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Stare in awe at the majesty of the magnificent chateaux built by France’s royalty from medieval times to the Renaissance days of splendor. Relax in quaint cafes looking out onto 10th century ruins and wander through picturesque streets too narrow for automobiles, lined with 14th century half-timbered houses. Taste the Loire’s finest wines and clink your glass with private viticulturists in their five hundred-year-old caves. Let the French show you their timeless art of la joie de vivre and how to relax in true French style!
You will be accommodated in various accommodations during the tour. The first two nights are spent in Paris, five nights in Truyes, three nights in Epernay, and the last night will be spent in Fère en Tardenois.
Depart the United States, flying overnight to Paris. You may choose to buy your own international flight into France, please contact Olde Ipswich Tours for more information.
Arrive at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), where you are met by a shuttle driver and taken to the charming boutique hotel in the Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood on the Left Bank. You enjoy a bateau-mouche boat ride on the Seine River, which is a great way to begin your time in this amazing city. You gather this evening for a gourmet welcome dinner.
For those of you who are returning to Paris, you can choose your own sights to visit or you can come along with Olde Ipswich Tours to see their favorites. Either way, you meet at the end of the day for a Michelin-star dinner in a famous neighborhood restaurant.
Driving south from Paris, you stop for lunch in the town of Chartres and visit its magnificent 13th century cathedral, known for its spectacular stained glass windows. You soon arrive in the country village of Truyes, where you spend the next five nights in a beautiful historic manor house in the heart of the Loire Valley.
This is an ideal location to use as a base from which you can visit several magnificent chateaux, stopping in medieval, picturesque towns along the Indre, Loire, and Vienne rivers, and exploring ancient streets where your local guides tell you stories of the kings and queens who once walked there.
The Loire Valley is also known for its many fine wines and your explorations take you to several private wine tastings in the small caves only the local Tourangeaux know about. Your hosts are warm, charming, and add greatly to your experience.
After visiting the Renaissance Château Ussé, which inspired the 17th century author Charles Perrault to write Sleeping Beauty, you enter the Chinon wine region and visit a small, family owned vineyard. The owner proudly shows you his cave and invites you for a wine tasting lunch.
In the afternoon, you explore the medieval village of Chinon, steeped in history from the days when the Plantagenet King Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had their largest castle here. You’ll walk in the footsteps of Joan of Arc, who came here to try to convince the Dauphin Charles to take the French crown. You return to your manor house for happy hour and another delicious home cooked dinner.
This morning, you visit the medieval town of Loches and its historic chateau, where so much changed in France’s history. Most exciting is the Donjon with its display of outrageous torture instruments. In the village of Loches, you shop in the market for local cheeses, baguettes, salami, olives, pâtés, French pastries, fruits, and wine.
You then have an authentic gourmet French pique-nique. In the afternoon, you visit the most famous chateau of the Loire Valley, Chenonceau. You round off the day with a visit to the wine village of Montlouis where you visit a very special cave whose owner convinces you that his wines are of course the finest in the Loire Valley. Tonight’s dinner is a gastronomic treat in a historic chateau.
This morning, you visit the royal town of Amboise. Here, you tour the house Le Clos Lucé, where King François I invited his friend, Leonardo da Vinci, to spend the last years of his life. The house and grounds are now a monument to da Vinci’s amazing engineering inventions. You then have free time to explore Amboise, have lunch, and shop. Dinner tonight is another gourmet affair.
Today, you take a scenic drive along the Loire River to one of the oldest chateaux, Langeais. This impressive fortress, surrounded by a moat, is furnished with medieval antiques and tapestries. Then, it’s on to the historic city of Tours, ancient capital of Touraine. You see the Basilica where Saint Martin was buried in the fourth century (you can see his tomb) and a tower built in 800 A.D. by Charlemagne.
You visit a market where the best bargains are to be found, and you’ll have lunch in a medieval square, Place Plumereau, surrounded by half-timbered houses. You return home to your manor’s kitchen, where your host gives you an entertaining French cooking class, followed by another delicious dinner.
After breakfast and au revoir to your new French friends, you leave Truyes and head northeast to the Champagne region. Here, you see a different way of life, where champagne producers completely dominate small villages and where, with the exception of perhaps flowers, champagne is king.
Your first destination is the medieval town of Troyes. After a guided tour and lunch, you continue to your hotel for the next three nights, in the center of Epernay, Champagne’s lovely capital. Your hotel for the next three nights is in the town’s historic center.
This morning, you drive up the splendid Avenue de Champagne to visit a famous, traditional champagne cellar and, of course, have a tasting. You then drive along the “Route touristique du Champagne,” surrounded by rolling vineyards, and have lunch in the lovely town of Chalons-en-champagne. You visit a vineyard before returning to Epernay to relax before dinner.
You pay homage to Dom Perignon, inventor of champagne, with a visit to his 17th century tomb in the picturesque village of Hautvillers. Next, you take a barge ride on the Marne River, passing beautiful little villages so peaceful, it’s hard to imagine this was the center of some of the worst fighting in World War I. You return to Epernay for a free evening.
Today, you visit Reims, with its magnificent cathedral where the kings of France were crowned for centuries. You have a tour of one of Champagne’s renowned cellars, where barrels are still kept in the deep caves dug by the Romans for the same purpose.
After lunch, you follow the Route du Champagne, passing vineyards and tiny villages, to your final destination: a magnificent chateau surrounded by a beautiful park. Nearby is an American cemetery where 6,012 Americans are buried, most of whom lost their lives in World War I. You tour the cemetery and memorial before a farewell dinner in your grand chateau.
After breakfast, you drive to the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) for your return flight home.
All excursions mentioned in the itinerary are included.
The tour will place in France through these destinations: Chambord, Chinon, Truyes, Chenonceau, Amboise, Loches, Montlouis, Tours, Epernay, Hautvillers, Reims, Chalons, and Troyes.
The price of the package includes all breakfasts, two lunches, 10 dinners, and drinks (during tastings) as mentioned in the itinerary.
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