The day started by having a prompt pick up time and picking up the rest of the group. As we left central Paris, the driver mentioned one of his colleagues passed us on the motorway. He then explained that we would be with 4 other colleagues for the tour meaning there would be 4 other minibuses with 6-8 guests each. I was confused, because it was supposed to be a "small group tour" but what we later found was that at each stop the other groups arrived at the same time so it was one large tour divided into 5 minibuses. This made each stop a delayed and impersonal tour. First stop at the Reims Cathedral, it was not noticeable that we were with other groups because this was a tour "on your own" with free time. Next at the first Champagne village we had to alert the local guide that we had arrived and then we met at a central spot in the village, where we were with the other 4 buses. We had to wait for the groups to form, 1 by 1 and their translators/drivers to be available. Each time the local spoke we had to wait for the others groups to have a translated version of her speech. This in turn felt less personal and somewhat chaotic, again different from the small group experience. Again at our next stop at a small Champagne company we went through the same delays and translations. And at the included lunch we were in a restaurant in Epernay the "capitol of the Champagne region" and we were put in a back room were each tour group sat separated and there was only interaction with your group. All the guides sat at their own table. This provided a gap in learning about the culture, the meal and interaction between the guides and their groups. The food was good but the service lacked. The last part of the tour was at Moet and Chandon where we were all joined for an English tour that we had to wait for because they had to fill a certain group size. This was a very professional tour and the tasting that followed was excellent and was located in the cellars.
London, United Kingdom
Great tour, our guide Nick was excellent and was willing to answer our questions regarding culture, history, and architecture. We arrived at Windsor early and were among the first to be admitted inside the grounds, prior to entering the castle gates we had a little tour of the village. We also were fortunate to see the changing of the guards ceremony before having to meet the tour bus for our drive to Stonehenge. On the way to Stonehenge we placed our orders for lunch and passed through beautiful countryside. When you arrive at Stonehenge you are greeted by the smell of pigs! It was quite funny, there are lots of pig farms in this area. At Stonehenge you are given an audio guide for walking around the site. The Stonehenge welcome center is being replaced by a new welcome center this Winter, still under construction. After our time around the site, you exit by passing through the gift shop, here we were offered a sample of warmed honey-cinnamon Mead, YUM! Next was our drive to lunch, I was not prepared for how long it would take to get to lunch and how late in the day it would be. Pack a snack! We didn't eat lunch until 3 pm. At the pub, the food comes out soon after you sit down, but we were cramped for time and the meal was very rushed. We quickly walked around the village, Lacock, and saw where many films where shot, including a home that was in Harry Potter and the Abbey in the village. After the quick walk around town to the bus parking, we made our way to Bath. Here the tour of the Roman Baths is not included but well worth the money. Audioguides given here also. The stop in Bath consists of free time, mostly to either tour the Baths or to shop. I would have preferred to have more time to enjoy the meal and not feel so rushed. Definitely worth the money, a great way to see the countryside, great meal, so many sites in one day.
Had such a great time!
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