This epic 10-day French adventure kicks off in Paris for three days of culture and cuisine in the 'City of Lights'. Then, drive yourself to the Normandy coast to visit Mont Saint Michel and other historical sites—spanning 900 years—between Bayeux and Omaha Beach. Next is the Loire Valley where you'll explore charming towns and gorgeous castles before returning to Paris (by train) for one more night on the town.

Highlights

  • Check off Parisian highlights like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum
  • Join a food-themed walking tour and learn how to make croissants
  • Visit Claude Monet's former home and gardens on a day-trip to Giverny
  • Get your fill of WWII history while visiting D-Day's most important sites
  • Tour former residences of French kings and Leonardo Da Vinci in the Loire Valley

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris Paris
Day 2 Canal-Saint Martin Food Tour - Le Louvre Museum Tour Paris
Day 3 Giverny Day-Trip - Dinner Cruise on the Seine Paris
Day 4 Parisian Baking Class - Eiffel Tower Summit Paris
Day 5 Train to Caen - Drive to Bayeux Bayeux
Day 6 Mont Saint Michel Day-Trip Bayeux
Day 7 Omaha Beach Tour - Drive to Amboise Amboise
Day 8 Free Day in the Loire Valley Amboise
Day 9 Chambord & Chenonceau Chateau Tour - Train to Paris 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. 

Spend the remainder of the day resting after the journey and exploring the city at your own pace.

Day 2: Canal-Saint Martin Food Tour - Le Louvre Museum Tour

Canal Saint Martin food tour
Canal Saint Martin food tour

Make sure to save some room at breakfast today before you embark on a gourmet Parisian food tour (3 hours). 

This delicious odyssey focuses on picturesque neighborhoods that will open your senses to a whole new world of French culture. It's packed with inspiring locales and tastings along the way, while a personable expert fills you in on each mouth-watering product.

While the tour hones in on Canal Saint-Martin, you'll also get a glimpse of Le Marais and Temple while sampling scrumptious delicacies from the city's top artisanal producers and markets. The itinerary also includes an offbeat cheese and wine tasting with passionate French connoisseurs.

Following the tour, you'll have some free time before you meet your guide for a two-hour excursion inside Le Louvre Museum. Once a royal palace—and now the largest museum in the world—Le Louvre hides in its walls centuries of secrets, vile crimes, and mysterious masterpieces. 

From here you can spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring Paris on your own.

Day 3: Giverny Day-Trip - Dinner Cruise on the Seine

Monet garden and pond at Giverny
Monet garden and pond at Giverny

After breakfast, you'll embark on a half-day excursion to Giverny. The trip takes you from Paris to the edge of Normandy, where you will first visit the idyllic home and gardens of the French painter, Claude Monet. You will travel in style aboard a luxury minibus with an expert guide, so sit back, relax and make the most of your day.

The founder of Impressionism lived here from 1883 to 1926, and the colorful décor and pink brick facade are an intimate reminder of Monet's former life. Check out the precious collection of Japanese engravings displayed in several rooms, chosen by the master of Giverny himself. The huge Nymphéas studio, a stone’s throw from the house, has also been restored and contains the Foundation’s gift shop.

The gardens have been replanted as they once were and offer visitors a glimpse of Monet’s daily inspirations. For instance, the rectangular Clos Normand, with archways of climbing plants entwined around brilliantly colored shrubs, lies before the house and studios offering a palette of varying colors to the painter-gardener who was ecstatic about flowers.

You'll also visit the water garden further away, shaded by weeping willows. With its famous pond and Japanese bridge, the garden showcases the sky and water views, which inspired the pictorial universe of Monet's water lilies paintings. 

Following the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Paris for some rest. Later in the evening, you'll make your way to a designated spot along the Seine River for a 2.5-hour dinner cruise, which includes multiple courses, a selection of fine wines, and musical entertainment!

Day 4: Parisian Baking Class - Eiffel Tower Summit

A traditional boulangerie in Paris
A traditional boulangerie in Paris

This morning, it's time to live like a real Parisian by joining a baking class at a French bakery (2 hours). Once you make your way to the designated meeting point, you'll step behind the counter to see firsthand the secrets to making the perfect French baguettes and croissants, in a course taught by the master artisan baker himself.

You'll begin by discovering delicious and diverse varieties of baguettes as well as learning how to mix, shape and bake croissants to perfection. Then, move on to pastries where you will practice and master the art of making and shaping croissants.

The rest of the day is yours to explore on your own. If you haven't done so already, a good way to spend the afternoon 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).

Plan your trip to France
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 5: Train to Caen - Drive to Bayeux

Beautiful Bayeux
Beautiful Bayeux

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up by a private driver and transferred to the rail station for your train journey to Caen in the Normandy region. From here, you'll pick up your rental car and make the drive to Bayeux

With two cross-Channel invasions—almost 900 years apart—Bayeux offers a front-row seat at defining moments in western history. The dramatic story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 is told in 58 vivid scenes by the world-famous and quite astonishing Bayeux Tapestry, embroidered just a few years after William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, became William the Conqueror, King of England.

