• Arc de Triomphe in Paris
  • Sainte-Chapelle in Paris
  • Chenonceau Château in the Loire Valley
  • Mont St. Michel
  • Bayeux Tapestry
  • Les Braves Sculpture on Omaha Beach
  • Giverny
  • Louvre Museum in Paris

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days Tour

Stringing together an all-star collection of Rick's favorite places in and around the City of Light, your expert guide will bring you the very best of Paris along with its most stunning surroundings: the Loire Valley's exquisite châteaux; Brittany's half-timbered villages; Normandy's magical Mont St. Michel and stirring D-Day beaches; Monet's dreamy gardens at Giverny; the stained-glass wonders of Bourges Cathedral; and a medieval castle being built in Burgundy today — using lots of muscle and 13th-century technology. Join us for Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days!

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of France come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 14 group sightseeing events • 2-day Paris Museum Pass, allowing free admission throughout the city • Louvre Museum tour • Orsay Museum • Historic Paris walking tour • Notre-Dame Cathedral • Sainte-Chapelle • Guédelon tour • Bourges walking tour and Cathédrale St-Étienne • Chambord Château and audio guide • Chenonceau Château • Mont St. Michel and abbey tour • Bayeux Tapestry • D-Day tour (American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc and Sainte Mère Eglise) • Monet's Gardens at Giverny...and more
  • All group transportation from Paris to Paris
  • 10 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves' France and Paris guidebooks, French phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Paris

We'll meet at around 5 p.m. at our hotel for a short "bienvenue à Paris" meeting. Then we'll take an orientation walk through our neighborhood, followed by time to get acquainted over dinner together. Sleep in Paris (3 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Historic Paris and the Orsay

Let's begin where Paris did, on the Ile de la Cité. Your guide will lead a walking tour of the city's early history, including visits to a pair of Europe's most significant medieval Gothic churches: the legendary Notre-Dame Cathedral and the exquisite Sainte-Chapelle. Then we'll take a stroll through the bohemian Latin Quarter. After free time for lunch on your own, we'll regroup and make our way to the world's greatest collection of Impressionist art — from Monet and Degas to Cézanne and Gauguin and more — at the Orsay Museum where, after an introduction, you'll be free to visit on your own. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Masterpieces of the Louvre

Our morning is devoted to touring Europe's greatest museum — the Louvre — where you'll come face-to-face with timeless treasures that include Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo and hundreds more. Your afternoon will be free to be inspired by Monet's incredible Water Lilies at the recently renovated Orangerie, perplexed by whimsical water fountains and modern art at the Pompidou, or compelled to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, followed by a classy stroll along the Champs-Elysées. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Medieval Guédelon and Bourges

Today we'll leave Paris and head for the Château de Guédelon — a medieval castle being built today using 13th-century materials and techniques. Local experts may give us a close-up look at masons cutting limestone, sheep being sheared and blacksmiths at work. Then we'll drive past farms, forests and vineyards to the overlooked town of Bourges. Once we arrive we'll wander along the cobbled lanes and medieval half-timbered houses on a walking tour with a local guide. Our tour will culminate with a visit of Bourges' Cathédrale St-Étienne where we will learn how to read some of France's most remarkable and original medieval stained glass. Sleep in Bourges (1 night). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: The Loire and Chambord

Today we'll head for the biggest and brightest of the Loire Valley châteaux — Chambord — where 365 fireplaces warmed royal hunting parties for more than 500 years. We'll have ample time to visit this magnificent château, its expansive grounds, and find some lunch. A bit farther up the road, our own Loire Valley accommodations will be every bit as French, but a little more down-to-earth. Dinner together tonight. Sleep in the Loire Valley (2 nights). Bus 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 6: Chenonceau and Amboise

This morning we'll visit the elegant, river-straddling, 16th-century Château de Chenonceau. We'll learn more about royal life in France and have plenty of free time to roam through its opulent interior and gardens. This afternoon you'll have time on your own in Amboise to find lunch and sightsee. You can choose to visit Leonardo da Vinci's home, Clos Lucé, and marvel at the working models of the Renaissance Man's cleverest inventions, tour Amboise's cliff-hanging castle or wander the pleasant pedestrian-friendly streets. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.

Day 7: Brittany and Mont St. Michel

We'll depart the Loire Valley this morning and make a beeline to Brittany. We'll stop for lunch and a walk through a quintessential Breton town, where we'll learn about the Bretons' Celtic origins. Later this afternoon, we'll take a short drive to the timeless, picture-perfect island of Mont St. Michel. We'll arrive as the tourist tide recedes, ensuring a less crowded experience here. We'll share dinner together and sleep on the Mont itself (1 night). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Treasure of Bayeux

This morning we'll take a walking tour of Mont St. Michel's town and its towering abbey to learn about local legends, monastic life, and the far-reaching influences exerted by abbeys in French history. Then we'll drive into the heart of Normandy to study the 1,000-year-old Bayeux Tapestry — a 70-yard-long embroidered cartoon/work of art that brings to life William the Conqueror's victory over the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. We'll enjoy dinner together and sleep in Normandy (2 nights). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 9: Normandy's D-Day Beaches

We'll spend the day with a local expert who will give us a powerful tour of the Normandy beaches where, in June of 1944, the Allied D-Day landings took place by sea and air. We'll visit Pointe du Hoc, where Army Rangers scaled the cliffs in pre-dawn darkness, and the American Cemetery, where 10,000 stark white markers memorialize the Americans who gave their lives on the beaches below. We'll also visit the strategic town of Sainte Mère Eglise, the airborne drop site made famous by "The Longest Day" and "Band of Brothers." We'll return to Bayeux in time for dinner on your own. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 10: Monet's Gardens at Giverny

We'll depart early this morning to visit Monet's beautifully-preserved, masterpiece-inspiring gardens in the town of Giverny. In addition to the serene ponds made famous by Monet's paintings, we'll also see his house, studio, and Japanese garden. After free time for lunch, we'll make our way back to Paris and a farewell feast together tonight, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. Salut! Sleep in Paris (1 night). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 11: Tour Over After Breakfast

It's a breeze to reach Paris' airports by taxi, shuttle or public transportation. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Merci et au revoir!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.

Reviews

Ron

North Olmsted, OH

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized. Saw more than I expected. Learned so many things about France and its' history that I thought I already knew. Found out I can pack all I need in a carry on bag.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every time we would stop at a new venue, I would tell my wife - "I don't how they could top this!" and then we would get to our next stop. My "WOW" moment lasted 11 days."

JoAnn

St Louis, MO

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Met expectations as described in the tour brochure. Excellent tour itinerary as an introduction to France. Guide was excellent introducing French history, culture, food, useful French phrases. We continued on to the Dordogne area and Bordeaux for a week more and felt that we had experienced many of the highlights of France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The early morning service at the Abby of Mont Saint Michele. Walking through the narrow, rain soaked streets in the dark and climbing 150 or so steps made it even more magical. The 10 or so from our group who climbed the steps waited for the Friar to open the door at 10 minutes to seven a.m. When the elderly friar opened the door it felt like we were experiencing something few tourists know about- truly a Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door moment."

Nancy

Orinda, CA

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It is clear to me that there was much planning and organization by experienced travel professionals to make the Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days so successful. Your pre-trip communication with us was reassuring and left nothing to the imagination. We were able to explore and dine on our own for just the right amount of time. This was our first Rick Steves tour, and I'm sure we'll book another trip with you.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We loved staying at the chateau of the Gardener Prince. Our room was absolutely splendid, and we really enjoyed having dinner and breakfast there. Meeting the prince in person and having him explain about his zillions of tomatoes and dahlias while walking with him in his garden was a totally unexpected moment! Yes, I'd say Wow! Staying overnight on Mont St. Michel was another real treat."

