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Gardens of the Loire Valley and Seine Cruise

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Explore famous châteaux that stud the verdant Loire Valley

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10 days From £2,695 £2,445 per person
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2023 Tour code: SIR23

About the tour

Explore some of the most famous châteaux are scattered through the verdant Loire Valley, and relax in the charming French town of Blois before joining a scenic cruise along the Seine which includes explorations of Paris, Rouen and Honfleur.


What’s included


Day 1 - London to Blois

We meet at our dedicated Departure Office at St Pancras then leave for Paris on the Eurostar. Next we change for the rail service to Blois, situated on the banks of the River Loire. Here we check into the Mercure Blois for a three-night stay.

  • Dinner
Day 2 - Château de Chenonceau and Clos Lucé

Today begins with an excursion to Château de Chenonceau, arguably the most iconic of its kind in the Loire Valley. The Château elegantly spans the River Cher and is a fine example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. After exploring the château and its picturesque fountain gardens, we travel by coach to the town of Amboise, former home of Leonardo da Vinci, who died here in 1519. We visit his former manor house, Clos Lucé, which is filled with some of his fascinating inventions. You are free to explore this delightful manor house and walk in the footsteps of the master himself, who was so inspired by his scenic surroundings.

  • Breakfast
Day 3 - Château de Chaumont and the International Garden Festival

Boarding a coach at our hotel in Blois, we make our way to nearby Château de Chaumont. Dating back to 1000 AD, the original castle was razed to the ground by Louis XI and rebuilt in the 15th century into the Disney-style turrets and gateways we see today. Sat on the banks of the Loire River, the grounds were transformed into an English-style ornamental garden with extensive landscaping and rustic features in the late 1800s. On arrival, we enjoy a guided tour of the gardens, followed by free time to look around 2022's International Garden Festival, exploring themes of sustainability, aesthetics and wellbeing.

  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Return to Paris and the MS Renoir

Following breakfast we check out of our hotel and transfer to the train station for the return rail journey to Paris. Then it's time to meet our floating hotel for the next six nights, the MS Renoir, and the rest of our cruise family.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - Paris

On the morning of Day 5 we enjoy a guided tour of the splendid French capital. We see many of the major attractions such as Place de la République, the Grand Boulevards, Opera House, Place de la Madeleine, Place Vendôme, and the Louvre. After lunch aboard you have some free time to sightsee independently. We set sail in the evening for a cruise along the Seine, admiring the illuminated attractions we see along the way (weather permitting).

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - Giverny or Versailles

We start the day cruising to Giverny, enjoying an expert talk on board; 'A Definition of Impressionism'. Now synonymous with Monet, the artist saw the village of Giverny for the first time during a train journey in 1883 and decided that this was the spot he wanted to live and work in. With its instantly recognisable lily ponds, the gardens are the image of how they were when Monet first painted them, almost like stepping into one of his artworks, and the house still has the atmosphere of a creative retreat. Alternatively, you could visit Château de Malmaison, a stately home purchased by Napoleon's first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais. Napoleon himself visited for a few days before his exile to Saint-Helena and we tour the preserved interiors, including the billiard room, the Salon Doré, the music room, home to a harp once played by Josephine, and Napolean's bedroom.

On our 29th September departure, you could stop at the opulent Palace of Versailles. Former seat of the Royal family until the French Revolution, the gardens are equally as impressive as the palace. Featuring a web of manicured lawns, extravagant fountains and dramatic sculptures, they were built around a series of lakes and canal waterways that feed the mesmerising fountains. On a guided tour, you also see the historically important Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed. We re-join the boat, enjoying a traditional French 'guinguette' evening after dinner.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7 - Rouen

Our destination today is Rouen, former capital of Normandy, where we enjoy a guided tour that follows in the footsteps of the Impressionists themselves. This medieval city is the proud home of The Museum of Fine Arts and its impressive collection of Impressionist compositions. We make a visit to the gallery as well as taking in Rouen Cathedral, which was depicted in oil paint by Claude Monet. His series of over 30 paintings show the building at all different times of day. Following an insightful few hours, we return to our ship for tonight's dinner.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 - The Route des Abbayes

We make our way to Duclair today, sailing through a landscape of steep cliffs and timeless villages, fleeting views of which helped inspire the Impressionist style itself. On arrival in Duclair we embark on an excursion along the Route des Abbayes, exploring the abbeys that line the route of the river by coach. Stretching between Rouen and Mont-Saint-Michel, this historic trail has seen religious orders being built here from the 5th century onwards, and at one point there were up to 120 sites of worship. Later we continue upriver to Honfleur, where we moor for the night.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9 - Tour Honfleur or discover the beaches of WWII

The charming port town of Honfleur is located on the southern bank of the Seine Estuary in the Calvados region of France famous for its apple brandy. Centred on its adorable historic port and marina - the 'Vieux Bassin' - Honfleur boasts a number of preserved traditional buildings and today you can choose to take a tour of this quaint destination, famous as being an important influence in the work of many artists, including Monet, Courbet and Boudin, who set up the Ecole de Honfleur, an artists' colony and melting pot for the whole Impressionist movement.

Otherwise you might select our excursion to the nearby beaches of Gold and Juno, two of five landing sites utilised for the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, a pivotal event in the eventual Allied triumph over the Axis powers. Following some free time this afternoon, tonight we celebrate the end of our cruise at the captain's special gala dinner.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 - Return to London by rail

We transfer to Paris after a final breakfast together. From here we catch the return Eurostar service back to London.

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Hotel Mercure Blois Centre, Blois

Hotel Mercure Blois Centre, Blois

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Gardens of the Loire Valley and Seine Cruise

Explore famous châteaux that stud the verdant Loire Valley


Jo Jones
Lynne Broadley