What to see in the Loire Valley
Loire Valley châteaux, museums, gardens, churches, and other top attractions
Spanning nearly 170 miles in France, the Loire Valley alone contains more than 500 châteaux. Flourishing in the time of the Renaissance, the region was inhabited by the likes of Diane de Poitiers, controversial mistress of King Henry II of France, and famed Italian artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, making it historically interwoven with the great kings of France.
Seeking to escape the pressures of Paris and enticed by the open lands and forests rich with game, the French kings made the Loire Valley their primary residence until 1589, when King Henry IV eventually moved his court back to Paris. Together, we will explore the Loire Valley through the eyes of the nobles who made the region their home. Over the course of our day trip from Paris to the beautiful Loire Valley, we will explore the elegant châteaux of the French aristocracy and discover the French Renaissance with an art historian.
- Explore three impressive Loire Valley châteaux, and learn their significance in French history.
- Loire Valley tour led by an art historian.
- Small, intimate group experience—never more than 6 on a tour.
Loire Valley Tour
Meeting our docent at the station in Paris, we will take the train to Tours, a charming city nestled between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Using our time on the train to gain some valuable insight into the Loire Valley of the Renaissance, we will arrive to join our driver at the train station buoyed by our newfound context on the picturesque region's history.
Called the "Garden of France," the region is characterized by its central river—the longest in France, vineyards (a subject of interest for anyone who has taken our Paris Wine Tour and Tasting), asparagus fields, and the stunning châteaux that lure tourists away from France's bustling capital. We'll turn our attention towards the châteaux, which are not only impressive and beautiful architectural feats but serve as a great tool to understanding the the area's rich history.
Transforming Medieval Fortresses
While our route may vary depending on private bookings, we typically start with Château de Langeais. This château embodies the social and cultural turning point, marking the moment where the Loire turned from a medieval territory dotted with defensive fortresses, to the epicenter of the French Renaissance with artisans, intellectuals, and ideas imported from Italy. After the initial structure was destroyed during the Hundred Year's War, King Louis XI altered the original building plan to reflect Italy's new architectural ideals—with a French twist, of course.
However, Château de Langeais maintains much of its defensive structure, which can be best seen in its dominant towers, blank, machicolation (covered parapet with openings for soldiers to fire upon enemies), and drawbridge entry. Observing this first hybrid between Renaissance architecture and the fortresses of the medieval age forms the foundation for understanding the significant shift.
Transitioning to Decadence
We will then head to either the ethereal Château d'Azay-le-Rideauor Château de Chenonceau, both of which demonstrate an influence from the French and Italian styles. These graceful residences exemplify how French architecture began to distance itself from fortified structures like Château de Langeais. After being razed to the ground during the Hundred Year's War, Azay-le-Rideau was reconstructed in an unusual L-shape plan by the King's Treasurer General Gilles Berthelot.
Similarly, the Château de Chenonceau's beauty is tempered with its connection to scandal between Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Mecidi. Mainly redone by Poiters, King Henry II's mistress, the château featured the new Renaissance style, characterized by the appearance of carved façades, dormer windows set into the slate roof, and the introduction of a straight staircase, rather than the defensive spiral. We may spend time discussing the rivalry between Catherine and Diane, which came to a head following the King's death. We will also be able to see both Diane's gardens, and Catherine's later addition dating from her time as primary resident of the château.
Château de Chambord
After a break for lunch, we will head west to Château de Chambord, the celebrated castle that is considered a true chef d’oeuvre of the French Renaissance. Originally built as the hunting lodge, this château perfectly demonstrates the marriage between medieval French style (perhaps best seen on our Paris Cathedral Tour) and classical Renaissance form. This architectural feat may be accredited to the project’s several undocumented architects, possibly including da Vinci himself.
Passed through the hands of countless kings, dukes, and emperors, we will delve into the triumphant and torrid history of this castle. We will also note the discernible difference between Chambord and Langeais. While the layout is similar to a defensive fortress, with its towers and walls surrounding a keep, Château de Chambord was never intended to act as a defensive structure. Its innovations extend to the interior, which features a double helix staircase that may have been designed by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Each château provides unique insight into the chronological evolution and historical significance of this region. Together, we will reflect upon the architectural elements that characterized the French Renaissance style. Over the course of our walk, we will have seen three excellent examples of royal residences from this period, and will have learned to identify the difference between medieval fortresses and the châteaux of the Renaissance. As our walk comes to a close, we will board the train, traveling from Blois to Paris, leaving the rich beauty of the Loire Valley behind us.
Please note : on Mondays and Saturdays in summer, you will visit Amboise instead of Chambord! Also entrance to 2 castles + Wine tastings ( From April 1st 2018)
The largest of the Loire castles, the turreted Chambord Castle was built for King Francois 1st as a hunting lodge. The intricate stone "double helix" staircase leading up to the spires and turrets of the rooftop terrace is thought to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
Cheverny Castle is the most beautifully furnished of the Loire Valley castles, with a fine collection of 17th-century furniture. Herge, the Belgian creator of Tintin, based his Marlinspike Hall (Moulinsart) on Cheverny Castle.
Chenonceau Chateau was built over the River Cher in traditional Renaissance style, and is known as the Chateau des Dames (the Ladies' Castle) because of the influence of the famous women who lived there. The chateau was built in 1513 by Catherine Briconnet, embellished by Diance de Poitiers and Catherine de Medicis, and saved from destruction during the Revolution by Madame Dupin.
Guests traveling in Winter (November 1-March 31) also receive a typical lunch and drink. During the summer (April 1 - October 31) lunch is not included but the guide will advise on places to eat. From April 1st, you will visit 2 Castles ; Chenonceau & Chambord and you will have Wine tastings to develop your palate! Amboise will replace Chambord Castle on Mondays & Saturdays iduring Summer time 2018
Please note: On Mondays and Saturdays, the tour will visit Amboise instead of Cheverny.
Numbers are limited to a maximum of 25 people when exploring the castles, ensuring you'll receive personalized attention from your knowledgeable guide. This tour also includes access to skip the long entry lines at Château de Chenonceau.
