Often called the “Garden of France”, the Loire Valley is a region of great beauty and contrasts – historic towns, rolling green hills and vineyards and, of course, the magnificent châteaux rising majestically out of the enchanting landscape. This is a region of France to savour and you can enjoy it at an unhurried pace. Join a small group and explore this wonderful area of France including Chartres, Chinon & Cheverny. With its eye-catching scenery, storybook castles, historical villages and splendid wineries, this tour will take you to the most famous chateaux in the Loire, including Chateau de Cheverny, Azay-le-Rideau and Chateau de Villandry. Discover these magnificent masterpieces of Renaissance architecture and their beautifully landscaped gardens and enjoy a sailing experience under the arches of Chateau de Chenonceau. Learn the art of French cooking in Chateau de la Bourdaisière, taste regional wines and meander through the rolling green hills of Loire Valley dotted with more than a thousand chateaux. If you are looking for an authentic French cultural experience then this is the tour that will deliver just that.
Small group tours depart on Thursdays, typically twice a month from May 16th until October 3rd 2013 and are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 participants. In general, the maximum group size is 16.
Consider adding additional days to your trip with the services of a private guide and/or driver to see more of the country - your time on either side of your small group tour can be customized to suit your needs (and private guided tours can be added throughout your small group experience as desired).
Enjoy a private airport transfer in Paris in a private vehicle with a professional driver.
A welcome package with your vouchers, and itinerary, city map(s) and train tickets (where relevant) and any other touristic information that we deem you may find useful will be waiting for you upon your arrival at your first hotel on your trip.
There are so many things to do and see in Paris it is hard to know where to start! Within the city you can choose from any number of private guided tours - of neighbourhoods or places of interest such as the Louvre or with a focus on architecture. Consider a few hours with a personal shopper, or a guided tour in a vintage car through one of the neighbourhoods. If you are interested in doing something further afield consider a day trip to Chatres, Giverny (known because of Monet's paintings), Versailles, Normandy or Burgundy. A fun way to spend an afternoon is by hot air balloon - this is possible to do in the Parisian countryside. Please ask your Sale Advisor if you are interested in any of these optional tours and activities.
Paris takes on a different hue at night and, with many of the magnificent buildings aglow which make it is possibly the best time to admire the beauty of the city. There are plenty of options to choose from for evening entertainment including an early evening wine tasting in a beautiful, airy Parisian loft of a French sommelier located close to the lively Marais district, a dinner cruise, a cabaret show, dinner in the Eiffel tower followed by a night-time cruise, or an evening tour of the city with many of the historical buildings aglow.
The Elysees Ceramic (3*) hotel is situated in one of the huge avenues branching out from the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs Elysees is a mere 5 minute stroll away, and all kinds of public transport is close-at-hand. It is an exceptional Parisian house, with a unique "art nouveau" facade, sculpted in painted ceramic blocks. The architecture is indeed impressive. It is large in size, and very tastefully decorated in an authentic Parisian style. Wooden panels on the walls, flowery draped curtains and quality furniture give a touch of elegance to a cosy atmosphere. This 3-star first-class property is in an excellent location, where guests can find comfort, with a touch of luxury, and good services.
Discover Paris in a truly original and personalised manner aboard your very own 2CV. The 2CV, the quintessential symbol of the “French touch”, thanks to its convertible, soft top roof offers a magnificent panoramic view. You will be driven by a knowledgeable, English speaking chauffeur, and discover the most famous, beautiful and elegant monuments of Paris. The capacity of the 2CV vehicles is 3. If there are more in your group additional cars will be arranged so you can travel in convoy. (Includes hotel pick up and drop off in central Paris).
Enjoy your 2 days Museum Pass, where you have access to 22 museums, 24 historical monuments, 15 art galleries, 3 tourist attractions, 1 cruise and special offers in shops and restaurants.
Enjoy dinner at leisure. Here are a few suggestions; In the Latin Quarter (5th): Le Petit Pontoise bistro, 9 Rue Pontoise (Metro: Maubert Mutualite) Tel: 0143292520.This restaurant is nestled in a discreet and quite street, 10 minutes walk from Notre Dame Cathedral. Reservation for the dinner is recommended. By the Arc de Triomph and Parc Monceau (17th): Chez Les Anges, Paris, 54 Boulevard de La Tour-Maubourg (Metro: La Tour-Maubourg). Tel: 01 47 05 89 86. Cool jazz on the sound system, a sunny veranda, and a cool, modern bar. This is pure market cuisine, the daily changing menu punctuated by fabulous wild fish, wild mushrooms, and seasonal game. Closed Sat. & Sun. In the Trocadero area (16th): Astrance, Paris. 4 Rue Beethoven (Metro: Passy). Tel: 01 40 50 84 40. For fashionable foodies, a meal at this small, split-level dining room with silver-painted walls on a quiet residential street near the Trocadero is guaranteed Nirvana. Book a month in advance. Closed Sat. Sun. & Mon.
Meet your small group and guide at 8h30 at the Hotel Elysees Ceramic in Paris and depart for your Palaces and Chateaux of the Loire tour. It is recommended to be here 30 minutes prior.
Leaving Paris, you will travel to the wonderful Palace of Fontainebleau, used by the kings of France from the 12th century. The medieval royal hunting lodge of Fontainebleau stands at the heart of a vast forest in the Ile-de-France and has over 1500 rooms and 130 acres of parkland and gardens to explore.
