The Loire Valley is one of France’s top tourist destinations, especially in summer when castle parking lots are clogged with tour buses. This is why we prefer to explore this gorgeous region when the throngs have cleared out a bit in the fall.
Day 1, September 22:
Arrival at the Train Station in TOURS
We will share a delicious welcome lunch at gourmet bistro Les Gens Heureux, in the heart of the city before following the Loire river downstream to visit the first of our Chateaux.
CHATEAU DE VILLANDRY is famous for its magnificent formal gardens, including intricate renaissance ornamental flower gardens and unforgettable vegetable gardens, it’s truly magical.
We will then head to Fontevraud where we will check into our hotel located on the grounds of the almost one-thousand-year-old Abbey. This Abbey is where Eleanor of Aquitaine stayed, the only woman to be both the Queen of France & England. YOU too will be treated like a Queen!
After a little free time, either to relax, tour the Abbey grounds or the charming adjacent village, we will convene for dinner at the one Michelin starred restaurant on the grounds of the Abbey.
Day 2, September 23:
In the morning we will visit FONTEVRAUD, Europe’s largest Abbey dating back to the 11th Century. It has played a pivotal role in French and European history, as the abbey has always been run by women, was the burial place of Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and son Richard the Lionheart. Its last incarnation was a prison before closing its doors in 1963. The complex of buildings and courtyards are exquisitely restored and bring to life its compelling history.
We will have lunch in nearby Saumur at vintage style Boeuf Noisette. After lunch we will explore this ancient town, which was founded in 845, before visiting the LE CADRE NOIR, for a special showing of France’s elite cavalry in training.
In the late afternoon we’ll meet Denis who will take us out on his traditional boat on the Loire for a riverside WINE TASTING and boat ride on a traditional Loire River fishing boat. He’s the only captain on the river who is both a sailor and a wine maker!
This evening we will enjoy a cozy dinner in neighboring town of Fontevraud.
Day 3, September 24:
In the morning we will go the idyllic CHATEAU AZAY-LE-RIDEAU. After visiting this jewel of a chateau with its halcyon gardens and beautiful reflective moat, we will have some free time to visit the lovely boutiques in the town before having lunch at the restaurant Côté Cour – if it’s nice weather, we can sit out in the garden.
In the afternoon, we will head to our very own chateau, DOMAINE DE LA TORTINIERE where we will be staying for the next two nights. There will be free time for spa treatments, before our epicurean feast at the hotel.
Day 4, September 25:
Today we will have the delight of spending time with the lovely and informative author Casey O’Brien who will take show us some hidden treasures of the region including a visit to her friend’s CHATEAU MONTPOUPON where we will be treated to a champagne reception.
Afterwards we will head to the royal town of Loches where we will enjoy a hearty market-driven lunch before exploring the town’s rich history. It was here that the young Joan of Arc persuaded Charles the VII to claim the throne. We will delve into medieval times while exploring the 11th century keep which houses some of the best preserved and impressive engravings from the time. From the top of the tower we will be able to delight in a bucolic view of the region.
The town also has some lovely boutiques selling regional specialities.
We will return to our Chateau for some more spa treatments and some relaxation.
For dinner we will go to the nearby river town Montbazon where we will dine on elevated local cuisine.
Day 5, September 26:
Today we will visit the area’s most fabled and elegant Chateau, CHENONCEAU. Its history is intrinsically tied to a succession of remarkable women, including rivals Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers. The gardens are remarkable as are the stunning floral displays inside. It’s a garden lover’s paradise.
We will lunch in the beautiful Orangerie restaurant.
After lunch we will go on a private tour of the DOMAINE DU CLOS ROUSSELY, within its unusual setting of troglodyte cellars and collection of old vehicles. Our visit will be accompanied with a tasting which will allow us to discover the local authentic natural wines.
We will then head to the our last and most impressive Chateau, CHAMBORD.
Our hotel is located within a stone’s throw of the crown jewel of the chateaux of the region. Its exclusive spa includes an outdoor jacuzzi with a view of the chateau.
After a private exploration of the gardens at sunset, we will enjoy a gourmet meal at the Relais de Chambord, our hotel’s celebrated restaurant.
Day 6, September 27:
This morning we will explore this imposing Chateau built by François I as a hunting lodge, Chateau Chambord.
We will also visit the chateau’s beautiful vegetable garden.
We will enjoy lunch in the nearby city of Blois, afterwards we will visit the LES JARDINS DE L’ANCIEN ÉVÊCHÉ and tour the famed POULAIN CHOCOLATE.
We’ll have some time to rest and enjoy the spa before have a convivial dinner in the local restaurant of SAINT MARTIN.
Day 7, September 28:
Return to Paris from Blois…
*All itineraries are subject to change slightly based on weather, availability etc. Plus we reserve the right to pepper the above plans with some delightful and exciting additions.
NOTE: This tour will be led by Katrin Hodapp, a GG2P Colleague and a 20 year resident of Paris. She’s American with German roots and is fluent in English, German, French and Spanish and as a former literary agent she has many a story to tell. She always receives rave reviews from GG2P clients! Read more about Katrin here.
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