Selected departures from April to October 2020
If you are looking to visit one of the most beautiful regions of France, then our tour of the Loire Valley is ideal – indeed the very name conjures up wonderful images in the mind. The châteaux, the translation of ‘castles’ does not do them justice, are magnificent, and you have the opportunity to sample the best of them: Chenonceau, Villandry, Chinon and Amboise. The scenery is stunning too; in fact the valley is also known as The Garden of France and you can see why. Furthermore the harvest here is very rich: plums, apples and grapes – the area is renowned of course for its fine wines, namely Muscadet, Rosé d’Anjou, Sauvignon, Vouvray and many more; and the gentle landscapes are warmed by the rich golden colours of the ripening fruit. You can sample the local produce at the Ackerman Wine Cellars, during a tasting of some of their award-winning Saumur wines.
History abounds here. Every time you turn a corner you see a reminder of Richard the Lionheart, the Hundred Years’ War or Joan of Arc. Visiting the Loire Valley is like stepping back in time; the sleepy towns are a delight to explore and the local people seem to have time on their hands, stopping to chat to each other or drinking endless coffees in the nearby bars and cafés.
You visit the Château of Fontainebleau, set in a vast forest just outside Paris, and famous as the place where Napoleon commenced his journey into exile and Fontevraud Abbey, the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, arguably the greatest monastic establishment left standing in France. You also visit the house, and most importantly the garden of one of France’s most famous sons – Impressionist artist Claude Monet. All this, but there is much, much more so for a unique combination of culture, wine, superb and interesting monuments, châteaux, beautiful scenery and French provincial life at its best, come with us and see.
Travel by Eurostar from London St Pancras International (exact time of travel will be indicated on travel documents, arriving at Paris Gard du Nord approximately 2hrs 15 mins later). A coach will take you to Vernon near Claude Monet’s house and garden, to the three-star Hotel Normandy, where we dine this evening.
Today you visit Monet’s house and garden. You have all seen Monet’s paintings reproduced in calendars and birthday cards, but to be here, in this spectacular display of colour, is simply an unforgettable experience. In the Japanese inspired water garden, shaded by a great willow tree and surrounded by bamboo trees, rhododendrons and azaleas, is the lily pond, where the famous Les Nymphéas or Water Lilies were painted. Inside the house is also outstanding.
Your journey continues to Chartres, where the cathedral is arguably the most magnificent in France with perhaps the most intricate 13th-century stained glass in Europe eventually arriving in the picturesque city of Tours, where you will be staying for four nights’ bed and breakfast at either the three-star superior Kyriad hotel, four-star Novotel Tours Centre Gare or four-star Mercure Tours Hotel, all centrally located on the edge of the Old Town.
After breakfast we enjoy a guided tour of the wonderfully preserved historic centre of Tours. The city’s rich and varied history stretches back as far as the Gallo-Roman period, later becoming the medieval capital of France and seat of the French monarchy. This afternoon we visit Chenonceau, home of Mary Queen of Scots and probably the most stately of the Loire châteaux, majestically hovering on the waters of the River Cher. Later we return to the hotel. This evening you dine in a charming restaurant, full of atmosphere so unique to France.
This morning we visit the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fontevraud Abbey, for a guided tour. Arguably the greatest monastic establishment left standing in France, the Abbey was once one of the richest and most powerful royal retreats in the world. Next we head to Saumur, described as the ‘pearl of Anjou’, the town is a delightful spot to stop for lunch and wander amongst its magnificent architectural heritage. No visit here would be complete without sampling some of this famous produce, so this afternoon we visit the Ackerman wine cellars for a tasting of some of their award-winning Saumur wines.
This morning we visit the charming town of Chinon, medieval in character dominated by the imposing castle where Joan of Arc first met the Dauphin. You have time to explore this lovely town. In the afternoon, we make our way down the beautiful Loire Valley to the Château Villandry, famous for its unique gardens, consisting largely of colourful vegetables.
This morning we visit Amboise, a delightful little town nestling on the banks of the River Loire. where a royal château sits. Nearby is the Château of Clos Lucé, famous as the final abode of Leonardo da Vinci. Today it houses the Leonardo da Vinci museum, dedicated to his work and the region’s prestigious history. On display are models of his various innovations as well as a copy of the Mona Lisa.
Afterwards we continue to our final hotel, where we stay at either the four-star Hotel Mercure Orléans Portes de Sologne, where we also dine.
This morning we visit the beautiful Château of Fontainebleau, just south of Paris, where Napoleon departed to his exile on the island of Elba. It is decorated in fantastic style, with intricate frescoes and parquet floors inlaid with exotic woods. Most impressive is the vast display of exquisite furniture and the formally designed, extensive grounds. Fontainebleau encompasses everything you imagine about a French château: style, opulence, grandeur – even outrageousness.
Later you transfer to Paris to take the Eurostar service (exact time will be indicated on travel documents) to London St Pancras International.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The holiday includes:
Included excursions are entrance to Monet’s Garden, Chenonceau, Villandry and Leonardo da Vinci’s House; guided tour of Fontevraud Abbey; visit to Ackerman wine cellars
Not Included: Entrance to Chinon €8.50, approximate costs, payable locally.
Convenient local departures
Why not enjoy a convenient departure from a station close to home? Booking your own cross-country train transport can be tricky when considering station changes and onward train times, so here at Riviera Travel our Eurostar team work hard finding your preferred regional departure to add to your booking.
We offer departures from stations such as Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Derby, Southampton, Bristol, Lancaster and many more. We endeavour to provide connections from as many stations as possible across the country, so wherever you live you’ll be sure to find a local departure to suit you.
It’s easy to book a local departure; simply select the station you'd like to depart from when making your booking online. If your preferred station is not available to select from the dropdown menu in the checkout, get in touch with us and we can request a station for you.
Enjoy a relaxed journey in the spacious and quiet First Class coach of your regional train. We can add a First Class upgrade to your booking at any time before departure, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
In order to enjoy your Eurostar experience to the full, you may upgrade to Standard Premier Class on the Eurostar (and onward TGV, where applicable). You’ll get a seat in the spacious Standard Premier coach with a complimentary light meal offered from a selection of sweet and savoury cold snacks, and a drink appropriate to the time of day, served at your seat while you relax in the comfort of Standard Premier Class. Upgrades can easily be added to your booking any time before the final balance has been paid, so please call us to enquire further.
UK Citizens do not require a visa to enter France however must have a valid passport. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitabilty of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival train station||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final hotel location||Departure train station||Transfer time|
|Paris Gare du Nord||Vernon||1 hr 30 mins||Orleans||Paris Gare du Nord||2 hrs (via Fontainebleau Chateau)|
Clare & Steve Blake
This was a fascinating tour with many highlights in one of the most scenic parts of France. So much to see in terms of history & stunning landscapes - highlights were Monet's Garden - better than you imagine- Leonardo da Vinci's h...
Arthur & Margaret Collier
We have just returned from this trip and cannot praise it enough. The hotels were all comfortable, but the trip was made for us by Angus and his little stories. He made everything run smoothly and nothing seemed to be too much tro...