All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.
Gastronomy - Lyon is France’s culinary capital
Characterful hotel – stay in a converted 15th century chateau
Glorious lake and mountain scenery
Historic cities – Chambéry, Grenoble & Lyon
Enjoy a peaceful Christmas surrounded by the wild and wintry rugged landscapes, fragrant evergreen forests and sparkling lakes of the breath-taking Savoie region. Based in the atmospheric Château des Comtes de Challes, a beautifully converted 15th-century fortified house, explore the culturally rich cities such as Annecy, Chambéry and Aix-les-Bains, the beautiful scenery and enjoy a wonderful festive atmosphere.
This tour is based at the comfortable and atmospheric, family-run three-star Chateau des Comtes de Challes, set in extensive grounds about 6km from Chambéry and offering excellent local cuisine as well as comfortable accommodation.
Day 1: Travel by Eurostar from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Lille and onwards to Lyon by TGV. On arrival, transfer to the village of Challes-les-Eaux (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes) for check-in.
Day 2: Full day tour to Grenoble and Chartreuse.
Grenoble is a vivacious place nestled amongst the peaks of the Belledonne, Chartreuse and Vercors mountains. Being a university city it is cosmopolitan with a buzzing arts scene whilst at its centre you’ll find a tightly packed maze of modern and medieval buildings. Travelling into the Chartreuse massif you will find a glorious landscape of peaks, valleys, pine forests and pastures – a breath-taking view at every turn. The name is perhaps best known from the Carthusian monastery named from the mountains, as well as the liqueur that was produced by the monks and is still produced in Voiron today.
Day 3: Full day tour to Abbaye d’Hautecombe and Aix-les-Bains.
The tranquil Abbaye d’Hautecombe, located on the shores of Lake Bourget, is a former Cistercian then Benedictine monastery and burial place of the House of Savoy. The spa town of Aix-les-Bains, known since Roman times, is renowned for the healing qualities of its waters. The elegant Belle-Époque buildings, that sprung up in the late 1800s, are best enjoyed at a relaxed pace whilst the Faure Museum houses a collection of Impressionist works and Rodin statues.
Day 4: Full day in Chambéry with guided tour and free afternoon for personal exploration, with Christmas Eve dinner at the hotel.
Chambéry has guarded the mountain passes that lead to Italy for centuires. Originally just a château built by the Count of Savoie in 1232, the town grew around it and became an important commerical and cultural centre - there is plenty of majestic Italianate architecture from this golden age to admire. Highlights include its much-loved and extravagant Fontaine des Eléphants, Chateau of the Dukes of Savoy dating back to the 14th century and 17th century country house, Le Charmettes, once home to the philosopher Rousseau.
Day 5: Day free to relax with festive lunch and dinner at the hotel.
Day 6: Full day tour to Lyon.
Rich from industry that spans back to the 16th century, Lyon is a clean and charming city, particularly known for its gastronomy – it is said that the old town has the largest concentration of restaurants in the world! There are plenty of cultural attractions to visit including a textile museum, a Gallo-Roman Museum and the impressive Basilica Notre Dame. There is much enjoyment to be had wandering the atmospheric warren of streets in the older quarters of the city, where you’ll find lots of Renaissance buildings and a multitude of restaurants to choose from.
Day 7: Full day to Annecy and Lake Annecy.
One of the most attractive and popular towns in the French Alps, the town of Annecy sits on the banks of the lake of the same name surrounded by breathtaking alpine scenery. The imposing château on the hill and the Palais de l’Ile provide much historical interest, and you’ll find the canals and narrow passages of the 16th century old town enchanting. One of the largest lakes in France, Lake Annecy is surrounded by glorious mountain scenery and attractive towns and villages.
Day 8: Transfer to Chambéry for return TGV to Paris and onwards by Eurostar to St Pancras.
NB: Exact order or excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.
Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 35 passengers.
PLEASE NOTE: As with most trains, passengers are responsible for carrying baggage onto and off the train. Baggage can be stored on overhead shelves or at the entrance to the carriages. Trollies are available at St Pancras, but bags do need to be carried onto the platform.
