• Chenonceau Château in the Loire Valley
  • Market day in Sarlat
  • Canoeing on the Dordogne River
  • Medieval Carcassonne
  • Wine tasting in Languedoc
  • The Pont du Gard near Arles
  • Nice on the French Riviera

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Loire to the South of France in 13 Days Tour

This tasty collection of French treats begins in the cozy, historic town of Chartres — an easy train ride from Paris. Then, with your expert Rick Steves guide, you'll wind your way south, savoring the perfectly preserved châteaux of the Loire, prehistoric caves and traditional markets of the Dordogne, the medieval city of Carcassonne, the Roman Pont du Gard, and a French Riviera finale in Nice. Great as these sights are, they're just the lyrics — the culture of France provides the melody you'll never forget. Join us for Loire to the South of France in 13 Days.

Dates & Prices

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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 17 group sightseeing events • Chartres orientation tour • Chartres Cathedral tour • Amboise visit • Chenonceau Château • Villandry Château and Gardens orientation • Oradour-sur-Glane • Rouffignac prehistoric cave tour • Dordogne canoe trip (weather permitting) • Sarlat walking tour • Canal du Midi barge trip (when available) • Carcassonne walking tour • Languedoc wine tasting • Pont du Gard and museum visit • Arles walking tour • Arles museum pass allowing entry to most sights • Les Baux visit • Nice walking tour...and more
  • All group transportation from Chartres to Nice
  • 12 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 guidebook, 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 2015
  • 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 Chartres

We'll meet at around 5 p.m. at our hotel for a short bienvenue à Chartres meeting. Then we'll take an orientation walk through our neighborhood, followed by time to get acquainted over dinner together. Sleep in Chartres (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Cathedral and Art of Chartres

We'll begin our day with a walking tour of Chartres' pedestrian-friendly, stream-straddling old town. Then we'll be treated to a scholar's tour of the famed Cathedral of Chartres. One of the most impressive structures in all of Europe, it is also home to some of the world's finest medieval stained glass, and the veil of Mary. The rest of your day is free to explore the town, or to learn more about the art of creating stained glass. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 3: Amboise, Chenonceau and Chinon

This morning we'll say au revoir to Chartres and drive south to the Loire Valley, the land of a thousand châteaux. You'll have some free time in the charming town of Amboise, where you could visit the home of Leonardo da Vinci (even grab a little lunch there) and study working models of the Renaissance Man's cleverest inventions. This afternoon we'll visit the elegant, river-straddling Château de Chenonceau, where we'll learn about royal life in France, with free time to roam through the château's opulent interior and gardens. We'll continue on to castle-topped Chinon where we'll have dinner together and sleep (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Villandry and the Loire

We'll spend our morning visiting the Château de Villandry, famous for its remarkable "themed" gardens, inspired by water, music, love and more. It's a gardener and photographer's dream. Afterward, your guide and driver will take you on a little excursion around the Loire Valley, returning to Chinon in the afternoon. You'll be free for the rest of the day and evening to explore the town's ancient streets, tour the medieval castle or sample the local wines. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: Oradour-sur-Glane and Sarlat

Our destination is the Dordogne, a sublime region of fortified hill towns, caves and meandering streams. We'll have a countryside picnic en route, then stop for a thought-provoking walk through the WWII martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane — frozen in time as a memorial since June 10, 1944, when its unarmed residents were senselessly gunned down by German troops. Our day will end with dinner together in the quintessential market town of Sarlat, where we'll sleep (3 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: Cave Art and Canoeing

Today begins with a chance to appreciate some of Europe's oldest art: the 13,000-year-old drawings of Rouffignac Cave. We'll hop aboard a subterranean train to marvel at engravings and drawings depicting bison, horses, woolly rhinoceros and...mammoths. There are so many mammoths depicted locals have nicknamed it "the cave of 100 mammoths." This afternoon (weather permitting), we'll canoe down the Dordogne River from Cénac to Beynac, gliding past medieval castles and villages. If the weather is hot, we may even stop for a swim along the way. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 7: Market Day in Sarlat

Take a vacation from your vacation! You'll have the entire day to savor the colorful weekly market in one of France's most pedestrian-friendly towns. Rub shoulders with local shoppers, sample foie gras and salivate over the famous black truffle as you shop for your fantasy picnic lunch. Today you can make it a tasty reality! Then stretch your legs with a countryside walk. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 8: Medieval Carcassonne

This morning we'll drive south, crossing the scenic valleys of the Lot and Tarn Rivers. At the Canal du Midi we'll transfer to a canal barge (when available) for a relaxing ride along a segment of the more than 5,000 miles of canals that meander throughout France. Our bus will then whisk us off to Europe's largest fortified city: delightfully medieval Carcassonne. After a walking tour of Carcassonne's fortified old town — La Cité — you'll be free to savor views from the stony ramparts, wander through the cobbled lanes, and maybe sample a steamy bowl of cassoulet with a glass of vin rouge. Sleep in Carcassonne (1 night). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: The Pont du Gard

This morning we'll drive east, stopping at an eco-friendly, family-run vineyard. We'll learn exactly what that entails as we linger for lunch and an educational tasting of wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Our next stop is the majestic, astonishingly well-preserved Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard. This engineering marvel helped supply millions of gallons of fresh water daily to one of the largest cities in Roman Gaul — 20 centuries ago! We'll visit the aqueduct and its much younger museum. Our day will end in nearby Arles, where we'll have dinner together and sleep (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 10: All day in Arles

We'll start our morning off with a walking tour of Arles. Your local guide will lace together stories of its impressive Roman Arena, Classical Theater and Forum Square — and tales of Vincent van Gogh, who lived and painted in this neighborhood just over a century ago. Your afternoon and evening will be free for making your own discoveries here. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.

Day 11: Les Baux to the French Riviera

This morning we'll drive to the hill town of Les Baux, and enjoy sweeping views of the Provencal countryside from atop the ruins of its medieval citadel. After lunch we'll head for the Riviera. Upon arrival in Nice, we'll check into our hotel before setting out on an orientation walk through the Italian-feeling Old City and seaside promenade. Afterward you'll be set free to explore and enjoy dinner on your own. Sleep in Nice (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 12: Nice

This morning we'll take a walking tour across Nice, starting with the busy Cours Saleya, the city's main market square since the Middle Ages. We'll then follow the narrow streets of the Italianate Old City to the spacious boulevards and shopping promenades of the city's newer side. Here, in the late 19th century, visitors from the north seeking the elixir of warm, fresh sea air, created Europe's first tourism boom. Your afternoon will be free to wander through Nice's beautiful Chagall and Matisse Museums, prowl the promenades, or relax on the famous beach. This evening we'll enjoy a final dinner together, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. Salut! No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 13: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. For those staying longer, your guide will be happy to send you off in the right direction and help with any trip planning needs. Au revoir et merci!

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 Loire to the South of France in 13 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

Louis

Sunnyvale, CA

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our second RS tour and overall this tour was very good, (though I think it is hard to top the Village Italy tour we took last September.) The itinerary was very good, the destinations were quite interesting and the hotels were well-positioned in the center of each city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rounding the bend on the walkway and seeing the Pont du Gard come into view, I remember actually saying "Wow!" as the sight appeared before us. Breathtaking, in 98 degrees or not. It was simply a marvel to see, and to learn how it was built 2 millennia ago, and how it evolved over time. That said, seeing the cave drawings in Rouffignac, dating back 12,000 years or so, was a close second for Wow moment. As impressive as the Roman ruins are, they are "brand new" compared to the cave drawings."

