Loire Valley - 2 Days
Day 1 :
Departing from Paris at 9am, the first stop is Chartres, the world famous cathedral and the highpoint of French Gothic architecture. The porches, adorned with fine sculptures from the middle of the 12th century, and the magnificent 12th- and 13th-century stained-glass windows combine to make it a masterpiece.
The next stop is the magnificent Château Amboise. It represents the finest of French Renaissance architecture, and also was the home of Charles VII and several successive kings of France. You will visit the Clos Lucé, the 15th century manor house acquired by him. King François I, and Margaret of Navarre resided here. However, its most famous resident was Leonardo da Vinci. You will see Leonardo’s ‘’fabulous machines’’, including his plans for a turbine engine, an airplane and a parachute.
Cheverny, a Château that belongs to the Huralt family, was built in the 17th century during the reigns of Kings Henri IV and Louis XII. It was lavishly decorated and furnished. The viscount and his family still live on the third floor. The cry of hounds remind visitors that the current viscount loves to hunt.
The day ends with a visit to Chambord, the largest of the great Châteaux. It contains 440 rooms and was originally built as a hunting lodge by King Francois I. It is a marvel of the Renaissance period featuring four monumental towers, the extraordinary interior double-spiral staircase and the spectacular terraces in which the ladies of the court stood waiting for the return of their men from the hunt.
Dinner and overnight can be booked in a hotel in Tours by you or by Imagine France.
Day 2 :
The day begins with a visit to Villandry. Finished in 1536, it is the last of the large castles built on the banks of the Loire during the Renaissance period. It is known for its remarkable gardens that include a water garden, a decorative vegetable garden and a pleasure garden planted with tall box hedges.
The tour continues with a visit to Azay le Rideau, the most graceful of the Loire Valley Châteaux, and the only Château built by a wealthy bourgeois rather than royalty. The most prominent feature of this castle is the grand central staircase that rises in straight flights rather than in a spiral. It is the oldest staircase of its kind in France.
A drive along the Loire river includes a wine-tasting stop at Montlouis which is famous for its white wines.
We recommend lunch at either restaurant ‘’ La Cave’’ at Montlouis or at Chenonceaux, at the ‘’ Auberge du Bon Laboureur ‘’.
Chenonceau will end your Châteaux visit. This castle is a jewel of Renaissance architecture. Built over the Cher river in 1513, Chenonceaux is also know as ‘’ The Chateau of the Six Women ‘’ as it was built by a woman and successively attracted women such as Diana de Poitier and Catherine de Medicis. It is furnished and decorated with rare tapestries and antique paintings.
A wonderful wax museum located on the grounds recreates the story of Chenonceaux and its remarkable ladies.
With the Châteaux tour completed, you can decide whether to return to Paris or to continue with a visit to the famous Vouvray vineyard for another wine tasting.
This 2 days tour is 10 hours per day.