City and countryside combine on this relaxed 8-day journey from Paris to the Loire Valley. Starting in the French capital, you'll take a glittering dinner cruise down the Seine and sample local cheeses in Le Marais before catching a train east into the heart of the Loire Valley. Explore the medieval city of Tours, then settle into the riverside town of Amboise—the perfect base as you tour the grand châteaus and world-class wineries of this spectacular French region.

Highlights

  • Learn to bake in a traditional Parisian boulangerie
  • Step back in time in the medieval center of Tours
  • Explore the Loire Valley from the charming riverside town of Amboise
  • Visit the fairytale châteaus of Chambord & Chenonceau
  • Taste & tour your way through the valley's best wineries 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris, Seine Dinner Cruise Paris
Day 2 A Day in Le Marais: Cheese Shop, Museums, & Market Paris
Day 3 French Baking Class, Tour of Opéra Garnier Paris
Day 4 Shopping Time in Paris, Train to Tours & the Loire Valley Tours
Day 5 Vouvray & Montlouis Wine Tour, Transfer to Amboise Amboise
Day 6 Visit Château de Miniere, Free Afternoon in Amboise & the Loire Valley Amboise
Day 7 Loire Valley: Château de Chambord & Chenonceau Amboise
Day 8 Train to Paris & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris, Seine Dinner Cruise

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Welcome to Paris!

Bienvenue à Paris! This elegant capital boasts centuries of history, art, fashion, and, of course, romance. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel by private car. Take some time to settle in and relax before heading out for your first look at the city. Spend some time walking around downtown and enjoying the sights. 

Paris is alive and thriving with activity, day and night. It's the perfect city to indulge in a little shopping, with department stores like Lafayette and Printemps housing some of the best local designers around, and small boutique shops offering unique high-quality wares. 

Colorful boulevards and historic monuments invite visitors to stroll through the downtown, while narrow alleys and cozy cafes create a romantic atmosphere. For art lovers, spending time at Paris' smaller museums is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the city has one of the most impressive art collections in the world. Alternatively, lazing around in the parks or at a sidewalk cafe on a sunny day is simply blissful. 

In the evening, embark on a Paris city tour while enjoying the best of French gastronomy. With family, friends, or for a romantic dinner for two, set sail on an unforgettable dinner cruise along the Seine. Pass monuments like the Louvre, Grand Palais, the French Statue of Liberty, and the Eiffel Tower as the city lights sparkle on the water.

Day 2: A Day in Le Marais: Cheese Shop, Museums & Market

Hidden garden in Le Marais
A hidden garden in Le Marais

You'll spend today like a local in the hip Le Marais, a neighborhood that has played an important part in French history since the 13th century. It was here that the Order of the Temple constructed a fortified church, an edifice that inspired several beautiful religious buildings and churches, and later, the epicenter of the Parisian Jewish community. Discover the district by foot after you enjoy a classic breakfast of cafe au lait and a buttered tartine or, of course, a perfect croissant. Alongside centuries-old synagogues, you'll find high-end fashion boutiques, dining hotspots, art galleries, and LGBTQ+-run businesses.

Stroll to the Haut-Marais, or Upper Marais, a section of the neighborhood that has transformed from former working-class factories to chic shops and galleries. There, you'll meet a Maître Fromager, or Master Cheesemaker, at a renowned local cheese shop. Then, with expert guidance, learn about the cheese maturation process and taste selected cheeses from different regions paired thoughtfully with complementing wines. After, meet your local guide for a two-hour private walking tour through the lively streets of Le Marais and hear tales of the magnificent 17th-century mansions that once dominated the district.

The afternoon is yours for further discovery; visit the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP), which boasts an incredible selection of work by premiere 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 curiosities. Explore the neighborhood's stylish boutiques and hidden gardens and when you're feeling peckish, pop over to Rue des Rosiers for a warm kosher pastry or wait in a quick-moving line for an iconic falafel sandwich. If you're hungry for something more, sample international specialties at the Marche des Enfants Rouges or stop in at a wine bar to wind down the day.

Day 3: French Baking Class, Tour of Opéra Garnier

Fresh-baked French baguette
Fresh-baked French baguettes
Today you'll step behind the counter of a French bakery to learn how to bake traditional bread and viennoiseries. The bakery owner themselves will instruct you on the methods behind baguettes, puff pastries such as croissants and pains au chocolat, and sourdough loaves. Show off your newfound skills by bringing home your own baguette.
 
Afterward, follow your guide to the impressive Opéra Garnier, where famous painters like Degas used to visit to paint the ballerinas. You'll learn about the history of this sumptuous building along your tour, including the Grand Escalier main staircase, glittering foyer, and the Chagall-painted ceiling of the main room.

Day 4: Shopping Time in Paris, Train to Tours & the Loire Valley

The central Place Plumereau in Tours

Take advantage of a free morning in Paris to enjoy some window shopping (or indulge in a shopping spree) as you explore some of the city's loveliest neighborhoods. Head to the boutiques of the Golden Triangle (from Porte Maillot to the Champs-Élysées traffic circle) for haute couture and luxury brands, Haussmann-Saint-Lazare-Opéra square for the main department stores of the city, or Martyrs-Pigalle for a popular bobo (bourgeoise-bohemian) atmosphere and lots of vintage stores.