After leaving Paris in a comfortable air-conditioned coach, your day trip of the wine and castles of the Loire Valley starts at Château de Chambord. This beautiful château was built in 1519 by King Francis I, who used it as a hunting lodge. Admire its French Renaissance architecture, luxurious furniture, ornamental ceiling vaults and astounding staircases, and keep an eye out for frolicking deer and wild boar as you stroll along the castles lush grounds.
Next, youll stop to enjoy a delicious lunch at the Nitray Vineyards at Château de Nitray. This is not your average box lunch -- you'll enjoy a home-cooked lunch of fresh, local French ingredients and sample some of the regions best wines, including a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a full-bodied Cabernet Franc. Your guide will take you through the wine-tasting, pointing out the different flavors. You will end your visit with a tour of the vineyard.
Your final stop is Château de Chenonceau, an elegant 16th-century castle that is sure to steal your heart at first sight with its smooth white stone and intricately painted wooden door. Entry lines can be quite long here, especially in the peak summer season, but dont worry! This tour includes skip-the-line access, so you dont have to wait in the long queue. The interior of the castle is well-maintained with original stone carvings, immense tapestries and an intimate chapel. Almost equal in beauty are the castle grounds and many gardens, planted by the famous ladies who owned the Ladies Château and gave it its name.
Discover Château dAmboise, a favored royal residence during the Renaissance. Here, in the Chapel of St Hubert, the remains of Leonardo da Vinci are buried. After a visit of the Chateau, enjoy lunch with drinks (included). At the beginning of the afternoon, there is a visit to Chenonceau Castle, called the "Chateau aux Dames" built on the Cher. Finally, you will visit the impressive Chambord Castle before returning to Paris.
After pickup from your central Paris hotel in an air-conditioned minivan, relax on the scenic drive to the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed wine region in central France. You will have the chance to independently discover three different châteaux.
First, discover Château dAmboise, a favored royal residence during the Renaissance. Here, in the Chapel of St Hubert, the remains of Leonardo da Vinci are buried. Then, marvel at Château de Chenonceau. Famed for its highly decorated interior and exterior, this is one of the most popular châteaux in France. After your tour, enjoy a three-course lunch with wine (included) at the nearby 18th-century Breton-style inn (for a sample menu, please refer to the Itinerary section below).
After lunch, visit UNESCO World Heritage-listed Château de Chambord, the largest castle in the Loire Valley and one of the most recognizable due to its astounding Renaissance architecture. Legend has it that Leonardo da Vinci contributed to the design of its famous double-helix staircase.
After your Loire Valley châteaux tour, enjoy a relaxing drive back to Paris.
Your day trip to the Loire Valley begins with pickup at your Paris hotel by your private guide.
Head out of the city and into the picturesque countryside to visit romantic castles that evoke the glamour and grandeur of French aristocracy in the Renaissance era. Follow in the footsteps of nobility as you explore three estates known for their size, architecture, and previous inhabitants.
At Château d'Amboise, once home to French royalty, take in the 15th-century furniture collection. Then visit Château de Chenonceau, a lavish castle on the River Cher featuring quintessential Renaissance architecture. Finally visit the grand dame, Château de Chambord, a UNESCO World Heritage site once home to King Francois I, as well as Leonardo da Vinci.
Note: It is possible you may visit different castles such as Château de Blois or Château de Cheverny, in certain circumstances, but it will be a total of three.
After hotel pickup in the morning by your private guide and driver, make the approximate 2-hour drive from Paris to the Loire Valley.
Stop first at Château de Chambord with your private guide, who tells you about this Renaissance jewel and World Heritage site, home to 426 rooms and a double helix staircase.
After lunch overlooking Chambord (own expense), your tour continues to Château de Chenonceau, the so-called 'Ladies Castle,' as a number of renowned women such as Catherine de' Medici, the French queen, loved this castle on the River Cher. Then head to Château d'Amboise, where you'll learn about Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, a close friend of King Francis I in the early 16th century.
At the end of your time in the Loire Valley, you'll be returned to Paris for hotel drop-off.
Choose a sunrise or sunset balloon flight, then hop into your 4x4 vehicle at your Amboise hotel for the journey to the launch site. On arrival, watch your balloon being inflated and listen to a safety briefing from your pilot. With your balloon ready for flight, jump into your basket and take to the skies!
During your 3-hour flight, watch the sun rise or set over the forests, lakes, rivers, and towns of the Loire Valley. Capture birds eye views of the vineyards and orchards, and listen as your pilot points out famous landmarks such as the castles of Amboise, Chenonceau, or Villandry.
Enjoy a smooth touchdown, then toast your flight with a glass of bubbling Champagne or sparkling grape juice. Receive your flight certificate, then return in comfort to your hotel to conclude your tour.
Your day tour starts with pickup at your Paris hotel by your guide for the drive to your first stop in the Loire Valley, the Castle of Amboise (Château d'Amboise), once a royal residence.
Featuring Renaissance designs, the white castle stands on the banks of the Loire River, towering over the landscape. Take a 1-hour tour with a provided audio guide to see the castle's interior rooms, chapel (where Leonardo da Vinci is entombed), and gardens, and learn about its history, including how it was a gathering place of philosophers, sculptors, and artists from all over France, Flanders, and Italy, including Da Vinci, who came to the château in 1516 and lived until his death in 1519.
Next, visit a restaurant situated in a unique natural surrounding: an ancient mountain cave, which was dug in the chalky valley to use for wine aging. Today, it creates an intimate atmosphere for lunch; enjoy regional Loire Valley dishes and a welcome glass of Montlouis sparkling wine amid the cozy decor of woodwork and a large fireplace.
Your last stop gives you the opportunity to discover some French wine. Learn about the wine-production process at a winery, where you'll take a guided tour that includes a tasting of six winesone rosé, one white, and four reds from the Chinon AOC, accompanied by local products. Afterward, return to Paris to end your day trip.
Following a 9:00am pickup at the Tourist Office in central Tours, France, take a seat in your air-conditioned minivan and relax on route to the Château de Blois widely considered among the Loire Valleys finest historic castles.
On arrival, enjoy skip-the-line entry and begin exploring with your guide. During your tour, admire the fine medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, and classical architecture you find, and learn of life here during the reigns of Kings Louis XII and François I of France.
