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15-day Explore the Loire Valley Small Group Tour
Personally hosted by Carol Haslam, Director of Slow Tours. Carol lived in France for six years, speaks fluent French, knows this region really well and loves to show guests some of her favourite spots.
A wonderful tour showing the best of this well-known valley of chateaux, abbeys, spectacular events, gardens, Loire Valley wines, local mushrooms, beautiful villages and troglodyte caves. 14 nights staying in chateaux, farmhouses and boutique typical French hotels. This tour will show you some of the many chateaux built along the Loire valley by the royals and aristocrats who wanted to get out of Paris and go to the country fresh air during summer.
Highlights include: the mouth of the Loire river with its Guerande salt flats, Noirmoutier island and quaint fishing villages, the chateau of Chenonceaux, known as the ladies chateau, Chambord, the largest chateau, Blois, the royal chateau, Leonardo da Vinci's small chateau given to him by the King of France where he lived for his last 6 years, Fontevraud Abbey where Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine is buried along with her son, Richard the Lionheart.
Included is a full day in the best known theme park in France, the Puy du Fou, where stunning displays of historical events will keep you fascinated for hours - voted recently as the best theme park in the world. You will also have time for shopping and local markets in places such as Angers, Amboise and Blois.
Travel is in a comfortable new vehicle. Maximum 14 passengers
Slow Tours offers a number of other Small Group Tours in Europe
Arrival at Nantes airport where you will be transferred to your accommodation. Time to settle in before a short drive to our Breton Creperie for a welcome dinner which is typical of this region.
Today we cross the ocean on a long bridge to discover the fortified town of Guerande, surrounded by salt pans, salt being one of the main products of this area. Guerande has a surrounding wall which ws its strength in past years, it is a rare example of a medieval city which has preserved its rampart in its entirety. It is also one of the best preserved in France. A stop at some of the small fishing villages along the way will delight your day.
We drive to the Ile de Noirmoutier, an island just off the coast of Brittany. The town has a historical centre and some great beaches where you can enjoy a relaxing swim, or explore the town. We stop at another of the local villages which is named as one of the 'most beautiful villages in France'.
Today we go into Nantes city for a tour of the 13th century chateau of the Dukes of Brittany, the last chateau on the Loire before it reaches the Atlantic ocean. You will have time to discover some of the medieval history of this important city, the remarkable Botanic Gardens, to explore the shops in Passage Pommeraye, visit Nantes Gothic cathedral or just to enjoy a coffee or lunch by the Loire river
After breakfast, we transfer to our next accommodation near Saumur with a stop along the way to see the chateau in Angers. This chateau has a magnificent tapestry known as the Apocalypse, the largest and oldest tapestry - known to date - made in Paris, a medieval French set of tapestries commissioned by Louis I, the Duke of Anjou, and produced between 1377 and 1382 .
A fun day for everyone with a day at the Puy du Fou, France's historical theme park, recently voted as the best theme park in the world. A continuous program of historical shows, music and exhibitions which you will never forget.
The chateau of Saumur and Fontevraud Abbey are on the itinerary today. If you have not heard of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, this is your chance to find out more about this amazing woman who was the Queen of France, divorced and became the Queen of England.
Today we can enjoy the morning markets of Saumur before a transfer to our new base near Amboise. On the way, we visit the chateau at Chinon with some wine-tasting and lunch.
The two chateaux close to Amboise, Chenonceaux (the ladies' chateau) and Chaumont have an interesting history of the King's mistress, Diane de Poitiers and his Queen, Catherine de Medici. Find out more during today's visits.
Leonardo da Vinci's small chateau and garden, with reproductions of many of his inventions, is a fascinating place to visit. This chateau was given to him by the King of France, and Leonardo spent his last six years there. In the afternoon we explore the chateau of Amboise and dine in a restaurant near the ramparts of the chateau
Today is a day of mushrooms and wine-tasting! We visit some of the caves where mushrooms are produced and distributed all over France. The Loire valley is known for its crisp white wines, and today you will be able to compare some of the local production. An afternoon visit to the miniature chateaux park will surprise you!
We transfer to our final accommodation in Blois, home of the Royal Chateau. After a visit of the chateau, you will have a free afternoon to explore the town of Blois, do shopping or relax before dinner.
Our last chateau visit is to the largest royal chateau of Chambord, an impressive extravagance and with 440 rooms, the largest château in the Loire Valley. It was built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I, who maintained his royal residences at the Château de Blois and Amboise.
For our last day, we visit the charming village of Lavardin and the local 'remarkable gardens' of Sasnieres. The church of Lavardin has some beautiful frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries. We also visit a troglodyte cave house, built into the rocks in Lavardin before our farewell dinner.
End of your tour and a transfer to Tours, where you can get a fast TGV train direct to Paris.
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Shows in English in Paris: Paris offers a wide variety of shows accessible to English-speakers. One-man shows, classic & modern theatre, musicals, cabarets and more are all performed in the city every night. You can get the full programme of shows in Paris to fit your city break dates by emailing [email protected]