Spend 10 memorable days celebrating the splendor of French wine, history, and gastronomy. Zip around France by train, stopping to marvel at Bordeaux's neoclassical architecture and taste the vintages at world-class vineyards. Next is the Loire Valley and its array of medieval castles dotting the countryside, followed by a showstopping tour of Paris, where highlights like Notre Dame and the Louvre await.


  • Explore the markets, museums, and UNESCO monuments of Bordeaux
  • Enjoy village tours and wine tastings at châteaux in Saint-Émilion
  • Drive the Médoc wine route and visit the renowned terroir of Margaux
  • Tour residences of French kings (and Leonardo da Vinci) in the Loire Valley
  • See bucket-list Parisian highlights like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Notre Dame

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris, Seine Dinner Cruise Paris
Day 2 Train to Bordeaux, Explore the City Bordeaux
Day 3 Farmer's Market Tour, City Wine Tasting Bordeaux
Day 4 Saint-Émilion & Vineyards Tour Bordeaux
Day 5 Médoc Wine Tour, Train to the Loire Valley Amboise
Day 6 Loire Valley Tour: Blois, Cheverny & Chambord Amboise
Day 7 Loire Valley Tour: Amboise & Chenonceau Amboise
Day 8 Train to Paris, Eiffel Tower & Seine Cruise Paris
Day 9 Notre Dame Cathedral & Louvre Museum Paris
Day 10 Depart Paris  
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris, Seine Dinner Cruise

Welcome to Paris!
The City of Lights offers no shortage of famous landmarks

Welcome to Paris! Synonymous with food, culture, and fashion, the City of Lights needs no introduction. Despite drawing millions of tourists each year, the capital still has plenty of hidden secrets to offer. A new wave of multimedia galleries, trendy wine bars, design shops, and tech startups has complemented the monument-lined boulevards, bistros, and trendy boutiques. Upon arrival at the airport, your private driver will meet you at the terminal for the transfer to your hotel. After settling in, take the rest of the day to explore the city on your own.

At the end of the afternoon, head to the iconic Seine River, where you'll board a cruiser for a romantic sunset ride. As you cruise France's most famous waterway, enjoy views of the city's iconic monuments as they're lit up at dusk while being serenaded by onboard musicians. Then, it will be time to sit down for a multicourse, a la carte dinner before returning to the harbor later in the evening.

Day 2: Train to Bordeaux, Explore the City

Aerial view of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is an open-air museum that has been recognized by UNESCO

After breakfast, you'll transfer to the train station for the 2.5-hour ride south to Bordeaux. Upon arrival, your new driver will pick you up for the ride to your hotel. After dropping off your luggage, you can enjoy leisure time on a self-guided tour. This pedestrian-friendly city is among France's most exciting and dynamic places. At least half of Bordeaux is recognized by UNESCO, making it the largest urban world heritage site on the planet. This is largely due to its various historical landmarks in an array of architectural styles, from Gothic and Art Deco to neoclassical and Rococo.

Bordeaux's not all about the past: Modern architects have left their mark with newer buildings like the Herzog & de Meuron stadium (2015), the decanter-shaped La Cité du Vin wine center (2016), and the Jean-Jacques Bosc Bridge (2018) running across the Garonne River. Bordeaux also has youthful energy due to its large college-aged population, and the ever-growing tourism trade means you're never far from cool coffee shops, food trucks, and trendy restaurants with wine lists focusing on nearby vineyards.

Day 3: Farmer's Market Tour, City Wine Tasting

Capucin's market in Bordeaux
People line up for fresh seafood at Capucin's Market in Bordeaux

Get ready to experience the pulse of Bordeaux on a market tour. Meet your guide in the morning and head out on a 2.5-hour private excursion to the Saint-Michel neighborhood and Capucin's Farmer's Market. Dating to the 18th century, Capucin is more than a hub for fresh produce—it features around 100 stalls with vendors selling everything from specialty foods and cheeses to fresh pastries and artisanal crafts. There are also gourmet food stalls and various small restaurants and cafés where you can sample fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Now that you've stoked your appetite, there will be a break for lunch. After eating, you'll meet another guide for a journey into Bordeaux's most popular export: it's wine. The experience starts at the Place Royale, a grand square on the banks of the Garonne River that celebrates Bordeaux's cultural heritage, including its legacy of wine production dating to the Middle Ages.

