This 10-day itinerary is ideal for those seeking the splendor of French wine, history, and gastronomy. Traveling by train, you'll start in Bordeaux for architecture—both old and new—and tastings at some of the best vineyards in the world. Next is the Loire Valley for a range of gorgeous castles surrounded by bucolic landscapes. Finish the adventure in Paris and experience top sites with the help of a local expert.

Highlights

  • Explore the markets, museums, and UNESCO-listed monuments in Bordeaux
  • Join tastings at two wine chateaux in Saint Emilion followed by a village tour
  • Drive along the Médoc Wine Route that passes the property of Margaux
  • Tour former residences of French kings (and Leonardo Da Vinci) in the Loire Valley
  • Check-off Parisian highlights like the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, and Notre Dame

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris Paris
Day 2 Train to Bordeaux - Explore the City Bordeaux
Day 3 Farmer's Market Tour - Wine in the City Tour Bordeaux
Day 4 Saint Emilion Village & Vineyards Tour Bordeaux
Day 5 Medoc Wine Route Tour - Train to the Loire Valley Amboise
Day 6 Loire Valley Tour of Blois, Cheverny & Chambord Amboise
Day 7 Loire Valley Tour of Amboise & Chenonceau Amboise
Day 8 Train to Paris - Eiffel Tower & Seine Cruise Paris
Day 9 Notre Dame Cathedral & Le Louvre Museum Paris
Day 10 Depart Paris  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris

Welcome to Paris!
Welcome to Paris!

Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights! Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation where you can drop off your luggage and hit the streets.

Synonymous with food, culture, fashion, and architecture, Paris needs no introduction. Despite being the dream destination for millions of people each year, the French capital still has plenty of hidden secrets to offer. Monument-lined boulevards, museums, classical bistros, and boutiques are now enhanced by a new wave of multimedia galleries, creative wine bars, design shops, and tech start-ups. 

You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city on your own. Don't worry about seeing it all in one day—you'll spend a few days here at the end of the trip!

Day 2: Train to Bordeaux - Explore the City

Aerial view of Bordeaux
Aerial view of Bordeaux

After breakfast, you'll be picked up and transferred to the rail station for your train departure to Bordeaux. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by another driver and transferred to your hotel in the city center where you can drop off your luggage and check-in.

Enjoy some leisure time to explore Bordeaux at your own pace. This pedestrian-friendly city is among France's most exciting, vibrant, and dynamic places. At least half of the city is UNESCO-listed, making it the largest urban world heritage site on the planet with a number of gothic and medieval highlights, so there's plenty to see. 

It's not all about the past though: Modern architects have designed a bevy of striking new buildings, including the Herzog & de Meuron stadium (2015), the decanter-shaped La Cité du Vin (2016), and Jean-Jacques Bosc bridge (2018) across the Garonne River

As for atmosphere, Bordeaux is bolstered by its college-aged student population and growing tourism trade (it receives about 5 million visitors a year), so make sure to sample the barista-run coffee shops, food trucks, gourmet restaurants, and, of course, wine lists focusing on nearby vineyards.

Day 3: Farmer's Market Tour - Wine in the City Tour

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

Today involves two distinct half-day tours for an exciting introduction to this fascinating city!

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll meet the first guide for a 2.5-hour private excursion involving Capucin Farmer's Market to feast your eyes on fresh local fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, cheese, bread, and pastries. Your guide will help you navigate between the stalls and vendors as you rub elbows with locals and chefs who are doing their morning shopping. In addition to the superb food quality, the market is full of characters from vendors with big mustaches and weathered hands to gentlemen wearing berets. The tour is a treat for the senses and a true French experience.

Following the farmer's market, you'll have time for lunch on your own before meeting up with another private guide. The Wine in the City Tour begins at the Place Royale—home of the famous wine classification of 1855 where you'll learn about Bordeaux's historic riverfront port and the role it played in the wine trade from the Middle Ages till modern day.