Head onward to Cour-Cheverny winemaking region famous for its chardonnay, gamay, pinot noir, and sauvignon grapes and sample a locally made white wine. Afterward, head onward for lunch with wine in a local restaurant.
After lunch, beat the entrance queues and visit the Château de Cheverny with your guide. Here, admire the beautiful fittings, fixtures, and furniture for which the castle is famous and learn of the historic Hurault de Vibraye family who own the property.
Lastly, enjoy skip-the-line entry to the Château de Chambord, and admire key features including the beautiful suites and double-spiral staircase. At 6:30pm, return in comfort to your starting point in central Tours, France to conclude your tour.
Meet your driver in the morning at a centrally located place in the city of Tours, France. Board your comfortable air-conditioning 8-seats minivan that will take you to your first destination.
You will start your day with a visit of the Castle of Azay Le Rideau. Gilles Berthelots Château, delicately placed on an island on the Indre river, is, with its open staircase, still considered one of the most elegant examples of Renaissance architecture.
Then, enjoy a tour, wine tasting (Bourgueil or Chinon wines) and lunch at a family estate or at a traditional restaurant with fresh local products. A true authentic moment.
After lunch, your guide will take you to Langeais Fortress. Best reconstitution of everyday life in the Middle Ages, the royal castle of Langeais, built under king Louis XI, was the scene of the wedding of king Charles VIII and Ann of Brittany. In the spectacular banquet and wedding halls, you will discover amazing original sets of tapestries and furniture.
Your final stop is at the spectacular gardens of Touraine, Villandry. The castle of Villandry, finished in 1536, is the last of the large castles to have been built on the banks of the Loire during the Renaissance. It offers one of the most spectacular gardens of the Loire Valley. With its Renaissance, vegetable, water and herb gardens, it is definitely a must see. Long avenues of linden trees which structure the four levels of the garden, delicate silhouettes of yew trees in the topiary style, vegetables and flowers, scents and savors, calmness and energy, tranquillity and effervescence
Around 6:30pm, your guide will drive you back to the city of Tours, France.
Your registered guide will give you a tour of the two most famous catles in the Loire Valley. After a wine tasting and cheese pairing, you will taste local food for lunch. Then tour the castle of Chambord.
The Chateau of Chenonceau is the most visited castle in the Loire Valley. It is unique for many reasons. It is nicknamed "the ladies chateau" because Its owners had only been women. It has gorgeous Renaissance gardens. It is set like a bridge across the Cher River.
Then you will have a cheese and wine tasting in a limestone cave winery on white wines (for example Vouvray). Also on this tour you will see the Hunting lodge built by King Francois I, it is the largest chateau and the most spectacular piece of architecture. You will be impressed by its 426 rooms and its 282 fireplaces. Your tour guide will show and explain it's mind blowing double helix staircase, probably a Leonardo da Vinci creation. The forest in which it is in is a national game reserve.
Then it is just a one hour drive back to Tours.
Discover chateau de Chenonceau, its graceful architecture and remarkable gardens.
Tour Chambord, the largest and most spectacular Loire Valley castle.
PRIVATE LOIRE VALLEY TOURS
Private excursion, chauffeur guide and vehicle from 09:30AM to 05:30PM.
Chateaux of Chenonceau and Chambord.
Our recommendation for the train if you come from Paris: TGV n°8407 - departure from Paris Montparnasse train station at 07h40 and arrival at Saint Pierre des Corps train station at 08:45AM.
Pick up at Saint Pierre des Corps train station or at your hotel located in the Loire Valley (between Tours and Blois).
10.00AM: Guided tour of the Castle of Chenonceau.
The unique architecture of the Chateau makes it one of the most exquisite Chateaux in the Loire Valley. Nicknamed the ladies castle », Chenonceau is related to important French women such as Catherine de Medici. The magnificent Renaissance gardens around it make it even more spectacular.
11:30AM: Tour and wine tasting (INCLUDED) and lunch (NOT INCLUDED - OPTIONAL 74,00€ per person).
You are welcomed in Caves Duhard established in 1874. Its owner and wine maker Daniel Gatay is specialized in mature Vouvray wines. You can discover a large range of vintages, from 1947 to our days. Made of chenin blanc the Vouvray is a mineral wine with a high acidity level which gives to the wine a great aging capacity.
This meal is based on the discovery of Loire Valley wines around a tasting of local products.
• 3 white wines paired with cheeses.
• 2 or 3 red wines (Bourgueil, Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, Chinon) paired with meat.
• 1 semi dry o sweet dessert wine.
02:30PM: Guided tour of the Castle of Chambord.
In the middle of a forest as large as the city of Paris Chambord was the first Loire Valley chateau listed in the world heritage by UNESCO. Ordered in 1519 by King Francois I, with 426 rooms, 77 staircases and 282 fireplaces, it is the largest castle in the region. Leonardo da Vinci is the creator of its incredible double helix staircase.
At the end of the day, transfer back to Saint Pierre des Corps train station or to your hotel located in the Loire Valley.
End of the services.
With your licensed tour guide, visit small wineries of Vouvray for splendid white wines and of Chinon and Bourgueil for Cab Francs.
PRIVATE LOIRE VALLEY WINE TOUR
Private excursion, chauffeur guide Interpreter and vehicle from 09:30AM to 05:30PM.
Chauffeured tour.Loire Valley wine tastings: Vouvray, Chinon, Bourgueil.
Our recommendation for the train if you come from Paris: TGV n°8407 - departure from Paris Montparnasse train station at 07:40AM and arrival at Saint Pierre des Corps train station at 08:45AM.
Pick up at Saint Pierre des Corps train station or at your hotel located in the Loire Valley (between Tours and Blois).
Tour and Vouvray wine tasting.
Visit of a wine cellar, for a tasting of Vouvray wines. Created in 1875, this Domain has been expanding for the last five generations and now owns 26 hectares of organic vineyards in different parts of the Vouvray appellation. Made from Chenin Blanc grape, Vouvray wines beneficiate from an exceptional terroir (clay and limestone). It is a mineral wine with a high acidity level which gives to the wine a great aging capacity. The tour of the cave is done while wine tasting.