Linda

Newcastle, CA

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the trip of a lifetime for me and I was not disappointed. The tour provided great variety of experiences, from tours of medieval cities, to cathedrals, chateaus, prehistoric caves, canoeing, and more. Very well organized, paced just right, great leader who was very knowledgeable about the history of the area and the local politics. And great regional food experiences as well! Yummm!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is really hard to narrow down to one "wow" moment: the light show on the cathedral at Chartre, the prehistoric cave paintings, the walled city of Carcasaconne, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, all the amazing food, it was all one "wow" moment after another!"

Elizabeth

Yucaipa, CA

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved the fact that it was a small group--as apparently the Steves' tours typically are. Appreciated the balance of bus time/sight seeing/downtime. Really like, too, the desire to educate the tour members about cultural and social differences between the U.S. and Europe.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each day was great! Standouts include the lunch at the winery--fabulous home cooked meal--and canoeing on the Dordogne."

Michele

Brooklyn, NY

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations in many ways. I loved the areas of France we visited and the activities offered. The hotels were all comfortable and some were quite lovely. I was traveling by myself, but found the other people on the tour to be friendly, welcoming,interesting and fun to be with. One of my roommates became a real friend. I liked the balance of guided group activities and time on our own. France was having a heat wave, but we were well cared for.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's very hard to choose one. I loved the Dordogne and visiting the cave art. The vineyard tour and lunch were superb. Loved the barge on the Canal du Midi. Surprised myself canoeing. I loved seeing the French countryside and gaining confidence in my French talking to people. Even Oradore was a profoundly moving experience. Loved Carcassonne at night and Roman ruins in Arles. Loved seeing Smaller French towns and lifestyles."

Ron

Lone Tree, CO

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have taken multiple Rick Steves Tours, and each time are reminded how well organized the tours are , and the wonderful blend of organized and free time provided. Our tour was wonderful again. My only slight criticism, and it is slight , and perhaps due to our experience with the format etc., is that we spent a bit too much time on orientation walks talking about options for dinner etc, rather than letting us all loose to explore and find out own new favorites.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved the canoe trip down the river past the chateaux. All they history is great."

Thomas

Fair Oaks, CA

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

2nd tour guide, william, very knowledgeable and caring

Favorite "WOW" moment

"tour of a winery"

Tracy

San Diego, CA

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

4 days into our tour we received the tragic news that my husband's mother had been killed in a tragic car accident. Up to that day, my Rick Steve's dream trip through France was every bit as wonderful as I thought it would be. In just 4 days, we so enjoyed the people we were traveling with; leaving them after such a short time was also very difficult for me. My husband and I look forward to doing the tour all over again next June!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every day of the tour was so enjoyable and interesting for me that it's difficult to pick just one "wow" moment. But, being a history teacher, the personal yet short tour of Chartres cathedral with the fascinating historian Malcolm Mitchell was a special treat."

Irene

Abbotsford, BC

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

If there was one word to describe the tour, it would be 'wow'.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There wasn't just one - Chartres, with the cathedral tour, the picturesque village; the gardens at Villandry; the market at Sarlat; everything about Arles; canoeing down the Dordogne; the location and quality of our accommodations; the tour members; the tour guide & driver. Everything was enjoyable and we learned so much"

Verdery

San Diego, CA

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We visited both "must see" places and little-known ones. We had a chance to work with stained glass, visit a vineyard, eat amazing food. There was a nice mix of group activities and free time. We had a great time!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to choose between Chartres cathedral (even in the midst of cleaning)and a male Russian quintet singing in the church in Carcassonne."

Mary Beth

Paonia, CO

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I really enjoyed the variety of experiences we were given on the tour. Arnaud, our guide, was a pleasure,very entertaining and informative both on the history of France and on present day national systems.

Favorite "WOW" moment

""Wow" moments: Leonard da Vinci's house and model inventions, the light show in Chartres, Rouffignac Caves and Oradur-sur-Glane."

Robert

Lawrence, KS

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fifth tour with your company and as usual, we were very pleased with the experience. Competent guide, expected accommodations, excellent. transportation, and friendly, interested tour members. There were no surprises except pleasant ones.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I will list three. The gardens of the Chateau de Villandry were much more than I expected. They were beautiful, well tended, and vibrant. I had to make myself stop taking pictures. The Pont du Gard a was also most impressive. It's size was overwhelming and certainly a feat of architectural excellent. Finally, the whole experience at the Château des Hospitaliers was delightful, informative and very impressive. Their commitment to sustainability was exceptional and admirable."

Lois

Comox, BC

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our 6th Rick Steves tour and again, a wonderful experience. Off the beaten track experiences, such as a visit to Oradour sur Glane and the musicians playing Medieval music at Carcassonne certainly enhance the "tour" experience, making one relate to the past in different ways. The "canoe" trip down the Dordogne was not a highlight for us, as we found the seating arrangement very, very uncomfortable. The pain in hips and legs was an ongoing distraction from the passing scenery.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lois.......the visit to the winery outside Arles. The conscious effort to be environmentally friendly in all aspects of the wine making was impressive, as was the wonderful lunch! (PS I am not an environmentalist!) Barry.......the Pont du Gard. To see it and touch it was a real wow moment, after seeing pictures and reading about it for so long. The illuminations in Chartres, especially the cathedral were wow moments for both of us!"

Darleen

Riverside, CA

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was like living in a fairy tale.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The prehistoric cave art was the biggest highlight for me."

William

Pocatello, ID

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

THE BEST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. I WILL BE GOING ON ANOTHER RICK STEVES TOUR WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF. THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE FLAW WITH THIS TOUR. THAT CERTAINLY INCLUDES THE INCREDIBLE EXPERTISE OF CHRIS THE TOUR GUIDE AND GILLES WHO DROVE OUR TOUR BUS. THE PACING AND INTENSITY AND THE SELECTION OF SITES WAS EXACTLY WHAT IT NEEDED TO BE. TO RICK STEVES AND ALL HIS CREW THAT DO ALL THE HARD WORK TO MAKE THESE TOURS EXCEPTIONAL: JOB WELL DONE.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I COULD NOT SELECT JUST ONE SUPERLATIVE MOMENT. THERE WERE MANY OF THESE SUCH AS CHARTRES CATHEDRAL, THE GROTTE DE ROUFFIGNAC, THE DORDOGNE,THE BIO WINERY IN THE LANGUEDOC, ETC. THIS COULD BE A LONG LIST. THERE WERE MANY SPECIAL MOMENTS THROUGHOUT EVERY DAY OF THE TOUR. NOT THE LEAST OF WHICH IS THE INCREDIBLE BEAUTY OF THE COUNTRY OF FRANCE."

Larry

Alexandria, MN

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was well run, a good combination of group time and then time on out own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We spent time at a winery followed by a lunch at the winery. I enjoyed the time with the owner as she described their small business and the opportunities and challenges. The lunch was excellent also."

Kathleen

Alexandria, MN

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed the ratio of free time to guided time. Chris was a great guide. We only had 16 people on our tour, so it was fun to get to know everybody, and, as advertised, there were no "grumps", - a very congenial group. We saw places that I don't think are on many tours, like the vineyard that is trying to be so eco-friendly, the prehistoric caves, the trip down the river, Les Beaux (sp.?), and Salat. I didn't think it was too difficult for walking.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say - there were many every day. We happened to be in Chartres on Pentecost, and although I am not Catholic, it was a thrill to see 15,000 pilgrims march to the cathedral. But my favorite was seeing the prehistoric cave drawings that I have read about for many years."

Mary

Salem, MA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is the best tour experience I have had. Chris, our escort, was, at every turn, available to us to enhance our experience. It is not an exaggeration to say that every day she did something for the group and individuals within the group that was above and beyond any expectations we might have had. The tour, itself, was extremely well balance. The sights, the experiences, Chris' commentary and the pace created an environment where I felt we were being immersed in the culture of France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sitting in the Chartres Cathedral as the sun streamed through the windows."