You'll also hop on a city tram to Le Musée du Vin et du Négoce. Housed in the cellar of an 18th-century building, today it's a fascinating wine museum. Finish the tour with a stroll through the historic Chartrons neighborhood—a district frequented by wine merchants and barrel makers for the past 300 years—and enjoy a tasting at an intimate wine bar offering a wide selection of Bordeaux vintages.

Day 4: Saint-Émilion & Vineyards Tour

A wine estate in Saint Emilion
Saint-Émilion is known for its abundance of historic wine estates

Take the morning to amble around Bordeaux at your own pace and enjoy lunch. Then, in the early afternoon, embark on a tour of Saint-Émilion. This historic countryside village was founded in the eighth century CE and is the beating heart of the eponymous wine region, which is responsible for some of Bordeaux's finest varietals. On this half-day excursion, you'll not only tour the highlights of this UNESCO-listed medieval village but also visit two nearby châteaux.

The first stop is a historic wine estate that's been in the same family for generations. During the visit, you'll stroll the vineyards, tour the vat room, and visit the cellar. That's where you'll enjoy a tasting of some of the château's best wines. From here, you'll visit another "Great Classified Growth Estate"—a classification dating to 1855 that ranks the best Bordeaux wine estates—overlooking the Saint-Émilion vineyards. Here, you'll learn a bit more about the winemaking process, followed by an aperitif served with French delicacies. In the early evening, you'll return to Bordeaux in time for dinner.

Day 5: Médoc Wine Tour, Train to the Loire Valley

Drive through the vineyards of Medoc
Drive through the vineyards of Médoc on a scenic wine route

The wine odyssey isn't over yet! In the morning, leave Bordeaux on a full-day tour on the Médoc wine route, which runs from Bordeaux along the length of the Médoc peninsula. Located on this scenic peninsula in France's Gironde department, this prestigious region has a long tradition of winemaking dating back centuries. It's famous for its terroir, which consists of gravelly soil ideally suited to growing cabernet sauvignon—the region's flagship grape. But there's also culture and beauty to spare in Médoc, with its pastoral countryside, charming villages, and historic châteaux.

Besides stopping to taste the region's finest offerings, you'll also enjoy a bit of a nature tour on a visit to the Gironde estuary. This 50-mile (80 km) stretch of coast is home to breathtaking landscapes as well as the 19th-century Château Margaux, the flagship estate of the famed Margaux appellation.

After the tour, you'll transfer to the train station in Bordeaux for the three-hour ride north into the Loire Valley. Known as the "Garden of France," this UNESCO World Heritage wine region is renowned for its natural beauty and historic castles dotting the countryside. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you for the transfer to your hotel in Amboise, a charming town with historical links to the French royal family and Leonardo da Vinci.

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

Chateau de Chambord
The grounds of Château de Chambord are as large as Paris

Get an early start today, as there's much to see in the Loire Valley, and you only have a couple of days to experience it. Embark in the morning on a full-day tour with an English-speaking guide to three prominent châteaux (castles) in the Loire Valley. Your first stop is the 13th-century Château de Blois, a castle unique to the region due to its patchwork of architectural styles, including medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, and classical. It was also the residence of several French kings, including Louis XII and François I.

Following Blois, you'll break for lunch at a local restaurant famous for its Cheverny wines (one of the Loire Valley's famous appellations, produced from the pinot noir grape). You'll also get to taste the Cour Cheverny appellation. This stunning white wine is made from the romorantin grape, which has been cultivated in the region since the 16th century.

