The Loire Valley is legendary for its magnificent chateaux, gorgeous gardens, charming villages, incomparable wine and regional cuisine. The trick is to visit later in the season to avoid the huge crowds!
The Loire Valley is one of France’s top tourist destinations, especially in summer when castle parking lots are clogged with trip buses. This is why, on our women-only tour, we prefer to explore this gorgeous region when the throngs have cleared out a bit in the fall. Just when the landscape and light are at their autumn peak, we’ll introduce you to the authentic Loire. Beyond visiting iconic castles – including Blois, Chambord and Chenonceau – we’ll explore historic towns and enchanting villages with stops to savor fall 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 Samur Champigny which marries perfectly with fish or can be enjoyed chilled in summer.
This luxury tour for women will be led by Casey Obrien Blondes, a GG2P Colleague and a long time resident of the Loire Valley, where she has raised her kids with her husband. She is the author of two books on France for Rizzoli and she is an editor, a tour guide and a knowledgeable historian.
We will pick you up at the Tours train station. (It’s an easy train ride from Paris).
We will share a delicious welcome lunch at gourmet bistro Les Gens Heureux, in the heart of the city before following the Loire river downstream to visit the first of our Chateaux. Chateau de Villandry is famous for its magnificent formal gardens, including intricate renaissance ornamental flower gardens and unforgettable vegetable gardens. It’s truly magical.
We will then head to Fontevraud where we’ll check into our hotel located on the grounds of the thousand-year-old Abbey. This Abbey is where Eleanor of Aquitaine stayed, the only woman to be both the Queen of France & England. YOU too will be treated like a Queen!
After a little free time, either to relax, trip the Abbey grounds or the charming adjacent village, we’ll convene for dinner at the one Michelin starred restaurant on the grounds of the Abbey.
In the morning we’ll visit Fontevraud, Europe’s largest Abbey dating back to the 11th Century. It has played a pivotal role in French and European history, as the abbey has always been run by women, was the burial place of Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and son Richard the Lionheart. Its last incarnation was a prison before closing its doors in 1963. The complex of buildings and courtyards are exquisitely restored and bring to life its compelling history.
We will have lunch in nearby Saumur at the vintage style Boeuf Noisette. After lunch, we’ll explore this ancient town, which was founded in the year 845, before visiting the Le Cadre Noir, for a special showing of France’s elite cavalry in training consisting of 50 horses and 22 riders.
In the late afternoon we’ll meet Denis who will take us out on his traditional boat on the Loire for a riverside wine tasting. We’ll enjoy a boat ride on a traditional Loire River fishing boat. He’s the only captain on the river who is both a sailor and a wine maker!
This evening we’ll enjoy a cozy dinner in the neighboring town of Fontevraud.
In the morning we’ll head to the idyllic Château d’Azay-le-Rideau. After visiting this jewel of a chateau with its halcyon gardens and beautiful reflective moat, we’ll have some free time to visit the charming boutiques in the town before having lunch at the restaurant Côté Cour – if it’s nice weather, we can sit out in the garden.
In the afternoon, we’ll head to our very own chateau, Domaine de la Tortinière where we’ll be staying for the next two nights. There will be free time for spa treatments, before our epicurean feast at the hotel.
Today we’ll have the delight of spending time with the lovely and informative author Casey O’Brien who will show us some hidden treasures of the region including a visit to her friend’s Château de Montpoupon where we’ll be treated to a champagne reception.
Afterwards, we’ll head to the royal town of Loches where we’ll enjoy a hearty market-driven lunch before exploring the town’s rich history. It was here that the young Joan of Arc persuaded Charles the VII to claim the throne. We’ll delve into medieval times while exploring the 11th century keep which houses some of the best preserved and impressive engravings from the time. From the top of the tower we’ll be able to delight in a bucolic view of the region.
The town also has some lovely boutiques selling regional specialties which we can explore.
We will return to our Chateau for some more spa treatments and some relaxation.
For dinner we’ll go to the nearby river town Montbazon where we’ll dine on elevated local cuisine.
Today we’ll visit the area’s most fabled and elegant Chateau, Chenonceau. Its history is intrinsically tied to a succession of remarkable women, including rivals Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers. The gardens are remarkable as are the stunning floral displays inside. It’s a garden lover’s paradise.
We will lunch there in the beautiful Orangerie restaurant.
After lunch we’ll go on a private trip of the Domaine du Clos Roussely with its unusual setting of troglodyte cellars and collection of old vehicles. Our visit will be accompanied with a tasting which will allow us to discover the local authentic natural wines.
We’ll then head to our hotel, located a stone’s throw of the crown jewel of the chateaux of the region, Chambord. Its exclusive spa includes an outdoor jacuzzi with a view of the chateau.
After a private exploration of the gardens at sunset, we’ll enjoy a gourmet meal at the Relais de Chambord, our hotel’s celebrated restaurant.
This morning we’ll explore the imposing Chateau Chambord built by François I as a hunting lodge. We’ll also visit the chateau’s beautiful vegetable garden.
We’ll enjoy lunch in the nearby city of Blois. Afterwards, we’ll visit the Les Jardins de L’ancien Évêché and trip the famed Poulain Chocolate.
We’ll have some time to rest and enjoy the spa before having a convivial dinner in the local restaurant of Saint Martin where we’ll toast to all the experiences and laughs we’ve had, and lasting friendships made.
Breakfast at our hotel and then we’ll sadly have to say our goodbyes. We will return to Paris via train from Blois.
GG2P always reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather or availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
NOTE -> Not to worry – Vegetarians will be well fed in all cafés and restaurants as well as those allergic to seafood or gluten. Options are plentiful.
Trip Cost: 5,240 Euro*
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