Tickets not included: 
Tickets are not included
Hotels not included: 
Hotels not included
  • Loire Valley Castles (4 Days) Description

    DAY 1

    After 1 hour, you will leave the highway and drive to your first "highlight"of the day: the cathedral of CHARTRES built in 1193 and that is according to many, the supreme monument of High Gothic Art and Architecture. The 176 stain glass windows that make its worldwide reputation are filled with equally dense stain glass creating with their unearthly radiance , particularly the glow of the "Chartres blue", an atmosphere of awe and holiness that impresses even the most non-religious of visitors.

    Chartres houses also since 876 the "Santa Camisa", the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary on the birthday of Jesus.

    Then you will head to CHAMBORD, the largest chateau in the Loire valley, that is one of the jewels of the French Renaissance architecture and that blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Italian structures.

    Built by King Francois 1er during over 20 years (he spent only 42 days living there), Chambord houses an architectural highlight: the spectacular double-helix open staircase, designed by Leonardo da Vinci and illuminated by a sort of lighthouse at the highest point of the chateau in its center.

    Before your guide takes you for a private visit of the chateau (ground floor apartment, Royal apartment of the Sun King, Queen's chamber, King Francois 1st apartment, the Royal chapel, the amazing top terrace and the surroundings... you will enjoy a nice LUNCH.

    After leaving Chambord, your guide will take the road to TOURS , the largest city in the Loire valley , located between the 2 Rivers, Loire and Cher. You will have a visit of the old, medieval town, the flamboyant Gothic St Catherine's cathedral built between 1170 and 1527, elaborately decorated in the West towers with 13th C stain glass, you will stroll through the ancient cobble stone streets with its half -timbered buildings, stop at the charming place Plumereau and have a closer look at the gardens of the former Archbishop's Palace with the huge cedar tree planted by Napoleon.

    If time you will end this day with a WINE TASTING (not included) in this region famous for wines such as : CHINON, GAMAY, VOUVRAY, CABERNET, etc

    DAY 2

    After breakfast, your guide will drive you for your first discovery of the day to the city of ANGERS, located in the French region of Anjou. Angers traces its roots back to Roman times. Famous for its flourishing market gardens, well known for its fresh produce and cut flowers, the city houses the 12C cathedral and abbey of St Aubin.

    It is dominated by a massive fortress located on a ridge overhanging the River Maine. Famous for its strategic defense location, nearly 20 000 feet in circumference and protected by 17 massive towers, 120 feet high, it houses the oldest and largest collection of medieval tapestries in the world, with the 14 C "Apocalypse Tapestry" as one of its priceless treasures.

    As a tribute to its fortitude, the chateau has never been taken by any invading force in history.

    After the visit of the old town and the fortress, your guide will stop for lunch in a small typical restaurant of the region where you will enjoy some of the local dishes of Anjou before taking the road to SAUMUR , located between the Loire and Thouet Rivers and surrounded by vineyards.

    Of all the Loire's most comfortable towns, Saumur is perhaps the most elegantly bourgeois with its graceful chateau lording it over the handsome townhouses spread out below on both banks of the River and the large island mid-stream.

    The towns 250 year-association with the military, as house to the French Cavalry Academy and its successor, the Armored Corps Academy has only further elevated its pretentions.

    Your guide will take you for a guided visit of Saumur's airy, gleaming white fantasy of a chateau,set above town. It was built in the 14C and turned into a more decorative and comfortable residence in the 15C. You will climb down to the dungeon and up into the watchtower before visiting the former Royal Apartments.

    You will get the real treat by visiting the Musee du Cheval in the attic. Progressing from a horse skeleton through the evolution of bridles and stirrups over the centuries, you finally reach an amazing saddler collection with worked pieces all over the world.

    On the way back to your hotels, you will end this day with a WINE TASTING (not included) in this region famous for wines such as : CHINON, GAMAY, VOUVRAY, CABERNET, etc.

    DAY 3

    After breakfast your guide will drive you to the first highlight of the day : VILLANDRY, the last of the great Renaissance castles to be built on the banks of the Loire. It owes uncontestably its fame to its exceptional gardens laid out on 3 levels m in a happy marriage of beauty, diversity and harmony.

    The decorative kitchen gardens house a profusion of colorful flowers and vegetable plants in a checkerboard plan, the effect of the seasonal variation is an ever-changing 3 dimensional picture.

    The ornamental garden in box hedges, form musical symbols, but pride of place is going to hearts, scrolls, butterflies, allegories of love: tender, passionate, fickle and tragic.

    The water-garden, very tranquil and peaceful, ideal for relaxing and dreaming.

    The site is completed by a herb garden with medicinal and culinary plants and a maze called "the Innocent's Garden".

    Then you will enjoy a nice LUNCH in the beautiful city of SAUMUR.

    Then after lunch, your private guide will take you to the FONTEVRAUD ABBEY, built between 1110 and 1190 . Founded by an itinerant preacher named Robert of Arbrissel, Fontevraud was a double monastery (both nuns and monks lived at the same site) that became famous and prosperous (the order established several Fontevrist abbeys in England).

    Robert of Arbrissel declared that the head of the order should always be a woman. This position attracted many rich and noble women that became abbesses of Fontevraud such as Mathilda of Anjou 9the aunt of King Henry II of England, Louise de Bourbon, Isabella of Anjou and Eleonor of Aquitaine the queen of England that retired there as a nun after her husband's death.

    Your guide will take you for a private guided visit of the chapter house, the cloister galleries, the 3 monastery buildings and the abbey church where you will see the graves of King Henry II of England, his wife Eleonor of Aquitaine, their son Richard Ist (Lionheart) and their daughter Joan.

    On the way back to your hotel, you will end this day with a WINE TASTING (not included) in this region famous for wines such as : CHINON, GAMAY, VOUVRAY, CABERNET, etc

    DAY 4

    After breakfast, you will start your day with the private guided visit of AMBOISE Castle whose impressive location on the cliff, over looking the LOIRE River, will leave you breathless.

    Then your private tour guide will take you for your second guided visit of the day : LE CLOS LUCE.
    The mansion where genius LEONARDO DA VINCI lived and worked, as a guest of King François 1er, the three last years of his life (visit of the mansion, Leonardo's bedroom, study, chapel...and marvelous garden and park with a display of some of the most impressive inventions of the Master).

    It is time now for a LUNCH break in a small traditional restaurant of the region.

    Then your guide will take you to CHENONCEAU Castle that spans over the River Cher and that you will approach by a striking tree lined avenue .

    Chenonceaux's history is entwined with that of 9 women that left their marks there (it is known as the Chateau of the Dames): Catherine Briconnet, the initial builder, Diane de Poitiers, King Henri II's mistress, Catherine of Medicis, the "black" queen, Mary, Queen of Scots, Gabrielle d'Estrees, King Henry IV' s favorite, Louise de Lorraine, the mourning widow, Mme Dupin, Voltaire's and Rousseau's friend and Mme Pelouze that restored the chateau to its 16C glory.

    Your guide will take you for a private guided visit of the chateau (the Guards Room, the chapel, Diane de Poitier's bedroom, the Green study and library, the Grand Gallery, Francois Ier's bedroom, the Sun King's living room, Catherine's and Louise's bedrooms and the vaulted kitchens) and the gardens.
    After your visit , your guide will bring you back to your hotel or apartment in Paris.

    On winter, closed Castles will be replaced by opened ones.

    Entrance tickets, meals and hotels not included

    Extra charge for a pick up and/or a drop off outside Paris

    Book this tour