Traveling by train, this weeklong French adventure covers three destinations with a focus on history, architecture, food, and wine. Start in Bordeaux to experience the city's UNESCO-listed streets and world-renowned vineyards. Then head to Amboise for stunning castles and gardens surrounded by bucolic landscapes. Finish with two nights in Paris and let local experts show you the quintessential attractions.

Highlights

  • Get a taste of Bordeaux's trendy coffee shops, wine bars, and food trucks
  • Visit two notable vineyards in Saint Emilion followed by a village tour
  • Tour former castles of French kings (and Leonardo da Vinci) in the Loire Valley
  • Check off Parisian must-sees like the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, and Notre Dame

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bordeaux Bordeaux
Day 2 Saint Emilion Village & Vineyards Tour Bordeaux
Day 3 Médoc Wine Route Tour - Train to the Loire Valley Amboise
Day 4 Loire Valley Tour of Amboise & Chenonceau Amboise
Day 5 Train to Paris - Eiffel Tower & Seine Cruise Paris
Day 6 Notre Dame Cathedral & Le Louvre Museum Paris
Day 7 Depart Paris  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bordeaux

Bordeaux's location along the Garonne River
Bordeaux's location along the Garonne River

Welcome to Bordeaux—the French capital of wine! Upon arrival, you'll be met by a private driver and transferred to your accommodation.

From here you can check into your hotel and start exploring on foot. This pedestrian-friendly city is among France's most exciting, vibrant, and dynamic places. Part of the city is UNESCO-listed, making it the largest urban world heritage site with a number of medieval highlights.

It's not all about the old 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, impressive restaurants, and, of course, outstanding wines produced in nearby vineyards.

Day 2: 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 3: Médoc 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 4: Loire Valley Tour of Amboise & Chenonceau

Chenonceau Castle
Chenonceau Castle

Today you'll embark on a 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 - 7 Days
Map of Paris, Bordeaux & the Loire Valley - 7 Days