Christopher

Rochester Hills, MI

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The entire tour was a wonderful experience. Christine, our guide & Gile our bus driver were exceptional. I could not have hoped to plan out so many interesting experiences as we encountered, as it was my first trip to France. I would definitely reccomend a Rick Steve's tour, and would consider doing another tour in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Definitely the pre-historic caves...truly awsome!"

Sally

Flagstaff, AZ

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fabulous combination of sights & experiences....and of course the food and wine! Loved every minute, even though "everything cool is uphill"

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had thought that the prehistoric cave art would be the highlight, but I think the experiences in Sarlat were the highlight. Walking through the mideval town in the moonlight was magical (yes, of course--the wine!)"

Leslie

Port Moody, BC

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything about this tour was fantastic. We experienced the best parts of France, in my opinion. Our small group got along grand which made the tour even more delightful. Chris our guide never missed a beat, she was knowledgeable, professional, kind and friendly. Giles our driver was exceptional, at no time did we questions his driving skills. I will definitely recommend this tour and plan to take another Rick Steves tour in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many to choose from. Saturday in Sarlat, the Mammoth cave drawings. I really fell in love with France when I was at the ruined castle Chateau des Baux overlooking the valley of Provence. It was a most spectacular view."

Ted

Orillia, ON

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have traveled extensively in Europe, independently, often using a RS guide, along with others, for research, etc. This was our first experience in an organized tour. We were very impressed, and are reflecting that it was a most satisfying and positive experience. The other tour members were great, and our tour leader provided excellent leadership, while considering the evolving needs of a diverse group. If all tours were like this, I would repeat without hesitation... and probably will.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Very hard to select just 1, there were so many. Going to the Pont du Gard, a site that drew us to this tour, was an expected visual and structural 'wow', but attending Les Baux, and the Quarry video exhibition were very special. The Chateaux, their gardens and their influence on French History were an unexpected revelation, as was the use of these properties during the world wars. Oradour sur Glen, was, although sobering, a different kind of memory, not to be missed."

Paz

Tustin, CA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This is the best group we ever joined Rick Steves tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Illumination of Notre Dame cathedral in Chartres."

Domingo

Tustin, CA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Best group

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Illumination of the Notre Dame cathedral at Chartres."

Catherine

Delta, BC

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My daughter, Emily and I, loved the tour. She was by far the youngest but was made to feel welcome by all the members in the group. We loved that the group was small and we had an outstanding guide. The hotels were great. I loved their unique character. I feel that there are so many experiences that we had that would not have been available to us had we not had the tour. I enjoyed that there were many busy days, but I also enjoyed the "down" time where we could explore on our own!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wow!! So many!! Canoeing down the Dorgogne river was definitely a thrill for my daughter and myself. (One thing I would suggest with this trip, however, is that at least one person in the boat should have canoed before. We had one couple that got into trouble in their boat because neither knew how to steer and 10 km. with other larger boats in the water was too much for them.) I loved Arles and seeing the different sites where Van Gogh painted was very moving to me."

Clark

Laurinburg, NC

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Flawless. Everything as advertised; on time; on budget. Lots of variety. Not over-whelming, nor over-done. I have a much better appreciation of France, its history, and its people. Thanks.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sustainable vineyard/farm (suggest you consider putting a sustainable tour together). And, the light-show in the quarry. The size and scope of this project is phenomenal."

Janet

Rapid City, SD

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great trip with a lot of activity and things to see packed into each day. The tour guide was personable, interesting, and had so much knowledge to impart.The tour only had 17 members on it which was wonderful. We got to know everyone,and everyone was willing to include others in any activity. Rick Steves showed up at one of our dinners and it was a highlight of the trip. I always tell people we are traveling with Rick, and they say "You know he won't be on your tour."How wrong they were

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to Chartes cathedral with Malcolm. I learned so much from his explanation of how to read stained glass. The night time light show was magnificent. IN a sad way the matyre village was a wow moment. Likewise the prehistoric cave was a highlight"

Maryan

Orillia, ON

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was outstanding right from the time of our welcome get together to our farewell breakfast!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh so many! The Pont du Gard, Chartres, the tour and lunch at the sustainable farm."

Walter

Annandale, VA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Lots of walking, eating and drinking through a beautiful green land with its small-town charms and surprises.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The night lightshow at Chartres cathedral and other buildings in the town were a visual treat. Likewise the nighttime walk through the town to seek out other architectural illuminations was a neat treat to end the day."

Rene

Jacksonville, NC

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steve's tour. The tour absolutely exceeded my expectations! It was everything as described and much more. The full size tour bus allowed everyone to spread out and be comfortable. The other tour members were delightful! It was a great group of people from all walks of life.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many, but the one place I could have spent a lot more time was the gardens at Villandry. They were huge and unbelievably beautiful. Tied for first place was the lunch at the winery. What a wonderful hostess! The food was fabulous and the setting totally picture perfect."

David

Penryn, CA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought our tour guide, Arnaud, was exceptional. He has a local's knowledge of the history and art and knows how to keep the tour exciting and relevant. See my ratings below. The itinerary worked especially well for me because we had time to sight see on our own and rest when we needed to. We had the opportunity to see parts of France that I never would have found on my own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As a retired Civil Engineer, the Pont du Gard was an absolute WOW. Considering the accuracy needed to construct the acquaduct and the tools available at the time, this structure is a monument to the planners, designers and workers of ancient Rome."

Victoria

Penryn, CA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As I reflect on the tour at home I realize what a breadth of experiences we had on our tour. We saw historic sites ranging from prehistoric, to Roman, Midieval, French Revolution, WWII and current. We had a variety of experiences - the usual tours of sites plus canoeing, lunch on a barge on a French canal, wine and food pairing lessons and lunch at a winery prepared by the owner as well as time on our own. The group was friendly and great fun. A great guide and experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to find one "wow" moment. Highlights were the prehistoric caves, the beauty of the chateaus and gardens and Carcasonne. There were just so many "wow's" that I'll have to say the variety and range of experiences is my "wow"."

Melissa

Santa Rosa, CA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Wonderful trip, it was a revisit for us much enjoyed. Having done Loire Valley by bicycle with Backroads, this time instead of entering all chateaus we walked the grounds and took much better photos. Nice was the only new spot, lovely. Angus, the local guide, was great. The walk up Castle Hill at beginning of her walk tour gave us the bird's eye view. Thumbs up!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Because trip was a revisit, cannot think of a "wow-re"."

Jay

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Brilliant tour guide and well thought through logistics made it an excellent tour. Fine variety of activities. France is wonderful. Some minor issues with hotels and food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Dordogne. All of it."

Alice

Washington Court House, OH

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

See Point #16 for my overall evaluation. It is worth noting that the PEOPLE in our group were EXCEPTIONAL, and perhaps that can be attributed to the fact that nearly all were from the West Coast - being a Midwesterner, I had never encountered so many people from Washington, Oregon, and California in one place at one time in my entire life!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The COUNTLESS wonderful scenes/experiences that I will remember the rest of my life, thanks to my 400+ photos: * Felicity's hands-on "stained glass" workshop near Chartres Cathedral; * incredible gardens of the Chateau de Villandry; * besting a strong wind to canoe 6 miles on the Dordogne River; * people-watching and greeting many of our Rick Steves tour companions from our front-row café table in Sarlat's main square; * Carcassonne's and Les Baux' mighty military defenses."