In the afternoon you will visit the charming town of Beaugency, liberated by Joan of Arc in 1429. There will be time to explore its narrow medieval streets, stroll along its 14th century bridge or visit the Church of Saint Etienne and the City Hall, before continuing to the Montlouis-sur-Loire region, your base for the next two nights.
La Bourdaisière is a unique Historical Monument (14th to 16th century) at the heart of the Chateaux of the Loire, situated between Tours and Amboise. Chateau and charming Hotel with its 29 rooms, in 55 hectares of enclosed estate grounds it has extraordinary gardens of which the famous ‘Tomato conservatory’ and the ‘Dahlia Color’, wines, aromatic and medicinal plant gardens, and an amazing orchard. The Château de la Bourdaisière surprises with its ‘Tomato Bar’, an open-air kitchen for you to taste everything that comes from the garden, the ultimate expression of freshness and variety on your plate, the most unusual juices and the simplest and most unctuous recipes. La Bourdaisière also offers: a swimming pool, a tennis court, a fitness circuit, a horse riding club on the edge of the estate grounds, and very many other activities outside the chateau.
Please note that your hotel may be the above or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure.
In the morning you will take a tour of Chateau de la Bourdaisière’s gardens including it`s dahlia garden and tomato conservatory, which houses no less than 600 heirloom varieties. Then learn the art of French cooking with one of the chateau’s chefs before sitting down to enjoy the lunch you have cooked.
A real highlight awaits today - the Chateau de Cheverny. The castle is a jewel among the more famous monuments stretching along the Loire Valley. You will love this 17th century gem which is, almost uniquely, still privately-owned by the descendants of the original owners. The Chateau is surrounded by an English-style park consisting of magnificent giant redwoods and lime trees, which were planted between 1820 and 1860. Explore the Park, the Kitchen garden, the Apprentices' garden and the Kennels, home to over one hundred hunting dogs.
Your first visit today is to the wonderful Chateau de Chenonceau, whose beautiful arches span the River Loire. Known once as the “Castle of Women”, the chateau owes much of its charm to the influence over the centuries of such ladies as Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of royalty, and Catherine de Medici. Visit the castle, remarkable for its architecture and the fine quality of its collections, and delight in the Italianate grounds. Enjoy a boat cruise under the arches and then stroll around the gardens, filled with hundreds of climbing and standard roses, orange trees and perfectly manicured box hedges.
This afternoon sample delicious local wines in Vouvray, and then visit the fascinating Clos Lucé to gain a real insight into the life of Leonardo da Vinci. Next stop where you will overnight is Chinon, a medieval town located in the heart of the Val de Loire Region near the banks of the majestic Vienne River, which is steeped in history and rich with culture.
Hotel Le Plantagenet is located in the centre of the medieval town of Chinon. This charming family-run hotel will welcome you in a warm atmosphere. The hotel offers comfortable accommodation with 32 rooms all with an en-suite bathroom, satellite TV, direct-dial phone and modem connection. Each morning a welcoming buffet offers a great choice of fresh food and home made delights. A lounge bar by the reception desk for fresh drinks or a nice home selection of local wines discovered along vineyard escapes.
The magnificent Abbey of Fontevraud will no doubt be one of the highlights of the day. One of the largest monastic complexes in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was first established in 1099 and had, unusually, both a nunnery and a monastery under the command of an abbess. The abbey contains the tombstone effigies of Henry II and his son, Richard the Lionheart, as well as that of his infamous wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine – brilliant, beautiful and the wife of two kings!
After lunch, travel to Bourgueil for a wine tasting and cellar visit before your final visit of the day to the charming Azay-le-Rideau. This masterpiece of 16th century architecture rests on an island in the River Indre. One of the most visited chateau of the Loire Valley, the Azay-le-Rideau is an exceptional example of Renaissance architecture and offers stunning landscaped gardens.
Enjoy a visit of the imposing Chateau de Villandry, the last of the great chateaux to be built during the Renaissance in the Loire Valley. The Chateau’s glorious landscaped gardens, which occupy over 6 hectares, are some of the finest in France. Explore the tranquil water garden, the ornamental garden and the beautifully-designed vegetable garden.
As you make your way back towards the capital today, you will stop in Chartres, a pretty town with medieval timber-framed buildings and a magnificent Gothic cathedral. The Cathedral of Chartres, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the best examples of gothic architecture in the world and is perfectly preserved with its marvellous stonework and exquisite 12th and 13th century stained-glass windows. Your tour concludes this afternoon in Paris.
Your Small group tour comes to an end on your return to Paris and the Hotel Elysees Ceramic for approximately 5.30pm.
Citizens of other countries may require a visa. Please ask your Sales Advisor. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you check with the Embassy of France for the most up to date visa information.
HEALTHHealth insurance is recommended. Medical facilities are good quality. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/france.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Paris. Government: Republic since 1792. Language: French is the official language. Many people speak at least some English. Religion: Approximately 83% Roman Catholic; Protestant 2%; Muslim 5% Time: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October). Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin plugs are widely used. Telephone: Country code +33. Mobile Telephone: Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is excellent. Internet: Public access is available at Internet cafes in most cities.
Stay in the know: Subscribe to our newsletter to have our hand-picked trips & specials delivered to you!
Please enter a destination