• 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

Sorry, we're unable to access departure availability at this time. Please try again later or contact us at 425-608-4217, Monday-Saturday between 9 am and 5 pm.

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 18 group sightseeing events • Chartres orientation tour • Chartres Cathedral tour • Amboise visit • Chenonceau Château • Villandry Château and Gardens orientation • Loire wine tasting • 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 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 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

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

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."

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!"

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."

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!"

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."

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."

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."

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."

Kimberly

Washington, DC

Tour: 10/05/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cave drawings"

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."

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!""

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."

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"

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"

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."

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.

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."

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"

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!!!"

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"

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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.""

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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?)."

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."

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.

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."

Jennifer

Pea Ridge, AR

Tour: 07/06/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great tour! Great guide, bus driver, and fellow tour members made this adventure a real standout! The tour was a wonderful overview of french culture, countryside, and history. I loved learning about vineyards, kings, and modern day french living. A very wide scoping tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"All the bells and whistles were visited during this tour (chateaus, cathedrals, medieval towns) and were obvious "wows", but what I love about RS tours are the visits to out of the way spots such as the vineyard where we had a tour and lunch..such experiences makes the trip have a more richness in depth.........not always taking the major highways, but ambling through the French countryside is another subtle "wow". Oradour-sur-Glane....I still think about that place and situation."

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."

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.

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"

Deborah

Wasilla, AK

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

tour met all my expectations. made me wonder why I waited so long to tour France. Length was good,covered a lot of territory. And the guide outstanding!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"visiting the chateaus and seeing the beautiful gardens. Also canoeing down the Dordogne River."

Joanne

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The special surprises added so much to the overall success of this tour. The afternoon excursion to Carmague to see storks and flamingos, the exceptional gardens at Villandry and the light show at Chartres were wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was the light show at Chartres - how could it not be? I've never seen anything like it."

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."

Rosemarie

El Segundo, CA

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I really enjoyed the tour. Our tour guide, Toni and our bus driver, Gilles, were professional, well-informed, and willing to go beyond the expectations of their jobs. Plus, they made us laugh on many occasions with their funny stories and comments! The places we visited gave us a real taste of the French culture, which I really liked---small towns, lots of history, great food and wine, food markets, wineries, small and intimate hotels, and free time to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed the winery tour and the awesome lunch they had for us. Their daughter was a studying to be a chef, and she made some spectacular dishes for us."

John

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As with other Rick Steves tours that we've taken (7), this one was excellent. It was perfectly paced, skillfully led, and quite enjoyable throughout the time we traveled.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments, but the light-and-sound show one evening at the Chartres Cathedral ranked at the top. A most unusual and striking phenomenon that we weren't expecting. Another that ranked at the top was the chateau and gardens at Villandry. They were spectacular! We could easily have spent another hour or two there."

David

Lakewood, CO

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall fantastic experience. Well organized and [INVALID]d. Toni did a fantastic job coordinating all experiences and keeping us on schedule. There is enough structured and unstructured time to allow for group and individual experiences. A few of the Chateau did feel a bit rushed but that is my own feeling and not that of my wife, who felt the time spent was just right. Gilles was a fantastic driver with an awesome sense of humor who navigated us through some very narrow streets with ease.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Swimming in the perfectly blue Mediterranean, having a home-made lunch at a sustainable family run winery, sitting with Malcom Miller in the Chartres cathedral hearing him describe the stories of the stained glass windows, "crazy" Laurent and his wine tasting class in Chinon, the Midi canal ride with lunch from the market in Sarlat, seeing original Van Gogh and Monet paintings along side the Roman arena in Arles, laughing with the mayor during our picnic lunch... too many to count."

Rebecca

Prior Lake, MN

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was incredible. Every French village was better than the last. The food... France's reputation for the best food in the world is well deserved. The wine was the best ever, very inexpensive and always available. The trip couldn't have a more perfect ending than being in beautiful Nice and on the Mediterranean. I can't wait to see the rest of France!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me it was the Da Vinci Museum in Amboise. I have always admired Da Vinci and it was such a treat to see so many of his inventions and the home he spent his last years in. Amboise couldn't have been a more beautiful spot."

