Francis Brennan's Grand Tour

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Francis Brennan is Ireland’s best-known hotelier. He’s also a man with a serious passion for travel. In each series he puts his 5 star day job on hold and takes 12 paying guests on the surprise trip of a lifetime. Can Francis stay cool as he deals with fistfuls of facts and figures and jam-packed 24/7 schedules that leave no room for error?

No of Series 4 series
Francis Brennan takes twelve paying tourists on the surprise trip of a lifetime. In tonight’s programme Francis’s guests meet up at Dublin airport and their mystery destination is revealed – South Africa. After a 19 hour flight the group arrives at Lesedi Cultural village in Johannesburg. Rather than letting them rest Francis immediately throws them into an African drumming lesson and tribal tour. The next day Francis takes them on a whistle stop tour of Johannesburg including the poignant Apartheid Museum before grabbing a bite at a restaurant that specialises in exotic meats. Crocodile anyone?
Francis Brennan is taking twelve paying guests from all walks of life on a surprise trip of a lifetime to South Africa. Today the group visits South Africa’s capital Pretoria followed by a trip into the country’s most famous township Soweto and the only street in the world that is home to two Nobel Prize winners: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Francis has a surprise in store when he asks for volunteers to do a 70 metre freefall in Soweto’s Orlando Towers – does he get any takers…?
Francis Brennan is taking 12 paying guests on a trip of a lifetime to South Africa. It is day 6 of the tour and Francis and his group are on safari to the remote Sibuya Game Reserve where they sleep under canvas. Francis is determined that his group gets to see the "Big Five”. The group quickly spot some lions and In-flight Buyer Darren has to overcome his fear of animals. They also come across endangered white rhinos and buffalo while one vehicle has a terrifying encounter with a protective female elephant.
Francis Brennan is taking 12 paying guests on a trip of a lifetime to South Africa. This week the group are driving down the Garden Route. First stop is Tsitsikamma National Park then onto Tenikwa a rehabilitation centre for injured animals. Francis has picked out four of his guests for a walk with cheetahs and if that isn’t enough adrenalin he makes a stop at Bloukrans Bridge where three of his guests volunteer for a 216 metre bungee jump but will nurse Edel bottle it?
Francis Brennan is taking 12 paying guests on a whistle-stop tour of South Africa. This week Francis and his guests are making their way to Cape Town. On route they’ll be stopping for some chocolate and wine tasting, taking a boat trip to Robben Island the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years and having a picnic at the top of Cape Town’s number one attraction, Table Mountain.
Last in the series - Francis Brennan is taking 12 paying guests on an adventure of a lifetime. Francis has planned a trip around the Cape Peninsula stopping to see the famous penguins at Boulders beach, the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. Francis also takes his group on an emotional visit to the Langa township and on the last day a selected few go on an early morning boat trip to tag some sharks!
Francis’s tour begins in Hanoi, where his itinerary includes paying homage to Ho Chi Minh, visiting the first of many pagodas, a traditional water puppet show and navigating the city’s hectic streets on a cyclo tour. Francis’ group includes grannies and Garda, florists and priests – what are they going to make of the diverse sights and sounds of Vietnam?
This week Francis’s group learn how to cook Vietnamese style, they visit the iconic Temple of Literature and the impressive Thay Pagoda. Francis heads out of Hanoi to the Mai Chau countryside and causes chaos by splitting his group; some enjoy a luxury eco-lodge, whilst others have to bed down in a basic village homestay. But, has Francis taken it too far with his newbie tourists when he takes them for dinner at a traditional snake restaurant?
This week the tour heads into the mountains for a shopping trip to an ethnic market. Francis arranges entertainment Vietnamese-style, with a cycle tour through some paddy fields and a game of Blind Man’s Buff …played with live ducks! The tour heads east for a cruise on the mystical Halong Bay where there are plenty surprises in the Surprise Cave. But, it’s nothing to match the wonder of Father Richard’s after-dinner party piece!
