Gardens of France Tour: Versailles, Loire Valley, Paris

A 9 day trip to France 
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The grandeur of greenery and the luxuries materialized by imaginative focus have graced Paris, Versailles, and the Loire Valley with gardens that have captivated visitors for centuries. Your custom gardens of France tour focuses on the landscape of renowned estates, magnificent palaces, and areas known for their charming recreational wanderings. Flowers bloom radiant hues against emerald green leaves. The grass is manicured into geometric shapes sweeping across vast grounds. Ponds ripple in the peaceful atmosphere. Fountains spout serenely, adorned with images of gods and nobility. The gardens are works of art that have offered endless inspiration for painters, poets, and playwrights.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Versailles, Loire Valley, Paris, Bourges, Azay-le-Rideau, Orleans, Amboise, Blois, Tours, Angers, Giverny 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Welcoming Beauty

Paris is a city known for its pleasures both large and small. The Seine River winds through the cityscape, separating the ambiance and distinct styles of the Left and Right Banks. The Obelisk of Luxor rises above the Place de la Concorde and imitates the shape of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Lush trees line the walkways of the wide boulevard and provide a border, guiding visitors down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. Maison Laduree is a lavish 18th-century tea salon that serves decadent macaroons.

The boulevard maintains an image of elegance emanating from the glinting jewelry in the windows of Tiffany & Co. and Cartier. Your private transfer meets you at Charles de Gaulle International Airport and escorts you to your sensational accommodation near the gates of the Palace of Versailles. The Rococo décor provides an extravagant atmosphere, setting precedence for your subsequent tour of the grandeur at Versailles. You easily settle into the luxuries of your hotel and the beauty of your surroundings. Consider learning more about your France travel agent who strives to produce a highly personalized itinerary based on your particular interests and desires. 

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Introduction to Opulence

In the morning, the dining room fills with the aroma of freshly baked brioche. You sip a frothy and rich cappuccino before meeting your guide. The gates of the Chateau de Versailles frame the bold and dazzling structural façade. Cobblestones pave the forecourt leading to the entrance. The palace was redesigned by King Louis XIV to inspire envy and awe. The estate encompasses 721,182 square feet. The gilded roofing of the structure glints in the sunlight. Inside, you find the elaborate lavishness of the King’s Grand Apartments encircling the Marble Courtyard. The black and white tiles touch the Baroque edges of the building. Your guide leads you through the opulent galleries, from the Hall of Mirrors to the Salon de Paix, and eventually out into the sensational royal gardens.

The architect Andre Le Notre designed the gardens to resemble a piece of artwork as opposed to a scene of nature, evident in the geometric patterns of the manicured lawn. Fountains spray water into the air and add a cooling temperature around the gardens. The Saturn Fountain was designed in perfect symmetry with the Flora Fountain, depicting the king of the gods seated on a throne at the center, surrounded by cherubs. Hidden in the distance is the miniature hamlet of Marie-Antoinette, an Austrian village made for the queen near the Grand Trianon. Rustic houses and a mill look over the quiet pond. Ducks glide over the water and dip down in search of food.  

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Beauty of Orleans

In the morning, sunlight drapes over the bronze statues along the large pool in the Versailles gardens. The statues symbolize the four great rivers of France that touch the sea. The classical interpretation of the rivers depicts them as reclining men with long beards, crowned with reeds. After breakfast, you leave behind the luster of your hotel and the unforgettable opulence of Versailles, making your way south into the Loire Valley. The city of Orleans is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is intertwined with the history of Joan of Arc. The enduring heritage connects the Roman arrival to the armies of Charles VII. Cobblestone streets meander around the walkways of the medieval quarter.

The magnificent Cathedral of Saint Croix towers over the square. The church was erected in the 13th century and was refurbished in the early 17th century under the patronage of Henri IV. The two frontal towers rise to a height of 289 feet with the singular spire reaching 374 feet above the cathedral base. Three rose windows adorn the façade, each crowning an arched portico. You continue to your hotel located in a former chateau, situated in the heart of the Loire Valley. The manicured grass in the gardens leads to a reflective pond shaded by scented oak trees.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Countryside Garden

Morning dew drips from the ivy draping the antique façade of the hotel. The aroma of fresh espresso fills the dining room. The fresh air of the countryside sweeps across the manicured grass and into the rolling hills. After breakfast, your guide takes you on a tour of the Loire Valley, incorporating the various stunning castles of the region with their majestic gardens. Chateau de Chenonceau was built in the 16th century and spans the quiet waters of the River Cher. Gothic and early Renaissance styles blend to form the balance of power and grace touching both riverbanks.