Cynthia

Longmont, CO

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great tour - probably my favorite so far of all the Rick Steves tours I've been on (this was my fifth!) Even though I had been to Paris before on my own, I enjoyed it so much more this time. Julie, and our other local guides made everything so much more meaningful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day we toured the D-day beaches was probably my favorite day of the tour. Our guide, Dale Booth, was fantastic - we didn't even mind the constant drizzle, or the fact that we couldn't tour the American Cemetery due to the US government shutdown. Dale had so many personal stories that he really made the war experience come alive. I also really enjoyed our trip to Guedelon - it was so interesting to see how the project workers have mastered the medieval techniques."

Terry

Great Falls, MT

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Was somewhat dubious about a bus tour, but was pleasantly surprised. The guides, especially at the Louvre & Normandy made the visits much more meaningful. Julie, our tour guide was great. The scheduling of tours, hotels & meals was seamless. We got into places such as the Louvre, Mount St Michael & the chateau in the Loire valley much easier, than if I had tried to organize all this on my own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The guided tour of the Normandy D-Day sites was unforgettable."

Wendy

Chippewa Falls, WI

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful experience. Julie, our tour guide had the perfect balance. She made it fun, exciting, and comfortable, while keeping the pace so we could see and experience more than we ever imagined. The trip seemed to crescendo. Everyday got better and better! Resurrected some French from 3 years in High School. However, Julie helped most along with the Rick Steve's French book.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Staying in the Chateau De La Bourdaisiere and meeting the Prince Jardinier (Louis Albert De Broglie) was truly the highlight for me. He took us into the garden, we picked and ate the tomatoes, delighted in his Dalias of many colors, enjoyed a "healthy" meal in the castle, and slept in the most beautiful room! It was a fairytale day. I bought the Prince's book on Tomatoes and he is sending me a signature I can add to the book since I purchased it after he left. Magnifique!"

Patricia

Memphis, TN

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was a "Mom-Daughter" trip, and it was a wonderful experience! It was well- organized to make the maximum use of time, but it left sufficient time on our own to explore other sites or to catch our breath. The sites were well chosen to give us various perspectives of France, and I learned so much about the country's history and culture! Our group was very compatible, and we enjoyed getting to know fellow travelers, especially on the bus trips and during our dinners together.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was the visit to Normandy and the D-Day beaches. Our guide, Dale Booth, is so knowledgeable and such a good teacher, that he made history come alive for me. I was especially moved by the personal stories he told of particular soldiers and their experiences during the invasion, as well as his maps in the sand on the three beaches to explain the logistics. Another "wow" moment was the stay at the Chateau de la Bourdaisiere and meeting Louis Albert de Broglie."

Carol

Camas, WA

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The was my second Rick Steve tours and I plan to do others. The thing I like most about these tours is unique experiences that you wouldn't have traveling on your own. You can visit castles and museums in France on your own, but you probably wouldn't get a chance to meet "The Prince of Tomatoes." I thought our tour guide, Julie, was particularly warm and friendly. It might be fun to have a girls night out/boys night out during the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had a fantastic guide to the D-Day beaches. Ours was the last tour to France of the season and it poured on our visit to Mont St. Michel. We all got soaked to the skin, but adversity further bonded the group!"

Robert

Chippewa Falls, WI

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour was very well organized, Tourguide was absolutely fantastic! The three tour guides at the Louvre, Bourges, Mt St Michael and Normandy Beach were also great! Bus was very very comfotable. Good hotels.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Normandy beach The Chateau and meeting the Prince"

Caroline

Stamford, CT

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had been wanting to take this tour for years and finally got my chance. I took your Paris in 7 Days tour in 2007 and loved it. This tour was just as great as that one so I am two for two on great Rick Steves tours. Since I had been to Paris twice already I wanted to see more of France. These were just the places I wanted to see.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we stayed at the prince's chateau and got to meet him."

Margaret

Fullerton, CA

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loren and I loved the Paris sights which included the wonderful museums. We arrived early to go to the Eiffel Tower and Versailles. The Loire Valley, Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, and Giverny were the stops that sold us on the package. The visit to the Chateau de Chenonceau was such a treat for the senses. We got to meet "the Gardener Prince" at Chateau de la Bourdaisiere and spend the night in his beautiful chateau.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments that we can't choose just one. Each place we visited had its own special quality that "spoke" to us."

JoAnn

North Olmsted, OH

Tour: 10/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

France was beautiful and I feel that we got the most out our time in there by going through the tour. We spent three days in Paris on our own and got lost several times and wasted time looking for places. Once we began with Julie and the tour everything was planned and very well organized. We didn't waste any time and we got more sights into our days. The tour guides at the specific sites were experts in their fields, as well as Julie. It was hard to believe she was born in the USA.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments that it's really hard to choose just one. Every night we talked about what we had done and seen and didn't think it could be topped. The next evening we thought the same thing. I was really impressed that Dale Booth at Normandy engaged me about WWII. I have no interest in that and find it very depressing. I hung on his every word and plan to buy five copies of his book for my husband and myself, and friends. We truly enjoyed meeting the Prince!"

Peter

Guerneville, CA

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The French people were much friendlier than I'd been led to expect. Just start a conversation in French - Bon Joir Madam - and almost everyone will respond in English. It is the polite way to do things there and isn't really much to ask. Paris's municipal transportation system is easy to negotiate and we were able to utilize our free time to maximum advantage. Once leaving Paris, every day in the countryside was a unique adventure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The trip to Normandy and the WWII landing sites at Utah and Omaha beaches were very emotional experiences. Dan, our local guide, brought the historic events to life and made the experience a day to remember for a lifetime."

Su

Albuquerque, NM

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great tour - I enjoyed the mix of seeing the sites of Paris with the beautiful countryside.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to Normandy was the best part of the tour - wish it could have been longer (maybe less time at Bayeux). The local guide was excellent and gave a very personal feel to the tour with his stories of individual bravery."

Alice

Park Forest, IL

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A tour is made by the people on it, and my husband, Dan, and I were just so blessed with the best group! Everyone was friendly, interested, full of energy, and eager to participate in whatever came along. We made friends who mean a lot to us. Marie, our guide, and Annie and Matt, our drivers, went out of their way to make sure everything was just right. Each experience was a joy in itself, but then there always seemed to be just that little bit extra provided that put it over the top

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was finally coming to a full realization of what D-Day had meant to my Dad. He was in the Army Air Corps and never went overseas, but he talked about the men who landed on those beaches and fought over there all his life. He would call each June 6th to remind us (his children) that it was D-Day. He was so very proud of those soldiers. This Wow moment is for you, Dad."

Betty

Williamsburg, VA

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The places we went, the explanations of what we saw, the food, the pace, the size of the group, the buddy system, the Rick Steve's books and preparation guides, the superb tour guides, and the Rick Steve's people were all great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Everything, I learned about France from our Tour guide Marie and the other tour guides. The tour guide at Normandy and the small town we visited. I learned a lot and felt the past and gratefulness of the French. The guides also told of the reality of the Catholic vs Protestant conflict. This reminded me of the reason why people came to America."

