16-Days: A Grand Journey to the Shrines of France

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

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

DAY 2: ARRIVAL PARIS

Upon arrival in Paris we are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative and board our motor coach for an orientation tour until we check-in to our hotel. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant close to our hotel. (D)

DAY 3: PARIS: RUE DE BAC & CITY TOUR

This morning we visit the Shrine of St. Catherine Laboure where the tradition of the Miraculous Medal began (and the nearby sites of the repose of St. Louise de Marilac and St. Vincent de Paul). Here, we celebrate Mass. We continue with a sightseeing tour of Paris, including the major monumental sites such as Invalides, Champs Elysees, and Eiffel Tower. Dinner is at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 4: PARIS: VERSAILLES & CHARTRES

Today we visit 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 supposedly was worn by the Virgin Mary while giving birth to Jesus.

The 13th century cathedral dominates this idyllic town, surrounded by wheat fields. Mr. Malcolm Miller, the renowned English tour guide will give us a tour of this remarkable cathedral. 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 at the Cathedral, and some time for strolling and browsing, we return to Paris. Dinner is at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 5: PARIS: NOTRE DAME, SACRE COEUR & LEISURE

This morning we visit two of the great churches of Paris: first, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, possibly the most famous cathedral in the world devoted to the Blessed Mother; and second we celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur), offering a spectacular vista of the city. The afternoon is at leisure. The motor coach will return to the hotel and those wishing to stay to explore the nearby artists’ quarters of Montmartre and return to the hotel on their own, may do so. Dinner is at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 6: PARIS: GIVERNY EXCURSION & LEISURE

Today we make an excursion to Monet’s gardens at Giverny. Here is where the famous painter lived for 43 years. We visit the restored house and its gardens. We can stroll through the garden and view the thousands of flowers. We celebrate Mass today at the Church of Giverny.
Those of us who would prefer to stay in Paris and explore the city on their own are welcome to do so. You might take this opportunity to visit the famous Louvre Museum on your own or the Museum d’Orsay where some of Monet’s masterworks are exhibited. This evening we will enjoy a Seine River cruise and a dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 7: PARIS/ LISIEUX

This morning we travel from Paris to Lisieux. 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. Today wevisit the sites of St. Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus. We begin at Les Buissonnets (the Lisieux family home), then proceed to the Basilica, the Carmelite Convent Chapel (where we celebrate Mass), the reliquary of St. Therese, and the statue of the Virgin Mary that smiled at St. Therese. Tonight, we have dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 8: LISIEUX: MT. ST. MICHEL EXCURSION

This morning we make our way to Mt. St. Michel a major place of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages. The place is so-named after the eighth century Bishop of Avranches who saw St. Michael the Archangel three times in his dreams on this site. The Benedictines constructed a magnificent abbey here in 966. A local Benedictine community has overseen the religious activities here since 1969. We celebrate Mass at the nearby St. Pierre’s Church. Dinner is at a local restaurant in Lisieux. (B, D)

DAY 9: LISIEUX: NORMANDY EXCURSION

Today we make our way north to the Normandy Beaches, recalling the D-Day Invasion. We pay special tribute to those who gave their lives in World War II and other wars. We celebrate Mass in the Chapel St. Pierre d’Arromanches les bains; then we make a visit to the museum and the memorial. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 10: LISIEUX / PARIS / LOURDES

This morning we will celebrate Mass at the Basilica and transfer to Paris to board our high speed TGV train this afternoon to Lourdes. Upon arrival in Lourdes, we transfer to our hotel for dinner. (B, D)

DAY 11: LOURDES

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. After the procession, we return to our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 12: LOURDES / CARCASSONNE / AVIGNON

After an early Mass at St. Gabriel Chapel, we depart Lourdes this morning by motor coach and make our way across southern France, stopping in the walled city of Carcassonne. We continue our journey to Avignon for the evening. Dinner is at a local restaurant. (B, D)

DAY 13: AVIGNON / ARS

We celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Notre Dame des Dons and have some time this morning in Avignon. After a brief sightseeing tour of Avignon, we depart to Ars, site of the Shrine of St. John Vianney of Ars, Patron Saint of Parish Priests. Pope John Paul II was a pilgrim here in 1986. We enjoy dinner at our accommodations. (B, D)

DAY 14: ARS: EXCURSION TO CLUNY, TAIZE & PARAY LE MONIAL

We depart Ars for a visit of the town of Cluny, site of the famous Benedictine monastery. Little remains of the original buildings. Then we make our way to a present day ecumenical monastery, Taize. We join the community here for mid-day prayer.

We continue our journey to the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Paray Le Monial, where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received her visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We return to Ars for the evening. Dinner is at our accommodations. (B, D)

DAY 15: ARS / LYON

In Ars, we visit the basilica that houses St. John Vianney’s incorrupt body; then we continue to the Chapel of Our Lady of Ars, one of the favorite devotions of St. John. We will visit the museum in honor of St. John Vianney. This afternoon we make our way to Lyon for a visit of the city, including the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Fouviere. This evening we gather for an anticipated Mass at a local church followed by a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight is at our hotel in Lyon. (B, D)

DAY 16: RETURN USA

We transfer to the Lyon 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.