Anita

Grove City, OH

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

After viewing RS Travel show on PBS for many years, my first tour was everything I expected and more. My fellow travelers were a diverse & exceeding congenial group. Arnaud expertly ushered us thru the beautiful countryside & cities with his knowledge & wit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments, such a mix of activities, Roman ruins, chateaus, cathedrals, Chagal & Matisse, wine tasting and delicious meals."

Stephen

Carnation, WA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Arnaud was great. He prepared us so that we could get the most out of all the sights we visited.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm a gardener, so the formal gardens at Villandry did it for me. Although, market day at Sarlat was pretty amazing too."

Philip

Federal Way, WA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful experience. We usually prefer to tour independently. However, we never would have been able to see all the things we did see, nor benefit from the knowledge of Arnaut, our guide. All hotels were excellent, and the bus driven by Gilles, was like new. This was a first class tour experience. Thanks!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't pick a favorite one. Each experience was a favorite "wow" while it was happening. If anything, the continuous happy atmosphere of the group was a "wow" in itself. 13 Days can be a long, grinding ordeal, or o brief, happy time. This our was a very brief, exciting, and happy time."

John

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very positive. The guide was a joy. He was so knowledgeable of history, geology, theology, geography,psychology,geopolitics,impressive! The "Cockle Doodle Doo", the Nice Bistro on Dalpazzo in your guide was closed, and in the next block down from Le Cegale. On your map it looks like it's in the same block. But I found a new wine bar a few doors down. They provided great French Tapas and good wine. The waitress took time to practice her English with me, making it warm personal connection

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Arnoud tried to explain how the French are a formal culture with definte rules of behavior. It didn't sink in at first, but I'm starting to get it. Massena Museum was especially impressive. I enjoyed it more than Versailles."

Fred

Boulder, CO

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great experience. I enjoyed it all. But the best part was Patrick, our guide. He was terrific.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I most enjoyed the visit to the winery and the wonderful lunch they served and spending Saturday in Sarlat during the market. Seeing the chateaus and cave art was nice, but I found getting close to French life most interesting."

Kathy

Columbia, SC

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great! I like the small towns & villages, the roads less traveled by tourists. The picnics were a great relaxing break from restaurants and cafes. The free time we had was just right. I walked so much I lost 4 pounds, even with all the wonderful food!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Meeting the owner of a consignment shop in Sarlat. I had been looking for a 2nd hand or consignment shop all day. The TI said there wasn't one in town, the hotel people said there wasn't one. So, when I found one I was thrilled. I talked with the owner of the shop and taught him the word 'consignment'. He said that he liked that word and was going to start using it. He wrote it down, we talked about the verb 'consign' and so forth. A fun interaction!!"

Mark

Santa Rosa, CA

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very very happy with the content of the tour, the Guide and the overall tone of the tour. I suppose that the 'tone' comes from Rick Steves and was expected. The overall experience was Outstanding and unexpected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There is not ONE "wow" moment. Rouffignac Cave,La Roque Saint-Christophe,Les Baux, Chartres (especially at night)and Carcassonne (away from the midday throng) were all stunning. If there was a place were I was truly stunned it was Oradour sur Glane."

Thomas

Dallas, TX

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I selected this tour due to wanting to visit a couple of friends who live in France and to stay at a B&B in the Alps foothills above Nice. Maybe I studied too much, however the route of the tour got me to some sites of my research. I was able to see some locations I found on my search and to experience food and drink of the regions visited. I consider the tour experience a good value for the overall trip. Tour guide Patrick, was able to overcome conflicts of the planned itinerary, excellent!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite WOW moment was a mix of what I experienced from the tour and with the guide from the B&B in a small town in the foothills above Nice. The WOW moment was sitting on the deck of the B&B with a glass of local wine watching the shadow of the foothills shade the valley below while the coastal towns were still bathed in sunlight. I then realized why the artist, poets and citizens of France hold deep in their hearts the attraction of this most favored area."

Lynn

Santa Rosa, CA

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I learned about France and the French people. We had never been to France not knowing the language or having the confidence to do it on our own. The tour was the perfect solution, I even learned a little French, thanks to Patrick, our amazing guide. The French are lovely; polite, eager to share their culture and customs. The tour was well organized, lots of fantastic sites, and extra surprises, a comfortable bus, a great driver, and good companions. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Almost every site we visited was a "wow" moment and the variety was terrific. Some favorites: the majesty of Chartres, the surprise of it lit up at night "en Lumieres", the Villandry gardens, and Chenonceau built over the river, Rouffignac Cave, Carcassone, walking across the Pont du Gard. A special mention of Oradour-sur-Glane. This memorial village, while devastatingly sad was such an important part of this trip. History repeats. We need to see and remember. Thank you for including it."

Charlene

Rocklin, CA

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The small group , the amazing tour guide & the amazing places we toured were a dream.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour of the organic winery & the meal provided by the owners. Their tour of the property & friendliness was appreciated by all of the tourists."

Jane

Boulder, CO

Tour: 05/03/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fantastic experience, thanks to Patrick who made every day fun and interesting. The size of our group (15 + Patrick) was ideal. Perfect balance of sites visited, to bus time, to organized events (wine tasting, guided tours, etc.), to free time. When arriving in a new town for the night we would check into the hotel and Patrick would orient us to the location and later take us on an evening walk. Wonderful mix of history, culture, food and wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorites: evening light show on Chartres Cathedral to help visualize the painted facades that are now gone; incredible gardens at Villandry chateau; wine tasting and fun quiz in Chinon; picnic in village of Mortemart; prehistoric cave drawings at Grotte de Rouffignac; eating the chocolate sphere dessert in Carcassone; drinking sparkling wine on bridge overlooking castle in Carcassone at night; vineyard tour and incredible lunch at St. Christol vineyard."

Chuck

Appleton, WI

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We saw a lot and experienced a variety of places and learned much thanks to Chris. Tour was just right with 17 people. We have Not gone on tours... We travel lots in Asia on our own or with friends. I want to go on more RS tours!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I liked canoeing and winery tour. I liked meeting local people and hearing their liffe."

Nicanor

Glen Allen, VA

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The trip was a positive experience and I enjoyed visiting a variety of sites. Some were historical and some were beautiful views. However, after visiting the Chateau of Chenonceau the visit to the one in Villandry was a let down. The third day in Sarlat was too long for me. But afterwards, the excursion picked up pace and was much more enjoyable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"To see in the distance the wall of Carcassonne. But the most impressive visit for me was that to Oradour-sur-Glene. A somber visit but a place like no other."

Karen

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought the tour was fantastic. Our guide, Christine, was terrific[INVALID]very knowledgable, organized, and very importantly, lots of fun! We saw lots of wonderful sights, had very good and informative local guides (also with good senses of humor), enjoyed excellent food at the group dinners, and found our other tour members to be good travel companions. This was our first tour experience, and it was a pleasure to visit so many great places, yet not have to make any of the arrangements!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say, as we really enjoyed each of the locations. Carcassone was probably the most eye-boggling, and the Roman ruins throughout Provence are always impressive and thought provoking. But my favorite experiences were the two wine tastings, as the hosts were both fantastic: Mr. Diderot is clearly proud of Chinon winemaking, not to mention hysterically funny, and the proprietors of the Chateau des Hospitaliers have such an interesting facility, and the lunch they provided was memorable!"

Deb

Appleton, WI

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first European tour group experience and we are recommending Rick Steves tours to our recently retired friends. The tour gave us many more experiences and sights to efficiently use our time and investment when we were not fluent in the language and didn't have the time for extensive pre-tour planning. Hotels were convenient to walk back when either of us wanted to rest, allowing either of us to independently explore or join with other tour members.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing down the Dordogne River past hilltop fortresses and villages was exciting and relaxing. Then our driver took us to the hilltop fortress for great views of the Valley. The walk down through the narrow stone paths was breathtaking, finally seeing a red hot air balloon over the river before getting back on the bus."