James

Alamo, CA

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

After taking a Rick Steve's tour last year my bar was set pretty high. This tour was different but met or exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The D-Day beach area was a wow experience since I didn't know what to expect and the guide Dale Booth was a top notch person to have."

Robby

Jackson, MS

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first "organized tour" with a professional tour company. We have been to Europe many, many times before, but have always been on our own or with friends who were familiar with the area we were visiting. I was really impressed with the entire experience from the organization of our guide, Marie to the excellent choices of hotels, restaurants and additional guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would have to say Mont St. Michel. From the time we first saw it in a distance from the bus until we checked out the next day! I probably said "WOW" over 100 times !!!"

Jackie

Jackson, MS

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was excellent! It was well organized, busy, but well balanced, with scheduled activities and free time. All guides were well versed on their particular areas, and our primary guide, Marie, was well versed on everything! This was the most memorable trip I have ever taken.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Normandy sites wowed me the most. The stories Dale Booth shared with us were awe inspiring. I will never forget the tiny church that served as a combat field hospital, and the brave young men who cared for so many for so long! It made me proud to be an American! It made me proud to be a human!"

Jennifer

Waukegan, IL

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was extremely impressed by the Paris and the Heart of France tour. It allowed us to see many of the incredible sites in Paris and Northern France, while encouraging us to explore some of the smaller cities and local culture as well. As a lone traveler, I was impressed with my fellow travelers for their curiosity, adventuresome natures, and generosity; these people made the experience even more amazing. I was very happy with the emphasis on culture, art, education, and culinary experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing on a mound of earth in the back of Chateau de la Bourdaisiere and looking at the Dahlia garden in full bloom. Watching my tour mates run around taking pictures of the amazing flowers in bloom, laughing at ourselves and our amazing luck of staying in our own personal Chateau for the night. We felt like Royalty surrounded by such beauty."

Norma

Alamo, CA

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful! I loved our guides, loved our food and hotels, and the group we traveled with was so nice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Normandy Tour with Dale Booth was one of the top highlights of the trip and the second was the stay at the Prince's Chateau in the Liore Valley."

Lynn

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 10/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved everything about my trip. Our hotels were perfect and located centrally so that when we were on our own we could get out and see things easily. The tour included all of the sites that interested us most, and there was more than enough time to explore these sites thoroughly. The group was completely congenial - not one grump or late-commer - and all of our meals were delicious. Marie Altman was very knowledgeable, helpful, organized and charming. Our special site guides were great too.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moment was our tour of the D-Day beaches. I had never been there before and was very moved by the experience."

Sherrie

San Jose, CA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my fourth ETBD tour, so I knew what to expect: excellence. This tour exceeded my expectations. The locations we visited, the suggestions on how to get the most out of each of them, the leadership, the learning, the traveling companions--it all came together so well that the trip was amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Really? I have to choose ONE? Can't do it. I'd say spending quiet time in L'Orangerie with Monet's waterlilies was high on the list. Genius. Or maybe it was watching the construction of a Middle Ages chateau (once I gathered the nerve to walk up those stairs). I was so impressed with the project. But the most memorable was touring the different rooms we all stayed in at La Bourdaisiere. It was really fun as we ran from room to room in delight, seeing each person's surroundings."

Lawrence

Huntington Beach, CA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well planned adventure. Virginia was a wonderful guide. Her experiences in the States gave her a a special kid of perspective that added to our pleasure.Laura was also a pleasure. Phillip, our Belgian bus driver, was a skilled driver who emphasized our comfort with smooth driving and safety. The participants were excellent. There was never a case of someone being late. Everyone was pleasant and helpful and very committed to Rick Steves' Tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"(1) The Louvre Museum which was even more spectacular than I had expected. (2) The beaches at Normandy. As an elderly man, Omaha and Utah Beaches hold a special place in my heart. I was exceedingly disappointed by the closure of the American Cemetery, a responsibility of our bekoved House of Representative."

Judith

St Louis, MO

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I did not receive my pretor package(i.e. books, money belt) until 3 weeks before the tour began. When I did not receive those things, I called the tour department, spoke to a supervisor asking for help to find a hotel in Paris as I had already planned to arrive a day early and she was rude. She said that the late arrival of pretour info. was not their fault and that I better start looking. That put a damper on my attitude. But Virginie was great, helpful, kind and always available!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Orsay museum was fabulous!"

Terry

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first guided tour of any kind so I did not know what to expect. The Paris and Heart of France Tour hit all of my high points. From the first group meeting I could tell this was a professionally run operation. Our guide, Virginie, was superlative throughout the entire tour and answered many in-depth questions from our tour group of mostly teachers. I can't imagine a better guide or overall experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" moments are the ones that take me by surprise. We were in the Orsay Museum which was a former railroad station. After viewing some incredible artwork from several masters I turned the corner and found myself in a large open room with wooden floors, high gilded and vaulted ceiling, as well as mirrors all around. I was so elated that I wanted to start dancing even without music. I can only imagine the types of fetes this room has witnessed."

Diane

Mcminnville, OR

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in France. We had a wonderfully congenial group of travelers who traveled well together. They enhanced our experience. The sights and sounds of Paris were memorable as were our visits to the many Chateau of the Loire Valley, the beaches and cemeteries of Normandy and the Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Our tour was truly memorable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to list one favorite "wow" moment. Our excellent guided tour of the Louvre with viewings of the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo would be one. Another would be our visits to the many beautiful cathedrals throughout our tour. Another would be our time at Mont St. Michel, especially the early morning celebration of Lauds with the monastic community in the Abbey. Our time on the beaches of Normandy and visits to the German and British cemeteries touched our hearts and will long be treasured."

Dennis

San Dimas, CA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It provided a lot of great memories and photos and was everything you said it would be. It was difficult at times for my brother and me as we are in our 70's and the pace was very fast at times but we made it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every day had it's "wow" moments. There were two stops that were pleasant surprises and I am so grateful that we got to see them: Giverny and Guedelon. I could have spent all day at each of those places for totally different reasons."

Gary

Mcminnville, OR

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first experience in France and it was wonderful. Time in Paris was well spent (plus additional days we tacked on for our own before/after the tour). Bus travel was broken up with detours to see interesting sights and to have lunch. Very good mix of culture, food, history and the sights. I was impressed by how much I was able to learn and experience in our time on the tour. An added plus was the terrific group of congenial people who were all part of this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would have to separate this question into parts. The most wondrous, mystical moment was the time we spent at Mont St. Michel. An amazing day. The most emotional experience was the time we spent at the beaches in Normandy and the great tour guide we had that day. Paris was an experience of its own, since it is a world-class city with a 2,000-year history to its credit. And the morning we spent at the Louvre with our local guide, Charles, was unforgettable."

Michael

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Third Rick Steve's trip. Virgenie is gem and the itinerary was spot on. Great mix of history, museums, chateaus, food and free time. Individual guides are well chosen.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was most surprised by Giverny which I had anticipated being too much Monet. The biggest "wow" was collectively the time in Normandy including Bayeux itself, the tapestry, the cathedral and of course Normandy. I very much appreciated the scope of the Normandy tour which allowed me a better sense of how the chaos of that battle played out."

Karen

Honolulu, HI

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had such a great time! Our guide, Virginie, was fabulous! She had humor, knowledge and a great personality. I had visited France before but learned so much more this time! I very much enjoyed all the places on the tour. I would NEVER have thought I would enjoy the D-Day beaches, not being a history buff, but our guide, Stuart Robertson, made it all come alive. I had a much warmer appreciation for all the service men did during that war.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think the wine & cheese tasting at Selles Sur Cher. I really enjoyed meeting both the vintner and the cheese maker. I even got to speak French with the cheese maker...to the surprise of both of us! Of course, he soon caught on that I didn't speak quite as well as he, a native speaker, but we both had a great time talking about cheese. The setting was so lovely, also."

