Day 1 Depart USA
- Privately guided tours of the major Loire Valley Chateaux including Chenonceau, Cheverny, Amboise and Chambord
- Tasting the best of Vouvray, Bourgeuil and Chinon wines while in the Loire Valley
- A privately guided tour of the Palace of Versailles, its gardens and the Trianon
- Experiencing the classic champagnes like Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Taittinger and Moet and new boutique champagnes like Da Sousa and Larmandier.
You board your overnight flight to Paris, the gateway for your discovery of the delights of the Loire Valley and the Champagne Region.
Day 2 Welcome to France
Upon arrival in Paris you are met by your guide and taken on an orientation tour of Paris. Whether this is your first or fifteenth trip to Paris it is impossible not to be impressed as you see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, L'arc de Triomphe or the Champs Elysees and know that you are truly in Paris. You will view some of these sites in detail later on but for now you absorb it all. You stop for lunch in the trendy Bercy area, formerly an area where wine warehouses were located and now converted into boutiques, wine shops, excellent restaurants and a beautiful park. After lunch your guide takes you to your centrally-located hotel where you have the afternoon to relax or explore the neighborhood around the hotel. Dinner is at the hotel's superb restaurant this evening.
Day 3 Cultural Icons of Paris
After breakfast you are met by your guide and begin a day of discovery involving three of Paris' architectural and artistic gems, Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle and the Louvre. Your first visit will be to Notre Dame located on an island in the middle of the Seine. Your guide will give you a private tour of the cathedral explaining its history and pointing out the various works of art. You take a walk outside the Cathedral to admire the flying buttresses and to wander through the nearby flower market. Nearby is Saint Chapelle, built by Louis IX to store the crown of thorns and a piece of the true cross. Despite damage during the revolution, over two thirds of the stained glass windows are original. After lunch you proceed to the Louvre where you spend the afternoon viewing some of the great works displayed here including The Wedding at Cana by Veronese, Coronation of Napoleon by David, the Venus de Milo and, of course the Mona Lisa by DaVinci. Tonight you have dinner in Le Marais, Paris' oldest residential neighborhood
Day 4 Tours- the Heart of the Loire Valley
In the morning your driver is waiting to take you to the station where 1st Class seats are reserved on the TGV to Tours. In a little over an hour you arrive in Tours. Upon arrival in Tours your guide will give you an overview of the city noted for its elegance and culture. You stop for some lunch and then head to Montbazon where your Chateau awaits. Although in keeping in size and elegance with its neighbor Chateaux, this property was built in the 20th Century by Francois Coty, the newspaper publisher, politician and, most famously, a parfumier. The property sits within a 65 acre estate and boasts a cellar of over 20,000 bottles mainly from the Loire region. You will have a chance to sample some with your dinner this evening.
Day 5 Chenonceau, Chambord and the Wines of Vouvray
Your first stop for the day will be Chateau Chenonceau which people always recall as being built over a river. It was built by Henry II and is an excellent example of Renaissance architecture. Since the 1950's it has been owned by a family of chocolatiers and they have lavished both love and treasure on its restoration. You then proceed to the Vouvray wine district which celebrates the Chenin Blanc Grape. You will stop for some private visits prior to and after lunch, probably at Clos Naudin and Domain Huet. After the tastings and lunch you will proceed to one of the most impressive of the Chateaux, Chambord. It was built by Francois I as a hunting lodge and its twenty miles of walls enclose 13,000 acres of parkland, larger than the city of Paris. The Chateau has 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and stables accommodating up to 1,200 horses. Leonardo Da Vinci had a say in its design and one of his key additions was an interlocking set of stairwells connecting four rooms such that people could come and go without being seen. It is said that one of the set of stairs was for the Queen and the other for the King's mistresses. Another dinner awaits you back at your Chateau.
Day 6 Cheverny, the Wines of Bourgeuil and Chinon and Amboise
After breakfast you will head out into the charming Loire countryside. Your first visit will be to Chateau Cheverny, which was built in the 17th Century by the Count of Cheverny whose descendants still own it. The chateau is well maintained and as you are shown the grounds you may hear the hounds that still lead the chase as in days gone by. You're next stop will be to the wine areas of Bourgeuil and Chinon, noted for their Cabernet Franc grapes. You will have a chance to taste the vintages at Amirault which offers Bourgeuil and Domaine Joquet which offers a fine Chinon. After lunch you visit the last of the four great Chateaux, Amboise which is also considered to be the most historically significant. Although the present structure represents only a quarter of the original it is still impressive and offers superb views of the Loire River. On the grounds is the Chapelle de St. Hubert where Leonardo Da Vinci is said to be buried, although there is some dispute. What is not in dispute is the fact that he spent the last three years of his life in the nearby village of Le Close Luce and a walk through the village is your last activity of the day before returning to the Chateau.