Eileen

Dickinson, ND

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wow! Everything was well planned and [INVALID]d. Our guide, Chris, was outstanding. Since she had lived in southern France, she was able to share some of her experiences, local customs, and favorite foods. We also had a great group to travel with. Overall, it was a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Ummm...everything? Seriously, Sarlat was fantastic. The afternoon on the Dordogne River was fabulous."

Ron

Sunriver, OR

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We arrived at Chartres a couple of days early to be ready for the tour...that is always a good idea! We experienced and saw a lot during the tour. And while knowing France is a large country we decided to start our exploration of France on this tour knowing we'd need a few more tours/trips to fully understand the country. A knowledgably guide and tour company added a large value for us and our experience in France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would not describe any one thing as a "wow" on this trip but rather a number of great and interesting experiences."

Margaret

West Vancouver, BC

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was a terrific experience. What I was looking forward to was exposure to medieval France. Many beautiful locations were included and our guide, Chris, was superb at educating us about the locations, both while on the bus before arrival at them and while there. Philippe, our coach driver, was very skillful, congenial and funny. Having these two caring professionals lead us through ancient villages and south through France made this tour memorable and a rewarding way to travel. (ByPeggy)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The greatest thrill for me was canoeing on the Dordogne River, gliding past medieval villages and castles. Later that afternoon, the somber visit to the martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane was something one could never forget. And then that evening, our get acquainted tour of Sarlat's streets of magnificently lit buildings was magic. Following that, we had a fabulous dinner with plenty of wine in a lovely restaurant. What a day!"

Diana

Jacksonville, OR

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were so happy to have had a small group, great weather, wonderful sights and an outstanding guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Because it was so special and unique - different from any other experience on this or any trip - I especially appreciated the visit to the prehistoric cave art."

Gary

Jacksonville, OR

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We found the tour to be outstanding in every aspect. Chris, our guide was superb. Her warm friendly leadership and knowledge of French culture were much appreciated. The small group of only 17 made for a nice cohesive unit many of whom were Rick Steves' "veterans"

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" moment for us was the visit to the cave drawings."

Elsa

Glen Allen, VA

Tour: 10/12/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I really liked the trip. It was my first visit to that part of France, and I loved it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The most impressive moment for me was the visit to Oradour-sur-Glane."

Kimberly

Washington, DC

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cave drawings"

Barbara

Nashua, NH

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my third Rick Steves tour, and I think it's my favorite. We had a great group of people, a terrific guide, and this particular tour took us to a wide variety of places. In spite of many rainy days, we were able to do everything promised (our guide was an expert at managing the weather), and ending up in sunny Nice was absolutely delightful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a four-way tie: looking out of Catherine de Medici's windows in her study at Chenonceau; canoeing with my husband on the Dordogne; seeing the cave drawings and cave bear nests in Rouffingnac; and swimming in the Mediterranean on the Cote d'Azur."

Jennifer

Amarillo, TX

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was fabulous. We became totally immersed in the heart of France and enjoyed many varied one-of-a-kind experiences. Some highlights were:the stained glass workshop in Chartres, wine-tasting at Hotel Diderot in Chinon, market day in Sarlat, and canoeing on the Dordogne river. Our guide, Arnaud, was extremely knowledgeable, personable, and flexible. Time and again he made adjustments based on weather that continued to maximize our time. The fond memories of this trip will last a lifetime.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our first night in Sarlat with the gaslight lanterns reflecting off the rain-washed cobblestones and the narrow, winding lanes of this charming town proclaiming, "bienvenue!""

Ben

Amarillo, TX

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall tour experience was interesting, informative, entertaining and even exciting. History and beauty of places visited was outstanding. Tour was busy but not tiresome and there was no wasted time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoe trip in a light rain along the castle-laden Dordogne River."

Jon

Seattle, WA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This tour exceeded my expectations as an introduction to the France outside of Paris. Thanks to our guide, I was introduced to nuances of the regions we visited like the Loire, Perigord, Provence and Cote d'Azur. It stimulated a desire to see the rest of this amazing country. We began with a pre-tour of Paris for three and one half days before meeting up in Chartres.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were plenty of very impressionable things I was exposed to beginning with the fabulous Chartres Cathedral and spellbinding presentation by Malcolm Miller ending with learning about Nice and seeing what the local guide meant by the Italian influence there in that area. One physical 'wow' highlight was the Pont du Gard and what it represents about the enormity of the Roman Empire. The engineering and building skills they exhibited are quite overwhelming. Roman influence is immense."

Michael

Napa, CA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I and my wife thought it was an excellent tour, especially for us as an introduction to France. The bus rides were not too long, each place had an entirely unique attraction, and we had just enough time with and without the group and guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to count. Just some.... Museum at Pont d Gard Museum at Arles Arena at Arles Streets of Sarlat Marc Chagall exhibit in Nice etc etc"

Jonna

Orange, CA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was wonderful to know there is more to France than Paris. Arnaud was a great guide and I enjoyed all of the activities. Tour members were friendly and inclusive. Some hotels were lacking compared to previous RS tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"to see Malcom again after my college "Grand Tour" in 1976, cave paintings, beauty of central France, and Chagall museum."

John

Nashua, NH

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am still suffering "France withdrawal" as I remember the places and meals and scenery. I really enjoyed this trip, particularly the places we went to that would have been hard to get to if my wife and I were travelling on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One night in Nice, my wife and I were walking in the big city park. When we got to the 'fog' fountain, I stepped into the fog and she took a picture. It was so unusual and beautiful to be in the clouds at ground level under the colored lights of a park full of happy people."

Richard

Anacortes, WA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I found this trip much more enjoyable than I expected it to be. The sites visited and the towns we stayed at were good [INVALID]ions. The guide, Arnaud, was amazingly good and the bus driver was both personable and extremely competent. The balance between group time and private time was about right and the time spent at the various towns was optimum. The hotels were not fancy, but they were clean and the staffs courteous. My only complaint is some of the provided meals.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Carcassonne old town in the evening."

Jean

Anacortes, WA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have never taken a Rick Steves' tour before. We enjoyed it and would take another tour with this company.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Carcassone in lights at night from the village bridge."

Rebecca

Dublin, CA

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed this tour of France. I liked interacting with the French locals and trying to meet them half way with a few "bonjour madames" and "s'il vous plaits." I enjoyed learning about the country's history as well as the modern customs, politics, and education system. The tour did seem fast-paced at times, and I personally would have enjoyed a few more free moments here and there to just sit and observe and take it all in before moving on to the next experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moments were the "nature" moments, including: the moment the light was turned on deep inside the Rouffignac cave, canoeing on the Dordogne river, looking down on the magnificent Le Pont Du Gard from the hillside, gazing at the valley vista from the top of Les Baux fortress, and being transfixed by the blue Mediterranean waves while building small cairns on the rocky beach of Nice."

Ruth

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a lot of territory to cover. If it were not for Arnaud, the hours on the bus would have been tedious. I would prefer fewer group meals, but I accept the fact that most people prefer them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Two events stand out. The light show in Chartres and the canoe trip on the Dordogne."

Mary

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having traveled a fair amount in Europe making my own arrangements and never having been involved in an organized group, I didn't know what to expect or how I would react. I can honestly say that it totally met and exceeded any my expectation. I would definitely plan another Rick Steves' adventure in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's difficult to pick just one "wow" moment on our tour. There were many!!! The highlights for me included the Rouffignac Cave (amazing experience), the Chateau des Hospitaliers tour (absolutely delightful people and the food was delicious), and just the fact that there were unexpected delights along the way. Loved all the markets, especially Sarlat. Just fabulous!!!"