Today the tour moves on from their Halong Bay cruise, but not before some of the group get a rare sighting of endangered Langur Monkeys. Flying south to Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) Francis takes them to visit the sobering War Remnants Museum and surprises them with a nighttime Vespa street food tour. As they join the other 7 and a half million motorbikes on the city’s hectic streets how will they survive?
There’s an early start in Ho Chi Minh City as it’s coffee in the park with the Saigon songbird lovers club. Then they’re on to the Independence Palace, the storming of which led to Saigon’s surrender in 1975. The tour are delighted when Francis surprises them with a meeting with Dubliner Christina Noble at the Sunshine Centre that Christina’s set up as part of her Children’s Foundation. The tour continues with a trip to the fantastical Cao Dai Temple before visiting the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, which were instrumental in Vietnam’s defeat of the Americans. But with torrential rain, tiny passageways and bats galore, will any of Francis’s tourists dare to go underground?
Tour guide Francis’ last stop is to the famous Mekong Delta. First up a boat cruise, stopping at a traditional brick and coconut factory before taking a sampan journey deep into the mangroves. The final day of the tour begins with an early start to one of the biggest floating markets on the Mekong River, where the group find industrial quantities of pineapples, watermelon and other exotic fruits on offer. As the tour reaches its finale what are Francis’ tourist’s final thoughts?
In tonight’s programme Francis’s guests assemble at Dublin Airport and their mystery destination is revealed – India! The news goes down well with some, less so with others. Francis has organised an intense ten-day journey to the heart of India, a land of great beauty and extraordinary contrasts. They’ll soon be seeing New Delhi, the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur and the breathtaking Taj Mahal. But how will Francis and his guests cope with the 50 degree heat, spicy food and intense poverty?
This summer Francis Brennan is putting his 5 star day job on hold and taking 12 paying guests on the surprise trip of a lifetime – to India! This week Francis’s tourists experience the extremes of this incredible country with a walking tour of the backstreets of Delhi, followed by a visit to the majestic Taj Mahal. But how do they cope with the searing 51 degrees heat?
This summer hotelier Francis Brennan is putting his 5 star day job on hold and taking 12 paying guests on the surprise trip of a lifetime to India’s Golden Triangle! In this week’s episode we see the group struggle with a crack-of-dawn Yoga class, take in the sights and heat at the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri and go for a bumpy elephant ride up to the amazing Amber Fort. In between times Francis gets a dose of the famous Delhi Belly!
Hotelier Francis Brennan is putting his 5 star day job on hold and taking 12 paying guests on the surprise trip of a lifetime – to India! This week Francis’s tourists are in the Pink City of Jaipur where they visit the Palace of the Winds, put their impressive haggling skills into practice in the bazaars of Jaipur, have afternoon tea on a movie set, go on a bumpy camel ride and get their fortunes told by one of Jaipur’s leading astrologers!
Hotelier Francis Brennan is putting his 5 star day job on hold and taking 12 paying guests on the surprise trip of a lifetime – to India! This week Francis’s tourists have a giggle while trying out Laughing Yoga in Jaipurs Central Park and Francis takes them on a once in a lifetime safari in the amazing Ranthambore National Park, but will Francis and his 12 travel companions be lucky enough to spot a rare Indian Tiger?
Hotelier Francis Brennan is putting his 5 star day job on hold and taking 12 paying guests on the surprise trip of a lifetime – to India! In this last episode Francis and his group take an unforgettable train journey from Ranthambore to the capital Delhi. The group go shopping for Henna tattoos, try traditional Aryurvedic therapies and Francis books them in for a Bollywood dance class – what could possibly go wrong?
