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THE LOIRE VALLEY: Traveling with the Royals

Saumur and its château
Chaumont's garden
Abbey of Fontevraud
Chenonceaux
Villandry's garden
Nantes' garden

For centuries the Loire Valley has been a capital of architecture, culture, fine wine and superb cuisine. The region is also known as the garden of France. In the Middle Ages and especially in the Renaissance, royals built their sumptuous châteaux and gardens along the banks of the Loire Valley's peaceful rivers. We will see these regal dwellings strung out like jewels along the river. That is just the beginning of the treasures, however. Here are a few highlights you can anticipate during your visit to this lovely region:

THE LOIRE VALLEY

Traveling with the Royals

7 DAYS, 6 NIGHTS

"Traveling with the Royals"

  • HIGHLIGHTS:
    • Renaissance castles: Chambord, Chenonceaux, Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, and medieval fortresses: Chinon and Angers.
    • Villandry's fascinating gardens.
    • Centuries-old "maisons troglodytes," cave dwellings still used today as wine cellars, residences, restaurants and more.
    • The Abbey of Fontevraud, with the tombs of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son Richard the Lionhearted.
    • The Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years as the guest of King François Premier.
    • Animated riverside towns, Saumur, Tours, Blois, each offering special treats-horseback riding, fine art museums, shopping, walking paths.
    • Great cuisine and fine wines!

 

Day 1: (Hotel in Tours)

  • Arrival day,
    • Our guides will meet you at the train station.
  • Mid afternoon
    • Guided tour of Tours. Discover the elegant Renaissance and neo-classic mansions of the old town and learn about the fascinating history of the city, which has been an important metropolis since early Roman times.
  • Evening
    • Welcome apéritif orientation and dinner.

 

Day 2: (Hotel in Tours)

Tours, Vouvray, Chenonceau

  • Morning
    • Free time.
  • Afternoon
    • Lunch and wine-tasting in the famous village of Vouvray.
  • Evening
    • Later visit the romantic château and gardens of Chenonceau.

 

Day 3: (Hotel in Tours)

Chambord, Blois, Amboise

  • Morning
    • After breakfast, you will tour the not-to-be missed and most extravagant Château de Chambord, used by the kings of France as a hunting lodge. Free time for walking or biking in this beautiful area.
  • Lunch
    • Blois
  • Afternoon
    • Visit to picturesque Amboise, once home of King François I, followed by a tour of the Clos Lucé nearby, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years under the king's patronage. Here you will see working models of Leonardo's inventions constructed by IBM from his mechanical sketches.
  • Late afternoon
    • Time for exercise, optional visits of wine cellars or one of the lovely private châteaux in the area, possibly 11th-century Brézé, with its unique moat and underground passages, its pigeon house and orangery.

 

Day 4: (Hotel in Saumur)

Villandry, Langers, Saumur

  • Morning
    • Enjoy three very different château experiences, beginning with Villandry and its unique Renaissance gardens.
  • Lunch
    • Next explore the severe feudal fortress of Langeais, with its imposing drawbridge and towers
  • Afternoon
    • Our third château experience will take us to Saumur, its fairy-tale château, then explore the rest of this lovely town.
  • Evening
    • Time permitting, see the famous trained horses or performances of Saumur's cavalry school.

 

Day 5: (Hotel in Saumur)

Chinon, Azay-le-Rideau, Fontevraud

  • Morning
    • Nowadays, known for its wine, Chinon's fortress played a strategic role during the Middle Ages. It was home of the Plantagenêt Henry II who maried Eleanor of Aquitaine and became King of England. After Henry's death, Chinon passed to Richard I the Lionheart third son then to the last son John Lackland who lost the castle to the French king Philip II Augustus. Refuge of Charles VII of France in 1425, Chinon became known as the place where Joan of Arc, on a mission from God, acknowledged Charles as the rightful King of France.
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon
    • Our dive back will take us to the elegant 16th century Azay-le-Rideau, which Balzac called "a multifaceted diamond set in the Indre (River)".
  • Evening
    • Visit of the 12th-century royal Abbey of Fontevraud where you will see the tombs of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son Richard the Lion-Hearted and explore the grounds of this immense monastic site to see how it has evolved over centuries.

 

Day 6: (Hotel in Tours)

Angers, Doué-la-Fontaine

  • Morning
    • Visit Angers, historic capital of Anjou, home of the Plantagenets. In its formidable 13th-century château you will see one of France's finest medieval works, a series of immense tapestries woven between 1375 and 1378 and depicting in exquisite colors the story of the Apocalypse. Your visit will include the beautiful rose garden next to the château and a scenic stroll along the river.
  • Lunch
    • Visit the Jean Lurçat Museum to see some of Anger's modern treasures. Optional short bike ride or walk in the area.
  • Afternoon
    • Doué-la-Fontaine is known as the rose capital of France, more than 800 varieties can be seen in its park. Doué has the oldest habitable donjon (keep) in France, dating back to the year 900. It is also the site of excavated troglodyte dwellings.

 

Day 7:

Tour ends after breakfast.

  • Morning
    • Discover some "maisons troglodytes" carved into the chalky white tufa cliffs, among them the unique Trogo Tap Museum, where a local family has revived the ancient art of preserving apples by "tapping" them. Finally, tour the gracious medieval village and Château of Montreuil-Bellay, established in 1025, or the lovely wine village of Montsoreau.

 

What our travelers say about The Loire Valley.

  • You provided maximum sightseeing, wonderful food, learning experiences and some unique experiences, with a real feel for the country.
    • M. M., Washington
  • I would absolutely recommend this tour to a friend. Meals and excursions were exceptional... Guides extremely knowledgeable, conscientious and fun to be with... I especially enjoyed the tours of the countryside, the picnics and outdoor markets.
    • S. M. Florida
  • Judie and Alain were both wonderful guides! Appreciated the diverse gifts each brought to our adventure. Judie's empathy, charm and sense of humor lubricated all our activities... Alain's driving precision and expertise allowed us access to places where large tour buses dare not go! Thanks so much for a memorable week. ....
    • E. N. Saudi Arabia