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)"

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."

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."

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."

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."

MaryAnn

Farmington Hills, MI

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We hit every thing that was planned on the itinerary. The fellow travelers were well versed in the RS Way to Travel, The Virginie and Phillip the bus driver made a good team. We appreciated that the itinerary and sites didn't overlap too much with the previous tour we took...Paris and the Heart of France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Virginie was very knowledgeable about French history. I enjoyed using my imagination to put us in the time period she was describing. The crowds became peasants, merchants and royalty bustling around us. I heard the audiences in the amphitheater & coliseum of Arles. The chateaux came alive with the sounds of daily life and the castle walls bristled with guards and archers as we walked the list in Carcassonne. It gave me tingles to feel the history come alive around me."

William

Farmington Hills, MI

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our Guide(Virginie) made this tour a wonderful, educational, enlightening, emotional experience. The places we visited in France brought us to this Rick Steves tour. Virginie made it a lifetime experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cathedral at Chartre, the barge picnic, the canoeing in Dordogne, the walks through the old central villages all stick out in my mind as I think about the places and moments of the tour. The Oradour sur Glane visit was an emotional point in the tour. I'm so glad it is included in the itinerary."

William

Lake Oswego, OR

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The France tour was a great experience for my family. We saw so many things, it is hard to imagine visiting all the tour stops in only 2 weeks. This was our 3rd Rick Steves tour and we continue to enjoy and recommend the RS tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Chartres cathedral lit up at night was spectacular. Anyone going to Chartres should see the cathedral during the daytime as well as the night when the light show(with music) makes the Gothic cathedral come to life. The other great experience was floating down the Dordogne river, and seeing all the medieval fortresses above really making the 100 years war come back to life"

Ann

Sebastopol, CA

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide made it fabulous. Virginie has an amazing grasp of history, culture, food, and shares it in a delightful manner. She is a real gem!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"i think wandering around Chartres at night and seeing the light show on the cathedral was breathtaking."

Steve

San Juan Capistrano, CA

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was all wonderful..Virginie was knowledgeable, charming, personable and witty. She was an outstanding tour guide in every way. Could not have been better. We look forward to seeing her in January. Our driver Phillip also added to the enjoyment, excellent driver, and very friendly and personable. We also enjoyed the other tour participants. They were enjoyable travel companions, and we hope to see them again. Good group size. The places we visited were all chosen well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't pick just one. Maybe lunch at the environmentally sensitive winery, maybe Carcasonne, maybe Les Baux, but picking any would be unfair to all the others. It was a total "wow" experience on all levels."

William

Cary, NC

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Had a great time on our trip. Virginie was outstanding. She explained everything and gave us a clear understanding of the France people and their culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our visit to the winery and the wonderful lunch they produced."

Polly

Maplewood, MN

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was very well run by our guide, Virginie. She is knowledgeable, clear, patient and kind. She and Philippe, the bus driver, were a great team and offered us some extra side trips to complement the tour itinerary.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We happened to be in Arles for the celebration of St. John the Baptist Day (St. Jean) and got to be in the middle of the townspeople's dancing and music using the traditional costumes and musical instruments. They also lit the bonfire and we got to tie our wishes to the branches to be added to the fire. What was so great was that it wasn't being on for tourists, but as an expression of the ongoing renewal of their Provencal heritage."

Stan

Greenville, SC

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our tour leader was knowledgeable of both U.S. and, of course, French culture, but also the nuances of the many provinces of France. This added a depth to the tour which might not have been available if led by a native of the U.S.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think the prehistoric cave art would have to rank alongside the Roman ruins."

Ronald

Sebastopol, CA

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great tour guide. Sarlat hotel not so good but people were nice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chartres cathedral light show."

Christine

Chevy Chase, MD

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A congenial group, well organized with just enough free time. We could not have seen so much in 13 days on our own. And we would not have had such a great course in French language and culture by ourselves,either.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The lights on Chartres cathedral and the canoe trip on the Dordogne."