Tour and wine tasting lunch at a local domain. (NOT INCLUDED - OPTIONAL 74,00 € per person)
100 % Cab Franc. The vines of Minière are ideally spread out over the entire « terroir » covered by the appellation, from the gravel shores along the Loire River to the clay, limestone and silica (mineral) soils of the hills overlooking the valley. This diversity of soils enables us to produce tasty, delicate, fruity wines to be consumed young, as well as more full-bodied, age-worthy wines with tannins that become silky over time.
Guided tour of the town of Chinon.
With its medieval streets, Chinon has remained an outdoor museum of architecture and history. Discover the medieval half-timbered houses and the Renaissance town houses built the Kings financers or ministers. With its fortress built by Henry II Plantagenet and Richard the Lions heart, Chinon is the town where Joan of Arc met King Charles VII in 1429.
Tour and wine tasting at a local domain in the Chinon appelation.
100 % Cab Franc for the red, which is the main production. Then rosé from Cab Franc as a well. Whites are also produced and are elaborated from chenin blanc.
According to the age of the vine, the soil, the sun and wind exposition, the different techniques in the wine making itself, producers will elaborate a great variety of wines from the same grape variety, producing thirst quenchers or rich and complex red wines.
At the end of the day, transfer back to Saint Pierre des Corps train station or to your hotel located in the Loire Valley.
End of the services.
Your meet your driver-guide at the meeting point. Transportation will be in a comfortable and full option 8-seats minivan.
Arriving in the Loire Valley, youll start your day tour touring the chateau of Chenonceau (includes skip the line entrances). The unique architecture of the Chateau makes it one of the most exquisite Chateaux in the Loire Valley. Nicknamed the ladies castle », Chenonceau is related to important French women such as Catherine de Medici. The magnificent Renaissance gardens around it make it even more spectacular.
Then, enjoy a nice tour and wine tasting at a wine specialists in matured Loire Valley vintages. You are welcomed in this cellar cave established in 1874. Its owner and wine maker is specialized in mature Vouvray wines. You can discover a large range of vintages, from 1947 to our days. Made of chenin blanc the Vouvray is a mineral wine with a high acidity level which gives to the wine a great aging capacity.
Lunch is at a friendly local restaurant built in a cave where a typical French meal will be served.
After lunch, you will tour the Royal Castle of Amboise (includes skip the line entrances). This was the residence of Charles VIII and young François dAngoulème, the future king Francois I. This wonderful castle is a perfect example of transition from Gothic to Renaissance, and the grave of Leonardo da Vinci shelters today in its chapel.
Guided tour of the Chateau of the Clos Lucé (includes skip the line entrances) to meet the Genius in his Manor du Clos Lucé. Leonardo da Vinci spent there the last three years of his life. You will be in awe in front of the invention room, displaying models of the most spectacular machines Leonardo invented.
Around 6pm, your guide will drive you back to Tours Tourist Office.
After perhaps helping to prepare your hot-air balloon, climb into the basket in the village of Francueil near Chenonceau between 6am and 7am (for the morning flight) or between 7pm and 8pm (for the evening flight). Then, watch as your pilot ignites the burners to send you into the wide, blue yonder.
During your 1-hour flight, listen as your pilot points out the forests, lakes, rivers, and towns of the Loire Valley. Enjoy the peace and quiet hot-air ballooning offers, and capture the spectacular scenery on camera from your vantage point in the sky.
On landing, enjoy light refreshments accompanied by a flute of Champagne to toast your flight, then transfer back to your starting point to conclude your tour.
Float effortlessly through the skies in France and admire sweeping views over the Loire Valley on this 3-hour hot-air balloon ride. After watching your pilot inflate the hot-air balloon, step into the basket and drift high over the Loire Valley. Admire sweeping views over the scenery below, then toast your flight with a glass of Champagne on landing. Tour includes round-trip travel from Francueil, near Chenonceau.
These private flights are scheduled every day except saturdays. Rendezvous time with your pilote is either at 06h00 am or 07h00 pm. The total excursion time is 3 hours. Your pilot and crew will meet you at the rendezvous point at the winery La Gourmandière in the village of Francueil (near the Chateau of Chenonceau - Loire Valley) They will drive you to the take off field near the Chateau where you will watch the inflation, climb on board and off you go for a one hour flight past the Château and over the French countryside. After discovering Chateau and villages along the way at the gentle landing your pilot will serve a bottle of local sparkling wine. Once the balloon is packed up he will take you back to the rendezvous point by car.
Explore the Loire Valley Castles with a self-guided audio tour that includes a transfer from central Paris. Enjoy access to Cheverny, Chenonceau, and Grandiose Chambord and enjoy a comprehensive experience of these Loire Valley treasures.
Please note : on Mondays and Saturdays in summer, you will visit Amboise instead of Chambord! Also entrance to 2 castles + Wine tastings ( From April 1st 2018)
Audio guided Tour from Paris to the Loire Valley in one Day. Discover some must see Castles such as Stately Cheverny, Elegant Chenonceau and Massive Chambord. This tour includes a departure by Luxury Air-conditioned Motorcoach from central located Agency at 7.15am.
After driving through a gentle French Countryside with undulating hills, you will reach Cheverny before 10am. The Chateau appears untouched by the Renaissance and it has remained in the same Family: The Huraults for six Centuries. Visit during one hour at your own pace the Estate, its gardens with a wonderful display of color, its labyrinth
Chenonceau, located 30 miles away, will be the 2nd Castle to visit at your leisure. Described as the Ladies Castle; the regal refuge that owes its very existence to a list of powerful ladies such as Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici (as well as others). You will be fascinated by Its Renaissance architecture and artwork by masters of the day. Its fine furniture, rare tapestries, and the ornate formal gardens will also captivate you.
After lunch and around one hour drive from Chenonceau, you will explore by audio guide the Impressive structure finest example of Renaissance French Architecture: Chambord, The retreat for French Kings especially Louis XIV! Built by Francois I left his mark on the architectural and cultural achievements of his reign. He placed his symbols, the salamander and the letter F anywhere he could: ceiling, castle-door ways... The Castle has a famous double helix staircase inspired by Leonard da Vinci, a friend of the King.
