- Visit the Paris must-sees with a private guide
- Experience French cuisine by tasting and cooking with locals
- Explore the Loire countryside and its castles (by hot air balloon if you choose!)
|Day 1||Arrive in Paris||Paris|
|Day 2||A day in Le Marais||Paris|
|Day 3||Stroll & wine around the Palais Royal||Paris|
|Day 4||Cook & lunch like a Parisian||Paris|
|Day 5||Train to the Loire Valley||Amboise|
|Day 6||Organic wine and lunch in the vineyards||Amboise|
|Day 7||Loire Valley outdoors||Amboise|
|Day 8||Departure day||Amboise|
Day 1: Arrive in Paris
Bonjour and welcome to Paris! Your adventure begins with your first taste of French hospitality when a chauffeur picks you up from the airport and shuttles you into the city for a personal welcome at your hotel. Spend the day exploring the neighborhood around your hotel, with personalized suggestions by your local specialist.
After your customized self-guided walking tour, take a load off at a picturesque sidewalk cafe, where you can enjoy an aperitif before heading to a well-recommended restaurant. You could order a perfect steak frites at a timeless cafe or try a trendy bistronomy spot, where up-and-coming chefs serve exciting haute cuisine in a fun and approachable way. Think fusion flavors and reinvented French classics paired with expertly mixed craft cocktails or brilliantly selected natural wines. Walk your meal off along the resplendent Seine or stroll the Champs de Mars under the twinkle of the Eiffel Tower as you drink in the romance of the City of Lights.
Day 2: A day in Le Marais
You'll spend your first full day in Paris like a local in the hip neighborhood of Le Marais. This area has been revered since the 13th century, when the Order of the Temple constructed a fortified church, inspiring the subsequent construction of beautiful buildings, and later, the epicenter of the Parisian Jewish community. Get to know the district by foot after you enjoy a classic breakfast of cafe au laît and a buttered tartine (or, of course, a perfect croissant). Alongside centuries-old synagogues, you'll find high-end fashion boutiques, dining hotspots, art galleries, and LGBT-run businesses.
Stroll to the Haut-Marais, or Upper Marais, a section of the neighborhood that has transformed from former working-class factories to chic shops and galleries. There you'll meet a Maître Fromager, or Master Cheesemaker, at a renowned local cheese shop; you'll learn about the cheese maturation process and sample cheeses from different regions paired thoughtfully with complimenting wines. After, you'll meet your local guide for a two-hour private walking tour through Le Marais's lively streets and hear tales of the magnificent 17th-century mansions that once dominated the district.
The afternoon is yours for further discovery; visit the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP), which boasts an incredible selection of work by premiere and emerging photographers, or opt for the funky Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, a museum devoted to hunting and taxidermy, filled to the brim with curiosities. Explore the neighborhood's stylish boutiques and hidden gardens and when you're feeling peckish, pop over to Rue des Rosiers for a warm kosher pastry or wait in a quick-moving line for an iconic falafel sandwich. If you're hungry for something more, sample international specialties at the Marche des Enfants Rouges or stop in at a wine bar to wind down the day.
Day 3: Stroll & wine tasting around the Palais Royal
Today you'll head to the swanky First Arrondissement for a day full of delicacies. After breakfast, explore the Palais Royal, which once served as the personal residence for Cardinal Richelieu. Its gardens are now a favorite spot for Parisians and fashionists to relax among picturesque arcades, Buren columns, and Bury sphere fountains.
Then, reach the Galerie Vivienne — one of the city's famed covered passageways, lined with beautiful mosaic-tiled floors and topped with a glass ceiling — for an exceptional lunch and wine tasting in an atmospheric 19th-century Parisian wine cellar. After lunch, explore the Galerie and other covered passages, such as the Passage des Panoramas or the Galerie Vero-Dodat; these gorgeous arcades were originally designed to help the Parisian bourgeoisie avoid getting muddy in the streets while they shopped. Peruse their pretty boutiques or simply wander their corridors, admiring the architecture.
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
Day 4: Cook & lunch like a Parisian
On your fourth and last day in Paris, you'll delve deeper into the city's food culture, and will learn how to create classic French cuisine. In the morning, you'll head out to the lively and authentic Parisian district of Les Batignolles in the 17th Arrondissement for a hands-on cooking class!
Your Paris-born host will first take you to the market down the lovely Rue de Levis to buy fresh produces that will serve as your ingredients for the day. You'll take your wares back to your host's kitchen, in her quintessentially Parisian Haussmann-style apartment, where you'll learn the secrets of creating delicious, accessible French food. You'll finish your lesson enjoying the fruits of your labor over lunch when you'll hear your teacher's stories about living in this hip neighborhood.
After lunch, immerse yourself like a local with some retail therapy in the area's boho-chic boutiques or take a stroll in the charming Square des Batignolles.
Day 5: Train to the Loire Valley
After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the train station. Next stop: the Loire Valley. Your journey will take an hour thanks to the high-speed train. Your personal driver will then pick you up and escort you to the fairytale beauty of Amboise.
As you approach the stately town, you will be dazzled by the majesty of the Royal Castle of Amboise, on the banks of the lush Loire River. The castle, constructed in the 15th century, was once home to French kings, and the structure has come to symbolize the epoch's à la Française luxury architecture.
After checking in at your hotel in the old town, visit the Château du Clos Lucé, where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. You can tour the interior, imagining the master at work, then head to Leonardo's Garden, a unique open-air museum where you can play with educational installations modeled on Da Vinci's feats of engineering. Walk around the grounds, inspired by Leonardo's paintings, and relax by the pond, surrounded by bountiful flora and fauna.
Day 6: Organic wine and lunch in the vineyards
A local wine specialist will pick you up at your hotel this morning for a day among the grapevines. Together, you'll drive to Bourgueil, a region renowned for its amazing red wines. Here you'll learn about the region's appellation vineyards and organic horticultural techniques.
Make the most of the idyllic scenery with a picnic in the vineyards. Or enjoy lunch in a farm-restaurant, where you'll be treated to the best of local produce and a smattering of specialties: rillettes, and locally produced smoked fish and goat cheeses, all complimented with the area's fantastic wines.
After lunch, it's time for another round of wine tasting: this time, underground! You'll discover the area's unique troglodyte cellars, carved into the rocks along the Loire River; the stone setting is perfect for sampling the area's for light and fruity red varietals.
Day 7: Loire Valley outdoors
Spend your final full day in France gliding through the countryside. You'll begin the morning with a guided bike tour on the Loire à Velo paths in the beautiful countryside. You'll continue riding along the Loire River, then will explore the area around Chenonceau Castle, built on a bridge over the Cher River.
Also known as the "Ladies Castle," Château de Chenonceau was built, decorated, owned and saved by a number of women over the centuries. Travel back in time to the Renaissance as you navigate the castle's corridors and furnished rooms, then stroll the grounds of the gardens (keep your eyes peeled for the resident donkeys and wild geese).
In the late afternoon, it's time to see the Loire Valley from a different perspective: aboard a hot air balloon. You'll take to the skies on a once in a lifetime flight, with sunset views of the region's castles, vineyards, and enchanting landscapes in this epic farewell to your delicious French adventure.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast, you’ll be picked up at your hotel and transferred from Amboise to the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, from which you'll head home or onto your next adventure.