Alex

Honolulu, HI

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wow! It really exceeded all expectations. We will be doing more tours!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many choices that I can't pick just one."

Kevin

Colchester, VT

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was an excellent introduction to France and encouraged us to travel to Europe again in the future. We were able to see parts of Paris that most interested us. Found & photographed several Paris churches where my wife's ancestors were baptized, married, or buried. I thoroughly enjoyed the history and art. We had some inter-actions with French citizens and they were great. For me -best vacation in many years.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Staying in Mont St Michel and climbing to the abbey and church. Your guides made history come alive. We had a wonderful dinner while over looking the bay around the island."

Kathy

Reno, NV

Tour: 09/24/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The tour was very good. Loved the group of people we toured with and Arnaund was a terrific guide. I liked his talks on the bus as we were driving along.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Staying in the Chateau De La Bourdaisiere. After touring so many Chateau's on the tour it was wonderful to stay in one. Also the gardens at Chambord and Monets house were fantastic."

Mary

The Villages, FL

Tour: 09/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful!! I would use Rich Steve's Tour Company again in a heart beat. I would also highly recommend this trip and use of his Company to everyone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It would be hard to say. Everyday I said to my friend and traveling companion "This was the best"."

Kathleen

Cortland, OH

Tour: 09/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

By far the best travel experience in my life from the City of Paris to the beaches of Normandy. The accommodations were phenomenal, meals provided by the tour were superior, tour guide was great. I am definitely going on another Rick Steve's tour . It was so wonderful to go back home & say " no the French people do not hate Americans! " - that is where travel opens up your mind. I feel so lucky to have had this experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Staying on Mount St. Michel - looking out our balcony over the bell towel & up to the Abby steeple- totally awesome !"

Barbara

West Chester, OH

Tour: 09/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was very wonderful: the accomodations, meals, places visited, guides, bus & drivers, etc. I was provided with a meaningful experience in Paris and other parts of France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to count."

Priscilla

Studio City, CA

Tour: 09/24/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had an excellent tour experience! The weather end of September/beginning of October was perfectly comfortable. We used Rick Steves' Paris and France books a lot, even though we had a tour guide, as it helped us navigate neighborhoods on our own during our free time and choose restaurants in which to eat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My husband loved Monet's house, gardens, and pond at Giverny. I really appreciated seeing Guedelon because it made me be more in awe of all the cathedrals, castles, and other stone buildings we would later see, that each stone was hand cut by a stone-cutter! Being a teacher, I also enjoyed seeing how the builders used their rope measuring tool to figure out the geometry in constructing the structures. My other favorite thing was the amazing Paris Metro system. We were able to get anywhere!"

Trey

Placerville, CA

Tour: 09/24/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I enjoyed Paris much less than I anticipated I would. It was very noisy and congested, more like I would expect NYC to be. The countryside was a different experience completely. I liked how we started by seeing Guedelon first. This informed how we experienced the rest of the stone chateaus and fortifications. Everything about this tour was as advertised, but at the end, I felt that it tried to do a bit too much in too little time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chateau de Chenonceau was a gem inside and out. The gardens were also perfect. It was raining that when we visited, and that made the greens of the gardens and the trees more vibrant. I was OK with how we pushed to get there early, even if it meant an early start on the bus, as this got us there ahead of the crush. (Even in the shoulder season, the crowds were thick everywhere.) I wish we could have stayed longer at this chateau."

Jane

Cornwall, NY

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I give this tour very high marks! really appreciate the thoughtfully put together days,from the small town stops, like Fougeres, chosen along the way, to time in mid-size cities, with lesser know treasures, it all enriched our French experience. I thought the "Back Door" approach delightful,from the small winery in Montlouis-sur-Loire to medieval Guedelon(which I was initially skeptical about) but they provided a great backdrop from which to visit the Loire's chateaus

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We need some categories here: Historical:Chenonceau and Normandy's DDay sites Cultural: Musee d'Orsay and Giverny religious:Ste Chapelle Countryside:glimpses of Burgundy and Brittany"

Patrick

Daphne, AL

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Flying space available, we cautiously arrived in Europe 13 days before our Rick Steves' tour began. Using our six day Germany/France rail pass, we had an opportunity to experience both an unguided and guided European experience. The unguided tour of Germany was great, but lacked some important things the Rick Steves' tour provided (no accommodation & transportation planning worries, a guide to consult with for our free time, no waiting in lines, camaraderie, interpretation assistance)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "WOW" moments on our trip it is nearly impossible to pick just one. Nevertheless, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the Medieval Castle build at Guedelon. It gave me an appreciation for the effort and engineering required to build and protect those fortresses. I typically do not spend a lot of time in art museums, however our expert tour guide at the Louvre brought to life the artists and their works in a way that pulled me into their world. The Louvre was a keeper."

Louis

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded ALL of my expectations. The tour was a tour of high points of French art, architecture, food, cities, countryside[INVALID]impossible to pack into a self-guided tour with twice the time (and money). Our guide and the many special guides at various locations were excellent (for me, at the Louve and in Bourges).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Only one! The tour of the Bourges and especially of La cathedrale Saint-Etienne was a wow among many wows. Our guide provided a detailed explanation of the beautiful XIII century stained glass windows[INVALID]greatly enriching the experience of seeing the art. Bourges is not a "must see" of many guide books but it should be. The core of the city is very easy to visit (our guide provided a very helpful overview) with many excellent restaurants."

Carol

Chicago, IL

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

When traveling in the past, we have done it on our own. This has always resulted in stress, wasted time, missed opportunities, and being lost. The tour was seamless, it had structure with just enough time to explore solo. Also, our traveling companions were delightful people who enhanced our experience. This was the best vacation ever!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Until one sees Mount St. Michel "in the flesh" it is hard to imagine how awesome it is. Visiting the abbey and having the opportunity to be guided through the various levels with a very interesting and knowledgeable guide made this a remarkable experience. In addition, night that we stayed on Mont St. Michel we were treated to an unexpected 15 minute firework show at midnight. It made us feel like our presence was being celebrated!"

Damian

Chicago, IL

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As my Irish friends say "Brilliant". Can't say enough about Rebecca Berry. A 20 on the on-ten-scale. She created a sense of community among the tour members. And she was so patient with my 'inner ADHD' who only wanted to explore. The tour model is effective, superbly organized. Great balance of tour time and personal time. Rebecca was fantastic at coaching on personal time alternatives and the 'how-to' of doing them. Use of expert guides at particular locations really put things in context

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mont St. Michel...11:30 PM...picture taking (have some great available light pics) on the causeway. And what can you say about a midnight fireworks show. We all teased Rebecca about setting that up just for the tour :-)"

Therese

Daphne, AL

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Rebecca Barry was an outstanding guide. She knows France and kept us all together and informed. Sylvia at the Louvre, Madeline at Mont St. Michele were excellent. Stuart Robertson our guide to the Normandy Battle Fields was exceptional. He brought that history alive. I would say everything on the tour was well thought out and high quality. All the hotels were unique and comfortable. I will say I followed the pack light guidelines and am glad I did. Never could have pulled this off myself.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Bourges Cathedral was breathtaking and the Bishop's Garden. A welcome contrast from the busy busy Notre Dame in Paris. All the small towns of France we visited. The garden at Chenonseau. The tour of the Louvre with our guide was priceless. I would have never been able to get through it the Louvre without that guide!"