An unforgettable Experience during the whole day.
During Winter time (from November till the end March), lunch will be included.
Return to Paris is scheduled at 8pm
Please note : on Mondays and Saturdays in summer, you will visit Amboise instead of Chambord! Also entrance to 2 castles Chenonceau & Chambord+ Wine tastings ( From April 1st 2018)
Meet your guide in central Paris at 8am. You will travel in a comfortable deluxe van and have time to relax. After a 2 hours drive, you will arrive to the ancient Roman founded village of Sancerre where you will discover the lovely streets and enjoy the nice view of Sancerre appellation vineyards. You will start with the visit of a local winemaker and experiment white and red tastings. You will visit the cellars, talk to the winemaker and taste their best wines made with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes. You will end the morning with a break for lunch.
After lunch time, your Sommelier will guide you to meet a second local wine producer for visiting and tastings. You will as well have a nice walk in the vineyards where your Sommelier will explain to you the characteristics of the region climate and soil. You will continue the visit through the vineyards and stop at a family cheese farm and taste the delicious "Crottin de Chavignol" goat cheese, the famous cheese from the Loire Valley with a last glass of wine. You will head back to central Paris around 7pm.
Your guide is a highly qualified Sommelier, passionated by history who will teach you how to understand French wine labels,"terroirs", Loire Valley grapes varieties, french cheese varieties. The small group (max 8) makes it very interactive and convivial. The white and red wine tastings, the wine and cheese pairing and the various sights visited from Medieval Village to a cheese farm make the tour very complete.
Travel out of Paris to the picturesque Loire Valley by deluxe car or minivan on this private day trip. You'll visit three of the major castles in this UNESCO World Heritagelisted region: Château de Chambord, Château de Chenonceau, and Château de Cheverny (or Château d'Amboise or Château de Blois if you choose, instead of Cheverny). Tour the inside of the three castles with a private guide, who shares insight about the architecture and history. Hotel pickup and drop-off are included.
Your day trip starts with hotel pickup by private vehicle for the 2-hour drive from Paris to the Loire Valley, known for its castles and wine.
Start with a visit to Château de Chambord, the largest in the Loire Valley, allegedly built using a design created by Leonardo da Vinci. This extravagant structure with 360 chimneys once housed members of the French court, who would welcome the king of France when he returned from hunting. Of all the architectural wonders of Chambord, the most famous is the double-spiral staircase, the core of the building.
Next, discover Château d'Amboise, a royal castle and gardens overlooking the Loire River and the blue-slate roofs of the town of the same name. The St. Hubert chapel is home to the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci, who died while a guest of the king. If you wish, you might want to enjoy a tasting of Touraine wines, from the appellation of Amboise or Montlouis (own expense).
Then continue to Château de Chenonceau, known for its construction over the Cher River, where the beauty of its architecture is reflected in the water. Nicknamed the 'Château of the Ladies,' Chenonceau was a favorite among women of the French nobility. Your private day trip then ends with return to your Paris hotel.
Note: On the day of your tour, it may be possible to visit a different castle instead of Amboise, to be discussed with your guide, such as Château de Cheverny, an early 17th-century private castle, richly furnished, with a beautiful park and a hundred hound dogs in their kennels. Or visit Château de Blois, a royal castle that illustrates different periods in architecture with its combination of Gothic, Renaissance, and Classical styles.
Discover the wonders of the Loire Valley with this Wineries & Castles full-day tour from Paris! Visit the magnificent Chateau of Chambord, enjoy a gourmet wine & food pairing lunch at a family-run winery of the Touraine Wine region and enjoy a visit and tasting in a second Loire Valley winery. White, red, rosé, sparkling and sweet wines, youll be amazed by the diversity of Loire Valley wines! This small-group tour limited to 8 people includes round-trip transportation by air-conditioned minivan.
Do you want to see splendid Renaissance Castles and taste delicious Loire Valley wines? At the end of this 11-hour wine & culture day tour, you will have fallen in love with Chambord impressive architecture and with the diversity of Loire Valley wines. After an early morning hotel pickup in Paris, you will travel with your knowledgeable guide about. 2 hours south of the city towards Chambord Castle. En route, bite into flaky croissants and pastries while hearing about the wine-making region of Loire and its heritage.
You will arrive at Chambord Castle in the morning for an audio-guided tour. Come away knowing the secrets behind this magnificent « Château », constructed by King Francis I of France five hundred years ago. Back in your air-conditioned minivan, pass through the vineyards of Touraine, Vouvray and Montlouis sur Loire. Admire the colorful landscapes of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc grapes.
Settle in at a family-run Vouvray Wine estate, where youll meet the winemaker and enjoy a delicious meal of traditional food, paired with a wine tasting. After lunch, discover another family-run winery and depending on availability, taste sparkling white wines, dry and sweet white wines, red and rosé wines. Here, you will get to taste authentic Loire Valley wines largely unavailable in the rest of the world.
You will be dropped off back in central Paris (Hôtel de Ville) in the evening.
Discover the wonders of the Loire Valley with style with this Wineries & Castles VIP private full-day tour from Paris!
Visit the magnificent Chateau of Chambord during a private tour with a local guide. For lunch, we've simply booked you a table in one of the best restaurant of the region, which also boasts 1 Michelin star. During the afternoon, enjoy a private visit and tasting in one of the leading wineries of the region. White, red, rosé, sparkling and sweet wines, youll be amazed by the diversity of Loire Valley wines! This private tour includes round-trip transportation by air-conditioned black car or minivan and your private wine expert guide.
Do you want to see splendid Renaissance Castles and taste delicious Loire Valley wines ? At the end of this VIP 11-hour wine & culture private day tour, you will have fallen in love with Chambord impressive architecture and with the diversity of Loire Valley wines.
After an early morning hotel pickup in Paris, you will travel with your knowledgeable guide about. 2 hours south of the city towards Chambord Castle. En route, bite into flaky croissants and pastries while hearing about the wine-making region of Loire and its heritage.
You will arrive at Chambord Castle in the morning for a private tour with a guide from the Castle. He will reveal all the secrets behind this magnificent « Château », constructed by King Francis I of France five hundred years ago and even open you the doors of rooms closed to the public. Back in your air-conditioned car, drive through the vineyards of Touraine, Vouvray and Montlouis sur Loire. Admire the colorful landscapes of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc grapes.
