• 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

from $3,295 + Air

Optional Single Supplement $775

See Tour Dates

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

2016

    • May 8–May 20 (Su-Fr)
    • $3,395 + Air

    Join Waitlist
    • May 22–Jun 3 (Su-Fr)
    • $3,495 + Air

    Join Waitlist
    • Jun 12–Jun 24 (Su-Fr)
    • $3,495 + Air

    Sleeps in Monaco and will visit Nice.

    Join Waitlist
    • Sep 4–Sep 16 (Su-Fr)
    • $3,495 + Air

    Filling Fast
    • Sep 18–Sep 30 (Su-Fr)
    • $3,495 + Air

    Filling Fast
    • Sep 25–Oct 7 (Su-Fr)
    • $3,395 + Air

    Filling Fast

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
  • $100 store credit for your household to use toward guidebooks and other gear for your trip
  • 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 2016
  • 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 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: 4 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 or near 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

Patricia

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was a good tour with a nice group of travelers. There was a reasonable mix of larger towns and smaller villages. Touring the chateaus was a highlight, although we did not have enough time at any of them. There was great variety in sights and geography, which made each day feel like a new adventure. Ending on the Riviera was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Dinner at Au Chapeau Rouge in Chinon. Move over Top Chef."

Lisa

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think my favorite part of the tour was the gardens at Villandry. They were so vast and beautiful. I have never seen anything like them."

Robert

Phoenix, AZ

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first guided tour with Rick Steves. The places visited, hotel locations and route covered were excellent. There was a nice variety of sites visited, chateaus, cathedrals, ruins of various sorts, and generally very beautiful countryside scenery.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The holographic light show projection on the Chartres Cathedral was awesome."

Carl

Bonita Springs, FL

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Many "ah" moments with just the right mixture of planed and free time. Arnaud, our tour guide was not only knowledgeable but was very entertaining.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several, but I really enjoyed the vineyard tour and dinner given to us by the owners."

Elizabeth

Bonita Springs, FL

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well planned. Everything flowed so smoothly. Our fellow travelers were so considerate and always punctual. The places we visited were great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was visiting the Rouffignac Cave and seeing the 13,000 year old drawings. How incredible to see mammoths drawn on a cave ceiling! The most peaceful experience was canoeing down the Dordogne River. I am so happy we were able to do that."

Tim

Seattle, WA

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I picked an autumn tour to avoid the heat and crowds of summer. Worth noting the obvious: There's less daylight! Mid-season tours allow time for a brisk walk and taking pictures before breakfast. I enjoyed the variety of experiences and places we saw, my first trip to France beyond Paris. Arnauld's monologues on the bus were charming, especially when he began,"I will explain you..." I came away with a better understanding of French perspectives.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"(cont. from 2.) I never expected to encounter a "Royalist" in modern life, but appreciate how someone, like Arnauld, steeped in French history could get there. Read: travel could open you to opinions unimagined! We had a very companionable group. I was on my own, and glad to find everyone accessible and friendly. The RS ethos prevailed: everyone was on time, and if anyone felt grumpy, they didn't show it."

James

Virginia Beach, VA

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was nicely paced, the sights and tour guide Arnauld were very good. There were even two extra included meals, a picnic, and a dinner that were great ! Those who bypassed the canoe adventure got to go to Josephine Baker's chateau, a thrill for me as a fan of hers !

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me it was touring Clos Luce/, last home of Leonardo De Vinci since I am a big fan of him and his inventions."

Elizabeth

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We've come to expect excellence in Rick Steves' Tours. Our fourth tour was just as good as the others. Only the weather was an issue and ETBD can't be held responsible for that.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"the Pont de Gare was spectacular. The best Roman site I'd ever seen and in such a lovely setting."

Phil

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is our fourth RS tour, and the experience was, as usual, outstanding. I liked the guides, the pace, the educational experience, the flexibility, and (not to discounted) the people that I was traveling with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't know if it is a "moment", but I particularly enjoyed encounters with the French people. The fact that my French was so limited didn't seem to matter, and, in fact, some of the most fun I had was communicating with someone whose English was as limited as my French. We laughed a lot."

Richard

Old Forge, NY

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves' tour experience and also my first trip to continental Europe. My travel partner and also life partner could not be happier with our choice of the Loire/south of France tour. Our guide, Patrick, made all the excursions, lodging, and entertainment easy, informative and fun. The level of camaraderie with our travel group was beyond all expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many highlights but I think our visit to the Pont du Gard topped (and I do mean topped) my list. I am squeamish about high places but very happy to have followed Patrick and a few other intrepid souls to a gorgeous viewpoint high above the aqueduct."

Louise

Portland, OR

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was exactly like the descriptions in the tour materials - lots of walking, managing your own luggage, spacious bus, quaint hotels. I ended up doing more walking and exploring thanks to the free time. These trips are not for those who want pampering or have no physical fitness. I felt fortunate at age 77 to keep up with the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"group dinners. Good food and great companionship."

Jay

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

As a first-timer, I had a wonderful time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moment was our guide leading us on a nighttime tour and seeing Carcassonne at night."

Joyce

Highland Falls, NY

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Patrick/ fabulous tour guide. experienced, funny Great group of traveling folk decent weather beautiful cities great food

Favorite "WOW" moment

"canoeing down the Dordogne river"

James

Plano, TX

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Ninth tour and it was great just like all the others.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Scarlet & the market in St Remy. We should have stayed there longer than just for lunch."