You'll also hop on the city's sleek, modern tram to go visit the wine museum called Le Musée du Vin et du Négoce, housed in the wine cellar of an 18th-century building that once served as wine merchant's home. Finish the tour with a stroll through the historic Chartrons neighborhood—a district used by wine merchants and barrel makers for the past 300 years—as well as a tasting at a lovely wine bar offering a broad selection of Bordeaux wines.

Day 4: Saint Emilion Village & Vineyards Tour

A wine estate in Saint Emilion
A wine estate in Saint Emilion

Today you will have the entire morning to explore Bordeaux at your own pace.

In the early afternoon, it's time to embark on a Saint Emilion Tour (5.5 hours). This excursion allows you to discover the famous village of the same name, as well as two nearby châteaux. You'll also experience plenty of hilly vineyard landscapes along the way while your guide provides information about the Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion wine regions.

Your first stop on the tour is an intimate wine estate that has been run by the same family for generations. During the visit, you'll walk around the vineyards, tour the traditional vat room, and see the cellar where you can learn the steps of a proper tasting with the chateau's own wines.

From here, you'll visit a Great Classified Growth estate overlooking the Saint Emilion vineyards. This is where you'll receive professional explanations about the entire winemaking process followed by an aperitif in the tasting room served with French delicacies.

The excursion finishes with a guided tour of the UNESCO-listed village of Saint Emilion—a charming French village dating back to medieval times.

In the early evening, you'll return to Bordeaux in time to enjoy dinner.

Day 5: Medoc Wine Route Tour - Train to the Loire Valley

Drive through the vineyards of Medoc
Drive through the vineyards of Medoc

This morning, you'll take a private tour of the Médoc Wine Route (5 hours), which runs from Bordeaux along the length of the peninsula. The Médoc is an important wine appellation and home to all the Bordeaux wines classified as Cru Bourgeois—in other words, heaven for wine aficionados. 

It also happens to be one of the most beautiful roads between the Atlantic ocean and the Gironde estuary. The 50-mile (80 km) stretch is loaded with history and breathtaking landscapes including Pauillac and the property of Margaux so keep your camera close.

Following the tour, you'll be dropped off at the train station for your transfer to the Loire Valley. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by a driver and transferred to your hotel in Amboise —a charming town with historic links to the French Royal Family and Leonardo da Vinci.

Relax and enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Day 6: Loire Valley Tour of Blois, Cheverny & Chambord

Chateau de Chambord
Chateau de Chambord

Today, you'll embark on a full-day tour with an English-speaking guide that includes three major castles in the Loire Valley (9 hours).

Your first stop is the Chateau de Blois, a unique castle due to its combination of four architecture styles: medieval, gothic, renaissance and classical. It was also the residence of several French kings including Louis XII and François I. Construction of these buildings began in the 13th century and ended in the 17th century. 

Following Bois, you'll have lunch at a restaurant that serves local cuisine and Cheverny wines. The “Cheverny” appellation produces elegant red wines from Pinot Noir and Gamay as well as fruity white wines from Chardonnay and Sauvignon grapes. You will also get to taste a wine for real connoisseurs: the “Cour Cheverny Appellation”, a stunning white wine made from a grape called Romorantin, imported by King François I into the Loire Valley.

Then it's time for a guided tour of the Chateau de Cheverny. This has been owned by the same family since the XIII. The chateau, which led to the creation of Moulinsart in the famous comic book Tintin, is also famous for the tradition of the horse-back hunt and its impressive pack of 100 dogs. You may have a chance to witness the spectacular daily event of “the dogs’ soup”.

The tour finishes with a guided tour of the Chateau de Chambord with an estate and national game reserve as large as Paris. This chateau itself is a unique monument by its architecture and proportions, and it is said that Leonardo da Vinci likely took part in the conception of the project. With more than 400 rooms and a double spiral staircase, Chambord is a highlight of the Loire Valley.

