We love visiting the European Christmas markets, and take Travel Insiders to Europe just about every December for this purpose.
Until now, we’ve used a one week river cruise as the central component of these experiences, but this year, we are trying something different – not just different, but also better. A better experience, and also, a better value.
Don’t get us wrong. We love cruising. But, like everything that has to provide for 175 people at once, it has compromises. The food is good, but try as they might to disguise it, the reality is that it is pre-prepared food that has been nicely plated, and carefully chosen to best disguise the truth that it was cooked hours before serving. The free wine at dinner is lovely, too, but it usually isn’t the sort of wine you’d buy a bottle of if you had to pay for it yourself.
Seldom or never do you have a chance to go and treat yourself to a nice meal ashore, particularly in the evenings.
The shore touring is also wonderful, but it is on their schedule, not yours. If you want to sleep in, you might miss a stop. Sometimes you want to spend more time in a place (or less time) and you’ve little choice but to stay with the group so you don’t miss the ship’s departure schedule. And of course, you’re limited to only those places that are along the river.
On the other hand, who doesn’t love the fact of ‘a traveling hotel’ and being able to unpack once, for an entire week, and truly settle in to your cabin for the cruise. It is also great to have most of the touring arrangements taken care of, and someone to turn to for friendly advice at any stage along the journey.
The Best of Both Styles of Touring
So we’ve come up with what we feel offers the best of a cruise, and the best of not-a-cruise too. We’re calling it a Land Cruise.
You’ll get to enjoy the same luxury of unpacking only once – indeed, even better, if you wish, you can stay in the hotel for more than a week, and not be locked into one week blocks of time.
You’ll also have friendly help at hand. I’ll be along to act as your ‘cruise director’ and to assist you with arranged touring, and also with any personalized variations of ad hoc touring or changes to our included touring.
All days but one we’ll be offering touring to a selection of lovely villages, towns, and historic cathedral cities in the region around Lille, and each day you’re free to come with the group or do your own thing. You can also join the group later in the day, or stay later at the places we visit and return to Lille any time you like. Unlike a boat, the hotel isn’t going anywhere!
We include a couple of group meals, and breakfasts each morning. The rest of the time, you are free to enjoy the local cuisine as we travel around, and the many dining choices in lovely Lille, too.
Lille is very easy to get to. It is on the Eurostar line, so you could fly to London or Paris, or take other high-speed trains from Belgium, Amsterdam, or many other places.
We have plenty of pre-tour suggestions, and a lovely post-tour optional extension that takes us to Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and even Lichtenstein too, all detailed on the tour pages.