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 in the fall. 2019 is an ideal time to visit, since the region is celebrating “500 Years of Renaissance” in commemoration of the anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death in Amboise and the birth of the powerful French queen, Catherine de Medici.
Our first home base is outside Tours, where we’ll check in for 3 nights at the lovingly maintained family-owned Domaine de la Tortinière.
Day 1, October 23rd Wednesday
After training from Paris we’ll meet around 11am for a fascinating tour of the Royal Chateau of Blois followed by an inventive modern French lunch made for us by a celebrated Michelin Star chef. Your senses are sure to be astonished by this remarkable chef.
Following lunch we’ll walk through the charming petite Ville of Blois and shop for gifts before heading 45 minutes down river to our hotel to check-in.
In the afternoon you’ll have time for rest and relaxation.
Around 4pm we’ll take a walking tour of Vieux Tours followed by a casual meal in town.
Day 2, October 24th Thursday
Today we’ll see two of the most celebrated Loire Valley Chateaux; starting with Chambord the largest in the region. Built by Francois 1er as a hunting lodge, it is surrounded by a vast park and forest, which we will explore in a horse-drawn carriage. Our next stop is Chenonceau, Touraine’s most fabled and elegant castle, with a history linked to a succession of remarkable women – including rivals Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers. After visiting the sumptuous residence and the remarkable gardens, we’ll enjoy a delectable lunch.
Tonight we’ll relish a casual and relaxing dinner at our own Chateau.
Day 3, October 25th Friday
Our guide today is a Franco-American author who has called the Loire home for over 25 years. She is delighted to share her insider knowledge and introduce us to some of her favorite destinations, off the beaten track.
Our excursion begins at the Amboise outdoor market – voted best in the region. You won’t resist picking up Touraine delicacies to bring back home, along with organize apples for a healthy mid-morning snack.
A sonic drive across the forest of Amboise and Cher River leads to a beautifully appoint3ed family property, romantically perched amid fields and forest. We’ll see the aristocratic owner and tour the handsomely furnished chateau and hunting museum, with exhibits by Parisian taxidermist Deyrolles and iconic Hermès.
Our next destination is the Royal City of Loches. French monarchs first resided in the Loire within its medieval citadel and it was here that Joan of Arc persuaded Charles the VII to claim the throne. After a lunch of market-fresh fare at the best table in town, we will visit the gothic flamboyant chateau medieval donjon and Romanesque church.
Our visit concludes with a detour to a popular caviste and expert on the region’s distinctive AOC vintages. The degustation includes a sampling of local chèvre and brebis cheeses.
We return to the hotel to unwind and freshen up before dinner at a confidential address in Tours, where the chef is privatizing her restaurant just for us!
Day 4, October 26th Saturday
Today we are headed underground to one of the region’s more famous caves. Then we’ll go to the town of Chinon synonymous with hearty Pinot Franc reds. We’ll sample some of its delicious vintages accompanied by charcuterie and local cheeses followed by a tour around this landmark medieval village with ties to the Knights of Templar.
Our afternoon destination is the idyllic Chateau Azay le Rideau, built in the early 1500’s and recently restored. Its an iconic French jewel set in the middle of the Indre river.
Our tour completed we’ll drive to Samur to settle into Chateau Hotel Verrierres a 5-star hotel and spa where we’ll enjoy a gastronomic evening repas.
Day 5, October 27th Sunday
Today we’ll visit my personal all time favorite Loire Valley Chateau, the Chateau de Villandry famous for its magnificent formal gardens and pristine potager. The acres and acres of sublimely organized boxed parterre gardens are an unforgettable memory. We’ll get lost in the maze, and visit the imposing Chateau with its panoramic tower view before sitting down to a market driven on site lunch.
This afternoon we’ll get out on the Loire river for a relaxing afternoon sail.
Tonight’s meal will be at a local classic bistro.
Day 6, October 28th Monday
Today’s focus is wine tastings and abbeys. The link between wine and monasteries dates back a thousand years. In the morning we’ll tour Europe’s largest Abbey dating back to the 11th century. Then we’ll stop for a wine tasting or two in Samur including a sparkling wine cellar that lies beneath an ancient abbey and one that houses a modern art collection. Later we’ll spend some time walking the streets of Samur itself, a historically significant town founded way back in the year 845!
Ce soir we’ll have a celebratory last meal together in a private and unique location. Shhh…its a surprise!
Day 7, October 29th Tuesday
Train back to Paris from Tours to catch your flight or to spend a few days in the city of Light.
*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.
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