Paris & the Loire Valley

Paris & the Loire Valley
Promenade around the “City of Lights”, lose yourself in the enchanting Loire Valley with its lush green hills and over 300 châteaux, pay tribute to the soldiers who gave their lives on the D-Day beaches of Normandy, and end with a cruise on the River Seine.
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Day 1 Start tour
Day 2 Bonjour Paris
Meet your tour director and check into hotel
Paris city walk
Île de la CitéNotre Dame Cathedral visitÎle St. LouisLatin Quarter visit
Dinner in Latin Quarter
Details: Paris city walk
This city was made for walking. Stroll grand boulevards with sweeping views of the city, pristine parks with trees planted in perfect rows, and narrow streets crowded with vendors selling flowers, pastries and cheese. Then head to the Île de la Cité, a small island in the Seine, to see Notre Dame Cathedral.
Details: Louvre visit
The world's largest art museum, the Louvre is housed in a Medieval fortress-turned-castle so grand it's worth a tour itself. You walk through the 71-foot glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei and added in 1989, and step into another world--one with carved ceilings, deep-set windows, and so many architectural details you could spend a week just admiring the rooms. The Mona Lisa is here, as well as the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory (the headless statue, circa 200 BC, discovered at Samothrace). The Louvre has seven different departments of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and antiquities. Don't miss the Egyptian collection, complete with creepy sarcophagi, or the collection of Greek ceramics, one of the largest in the world. (Please note the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.)
Day 3 Paris landmarks
Paris guided sightseeing tour
Arc de TriompheChamps-ÉlyséesEiffel TowerChamp de MarsÉcole MilitaireLes InvalidesConciergerieTuileriesPlace VendômeOpera House
Optional  Versailles guided excursion  $80
State ApartmentsHall of MirrorsGardens of Versailles
Details: Paris guided sightseeing tour
What's that huge white arch at the end of the Champs-Élysées? The Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 after his victory at Austerlitz. Your licensed local guide will elaborate on this, and other Parisian landmarks. See some of the most famous sites, including the ornate, 19th-century Opera, the Presidential residence, the ultra-chic shops of the Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, and the gardens of the Tuileries. You'll pass the Place de la Concorde, where in the center you’ll find the Obelisk of Luxor, a gift from Egypt in 1836, and the Place Vendôme, a huge square surrounded by 17th-century buildings. Spot chic locals (and tons of tourists) strolling the Champs-Élysées. Look up at the iron girders of the Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 World's Fair to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. See Les Invalides (a refuge for war wounded), the École Militaire (Napoleon's alma mater), and the Conciergerie (the prison where Marie Antoinette was kept during the French Revolution).
Day 4 Paris--Loire Valley
Travel to Loire Valley (via Chartres & Chambord)
Château de Chambord photo stop
Authentic French brasserie dinner
Details: Chartres Cathedral visit
Built on an ancient worshipping ground to house a piece of the Virgin Mary’s veil (which is still on display), this 13th-century Gothic church is best known for its windows. With over 20,000 square feet of stained glass, visiting Chartres can be like walking around inside a large jewel. But don’t spend all your time looking up—on the floor is the only surviving medieval labyrinth. The faithful travel the winding 300-yard path on their knees to reach the image of paradise at the centre. Ouch.
Day 5 Loire Valley castles
Loire châteaux tour director-led sightseeing
Azay-le-Rideau visitChâteau de Chenonceau visit
Troglodyte Village guided visit
Details: Loire châteaux tour director-led sightseeing
France’s aristocrats began building defensive castles in the Loire Valley in the 11th century. A few hundred years later, their descendants created pleasure palaces among the lush green forests and wandering waterways. Today, sumptuous Renaissance castles stud the banks of the silvery Loire River, the longest in France. First stop: Azay-le-Rideau. This castle’s limestone turrets and slate spires are set on an island in the middle of the Indre River. Almost completely surrounded by water, the castle mixes Gothic and Renaissance styles to fairy-tale effect. But few castles can compete with Château de Chenonceau. Built on a series of arches over the Cher River, Chenonceau was designed by a woman in the 16th century. It was once inhabited by Catherine de Medicis, who commissioned the delicate spirals and the formal gardens, and had the bridge covered by a two-story stone gallery.
Details: Dinner in Troglodyte Village
Dug by men from the XIIth century onwards to extract the stone, “the tuffeau” destined for building, The Cave aux Moines was used as far back as the beginning of the XXth century to cultivate mushrooms. The beginning of the cave and the first metres of the galleries were used by people to live; that kind of living was called the "troglodytes". Here people and animals lived as a community.
Day 6 Loire Valley--St. Malo
Travel to St. Malo
St. Malo interactive sightseeing activity
Church of St. VincentTomb of Jacques Cartier
Details: St. Malo interactive sightseeing activity
For centuries, this walled seaport on the English Channel was known as the city of pirates. The pirates are gone, but the granite town remains, always seeming to be reaching towards the green-blue sea. With your Tour Director, embark on an interactive adventure that will bring St. Malo to life! Including a visit to the Cathedral St. Vincent, begun in the 11th century but not finished until the spire was mounted in 1987. It houses the tomb of Jacques Cartier, who discovered the St. Lawrence River and founded Quebec.
Details: Crêperie dinner
Indulge in one of France’s most delicious culinary traditions—the crêpe. These thin pancakes can be wrapped around tasty fillings from fromage (cheese) to chicken. For dessert, have a sweet crêpe with chocolate, Nutella, or just a slathering of butter and a sprinkle of sugar.
