Day 1: Depart Chicago (late afternoon/early evening) via an overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany.
Day 2: Arrive Frankfurt. Train to Cochem (3 hrs), hub of the mid-Mosel River Valley, with its majestic castle and picturesque medieval streets. Rent bicycles to ride along the River Valley to the fairy-tale village of Beilstein (1 hr) and back. Overnight in Cochem.
Day 3: Day trip to Burg Eltz, one of Europe’s best medieval castles — left intact for 700 years — after 1-1/2 hour scenic walk through a magical pine forest. Then visit & taste-test at Mustard Mill, one of Europe’s oldest operational mills. Overnight in Cochem.
Day 4: Depart Cochem for Trier (50 min train), Germany’s oldest city & with the most Roman ruins, intact medieval wall, and lively market square. Overnight in Trier.
Day 5: Depart Trier for Luxembourg’s UNESCO-listed capital city (50 min train). Time to explore the fortified medieval Old Town perched on sheer cliffs and the Bock Casemates/Fortress. Overnight in Luxembourg.
Day 6: Depart Luxembourg for Paris, France (2-1/4 hrs via TGV). A quick stop at the hotel before heading out to explore the city. Highlights include famous landmarks such as Notre Dame Cathedral & the Seine riverwalks, the Champs-Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe to the Concorde to the Tuileries Gardens to the Louvre, with a visit inside the museum. Overnight in Paris.
Day 7: Full day to continue to visit Paris: the Latin Quarter & shopping streets, Luxembourg Gardens, the Catacombs, the Eiffel Tower, and dinner in the Montmartre/Sacre-Coeur Basilica/Moulin Rouge district. Overnight in Paris.
Day 8: Day trip to Verdun (1-1/2 hr via TGV), one of Europe’s most powerful WWI sights of battlefields and memorials, including the Ossuaire, Fort de Douaumont, Bayonet Trench, and the Destroyed Village of Fleury, along with the town of Verdun itself. Overnight in Paris.
Day 9: Day trip to Reims (50 min via TGV), home of the Gothic cathedral where the Kings of France were crowned, heart of Champagne vineyards and cellars, Art Deco reconstruction after WWI, and a vibrant pedestrian zone. Overnight in Paris.
Day 10: Third & final day in Paris, to squeeze in any remaining must-see sights and shopping: Beaubourg & the Marais district, Ile-St.-Louis, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, etc. Overnight in Paris.
Day 11: Depart Paris for return flight to Chicago.
[Please see Trip Details for more specifics about pricing & payments, packing, accommodations, flights, and insurance.]