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Culture and Culinary Tour in France

The Loire Valley is one of France’s top tripist destinations, especially in summer when castle parking lots are clogged with trip buses. This is why, on this women-only tour, the Girls Guide to Paris team prefers to explore this gorgeous region when the throngs have cleared out a bit in the fall. Just when the landscape and light are at their autumn peak, they will introduce you to the authentic Loire. Beyond visiting iconic castles – including Blois, Chambord and Chenonceau. You’ll explore historic towns and enchanting villages with stops to savor fall produce and the spectacular wines produced here. Chinon’s Cabernet Franc is among the GGP founder’s favorites. Sancerre and Vouvray are world-renowned plus you’ll discover light reds such as Samur Champigny which marries perfectly with fish or can be enjoyed chilled in summer.

Meet the instructors

Katrin
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Highlights

  • Visit Chenonceaux, and learn of its female-focused history
  • Taste a variety of wines on a traditional boat whilst traveling down the Loire River
  • Experience a show by France’s most elite cavalry of horses with expert riders
  • Wander around the exquisite garden of Villandry, in all its glory
  • Learn about and explore the royal town of Loches
  • 6 nights accommodation

Styles


6 days with instruction
Group size: 6-12 participants
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Accommodation

During the tour, you will stay at four-star (or more) unique hotels, chateaux, or abbeys.

Program

Day 1 - September 29, Wednesday

Girls Guide to Paris will pick you up at the Tours train station (it’s an easy train ride from Paris). Then, you 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 a 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.

You will then head to Fontevraud where you’ll check into a hotel located on the grounds of the thousand-year-old Abbey. This Abbey is where Eleanor of Aquitaine stayed, the only woman to be both the Queen of France and England. YOU too will be treated like a Queen!

After a little free time, either to relax, trip the Abbey grounds or the charming adjacent village, you’ll convene for dinner at the one Michelin-starred restaurant on the grounds of the Abbey.

Day 2 - September 30, Thursday

In the morning, you’ll 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.

You will have lunch in nearby Saumur at the vintage-style Boeuf Noisette. After lunch, you’ll explore this ancient town, which was founded in the year 845, before visiting the Le Cadre Noir, for a special showing of France’s elite cavalry in training consisting of 50 horses and 22 riders.

In the late afternoon, you’ll meet Denis who will take you out on his traditional boat on the Loire for a riverside wine tasting. You’ll enjoy a boat ride on a traditional Loire River fishing boat. He’s the only captain on the river who is both a sailor and a winemaker!

This evening, you’ll enjoy a cozy dinner in the neighboring town of Fontevraud.

Day 3 - October 1, Friday

In the morning, you’ll head to the idyllic Château d’Azay-le-Rideau. After visiting this jewel of a chateau with its halcyon gardens and beautiful reflective moat, you’ll have some free time to visit the charming boutiques in the town before having lunch at the restaurant Côté Cour – if it’s nice weather, you can sit out in the garden.

In the afternoon, you’ll head to your very own chateau, Domaine de la Tortinière where you’ll be staying for the next two nights. There will be free time for spa treatments, before your epicurean feast at the hotel.

Day 4 - October 2, Saturday

Today you’ll have the delight of spending time with the lovely and informative author Casey O’Brien who will show you some hidden treasures of the region including a visit to her friend’s Château de Montpoupon where you’ll be treated to a champagne reception.

Afterward, you’ll head to the royal town of Loches where you’ll 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. You’ll 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, you’ll be able to delight in a bucolic view of the region.

The town also has some lovely boutiques selling regional specialties which you can explore.

You will return to the chateau for some more spa treatments and some relaxation. For dinner, you’ll go to the nearby river town Montbazon where you’ll dine on elevated local cuisine.

Day 5 - October 3, Sunday

Today you’ll 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.

You will lunch there in the beautiful Orangerie restaurant. After lunch, you’ll go on a private trip of the Domaine du Clos Roussely with its unusual setting of troglodyte cellars and collection of old vehicles. Your visit will be accompanied by a tasting that will allow you to discover the local authentic natural wines.

You’ll then head to the hotel, located a stone’s throw of the crown jewel of the chateaux of the region, Chambord. Its exclusive spa includes an outdoor jacuzzi with a view of the chateau.

After a private exploration of the gardens at sunset, you’ll enjoy a gourmet meal at the Relais de Chambord, the hotel’s celebrated restaurant.

Day 6 - October 4, Monday

This morning you’ll explore the imposing Chateau Chambord built by François I as a hunting lodge. You’ll also visit the chateau’s beautiful vegetable garden.

You’ll enjoy lunch in the nearby city of Blois. Afterwards, you’ll visit the Les Jardins de L’ancien Évêché and trip the famed Poulain Chocolate.

You’ll have some time to rest and enjoy the spa before having a convivial dinner in the local restaurant of Saint Martin where you’ll toast to all the experiences and laughs you’ve had, and lasting friendships made.

Day 7 - October 5, Tuesday

Breakfast at the hotel and then you’ll sadly have to say goodbyes. You will return to Paris via train from Blois.

Note

GG2P always reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!

Not to worry, vegetarians will be well fed in all cafés and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.

All of GGP's trips are organized and priced based on single occupancy at all the places you stay. If you’re traveling with a friend / relative, or would prefer to save some money by sharing a room, they can usually organize double occupancy and a reduction in cost. Savings can be had if you choose to room with an old or new friend. Please inquire.

Instructors

Katrin Hodapp

Location

This holiday takes place in the Loire Valley region. The Loire Valley is legendary for its magnificent chateaux, gorgeous gardens, charming villages, incomparable wine, and regional cuisine. The trick is to visit later in the season to avoid the huge crowds!

Food

Meals as described in the itinerary plus wine during dinner are included. Several wine tastings and a boat ride are also included. Not to worry, vegetarians will be well fed in all cafés and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • Everything stated in the itinerary above including all meals plus wine with dinner
  • 6 nights accommodation at four-star (or more) unique hotels, chateaux, or abbeys
  • All guides, experts, and entry fees
  • Several wine tastings and a boat ride
  • Welcome drinks
  • All in-country transport including airport transfers

What's not included

  • Roundtrip airfare to France
  • Any spa treatment desired
  • Train trip to and from the Loire
  • Any personal souvenirs or purchases
  • Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50 years of age)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Orly Airport (ORY) or Charles de Gaulle Airport (Roissy Airport) (CDG), and then take a train to Tours. Many of guests stay in Paris for a day or two or three to get over jetlag or just enjoy Paris. Then they take the train. However, there’s a train station at CDG, so it’s possible to get off the plane and get on a train from the airport if you aren’t resting for a few days in Paris. Girls Guide to Paris will pick you up at Tours train station.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 25% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 60 days before arrival.
7 days / 6 nights
from --
Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 6 participants

Availability

Arrival: Wednesday September 29, 2021
Departure: Tuesday October 5, 2021

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