In tonight’s programme the tour kicks off and Francis and his Grand Tourists fly from Dublin to pick up their coach in Barcelona. It’s Francis’s first time as a tour guide and the pressure is on to give his tourists – who have paid hard cash - the holiday of a lifetime. The tour begins with a visit the iconic sights of the city; including the masterpieces of local boy and architectural genius Antoni Gaudi – the giant basilica, Sagrada Familia, the weird and wonderful architecture of Guell Park and Casa Mila with its amazing rooftop statues. Whilst they’re in Barcelona the Grand Tourists also fit in a visit to Barcelona’s most famous street, Las Ramblas, which runs through the heart of the city, the world-renowned food market, La Boqueria, and Tibidabo, the amusement fair which sits high above the city.
In this programme the tour travels from Barcelona in Spain to the medieval walled city of Carcassonne in France. En-route the tour stops off in Figueres in northern Spain, birthplace of surrealist artist Salvador Dali, where there’s a musum dedicated to his art. In Carcassonne Francis has one of his most challenging tasks as he takes the group on a walking tour of the city’s historic ramparts. Lunch is a picnic by the scenic Canal Du Midi, but Francis challenges the group to shop at the local market, giving them a small budget and tight deadline to find their picnic provisions. The language proves challenging for some – including Francis! In this programme they also visit the Abbeye de Frontfroide, a former Cistercian monastery, best known for its rose garden. There’s a wine tasting at a local vineyard where the group try the region’s Languedoc wines and the programme ends with a dinner where the group tries the local duck, sausage and bean speciality, cassoulet - with mixed reactions!
In this episode of Francis Brennan’s Grand Tour, Francis moves the tour from Carcassonne to Cannes on the French Riviera. They travel via the elegant French town of Aix-En-Provence, where to the delight of the Grand Tourists there’s a tour of a sweet factory. They also step back in time when Francis arranges a visit to the studio of locally-born artist, the impressionist Cézanne. Whilst in the Provencal region the tour visits the town of Grasse, the centre of the world’s perfume industry, where they learn the secrets of the scents. There’s also a chance for them to roll up their sleeves and try their hand at making tapenade, an olive based food paste, during a visit to an authentic Provencal herb garden. Next it’s on to the glitz and glamour of Cannes where Francis leads a walking tour of the world-famous boulevard, La Croisette. This is usually where the film stars strut their stuff and is home to the world’s most expensive hotel suites, most expensive yachts and most expensive beach clubs. How will Francis’s Irish tourists survive?
There’s a long journey ahead of the Grand Tourists as they say au revoir to Cannes and France as they head on to Italy. Their destination in this programme is the small scenic town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore in the Italian Lakes. En route, the coach stops off at one of the glitziest states in the world, Monaco, famous for its Grand Prix circuit, the Monte Carlo Casino and Royal Palace, home of the glamorous Grimaldi dynasty. Once they reach the Italian lakes the tourists have a break from the coach for another form of transport, a boat. They take a ride around the properly scenic Lake Maggiore, where, scenery aside, one of the highlights is a stop off at Villa Taranto, famous for it’s fabulously manicured gardens. They manage to lose their boat captain at one point but, of course, Francis saves the day!
The tour moves from the Italian Lakes to Donnini a small village in Tuscany. En-route, the tour calls into Maranello (Modena) to visit the Ferrari Museum where they admire the collection of supercars for the super rich. In Donnini there’s hotel hysteria as some of the group fear their rooms are haunted! Also, in this programme the tour travels to the picture-perfect Tuscan villages of Pienza and Montepulciano, visit a vineyard and are invited to dinner at the home and studio of Irish artist Holly Melia who lives deep in the Tuscan countryside.
Last in series. The tour moves on from Tuscany to its final destination, Rome. Francis has a serious challenge in front of him as he takes his Grand Tourists on a tour including the magnificent sights of Ancient Rome, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Capitol Hill. Other highlights on Francis’s tour of Rome include the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps. At the final dinner there’s a chance to find out what the tourists really thought of Francis – and what he really thought of them!

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