French Food & Wine Tour: Loire Valley & Bordeaux

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Total Trip:

8 Days
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Countries Visited:

France
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Places Visited:

Paris, Loire Valley, Arcachon, Bordeaux
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Saying you can sample France has never made a taste sound so delicious. You immediately think of creamy chocolate ganache and buttery sauces. Lavish estates filled with oceans of vineyards run for as far as the eye can see. On your custom tailored French food and wine tour in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux, you aren’t just sampling the cuisine, but savoring the countryside, exploring medieval villages, and experiencing the wealth of culture spanning centuries, if not millennia. Visit ornate castles

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Customizable Itinerary

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Day 1

Sampling the City

Your tour of France begins in Paris. The city is renowned for the beauty of its architecture, indulgent flavors, and its locals who understand a particular quality of living. Decadent chocolate truffles fill window displays outside celebrated chocolateries. The aroma of freshly baked baguettes spills out of quaint bakeries. Nineteenth century buildings line wide shaded avenues that brush the entire cityscape with classical artistry.

People line up outside of Angelina’s, Audrey Hepburn’s favorite café, and wait to taste the creamy and rich hot chocolate. Macaroons decorate the window showcasing the rainbow colors and flavors of the moist treat. Lush gardens blossom in relegated areas bringing a countryside ambiance to the city center.

Your private transfer meets you at the airport upon your arrival and takes you to your hotel situated in the heart of the city. After you settle into your hotel, your guide meets you in the lobby ready to escort you through Paris on a private tour.

The Luxembourg Gardens were designed in the 17th century creating an inner-city oasis. Chestnut groves shade the lush lawns over taking 56 acres behind the Palais du Luxembourg. A large octagonal pond stands at the center of the gardens adorned with a trickling fountain. There are over 100 statues, monuments, and fountains decorating the entire area, some standing on the two terraces flanking the pond. Your guide points out one of the small Statue of Liberties standing around an arch of greenery, a unique welcome adding to the endless surprises of the celebrated city.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Lunch

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Day 2

Embracing the Valley

At breakfast, you find the perfect image of Paris waiting for you. Locals linger at sidewalk tables outside of charming cafes sipping espresso. Their sunglasses shade them from the shifting morning light. They listen to the crust of their croissants flake when the take a bite. They watch locals and visitors pass them by enjoying the possibilities of everyday moments.

After breakfast, your private guide and transfer meet you in the lobby of the hotel and takes you out of the city and into the beauty of the Loire Valley. The majesty of the valley is akin to a fairytale, with remarkable castles standing atop dales overlooking the charming countryside.

When you reach Chateau de Chambord, you find a storybook castle designed during the height of the French Renaissance. Conical roofs shape into a collection of thin, towering turrets. The palace has 440 rooms and 84 separate staircases, including a double-helix staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Your guide informs you that this particular castle was the inspiration for the Palace of Versailles, with vaulted ceilings on 13,590 acres of land. The double-helix staircase has an elegant opening, the epitome of cinematic drama. You can imagine an entire gala stopping in its tracks and noticing the princess passing through the opening in her glittering gown.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Finding Valley Flavor

In the morning, you can see the sunlight washing over the lush greenery surrounding the town. After breakfast, your guide takes you into the charm of Amboise and its storybook style castle overlooking the River Loire. Later, you make your way to the Vouvray cellar in the Domaine Marc Bredif, located in the heart of Touraine. Touraine is a region referred to as the “Garden of France,” and is known for its tasty cheeses and pure accent. The winery has earned its space in Loire greatness, producing lush red wines and crisp white wines dating back to the late 19th century.

Your guide takes you into the famous cellars carved into the sediment that have helped keep wines and barrels cool in the summer valley heat, and warm in the winters. Large wine barrels line the troglodytic cellars. A large gate opens up at the front of the cave mouth, underneath stone built walls leading to the chateau. The air is cool in the cellar and the aroma of fresh earth emanates from the walls. Your guide pours you a sample of the Heritage Bredif, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. You let the tannins wrap around you tongue and notice the sparkling texture and rosy flavor.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Inside History

The comforts of the countryside come from the charm and elegance of small towns and open spaces. In the morning, you can sip a fresh, foamy cappuccino and look out to the sundrenched hills outside of Montbazon. After breakfast, you make your way to Tours in the center of castle country. Cobblestone streets zigzag around the medieval center. The town is youthful with university students but enchantingly antiquated in its architecture, combining the styles of urban Paris with rural central France. Painters showcase their work along the walls of stone buildings. The scent of rich chocolate emanates from indulgent cafes.

The Basilique St-Martin was erected between the 19th and 20th centuries in a neo-Byzantine style. The large dome casts a grand shadow over the gardens. The portico has a stunning archway supported by firm pillars. The interior has a reminiscent aroma of frankincense drifting across the tiled floor. In the crypt, the polished tomb of Saint Martin remains untouched, encircled by dangling candles, bright light, and adorned with marbled pillars. It is easy to lose yourself in the dichotomy of the church’s tranquil atmosphere and the town’s vibrant energy. You can sit in the Saint Pierre le Puellier Garden amongst Gallo-Roman ruins sipping a cup of thick hot chocolate, savoring your surroundings.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Enjoying the Wine and the Region

After breakfast, you leave behind the valley charm of Montbazon, making your way south to Bordeaux. Once you arrive in the city on the left bank of the Garonne River, you enter into a combination of Renaissance architecture, traditional wines, cultural heritage, and modern luxury. The city sits on a crescent bend of the river surrounded by verdant valley and holds over 350 buildings classified as historical monuments.