Mary

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was very good and covered a lot of great places. Rebecca Berry was a wonderful guide and I would highly recommend her. It was an enjoyable trip and everything went very smoothly

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole trip was a wow moment and I would not change any of it."

Larry

Lakewood, CO

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have used Rick's books as our guide on numerous trips to Europe in the past when we used cars & trains and made our own arrangements as we traveled. This tour was our first organized tour with Rick Steves, and from the start, we were not convinced that the loss of flexibility and independence would be worth the gain in convenience and timely professional advice. However, by the end, we concluded that, for us, the balance tipped in favor of the organized tour. We will do more in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Toward the end of the tour, my wife and I compared notes and found we were both realizing that each tour stop or event had been really better than we had expected -- without exception. That marvelous realization crystalized for us as we left the gallery of the Bayeuse Tapestry saying to each other, "Wow!! I had no idea what a treasure we were going to see here.""

John

Victoria, BC

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I had a great time on this tour. The hotels, the tours, the guides, and the whole experience went well beyond our expectations. We certainly enjoyed the smaller size of the tour group ( 28 people) as this avoided any crowding. And the individual people on the tour all seemed to bond and formed a caring and watchful group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Driving up to Chateau de la Boudaisiere and staying in the "Diane de la Poitier" room."

Pauline

Spokane, WA

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a very good mix of the big city and smaller towns. The tour guide was fabulous, very knowledgeable and pleasant. The other people on our tour were great, all enjoyable and fun to be with. The bus drivers were nice and the bus itself was very comfortable; almost too comfortable as I kept falling asleep! We had amazing meals at the group dinners. It is great that we did a lot of walking or I would have gained a lot more weight!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Driving up the driveway at Chateau de la Bourdaisiere and learning that was were we were going to spend the night. It was a wonderful surprise. A close second was the water gardens and regular gardens at Giverny, even more beautiful than I imagined,"

Roxanne

San Diego, CA

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Paris was fantastic but the Loire Valley, Brittney and Normandy far exceeded our expectations. Wish we could have stayed longer at each stop.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The drive up to the Chateau de la Bourdaisiere when we were accompanied by period music on the bus was a breath- taking experience!! Literally brought tears to our eyes."

Rosemarie

Langhorne, PA

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Up to your usual high-quality standards (based on this tour and the three others we've taken with you). Loved the choices of locations and advice from Marie, our guide. In an 11-day tour of a country rich in history and culture, you can't cover everything in such a short period of time, but you provided a good balance. We arrived a couple days early and stayed three days after the tour ended to fill the gap, and of course even that wasn't enough. Your tour books were a valuable resource.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Almost too many to include in this space, and not counting things we did on our own. A few examples: the World War II Normandy beaches (our guide evoking what happened there); Monet's Giverny gardens followed up by viewing the paintings of the gardens in Paris's Orangerie Museum; the never-ending Louvre; the Bayeux tapestry, all 60-feet of it; our time with the 15th generation winemaker in the Loire Valley; Chambord's roofline."

Diane

Victoria, BC

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

was a wonderful 11 day tour of Paris up to Normandy. our guide, Marie was womderful, full of history info each day plus a touch of humor to keep things exciting. The Rick Steves tour was everything we expected and then some. Seeing the trip thru Rick's eyes is an adventure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We stayed one nite in a castle and another in an abbey - we have nothing like that at home."

Craig

Spokane, WA

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

guide was great, locations for the hotels and dinners were excellent and the chateau stay was the best. Being able to tour the winery was an added bonus.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"driving into the chateau."

Jim

Indian Trail, NC

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour group was great with couples and singles from all over the US. Our guide, Marie, was a bit of "French sunshine" as she showed her passion for the culture and people of France. The meals were wonderful and the French people we met were open, generous, and friendly. Arriving two days early, I used the Metro, the busses and my feet to get a genuine feel for a very accessible city. I used my three years of high school French (and your book) and hurdled the language barrier easily!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Talking to two French Bulldog owners, in French, at the Eiffel Tower, and behind our hotel in Bayeux. My wife and I own one and the connection I made was fun. They helped me get photos holding their pups. Both couples spoke English but let me get into it with: J'ai une Bulldogue de Francais aussi! Elle nom est Macy. Viewing Paris from the Arc de Triomphe and the Seine River cruise wasn't too shabby either!"

Kathy

Long Beach, CA

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

People ask me, "What did you like best about the tour"; I consider my response and really cannot find one place or one aspect to talk about. It was all wonderful from Marie to each of the hotels we stayed in and from the planned tours to the tour members. I keep telling people about how wonderful the entire experience has been.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It might have been driving into the Chateau de la Bourdaisiere and realizing I was actually staying here; it might have been the lecture on specific paintings at the Louvre; it might have been walking past the Bayeaux Tapestry and reading the explanation of each part; it might have been the historian who explained the American plans and actual invasion of Normandy with the various stops; it might have been Giverny which I had never expected to see beyond the paintings. I never could pick."

Kristin

Dublin, OH

Tour: 09/17/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was awesome. I felt like I really had gotten my money's worth. We stayed in an exceptional hotel in Paris and a nice combination of hotels elsewhere. We ate really well, though not enough vegetables. The bus drivers Matt and Annie were really nice, and most important safe drivers. The bus heidebloom was top notch. All local guides were knowledgeable. The group dynamics were good. Maria was a great guide, excellent English, always had us on time. Trip was smooth.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Driving up to chateau with royal music playing on the cd. Drinking champagne on mt San Michel. Seeing Eiffel Tower twinkle at the top of hour from tour boat. The group meals, particularly the last one, were really fun. I enjoyed the chateau tomato plants, who knew there were so many varieties? The d-day tour was really insightful, thought provoking as my dad was in WWII, though s pacific. Seeing Monet gardens were inspiring, made me want to chuck it all and paint at giverny."

Michael

Santa Cruz, CA

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every thing was wonderful! The accomodations, meals the agenda and particularly the guide. She made the trip even better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The guide"

Ann

Plymouth, MN

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip met and, in some cases, exceeded my expectations! We had incredible tour guides at all points along the trip, including Virginie, who was our Rick Steve's guide for the whole trip. The accommodations were excellent, group meals were well done, and every site visited was worthwhile. The balance between time with the group and time on your own was perfect. Virginie taught us a lot about France, everything from kings to food and wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We were present at the morning prayers at Mont St. Michel. Candles were lit, the abbey bell was ringing, the monks and nuns were on their knees in prayer, the songs were sung, and scriptures read - all as the sun began to come up!"

John

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second Rick Steves tour, and we were not disappointed. Again we experienced well organized transportation, efficient check-in at hotels, knowledgeable local guides, and a great [INVALID]ion of sites to visit. Visiting Guedelon and staying at Chateaux de la Bourdaisiere were unexpected treats. I hope that Rick Steves continues its unique policy of covering all tips. This helped develop personal relationships, where helpfulness was not viewed as an insincere ploy for compensation.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Chateaux de la Bourdaisiere fits that description."

Bonita

Bedford, TX

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The France trip was absolutely perfect. (Weather aside) It all began with our tour guide Virginie More'. She was friendly, knowledgeable and an absolute delight. All of the local guides were just the best. Dale at Normandy was outstanding. You can tell that he loves his job. The night we spent at Loire Valley Chateau was a real surprise. That is something we would never do on our own. The knowledge you and your guides have of the different areas was outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Loire Valley Chateau."

