The Loire Valley is one of France’s top destinations, especially in summer when castle parking lots are clogged with trip buses. This is why we prefer to explore this gorgeous region in early June, when roses are at their spring peak and the sun sets at 10pm. You will discover the authentic Loire; beyond visiting iconic castles – including Blois, Chambord and Chenonceau – we’ll explore historic towns and enchanting villages, with stops to savor spring produce and the spectacular wines produced here. Chinon’s Cabernet Franc is among our founder’s favorites. Sancerre and Vouvray are world-renowned plus you’ll discover light reds such as Saumur Champigny, which marries perfectly with fish or can be enjoyed chilled in summer. The Touraine climate in early June averages between 53 °F (12 °C) and 74 °F (23 °C), with low humidity.
We will meet you at the Saint-Pierre-des-Corps (Tours) train station - an hour’s journey from Paris.
Our Loire adventure begins with a gastronomic lunch at Pom Poire, a rural auberge nestled in an apple orchard. Young chef Bastien Gillet was awarded a Michelin Star for his sustainable, locally-sourced cuisine. Next, we will discover Chateau de Villandry - famous for its six magnificent gardens, including intricate renaissance ornamental flower gardens and incomparable vegetable gardens. It’s truly magical.
We then travel downstream to “the pearl of Anjou” – the lovely town of Saumur founded in 845, where we check into our hotel overlooking the Loire in the historic center.
After free time to unwind or a take brief stroll along the quay, we’ll convene for a sparkling welcome toast, followed by dinner at l’Essentiel, the adjoining bistronomique restaurant.
Overnight stay at Anne d’Anjou
Our morning begins with a tour of Saumur’s historic quarter, including an organic market in Place Saint Pierre. We then drive east through the bucolic Anjou countryside to Fontevraud, Europe’s largest Abbey, dating back to the 11th Century. Run by a succession of abbesses, it played a pivotal role in French and European history and houses the tombs of Henry Plantagenet, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and son Richard the Lionheart. The complex of buildings and courtyards were exquisitely restored and the recent opening of a Modern Art Museum, confirms its reputation as a regional cultural center.
We’ll lunch at a chic auberge before our private tour of a Saumur chateau estate winery, where the owner will guide us through a vineyard, explain how his wines are crafted and offer a tasting of his range of Saumur AOC wines, from sparkling brut to lively red Saumur Champigny.
This evening we’ll enjoy a cozy dinner at a wine-focused Saumur bistro.
Overnight Stay at Anne d’Anjou
This morning we’ll journey upriver to the Loire’s best flea market – Les Puces de Montsoreau – which convenes the 2nd Sunday of each month along the quay of one of Frances’s “Plus Beaux Villages”. The 30-year institution draws 80 dealers and throngs of “chineurs” to browse their treasures. Lunch is at a gastronomic bistro.
Our afternoon destination is idyllic Château Azay-le-Rideau. After visiting this renaissance jewel with its halcyon gardens and beautiful reflective moat, we’ll head to our very own chateau, La Bourdaisière, where we’ll stay for two nights. After settling in, you can explore the park and lovely formal gardens, renowned for its collections of tomato and dahlia plants. Dinner is in the neighboring wine-making town of Montlouis.
The Loire’s hottest cultural ticket is today’s destination. There is so much to see at the Domaine de Chaumont Arts and Nature Center that it easily merits a full day’s excursion. Our tour begins in the furnished Renaissance chateau and stable complex – which are filled with creations by major international contemporary artists. We will pause midday for a relaxing lunch featuring innovative healthful cuisine at their Grand Velum restaurant. The afternoon continues with the garden festival, sculpture park and permanent gardens created by leading horticultural designers. The theme for the 30th anniversary 2022 edition of the garden festival is “Ideal Garden”.
Your evening will be spent at our charming château hotel, where we can stroll through the beautifully tended garden before enjoying a light dinner in the conservatory.
Today we’ll visit the most fabled and elegant Chateau - Chenonceau. Its history was intrinsically influenced by a succession of remarkable women, including iconic rivals Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers. The chateau’s furnishings, painting collection, gardens and stunning interior are exceptional. We’ll begin with a tour of the gardens, followed by a flower-arranging demonstration by Jean-Francois Bouchet, who has been honored as a meilleur ouvrier de France and is responsible for the château’s magnificent floral arrangements.
We will enjoy a casual lunch at the chateau’s informal eatery, where French fries are finally on the menu! Our afternoon visit is to Domaine du Clos Roussely with its unusual setting of troglodyte cellars and collection of old vehicles. Our visit will conclude with a tasting of their fine Touraine natural wines.
We’ll then head to our hotel overlooking majestic Château de Chambord, the region’s crown jewel. Tonight, you are on your own for dinner. You will definitely want to enjoy a cocktail on the terrace as the sun sets behind the chateau, followed by a casual meal in the bar lounge or at a brasserie on the adjacent square.
Overnight stay at Le Relais de Chambord
This morning we’ll explore the imposing Chateau of Chambord, built by François I as a hunting lodge intended to awe rival monarchs with its sheer scale and originality of its architectural features. We’ll also visit the chateau’s recently installed formal gardens and organic farm.
We’ll enjoy lunch in the nearby Royal City of Blois, which was the Renaissance capital of France. Afterwards, we’ll explore the charming city center and have a chance to shop its chic boutiques for Loire mementos and original gifts.
We’ll have some time to rest or enjoy the spa before a gourmet meal at our hotel’s gastronomic restaurant, where we’ll toast to the experiences and laughs we’ve had, and lasting friendships made.
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll sadly have to say our goodbyes. We will return to Paris via TGV train from Saint-Pierre-des-Corps.
Anne d’Anjou is close to the center of the city with view of the river or the castle above.
Enjoy breakfast in the stunning dining room at La Bourdaisière or enjoy a swim in the large outdoor heated pool. Either way, you are going to love your stay at this amazing Chateau.
This trip will be led by Casey O’Brien Blondes, a GG2P Colleague based in the Loire Valley since 1992. A dual-national and author of two travel and lifestyle books about France, Casey knows the Loire Valley, its history and vibrant culture intimately. Her insider connections offer a privileged entrée to this fabled region. Casey receives rave reviews from GG2P clients!
Everything stated in the itinerary above including all meals plus wine with dinner.
Lodging at 4* (or more) unique Hotels, Chateaux or Abbey’s
All in-country transport including airport transfers
All guides, experts and entry fees
Roundtrip airfare to France
Train trip to and from the Loire
Any spa treatment desired
Any personal souvenirs or purchases.
Meals on your own
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).