The Loire Valley with its historic châteaux, vineyards, gardens and rolling countryside, is one of France’s loveliest and most interesting regions. There are countless estates nestled in the forests of Sologne, and we visit the Châteaux at Ambois, Blois and at Chenonceau, with its beautiful Catherine Medici Garden; enjoy a barge cruise and a wine tasting as we soak up the beautiful scenery and historic atmosphere, all from our base in Tours.
Day 1 We enjoy the Woods door to door pick up service, before meeting our coach and travelling to Dover for the short sea crossing to Calais. We travel across France with suitable refreshment stops to our overnight hotel in Lisieux, in the heart of the Normandy countryside.
Day 2 Leaving Lisieux after breakfast, we travel to Chartres, a beautiful town of cobbled streets and half-timbered houses, dominated by the two-spired Cathédrale Notre Dame de Chartres. Built in the 13th Century, this is the ﬁnest Gothic cathedral in France and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. We have a one-hour tour of the cathedral before free time in the town. In the afternoon we continue our journey reaching Tours and our hotel late afternoon.
Day 3 Today we travel to Amboise, the childhood home of Charles VIII and the ﬁnal resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. The town is perched on the southern bank of the Loire and is overlooked by the magniﬁcent 15th Century château, which we will explore. We move on to Vouvray, famous for its beautiful dry, semi-dry, sweet and sparkling wines, and enjoy a 45minute wine cellar tour of Château Gaudrelle in the heart of the Loire Valley.
Day 4 This morning we travel to Blois, where we visit the Royal Château of Blois, the handsome former seat of the Dukes of Orléans, and residence to seven kings and ten queens of France. Blois is formed by four wings around a central courtyard, each with diﬀerent architectural styles – medieval, Gothic, early Renaissance and Classical. There is also a very ﬁne art collection. After a little free time in the town to stroll among the twisting medieval streets, historic buildings, pretty squares and cafés, we return for free time in Tours.
Day 5 We visit one of the world’s most famous châteaux, Chenonceau. Set in 70 hectares of park with landscaped gardens and forests on either side of the River Cher, the château with its stylised moat, turrets and 16th Century towers is everything a fairy-tale castle should be. We begin in Chisseaux, boarding a traditional barge for a 50-minute cruise on the River Cher, passing beneath the arches of the Château. We then have time to explore the château and the glorious gardens including the Catherine Medici Garden and the Daine de Poitiers Garden.
Day 6 We have a day to enjoy Tours, starting with a 2-hour guided walking tour strolling by the Archbishop’s Palace, Saint-Gatien’s Cathedral, through the French Gardens and along the narrow pedestrian streets with timber façades in the Old City. The afternoon is free to explore at leisure.
Day 7 After an early start, we travel up through France, making suitable refreshment stops along the way, to Calais for the short sea crossing to Dover. We then continue homewards meeting our taxis in the evening.
Our modern four-star hotel is located in the centre of Tours, within walking distance of the main shopping street, as well as the excellent tramway system allowing easy travel down to the old town by the River Loire. The hotel has a bar, restaurant and a small ﬁtness room. All bedrooms have TV, telephone, hairdryer and tea/coﬀee making facilities. The hotel has WiFi and a lift.