At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Amboise.

Day 7: Loire Valley Tour of Amboise & Chenonceau

Chenonceau Castle
Chenonceau Castle

Today is another full-day tour with an English-speaking guide (8 hours) where you'll experience the local wine, food, and history of the Loire Valley.

After a short drive from Amboise, your day begins at the Chenonceau Castle. This castle is one of the most famous monuments in the Loire Valley, notable thanks to its two-story gallery standing over the Loire River. The castle and its gardens are extremely well preserved and provide the perfect place to learn more about France during Renaissance times.

After this interesting visit, you will enjoy a wine tasting lunch with a wine specialist who will let you sample some of the best pours in the Loire Valley region, such as Vouvray, Chinon, and Montlouis. As the Loire Valley wines pair really well with local cheeses, you can expect to see them on the menu as well.

In the afternoon, you will head to the Royal Castle of Amboise, where the young future François Ier grew up alongside his mother and sister. The castle is also where Leonardo Da Vinci is buried in the castle’s chapel. During your visit, you will see the chapel, the castle, and the gardens while your guide explains all the details you should know about the history of this place.

Finally, your guide will take you to Leonardo Da Vinci’s residence during the last three years of his life: Clos Lucé Manor. There, you will be able to see how the master used to live and get a glimpse of his invention room where he could express his genius. Da Vinci was a really close friend of several Renaissance French kings, which is why he chose to have a residence so close to them.

At the end of the tour, your driver will drop you off in Amboise.

Day 8: Train to Paris - Eiffel Tower & Seine Cruise

Summit the Eiffel Tower today
Summit the Eiffel Tower today

This morning, you'll be picked up for a private transfer to the train station of Saint Pierre des Corps for the journey to Paris. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted and transferred to your accommodation in the city center.

Paris is a capital of art and history and there is so much to do and to see here. A good way to spend the evening is by visiting the 1050-foot (320-m) tall Eiffel Tower, conceived by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World's Fair. Luckily, the art nouveau tower's popularity assured its survival. 

It's advised to prebook your tickets online, which gives you access to the lifts to the first two floors and the summit. It's a timed entry ticket, but be aware that you can spend some time in line because of security checkings and the number of tourists. Another option is to climb as far as the 2nd floor via the south pillar's 704 stairs (no prebooking needed). 

Following the tour, take a cruise on the Seine (1 hour), with frequent departures daily until 10 pm. These glass boats embark at the foot of the Eiffel Tower with open-air observation decks for exceptional views. Onboard you'll find personal audioguides (optional), which are available in 14 different languages including a special commentary for children. In addition, a hostess-guide will be available onboard to answer all of your questions.

Day 9: Notre Dame Cathedral & Le Louvre Museum

Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral

After breakfast, you'll start the day with a two-hour walking tour of Paris that includes the Ile de la Cité along with an in-depth exploration of the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral. Your dedicated expert guide and history addict will retrace the building of this 12th-century medieval gem and tell you all about the long-forgotten details lurking in the shadows.

Then, cross the Seine River to discover the northern edge of the vibrant Latin Quarter and wander some of the oldest streets of Paris. Last but not least, your guide will take you to the neighborhood's most iconic intellectual hotspot: Shakespeare & Co. bookstore!

Later in the afternoon, you'll visit Le Louvre Museum with a guide on a two-hour excursion. Once a royal palace and today the largest museum in the world, the Louvre hides in its walls centuries of secrets, vile crimes, and mysterious masterpieces. 

From here you'll have the rest of the day and evening to explore Paris at your own pace!

Day 10: Depart Paris

Montmartre neighborhood in Paris
Montmartre neighborhood in Paris

It's time to say goodbye to France! Depending on your international flight departure time, your driver will pick you up at your hotel for your transfer to the airport. Au revoir!

Map

Map of Paris, Bordeaux & the Loire Valley - 10 Days
Map of Paris, Bordeaux & the Loire Valley - 10 Days