Here, medieval villages are hidden in the shadows of rolling green hills, vineyards stretch to the horizon in perfect rows, and fairytale castles rise from enchanted story-book landscapes. This is the magic of the beautiful Loire Valley, and this multi-day small-group tour is the best way to experience it. Explore monuments of Paris on a private panoramic city tour ;visit the Chateau of Villandry, admire the beautiful arches of the Chateau de Chenonceau and relax in the landscaped gardens of the Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau. Discover the many things that this region has to offer, from its wonderful wines to its superb local cuisine.
This intimate small-group tour offers an authentic French cultural experience without peer. You’ll become fast friends with your team of English-speaking local guides and driver as they share their passion for this remarkable country. You’ll feel the pace of the old world in a range of authentic accommodation that spans 14th-century villas amidst fragrant orchids, charming family-run medieval guesthouses and refined art nouveau Parisian retreats.Small group tours depart on Tuesdays, typically twice a month from April 1st until October 28th 2014 and are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 participants. In general, the maximum group size is 18.
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).
You will be picked up from the airport this morning for your private transfer to the Westminster Hotel.
A welcome package with a city map, train tickets (if 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.
Ideally located in the Latin Quarter of Paris, in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés, stands the Belloy Saint Germain hotel. Since 1871, the Belloy Saint Germain has been providing guests quality accommodation with refined, undisturbed serenity in this upscale quarter of the city, only minutes away from some renowned Parisian sites and monuments including the Odéon, the Luxembourg Gardens and the Pantheon of Paris. Each of the 50 guest rooms at the Belloy are elegantly designed with a sense of classical refinement in mind. Each room features a range of modern amenities to satisfy the needs of the savviest traveller. Before heading out to explore some of the many beauties of the “City of Lights” for the day, it is important that each guest enjoys a hardy, delicious breakfast, something taken very seriously by the culinary staff at the Belloy. The buffet breakfast boasts freshly baked breads and pastries, fresh and if possible, locally produced dairy products and cheeses, fruits and so much more. With comfort and elegance, landmarks and culture sheer minutes away from the entrance way, the Belloy Saint Germain provides guests of all ages a great place to rest while visiting one of Europe’s greatest cities.
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.
Transfer to the small group meeting point using a local taxi. Please note that this is not included in trip price and is payable locally.
Meet your small group and guide at 8h30 at the Hotel La Demeure, 51 Boulevard Saint-Marcel, 75005 Paris and depart for your Palaces and Chateaux of the Loire tour.
Please ensure you are at the meeting point at least 15 minutes prior to departure.
Leaving Paris, you travel to 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. Continue to Chinon, a medieval town located in the heart of the Loire Valley, near the banks of the majestic Vienne River, which is steeped in history and rich with culture. You will have enough time to enjoy a stroll through the town before a delicious welcome dinner together with your fellow travelers.
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.
Please note that your hotel may be the above or a hotel of similar standard and will be confirmed prior to departure.
Today we make our way 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.
Continue with 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.
You then travel onto Rochecorbon, where you have a chance to taste local wines, before driving to Montlouis-sur-Loire, 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. Within a few years it has become a Nature School for all , renovated and redecorated in 2010 and 2011 by the current owner, Prince Louis Albert de Broglie, nicknamed the ‘Prince Gardener’, 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 all the refinement and the services of a grand hôtel: 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.
This morning you will enjoy 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. You then learn the art of French cooking with one of the chateau’s chefs before sitting down to enjoy the lunch you have cooked.
After lunch you travel 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. The castle has an exceptional collection of 16th and 17th century tapestries and a great number of masterpieces including works by Rubens.
We leave after breakfast and make our way to the Chateau de Cheverny, one of the only chateaux in the region to appear untouched by the Renaissance, which is due to the fact that it has been owned by the same family for more than six centuries.
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.
As Paris draws closer, we travel to the wonderful Chateau de 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.
Your Small group tour comes to an end on your return to Paris and the Hotel La Demeure for approximately 5.30pm.
February 19, 2014
"Lynne Pettit is a particularly good tour planner and contact person because she is knowledgeable, patient, and thorough. She makes sure she understands exactly what you want to get from your trip and plans the tours accordingly. In my case, she was right on the mark!"
Ann Saxon ,
November 06, 2013
"Our trip was fantastic!!! I cannot say enough good things. Lianne worked with our exact dates and time frame beautifully.Our drivers were prompt and friendly. The private guides were so knowledgeable. We left with an appreciation of the history, the culture, and the beauty of Andulasia. We were very pleased and will certainly recommend your company to friends and family."
Edwards Family ,
November 28, 2013
"People do not know what they are missing by not going to Romania. The landscape: beautiful, clean, untouched. The people: People exceeded friendly! Super safe. Wherever we went, we received the reception of "Welcome, welcome! You are our guest", by everyone. Food & Drink: Everything had such incredible flavor! They use only the freshest ingredients and everything is organic. Every meal was a new, exciting experience to our palettes. Architecture: The beauty, intricacy, history. One cannot help but appreciate the abundance of castles, churches and buildings boasting such incredible architecture. Experience Romania sooner than later! You’ll be so glad you did! Once again, Kensington Tours, and special thank you to Claudia.
Coby Scherr ,
November 05, 2013
"Everyone involved in our Portugal trip made it terrific. Exactly as advertised. Every event on time and most pleasant. Guides were well-informed, courteous and friendly. Really made for a great journey every time. Each hotel was clean, upgraded and staffed with knowledgeable and friendly folks. Breakfasts were complete -- almost too much to eat. It will always be a wonderful memory thanks to Kensington Tours."
Mike Mikkelsen ,
November 15, 2013
"Lianne Kim did a great job for us (on our tour of Spain). Most enjoyable - thanks for all you did."
November 09, 2013
"My trip to Holland and Belgium was a lifelong dream and Kensington Tours made it greater than my dream. I was treated like royalty, even when I missed some of my connections. They quickly solved any problems that U had. All the drivers were courteous and helpful. My accommodations were top notch. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a better tour experience. Thanks to Richard Racicot for booking the best fo me."
Couples Dellinger & Hubbell ,
November 06, 2013
"We've been raving to everyone about the food, the friendliness of the people and the amazing history and sites in Turkey. Yes, we want to go back."
John Edstrom ,
October 22, 2013
"Overall, our tour in Spain was very enjoyable, and well planned and executed. Our private tour of the Alhambra was excellent. Virginia, tour guide for royal palace ruins outside of Cordoba, was also excellent. In Seville, we went to the Flamenco Show/dinner, and the Flamenco was outstanding!"
Kevin Wilshere ,
October 19, 2013
"Great trip to Spain! Thanks again for all your help, Lianne. The destinations, hotels, guides and everything were all top notch."
Chery lWestlund ,
November 07, 2013
"My husband and I took a 3 week vacation to southern Europe and North Africa and had a great time. All the guides were very knowledgeable and bend over backwards to accommodate us. The arrangement made by Kensington went off without a hitch. This is our second trip with Kensington (we went to Peru in 2009) and we will certainly book with them again."
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