France·October 6 - 12 2023

The Castles, Gardens & Wines of the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is legendary for its magnificent chateaux, gorgeous gardens, charming villages, incomparable wine and regional cuisine.

SOLD OUT INQUIRE
VillandryGardensPortrait

Overview

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 than you could 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.

Highlights

Wander the legendary terraced gardens of Villandry when the kitchen gardens are colorful quilt of organic produce

Wander the legendary terraced gardens of Villandry when the kitchen gardens are colorful quilt of organic produce

Tour a Chinon chateau estate and sample its wines

Tour a Chinon chateau estate and sample its wines

Wake up in a vast enclosed park overlooking magnificent Chambord, France’s largest Renaissance chateau

Wake up in a vast enclosed park overlooking magnificent Chambord, France’s largest Renaissance chateau

Treasure hunt at the Loire’s premiere flea market in one of its “Plus Beaux Villages

Treasure hunt at the Loire’s premiere flea market in one of its “Plus Beaux Villages

Discover the contemporary art installations and international garden festival at Domaine de Chaumont – the Loire’s hot cultural destination

Discover the contemporary art installations and international garden festival at Domaine de Chaumont – the Loire’s hot cultural destination

Experience Chenonceau, the most romantic chateau and learn about its female-focused history.

Experience Chenonceau, the most romantic chateau and learn about its female-focused history.

Visit a 1000-year-old Royal Abbey with a new modern art museum

Visit a 1000-year-old Royal Abbey with a new modern art museum

Explore the Royal City of Blois while shopping its chic boutiques.

Explore the Royal City of Blois while shopping its chic boutiques.

Itinerary

Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip

Previous

Next

chateauvillandry

Day 1: Friday, October 6th, 2023

We'll meet you at the Saint-Pierre-des-Corps (Tours) train station - an hour 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, has a Michelin Star for his sustainable, locally sourced cuisine. Next, we'll 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 travel downstream to “the pearl of Anjou” – the lovely town of Saumur founded in 845. We'll check into our hotel overlooking the Loire in the historic center.

After free time to unwind or a brief stroll along the quay, we’ll convene for a sparkling welcome toast, followed by dinner at l’Essentiel, the adjoining bistronomique restaurant.

The overnight stay is at Anne d’Anjou.

Included

Lunch-Dinner

FontevraudAbbeykitchen

Day 2: Saturday, October 7th, 2023

Our morning starts with a tour of Saumur’s historic quarter, including an organic market in Place Saint Pierre. Then, we drive east through the rural Anjou countryside to Fontevraud, Europe’s largest Abbey. It also ancient, 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 his son, Richard the Lionheart. The complex of buildings and courtyards have been exquisitely restored and the recent opening of a Modern Art Museum, confirms its reputation as a regional center of culture.

The afternoon private tour of a Chinon chateau estate winery begins with a casual buffet featuring regional specialties. We'll be hosted by Sébastien, whose family has owned the chateau since 1636! He will guide us through the vineyards and wine cellar, explaining how the wines are crafted. Then, you'll taste the 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.

Your overnight stay is at Anne d’Anjou

Included

All Meals

LeonardodaVincistudioClosLuce768x525

Day 3: Sunday, October 8th, 2023

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 located on the banks of the Loire River at the foot of the Royal Château d'Amboise, Hotel Le Choiseul is an 18th-century typically Tourangelle charming residence with an exceptional setting in the heart of the Loire Valley Castles.

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 the fascinating Clos Lucé, dedicated to the Renaissance genius. Dinner tonight will be at your leisure in Amboise. 

Included

Breakfast-Lunch

Not Included

Dinner

iStock470331432

Day 4: Monday, October 9th, 2023

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'll enjoy a casual lunch at the chateau’s informal eatery. 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 appellations and gastronomic marvels.  

What better way to conclude the day than dining at La Cave? It's located in a cavernous limestone wine cellar on the banks of the Loire.  

Overnight Stay at Manoir les Minimes

Included

All Meals

Cookingschoolkitchengarden

Day 5: Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

We'll set off early for a highlight experience at the Grange aux Savoir Faire cooking school. Here, we'll prepare a healthy lunch of savory and sweet in-season cuisine made with fresh organic produce from the 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 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.  

It's time to head to our hotel overlooking the 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.  

We stay overnight at Le Relais de Chambord.

Included

All Meals

Chambordgardenwrooftopsihouette

Day 6: Wednesday, October 11th, 2023

This morning, we’ll explore the imposing Chateau of Chambord. Built by François I as a hunting lodge, the structure was intended to awe rival monarchs with its sheer scale and architectural originality. We’ll also visit the chateau’s recently installed formal gardens.  

Your afternoon is free to explore the Royal City of Blois, the Renaissance capital of France. After lunch on your own in this 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 the experiences and laughs we’ve had and lasting friendships made. 

Not Included

Lunch

SaumurLoireRiver

Day 7: Thursday, October 12th, 2023

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.

Included

Breakfast

You'll Be Staying Here

Anne d’Anjou

Anne d’Anjou

Anne d’Anjou is close to the center of the city with view of the river or the castle above. 

Hôtel Le Choiseul

Hôtel Le Choiseul

Hôtel Le Choiseul is a charming 4-star boutique hotel ideally situated in the heart of the Loire Valley's castle region.

 Le Relais de Chambord

Le Relais de Chambord

Le Relais de Chambord is nestled amid an amazing 5440 acre estate. Click on the link and you'll be WOWED! 

Hosts

Casey O’Brien Blondes

Casey O’Brien Blondes

Casey is a trip leader extraordinaire. She leads not only our trips to the Loire Valley (her home) but also to Normandy & Brittany, Paris, Ile de Re and destinations abroad, like Morocco and Crete. She left New York for Paris in 1988 intending to stay a year and has yet to move back. Now a dual national, Casey lives between the Loire Valley and Paris. She knows the history and vibrant culture of the Loire intimately. Her insider connections offer a privileged entrée to this fabled region. You're going to love spending time with her!


Casey is also the author of PARISIAN HIDEAWAYS:Exquisite Rooms in Enchanting Hotels (Rizzoli 2009,2012) and FRENCH COUNTRY HIDEAWAYS:Vacationing at Private Chateaus & Manors in Rural France (Rizzoli 2005).

The garden of France

The Loire Valley

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. 

The Loire Valley

What's Included

What's Included

Everything stated in the itinerary above including all meals plus wine with dinner.

Lodging at 4* (or more) unique Hotels, Chateaux or Abbey’s

Welcome drinks

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)

Inquire about this trip

The Castles, Gardens & Wines of the Loire Valley

France· October 6 - 12 2023· 6 nights

FREE