Day 7 St. Malo--Normandy
Travel to Normandy
Details: Mont-St-Michel monastery visit
Perched high on a tidal island at the mouth of the Couesnon River, the Mont St-Michel Monastery rises impressively from behind the fortified walls of an old fort. Explore the narrow streets and old buildings before climbing to the center of the island to see the church itself.
Details: D-Day beaches
See the D-Day beaches where on June 6, 1944, thousands of Allied troops landed in an effort to recapture the coast from Germany. All along the beaches, deserted German bunkers have been turned into memorials and the stark white crosses and stars that mark the cemeteries are grim reminders of the war.
Details: Arromanches Museum visit
Ingenious military engineering allowed the Allied forces to land at Arromanches on D-Day. Barges towed 600,000 tons of concrete across the English Channel, sinking them to create an artificial harbor, and then 33 jetties and 10 miles of floating roadways allowed the troops to land in France. Learn about this feat and other at the Arromanches Museum, where dioramas, interactive displays, and models detail the Allied landing.
Day 8 Normandy--Paris
Travel to Paris via Rouen
Rouen tour director-led sightseeing
Cathedral visitOld Clock
Details: Rouen tour director-led sightseeing
Like Paris, the port city of Rouen is divided in two by the Seine. Your Tour Director will take you through the medieval cobblestone streets of the city where Joan of Arc was burned in 1431. See the Old Clock surrounded by half-timbered houses and shops, and visit Notre Dame cathedral, a favorite subject of Claude Monet. With its lacy Gothic façade and mismatched spires, Rouen’s cathedral is one of the most compelling in France. Hitler certainly thought so—the first time it caught fire in WWII, he ordered his troops to save it. See the inspired interior, with its columns topped by carved faces, and learn about the history of the church. Fun fact: one of the steeples is called the Tour de Beurre. It was built with money donated by a group of wealthy people who wanted to eat butter during Lent.
Details: Seine River cruise
See the city from the water on an hour-long cruise along the River Seine. The Seine cuts right through Paris, dividing the city in half. See the Eiffel tower rising up on the Left Bank, the walls of the Louvre on the Right Bank. A guide will point out other monuments and architectural marvels as you pass, many of which are illuminated by clear white light at night.
Day 9 End tour

  • Or
  • Day 9 Start extension to Lucerne
    Travel to Bern on the TGV (Europe’s fastest train)
    Travel to Lucerne
    Details: Bern tour director-led sightseeing
    Charming Bern seems too picturesque to be Switzerland’s capital city. Its medieval core remains almost unchanged since the 1500’s, and the quiet cobbled lanes, winding river, and surrounding woods, coupled with the city’s omnipresent furry bear mascot, bring to mind childhood fairytales. Hard to believe that the earth-changing Theory of Relativity was born here, in the apartment where Einstein lived in 1905. (We suspect he was inspired by the mind-altering local Toblerone chocolate.)
    Day 10 Lucerne landmarks
    Lucerne tour director-led sightseeing
    Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument)River ReussKapellbrücke
    Details: Lucerne tour director-led sightseeing
    Before a backdrop of snow-capped Alpine mountains and green, cow-filled pastures, join your Tour Director on a tour of Lucerne’s famous sights. Weave your way through a maze of narrow, winding streets until you reach the River Reuss and the Medieval Kapellbrücke Bridge. Stop to marvel at the bridge walls, decorated with murals that recreate the 14th-century originals destroyed in a fire. Journey the cobblestone streets in the Old Town to see the Löwendenkmal (Lion Monument), the somber sandstone wild cat gazing down into a reflecting pool. Sense sheer courage as you ponder this artfully chiseled statue created to honor the Swiss Guards who died defending the Tuileries in 1792.
    Details: Mt. Pilatus excursion
    Scale snow-capped Mount Pilatus via the world’s steepest cog railway or cable car. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of Lucerne’s skyline and Alpine panoramas galore. Here’s your chance to snap some of the most frame-worthy photos. Keep your fingers crossed for a clear day when mountain-top views span as far as 200 miles. Or enjoy some free time exploring Lucerne. Stroll the shores of Lake Lucerne. Scour the cozy neighborhoods for frescoed homes with oriel windows. Or just stop and indulge your sweet tooth in some of the creamiest chocolate in the world. If that doesn’t satisfy your craving for adventure, see your Tour Director for more ideas.
    Details: Traditional Swiss dinner with fondue
    Enjoy an authentic Swiss meal and sample fondue as your appetizer.
    Day 11 End tour
    Travel to Zurich
    Map of Paris & the Loire Valley Educational Tour
    Tour Includes:
    • Round-trip airfare
    • 7 overnight stays (9 with extension) in hotels with private bathrooms
    • Full European breakfast daily
    • Dinner daily
    • Full-time services of a professional Tour Director
    • Guided sightseeing tours and city walks as per itinerary
    • Visits to select attractions as per itinerary
    • Seine Cruise
    • Mt. Pilatus excursion on extension
    • Tour Diary™
    • Note: On arrival day only dinner is provided; on departure day, only breakfast is provided
    • Note: Tour cost does not include airline-imposed baggage fees, or fees for any required passport or visa. Please visit our Fees FAQ page for a full list of items that may not be included in the cost of your tour.
    We are better able to assist you with a quote for your selected departure date and city over the phone. Please call 1.888.310.7120 to price this tour with your requested options.
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    2738.00 total fee
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