For lunch, our guide will take you to one of the best restaurants of the region, which is a Michelin * restaurant. The chef's creative 5 courses menu is prepared with local products and will be paired to delicious & boutique wines of the region.
After lunch, your guide will take you in the vineyard to enjoy a beautiful landscape and offer you a vine growing introduction course!
Then, you will get to visit one of the most emblematic winery of the region and depending on availability, taste sparkling white wines, dry and sweet white wines, red and rosé wines. Here, you will get to taste authentic Loire Valley wines largely unavailable in the rest of the world.
Our guide will drop you back at your hotel in the early evening.
Discover the whole wine-making process, from grape to wine, with Myriam, the granddaughter and wife of winegrowers from the Vouvray vineyard in the Loire Valley. 3-hour tour including a guided walk in the vines, a tour of the winery and rock-hewn cellar, and a tasting of 6 Loire wines with local finger food. Discover the Vouvray wines and deepen your knowledge of Loire vineyard while enjoying a personalized attention from your local guide on this small-group tour limited to 12 people.
Do you know how to make a rosé or a red wine? What about the bubbles in a sparkling wine? Discover the whole wine-making process, from grape to wine, with Myriam, the granddaughter and wife of winegrowers from the Vouvray vineyard, in the Loire Valley.
This tour includes a guided walk in the vineyard, to learn about vine-growing and discover the winegrower's work throughout the year, then a tour of the winery and cellar and a tutored tasting of 6 Loire wines served with local food to learn about vinification and ageing.
It is a 3-hour tour in a winery in Vouvray.
As one of the worlds most famous paintings, Mona Lisa rarely gets much peace. During regular visiting hours she is almost constantly mobbed by hundreds of people, severely compromising any time you get to spend with her. In order to avoid the crowds, you'll be taken to see her after most visitors have left, providing plenty of space to enjoy her mystique.
Tested and perfected through countless research trips, your itinerary inverts the normal route at the Musée du Louvre so that you save the Mona Lisa for last, just as the museum is closing. Before that, start your Louvre tour with a full 3 hours of art viewing, allowing you to see more than most other visitors, who are on the normal tours that try to fit the rest of the museum into 1.5 hours.
During the tour, your guide shows you the Louvres most treasured sights, including the historic foundations of the palace moat; sculptures such as Venus de Milo, Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, and Michelangelos Rebellious Slave; and many of the greatest works ever created by French artists, such as Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix and The Raft of the Medusa by Géricault. Youll also see Frances old crown jewels, the famous Winged Victory of Samothrace, and works by Italian painters like Caravaggio, Raphael, and Da Vinci.
There are many ways to see the Louvre, but only one way shows you all the best works and gets you in front of Mona Lisa after most of the crowds have left. Your guide takes care of all the time and logistics so all you have to do is enjoy the art.
After pickup from your central Paris hotel in an air-conditioned minivan, relax on the scenic drive to the Loire Valley in central France. Below are the two sets of castles you can choose to visit on your private tour.
Option one: Amboise, Chenonceau and Chambord Castles
With your private guide, explore Château dAmboise in the heart of the beautiful Touraine region. Learn about this fascinating Gothic-Renaissance castle that was favored by French kings, and visit the Chapel of St Hubert, where the famous Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci is buried.
Your tour continues to Château de Chenonceau, noted for its elegant regal décor that has no doubt helped to make it one of the most popular French châteaux. After touring the castle, sit down for a hearty three-course lunch at an 18th-century inn nearby (included). Refer to the Itinerary section below to see a sample menu.
Your day finishes at the largest of the Loire Valley castles -- Château de Chambord. This ornate Renaissance castle is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and rightly so! As you tour this extravagant castle with your private guide, marvel at its architecture and see its intriguing double-helix staircase that was reputedly designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
Option two: Villandry, Langeais and Azay le Rideau Castles
Start your private tour with a visit to Château de Villandry, the last castle to be built on the Loire River. While its inside is interesting to see, the main draw of this gorgeous château is undoubtedly its lavish gardens. Stroll along the tranquil terraces and immaculate lawns, and prepare to get lost in its puzzling maze!
Head onto Château de Langeais and admire its classic medieval architecture as you explore inside. Learn about the rich history surrounding this fascinating, yet somewhat imposing, fortress that was once the most important stronghold along the road to Nantes.
For lunch, visit the bakery near the castle (own expense) and settle down for a picnic in the castles peaceful park. Alternatively, your guide will happily offer recommendations for nearby restaurants and cafés if youd rather eat somewhere else.
Lastly, tour the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Château dAzay le Rideau, easily one of the most elegant castles in the Loire Valley. This gorgeous chateau lies on a tiny island in the middle of the River Indre, surrounded by wooded parkland.
After your Loire Valley châteaux tour, enjoy the relaxing drive back to Paris.
Explore the beautiful Loire Valley vineyards of the Vouvray Appellation. Visit two superb estates, meet the producers and learn how to taste these elegant wines from this well-known terroir of the Loire Valley area. Don't forget to enjoy stunning views of the town of Amboise and its impressive chateau!
2.00pm: Meet your guide at Tours Toursit Office, step into a minivan and then you're off to Vouvray. Discover this beautiful wine area full of passion-driven winegrowers. Meet a French winemaker in a charming family-run estate. See the vines and visit the traditional vat room and the cellars. During this visit, you will improve your knowledge regarding wine-making and of course wine-tasting. The terroir of this wine area allows the production of elegant sparkling wines and white wines.
After this first visit, explore one of the famous underground caves that were dug at the 10th century in order to extract stones, and today used by a famous Loire Valley Wine house for producing and storing wines. All along the afternoon, your passionate guide will share with you all his knowledge to help you understand better the diversity of Loire wines and its specific terroir. You will learn the different steps of wine-tasting and train your nose to identify many wine aromas. To do so, you will aslo taste wines from the other Appellations of the region. Benefit from your guide's tips and tricks and taste like a pro. After this experience, the Loire wine-area will have no secrets left for you.