A series of moats continues to surround the castle forecourt. Catherine de Medici constructed the Corps de Logis gallery over the gracefully arched bridge that crosses the river. A walking path lets you stroll through the gardens, enjoying the soft trickle of the decorative pools and gentle aroma of the blossoming roses. The forecourt is known as Catherine’s Garden and contains rose trees, along with an alley lined with 16 orange trees. The footpath leads to the beds of countless flowers. Ivy drapes along the wooden trellis of the north.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Radiant Countryside

The waters of the Loire River brush against the historic walls of the town of Amboise, once home to the French royal court. The manor house of Clos Lucé overlooks the riverbanks. It was here that Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life. Stroll alongside the timbered housing and take in the majestic view of the Chateau d’Amboise en route to Azay-le-Rideau. The chateau was erected in the 16th century and remains a pristine example of French Renaissance architecture. The chateau stands on an island surrounded by the tranquil Indre River. You can see the structure’s reflection in the gentle flow of the water. The famous French writer Balzac described the castle as “…a facetted diamond, set in the Indre.”

Conical turrets and a steeply sloping roof provide a classic French style. The interior contains luxurious décor influenced by the Italian Renaissance. Some rooms contain historic Flemish tapestries, including “Story of Psyche,” detailing the tale of the Greek goddess. The gardens in their current form were designed in the 19th century with the intent of imitating the English style. Trees frame the exterior. Lush reeds surround the stoic pool. The aroma of cedar and tulips swirls through the air. Winding alleys open to marvelous viewpoints of the chateau. Dragonflies flutter around the large stems of marsh reeds.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Castle Country to City of Lights 

After breakfast, your guide meets you in the lobby and escorts you north to Paris. The chateau in Blois dominates the city and watches over the hills above the Loire River. The palace became the residence of King Louis of Orleans in the late 14th century. The castle grounds and remarkable gardens of the valley are gorgeous and endlessly inspiring. A small neighborhood of medieval streets remains in the town, twisting along stone storefronts framed with timber. You can’t help but notice the looming outline of the palace on the rocky outcrop.

Several wings branch out from the chateau’s center, as each subsequent owner tried to improve the grounds. The estate now houses 564 rooms, 75 staircases, and 100 bedrooms, each with its private fireplace. The focal centerpiece is the grand spiral staircase in the Francois I Wing, which is covered in bas-relief sculptures. Openings on each level look into the central court. The exposed brick façade of the Louis XII Wing shines with a touch of color over the cobblestone courtyard. You arrive in Paris and settle into the comforts and lavish character of your centrally located hotel.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 7: Plush Paris

Cafes set out tables along the cobblestone streets of Paris. Parisians take their time in the morning and enjoy their cappuccino before work. Denizens pass through the gardens decorating the cityscape, which add a touch of the country to the historic palaces, museums, and boutique shops. After breakfast, your guide leads you on a tour of the celebrated verdant areas of the city beginning at Luxembourg Gardens. The gardens were established in the 17th century attached to the Palais du Luxembourg. Elm trees line the walkways.

Locals sit on chairs and benches and relax in the shade. Flowerbeds blossom with delicate hues and add to nature’s alluring fragrance, along with the surrounding pear and apple trees. The Fontaine de Medicis sits beneath the trees near the eastern entrance. River gods depict the Rhone and Seine Rivers leaning against the pool basin. Children sail miniature boats along the pond. A small crowd grows near the Theatre du Luxembourg to see a traditional marionette show. Part of the garden’s splendor is how it continues to accommodate the daily life and activity of Parisians, playing a central role in providing space and relaxation in an otherwise bustling city.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Following Monet

The fountains in the Tuileries Garden spring to life in the morning light. The trickling sound echoes beneath the canopy of trees bordering the walkways. The glass pyramid of the Louvre Museum is visible from the west entrance. At the east end of the gardens is the Orangerie Museum, home to an elaborate display of Monet’s water lilies paneling the walls of two galleries. Today your guide leads you north to the town of Giverny, home to Monet and his unparalleled gardens. The town is located on the Right Bank of the Seine River.

Ivy drapes across the façade of Monet’s home. Carnations and tulips bloom in the flower garden located in the foreground. Across the road, you find the lush weeping willow trees and a stoic pond draped with water lilies, forming an immaculate Japanese garden. The sunlight drifts across the sky, adding pockets of light to different sections of the garden. The pastoral paradise captured Monet’s imagination daily. The wooden footbridge arches over the water. Wisteria winds around the handrails. Bamboo sprouts out of the banks of the pond. When the flowers bloom, it is easy to see the swirling colors Monet had captured eloquently in his work.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 9: Always another Blossom

Medieval tapestries drape across the walls of the Musee National du Moyen-Age, a former Benedictine abbey constructed over an ancient Roman bath complex. Pastry shops in the sixth arrondissement look out to the Baroque façade of the Saint-Sulpice church. The Thinker statue, made by Rodin, decorates the garden of the Rodin Museum. Students sit in the small park next to Shakespeare and Company bookstore and read in view of the gothic gargoyles of Notre Dame de Paris. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at your hotel and escorts you to Charles de Gaulle International Airport for your flight home. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized France vacation packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $400 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $350 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day

The customized package will include hotels, airport transfers and other transportation within France, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24x7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.