William

Chevy Chase, MD

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is a tour that would be difficult for individuals to put together. We saw a lot of things - repeated castles, cathesdrals, caves and chateau. Outatanding tour guide. Lots of varied highlight sights as well as off-the-beaten-track experiences, i.e., "Europe Through the Backdoor." Good accomodations and food, lots to see and do, sorry it ended but I'm not sure I could have done a third week.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The French do a number of things well (for example, food), but they truly are magical with light shows. The lighting of Chartres Cathedral was an absolute Wow! moment, and then there were 20 places lighted around town. Another Wow! moment was the sound and light show in the abandoned quarry in Les Baux. Really creative. A shame most/all of the other tour members didn't choose to see it."

Michele

Cary, NC

Tour: 06/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved our tour guide, Virginie More. She was excellent, well versed on history and everything we needed to know to make our trip more enjoyable. We enjoyed the cities we visited and the amount of time we were in each city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We really liked the winery tour and homemade luncheon. The lady was lovely and very kind to us. We really appreciated all she did for us and the luncheon was truly delicious."

Arthur

Seattle, WA

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Top notch guide. Ready to handle anything - including a rail strike that threatened the end of our journey and connections to the next RS tour. Julie went way above and beyond to ensure everyone got taken care of. Also a jubilant participant in our group as well as a guide. Extremely knowledgeable. Introduced us to the 13 knot rope "computer" that the architects used to design and build castles and cathedrals. I would happily join another tour that she guides, and would certainly recommend her.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to enumerate, but a consistent one was the warm and friendly French people all of whom were helpful, kind and understanding - and had a wonderful sense of humor. Especially in the smaller towns and villages."

Karolyn

Denver, CO

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour experience and I would definitely do it again. The pace was lively and I liked the mix of group activities and free time. The itinerary included so many wonderful sights that I looked forward to hopping on the bus each day. We had a nice bunch of traveling companions and Julie set a nice tone for our group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The food and the French people. I was very impressed at the care the French have for their food and presentation. The French are gracious, funny and complimented us on our "French" even though we only tried five words. My two highlights were wine related, the organic winery and lunch at Hospitaliers and Laurents wine tasting. I also really enjoyed shopping for food at the markets and having picnics with the group. The visit to Oradour.sur.Glane was sobering."

Becky

Portland, OR

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From start to finish, this was such a memorable tour! The rooms, the meals, all great, but our bus driver Phillipe, and guide Julie, we're amazing! The itinerary was so good. I keep telling people that when you thought it couldn't get any better, it always did.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have to pick the prehistoric caves. The caves also generated the most discussion long after the guided tour."

Maria

Lido Beach, NY

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loire of France, loved it! The tour was well organized, great hotels, tour agenda was a great surprise. The bus was comfortable, driver Phillip was excellent. The members of the tour were friendly, The guide Julie was informed and up beat. This was my first trip to France, the tour exceeded my expectations. The small chalets and villages, Medieval experiences, with time on our own to explore, made the vacation perfect. France is beautiful,culture, landscape, food, history, art, captivating.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Charters, was our first stop, the illuminations at night was a wonderful unexpected surprise. The village itself had much to offer, great start to a tour."

Laurie

Seattle, WA

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great time, great group of fellow travelers. One comment I heard from several folks in the group was how friendly the French were. We had some great interactions with locals, including one shop clerk drawing pictures to explain where we could find an item she did not carry in her shop.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to the Chenonceau in the Loire Valley and the visit to Oradour-sur-Glane on the way to Sarlat. I think everyone in the group was teary-eyed after visiting this WWII martyr village - as the French say 'forgive, but never forget'."

Kate

Portland, OR

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful! I thought the tour was very well organized and visited interesting places.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Dordogne Valley was the highlight of the trip for me; the medieval towns and villages, the castles, the lush, green countryside."

William

Happy Valley, OR

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an extraordinary experience. A delightful range from beautiful chateaus to awesome prehistoric cave paintings to ancient Roman architecture to a canoe trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lunch at Eco friendly vineyard"

Joan

Harbor City, CA

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Loire to the South of France tour was fantastic...I truly enjoyed every moment. The staff at each of the hotels we stayed were very helpful and friendly. Each of the sites we toured were truly memorable and informative....The food was fantastic - the cheeses were so creamy, the meals were so delicious and representative of great French cuisine. The group events - picnics and boating were great fun. There was ample time to do our own thing..Most importantly, the tour staff was wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I truly loved every moment...Villandry castle was wonderful. Nice was truly spectacular...Visiting Carcassone was like going back in time to the Middle Ages."

