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Paris, Loire Valley and Champagne, France

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 12 day(s)
Group Size: 6 - 16 people
Destination(s): France  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey   Food & Wine  
Season: September
Airfare Included: Yes
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 7199 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 7199 US Dollar (USD)

Tour Dates:
September 17 - 29, 2015
May 9 - 21, 2016

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1
Arrive at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, where you are greeted by a driver who whisks you into downtown Paris. Check into our elegant, charming Left Bank hotel, and either relax or start exploring. We enjoy a bateau-mouche boat ride on the Seine River, which is a great way to introduce this amazingly beautiful city. We gather this evening for a welcome dinner of Parisian mouth-watering cuisine.
Overnight: Paris / Meals: D

Day 2
Start the day off with a guided walking tour. Lunch is a special event at the famous Jules Verne restaurant high above the city on the Eiffel Tower. The afternoon and evening are free for you to explore on your own.
Overnight: Paris / Meals: B, D (mid-day)

Day 3
Driving south from Paris, our first stop is the magnificent 13th Century cathedral of Chartres, known for its spectacular stained glass windows. We then enter the Loire Valley and visit Chambord Château, the first Renaissance château to be built in France and a masterpiece of 16th century architecture. We spend the next five nights in a beautiful historic manor house in the country village of Truyes in the heart of the Loire Valley. This is an ideal location from which we can visit several magnificent châteaux, stopping in medieval picturesque towns along the Indre, Loire, and Vienne rivers, and exploring ancient streets where our French guides tell us stories of the kings and queens who once walked there. The Loire Valley is also known for its many fine wines, and our explorations take us to several private wine tastings in the small caves only the local Tourangeaux know about. Our hosts are warm, charming, and add greatly to our experience.
Overnight: Truyes / Meals: B, D

Day 4
After visiting the lovely Renaissance château Azay-le-Rideau, we head for the Bourgueil wine region to visit the farm of some friends, who invite us for a wine tasting lunch. In the afternoon we explore the medieval village of Chinon, steeped in history from the days when the Plantagenet King Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had their largest castle here. We’ll walk in the footsteps of Joan of Arc, who came here to try to convince the Dauphin Charles to take the French crown. We return to our manor house for happy hour and another delicious home cooked dinner.
Overnight: Truyes | Meals: B, L, D

Day 5
This morning we visit the medieval town of Loches and its historic château where so much changed in France’s history. Most exciting is the Donjon with its display of outrageous torture instruments. In the village of Loches we shop in the market for many varieties of local cheeses, hams and salami, olives, pâtés, French pastries, fruits, and wine. We then have an authentic gourmet French pique-nique. In the afternoon we visit the most famous château of the Loire Valley, Chenonceau. We round off the day with a visit to a fabulous Montlouis winery, where the owner joins us for a lesson on Loire Valley wines. We taste at least six of his favorites before going out to a special local restaurant for a true gastronomic dinner.
Overnight: Truyes / Meals: B, L, D

Day 6
After breakfast we leave for the beautiful royal town of Amboise. Here we visit Le Clos Lucé, where King François I invited his friend, Leonardo da Vinci, to spend the last years of his life. The house and grounds are now a monument to da Vinci’s amazing engineering inventions. We then have free time to explore Amboise, have lunch, and shop! Dinner tonight is a gourmet affair at a magnificent historic château.
Overnight: Truyes / Meals: B, D

Day 7
Today we take a scenic drive along the Loire River to one of the oldest châteaux, Langeais. This impressive fortress, surrounded by a moat, is furnished with medieval antiques and tapestries. Then it’s on to the historic city of Tours, ancient capital of Touraine. We see the Basilica where Saint Martin was supposedly buried in the 4th century (we can see his tomb) and a tower built in 800 A.D. by Charlemagne. We visit the markets where the best bargains are to be found, and we’ll have lunch in a medieval square, Place Plumereau, surrounded by half-timbered houses. We return home to our manor’s kitchen, where our host gives us an entertaining French cooking class, followed by another delicious dinner.
Overnight: Truyes / Meals: B, D

Day 8
After breakfast and good-byes, we leave Truyes and head northeast to the Champagne region. Here we see a different way of life, where champagne producers completely dominate small villages and where with the exception of perhaps flowers, champagne is king. Our first destination is the medieval town of Troyes. After a guided tour and lunch we continue to our hotel for the next three nights, which is in a tiny champagne village surrounded by vineyards and boasts a gastronomic restaurant.
Overnight: Chalons en Champagne / Meals: B, D

Day 9
Driving along the “Route touristique du Champagne,” surrounded by rolling vineyards, we explore this enchanting region, touring large and small cellars and educating our palates to learn what makes Champagne’s product so unique. In Epernay, Champagne’s capital, we drive up the splendid Avenue de Champagne to visit a famous, traditional champagne cellar and, of course, have a tasting. We enjoy a special dinner out in Chalons.
Overnight: Chalons en Champagne / Meals: B, D

Day 10
We pay homage to Dom Perignon, inventor of champagne, with a visit to his 17th century tomb in the picturesque village of Hautvillers. Next we take a barge ride on the Marne River, passing beautiful little villages so peaceful it’s hard to imagine this was the center of some of the worst fighting in World War I. We return to Chalons for a free evening.
Overnight: Chalons en Champagne / Meals: B

Day 11
Today we visit Reims, with its magnificent cathedral where the kings of France were crowned for centuries. We have a tour one of Champagne’s renowned châteaux, where barrels are still kept in the deep caves dug by the Romans for the same purpose. After lunch in Reims, we follow the Route du Champagne along beautiful rolling vineyards to the tiny village of Oeuilly, where we visit a family-owned winery with outstanding champagnes. Our final destination is a magnificent château, where we spend our last night. Our farewell dinner is fit for kings and queens.
Overnight: Fère en Tardenois / Meals: B, D

Day 12
In the morning we drive to the Paris CDG Airport for our return flight home.
Meals: B

Airfare is included in the tour price.

Price Includes:

- Roundtrip airfare from Boston or New York (airfare price can be deducted)
- 11 nights deluxe accommodations of regional character, 3 or 4 star with lovely private baths
- 11 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 9 dinners (several meals include wine)
- Wine and champagne tastings and guided tours of caves
- Transportation in comfortable, air-conditioned minibus
- Visits to: Chambord, Chinon, Azay le Rideau, Cheillé, Truyes, Chenonceau, Langeais, Loches, Tours, Epernay, Hautvillers, Reims, Chalons, Troyes
- Gourmet cooking class in the chef’s kitchen
- Stay five nights in a beautiful country manor house on a sheep farm–no unpacking!
- Tour medieval villages and magnificent historic châteaux with private guides
- All museum and monument entrance fees, tips, and taxes.