12-Days: Shrines of France, plus Provence

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

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

DAY 2: ARRIVE PARIS / NOTRE DAME & SACRE COEUR

Upon arrival in Paris, we meet our Catholic Travel Centre representative who escorts us to our private motor coach. We begin with a visit to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, possibly the most famous cathedral in the world devoted to the Blessed Mother; and then to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur), offering a spectacular vista of the city. The motor coach will return to the hotel and those wishing to stay can explore the nearby artist’s quarters of Montmartre and return to the hotel on their own. This afternoon we check-in to our hotel, followed by dinner. (D)

DAY 3: PARIS: EXCURSION TO LISIEUX & NORMANDY BEACHES

Pope Pius X described St. Therese as ‘the greatest saint of modern times.’ The town of Lisieux now receives more than two million pilgrims annually. En route to Normandy, we make a brief stop in Lisieux to visit the Basilica. We continue north to visit the Normandy Beaches, famous for the D-Day invasion by the Allied forces in World War II. Here we remember those who have given their lives. We celebrate Mass this afternoon at a local church. After Mass, we will return to Paris for the evening, with dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 4: PARIS: EXCURSION TO VERSAILLES & CHARTRES

This morning we begin with a visit to the Palace of Versailles, a unique expression of the vitality of French art during the 17th and 18th century. The palace is full of ornate decorations. After our visit of the Palace, we board our motor coach and make our way to Chartres, former pagan sanctuary that was evangelized in the fourth century and became a pilgrimage site in 876. In this year, Charles the Bald gave the town the tunic that was supposedly 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,

illustrating the Bible and lives of the Saints. After Mass here at the Cathedral, Mr. Malcolm Miller, the renowned English tour guide will give us a tour of this remarkable cathedral. We will have some time for strolling and browsing and then return to Paris. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 5: PARIS: RUE DE BAC, LOUVRE MUSEUM & LEISURE TIME

We begin this morning with a visit to the Shrine of St. Catherine Laboure where the tradition of the Miraculous Medal began. We celebrate Mass at the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal. Just around the corner we view the sites of the repose of St. Louise de Marilac and St. Vincent de Paul. We continue on with a visit to the famous Louvre Museum, a treasure house of masterworks. This afternoon is at leisure for last minute shopping and exploring on our own. Tonight we will enjoy a special dinner at the Eiffel Tower restaurant followed by a cruise on the Seine River. (B, D)

DAY 6: PARIS / LOURDES

Today we board our high speed TGV train to Lourdes. Upon arrival, we will have time to rest and unpack at our hotel. This evening we celebrate Mass at a local church in Lourdes. Dinner will be at our accommodation. (B, D)

DAY 7: LOURDES: VISIT OF THE SHRINE

We begin this morning with a concelebrated Mass at the Grotto. After Mass, we enjoy a walking tour ‘In the Footsteps of Bernadette.’ We visit the Cachot (former jail cell that once served as the Soubirous family’s home); the parish church; Fr. Peyramale’s Presbytery; the Hospice and the Boly Mill. This afternoon at 4:30PM we are welcome to participate in the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessing of the Sick. After dinner at the hotel, we return to the Sanctuary for the Rosary and Torchlight Procession, beginning about 8:30PM (subject to local schedule). After the procession, we return to our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 8: LOURDES / ARLES

We celebrate Mass at the Basilica in Lourdes this morning before we depart to Arles. En-route we stop at the walled medieval city of Carcassonne where we have some time on our own for lunch. We arrive in Arles, which will serve as our base for exploring southern France for the next couple of days. Dinner is at a local restaurant close to our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 9: ARLES: EXCURSION TO AVIGNON & NIMES

We enjoy a general orientation tour of Avignon this morning, highlighted by a visit to the Palace of the Popes. We make a stop to celebrate Mass in Avignon before we take an excursion to Nimes this afternoon, ‘one of the finest places in the world for wandering around Roman relics. It possesses one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world, and a near-perfect Roman temple.’

‘Outside the city 14 miles to the northeast, the well-preserved, much-photographed Pont du Gard spans the Gard Rier and was built without mortar; its huge stones have evolved into one of the region’s most vivid reminders of the ancient glory and technical competence of the ancient Romans.’ We return to Arles for dinner at a restaurant close to our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 10: ARLES/ AIX-EN-PROVENCE/ NICE

Mass is celebrated this morning before we travel from Arles to Nice, stopping in Aix-en-Prov ence, once a seat of the aristocracy. The main street here – Cours de Mirabeau – is one of Europe’s loveliest, with trees
providing a canopy over the boulevard and shielding the denizens from the strong Provencal sun. We continue to Nice where we have the rest of the afternoon at leisure for time to rest. Dinner will be at a local restaurant close to our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 11: NICE: CITY TOUR OF NICE & VISIT MONACO

Today we will enjoy a city tour of Nice. This will include visiting the Promenade des Anglais, a four-mile stretch of boulevard that offers various cafes, restaurants, and shops to enjoy. Besides the many small museums and galleries, Nice is a place to relax and take in all the Provencal sunshine. The region sees no less than 300 days of sunshine a year. We will have Mass at a local church. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. This evening we have a special treat planned for us. We will celebrate our last night together in Monaco with a farewell dinner at one of the local restaurants. (B, D)

DAY 12: RETURN USA

We transfer to the Nice 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.