Diane

Pueblo, CO

Tour: 06/01/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Excellent assortment of experiences. Very good bus and driver. Enjoyed centrally located hotels allowing walking to all things we wanted to visit. Pace was good except for some lunch breaks (see below). Loved feeling immersed in French history due to all the places we visited and all the input from Julie and local guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't choose just one! Chartes cathedral light show and Malcolm Miller Villandry gardens Picnic stop at Morte-Mart Cave art Market day in Sarlat local guide in Arles Les Baux"

Patricia

Otis, OR

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour leader, itinerary, participants, and food were all excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting Rouffignac Cave was my "WOW" moment. It was simply awesome to be in the actual presence of the work left by artists of thousands of years ago. The trek with our luggage up to our hotel in Arles was great, too, walking past the Roman amphitheater and then the stadium to our hotel. Visiting the actual sites of some of Van Gogh's paintings was impressive, too. And then there was the delicious food!"

Sharon

Gig Harbor, WA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful tour with a variety of different experiences. We were fortunate to hear a lecture by Malcom Miller at the Chartres cathedral. A real treat as he is now in his 80's and the most knowledgable person alive on the subject. I also loved the canoe trip in the Dordorgne and the visit to the caves (now I know what an anal flap is on a wooly mammoth!)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to the Clos Luce and the reproductions of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions."

Linda

Charlevoix, MI

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Over all the tour was outstanding. It was extremely well organized and a perfect balance of group activity and free time. Chris was a great guide. She was knowledgable and very interesting, with a great sense of humor. Our driver Gilles was also wonderful. In addition to driving so well (How do they get the buses through those narrow streets?) he participated in group events, boules, and was able to answer questions and generally be a real asset to the

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many "Wow" moments to count. Wine tasting certainly, both occasions were terrific. Canoeing the Dordogne was really special. The meals!!"

Kathleen

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed all of the tour activities and it was a very good group.

Paul

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a great experience! A very congenial group of tour members. Jay & Judy had a group(4 couples)from the Seattle area from which they came together. Jay invited all the tour members to join them for "Happy Hour" following the day's activities. This was very considerate of them to do this! Previously on other tours groups like this "stayed together" and by themselves. Hats off to Jay and Judy!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many favorite moments!"

Cherie

Maple Valley, WA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was six days out of chemotherapy when we left home for our French adventure. Being a positive person, I was certain that this would be an incredible journey. When you travel with Rick Steve's you are given the opportunity to choose a buddy, to which you agree to make eye contact with to assure everyone we start off with is still present and traveling with the group. My BUDDY was perfect for me. Lynn, was compassionate and caring, I hope she felt the same love from me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My WOW moment was sitting in a small cafe in Sarlat enjoying a cold beer and pizza, listening to a guitarist play beautiful music. Sitting next to me was Annie, I'm not sure if it was our lack of eyelashes or our wigs, but we made a connection. We are both triple negatives, just completing our chemotherapy and enjoying a holiday. I LOVED canoeing down the Dordogne River; and hiking up for an incredible view of Pond Du Gard. I felt empowered."

Dana

Washington, MO

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a very enjoyable and informative trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We especially enjoyed the tour of the prehistoric cave of Rouffignac."

Antonio

Fort Myers, FL

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enjoy very much experiencing the countryside of France. It is a much different experience as that of Paris. Found french people extremely engaging and friendly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light show at Chartres Cathedral was an eye opener and very instructive. The colored laser lights was like time travel throughout the cathedral's history. Moreover, let you "see" the original coloring that the outside church's imagery had in medieval times."

