If it's French splendor, style and gastronomy you seek, the Loire Valley will surpass all your expectations. Beyond visiting iconic chateaux like Blois, Chambord and Chenonceau, we’ll explore historic towns, enchanting villages, and gardens more beautiful that you can possibly imagine. We're in France, so no trip would be complete without 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. October is an ideal time to visit the Loire Valley - 65 °F (18 °C) during the day and 50 °F (10 °C) at night, with low humidity.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip
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.
Our afternoon private tour of a Chinon chateau estate winery begins with a casual buffet featuring regional specialties. Our host Sébastien’s family has owned the chateau since 1636! He will guide us through the vineyards and wine cellar, explaining how the wines are crafted, then offer a tasting of Chinon AOC cépages - from sparkling brut, to chenin blanc, and cabernet franc rouge.
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. We’ll have lunch amid Bourgeuil vineyards at Vincent Cuisinier de la Campagne, a Michelin ‘green star’ farm-to-table restaurant in a traditional winegrower’s house.
Our afternoon destination is the beguiling town of Amboise, where we settle into the newly refurbished Le Manoir les Minimes, an elegant 5-star hotel overlooking the Loire. Leonardo da Vinci lived in Amboise at the end of his life as a guest of Francois 1st at the Chateau du Clos Lucé, the king’s childhood home. We will stroll the historic pedestrian quarter and visit fascinating Clos Lucé, dedicated to the Renaissance genius. Dinner tonight will be at your leisure in Amboise.
Today we’ll visit the fabled and enchanting Chateau of 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, and gardens are exceptional. We’ll begin with a flower-arranging demonstration by Jean-Francois Boucher, who has been honored as a meilleur ouvrier de France and is responsible for the château’s magnificent floral installations.
We will enjoy a casual lunch at the chateau’s informal eatery, where French fries are finally on the menu! The afternoon is dedicated to immersion in French l’art de vivre at Le Clos de la Richardière, where you will learn about the diverse range of wines produced throughout the Loire Valley. Christophe Galland, founder of a renowned gourmet epicierie in Amboise, will guide the tasting and share his extensive knowledge of the region’s appelations and gastronomic marvels.
What better way to conclude the day than dining at La Cave, located in a cavernous limestone wine cellar on the banks of the Loire.
Overnight Stay at Manoir les Minimes
We will set out early for a highlight experience at the Grange aux Savoir Faire cooking school, where we will prepare a healthful lunch of savory and sweet in-season cuisine, made with fresh organic produce from their marvelous kitchen garden.
The Loire’s hottest cultural ticket is our afternoon destination. Our tour of Domaine de Chaumont Arts and Nature Center begins in the furnished Renaissance chateau and stable complex – which are filled with creations by major international contemporary artists. The visit continues with the garden festival, sculpture park and permanent gardens created by leading horticultural designers.
We’ll then head to our hotel overlooking majestic Château de Chambord, the region’s crown jewel. You’ll want to savor a cocktail on the terrace as the sun sets behind the chateau before we enjoy Sologne country cuisine in neighboring Bracieux.
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.
You will have the afternoon free to explore the Royal City of Blois, which was the Renaissance capital of France. After lunch on your own in the charming historic center, you can shop its chic boutiques for Loire mementos and original gifts or visit the chateau.
Back at the Relais, we’ll have time to rest or enjoy the spa before a celebratory dinner 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.
Manoir Les Minimes, a 5 stars hotel at the heart of the Châteaux de la Loire country, offers an unparalleled view of both the Château Royal and the Loire.
Le Relais de Chambord is nestled amid an amazing 5440 acre estate. Click on the link and you'll be WOWED!
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!
The garden of France
The Loire Valley is famous for its world-class wines. The Valley is laced with vineyards all the way from Sancerre to the ocean, and it offers wines ranging from to suit every palate from sparkling vouvrays to vibrant sancerres.
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 and Medical Insurance (required)
France· October 6 - 12 2023· 6 nights