In the afternoon, you'll head to the Gare Montparnasse station and catch a quick 1.5-hour TGV train to Tours. Get settled into your hotel, then spend the rest of the day discovering this UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of the Loire Valley.
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Head to the medieval old town known as Vieux Tours to admire one of the oldest preserved urban areas in Europe. Romanesque and Renaissance façades, half-timbered houses, and shops line the streets. In the city center, Place Plumereau is full of locals and visitors enjoying the ambiance and watching the world go by. Other highlights include the monumental Saint-Gatien Cathedral, the extensive collections of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the stately Tours Castle, and the Romanesque/Byzantine architecture of Saint Martin Basilica.
 
Scattered throughout the city, you'll also find plenty of wide-open green spaces to enjoy. Designed in the 19th century, the Prebendes d’Oé Garden is a perfect example, as are the Botanic Gardens and the Gloriette Park. Attached to the latter, the greens of La Gloriette Golf are a fun way to spend the afternoon. As evening falls, head to the summer guinguette, situated along the banks of the Loire River, to enjoy drinks or dinner with a view over the traditional boats.

Day 5: Vouvray & Montlouis Wine Tour, Transfer to Amboise

Vineyards in Loire Valley
Learn about the famous wines of the Loire Valley
Immerse yourself in the Loire Valley's wine culture with a day of touring and tasting. After a pick-up in Tours, you'll travel to the picturesque family estate of the Vouvray appellation. Here you can stroll through the vines as you learn about the estate's geography, terroir, and growing practices, before continuing to a vast rock-hewn cellar to taste the region's famous white and sparkling wines paired with local cheese. 

Then it's on to Montlouis, where you'll travel down scenic Loire Valley roads to sample a wide range of Montlouis wines and several local reds—such as Chinon, Bourgueil, and Touraine Chenonceau—this time paired with delicious local charcuterie.
 
In the afternoon, say your goodbyes to Tours and transfer 30-minutes east to Amboise—another charming home base for exploring the Loire Valley countryside and châteaus. Nestling on the left bank of the Loire, Amboise has kept traces of its royal past and is a great town for walking.
 
Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and get your bearings. Start by heading to the Royal Château of Amboise, where the young future François Ist grew up alongside his mother and sister. During a visit, you can see the chapel (the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci), the château, and the gardens with terraces overlooking the valley, which illuminate after dark. As evening falls, have fun sampling the town's outstanding dining options.

Day 6: Visit Château de Miniere, Free Afternoon in Amboise & the Loire Valley

The Loire River at Amboise

This morning you'll start the day with a visit to the beautiful Château de Minière, a vineyard and winery located in the heart of the Bourgueil terroir of the Loire Valley. Tour the historic estate, learn about the rich legacy of the vineyard, and taste some of its best wines. 

Spend the rest of the day exploring Amboise and its surrounding countryside on your own. Brimming with fairytale charm and character, the six towns of the Loire Valley are full of architecture and quiet country roads. Four of them—Orléans, Blois, Amboise, and Tours—sit on the banks of Europe's last untamed river, listed by UNESCO. Their architecture reflects their ties to the kings of France and with the Loire, which was for a long time France's leading economic artery.

Chartres and Bourges are particularly lovely. Their cathedrals are also UNESCO World Heritage-listed, and pedestrian streets bordered by half-timbered houses make these two medieval towns ideal for a stroll. 

From Nantes to Sancerre, the Loire Valley vineyards stretch along the river of the same name. You can follow it along the longest wine route in France as you visit villages, gardens, and royal abbeys in a landscape of hills and plains. Hidden behind each renowned wine district is a famous Loire château: Brissac, Saumur, and Chinon. More than one thousand vineyards are open to the public, including 400 specially accredited wine cellars, where you can meet the winemakers and taste their unique Loire Valley wines. From massive wine cellars to wine-tasting walks in the vineyards, there's no shortage of ways to experience the valley.

Day 7: Loire Valley: Château de Chambord & Chenonceau

Loire Valley: Châteaux de Chambord & Chenonceau
The 16th-century Château de Chambord

Start the morning with a private hotel pickup for your full-day tour through two of the Loire Valley's grandest castles. Your first stop is Chambord, whose French-Renaissance construction dates back to the early 16th century. This extravagant château is one of France's most famous and recognizable, thanks to its stately facade and sprawling grounds. 

Take the grand double spiral staircase to the second floor to see the royal apartments of François I and Louis XIV. During its heyday, the grounds and nearby forests were used for royal hunts and other pleasure activities. Continue up to the terraces, where views of the surrounding landscape offer a glimpse into the charmed lives of the castle's royals. From here you can also get a good look at the roofing and chimneys, which rise magnificently above the wide moat. 
 
Stop for lunch, then continue to Château de Chenonceau—a building whose history is defined by a nearly uninterrupted succession of women. The first château was built on this location in the 12th and 13th centuries, although it was burned down in the 14th century. Only the medieval dungeon—Tour des Marque—remains from this construction. 

The château in its current form was built between 1513 and 1517 by Thomas Bohier and his wife Catherine Briçonnet, who oversaw and directed most of the construction. Since then, there has been a long and dramatic line of women who have owned, loved, repaired, expanded on, and restored the castle. It's so well-loved that it's the second-most visited château in France, after Versaille.  

Day 8: Train to Paris & Depart

Sunset over Amboise 

Enjoy a final morning in Amboise before saying au revoir to the Loire Valley and catching a direct TGV train back to the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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