Travel Editions recommends a luggage delivery service called thebaggageman, where your suitcase can be picked up from your home before departure and delivered straight to your hotel; therefore removing the worry about carrying your cases onto and off the trains. Please click here for more information and we have arranged a 10% discount exclusive to Travel Editions clients off the thebaggageman service. Tel: 01844 264890.
Chateau des Comtes de Challes
This tour is based at the beautiful Chateau des Comtes de Challes, located in the pretty village of Challes-les-Eaux about 6km from Chambery. Dating from the 15th century this atmospheric hotel was converted from a fortified house and offers a very high level of comfort and service. Facilities at this friendly, family-owned hotel include an elegant restaurant (where dinner is included each evening), bar, delightful grounds, outdoor pool and charming, well-appointed rooms with private bath/shower, TV, telephone and minibar. It even has its own private chapel! Upgraded "charming rooms" which have more stylish decor are also available at a reasonable supplement.
Please note that there is no lift in the Chateau itself.
Chateau des Comtes de Challes Website
OUR VIEW ON THE HOTEL
The Chateau des Comtes de Challes is an impressive and charming hotel, owned and run by the Trèves family since 2002, which exudes a lovely atmosphere from its setting within two hectares of peaceful grounds. The hotel has been welcoming our guests for nearly a decade. Ask the charismatic manager, Florian Trèves, for a tour of his extensive wine cellars - he has vintages worth up to €1800!
Pre-tour accommodation is available at the Premier Travel Inn, London King's Cross St Pancras, about a 5 minute walk from St Pancras International, at an approximate rate of £120 per room. Bookings can be made direct with the hotel on 0871 527 8672 or visit their website.
An enjoyable trip with dry, albeit very cold weather - so cold, in fact, that we were 'forced' in both Lyon and Grenoble to forsake the streets and head indoors for lunch, despite the prospect of a 3-course meal in the evening, and in other locations we had to fortify ourselves with the 'vin chaud' available in Christmas markets. The hotel was warm and comfortable, if a little faded, and as a keen photographer we were fortunate to have a double aspect room with views out over the town to Mt Granier. The food was mostly well-cooked (apart from inedibly overcooked festive venison), but (for France) rather uninspired and predictable, and service in the restaurant and the bar was occasionally verging on the chaotic. The sightseeing tours were all urban, with very good local guides, but it would have been nice to vary things a bit with the opportunity to wander round a rural village and perhaps visit a producer of one of the excellent cheeses for which the area is renowned. Our tour manager, Sheila, was excellent, keeping us entertained above and beyond the call of duty and giving us the benefit of her 'insider' knowledge of France. She organised us in the most pleasant and professional manner, without ever mollycoddling, and ensured plenty of relaxing downtime. Altogether, an enjoyable way to spend Christmas, with the journey in each direction being the only demanding aspect.
Review by Goddard who travelled 22-December-2018
lovely trip and a great friendly guide who was very knowledgeable.Food lovely and beautifully presented. The Chateau hotel had lovely spotless rooms and first class service.
Review by Wood who travelled 22-December-2018
Review by Anonymous who travelled 22-December-2018
We had an enjoyable trip but unfortunately my wife had flu so she could not go on all the trips but sheila was excellent and the staff first class. The journey down from Lille was disappointing as the TGV was late and dirty and uncomfortable.
Review by Strong who travelled 22-December-2018
First and foremost I must comment how much of a contribution our excellent tour manager made to the success of our holiday. Sheila Salmon was very knowledgeable, a great organiser who made Christmas fun and looked after all of us remarkably well. The chateau is charming and we were accorded a warm welcome. The catering was first class and for wine lovers this is a great opportunity to have the expertise of Monsieur Treves and his staff. We were however slightly disappointed having booked a junior suite which although pleasant, lacked adequate lighting in the main area to enable reading or writing. It would also have been nice to have found comfortable armchairs or a sofa instead of upright chairs. The staff at the Chateau were without exception cheerful and helpful
Review by Matthews who travelled 23-December-2016
Excellent tour with excellent manager. Accommodation was terrific. Only criticism is return journey via Paris Nord on Eurostar. Outgoing journey was fine. Return journey was stressful with lack of staff, direction and appalling inefficiency with crowd control on return train.