Susan

Omaha, NE

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

we had a great guide and bus driver. The hotels were nice very modern considering we were in Europe. THe food was good and the people on the trip were all great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Normandy was so interesting and the guide Dale was outstanding you could understand him clearly. I just wished it would have been a day and half trip instead of a day."

Bryan

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Julian was an incredible joy. With a wealth of knowledge, along with a little BS, he made our travel experience one of a lifetime. So here is to you, Julian, Saunte! Bryan and Gloria P.S. If yo have a guide equal to Julian, then you are twice blessed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beaches of Normandy. Our guide, Paul, was able to recreate our past in an exciting way."

Douglas

Denver, CO

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed this tour very much. We have done 4 R. Steves' tours and this one is certainly one of the best.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved our day at Normandy with the beaches, cemeteries, and Dale Booth's stories. He is an amazing local guide."

Lynette

Eau Claire, WI

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a true vacation. It went too quickly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I saw three items on my "bucket list" --Napolean's Tomb, Mont St. Michel, & my Uncle's grave in the American Cemetery. I was not disappointed...everyday seemed to be a "wow"."

Susan

Medina, OH

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our overall experience was excellent. Although we do not find Paris to be one of our favorite European locations, Julian's knowledge, humor, and overall expertise, as well as the company of our fellow travelers, made the trip one filled with treasured memories, particularly in the villages of Northern France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm sure this is quite trite, but standing on Omaha Beach and visiting the cemetery brought tears to my eyes. We decided that any person who thinks war is the answer to problems needs to visit these locations."

Linda

Denver, CO

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As always, a Rick Steves tour never fails to disappoint. Other than Paris, this one took us to parts of France we'd never seen. The variety of stops was great in that we enjoyed half-built medieval castles, incredible chateaus, sleepy little French villages, an ancient Abbey built on a rock, and gorgeous gardens created by one of our favorite artists.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me (an avid flower lover), I was blown away when we entered Monet's lily pond gardens. Visiting Giverny has been on my bucket list for years, and this did not disappoint. And the fact that an otherwise rainy trip turned sunny for our visit to the gardens was a very special experience."

Wayne

Fredericksburg, VA

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well organized and just what I expected. Our guide was excellent and the coach and it's operators were first class. The lodging far exceeded my expectations. The meals provided were top notch and added to the France experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to pick just one moment but I think I would have to say the American Cemetery at Normandy was very moving."

Jill

Renton, WA

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was a wonderful experience: lots of interesting and beautiful sights, fun experiences, wonderful food and wine, and we learned a lot from our amazing tour guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to settle on one "wow" moment. Maybe staying on Mont St. Michel, seeing it lit up at night and walking the ramparts at dusk."

Nancy

Milwaukee, WI

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The tour was good and the people made it even better. The small group size made it easier to remember names. The only thing I did not like is packing up and moving every day or 2 days. So, there may not be any more Rick Steves tours in my future so I won't have to do that.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the castle being built - Guedelon."

Russell

Olmsted Falls, OH

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall experience was wonderful. A group of people from all over the United States getting together and enjoying each other's company for 11 days. This could only be done because of our Rick Steve's guide named Julian . His wonderful personality and knowledge made us all gel together ..

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Normandy Beach 's with Dale Booth . His knowledge of this area is outstanding . Upon the completion of our day with him , the bus trip back was very quite and some of our eyes had tears ."

Richard

Eau Claire, WI

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent! We learned some French history as well as modern French culture, economics, politics and education - all in a friendly and entertaining way. And we ate a lot of very good French food, and learned sandwiches are excellent at boulangeries.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick one. Perhaps the view when first entering St. Chapelle's upper chamber. Maybe seeing the Normandy countryside and beaches, in overcast and sunshine. Certainly the chateaus Chambord, Chenonceau. I particularly enjoyed the gardens at Chateau de la Bourdaisiere."

Sandra

Fredericksburg, VA

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour. We chose it because we wanted a worry-free trip to France. We did not have to worry about hotel arrangements, reservations, travel from one city to another one, driving, renting a car, etc. (All the things you have to "put together" to create a great vacation. We chose this company because of the small group size and the unique places they are able to stay and things they are able to do because they keep the group size small. We were not disappointed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We were fortunate enough to arrive at the American Cemetery at the end of the day. As they were retiring the colors for the evening, I was fortunate enough to be one of the Veterans chosen to help retire the colors for the evening. To stand on ground where my father trod and fought in WWII, to be able to hear 'Taps' played and to assist other Veterans fold the flag... I was speechless."

Charles

Medina, OH

Tour: 09/10/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide, Julian Brown, was superb in every way[INVALID]No detail was left unattended, He was knowledgeable of each site visit, the specialized guides Julian handed us off to were also terrific, especially our guide in Normandy. The food provided at each group meal offered choices that suited everyone. I am not a fan of French food!! The bus used and drivers did a great job and accommodated each need.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think the date at Normandy was the most memorable, but Mt Ste. Michel was close behind."

Carol

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed our tour guide, Rebecca who kept things moving and light hearted during the tour. The sights we toured were wonderful and the meals were outstanding. Our group was congenial and we all had a wonderful time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mont St. Michel was especially enjoyable because my husband celebrated his birthday there along with another tour member. I don't know how we are going to top his birthday celebration next year."

Elizabeth

Burien, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful tour. Seeing all the sights in France with the excellent group we had made it so much more memorable than if we had travelled on our own. The Montparnasse location made a great base and is very much a working neighborhood with all the traditional food shops.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing on the Eiffel Tower at night watching the camera flashes from the Seine river boats and the top of the Arc de Triomphe echo the flashing lights on the tower at a quarter past the hour with all of Paris lit up at our feet."

Richard

Burien, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As this was our first Rick Steves Tour, I was very pleased with the friendliness and compatibility of our tour mates. They were all a lot of fun to be with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The D Day beaches at Normandy"

John

Mount Prospect, IL

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great trip. Great Guides. Great itinerary. Probably too many hotel stops (6 over nine days). Need to cut out at least one.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"D-Day was worth the trip by itself. We had a fabulous local guide with expertise on war was extraordinary."

Dick

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour lived up to our expectations. The time in Paris, Loire Valley, Normandy, Giverney, the chateaux's were wonderful. The only drawback is that the weather could have been better but not even Rick Steves can control that. We had a very congenial group and an outstanding tour guide. It prepared us well for the next two weeks on our own in Paris, Provence and the Riviera.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Two, Mont St. Michel on my birthday and our stay in a beautiful chateau."

Bernadeen

Sherwood Park, AB

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We saw some amazing sites and had awesome tour guides especially for the D-Day beaches tour with Dale. He was a gold mine of facts and he also personalized it by telling about specific people. Our tour ran very smoothly thanks to Rebecca and Antoine. They went above and beyond when a tour member got hurt. This is our second Rick Steve's tour and neither one has disappointed us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to just choose one but if I have too I would say approaching Mont St. Michael and then staying there for the night. At night, most of the tourist leave and it is a totally different place."

Susan

Mount Prospect, IL

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall it was a wonderful experience. The guides were exceptional, the other tour members were very friendly and easy to get along with and the sights were amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think the entire day in Normandy with Dale Booth was incredible. He made D-Day come alive. Everything we had read about or seen on history shows became so real. It was an emotional experience that will forever change how I think about that time in history."