Before saying goodbye, share an aperitif made of local products like cheese, rillettes and fresh bread - the perfect match to Loire wines with a stunning view.
7.00pm: Return to Tours Tourist Office.
In this full day private tour from the town of Tours, discover the French kings valley at Christmas time! The Renaissance castles hosted magnificent receptions in the old days, this tradition and art of entertaining in the Loire Valley is still alive nowadays. December is the perfect time to embrace the castles beautiful holiday decor and enjoy the special atmosphere of Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Your guide will pick you up at 9am from your hotel or accommodation in the town of Tours. Board your comfortable private minivan and go to your first stop: Château de Chambord. More than just a castle, this work of art is a glorious historical site that will take you to the heart of the Loire Valley. Upon entering the park, you will discover majestic 3 meter-high Christmas trees lighting up the alleys. If the weather is fine, your group will share a coffee, hot chocolate or croissants in the park, while taking in this truly unforgettable view!
Once inside this must-see castle, your visit will be animated with wonderful decorations, cozy fireplaces and splendid Christmas trees. This tour will be made even more fun and captivating by your personal guide. He/She will select for you the most emblematic rooms to visit, share memorable anecdotes and point to hidden details of interest. Prepare yourself for some breathtaking views of the castle and life in time of French Renaissance.
After this first visit, you will need a small rest! Your guide will drive you to Château de Cheverny for a cozy lunch (not included in the price of the tour - to be paid the day of the tour) by the fireplace. The atmosphere of the Trophee hall is quite unique. The candle-lit table is prepared for a wonderful lunch served with wine produced in the area. Kids and adults alike will definitely enjoy this French "art de vivre".
Yet, the day is not over! Continue to Chenonceau village.
Château de Chenoceau is one of the most visited historical monuments in France. You will have the chance to admire this unique castle built on a bridge crossing the Cher river. With your guide, take your time to appreciate the refined fresh flower arrangements for which the castle is renowned, impressive gilded Christmas trees in each room, and striking garlands everywhere you look - even in the castles kitchen!
Come nightfall, a stunning view of the the castle illuminations will be unveiled before your eyes. Lit up by a myriad of colours, the Ladies castle suddenly takes on a magical atmosphere.
Then, your guide will drive you back to the city of Tours at around 7pm.
Enjoy a day in the French Countryside while you explore three remarkable Chateaux in the Loire Valley. Join a small group tour from Paris and spend the day marvelling at the beautiful Renaissance castles of Chenonceau, Chambord, and Amboise!
Wander through the flower gardens of Chenonceau, gaze at its delicate arches which cross over the Cher river, and learn the extraordinary history of this Chateau which was run by woman for most of its existence. In the châteaus cellars, youll enjoy 3 wines from this region (Red, Rosé & White).
At Chambord youll marvel at the largest of the Loire valley chateaux, admire its extravagant architecture with double spiraled staircase and hundreds of stunning columns and spires which adorn the roof.
Then at Amboise youll visit the court of King Francois 1st, the tomb of Leonardo Da Vinci, and experience the charming village attached to the Chateau!
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOUR :
- Chateau de Chenonceau: This chateau has is remarkable for its feminine history of mistresses and ex queens of france as well as its unique aches over the River Cher. - Exquisite French Gardens: The gardens of Chenonceau with their more than 130,000 flowerings plants and shrubs are truly stunning!
- Chateau de Chambord: This Chateau is famous for its outstanding architecture with an amazing double spiral staircase and dozens of unique spires on its roof!
- Chateau dAmboise: This Château has known the birth of princes, the reign of Kings, and the death of the greatest Renaissance master, Leonardo Da Vinci!
- Wine Tasting : At Chenonceau youll enjoy 3 wines from the Loire Valley region (Red, Rosé & White).
- Small group: You will be in a group with no more than 8 people and your guide! So individual attention and quality time with your guide can be guaranteed.
- Comfortable A/C Van: Youll ride in a brand new, very comfortable, minivan. You can even pick up some nice souvenirs and well put them in the back for you.
- Live Guide: Hear an introduction to the Loire Valley region and the history of each Chateau our professional guide who will be happy to answer any questions you have. - Visual Aids: Your guide will carry old maps and and pictures that will help you to better understand the history of each castle.
Each summer, the Tour de France races across the country, giving a select group of very talented cyclists a chance to see the country from a blurry perspective. On this cycling tour of the Loire Valley, knowing the difference between a front derailleur and a rear dropout isn't necessary. Hop on a bike and experience ornate châteaux, rustic markets, vineyards, and rural Gallic charm. Think of this as the perfect combination of slow food, fine wines, and remote country tracks – ideal for seeing the inspiring scenery.
- Hands-On: Vineyard Visit and Tasting
- All cycling equipment including bicycle
- Luggage transfer between locations
- Cycling through the Loire Valley (6 days)
- Entry to Château de Chenonceau and visit to the troglodyte caves
- Market stop for local ingredients and picnic lunch (Tours)
- Lumière Museum visit
- Transport between destinations and to/from included activities
Hotels (7 nts)
7 breakfasts, 1 lunch
Allow USD295-385 for meals not included.
Staff & experts
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout.
Is this tour for me?
Travel Style: Active
Hiking, trekking, biking, rafting, and kayaking adventures all over the world, made for outdoor types.
Service Level: Standard
Comfortable tourist-class accommodations with character; mix of public and private transport.
Physical Rating: 4 - Demanding
Some high-altitude hikes or more strenuous activities, but accessible to most healthy travellers.
Trip Type: Small Group
Small group experience; Max 12, Avg 10
Age requirement: 12+
All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
8 days: Blois to Angers
Day 1 - Blois
Arrive at any time.
Day 2 - Blois/Chenonceaux
Enjoy a full day of cycling from Blois to Chenonceau with the opportunity to visit the Chateau de Blois.
Day 3 - Chenonceaux/Tours
Continue cycling with stops along the way at Château de Chenonceau and the local markets to pick up some traditional ingredients for a french style picnic lunch.
Breakfast | Lunch
Day 4 - Tours/Chinon
Set off for another full-day cycling from Tours to Chinon. Stop to visit the Chateau Usse en route. Upon arrival visit a local vineyard for a wine tasting.
