Explore the heart and soul of the French countryside on our Loire Valley Tours, taking you directly from Paris into this stunning region to explore fairy-tale castles, sample local foods and wines, and experience some of France’s most beautiful scenery.
Our day trips from Paris start at a central location, from where you’ll board a comfortable, air-conditioned coach with your expert, English-speaking tour guide. We’ll zip out of the city and towards our first site – Château de Chambord. Disney fans will recognize this castle as the inspiration for ‘Beauty and the Beast’, although, as the largest castle in the valley, it’s even more imposing in real life’. You’ll hear about the strange history of this castle, once intended as a hunting lodge for a king, and climb the staircase that was supposedly designed by Leonardo da Vinci. After your guided tour, you’ll have some free time to explore more of the castle yourself, climb to the roof for spectacular views among the turrets, or even take a stroll around the grounds, home to a huge population of wild deer.
Having worked up an appetite, it’s back on the bus and on to our next stop - an up close and personal tour of a privately-owned and run castle and winery, where we’ll be wined and dined. You’ll visit the charming, 15th century Château de Nitray, where family members, perhaps even the personable owner Hubert, will be waiting to proudly give you a guided tasting of their wines. You’ll enjoy a wide range of white and red wines and even a sweet dessert wine, with tasting notes from a real expert. There will be more wine (unlimited) when we sit down to lunch, a hearty three-course meal of traditional rural French dishes served by our hosts.
After coffee and dessert, we’ll take a guided tour of the wine production areas as well as the small, private family chapel and pigeon house, learning about the tradition of wine-growing in France along the way. Nitray’s park-like, extensive grounds include a romantic rose garden, and, of course, their renowned vineyard.
Last, but not least, we’ll tour the so-called “Ladies’ Château,” Château de Chenonceau. This elegant 16th century castle makes a lasting impression. The detailed, painted wooden door and smooth, white stone exterior are breathtaking. Inside, you'll be able to admire original stone carvings, large tapestries and beautiful period features and visit the chapel and the bedrooms, furnished as in times gone by. Take some time to go downstairs and see the magnificent vaulted kitchens, including a pantry, a butcher’s room and the staff dining room. There is even a landing platform for the servants to bring supplies up the river. Admire the huge oven, copper pans and cooking implements, it’s easy to imagine these kitchens bustling with activity so many centuries ago!
Don’t miss the spectacular and beautiful bridge that spans the river Cher. Originally used to hold balls and parties, it served as a hospital in WWI and was in use again in WWII, this time helping people escape from occupied France, crossing over the bridge and into free France on the other side.
The grounds, planted by the famous ladies who owned the home (hence its name), are just as beautiful as the Château itself. Enjoy the gardens of both Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, as well as the wonderful ‘potager’ or fruit and vegetable garden, planted to feed those living in the chateau. You now have a difficult but delightful choice: you can continue to tour the castle or indulge in a second wine tasting (three wines from the chateau’s vines) led by your guide in the Cave des Domes, a lovely, vaulted cellar full of wine barrels.
Three French castles, each uniquely beautiful, two wine tastings and a delicious lunch… all amid the gorgeous scenery of the Loire Valley. This memorable day trip from Paris will delight all the senses!