Outside the theater, the sunlight drapes across the redbrick colored rooftops. The bell tower of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew casts shadows over the square. The Grand Theater was constructed in the 18th century and remains the centerpiece of the Place de la Comedie; it was once the site of the ancient Roman Forum.  Twelve marvelous Corinthian columns decorate the exterior, each one representing a different Roman God and the nine muses. The grandeur unfolds inside the theater with numerous gilded foyers leading to the opulence of numerous grand staircases. Stunning light fixtures hang from the painted ceiling. Your footsteps echo across the polished tile floors. The entire interior emanates grace and extravagance.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Mesmerizing Medoc

The region of Medoc hugs the left bank of the Gironde River. Pine forests rise out of green prairies, and sandy beaches line the edges of the riverbanks and nearby Atlantic coast. Your guide takes you into the fabulous vineyards and stunning chateaus of the region after your morning at leisure in Bordeaux.

The Lynch-Bages Estate is situated outside of Pauillac. Rows upon rows of vines line the countryside leading to charming trees underneath a pale blue sky. The winery dates back to the 1870s and produces a popular Grand Cure Classe. The gravelly ridge adds to the unique tannins of the wine and overlooks the Gironde Estuary. The vineyard sits on 220 acres of fertile land over beds of limestone. Your guide sifts the soil in his hands and savors the earthy aroma. You are poured a sample straight from the oak barrels. The ruby red color sparkles in the glass and you find a nose of cassis and cedar. A crisp and easy flavor covers your palette and your enthusiasm for the wine grows.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Villa by the Water

In the morning, you make your way to the historic oyster-harvesting region of Arachon Bay, a seaside town that flourished in the 19th century. The town is separated into four quarters, each one named after a season. Villas decorate the streets and harken back to a golden era. The sun continues to soak the beaches. The Atlantic sweeps over the sand. The bay lays claim to Europe’s largest sand dune, Dune du Pilat. The sand reaches a height of 351 feet tall and 1,640 feet wide. The aroma of pine drifts from the nearby trees.

Fishermen erected the nearby oyster village known as Le Cap-Ferret. Your guide leads you closer to the water where you can see fishing boats moored in the bay. Narrow streets wind through the village. The quaintness of the village mixes with the untamed wildness of the forest and ocean. Sit in a small but stylized restaurant listening to the sound of the ocean brushing the sand. A plate of oysters reaches your table accompanied by a plate of lemon wedges and a glass of white wine. You toast your guide and squeeze the lemon over your oysters. The citrus helps cook the shellfish. The natural salt from the briny sea creates a depth of flavor. The elegant and crisp wine, with notes of lemongrass, make a perfect accompaniment for a savory, indulgent, yet whimsical meal.

What's Included:

included

Tour

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 8

Au Revoir Atlantique

You wake up to a slight breeze brushing over the cobblestones of Bordeaux. Palaces and churches make up the skyline, and the Garonne River rushes against the edges of the city. At breakfast, you can hear the city awaken. People fill The French Coffee Shop at 24 Place Pey Berland searching for specialty coffees and the rich, creamy macchiato. The aromas of buttery croissants and savory chocolate have become familiar, and always delectable.

After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you to the Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport for your flight home. You may have only experienced a sample of what France has to offer, but there is always more to discover and enjoy.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Journey through the Bordeaux countryside on an exclusive wine tour across historic estates
  • Enjoy a Cognac tasting where you learn all about the production of the spiced spirit
  • Stroll along the picturesque medieval streets of Old Tours, situated in the Loire Valley countryside
  • Witness the grandeur of storybook castles in Loire Valley, including the lavish Chateau de Chambord and its elegant double-helix staircase
  • Delight in a wine tasting located in the historic natural wine cellars of the Domaine Marc Bredif
  • Venture past the largest sand dunes in Europe to take pleasure in the simple, but decadent, flavors of fresh oysters
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Detailed Description

You stand in an ancient wine cellar and feel the cool air. Uncountable barrels line the walls of the natural cave. Your private guide pours you a sample of the wine produced in the vineyard and the earthy aroma of the cellar blends with the limestone and citrus fruit nose of the wine. Your 8-day French food and wine tour in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux gives you a sampling of France. Go beyond the vines and into the tasting rooms of historic chateaus, along with discovering the eclectic beauty of the landscape, medieval villages, and exquisite traditional flavors of the land and sea.

Your flavorful journey begins with your arrival in Paris. Your France travel agent will have your private transfer meet you at the airport. You will be whisked into the city and brought to your centrally located hotel. Your guide meets you in the lobby ready to take you on a panoramic tour of the city, from the Grande Bibliotheque to Ile de la Cite where Notre-Dame is situated.

The following day, you leave the city behind making your way south to the Loire Valley. You stop en route in Orleans, home to Joan of Arc, before visiting the storybook edifice of the Chateau de Chambord. Visit the town of Amboise set alongside the Loire River. Later in the day you venture to the sensational Vouvray cellar, at the Domaine Marc Bredif, where you will sample some of the wines from the award-winning vineyard in the unique subterranean setting. Your guide leads you through the Tours, an ancient village made of narrow streets with 15th century timber homes. Continue to Chenonceau to see the Renaissance architecture of the riverside town.

Your guide leads you to Bordeaux, the famous wine-producing region in central France. From April to October, you have the ability to stop in Cognac and learn the technique of production before delighting in a tasting. Once in Bordeaux, you follow your guide through the remarkable streets lined with 17th and 18th century mansions.

Next, step into the Medoc Region for a wine tasting tour situated in the grand estates along the riverbanks. The following day, you make your way to Arachon on the Atlantic, exploring the villa, the bay, and the scrumptious oysters in the town of Le Cap-Ferret before returning to Paris. After breakfast on your last day, your private transfer meets you at your hotel and escorts you to the Charles de Gaulle Airport for your flight home.

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Starting Price

$2195 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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