Luxury Getaway to Western France: Paris, Normandy, Brittany, Loire Valley, & More - 13 Days
- Explore art at the Louvre
- Tour the Opéra Garnier, inspiration for Degas and others
- Visit Mont-Saint-Michel, the abbey on an island
- See the 14th-century Dinan Castle
- Go wine tasting in the Loire Valley
|Day 1||Bienvenue à Paris!||Paris|
|Day 2||l’Ile de la Cité & Eiffel Tower||Paris|
|Day 3||Morning at the Louvre & Montmartre Tour||Paris|
|Day 4||Day Trip to Versailles & Dinner Cruise||Paris|
|Day 5||French Baking Class & Opéra Garnier||Paris|
|Day 6||Private Transfer from Paris to Bayeux & City Tour||Bayeux|
|Day 7||Tour of D-Day Sites||Bayeux|
|Day 8||Day Trip to Mont-Saint-Michel & Private Transfer to Saint-Malo||Saint-Malo|
|Day 9||Dinan & Dinard||Saint-Malo|
|Day 10||Train from Brittany to the Loire Valley & Free Afternoon||Amboise|
|Day 11||Organic Wine & Lunch in the Vineyards||Amboise|
|Day 12||Loire Valley: Châteaus de Chambord & Chenonceau||Amboise|
|Day 13||Au Revoir, France|
Day 1: Bienvenue à 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: l’Ile de la Cité & Eiffel Tower
After breakfast at your hotel, get ready to explore the city with a private local guide. This full-day tour gives you plenty of time to experience the highlights starting with the Royal Palace, the Sainte Chapelle, and Notre Dame—all within the Île de la Cité. From here, you'll wander through the streets of the trendy Le Marais district and explore symbolic places within such as the Place des Vosges.
After a lunch break, relax with some fresh air in the Tuileries Gardens, and then continue to the Champs Elysees and the majestic Arc de Triomphe.
Finally, you'll visit the architectural wonder that is the Eiffel Tower. Enjoy the beauty of this monument before ending the epic tour with a boat cruise along the Seine.
Day 3: Morning at the Louvre & Montmartre Tour
In the morning, it's time to explore the Louvre, the world's largest art museum. Skip the lines and head right to the classics, as well as your personal favorites. Get up close to Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, then get some fresh air at the Tuileries Garden.
After lunch, follow your guide to where the artists once lived: Montmartre. Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, and more called this neighborhood home in the early 20th century. It's one of the true must-see neighborhoods of Paris, offering a romantic glimpse into an era when raucous cabarets, bohemian soirées, and unbridled creativity were the norm. Stroll the streets that give the area its now-village atmosphere and sip wine at a cafe to take it all in.
Day 4: Day Trip to Versailles & Dinner Cruise
In the morning, head outside of the big city to the resplendent Versaille Estate. Take the train there, then head directly inside with your skip-the-line access to spend a few hours exploring the palace and grounds. Travel back in time as you discover what life was like living in the splendor of the court of the kings and queens of France. Your historian guide will walk you from hall to gilded hall, pointing out ornately painted ceilings, the Hall of Mirrors, and the private royal quarters.
After touring the castle head outside to the manicured gardens and lawns, where a dazzling display of flowers and exotic plants delight visitors of all ages.
Enjoy lunch near the castle, then take the train back to Paris for a free afternoon in the city. Shop, enjoy the fresh air in one of the city's parks or explore one of the city's many art museums.
In the evening, you'll board a luxury yacht for an evening on the Seine. Cruise down the river as you enjoy a gourmet dinner and watch the city lights go by.
Day 5: French Baking Class & Opéra Garnier
Step behind the counter of a French bakery to learn how to bake your own traditional bread and viennoiseries. The bakery owner themselves will instruct you on the methods behind baguettes, puff pastries such as croissants and pains au chocolat, and sourdough loaves. Show off your newfound skills by bringing home your own baguette.
After lunch, follow your guide to the impressive Opéra Garnier, where famous painters like Degas used to visit to paint the ballerinas. You'll learn about the history of this sumptuous building along your tour, including the Grand Escalier main staircase, glittering foyer, and the Chagall-painted ceiling of the main room.
Day 6: Private Transfer from Paris to Bayeux & City Tour
In the morning, your chauffeur will drive from Paris towards the city of Bayeux, a 3-hour (160 miles/ 260 km) drive.
After checking in to your hotel, meet your guide for a walking tour of the city. One of today's highlights includes a visit to the famous Tapestry Museum, which houses some of the world's finest works.
As the first town to be liberated after D-Day and one of the only places to have emerged from WWII nearly unscathed, Bayeux retains much of its old architecture.
Spend the day exploring the city’s narrow streets, which are lined with traditional wooden-framed Norman houses, and admire the gothic cathedral. In the afternoon, visit the Museum of Art and History Baron Gerard to learn about the lace and porcelain that made Bayeux so rich.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 7: Tour of D-Day Sites
Today is a full day to discover the powerful legacy of D-Day on Normandy's landscape, as well as its effect on the world. Your local specialist, an expert on the Battle of Normandy and the five landing areas (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword, and Juno), will walk you through an emotional day. You'll navigate famous scenes of war, memorialized by the films "The Longest Day" from Darryl Zanuck or "Saving Private Ryan" from Steven Spielberg.
Pay tribute to the armed forces who fought to end the war on this day as you visit Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, and D-Day Experience (an interactive 3D movie theater which chronicles the day's events.) At the end of the 8-hour tour, return to Bayeux.
