Experience three of the major regions of France with this trip through Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, and Paris. Start off shopping in the morning markets and sipping wine in historic vineyards, continue to tours of Renaissance-era castles and classic châteaux, and end your trip amid the city streets and cultural institutions of the City of Lights.

Highlights

  • Sample the stellar wines and cuisine of Bordeaux
  • Tour the grounds of stately chateaux
  • Explore the Renaissance castles of the Loire Valley
  • See Paris sparkle from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bordeaux Bordeaux
Day 2 Bordeaux Culinary Tours Bordeaux
Day 3 Vineyards of St. Emilion Bordeaux
Day 4 Bordeaux - Medoc - Amboise Amboise
Day 5 Loire Valley Castle Tour Amboise
Day 6 Amboise & Chenonceau Amboise
Day 7 Amboise to Paris Paris
Day 8 Notre Dame, Cradle of Paris & The Louvre Paris
Day 9 Depart Paris  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bordeaux

City of Bordeaux
City of Bordeaux

Welcome to France! You'll arrive in Paris, then hop on a train to continue up to Bordeaux, a city whose name you may recognize from your favorite wine bottles. It has much more to offer than just its vintages though, with half the city making up the largest urban UNESCO World Heritage site. The other half boasts modern architecture from the likes of Herzog & de Meuron and attractions like the decanter-shaped La Cité du Vin and Jean-Jacques Bosc bridge across the Garonne River.

Day 2: Bordeaux Culinary Tours

Capucin's market in Bordeaux
Capucin's market in Bordeaux

Wake up your taste buds with two separate savory experiences on today's agenda. Your day will start at the Capucin farmer's market amidst the aisles of fresh produce, meats, and baked goods. Join the chefs doing their morning shopping and local characters as you stroll down the aisles.

In the afternoon, you'll meet at the Place Royale to start your wine tour. What better place to learn about the history of the wine trade in Bordeaux's riverfront port than the site of the famous Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, formed in response to Emperor Napoleon III's request for a classification system for Bordeaux's wines? From there, you'll hop on the city's tram system to travel to Le Musée du Vin et du Négoce wine museum, located in an 18th-century wine merchant's home, for some additional learning. Take a stroll through the historic Chartrons neighborhood, home to the city's wine merchants and barrel makers for 300 years, before you top off your tour at a wine bar to sample a selection of Bordeaux wines.

Day 3: Vineyards of St. Emilion

The village of St Emilion
The village of St. Emilion

Your morning agenda is up to you, whether you choose to sleep in or take an early walk. In the afternoon, you'll depart for the village of Saint-Emilion for an extensive wine experience. You'll learn about this region's star vintages and how to properly appreciate them with visits to two separate châteaux on the right bank.

Start with an intimate family-run estate, where you'll tour the vineyards, vat room, and cellar and take a tasting class, then continue to a Great Classified Growth estate to learn about the winemaking process and enjoy an aperitif and French snacks. Finish the day with a guided tour of the village of Saint-Emilion itself, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to medieval times, before you return to Bordeaux.

Day 4: Bordeaux - Medoc - Amboise

Castle in Medoc
Castle in Medoc

Keep the wine flowing with a private tour of Medoc this morning. Over roughly five hours, you'll follow the Châteaux Trail along this peninsula that runs between the Atlantic and the Gironde estuary, stopping at many of the distinctly designed estates to learn about their history and sample the vintages.

After the tour, you'll hop on a train to the Loire Valley region, where you'll spend the next three nights in the town of Amboise.

Day 5: Loire Valley Castle Tour

Castle of Cheverny
Castle of Cheverny

Take a full-day tour of three of the major castles in the Loire Valley region today.

Start at Blois, former home of kings Louis XII and François I and best known for its combination of medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, and Classical architectural styles. Follow it up with a stop for lunch at a restaurant with a wine tasting included, then continue to the chateau of Cheverny.

This chateau has been owned by the same family since the 13th century and inspired the design of the Moulinsart estate in the famous Tintin comics. It's also home to a traditional horseback hunt and pack of 100 hunting dogs. End your day at the Chambord chateau, seated on a national game reserve nearly the same size as Paris. Your guide will lead you through the more than 400 rooms of the estate, which may have been partially designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Day 6: Amboise & Chenonceau

Amboise castle
Amboise Castle

Experience the culture of the Loire Valley on today's full-day tour. Your driver will pick you up from your lodgings to take you to the Chenonceau castle, one of the most famous in the valley, particularly its two-story gallery that stands over the river. This well-preserved remnant of Renaissance France has a tangled political history, including a renovation by Catherine de Medici, that your guide will relate to you.

Take a break for lunch with a wine specialist, who will lead you through a tasting session in a traditional cellar with some of the region's standout vintages, such as Vouvray, Chinon, and Montlouis.

Once you've fortified yourself, continue to the Royal Castle of Amboise, the childhood home of King Francis I and the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. Follow da Vinci's timeline back to your next stop, Clos Lucé Manor, his residence for the last three years of his life. Take a peek at his invention room and learn about his experience with the Renaissance kings before you head back to your lodgings.

Day 7: Amboise to Paris

Paris
Parisian classic

Catch an early morning to the City of Lights. France's famed romantic capital city offers endless strolling and exploration opportunities, whether it's strolling the gardens of Versailles or the underground catacombs. You'll visit the landmark Eiffel Tower to take in the city from above, then see the streets from another angle with a Seine Promenade cruise. The rest of your activities are up to you.

Day 8: Cradle of Paris & The Louvre Tours

Le Louvre pyramid
Le Louvre pyramid

 Start your morning strolling through the Cradle of Paris, the stunning Ile de la Cité. Your tour begins at the famed 12th-century Notre Dame cathedral; though you can't go inside, there is plenty to admire on the exterior and a slew of stories to tell. Cross over the Seine from there to visit the Latin Quarter, home to some of the oldest streets in Paris such as Rue du Chat Qui Pêche and Rue Galande, as well as the city's oldest tree. Your guide will drop you off at Shakespeare & Co bookstore, leaving you plenty of time to wander the shelves.

After you've stocked up on reading material and had some lunch, meet up with a second tour to visit another Parisian classic, the Louvre museum. Your guide will take you around the museum's many masterpieces, revealing secrets from the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory of Samothrace. You'll also visit the Egyptian Antiquities department, home to tales of hieroglyphic code-breaking and Tutankhamen's legend.

Day 9: Depart Paris

Into the skies

Catch your transfer to the airport to head home or onward to your next adventure. Au revoir!