Loire Valley

Loire Valley

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If you are looking to visit one of the most beautiful regions of France, then our tour of the Loire Valley is ideal. The very name conjures images in the mind. The châteaux, (the translation of castles does not do them justice), are magnificent, and we have the opportunity to sample the best of them: Chenonceau, Villandry, Chinon and Amboise. The scenery is stunning, indeed the valley’s other name is the Garden of France and you can see why. The harvest is very rich here - plums, apples and of course grapes. The Loire produces some world-class wines: Muscadet, Rosé d’Anjou, Sauvignon, Vouvray and many more. The golden colours of the ripening fruits add to the exceptional countryside. History abounds here: every time you turn a corner you see a reminder of Richard the Lionheart, the Hundred Years War or Joan of Arc. The Loire Valley seems to be set in a period fifty years ago and the sleepy towns are a delight to explore. You'll see the local people stopping one another to chat in the streets or drinking endless coffees in the nearby bars and cafés. We visit the Château of Fontainebleau, set in a vast forest just outside Paris, and famous as the place where Napoleon commenced his journey into exile. We also visit the house, and most importantly the garden of one of France’s most famous sons - Impressionist artist Claude Monet. All this, but there is much, much more! So for a unique combination of culture, wine, superb and interesting monuments, châteaux, beautiful scenery and French provincial life at its best, come with us and see.

Highlights

  • 6 nights on the beautiful Loire Valley
  • Return flights
  • Five nights bed and breakfast at excellent quality three-star superior or four-star hotels, including three dinners
  • Visit the most beautiful valley in France
  • Explore the best of France’s stunning Châteaux
  • Visit to Claude Monet’s house and garden – see the ‘Lily Pond’ and Japanese bridge
  • Visit to Chartres and its cathedral with Europe’s finest stained glass
  • Visit to Amboise and Leonardo da Vinci’s house
  • Escorted by our experienced tour manager

Inclusions

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at a supplement of £149 per person. The holiday includes return flights, all coach transfers and transport, five nights bed and breakfast at hotels as mentioned, dinner in hotel on day five, dinner in restaurant on days one and four, services of an experienced tour manager.
  • Not included: Entrance to Villandry €8, Chenonceau €9, Fontainebleau €11, Chinon €8, Leonardo da Vinci’s house €9.50 and Monets Garden €7, approximate costs, payable locally.

Itinerary

Day 1

You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Paris. A coach will then take us to Vernon, a very pleasant town in the Seine Valley near Claude Monet's House and Garden, where we stay on half-board at the three-star Hotel Normandy.

Day 2

After breakfast you take the short drive to Giverny, a small village where the Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived for 43 years until his death in 1926. We have all seen innumerable ‘Monets’ reproduced on calendars and birthday cards but simply to be here amongst this spectacular display of colour is an unforgettable experience. In the water garden, in a Japanese style, surrounded by bamboo trees, rhododendrons and azaleas, shaded by a great willow tree, is the lily pond. This is where the famous ‘Nympheas’ or ‘Water Lilies’ was painted. You can also see the Japanese bridge, still there after all these years. The flower garden preserved exactly how it was, cannot be adequately described here – its beauty has to be seen to be believed! Inside the house, is the precious collection of Japanese prints, displayed in several rooms, hung in the manner chosen by the master of Giverny himself. The dining room with its yellow painted furniture, the bedroom, the ‘blue’ reading room and the kitchen with its attractive wall tiles are especially appealing. The memories of this morning will stay with you for a lifetime! We then drive to Chartres, and as you travel across the plain the towers of the cathedral can be seen from 20 miles. You enter the town and it seems like the land which time forgot, with beautiful cobbled streets. The cathedral itself is arguably the most magnificent in France with perhaps the most intricate 13th century stained glass in Europe. You continue your southward journey arriving in the picturesque city of Tours, nestling on the sublime River Loire. You check in to your hotel for the next three nights, either the Alliance, Mercure Centre, Kyriad, or Hotel The Artist where you stay on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 3

After breakfast you make your way down the beautiful Loire Valley to the Château of Villandry, which has some of the most unique gardens you will ever see. They are planted purely with fruits, flowering shrubs and ornamental vegetables which sounds unusual, but the whole scene combines to produce a spectacle of outstanding natural beauty. Next is the town of Chinon, medieval in character with winding streets, pointed roofs, half timbered houses dominated by the large castle in the English interpretation of the word and where Joan of Arc first met the Dauphin prior to crowning him King of France in Reims cathedral. You have time to explore the town so important to your own history.

Day 4

After breakfast you take the short drive to Amboise, a delightful little town nestling on the banks of the river. There is a royal castle to see, as well as Leonardo da Vinci’s house. The aristocracy, who built the château, persuaded craftsmen from all over Europe to work on them but Leonardo liked the area so much he stayed after his work was completed and eventually ended his days here. His house has been restored with many models of his inventions on display including modern ideas such as the helicopter. You then continue on to Chenonceau, home of Mary, Queen of Scots and probably the most stately of the Loire Châteaux, majestically hovering on the waters of the River Cher, before returning to the hotel. This evening you eat in a charming restaurant, full of the ambience unique to France. You will be served specialities of the region prepared by a chef of the highest calibre in the true tradition of French cuisine.

Day 5

After breakfast you leave Tours for the morning’s drive to visit the beautiful Château of Fontainebleau just south of Paris. This impressive building was famous as the place where Napoleon departed for his exile on the island of Elba. It is decorated in a fantastic style, with intricate frescoes covering each ceiling and parquet floors inlaid with exotic woods from all over the world. Most impressive is the vast display of exquisite furniture. The grounds of the château are both extensive and impressive, and formal in design. Fontainebleau encompasses everything you imagine about a French château: style, opulence, grandeur – even outrageousness, as you will see during our visit. You also have time to visit the typically provincial French town of Fontainebleau. You then leave here and drive to your hotel, the nearby Mercure, where you also take dinner.

Day 6

Today you drive to the airport.

Accommodation

Hotel Normandy

three-star rated, a historic building in the centre of Vernon. It has a very good quality restaurant and cosy bar. All rooms have ensuite facilities, TV, telephone and a hairdryer.

Hotel Facilities & Amenities

  • Internet access and Wi-Fi throughout the hotel (foc), Lift, Restaurant, Bar, Lounge, Suitable for disabled passengers, Central location, Bus stop ten metres from hotel into town, Shops and restaurants close by.

Room Facilities & Amenities

  • Triple/family rooms available, Smoking rooms available, Bath with shower over, Hairdryer, Iron, Disabled rooms available.
  Cost per person: €0pp
  Number of nights:

Tour supplied in Partnership with:

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  Call:  01 905 6300