Tour taken: Alsace and the Black Forest: La Route des Vins
Overall: This was a well-designed and well-executed tour. There is a good balance of group activities and free time to explore on your own. Two tour directors were on the job each day. The air-inclusive package offered by VBT makes these trips more cost effective than many of their competitors.
Activities: This is a bicycling tour, with turn-by-turn directions for each day’s route. The participants do not cycle as one group (contrast with Road Scholar, see our prior review) but rather head out at each cyclist’s own pace. Each day there were at least two route choices, short and long, and sometimes a third middle length option. Also, there is a support van that parks several places along each day’s route which can be used for transportation if the cyclist chooses not to cycle on, or wants to avoid certain uphill sections. This allows for cyclists of different abilities to travel together and still have an enjoyable vacation, which is a very nice feature.
Accommodations and meals: The hotels were clean and of good caliber, although several were located fairly far from the heart of the tourist areas of the respective towns. This may have been due to restrictions on where the bicycles could be stored, but does make for a slightly inconvenient walk to access the attractions on your own time. Included meals were of average caliber.
Caveats: There were no big issues with this tour. We would point out that the focus on cycling does limit the amount of guided touring / lectures / cultural immersion that can be offered to the group, as compared to a straight up tourist itinerary. That said, curious and motivated travelers can make up for most of this by seeking out those experiences on their own during the free time provided.