Linda

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous, outstanding and a wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"was driving up to a wonderul chateau, realizing we were going to get to stay at the Chateau DELA Bourdaisiere, very cool, and then later meeting a Frenchman who runs his own winery, touring his winery even the caves!!! magnifique"

Katherine

Kailua-kona, HI

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

See attached.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"See attached."

Charles

Kailua-Kona, HI

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour more than met my expectations. A good balance of group time an individual time. Also, a good balance between Paris and the French countryside.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Just being back in France after some 45 years was a big wow for me. I am a big fan of the Impressionists, especially Monet. So, Monet's Water Lilies at the Orangerie Museum was special. The Tapisserie de Bayeux was an unexpected wow. It accurately depicts the story of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings. It is in amazing condition. The experience at the Normandy D-Day Beaches noteworthy and very emotional."

Patricia

South San Francisco, CA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time. Rebecca is a great guide. Her talks on the various places we visited were witty and extremely interesting. I thought she was great fun. Antoine, too, was great. He was always there to help or answer questions. One person on our trip had a bad accident and was hospitalized. Both Rebecca and Antoine did everything possible to help--Antoine spending time at the hospital with Lana and Rebecca making several arrangements for her care and return home.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"If I would have to choose among many, it would be the evening on Mont St. Michel sipping champagne on the ramparts as the sun set."

Deborah

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 09/03/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The hotels/chateaus and meals were great, and we felt we were always treated with kindness. The sites we saw gave us a comprehensive tour, and we learned a huge amount. We know we couldn't have done this on our own. We had hoped for a few more untouristy events, such as the meeting with the vintner, but did enjoy the ones we had.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many, but the Bayeaux tapestry was probably the biggest "Wow" for me. I had heard of it in history and English courses, but never had a clear picture of what it is. It was amazing to actually see it and realize how incredible it is that it still exists."

Jill

Surprise, AZ

Tour: 09/03/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was our third RS tour and although we enjoyed the tour we did not like it as well as Spain and Italy tours. While we had guides in some places such as Louve and D Day Beaches many times we were taken to a stop and either given an audio guide or left on our own. There seemed to be a lack of personal attention on this tour and our guide, while good, did not organize any optional activities like our prior guides so the tour was not quite as fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No "wow" moment but enjoyed the Louve, Mont St. Michel, D-Day Beaches, and seeing the Bayeux tapestry. Many of my favorite moments were done on our own before the tour. Walking up Eiffel Tower, walking up Notre Dam, Versailles and dinner cruise on the Seine."

Carrie

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 09/03/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first tour and will definitely not be our last. My favorite part about the tour was that we saw things that I would have never planned myself - and they were very interesting and well worth the visit. I would not had the same experience if I tried to plan it myself. Amazing and very well done! And the bus was modern, clean, and a enjoyable ride!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Definitely Mont St. Michel - the Abbey on the Rock is amazing in itself but the privilege to stay on the rock in rooms with fantastic views - was the highlight. I could really feel why Mont St Michel as been a place for pilgrimage for so many hundreds of years - I had the same feeling when entering the gates. Ok, and meeting a Prince while staying at his Chateau - very cool!"

Kathleen

Dalton, MA

Tour: 09/03/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I liked the pace of the trip,; our accommodations were comfortable and the food was an adventure as well as delicious. Seeing Paris with all its history and beauty was especially memorable; the boat ride down the Seine; seeing the beautiful countryside, Normandy and the D-day beaches; Staying at a Chateau; visiting Monet's birthplace; speaking French or at least trying to; for all these reasons and may more this was the best trip ever.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments. How does one choose? All of Paris, especially the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Seeing where our ancestors came from (the Marais and the area of Normandy[INVALID]just across the bay from Mon St. Michel) were especially memorable for me. Staying at the Chateau, Mont St. Michel, the D-day beaches(my Dad was in France during WWII),"

William

Huntley, IL

Tour: 08/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was everything in the Rick Steves' literature and more. Terrific guides and wonderful destinations were the highlights of this tour for us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment came when we went to the Chateau de Chenonceau. I have seen it numerous time in pictures and on television travel shows but to actually be there was something special. The view as the river flows underneath is is really unique."

Sally

Racine, WI

Tour: 08/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I found France to be a total surprise. Didn't find the "rude" people one was warned about. And I was surprised to find how "green" everything was; from the water-saving flush toilets to the tree and seed conservation to the lovely the countryside.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Monet's Water Lilies at the Orangerie. I wish I could have viewed them with fewer people. Then following up with the real gardens at Giverny!"

Dianne

Fort Collins, CO

Tour: 08/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The two tour guides, Julian and Virginie, were very friendly, funny and well-informed besides being helpful. The Normandy tour guide Dale was also very, very good. He brought the living experience to Omaha Beach. The drivers of the tour bus, Annie and Matt, were excellent companions on the drives. I liked their concierge service on the bus also. It made for a very comfortable ride. We were lucky that we had excellent weather in the 80's for the whole 11 days my companion and I were in France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was the tour of D'Orsay museum and the impressionists. Also, Normandy and St. Mere Eglise come in a strong second."

Richard

Leawood, KS

Tour: 08/27/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Normandy beaches"

Ron

Renton, WA

Tour: 08/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was everything I hoped for. I learned more and saw more than I would have on my own. The guides know a particular site is worth 90 minutes of my time while I would have dawdled about for three hours. I gained an appreciation for site specific guides. If on my own in the future, I would seek out local guides based on my experience on this tour. The bus trips were a rolling University with Julian filling up hours with both stories and detailed history. Who knows, some of it may be true!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Normandy beaches were on my "bucket" list and they did not disappoint. Dale was our all day guide and he made the whole thing come alive. Excellent local guide choice. Julian insists that both the German and American cemeteries be included in the day. I guess it is not always done that way. It should be. The German cemetery is very moving and should not be missed."

James

Danville, IL

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We really enjoyed the tour and the fact that there were only 26 in our group, so we all had and empty seat available on the bus to put our "stuff". As advertised, there was a lot of walking and stairs to climb. We carried our our luggage to the hotels and rooms, which offered the advantage of having access to our luggage right away, instead of waiting for the porters to bring it to our room.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our best stop was the WW II beaches (Utah and Omaha). We had an excellent local guide(Stewart) who made it possible for us to re-live June 6th as far as the weather, the chronological order of the events, and the things that went right and wrong."

Sandra

Kittery Point, ME

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well-organized, fast-paced, fascinating sites, great local guides, unique hotels and restaurants. Group was a good size, nice to have extra space on bus. Bus drivers (Annie & Mat) were friendly, smooth & safe drivers, and got us into some tight areas that not too many tourist buses dared attempt. Tour guide William was knowledgeable, patient, low-key, and in control.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Monet's gardens at Giverny were amazing! Also Chateau de la Bourdaisiere. A small group dinner in Bayeux. Magical Chenonceau. It is hard to choose since there were so many moments each day."

Matt

Apo, AE

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All the things you might think about: how are the hotels? How are the tours? How are the meals? How will your fellow-travellers be? It's all good. Our guide was terrific, we squeezed great travel experiences into every minute. The weather was great in August, we had some delicious meals, we saw beautiful artwork and countryside at every turn. It was a true orientation to a French experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour at Normandy was outstanding. Our guide that day had plenty to share about the details of D-Day and it was wonderful to see for ourselves what the topography was along the beaches. We had some great meals, William was always willing to recommend a good restaurant. The guided tour at the Louvre was great, all due to the charms and knowledge that our guide had to offer."

