishermen’s settlements. You'll cross over dunes and lagoons to beaches that are so long that they disappear into the haze of the horizon. Return to Olhao in the afternoon (or earlier if you wish), and enjoy the rest of your day relaxing in Olhao. Perhaps use the area's great walking paths to access some of the Algarve's lesser-known spots, or maybe head towards the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve for some bird watching. Evenings are best spent watching breathtaking sunsets, and the best place to do so is Olhao’s Old Town.

Day 16: Seville

Leave Portugal behind and return to Spain, travelling by private vehicle to the charming city of Seville. If the legends are to be believed, Seville was founded by Hercules and its origins are linked with the Tartessian civilisation. To the Romans it was Hispalis, and to the Moors it was Isbiliya. After the Christian reconquest, it became thought of as the portal to the 'New World', and is today is the largest city in southern Spain. Seville is famous for its vitality and flamboyance as the city of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro. Seville is also well-known for its oranges, tapas and flamenco, all three of which are ingrained in the fabric of the city and its proud people. Enjoy a short orientation walk around the main sights, then enjoy some free time in the late afternoon and evening to explore as you wish.

Day 17: Chefchaouen

This morning you'll rise early to start your long journey to Chefchaouen. You'll head toward Tarifa and then leave Europe behind as you make your way to Africa. After leaving the ferry, you'll be picked up by our Moroccan crew, and journey to a mountain town peppered with blue-washed buildings and ambient restaurants – Chefchaouen, which is in the centre of an agricultural region. There may not be much time to explore this rural retreat by the time you arrive today, but you might just have time to look over the architecture of the 15th-century Grand Mosque and the medina, the walled fortress of the Kasbah. Perhaps tuck into some popular local goats’ cheese or a tajine tonight, before settling in to your hotel.

Day 18: Chefchaouen

Meet your local guide early in the day to explore the maze of streets in Chefchaouen. The ‘blue city’ is arguably one of the prettiest places in Morocco. Set against a wide valley between two peaks in the stunning Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen may take you by surprise. Its medina has been lovingly cared for with striking blue and whitewashed houses, red-tiled roofs and artistic doorways. The medina is filled with handicrafts, while the main square has shops selling woven goods and small sweets. Learn about general life in a small Moroccan community, visit a communal bakery and walk up to a former mosque for a great view over the town. As a popular shopping destination for handicrafts, carpets, blankets or woollen garments, you may also see the artisans at work.

Day 19: Fes

Say farewell to Chefchaouen today and jump in a private minivan to the spiritual and cultural heart of Morocco – the city of Fes. Step back in time to the medieval medina thick with exotic smells, tastes and sounds. Vibrant, noisy, fascinating and overwhelming, Fes is a feast for the senses and is home to the mother of all medinas. Fuel your day with a glass of mint tea and some sweet Moroccan dates, then maybe get your bearings with a self-guided walk. The adventurous may want to try some of Morocco’s specialities, like a camel burger or harira (chickpea soup) for lunch. Maybe munch on some chicken-stuffed pastillas with couscous for dinner and watch the sunset over the medina while a dozen melodic prayer calls vie for attention.

Day 20: Fes

Take a guided walking tour of the old city, known locally as Fes el Bali. The medina is alive with craftsmen, markets, tanneries and mosques. Pass donkeys piled high with goods (this is one of the largest car-free urban zones in the world) and explore the specialty sections that divide the souks. Medieval Fes was one of the world's great centres of education and culture – both Islamic and Jewish. Its religious institutions and its libraries are legendary, and its mosques are of great renown. Look out for the Medersa Bou Inania – one of the city's most beautiful buildings, which has recently been restored and is now open to tourists. Pass the Belghazi Museum, Medresse el Attarine and the splendid Funduk Nejjarine, a beautifully restored 18th-century inn. You'll also see the famous tannery, known for the iconic view overlooking its dye pits, and a ceramics factory where you can see potters working in the traditional way. After the tour, the afternoon is free for you to enjoy as you please.

Day 21: Marrakech

Travel by train this morning to Marrakech. When you arrive, head out with the group for a quick visit to the main square before dinner – Djemaa El Fna. The square is filled with a hive of activity – henna-painters, performers and storytellers share the square with a street food bazaar that’s packed with stalls loaded with Moroccan delicacies. From a distance, you'll see the Koutoubia Mosque and its minaret, famous throughout the world as one of the greatest minarets and the 'sister' to the Giralda in Seville. If you have time the following day, explore the ruins of Palais Badi, once one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, or comb the spectacular bazaar, where every step to a new souq brings a new smell, a new sight or a new gift to buy. Perhaps brave dinner in the chaotic square of Djemaa el Fna, when night falls.

Day 22: Marrakech

Your adventure ends this morning. There are no activities planned for the final day and you can depart at any time after check out. As there's not much time spent in Marrakech, we recommend booking an extra few nights of accommodation, so you can fully explore this amazing city. Just speak to your booking agent ahead of time.