Kirsten

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My aim in taking this tour was to see as much of the country-as in country side-as possible and that wish was certainly fulfilled. The variety of landscape within the country was amazing and wonderful: from flat farmland to mountainous terrain to scrubland, endless waterways, and old, old towns. To all this one adds the history that has taken place in many of the areas we passed through and/or explored, some of it known to me and much not, making it a very worthwhile trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was no one particular "wow" moment but many very memorable ones including Chartres and our hour with Malcolm, the exhibition of modern stained glass, and the son et lumiere at the cathedral at night. The Rouffinac caves were awe inspiring, the canoe trip was great fun as were our days in Sarlat and the impromptu Boule tournament, and the surprise to see so much roman history there, especially the aqueduct and in Arles."

Michael

Irvine, CA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Barging the Canal du Midi together Under plane trees sunlit after rain Sunday picnic, bread and wine Water pouring in and out of locks Our boat rising and falling Between Ocean and Sea"

Rita

Novato, CA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was totally fun and a tremendous learning experience. The villages that we stayed in were so charming and interesting. The group size was perfect for getting to know our fellow travelers. On our last day I wished I could rewind the clock and start the tour all over again.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many wow moments that it is hard to choose, but for me it was seeing those cave drawings made by early peoples. It was thrilling to ride in the dark in that tram and then have illuminated the art that I have wanted to see since first seeing it in an elementary school textbook."

Donna

Strongsville, OH

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a very good time on this tour. We had a great guide and a nice group of people. I especially enjoyed visiting Chartres Cathedral and the chateaux at Chenonceau and Villandry. It was also fun shopping with the locals on market day in Sarlat!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was walking around Carcassone taking photos. It was an amazing sight during the day but absolutely magical at night. I also enjoyed the wine tasting with Laurent at the Hotel Diderot in Chinon (he's hilarious)."

David

Novato, CA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Didn't know what to expect as it was our first tour with a group and was very very pleased with the outcome, especially with the other folks participating in the tour. The group really gelled, everybody got along and had a great time. Rolinka was suberb, flexible and knowledgeable especially when she arranged alternate tours due to the weather. She was very well informed and personable. We had a suberb cassoulet dinner and afterward we rolled the tables back and danced to ABBA...great fun!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow experience was reaizing that I was walking on floors, touching walls that had been built and handled by someone over 800 years before; what were their lives like? who were they? The massive manpower effort to build these churches, fortresses (Carcassone to name one) and mansions...taking several hundred years to do so. As an engineer, I was humbled by the roman aqueduct at Pont du Gard that was built 2000 yrs ago with gradual slopes using primitive survey instruments."

Karen

Honolulu, HI

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A wonderful tour! I was a little afraid that our trip would be a "re-hash" of our Fall 2013 tour from Paris to the Loire. But not so! Things were fresh and new and though there was a tiny bit of overlap,I saw and heard new things at Chenonceau that made it really worthwhile. Very much enjoyed the Canal du Midi river ride. Lovely scenery and the lady who ran the trip was very happy about her neck of the French woods! She was also kind (and forgiving!) about my poor French!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably Les Baux! Very awesome scenery and a great visit, with a wonderful lunch too."

Irving

Littleton, CO

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour in virtually every respect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Number 1: Carcassonne at night Number 2: Villefranche-sur-Mer (Which we did on our own) Number 3&4 (tie): Barge du Midi and Der Linkas dancing in assisting with wine tasting in Chinon."

John

Medina, OH

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour. I have always planned and traveled my own vacations. I was worried about traveling with a group of strangers on a structured trip. I was pleasantly surprised and would be happy to go again. I think a lot of it had to do with the tour guide Rolinka but many of the things we did and the places we saw and visited and the food I ate I probably would not have thought of doing if not for the tour. I had a thoroughly wonderful time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to come up with a single "wow" moment. There were several of them. If I have to name just one I would have to say it was Oradour sur Glane. Not a "wow moment in a happy or joyful way but in a sobering way. I have always been interested in military history and have read about Oradour. To see it was was awe inspiring."

Paul

Dover, MA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I lived in Nice for 9 months, but I had never been to the other places on this tour (except Paris-not on the tour). Thus, aspect of France such as castles, markets, ruins, etc. were not novel for me but they were still most interesting. The wow for me was the visit to the Languedoc winemaker, Chateau des Hospitaliers. The facility tour was great, a very interesting building, then a wonderful home cooked meal with the excellent wine made at the Chateau. Moreover, they have a gite for guests."