Meanwhile, on June 6th, 1944—also known as "D-Day"—roughly 160,000 Allied troops, supported by almost 7,000 naval vessels, stormed ashore along the coast just north of town. Bayeux was the first French town to be liberated (on the morning of June 7th) and is one of the few places in Calvados to have survived WWII practically unscathed.

A very attractive and historic town, Bayeux makes an ideal base for exploring the landing beaches. WWII history aside, the town is also crammed with 13th- to 18th-century buildings, including a fine Gothic cathedral.

Day 6: Mont Saint Michel Day-Trip

Spend a day on this famous island
Spend a day on this famous island

This morning, after breakfast in Bayeux, you'll be picked up by your private guide for a full-day tour of Mont Saint Michel. (Note: wear comfortable shoes!)

Situated in the middle of a large bay, this granitic island oozes with history and is one of the most popular places to visit in France. The first monastery was replaced by a benedictine abbey in the 10th century, where the monks prayed and welcomed pilgrims coming to adorn the archangel in order to earn their right to go to heaven. The monks never stopped adding new building constructions century after century until they were chased away by the French Revolution in 1791. This magnificent abbey then became a prison!

In 1864, Mont Saint Michel was added on the list of French Historic Monuments and restored before opening itself to visitors. Your guide will take you to the top where there is a breathtaking view that is well worth the number of steps to arrive. He or she will also let you understand the symbolism of the architecture as you visit the different rooms, one more incredible than the other. If lucky, you might even meet one of the monks of the new community who settled here a few years ago and hear their Gregorian Chants vibrating in the church at the time of the mass.

Your guide will also take you through the narrow cobbled streets around the village with granite or half-timbered houses. You can also wander along the top of the fortification wall, built during the Hundred Years War when Mont Saint Michel became a medieval castle. 

At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Bayeux for some free time.

Day 7: Omaha Beach Tour - Drive to Amboise

WWII Cemetery near Omaha Beach
WWII Cemetery near Omaha Beach

Today starts early with a guided half-day tour of Omaha Beach (3.5 hours) that covers three main D-Day sites along the Normandy coast to wrap up your time here. 

The best place to start is Pointe du Hoc, a promontory on a cliff overlooking the English Channel that was fortified by the German army with concrete casemates and gun pits. On D-Day, the U.S. Army Ranger Assault Group attacked and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs.

From here, you'll pay a visit to Omaha Beach, the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion on D-Day. At four miles long, you have to see it in person to understand the scale and scope of this landing spot. You'll also visit a heartbreaking U.S. cemetery for another impressive perspective of the beach from higher ground. Here, your guide will take you around and show you some important graves amongst the 9,387 Americans buried here.

Following the tour, you'll return to your rental car and make the road trip journey to Amboise—a charming home base for exploring the Loire Valley. Nestling on the left bank of the river, Amboise has kept traces of its royal past.

If there's enough time in the day, you can 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 a visit, you can see the chapel, the castle, and the gardens with terraces overlooking the Loire Valley, which are cleverly illuminated after dark.

Day 8: Free Day in the Loire Valley

Aerial view of Chartres
Aerial view of Chartres

Today, you'll have a free day to explore the Loire Valley at your own pace!

Brimming with charm and character, the six towns of the Loire Valley will delight you with their picturesque architecture and authenticity. In addition to Amboise, Orléans, Blois, and Tours are set on the banks of Europe's last untamed river. They reflect the history of the kings of France and still have a very close bond with the Loire, which was for a long time France's main economic artery.

The other two villages—Chartres and Bourges—are also worth a visit. With their UNESCO-listed cathedrals offering views from the top, and pedestrian streets bordered by half-timbered houses, these two medieval towns are absolutely ideal for a leisurely stroll.

Back in Amboise, consider a trip 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.

For something unique, you can also discover the royal river during a boat trip by taking the famous Briare canal-bridge over the Loire.

Day 9: Chambord & Chenonceau Chateau Tour - Train to Paris

Chambord Castle
Chambord Castle

This morning, you'll join a guided excursion that visits two of the Loire Valley's most prestigious castles in one great day: the impressive Château de Chambord and stunning Château de Chenonceau

Start with Chambord, which has an estate and national game reserve as large as Paris. The 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.

Next is Chenonceau, one of the most famous monuments in the Loire Valley 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.

During the tour, you'll learn about the intimate secrets of the French kings. Enjoy off-the-crowd panoramic views thanks to your local guide, benefit from a wealth of thrilling genuine details and funny anecdotes and make the most of this exciting day. One of the highlights will definitely be a restful lunch away from tourist groups in a beautiful privately-owned chateau still inhabited by the family.

Following the tour, you'll return to Amboise, return your rental car, and take the train back to Paris for your last night of the trip!

Day 10: Depart Paris

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

It's time to say goodbye to France! At the designated time you'll be picked up from your hotel by a private driver and transferred to the airport for your departure home or next destination. Au revoir! 

Map

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