This epic 10-day French sojourn kicks off in Paris with three days of culture and cuisine in the "City of Lights." Then, hit the road to the Normandy coast to visit the Mont-Saint-Michel tidal island, medieval Bayeux, and Omaha Beach. Next is the Loire Valley, where you'll explore the charming towns and gorgeous castles of this famous wine region before returning to Paris for one more Belle Époque adventure.


  • Hit Parisian highlights like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum
  • Enjoy the flavors of Paris on a food tour and learn how to make croissants
  • Visit Claude Monet's former home and gardens on a trip to Giverny
  • Walk amid World War II history while visiting D-Day's most prominent sites
  • Tour residences of French kings (and Leonardo da Vinci) in the Loire Valley

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris, Marais Walking Tour Paris
Day 2 Canal Saint-Martin Food Tour, Secrets of the Louvre  Paris
Day 3 Day Trip to Giverny, Dinner Cruise on the Seine Paris
Day 4 Parisian Baking Class, Eiffel Tower Summit Paris
Day 5 Train to Caen, Drive to Bayeux, Bicycle Food Tour Bayeux
Day 6 Day Trip to Mont-Saint-Michel Bayeux
Day 7 Omaha Beach Tour, Drive to Amboise Amboise
Day 8 Free Morning in the Loire Valley, Lunch & Wine Tour Amboise
Day 9 Châteaux Tour, Train to Paris Paris
Day 10 Depart Paris  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris, Marais Walking Tour

Welcome to Paris!
Welcome to Paris, where the old meets the new

Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights! France's beguiling capital needs no introduction. More than a city, it's an identity, one defined by romance, history, art, and some of the world's best cuisine. Upon arrival at the airport, your personal driver will be waiting to transfer you to your accommodation, after which you can drop off your luggage and relax after the flight.

Don't get too comfortable because soon you'll meet a local expert guide for a visit to the historic and trendy neighborhood of Le Marais. A popular hub since the 13th century, today, it's filled with high-end fashion boutiques, dining hotspots, cool art galleries, and LGBTQ+-run businesses. This is a combined food/culture tour beginning with a stroll around the Haut-Marais (or Upper Marais), a section once home to working-class factories now filled with chic shops and galleries.

Here, you'll visit a local cheese shop and meet a maître fromager, or master cheesemaker, who will lead you on a tasting of artisanal cheeses. Later, visit the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP), which hosts an incredible selection of work by premier 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 curios. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 2: Canal Saint-Martin Food Tour, Secrets of the Louvre

Canal Saint Martin food tour
Artisanal cheeses are on the menu for today's food tour

Opt for a petit-déjeuner (small breakfast) this morning because you'll want to save room for the epic food tour you're about to embark on. This three-hour culinary odyssey will take you to some of the city's most charming and famous neighborhoods in search of amazing gourmet cuisine.

Along with an expert local guide, you'll stop to savor delicious tidbits around Canal Saint-Martin, a storybook canal built in the 19th century during Napoleon's reign. You'll also visit the bakeries in historic Le Marais and the local markets in the medieval Temple neighborhood. The itinerary also includes offbeat cheese and wine tasting with passionate French connoisseurs.

Following the tour, you'll have some free time before you meet another guide for a two-hour tour of the Louvre Museum. Once a royal palace and now the largest museum in the world, it's home to masterpieces like the "Mona Lisa" and "Venus de Milo." But this unique tour goes beyond the artwork and reveals the many secrets behind the museum's walls, including the Louvre's long history of crimes and mysteries. After the tour, you can spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring Paris on your own.

Day 3: Day Trip to Giverny, Seine Dinner Cruise

Monet garden and pond at Giverny
Walk amid the country landscapes that inspired master painter Claude Monet

Embark in the morning on a half-day excursion to Giverny. Your driver will pick you up at the hotel for the 1.5-hour ride to this historic village, which sits at the edge of the Normandy region. If the creeks, lily pads, and weeping willows outside the village look familiar, it's because they inspired none other than Claude Monet, who grew up in the region. While here, you'll visit the idyllic home of the master impressionist painter, who lived here from 1883 to 1926. You'll also stroll the well-manicured gardens, which abound with tulips, roses, irises, and other colorful flora. 

Upon returning to Paris, you'll have some free time to enjoy the city on your own. Then, at the end of the afternoon, head to the romantic Seine River, where you'll board a boat for a 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 4: Parisian Baking Class, Eiffel Tower Summit

A traditional boulangerie in Paris
Visit a local boulangerie (bakery) for a masterclass in croissants and baguettes

Take a deep dive into the magic of French cooking with a class at an authentic French bakery. This two-hour culinary workshop begins in the morning when you meet your group at the location. Step behind the counter and, under the tutelage of a master artisan baker, learn the secrets to crafting the perfect baguettes and croissants. It begins with a palate education as you sample various baguettes before trying your hand at forming them yourself. Then, move on to pastries, learning how to mix, shape, and bake the perfect croissant. Of course, everything you prepare is yours to devour.

The rest of the day is yours to explore Paris on your own. If you haven't done so already, visit the grand "Iron Lady" herself, 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 great landmarks. A ticket gives you access to the first two floors and elevators to the observation deck. Another option is to climb as far as the second floor via the south pillar's 704 stairs.