Kerry

Kerrville, TX

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very good tour with a good mix of chateaus, roman ruins, medieval towns,evidence of early civilizations. Our guide, Toni, was very good and quite knowledgeable on the history and culture of the region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Carcassonne. Although a short stay, we were able to get in a thorough tour, enjoy a unique dining experience with cassoulet and absinthe, and take in the beautiful siight of the fortress light at night while enjoying a drink of bubbly graciously provided by our guide."

Gary

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Nearly every place we visited on the tour had pleasant surprises for me and I enjoyed all of them. The French countryside (especially in the south) was more beautiful than I had anticipated. Enjoyed the wine tastings. We had great weather and an excellent bus driver.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moments were the light show on the Chartres cathedral, the gardens at Villandry, vocal music at the cathedral in Carcassonne, and the beauty of Nice."

Harold

Baltimore, MD

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well organized and professionally led. Choice of sites, hotels and restaurants were all very good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Les Baux village on a rocky mountain top on a crystal clear day. Seconf place, night light show on the outside of Cathederal at Chartres."

Calvin

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Much like our earlier Best of Europe tour, this one exceeded all of expectations. Once again the itinerary presented a nice balance of structured activities and free time. We wanted exposure to small French village culture and we got that. The historical sites were especially interesting and enjoyable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments. I would include the following in that category: The Pont de Gard, the gardens at Villandry, seeing pre-historic cave art, visiting the martyr village, tour and lunch at the Chateau des Hospitaliers winery, having a beach front hotel in Nice."

James

Carlsbad, CA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

the overall tour was vert good. I really enjoyed the combination of history,culture,food and the ever present, always good, french wine. The guide, Toni, was not very good, she was outstanding, she was able to blend a very diverse group into an almost cohesive unit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The chateau day was wonderful as was carcasonne"

Caroline

Columbia, MD

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The itinerary was excellent. The tour guide was outstanding. The included meals were poor to mediocre and in France I expect to have excellent meals.

Susan

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was pleased as punch with this tour of France. We had expectations that were met and went beyond. Like our first tour we were kept moving from one fabulous location to the next. We needed to be fit to get to everything and every place was worth the effort.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Villandry gardens and chateau were off the freekin' chart. Never did I expect anything so vast and perfect especially this late in the season. It was more beautiful and filled in than pictures of it at earlier times of the year. Views from the belvedere (we all loved Tony using that unusual term) were spectacular. Thank goodness we got to spend a good long time there to take it all in. The cave drawings were a close 2nd and tied with our vineyard tour of the sustainable operation."

Thomas

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour provided an excellent mix of tour sites, activities, group interactions and experiences. Many of which would not have been accessible to individual travelers. The tour afforded plenty of free time to pursue individual exploration and activities, personal dining choices and more private interactions with particular friends. The lodging and locations were very good throughout. Our tour guide, Toni, was knowledgeable and personable. She did an excellent job of coordinating the Group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The prehistoric Rouffignac Cave tour was extraordinary! We certainly would not have had access to that wonderful guided tour of cave on our own. The tour guide was outstanding and obviously passionate about the significance of this world treasure. The 18,000 year cave drawings of wooly mammoths and the cave bear hibernation beds was mind boggling! Limiting response to a single WOW moment does not capture the myriad of WOWs throughout trip! :-) tom"

Clare

Churchville, PA

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Hotels were clean and comfortable and provided excellent breakfasts. I especially enjoyed our group luncheon under the local town pavilion. Such amazing scenery on the road and a big thank you to "Phillipe" with his excellent driving skills. There are some crazy drivers in France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have several: Chartres Cathedral Light show Canal Boat ride along the Midi. After dinner walk around the Chateau Carcassone. Strolling thru Nice; what a lovely location and the summerlike weather was a plus. And yes there really was a wow moment at the Vineyard tour and outstanding lunch provided by the vinters daughter."

Lorraine

Baltimore, MD

Tour: 09/28/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Activities were consistent with expectations. Accommodations and meals were better than expected. Tow guides were extraordinary: Malcolm in Chatres and Agnes in Nice. Toni was well organized and handled all blips quickly and efficiently.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Malcom tour of the Cathedral in Chatres on a rainy Monday morning"

Teresa

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As always, RS tours are good value for money, and I hope to be back for tour #10 next year!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Listening to Malcolm Miller at Chartres Cathedral, and seeing – being mere feet away from! – the 13,000-year-old cave paintings at Rouffignac."

Victoria

San Luis Obispo, CA

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First of all, our guide, Virginie, was amazing! Super fun, loved her games on bus rides, and totally organized! Everything was planned so smoothly and effortlessly. We learned so much about the history of France, along with how their people live now day to day. Every hotel was perfect. In Arles, our room was on top floor with our own private rooftop patio! I was putting on earrings there and enjoying view when one slipped off and dropped to roof next door. The staff retrieved it for me!Oo la la!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"How can I answer this..Canoeing, barge ride on Canal du Midi, Chateau des Hospitaliers winery with homecookin lunch, Chateau de Chenonceau (awesome), dinner in Carcasonne cafe and ate cassolet, Cave tour, Massage in spa hotel...I just plain loved every minute of tour. Sarlat marketplace! Playing "boules". Pont du Gard (incredible)!Amazing weather entire time. Riviera. Oo la la:)And everyone on the tour were great."

Pete

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was a good "bucket list" trip. We went a few days early to visit Normandy, so we got a good overview of the country. Once away from Paris, I enjoyed, and was somewhat surprised by, the beautiful forests, farmland and rural life in general.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't know if "favorite" is the right word, but I was stunned and sobered by the visit to Oradour-sur-Glane. Kayaking the river was a nice touch."

Richard

Santa Rosa, CA

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The trip went very well. Our driver Gille was not only competent but a delight to be around. Wonderful sense of humor and could not have been more accommodating. All the logistics were handled so well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Finally getting to see Oradour-Sur-Glane, which I had read about, was an amazing experience. Knowing some of what had happened there and then walking through the village was a very memorable experience. I realize lots of this trip had "WOW" experience but for me seeing this village as it is today leaves a forever impression."

Louvina

Fresno, CA

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great guide, and we enjoyed the trip. Just seemed there was more down time than previous Rick Steve's we had been on. We enjoyed all we did and saw, and the guide was very well informed and had a great attitude.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The wow moment would be seeing the illumination of the night lichts at the Notre Dame cathedral in Chartres . It was fantastic and had seen nothing like it before."

Joyce

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The history information, the guide and the itinerary allowed us to experience a haunting history in the midst of gorgeous landscapes that included fortresses, prehistoric cave drawings,and a wonderful canoe trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Leonardo DaVinci's chateau and gardens were inspiring, the Light show on the cathedral in Chartes, the dinner inside the fortress of Carcassonne, the winery, and wonderful canoe trip. How does one choose? The Roman Ruins were definitely a "wow.""

Cindy

Medford, OR

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guide, great itinerary, friendly, flexible travel mates.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For Cindy, the illumination of Chartres cathedral at night. For Cory, looking down on the Dordogne from the castle, right after getting off the water, on our kayaking day."

Michael

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Well organized, good choice of sites, pleasant fellow tour members. Virginie was an excellent guide, involved and knowledgeable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The canoe trip, possibly because I wasn't so sure I would enjoy it and it turned out to be a lot of fun."

Ric

Boise, ID

Tour: 09/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A thoughtful, balanced itinerary. Wonderful lead guide and bus driver. Knowledgeable day guides. I always feel like I get a deep dive into the culture when I go on a Rick Steve's tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many – but the light show at Chartres was spectacular."