Hands-On Vineyard Visit and Tasting
Day 5 - Chinon/Saumur
Wake up in medieval Chinon, visit troglodyte caves and cycle to Saumur.
Day 6 - Saumur/Gennes
In the afternoon cycle through some of the Loire's tiny villages on the way to Gennes. Stop for a visit to the Pierre et Lumiére museum.
Day 7 - Gennes/Angers
On the final day of cycling, travel from Gennes to Angers. In the evening opt for a final tradition french dinner with the group.
Day 8 - Angers
Depart at any time.
Depart from central Paris by air-conditioned coach and head through the Aquitaine countryside to the town of Blois in the Loire Valley, where the Royal Château de Blois awaits. Tour the beautiful castle with your guide and learn of the many French kings who once called it home.
Enjoy free time in Amboise for lunch, then discover the spectacular Château du Clos Lucé, famous as the final residence of painter and inventor Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century. Head on to explore the beautifully manicured Gardens of Villandry with your guide.
On the second day of your tour, enjoy guided tours of Chenonceau, Cheverney and Chambord three of the Loire Valleys finest castles. Marvel at the blends of architectural styles you see and admire the fine arches of the Château de Chenonceau stretching across the Cher River.
At the end of your castle visits, travel back to Paris by coach where your tour will conclude.
Begin with a visit to the delightful town of Rouen and explore the medieval Old Town with your guide, then head onward to the beautiful port of Honfleur. Discover the famous Omaha Beach site of the Normandy landings in WWII and visit the American Cemetery of Saint-Laurent and Arromanches.
Take a guided tour of Saint-Malo then continue on to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mont Saint-Michel and visit the ancient abbey. Head deep into the French countryside and marvel at the plush interior and stately beauty of the medieval Château de Langeais.
Conclude your tour in the Loire Valley with a tour of the Château de Chambord widely considered one of the finest châteaux in France then travel back to Paris where your tour will come to an end.
Depart Paris and head through the Normandy countryside to the historic Mont St-Michel. Enjoy a guided tour of the interior of the Abbey, then explore the streets and alleyways in your own free time and soak up the atmosphere at your leisure.
Travel to Angers and take in views of the 9th-century Château d'Angers before continuing onward to tour the Château de Langeais and the Château du Clos Lucé. Wander the ground of the Château Villandry and admire the beautiful gardens there. End your day with a visit to the ancient town of Tours.
Take a guided tour of Château de Chenonceau then travel on to Cheverny for lunch. End your tour with a guided visit of the Château de Chambord, widely considered to be the finest in the Loire Valley.
A knowledgeable guide, round-trip coach transport and overnight accommodation are included, as well as some meals.
Take a guided tour of iconic Mont St-Michel in Normandy before venturing to central France to visit three remarkable Loire Valley châteaux: Château de Langeais, Château de Chenonceau and Château de Chambord. A knowledgeable guide, round-trip coach transport and overnight accommodation is included, as well as some meals.
Useful French for sightseeing
|English (anglais)||French (français)||Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun|
|Where is?...||Où est?||ou eh|
|...the museum||le musee||luh moo-ZAY|
|...the cathedral||le cathédrale||luh ka-teh-DRAHL|
|When is it open?||Quand est-il ouvert?||coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR
|When does it close?||A quelle heure est-ce que cela ferme?||ah kell eur es kuh suhla fair-MAY|
|ticket||billet d'entrée||bee-YAY dahn-TRAY|
|two adults||deux adultes||dooz ah-DOOLT|
|one child||un enfant||ehn ahn-FAHN|
|one student||un étudiant||uh-NETOO-dee-YON|
Basic phrases in French
|English (anglais)||French (français)||pro-nun-see-YAY-shun|
|please||s'il vous plaît||seel-vou-PLAY|
|Do you speak English?||Parlez-vous anglais?||par-lay-VOU on-GLAY|
|I don't understand||Je ne comprende pas||zhuh nuh COHM-prohnd pah|
|I'm sorry||Je suis desolée||zhuh swee day-zoh-LAY|
|How much does it cost?||Combien coute?||coam-bee-YEHN koot|
|That's too much||C'est trop||say troh|
|Good evening||Bon soir||bohn SWAH|
|Good night||Bon nuit||bohn NWEE|
|Excuse me (to get attention)||Excusez-moi||eh-skooze-ay-MWA|
|Excuse me (to get past someone)||Pardon||pah-rRDOHN|
|Where is?||Où est?||ou eh|
|...the bathroom||la toilette||lah twah-LET|
|...train station||la gare||lah gahr|
Days, months, and other calendar items in French
|English (anglais)||French (français)||Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun|
|When is it open?||Quand est-il ouvert?||coan eh-TEEL oo-VAIR|
|When does it close?||Quand est l'heure de fermeture?||coan eh lure duh fair-mah-TOUR|
|At what time...||à quelle heure...||ah kell uhre|
|Day after tomorrow||après demain||ah-PRAY duh-MEHN|
|a day||un jour||ooun zhuhr|
|a month||un mois||ooun mwa|
Numbers in French
|English (anglais)||French (français)||Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun|
|21*||vingt et un *||vahnt eh UHN|
|22*||vingt deux *||vahn douh|
|23*||vingt trois *||vahn twa|
|5,000||cinq mille||sank meel|
|10,000||dix mille||dees meel|
* You can form any number between 20 and 99 just like the examples for 21, 22, and 23. For x2–x9, just say the tens-place number (trente for 30, quarante for 40, etc.), then the ones-place number (35 is trente cinq; 66 is soixsante six). The only excpetion is for 21, 31, 41, etc. For x1, say the tens-place number followed by "...et un" (trente et un, quarante et un, etc.).
‡ Yes, the French count very strangely once they get past 69. Rather than some version of "seventy,' they instead say "sixy-ten" (followed by "sixty-eleven," "sixty-twelve,' etc. up to "sixty-nineteen.") And then, just to keep things interesting, they chenge it up again and, for 80, say 'four twenties"—which always make me thinks of blackbirds baked in a pie for some reason. Ninety becomes "four-twenties-ten" and so on up to "four-nineties-ninteen" for 99, which is quite a mouthful: quartre-vingts-dix-neuf.