Next up is a guided tour of the Château de Cheverny. Besides its dramatic medieval architecture, the château is noteworthy for its continuity of ownership—it's been owned by the same family, the Huraults, for more than six centuries. The day finishes with a guided tour of the Château de Chambord. Construction began on it in 1519 under the reign of King Francis I, and it remains a masterpiece of French Renaissance architecture. The estate also sits on a sprawling game reserve as large as Paris. At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Amboise.

Day 7: Loire Valley Tour: Amboise & Chenonceau

Chenonceau Castle
Chenonceau is the quintessential French countryside château

Enjoy another full-day tour of the spellbinding Loire Valley. Meet your guide/driver after breakfast for the short ride from Amboise to Château Chenonceau. With its privileged location amid forests on the banks of the Cher River, this 16th-century castle is one of the most famous in the valley. Its Renaissance architecture is complemented by its expansive grounds with well-manicured gardens.

After visiting Chenonceau, you'll enjoy lunch and a wine tasting with a local specialist who will treat you to some of the best pours in the region. Later in the afternoon, visit the Royal Castle of Amboise, known for its Gothic/Renaissance architecture and connections to French royalty dating back to the 15th century. Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in Amboise during his later years, is believed to be buried in the Chapel of Saint Hubert on the château's grounds.

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'll glean insight into how the master lived and catch a glimpse of his invention room—the nerve center of his genius. At the end of the tour, your driver will drop you off back in Amboise.

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

Summit the Eiffel Tower today
On today's itinerary: summit the Eiffel Tower

Transfer in the morning to the train station of Saint Pierre des Corps for the 2.5-hour ride north to Paris. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted and transferred to your accommodation in the city center. Then you're off to see the star of the show: the Eiffel Tower. Conceived by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World's Fair, this 1,050-foot (320 m) Art Nouveau masterpiece has stood the test of time and remains one of the world's most iconic landmarks. A ticket gives you access to the first two floors and elevators to the observation deck.

Following the tour, enjoy another scenic cruise on the Seine. Unlike the first excursion, during which you enjoyed a gourmet meal, this is a brisk one-hour ride that departs from the foot of the Eiffel Tower. As you go, sit out on the open-air deck and marvel at the exceptional views. Onboard, a host/guide will be available to answer all your questions about the landmarks you pass.

Day 9: Notre Dame Cathedral & Louvre Museum

Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral sits on the Seine and is one of Paris' most famous landmarks

Grab a pastry and eat it on the go as you start the day with a two-hour guided walking tour of Paris. One of the first stops is the Ile de la Cité, a small islet on the Seine that's a bastion of French history. While here, you'll tour its most famous landmark, Notre Dame Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece dating to 1163. As you stroll around the handsome facade, your expert guide will reveal fascinating insights into the landmark's history—like the fact it took over a century to complete.

Then, cross the Seine to the edge of the bohemian Latin Quarter. Home to prestigious universities like the Sorbonne, the area has been home to intellectuals and writers since the Middle Ages. It's also a cultural hub with plenty of galleries, cinemas, and bookshops. While here, your guide will take you to the neighborhood's (and Paris') most iconic intellectual hotspot: Shakespeare & Co. bookstore!

Later in the afternoon, you'll meet another expert guide for a visit to the incomparable Louvre Museum. During this two-hour excursion, you'll get to marvel at masterpieces like the "Mona Lisa" and "Venus de Milo." Since the building began life as a royal palace, you'll also visit the Napoléon III Apartments. After the museum, you'll have the rest of the day and evening to explore Paris on your own.

Day 10: Depart Paris

Montmartre neighborhood in Paris
The Montmartre neighborhood in Paris, at sunset

It's time to say bittersweet goodbye to France. Depending on your departure time, pop into a bistro for a quick meal or enjoy one or two last croissants before transferring to the airport to catch your flight home. Au revoir!

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Map of Paris, Bordeaux & the Loire Valley - 10 Days
Map of Paris, Bordeaux & the Loire Valley - 10 Days
Written by Sarah Ager, updated Dec 4, 2023