Carlene

Beaverton, OR

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lived up to the high expectations of the Rick Steves experience. There was a nice mixture of quiet time in beautiful French villages interspersed with dramatic vistas of prehistoric cave engravings, Carcassonne,and the French Riviera. The tour was well organized and ran flawlessly; Rolinka was excellent in arranging our daily itineraries and providing help when needed. Great group of fellow travelers!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being someone who loves Medieval history, I would say seeing Carcassonne for the first time was my "wow" moment on the tour. It was a breathtaking experience to actually see Medieval France right before my eyes rather than through the pages of a history book."

Vicki

Syracuse, NY

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I don't have any complaints. Patrick was very good. The trip overall was excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing in Dordogne area."

Susan

Santa Rosa, CA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well planned, our guide was knowledgeable and personable, the group got along well and we kept very busy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many...two that stand out are having an authority like Malcolm Miller share his knowledge at Chartes, and being able to visit Chateau des Hospitalier and receive a private tour followed by a fabulous lunch of local Med cuisine."

Carter

Algonquin, IL

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Sometimes the mix of the group detracts from the experience, but this is not under your control. The weather didn't help but again it's not under your control. Touring in the summer is better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our tour guide took us on evening walk to see Carcassonne at night."

Josette

Boca Raton, FL

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent.

Kathy

Deming, WA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved the trip...a good variety of experiences...Patrick was a wonderful tour leader as were the local guides. Good food, good wine, made many friends on the tour. Thank you for (again) a wonderful Rick Steves trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick just one. I appreciated visiting the winery and learning of their efforts to be ecologically efficient. The food and wine were good as well."

George

Santa Rosa, CA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful experience with a pre trip to Paris[5 days] and Normandy. Food, wine, and history. Fellow travelers were great. Patrick was outstanding in all categories. History was good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I liked the whole trip. Patrick and Malcolm Miller were good. Each area had good points. Food was good with the Dordogne being the most interesting. Group meals were fun and excellent. The hotel and restaurant people were kind and helpful. Arles was my favorite town for walking."

Barbara

Poughkeepsie, NY

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour of any kind, and I did not go willingly! My friends talked me into it after our original plan to visit France fell through. I could not have been happier about our decision and am a Rick Steves tour convert! The slow pace and immersion into the smaller villages was perfect for our travel style, and I very much liked the fact that we were mostly left on our own.....after having an orientation in each area. Bravo!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"canoeing the Dourdougne and visiting the Rouffignac caves"

John

Peoria, AZ

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour and guide exceeded my expectations. We saw some amazing villages and places and the time spent at each one was just about right. Rolinka was fantastic. She is a very knowledgeable and experienced guide but does not just go thru the motions. She really enjoys her job and the people she is with. I highly recommend this tour to anyone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The winery stop just east of Arles. I was expecting a boring stop at some typical little winery but got a wonderful surprise instead. The owners were great and gave us a most interesting tour of their winery and fields. They practice environmental sustainability and multiple use to an amazing degree and it has the added advantage of saving them money in the long run. The lunch the owners prepared was the best of the tour and did I mention that the wine was superb. I ended up buying a case."

Caroline

Dove Canyon, CA

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every single day was wonderful! The start time was great, the amount of freedom to explore on our own was perfect. The wonderful history lesson we received at each place or on the bus prior to arriving was so much more than I ever would have known if going on my own. The tour group was friendly, Rolinka was phenomenal!! We got to see so many places yet still had time to absorb each of those places. I can't say enough positive things about this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chateau Chenonceau was gorgeous! Seriously out of a movie. Le Baux was absolutely beautiful. Sitting high up on the rock overlooking the gorgeous view was quite the experience."