Susie

Boise, ID

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a great time despite being the only solo traveler in the group. It took me a while to find companions to share meals with etc, but that couldn't be helped. I don't know why I assumed I wouldn't be the only solo traveler, but I did. A little more warning on that topic might be a good idea. I had been to Paris several times before, so I didn't get a lot out of that part of the tour, but I thoroughly enjoyed my guide at the Louvre. Loved Normandy and our little lunches in charming towns.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Mont St. Michel from a distance was pretty amazing. It seems like it can't be real. Same goes for Chambord. It's too bad Mont St. Michel is so crowded, but at least we got a few relatively quiet hours in the morning. William did a great job making the evening special as well with champagne toasts before a wonderful dinner."

Diane

Belleville, MI

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

You were right to warn about strenuous days! But I wouldn't have missed a minute of it. There was a good mixture of planned activities and free time -- time for a café stop or shopping or a nap. We learned a lot, saw a lot, and met wonderful fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After a hot crowded afternoon in Amboise, we pulled down a long shaded drive into our very own chateau!"

Ramon

Belleville, MI

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The overall experience was more than I expected. I would rate it very very good. (I have a lot of trouble with outstanding ratings.) All guides were professional and William was very very good. My wife and I are 71 and heart patients, so I had doubts about the so-called "strenuous" days on the tour itinerary. Though thoroughly tired at days end we had little trouble hoofing our way around to see all that we had to see. Great trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had a few really nice moments. I really liked the town of Bourges. Could have spent more time, just hanging out. The had music and a light show almost every night through the summer. The evening spent at Chateau de la Bourdaisiere was exceptional - great ambience, hospitality and accommodations for us. Accompanying visit to local vineyard was special to me (apparently superfluous to others in the group.) Could have stayed longer there, perhaps. Normandy beaches, etc special also."

John

Bremerton, WA

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Stress free travel. I do not consider myself a seasoned international traveller and was concerned that I would be unprepared for European travel and would not gain the full experience. However, I was ecstatic to find the journey informing, rich in cultural experience, diversified, easy, and just plain fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The evening group champagne toast on an ancient walkway at Mont St. Michel after a delicious dinner."

Rick

Little Rock, AR

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was excellent in every respect - guides, hotel, transportation and food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mont St. Michel. It is spectacular."

Joseph

Mentor, OH

Tour: 08/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I always promised myself I would never do a tour. You know "40 cities in 2 days", "get on the bus people" and all that. Well, the Rick Steve's tour has completely ruined it for me. I didn't expect to have as much fun or to laugh as much as I did. The group was a lot of fun. I can't imagine ever again having such a great vacation experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The only surprises were good surprises. Rick Steve's tours does a great job of over-promising and then over-delivering on the big promises. Everything was a "wow'."

Sharon

King George, VA

Tour: 07/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From start to finish the tour was everthing I expected and more. It was educational but most of all a lot of fun. The great experience was in no small measure the great group of people and the amazing guide, Toni. There was not one whiner in the group. This was because everyone adhered strictly to the no grumps policy. I was concerned that my 16 year old granddaughter would be unable to relate to a bunch of older people but luckily there were several younger people to whom she could relate.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The part I wasn't sure I would enjoy, namely the WWII beaches and the American Cemetary turned out to be my favorite. Local guide Stuart Robertson is just outstanding. I wish we had more time at the American Cemetary to go through the museum. The time at the American cemetary was just too short to adequately take everything in."

Lori

Brenham, TX

Tour: 07/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was exceptional! We had the perfect guide for our group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is a toss up between my first view of Mont St. Michel and the joy of spending the night on the island and walking through the American Cemetery in Normandy. Mont St. Michel was a joyful "WOW" and the American Cemetery was somber but still a "WOW.'"

Theresa

Sacramento, CA

Tour: 07/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a fantastic trip! I really liked visiting places that I would not have found on my own and making sure we got to see the highlights thanks to Toni and her very knowledgeable timetable skills. We also enjoyed the free time to explore on our own (with our Rick Steves' guidebook in hand, of course).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to name! Paris' museums, Bourges' homes and Cathedral, beautiful chateaus, wine tasting with a 15th generation winemaker, Mont St. Michel's abbey and cool breezes, Normandy's history, all the gorgeous gardens, and all the scrumptious FOOD, FOOD, FOOD!"

Sharon

Houston, TX

Tour: 07/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second time on this tour - the first being in 2008, which was also my first Rick Steves tour. I went again because a friend had already signed up and I was ill on the last trip. The tour was fabulous!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The D-Day tour was humbling and awe inspiring. Stuart was so knowledgable and full of passion that it made the experience almost come to life."

Joanne

Beaverton, OR

Tour: 07/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What an incredible trip!!! This tour was a "trip of a lifetime" that I took with my 15 yr old son. We both equally enjoyed the tour; the sights, and our beloved travel guide. We have already recommended a Rick Steve's Tour to everyone we know. The hotels were comfortable and always typical of the region. The other tour members & drivers of our bus - Math & Annie became family. It was difficult to say goodbye. I especially loved the local guides along the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have two "WOW" moments...I loved visiting the La Loire Valley for the first time. I fell in love with Chenonceau. I said to myself, " I could live in France." The countryside, small villages along the way are beautiful. The second was Mont St. Michel. We were given a room with a large terrasse overlooking the bay. The church bells ringing before us & the spectacular view. It was a moment in time that you cannot describe in words-simply breathtaking."

Connie

Stockton, CA

Tour: 06/18/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first trip to France. While this tour was a little longer than our Heart of Italy tour, it almost seemed to go by more quickly because we did not spend enough time at each stop. That said, some of the towns will be on my list for a future visit. I love the variety of experiences and places visited. We love to garden and landscape so the immense gardens of the Chenonceau and our chateau hotel were of special interest, as was Monet's garden. Great experience all around!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My jaw dropped when the bus pulled in at the Chateau de la Bourdaisiere where we spent the night! Great place, wonderful people and gardener heaven. Also the last day when we drove back into Paris toward and around the Arc de Triomphe."

Weather

France / Paris

Paris Weather

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in Paris before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' France and Paris guidebooks to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of French, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise. Walking tours make a great introduction to any town. Check with the local TI or your Rick Steves guidebooks.

Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Paris that we do not do as a group: walk the Champs-Elysées and climb the Arc de Triomphe; tour Montmartre, Sacré-Coeur and the Old Opera House; or take a day trip to Versailles. Visit these museums: Invalides (military); Cluny (medieval art); Rodin (sculpture); Pompidou (modern art); Orangerie (Impressionist and post- Impressionist art) and Marmottan (Impressionist art).

Eiffel Tower Reservations: The tour does not include a visit to the Eiffel Tower. However it is often a highlight for any traveler and one we highly recommend. Avoid the lines by booking tickets in advance at: http://ticket.toureiffel.fr. Pre- or post-tour is the best time to visit the tower. If you need to visit the tower during the tour, consider making your reservation for Day 1 before 12:00 or after 22:00; Day 2 after 17:30; or Day 3 after 16:00.

Transportation

Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

Paris is a major transportation hub, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy. 

For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines

Read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips and decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Trip Resources

Learn more about France: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Packing

While it is important to pack light, there are some items we'd like you to take into consideration when packing for this tour. Weather in Normandy can be very unpredictable. Rain and cooler weather are possible regardless of season, so we suggest packing an umbrella and rain appropriate clothing.

For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.