Day 8: Day Trip to Mont-Saint-Michel & Private Transfer to Saint-Malo
Spend the day exploring Mont-Saint-Michel. The iconic abbey sits on an island in the middle of a huge bay, where Europe's biggest tides create a natural moat. Mont-Saint-Michel gets its start in 708 CE, when the Archangel St. Michel ordered Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, to build a sanctuary on this location.
In the 10th century, the monastery was replaced by a Benedictine abbey that welcomed pilgrims who came to worship the archangel. Construction on the building continued until the French Revolution in 1791 when the abbey became a prison. It wasn't until 1864 that Mont-Saint-Michel was added to the French List of Historic Monuments and restored for visitors.
Head across the causeway to the town on foot, or catch a ride with a horse-drawn wagon for a scenic approach. If the tide is out, walk across the sand with a trained guide to the base of the fortifications like the pilgrims used to (the quicksands make it dangerous to cross alone.) Your guide will walk you through the main building, pointing out the history of various rooms and halls. Mont-Saint-Michel is remarkably well-preserved, with huge fireplaces still showing signs of soot from centuries of use.
After exploring the church and the surrounding gardens, head downhill to the town where you'll find souvenir shops, cafes, and art galleries. You can expect lots of walking today on steep staircases and wet sand, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket for the brisk ocean breeze.
After your tour, your private chauffeur will transfer you two hours down the coast, to the fortified town of Saint-Malo. For dinner, stay inside the city walls and pick from one of many restaurant options. It's an otherworldly experience to walk through the walled fortifications and narrow cobblestone streets at night, especially if a mist rolls in from the ocean.
Stroll through the town to work up an appetite, then sit down for a meal. If seafood is your thing, you're in luck—there's no shortage of incredible seafood restaurants, from casual neighborhood brasseries to higher-end dining. Follow your nose to open-air cafes (the ones with the striped red and white canopies) for an unforgettable French dinner.
Day 9: Dinan & Dinard
Start your day by enjoying a relaxing breakfast with a view of the ocean. One of the best ways to discover a region is by exploring its gastronomy, and Brittany's history is woven closely with one particular dish—the crêpe. It's a standard local dish, and hearty enough to fill you up for an entire day.
After breakfast, meet with your private guide (a Brittany local), and head out to explore two nearby towns: Dinan and Dinard. Your first stop is Dinan, a medieval town with preserved city ramparts and a large tower built for Duke Jean IV. Together with your private guide, you'll explore the city's architecture and history—including the 14th-century keep in Dinan Castle, the Église Saint-Malo de Dinan's stained glass windows, and the views from the Clock Tower—before exploring artisan workshops and old streets.
From here, continue back north towards the coast. Your destination is Dinard, a town that sits opposite Saint-Malo. It's known for its luxurious beaches and outstanding views of the lush Emerald Coast. Formerly a humble 19th-century fishing port, the city experienced a resurgence thanks to its popularity with artists and French bourgeoise.
In the afternoon, your guide will recommend the best local brasserie for fresh oysters and a glass of white wine. Spend a couple of hours savoring your meal—after all, what's more French than taking your time over lunch?—before spending the rest of the day browsing boutiques and shops in Dinard. Return to Saint-Malo in the evening.
Day 10: Train from Brittany to the Loire Valley & Free Afternoon
Leave Brittany behind today and head toward inland France aboard first-class train seats.
Arrive and check in to your hotel in Amboise, then spend the afternoon enjoying the Loire Valley on your own.
Visit a few of the many magnificent castles in the Loire Valley. With over 300 unique chateaus, the Loire Valley castles are as diverse as they are numerous. Tour the Azay-le Rideau, which seemingly floats on the river Indre, see Cande where Edward Prince of Wales married Wallis Simpson, and stroll through the gardens of Villandry and Chaumont-sur-Loire. A few of the chateaus, like Le Grand Pressigny and Oiron, house museums and galleries.
From Nantes to Sancerre, the Loire Valley vineyards stretch along the river of the same name. Follow it along the longest wine route in France as you visit villages, gardens, and royal abbeys in a landscape of hills and plains. Hidden behind each renowned wine district is a famous Loire chateau: Chenonceau, Chambord, Brissac, Saumur, and Chinon. More than one thousand vineyards are open to the public, including 400 specially accredited wine cellars, where you can meet the winemakers and taste their unique Loire Valley wines. From massive wine cellars to wine-tasting walks in the vineyards, there's no shortage of ways to experience the valley.
Day 11: Organic Wine & 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 12: Loire Valley: Châteaus de Chambord & Chenonceau
Take the grand double spiral staircase to the second floor to see the royal apartments of François I and Louis XIV. During its heyday, the chateau and nearby forests were used for royal hunts and other pleasure activities. Continue up to the terraces, where views of the surrounding landscape offer a glimpse into the charmed lives of the castle's royals. From here you can also get a good look at the roofing and chimneys of the chateau, which rises magnificently above the wide moat.
The chateau in its current form was built between 1513 and 1517 by Thomas Bohier and his wife Catherine Briçonnet, who oversaw and directed most of the construction. Since then, there has been a long and dramatic line of women who have owned, loved, repaired, expanded on, and restored the chateau. It's so well-loved, in fact, that it's the second-most visited chateau in France, after Versaille.
After the tour, return to your hotel.
Day 13: Au Revoir, France
After breakfast, take a private car or train transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. A bientôt!