Review by Mrs Sylvia Oram who travelled 23-December-2016
Review by Mr Peter Tinker who travelled 23-December-2016
Review by Mr Derek Boon who travelled 23-December-2016
Booked first class onTGV train but ended up sitting on table of four opposite strangers so no leg room both on journey out and on return. As this was the reason we booked first class it would have been better if you had two seats together or even the two single seats facing easy other. Other than this we had a excellent Holliday. David & Anne Stevens
Review by Mr David Stevens who travelled 23-December-2015
Review by Mr Graham Hoddinott who travelled 23-December-2015
Tour guide in Grenoble did not make any allowances for a group like ours. Kept us standing for quite a time in the cold telling us about the ancient parliamentary systems, Kings etc.,when all we wanted was to be shown round the city with plenty of time to have lunch and do our own thing. Otherwise the whole holiday was very enjoyable.
Review by Mrs Peggy Gosen who travelled 23-December-2015
Review by Mrs J Hawkins who travelled 23-December-2015
This was our 6th Christmas tour with Travel Editions and it was as good as ever. All the arrangements went smoothly and even the weather was unseasonably warm and sunny. The tours were generally interesting and informative and it was particularly good to see a side of Lyon that you would never know of from passing through in a summer traffic jam! The hotel was very good apart from somewhat small rooms, but the general welcome and excellent meals made up for that. Finally, thanks to Gary (the tour leader) for keeping everything running smoothly and injecting his note of dry humour into the proceedings. Hugh Paton
Review by Mr Hugh Paton who travelled 23-December-2015
A lovely hotel in beautiful mountainous surroundings in which to enjoy an alternative French Christmas. The staff were kind and helpful, good restaurant, great wines. Tour manager Gary was unflappable and organised the day trips impeccably, including a friendly bus driver, Georges, who supplied us with local details and delicacies. A wonderful holiday!
Review by Mr Roger Pinder who travelled 23-December-2015
Review by Mr David Marshall who travelled 23-December-2015
Very good trip. High quality hotel, although room somewhat cramped (glad I wasn't sharing) and no bath. Food excellent, although would have preferred smaller tables of 4, 6 or 8. Xmas lunch at long table worked well. Tour manager very good, and accommodated dietary needs or likes and kept us all on schedule. Advantageous having a smaller group (22), interestingly different demographic from previous TE Xmas tours I've done (that didn't inc dinner) - I believe I was the only one who still works! A wider age span would have been better. Places visited were all good apart from Aix les Bains which does not merit a visit, or at least not more than and hour or 2 for lunch, especially when Faure museum and spa are shut. I suggest Chambery for Day 1, allowing longer there than we got this year (because of wine tasting). I appreciate there are always a number of logistics for the planning itinerary that I'm unaware of, but Aix was the weak point. Guided tours were excellent, especially at Chambery and Lyon. Would have liked more time everywhere (except Aix), which is positive as I know I'd like to return to Grenoble and Lyon. Although the hotel was excellent, I do prefer your tours without dinner, apart from Xmas eve/day, so staying in Chambery or Grenoble would appeal to me. Overall very positive, and snow on 27th for exhilarating drive over the Chartreuse was a bonus!
Review by Ms Susan Wonnacott who travelled 23-December-2014
Overall an excellent holiday enhanced by lots of snow which made it very Christmassy. The staff at the Chateau, particularly Jonathan and Marie, were very attentive. Our driver, Nicholas and Tour Manager Gary made sure that everyone's taste was catered for. The only negative was two trips, Aix les Bains was closed on the day we visited and I didn't find Grenoble particularly interesting. The trips to Lyon and Annecy were excellent.
Review by Mrs Brenda Lobley who travelled 23-December-2014
I enjoyed this overall, but was not happy with the first full day: the Abbey was fine but Aix offered very little to do if you didn't want to sit over a full meal at lunchtime.
Review by Ms Lyn Boothman who travelled 23-December-2014
Review by Mrs Sheila Simmonds who travelled 23-December-2014
Well organised and efficient. Unfortunately food in hotel not always suitable being allergic to seafood is a nuisance for me and the management at busy times. Staff helpful though. Gary was always most helpful and always there to smooth the path, he is also knowledgeable, funny and a very approachable and likaeable fellow.
Review by Mrs B Patch who travelled 23-December-2014