If you're short on time and want to see Paris and western France, this five-day road trip is the perfect getaway. Start in the City of Lights to haggle with market vendors and view art at the Louvre, then hit the road for the Loire Valley to the south-west. Here, each château is more magnificent than the last, and an endless variety of French wines are waiting for you to taste them. 

Highlights

  • Visit the Paris' oldest food market, the Marché des Enfants Rouges
  • Sample French pastries: crépes, crème brûlée, pain au chocolat, and more
  • Tour the famed castles of the Loire Valley
  • See the resplendent Châteaus de Chambord and Chenonceau
  • Meet the winemakers and taste unique Loire Valley wines

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to France! Arrive in Paris & Evening Eiffel Tower Tour Paris
Day 2 Pastry Tour of Le Marais & Afternoon at the Louvre Paris
Day 3 Paris to Tours, Châteaux, & Wine Tours
Day 4 Day Trip to Châteaus de Chambord & Chenonceau Tours
Day 5 Au Revoir, France  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to France! Arrive in Paris & Evening Eiffel Tower Tour

Welcome to Paris!
Welcome to Paris!

Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights! 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 to explore the streets near your accommodation before dinner.

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. 

After settling into your hotel, head out for your first look at the city. Spend some time walking around downtown and enjoying the sights. In the evening, meet with your private guide for a 3.5-hour exploration of the Trocadero Esplanade and Eiffel Tower. Start at the Trocadero to see its statues, monuments, and city views. Continue to the Iron Lady herself with skip-the-line tickets, giving you the most time to visit both floors and take in the incredible views from the top.

Day 2: Pastry Tour of Le Marais & Afternoon at the Louvre

The perfect way to start your day
The perfect way to start your day

Eating pastries and enjoying art is synonymous with French culture, and you'll get to do plenty of both today. Start your day with a tour of the Le Marais neighborhood with a hyper-local guide (a neighborhood resident, in fact!) to explore the secret cafes and taste the best baked goods in the city. Spend two hours sampling crépes, crème brûlée, pain au chocolat, espresso, chocolates, macarons, and more.

Visit the city's oldest food market, the Marché des Enfants Rouges, and try your hand at haggling for your favorite treat. As you walk, learn about world-famous pastry chefs: Poîlane, Jean-Paul Hévin, Jacques Genin, Pierre Hermé, and others. 

In the afternoon, it's time to explore the Louvre, the world's largest art museum. Skip the lines and head right to the classics, as well as your personal favorites. Get up close to Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, then get some fresh air at the Tuileries Garden. In the evening, explore the Champs Elysees and the majestic Arc de Triomphe

Day 3: Paris to Tours, Châteaux, & Wine

Sully sur Loire
Sully sur Loire

Leave Paris behind today and head toward inland France. Your destination is the Loire Valley, located a 2.5-hour (150 miles/ 240 km) drive away. 

Arrive and check in to your hotel in Tours, then meet up with your private guide for a walking tour of the city. Tours was once the capital of the Kingdom of France, and its old town is 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. 

Explore the city on your walking tour to see some of the city's biggest sights, like Les Halles, Place du Grand Marché, the Church Sainte Croix, Place de Chateauneuf, Church Saint Pierre, and more. 

In the afternoon, enjoy the Loire Valley on your own.

Visit a few of the many magnificent castles in the Loire Valley. With over 300 unique chateaus, the Loire Valley castles are as diverse as they are numerous. Tour the Azay-le Rideau, which seemingly floats on the river Indre, see Cande where Edward Prince of Wales married Wallis Simpsonand stroll through the gardens of Villandry and Chaumont-sur-Loire. A few of the chateaus, like Le Grand Pressigny and Oiron, house museums and galleries.

From Nantes to Sancerre, the Loire Valley vineyards stretch along the river of the same name. 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 chateau: Chenonceau, Chambord, 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 4: Day Trip to Châteaus de Chambord & Chenonceau

Chenonceau at sunset
Chenonceau at sunset
Plan your trip to France
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
Start the morning with a private hotel pickup for your full-day tour.
 
Your first stop is Chambord, whose French-Renaissance construction dates back to the early 16th century. This extravagant chateau 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 chateau 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 of the chateau, which rises 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 chateau 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 chateau 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 chateau. It's so well-loved, in fact, that it's the second-most visited chateau in France, after Versaille. 

After the full day, return to your hotel in Tours.

Day 5: Au Revoir, France

French Riviera by night
French Riviera by night

After breakfast, take a private car or train transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. A bientôt!


Map

Map of Road Trip through Western France: Paris & the Loire Valley - 5 Days
Map of Road Trip through Western France: Paris & the Loire Valley - 5 Days