Day 7 A Visit to Chartres
After breakfast your guide will take you to the city of Chartres famous for its cathedral and especially the incredible stained glass windows dating from the Middle Ages. Upon arrival in Chartres, you will take a walking tour of the Cathedral and many of the quaint streets and alleyways that define the town. After lunch you head for your hotel, the Chateau d'Esclimont which was originally built for the Archbishop of Tours in 1543 and since that time has been the home of aristocrats, statesmen, politicians and now you. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the Chateau's 150 acres. Boating on the lake is a suggested option. Tonight, dinner in the Chateau's dining room.
Day 8 Exploring Versailles
After breakfast you leave for a private tour of Versailles. While most people rightly think of the palace of the Sun King and the signing of the treaty ending World War I, the town of Versailles has a lot more to offer and we will take the day to explore it. Upon arrival in Versailles you will first go to the Palace to view its magnificent public rooms including the Royal Chapel and the Hall of Mirrors. You will then visit the gardens where you also have lunch. After lunch you visit the Grand and Petit Trianon and the "farm" where Marie Antoinette liked to dress up as a shepherdess. You will also take time to visit the market set up in the town of Versailles since it gives another aspect to the area.
Day 9 The Royal Heritage of Fontainebleau
Today you will visit another historic Chateau, one even larger than Versailles and located in a forest that was once a royal hunting park. Over the years the Chateau has been the home of many royal courts including King Henry II, Catherine de Medici, King Henry IV and Queen Marie Antoinette. Following the revolution, the Chateau fell into disrepair until it was restored to grandeur by Napoleon I. It was from here, in fact, that Napoleon said goodbye to his troops in 1814 and went into exile. In addition to the forest, the Chateau is also surrounded by flowering gardens, fountains, two man-made lakes and a canal. It also has a preserved tennis court dating back before the revolution. With your guide you will get a tour of the key parts of the chateau including the spectacular library before returning to your chateau.
Day 10 Rheims, From Soaring Spires to Deep Cellars
After breakfast you will leave your Chateau and head to Rheims and the Champagne Region. In days past, the Kings of France went to Rheims to be crowned in the cathedral but we suspect it was really for the Champagne. After arriving in Rheims, your first visit will be to the cathedral, a gothic masterpiece with soaring spires. After lunch you go from soaring spires to the subterranean caves and cellars under the city carved from limestone. The bubbles in Champagne are created by a second fermentation in the bottle and this "methode champenoise" is used in the production of all sparkling wines but, by French law, only sparkling wine produced in this area can be called Champagne. Based on your advance requests we can arrange visits to the better houses including Mumm, Taittinger, Krug, Pommery, Roederer or Veuve Clicquot. After the tastings you are taken to your charming chateau which stands among the ruins of a 13th Century castle built by Count Robert de Dreux, grandson of Louis VI. You have a chance to take a dip in the pool before enjoying dinner.
Day 11 The Route du Champagne
Today your guide will take you along the Route du Champagne which is a triangular route between Rheims, Chalons-sur-Marne and Epernay. In creating Champagne, three grapes are used. Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are red grapes and Chardonnay is a white grape. A blanc de blancs Champagne is all Chardonnay while a Blanc de Noirs is all or partially Pinot. You will sample both today. As you move into the Champagne vineyards you meander through the vineyards in the Marne Valley, Montaigne de Rheims and the Corte des Blancs. You get a chance to try smaller and boutique Champagnes from vineyards such as Larmandier, De Sousa and Gatinois. Thanks to your chateau you have the makings of a picnic along with you and the purchase of some Champagne allows for a festive picnic. In the afternoon you visit Epernay and Moet & Chandon. You taste their branded product and also get to taste their premium offering, Dom Perignon, named for the monk who discovered the methode champenoise. Tonight enjoy a special farewell dinner at the Chateau.
Day 12 Return to USA
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight arriving back in the USA the same day.
Available Year Round
Private Escorted Tour - Loire Valley and Champagne Region ULFR07 Location and other villas and tours nearby
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Tour Location / Places Visiteds
Paris, Montbazon, Loire Valley, St. Symphorien, Fere-En-Tardenoise
Additional Pricing Information
- 1st Class rail travel as indicated on the itinerary
- Superior Rooms at the properties indicated in the accommodations area (We reserve the right to substitute a property of equal quality in advance of departure should the designated hotel be unavailable)
- Private Transfers to and from the airport or rail station at destination
- All meals as indicated on the itinerary by B=Breakfast, L=Lunch and D=Dinner
- Private guides for city explorations and private driver/guide while traveling.
- Entrance fees to all museums, attractions and other venues as indicated on the daily itinerary
- Baggage handling at all hotels
- All applicable taxes and service fees
Services Not Included
- International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
- Beverages with included meals (unless otherwise indicated on itinerary page)
- Any meals not indicated on the Itinerary page
- Items of a personal nature e.g. minibar, film, postcards etc.
- Gratuities to Guides and Driver/Guides (we provide suggested guidelines for your selected destination in your pre-departure material)
- Any passport or visa fees or government departure taxes (It is the traveler’s responsibility to secure the latest information regarding passports and visa requirements)
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