Lawrence

Lake Oswego, OR

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was exactly what I expected it to be - based on the information provided before we made our reservation. I really liked going to lesser-known places and learning a bit about French history and culture. I thought the mix of individual and group dinners was just about right.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can I have more than one "wow" moment? Seeing the room where Leonardo Da Vinci died was unique. The Roman ruins in Arles were spectacular - especially the 2000-year old roman scow in the Arles museum. All of the sites we saw were unique and compelling each in their own way."

Mike

Arvada, CO

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very interesting. My first trip to Europe and France - memorable. Made me want to go back.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every place was memorable."

Ralph

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my first time in many years to France and my first excursion outside of Paris. The area is rich in interesting history, we were fortunate to have great weather, our guide William was excellent, and we got to see a good slice of the country.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"On our one rainy day, rather than spend a lot of time trying to see Les Baux, we took in the art and music presentation at the Carrieres de Lumieres. This is done inside an old quarry and is just amazing."

Judy

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was very informative. I learned a lot about French history and saw some interesting sites. Glad for mostly good weather too.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light show at the quarry. It was mind blowing. It was not even on the list of things to see. If it hadn't been for the rain we would have never seen it. Thanks William for taking us there."

Rita

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were exceedingly pleased with all aspects of our tour. William was exceptional. He was consistently patient, knowledgeable, funny, innovative, caring, creative and adaptive. He is a real asset to Rick Steve tours. The accommodations met our expectations. We enjoyed partaking of the regional cuisine and the enthusiasm of the restaurant hosts. The sites selected to tour were all great, and we thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history and culture of France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cathedral at Chartres was breathtaking. The guide, Malcolm, was a fountain of knowledge and engaging."

Patricia

Victoria, BC

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is a beautifully constructed tour. I loved the tour guide's attention to detail and the comfort and safety of all the individuals in the group. Also his clear and thoughtful commentaries on sights as well as fascinating answers to many questions. Highlights were Amboise (Leonardo Da Vinci's house), Villandry and it's vast gardens, a haunting tour of a pre-historic cave, a canoe trip on the Dordogne River - too many to list them all! The picnics were delightful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Villandry's gardens and a lone cello player in Sarlat."

Michael

Petaluma, CA

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our 14th RS tour. This tour took us to several new places in France that we've always wanted to see and also gave us a new twist on towns we wanted to return to. Chartres was a great place to start the tour, just a one hour train ride from Paris, and the Chartres hotel is just a 5 min walk from the train station. There was really a great variety of sights to see during the tour: Chateaux, cathedrals, beaches, hilltop towns, war memorials, Roman ruins and prehistoric cave drawings.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light shows and music at night in Chartres were a big surprise and extraordinarily well done. Also near Chateau des Baux near Arles there was an underground rock quarry that had been converted to a light and music show highlighting different classical and modern artists. Being surrounded by these moving images in a huge cavern left a lasting impression."

Audrey

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Caves, Chenonceau, winery and the Chartres Chatelet Cathedral. The people on our tour were great. Bus driver was excellent as well as our guide."

Rita

Saint Paul, MN

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my second Tour and with the same guide so I was confident it would be a great experience for my travel partner who was new to Rick Steves Tours. Indeed it was a great time. The accommodations were excellent, the bus comfortable and the pace suited us both. The amazing amount of history which William Altman shared with us enriched every stop along the route.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When friends ask about the trip, I seem to go immediately to the Gardens at Villandry which were so spectacular and yet accessible. We had enough time to wander and enjoy their great variety and beauty. But of course another gasping, jaw-dropper was the Chartres Cathedral illuminated and set to music. A spectacular Son et Lumiere which Louis xiv could not equal."

Lynn

Elburn, IL

Tour: 09/14/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great variety of experiences. Many things we would not have done if traveling on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lots of "wows". But I came away with a great appreciation for the warmth of the people who housed and fed us. They have such pride in what they do and they were eager to share their love of what they produce, whether it was amazing food, lovely wine, or gracious accomadations."

Tory

Moraga, CA

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded our expectations, which were very high at the beginning because we had previously taken 6 Rick Steve's Tours. We would not change anything! Everything about the tour was AWESOME!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are far too many to list, but here are several... The cathedral in Chartres (both the inside and the evening light show) Canoeing on the Dordogne River Chateau Villandry Picnic and dinners together with tour group Walking tours and orientations provided for each of the major towns The food was excellent and with all of the walking, we both actually LOST 2 lbs."

James

West Newton, MA

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a very delightful and well run tour. The choice of places to visit was good, the pace was good, I liked have frequent chunks of free time to interact with the local population more as one of them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Atlhough not a wow moment I enjoyed the visit to the Chateau des Hospitialer's winery the most. Very interesting to learn about their methods of sustainable, low environmental impact wine making, and truely gracious hospitality in the best European tradition."

Robert

Omaha, NE

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great educational experience. Our time was used well so that we saw a lot of France,tempered with down time to enjoy the many towns visited and relaxation. Great tour group

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wine tasting with Laurent in Chinon."

Donna

Omaha, NE

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My overall experience is changing as I get older. I am finding the early rising in a new hotel and living out of a suitcase to be a bit harder than in my past Steves tours. The itinerary was good and thankful that small cities was pretty much the case except for Nice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the canoeing down the Dordogne river....spectacular !!!.....and we had perfect weather the whole trip... couldn't have been nicer."

Helen

Qualicum Beach, BC

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful trip with a great guide and awesome travel companions. Where does Rick Steves find all these lovely people?

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Difficult to pick just one thing as there was usually several "WOW" moments each day. However, the wine tasting at the hotel in Chinon stands out as a fun and instructive event. We learned all about wine and how the French education system works."

Mary Lou

West Newton, MA

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour and I can't think of anything we would have wished to be different! From the amazing guide (Arnaud Servignat) who was so knowledgeable and humorous, to the tour group members, to the small hotels we stayed in, to the wonderful sense of history we found at every turn, we were so pleased with everything. Our knowledge of France and the French language increased during this two-week period and this was just what we had hoped for.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As we traveled in our bus through the agricultural areas in the middle of France, listening to Arnaud describe the history, culture, economy, and many other aspects of France, we suddenly saw the medieval city of Carcassonne, with its walls rising out of the landscape. Nowhere in the U.S. could we have seen such an amazing sight and for me, that was the "wow" moment--to experience in Europe what we never could have if we had stayed at home."

Michael

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful guide, lovely fellow tour members, great sites to visit, cool experiences on the tour, great food and wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Spending time in Sarlat. The evenings were magic and the market was wonderful. Also, the evening light show on the sides of the cathedral in Chartre were amazing."

Laura

Dublin, OH

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed the tour. Arnaud is a great guide with a wonderful sense of humor.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although it is very much a tourist trap in some ways, I loved the fortress at Carcasonne."

John

Arvada, CO

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed travelling with group, guide Arnuld was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and pleasant. Good assortment of city tours, activities, and site visits. Good trip. I especially liked the cultural and historical info provided by guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting cave paintings."

Carol

Arvada, CO

Tour: 09/07/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was one of my favorite Rick Steves tours, of seven that my husband and I have now taken. The scenery was lovely, the historic sites were very interesting, the food and wine absolutely delicious and our tour guide a delightful person.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, but the light show at the Chartres Cathedral definitely made me say "wow!". Also, seeing the prehistoric cave drawings and paddling a canoe down the Dordogne River were amazing experiences."

Wayne

Rockford, IL

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have always used Rick Steves tour guide books when traveling to Europe, but this is the first Rick Steves guided tour that I have experienced. Our guide was excellent. His first priority was to ensure that our group got the best value for the time we had together. Julian was very entertaining and endearing. His incredible depth of knowledge combined with his solid experiential base of leading tour groups gave us an exceptional value - one which we could not have done alone.