Plan your trip to France
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Train to Caen, Drive to Bayeux, Bicycle Food Tour

Beautiful Bayeux
Bayeux is a beautiful medieval village with over 1,000 years of history

After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to the rail station for the 2.5-hour train journey east to Caen, in the Normandy region. From here, you'll pick up your rental car and make the drive to Bayeux. The area around this well-preserved medieval town has seen its fair share of history, from the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century to the D-Day landing beaches of World War II.

After checking into your hotel, you'll head out for a nature, culture, and food tour of Normandy on an exciting bike ride. This 1.5-hour private tour begins when you meet your guide, hop on your bicycles, and pedal off for a scenic ride around the coastal Calvados and Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy) regions. Occasionally, you'll stop in villages and at local eateries to sample regional fare like oysters. You'll even stop in the charming village of Vaux-sur-Aure, nestled in pastoral fields, for a cider-tasting tour. After a picnic lunch, you'll cycle back to Bayeux.

Day 6: Day Trip to Mont-Saint-Michel

Spend a day on this famous island
Spend a day at Mont-Saint-Michel, Europe's most famous tidal island

You're in for a treat, as you'll spend today exploring Mont-Saint-Michel. This famous commune on a tidal island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its iconic hilltop abbey, which dates to the eighth century. It's about a three-hour drive from Bayeux to Mont-Saint-Michel, and once in the area, you can hike across the causeway on foot to reach the town on the island.

Once there, you can explore the abbey and surrounding gardens. Then, head downhill to the town, where you'll find souvenir shops, cafés, and art galleries. Expect lots of walking today on steep staircases and wet sand, so wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket to guard against the brisk ocean breeze.

Day 7: Omaha Beach Tour, Drive to Amboise

WWII Cemetery near Omaha Beach
Among other World War II sites, you'll visit a cemetery near Omaha Beach

Get an early start as you head to Omaha Beach on the Normandy coast, where you'll walk in the footsteps of wartime history. On this half-day tour, your guide will take you to three main D-Day landing sites along the coast, beginning with Pointe du Hoc. This promontory on a cliff overlooking the English Channel was fortified by the German army with concrete casemates and gun pits. On D-Day, the US Army Ranger Assault Group attacked and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs.

From there, you'll visit Omaha Beach, the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion on D-Day. At 4 miles (6 km) long, its sheer scale and scope are both impressive and sobering. You'll also visit a heartbreaking US cemetery located above the beach, which is the final resting place of many who died during the invasion. Some 9,387 Americans are buried here.

Following the tour, get back in the car for the 3.5-hour drive south to Amboise. This charming town is a hub for excursions to the scenic Loire Valley wine region and bears historical links to the French royal family and Leonardo da Vinci. Once here, you'll check into your hotel.

Day 8: Free Morning in the Loire Valley, Lunch & Wine Tour

Aerial view of Chartres
Aerial view of Chartres, one of the Loire Valley's six main towns

This morning, you'll eschew the itineraries to explore the Loire Valley at your own pace. Brimming with charm and character, the six fairy-tale towns within this region will delight you with their medieval architecture and rural French authenticity. Besides Amboise, Orléans, Blois, and Tours sit on the banks of the Loire, Europe's last untamed river. Each one offers great sightseeing and plenty of history dating back to the old kings of France.

The other two villages—Chartres and Bourges—are also worth a visit. You can hike up to the towers of their UNESCO-listed cathedrals and enjoy stunning views of the cobbled streets and medieval timber houses below. Back in Amboise, consider a trip to Clos Lucé Manor, the historic home where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. There, you can view da Vinci's invention room—the nerve center of his genius. Consider capping the day with a boat trip over the Loire.

Later in the morning, a local wine specialist will pick you up for a tasty tour of this renowned wine region. The first stop is at a farm where the owner/producer will treat you to a tasting of crisp, dry whites made from the chenin blanc grape variety. Then, continue to Bourgueil, a region renowned for its high-quality reds. Lunch will be a farm-to-table experience, served picnic-style with the best local produce and a smattering of regional specialties—all paired with the area's signature wines. At the end of the day, you'll return to town.

Day 9: Châteaux Tour, Train to Paris

Chambord Castle
Château de Chambord is famous for its expansive grounds, gardens, and hedge maze

This morning, you'll join a guided excursion that will take you to two of the Loire Valley's most prestigious castles in one memorable day. First up is the impressive Château de Chambord. Construction began on this masterpiece of French Renaissance architecture in 1519 under the reign of King Francis I. While the castle itself is notable, far more impressive are its vast grounds and gardens, complete with a hedge maze. Most notable is that the estate sits on a private game reserve as large as the city of Paris.

Later, you'll visit the stunning Château de Chenonceau. With its privileged location nestled amid forests on the banks of the Cher River, this 16th-century castle is one of the most famous in the valley. Its exquisite Renaissance architecture is complemented by its expansive grounds with well-manicured gardens. At both castles, your expert guide will regale you with stories and anecdotes spanning the estates' history. After a stop for lunch at a local eatery, you'll return to Amboise, drop off your rental car, and transfer by train two hours back to Paris.

Day 10: Depart Paris

A street in Montmartre near the Sacre Couer
A street in Montmartre near the Sacre Couer

Parting is such sweet sorrow—especially when you're saying goodbye to romantic France. Even so, at the designated time, your driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport where your departing flight awaits. Au revoir! 

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