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Châteaux of the Loire Valley


Discover the alluring charms of the Loire Valley on a small groups tour to France

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2020 Tour code: JSV20


Day 1 - London to Château d’Artigny

Meet your group and Tour Manager at London St Pancras International, where we travel on the Eurostar service to Paris, enjoying a light meal and drinks as we travel. On arrival we join the direct rail service to Tours, continuing by coach to our spectacular 5-Star hotel, Château d'Artigny, which lies just 15 kilometres south of the city. After settling in, we sit down to a decadent three-course dinner, served in the hotel's grand 18th century-style dining room.

  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal
Chateau d’Artigny
Day 2 - Château de Chenonceau

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 both 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 the French royal court. Here we enjoy included entrance to Château du Clos Lucé, the last place that Leonardo da Vinci called home. 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 such scenic surroundings.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Chateau de Chenonceau
Days 3-4 - Tours and Château de Cande

We transfer to Tours today where we embark on a guided walking tour. Located on the lower reaches of the River Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast, Tours is the largest city in the Loire Valley and boasts some impressive historical attractions such as the Archbishop's Palace, Saint-Gatiens Cathedral, home to some fine 13th-century stained glass windows, quaint Rue Colbert, Place Plumereau, and Saint Martin's Basilica - built in homage to St. Martin, the Bishop of Tours from 371 to 397 whose relics were the focus of many medieval pilgrimages. We see all of this and more during our explorations, which come ahead of lunch at a local restaurant. Our afternoon is at leisure to explore further.

On Day 4, we enjoy a morning at leisure before an afternoon visit to the elegant Château de Cande and park, the marriage place of the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson. Dinner this evening is in Montbazon.

  • Day 3 - Breakfast, Lunch
  • Day 4 - Breakfast, Dinner
Saint-Gatiens Cathedral - Tours
Day 5 - Château du Rivau

Marvel at the unique blend of medieval and Renaissance architecture that characterises Château du Rivau today, set in the heart of Loire Valley. With a rich and fascinating history, it's here that Joan of Arc replenished her stock of horses during the Hundred Years' War, Château du Rivau is everything you could expect from a French castle and more, with many visitors reporting that it seems to have materialised straight from the pages of a fairy tale. There are many features here to admire, from the majestic drawbridge and frescos depicting the Feast of Belshazzar, to the turreted outer buildings and pristine gardens filled with wonderful examples of contemporary art, and which are impressively maintained without the use of modern-day chemicals. As part of Great Rail Journeys' small group tour, we are lucky enough to enjoy a guided tour led by one of the current owners, who project-managed the extensive refurbishments that took place during the 1990s.

Following an enchanting picnic lunch at the Château we make our way to Domaine de Rocheville, a renowned wine estate in the Saumur region whose vines date back over three decades. We are treated to a tour of the wine cellars and given a unique insight into the winery's specific growing, harvesting and fermenting techniques, at the end we even get to sample some of the different wines for ourselves. On our return to Château d'Artigny we enjoy a final, farewell dinner together in the hotel's restaurant.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Chateau du Rivau
Day 6 - The journey home

After breakfast, we transfer to Tours by coach in time for the train to Paris. We then continue our journey back to London aboard the Eurostar, again making the most of our Standard Premier Class seats with a light meal and drinks service as we travel. On arrival at St Pancras International, our tour comes to an end and you are free to make your way home.

  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Meal