Chu

Weldon Spring, MO

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was wonderful.The group was very compatible and agreed on most everything. Julian our tour guide was a joy to listen to and brought a wealth of information which he shared with all.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The market day in Sarlat and the Roman museum in Arle."

William

Weldon Spring, MO

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

In Chartres, the Cathedral tour and the Stained Glass Museum were amazing.Chinon and Sarlat were wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was the side trip Julian made to take us to Avignon and the "French Vatican". Even though we only stopped for a photo opportunity it was enlightening."

Rosemarie

Langhorne, PA

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We got what we expected: a thoughtfully arranged tour that covered a lot of territory and got us to feel comfortable going back on our own. Also, there's nothing like seeing the real thing to appreciate it more-than-intellectually, such as Chartes Cathedral, the Pont du Gard aqueduct, and Nice's Chagall museum. The tour included impressive surprises, such as Vallandry's gardens, a sad martyred village, and the hugeness of Carcassonne (offset by tacky shops, countered by a great group dinner).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Really, really hard to select. Both my wife and I would say the Pont du Gard aqueduct, an example of jaw-dropping Roman engineering, and the Ruffignac cave paintings because of their quality, age, and mystery (why'd they paint these and why so deep inside the cave?)."

Peter

Spokane, WA

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a fantastic time. The weather was perfect. The sights were fantastic. Everyone was a joy to travel with. I cannot say enough about how wonderful Julian was to have as a guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of the sea from the hills above Nice."

Mikhail

Plymouth, MN

Tour: 08/31/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall experience was very positive. Tour was well organized and thoughtful, with reasonable balance between tour activities, driving, stops and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would not [INVALID] any specific "wow" moments from the tour. Overall quality of the tour is much higher than our previous experience with other tour companies."

Patrick

Northridge, CA

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

great tour leader,very nice hotels, driver superb weather , hot and humid. As always your tour delivers the goods in both staff and great groups, this was our fifth and if we are still physically able we will do at least do one more as we would like to see Sicily.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chateau Des Hospitaliers, a WOW tour and LUNCH"

Floyd

West Linn, OR

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Interesting, educational and fun, but a bit too much planned activity and not quite enough free time.

Ronald

Norwood, NY

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A. Excellent group/tour leader: Julie! Excellence in French lanugage, culture, history, geography, economics, educational systems pre-K [INVALID]university, sociological aspects, and music. Skilled in group dynamics. Good listener. Loves France and the French [INVALID] with comparative and complementary knowledgeable of France, U.S., and Canada. B. A researcher for decades of European history and contemporary society, never thought I'd like a professional "tour". I was wrong.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sorry (?) -- no single "wow" moment. A. See number 16, below. B. Chartres Cathedral for three days. (I arrived early). As a soon-to-retire European historian, it's now no longer on my "bucket list". C. Oradour-sur-Glane."

Christine

Lakewood, CO

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had an amazing time visiting this part of France. Toni was a professional, personal, funny and knowledgable guide. With the wealth of information she gave us, we had confidence in exploring the towns and villages. She kept the group together and held us all to our schedule so as to work well in a group. The itinerary was simply fantastic - medieval towns to a family owned sustainable winery, we could not have asked for more.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't think I had a specific 'wow' moment as much as a consistent feeling of excitement about seeing this part of France. What came the closest was the fact that I actually swam in the Mediterranean Sea - I never imagined I would do that."

James

Madison, WI

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

All the sites included on the tour were great, but overall, the tour was unusually tiring, possibly because we covered so much territory. Fewer long dinners would have let us get more sleep!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sites included on the tour were outstanding, but the real "wow" element was our guide, Toni. She prepared everyone for each site with informative talks on the bus and gave us excellent suggestions for seeing each place. As an English woman living in France, she brought a special depth to her observations. She seemed attentive to each individual's interests and needs. She apparently observed that my wife had injured her foot, and after that we found ourselves in ground floor hotel rooms."

Brad

Newark, DE

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I tend to be drawn to (RS tours with) big cities and are always on the go when visiting them. This tour had me looking at Europe from a different perspective ... slower pace, longer meals, and quaint towns. It took awhile to adjust, but I enjoyed wandering the small lanes, popping into mom-and-pop stores to practice my extremely limited French vocabulary, and marveling at how the scenery changed as we worked our way south.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hands down, the wow moment was embracing Rick's philosophy of spending time with the locals when we accepted a home dinner invitation from an artist that we befriended during our stay in Sarlat. Since this isn't a structured part of the tour, my second place wow moment were the chateaus ... mainly the Chenonceau house and the Villandry gardens. While not a "wow" moment, I really appreciate the stop at Oradour-Sur-Glane. I find these experiences very moving and essential for understanding history."

Ronald

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was an excellent experience in learning about French culture in the countryside area outside of Paris. We learned a lot about their history, art, lifestyle and samplings of food and wine. There was a nice balance of education from the guides and plenty of opportunity to explore our areas of interests during our free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Views from the top of the castle keep of the gardens at the Chateau Villandry, the experiences visiting the mountain town of Le Baux,and the views from the Castle Hill area of Nice. Since we had previously seen Paris in 2010 as a part of another tour, we spent a few days and really enjoyed the experience of visiting Giverny and the Monet house/gardens and the Opera Garnier was stunning. After the tour, we spent a "Wow" day in Monaco (Palace, Cathedral, views, gardens,and Casino)"

Anne

Madison, WI

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 1 of 5

I will not be taking another Rick Steves tour. I felt rushed most of the time, with only enough time to take a very cursory, surface level look at the places I was interested in. I always had one eye on my watch, because of the fear of being late. If each day were not chopped up into small sections of time, each with its own looming deadline, I could have relaxed more.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient cave art, and Carcassonne."

Elizabeth

Madison, WI

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It all seemed too fast, too tiring.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"les Baux or pont gard."

Cynthia

Cedar Park, TX

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every day was like an amazing field trip! I just drank up all the new experiences. My husband and I had our first trip to Europe without being on a tour, and we wasted so much time. The RS tour just works best for us, as we like having everything planned and organized. This was our 4th Rick Steves tour, and we hope to go on one every year. We have already signed up for our 5th!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light show at Chartres - watched it both nights, the walled fortress town of Carcassonne - it's even more beautiful lit up at night, Les Beaux, Sarlat was a magical town with the gas lights and golden glow of the buildings, and we LOVED having a whole day free to do whatever we wanted - loved the market. The Pont du Gard was fascinating, and Oradur-sur-Glans was a sobering and insightful experience. Loved the cave drawings."

Weather

France / Paris


France / Nice

Nice 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.

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.

Transportation

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.

Many 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.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. Most tour members will arrange to fly into Paris (50 minutes by train to Chartres, where the tour begins) and out of Nice (“multi-city” on flight booking websites). Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, or additional overnight stay in France. Paris and Nice are transportation hubs, making 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 to decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

If you have additional European travel or tour questions, contact the Tour Department at 425-608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you plan to arrive early into Chartres, please be advised that we will be visiting all of the city's major sights as a group. Therefore, you may want to consider spending your pre-tour time in Paris or another European destination. Please see Rick Steves France guidebook for Paris sightseeing suggestions. If you arrive in Chartres with a few hours to spare before your tour starts, you can get over your jet lag by taking a walk through the medieval city center or try out a few words of French at a local café.

Packing

We’ll be visiting a prehistoric cave in the Dordogne region. The temperature inside the cave is 55° year-round, so you’ll want to pack long pants and a jacket.

For more advice on what (and what not!) to pack, see Rick’s packing tips.