11 Days – A Marian Journey through France

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

We depart the USA en route to Paris, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE PARIS

We arrive in Paris and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre tour escort, who will accompany us throughout our trip. Our motor coach will take us on a panoramic tour of the city until our rooms are ready at the hotel. Dinner and the evening are at our hotel. (D)

DAY 3: PARIS: SIGHTSEEING

This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Paris, including a visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame and the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. The balance of the day is at our leisure to explore the city. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 4: PARIS / VEZELAY / TAIZE / MACON

We depart Paris today and make our first stop in Vezelay, where we see The Benedictine abbey church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine housing what is claimed to be the tomb of St. Mary Magdalene. This is one of the finest Romanesque basilicas in all of France. We then continue to the ecumenical monastery of Taize, founded by Brother Roger. Our evening is in the town of Macon, and dinner awaits us at the hotel. (B, D)

DAY 5: MACON / ST. MAXIMIN LA STE. BAUME VICINITY / AIX EN PROVENCE

We depart Macon today and make our way to visit St. Maximin la Ste. Baume. After the resurrection of Jesus, the story is told that Mary Madgelene through a miraculous voyage made her way to Provence, where she lived in a cave for some thirty years, preaching to the local population. A mile-long hike will

take us to this cave with its beautiful panoramic views. Later this afternoon, we make our way to our hotel near Aix-en-Provence for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 6: AIX-EN-PROVENCE: EXCURSION TO NANS LE PIN / ARLS DE PLAN / MARIE ST DE LA MER

We make our way to the resort village of Nans le Pin, then to Arls de Plan and the beach area named Les Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer, where the tradition tells of the miraculous voyagers from Palestine who landed on a beach in southern France (Mary Jacob, Mary Salome and a black servant named Sara; plus Martha (Lazarus’ sister) and Mary Madgalene). We return to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 7: ST. MAXIMIN LA STE. BAUME VICINITY / CARCASSONNE / ALBI

We depart today en route to Carcassonne, a lovely walled medieval town. Parts of this enchanting medieval fortress are over 1400 years old, though much of it was restored a century ago. Carcassonne is a beautiful example of military architecture and offers attractive views of the surrounding plains and nearby mountains. Behind the double walls and innumerable towers is an entire village with a well-fortified castle and the lovely St-Nazaire Church. La Cité, as the fortress is called locally, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Then to Albi, often called la ville rouge (the red town) because of its brickwork. The Cathedral of St. Cecile, claimed to be the world’s largest brick construction, dominates the town. Built as a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathar heresy, this gigantic brick structure was embellished over the centuries, with its impressive door and bell tower. Also of great interest in this town is the Palais de la Berbie, formerly the Bishops’ Palace of Albi, and now the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. It is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in France, with gorgeous gardens and teraces from which you have a wonderful view of the River Tarn. Dinner awaits us at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 8: ALBI / ROCAMADOUR: VISIT EXCURSION TO DORGOGNE REGION & CAVES

We depart Albi and make our way to Rocamadour. The Madonna revered in the sanctuary here is one of the most beloved images of the Black Virgin. We are invited to climb the 216 stone steps to her shrine. King Louis, St. Dominic, and other notables have made the trek before us.

This afternoon we visit the exhibits related to the early cave drawings in the Dordogne Region. The original caves of Lascaux I have been closed to the general public since 1964, but we hope to visit the caves at Les Eyzies, the only authentic cave still open to visitors, though access is very limited. We can visit the Cave of the Big Rock to see the stalagmites and stalactites. (B, D)

DAY 9: ROCAMADOUR / ORLEANS

We depart Rocamadour today and make our way for a full day’s drive to Orleans, a city made famous by St. Joan of Arc, who stormed the city in 1429 to overthrow English forces and restore Charles VII to the French throne. Reminders of Joan are everywhere not least in the Cathedrale Ste-Croix where her pedestal is protected by two golden leopards. Dinner awaits us at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 10: ORLEANS / CHARTRES / PARIS

We depart Orleans and make our way to Chartres. Chartres served as a former pagan sanctuary that was evangelized in the fourth century and became a pilgrimage site in 876 when Charles the Bald gave the town the tunic that tradition says was worn by the Virgin Mary while giving birth to Jesus. The 13th century cathedral dominates this idyllic town, surrounded by wheat fields. The church building itself is literally a Bible in stone, with over 4,000 sculpted figures and 5,000 figures in the stained glass windows. We will have some time to walk the famous Labyrinth of Chartres. After our tour of the Basilica, we enjoy time at our leisure, then dinner awaits us at our hotel near the Paris airport. (B, D)

DAY 11: RETURN USA

We transfer to the Paris airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)

NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.