Diane

Westford, MA

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Outstanding guide, leadership. Cohesive, wonderful group to have as travel companions. Highly enjoyed the varied itinerary a country tour offers: Museums, outdoor sightseeing activities, options for recreational experiences (canoeing, swimming, river walks, being at the beach), Historic sites, UNESCO sites (I think there were 5). Intimate Group Dinners are a highlight culturally and socially. Picnics are relaxing. Tasting local wines and foods are an enjoyable push outside your comfort zone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Surpisingly the Rouffignac Cave brought me to the "wow" place. Until this travel I didn't have this place or anything of this theme or era in my mind of travel. It moved me enough that I purchused a small art print of the 'Mammoth' for my home."

Rita

Hancock, MI

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful experience. The group all seemed to enjoy each other as well as all the sites we visited.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to limit myself to one "wow" moment . Chartres Cathedral with its' impressive light show stands out."

Larry

Tehachapi, CA

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Most enjoyable. Outstanding guide. Great group of people. Interesting and admirable buddy. Fascinating sites and locations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were at least two. The Roman aqueduct "Pont du Gard", the razed village of the martyrs Oradour-sur-Glane. Finally, the wine tasting event at the Hotel Diderot in Chinon: the owner of the hotel should be on the stage!"

Theresa

Tehachapi, CA

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have taken many Rick Steves tours and enjoyed this one, too. The more times we go to France, the more I like it. This tour was typical in that we had a very congenial group and a fine guide! Having pleasant traveling companions makes a trip much more fun, and we've found that with very rare exceptions, the RS tours seem to attract nice, interesting people. We had never been to the west of France, so from Chartres to Nice, it was all new to us. What a gorgeous country France is!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick just one moment. Listening to the 4-man choir singing in the church at Carcassonne was beautiful and so unexpected; marvelling at the Pont du Gard; market day in Sarlat.... Too many other great memories to mention."

Stephanie

Springfield, IL

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour far exceeded my expectations. It was a great mix of a variety of interesting sites plus enough free time to explore what I wanted on my own. The group got along well and Rolinka is a fantastic guide who made every day special.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to choose just one since every day seemed to be better than the last. Canoeing on the Dordogne was definitely a highlight as well as our amazing dinner in Chinon."

JoAnne

Harbor Springs, MI

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great trip! Great guide, fine accommodations, nice companions, and well-chosen places to visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say...I liked all of it."

Mary Jo

Burns, OR

Tour: 05/04/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my 5th RS tour, so I knew what to expect, and I wasn't disappointed! A great combination of culture, history, art, great meals, wonderful tour members and a super guide! I love traveling with like-minded people who know how to pack light, "no grumps" and all interesting people!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several: the sound and light show in Chartres on the cathedral and city buildings after dark; the pre-historic etchings at Rouffignac Cave; Carcassonne at night; the sheer size and beauty of Chateau de Chenonceau. A very touching and sober experience walking through Oradour-sur- Glane. The wine-tasting in Chinon with Laurent -- hilarious! He should be an entertainer! All the small villages we wandered through were "wows"!"

Diane

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 2 of 5

Due health issues among the guides, we had two guides on this trip. I was proud of the way they carried it off, but very disappointed in the trip as compared to my trip to Paris with Rick Steves in 2008. At that time we had a French guide in Paris, and since I had been studying French language and culture she could share quite a bit with me. This time it was just an American and a Dutch women, neither French and neither able to show more than they knew from books or living abroad.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"None from the Rick Steve's part. I stayed in Nice afterwards, speaking French, living in an apartment. That was my wow moment. Within the Rick Steve's group it was a forced feeling of being bussed quickly through unfortunately poor northern weather and trying to make alternate plans for the rain days. Weather cannot be helped. Within the tour the hotel owner in Chenin was "wow" for me. I spent a lot of time in flea markets for reasons I hope to write about below. I found my France there."

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.

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 into 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.

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.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). It's easiest to fly into Paris, a 50-minute train ride to Chartres, and home from Nice. Paris and Nice are transportation hubs, making travel before or after your tour quite easy. Another popular option is to book a roundtrip ticket in and out of Paris and take the train (6 hours) back to Paris on the day the tour ends, spending at least one night in Paris before flying back to the states.

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 consider including when packing for this tour. While in the region of Dordogne, we will be visiting a pre-historic cave. Regardless of the outside temperature, the average temperature inside the cave is 55°; long pants and long sleeves (or a jacket) are suggested.

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