Marie

Old Forge, NY

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From start to finish our RSE tour through the Loire Valley to Nice was filled with amazing sights, fascinating stories, breathtaking experiences, fun people, great food, immeasurable learning and daily surprises - all contributing to making this, my first European tour and a lifelong dream, an unforgettably rewarding 'beyond my wildest dreams' adventure! We are delighted with the tour & feel very fortunate Patrick was our guide! A wonderful group of people with many helpful RSE tour veterans.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many "wow" moments! My favorite was when, after exiting the little train in the darkness of the furthest cave in the Rouffignac Cave tour, the lights came up to reveal above my head the most exquisitely beautiful life-size drawing of a horse, its musculature and bone structure accentuated by natural curves in the rock chosen by an artist working in near darkness thousands of years ago. I am awed by the power of the artist's need to express & share that which awed him, and grateful he did!"

Bryan

Exeter, NH

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Really enjoyed the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pont du Gard Winery tour and lunch"

Denise

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the best vacation ever. I took my first Rick Steves tour last year and it was great, but this one was even better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"While the entire tour was fabulous, two moments were definitely awe inspiring. The first was the tour of the Rouffignac Cave - totally amazing. The second was lunch at the family-run vineyard in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The food and wine were incredible."

Steven

Hartsdale, NY

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour had many outstanding features. The one, possibly unavoidable drawback, was that there was a great deal of time on the bus, and many, many hotels, often for only a night. That aspect was very tiring, and somewhat tiresome. The outstanding sights were many - Chartres Cathedral, Chenanceau and its gardens, Villandry and its gardens, the double walls and the medieval village of Carcassone, the Rouffignac cave, the Roman arena in Arles ... The tour guide did a fine job.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Possibly the evening light show at the Chartres Cathedral. It was really well done. It showed the workers building the Cathedral in ten minutes. How can you top that? The Pont du Gard was also quite a sight. I'm a sucker for two thousand year old structures. Les Baux and the replica medieval weapons were a sight to behold."

Kathryn

Toronto, ON

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the most enjoyable tour that we have experienced and also our first Rick Steves tour. Everything was relaxed and flawlessly organized. The fellow travelers were all positive and friendly and ready to experience new things. Our guide was helpful and involved with the group always making sure everyone was connected and enjoying the experience. Hotels, food, excursions all first rate.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I believe the visit to the vineyard and our lunch there was perhaps the favourite day of the tour although it is difficult to choose."

Karen

Reno, NV

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was an enjoyable trip and the group was wonderful. The sites were beautiful and I really enjoyed the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Pont Du Gard and the Chartres Luminaries were fantastic."

Diane

Hartsdale, NY

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great tour. A very congenial group of travelers, great sights (seemed like a new, amazing sight every day), and a very knowledgeable, personable tour guide. Two weeks seemed like a long time when we booked the tour, but the time went fast; every day was a worthwhile day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Very hard to choose one 'wow' moment from the impressive chateaux, cave drawings, beautiful cathedrals (can you beat Chartres?). If I had to pick one, it would be the walled city of Carcassonne, only because it was so unexpected."

Malcolm

Vancouver, BC

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The RSE experience combines the "back door" theme with a level of utility and sophistication that is hard to match. Everyone on the tour agreed that it would be hard to replicate things as simple as a picnic on your own. The group made a range of foods worthwhile and a setting that you would not be able to commission on your own. The savings in time and effort in planning, having a contingent "plan B" when required, knowing the pearls of the tour to string together and to do it with no waste.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Best dinner: Le Chapeau Rouge, Chinon (no contest) Best Back Door Moment: Les Baux de Province Best activity: Canoeing the Dordogne River Best hotel location: Calendal, Arles Best hotel service: Montaigne, Sarlat Best train: TGV, Nice return to Paris Best chauffeur: Philippe Best lunch and tour: Chateau des Hospitaliers, Provence"

Mike

Calgary, AB

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We had a great time, this was our third tour and it was the best, combining good food and wine with entertaining travel companions, an easy going but professional guide, lovely weather and interesting historical sites along the way.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chartres cathedral illuminations ."

Abbey

Petaluma, CA

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous! Beyond my expectations. I can't imagine a more perfect tour leader. Toni is so calm & lovely. Very approachable with questions or concerns. Excellent communication skills. She made everything fun & interesting. She shared our enthusiasm for the sites (even though she has seen them often) and made the trip one of the best experiences of my life! Thank you Toni!! Diverse but everyone got along so well. What a treat to meet so many great people & share wonderful experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick just one. I loved the lights in Chartres - went out to see them both nights we were there - spectacular! Chateau de Chenonceau was gorgeous & the winery tour & lunch was the best meal ever!"

Wallace

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was our second with Rick Steves, and like the first in England, had a perfect combination of group touring and personal time, and of classic sites to visit and off-the-beaten-track one of a kind experiences. We again had a terrific guide and a wonderful group of fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Several to choose from: the fantastic elaborate home-catered lunch following the tour of the organic vineyard in the Dordogne, the sobering visit to the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, destroyed by the Nazis in 1944, and the prehistoric cave art at Rouffignac."

Timothy

Reno, NV

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great group and guide. This was our fifth Ric Steves tour and met my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The illumination light show in Chartes. WOW!"

Sharon

Columbus, OH

Tour: 09/27/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved every activity. The whole schedule was very well planned, with lots of interesting sites and interesting insights shared by our guide, Toni, and by the local guides we interacted with. I liked the pace of the schedule, when one day might be more demanding and the next day more relaxed. There was also a nice mix of activities, alternating between visits to more museum-like settings/historic sites and sampling local culture through market visits, wine tastings and the like.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have three, all of which are things I would not have experienced on my own. The first was our stop in Mortemart, a tiny village of 118 people, where we met the mayor, who gave several of us a personal tour! The second was canoeing on the Dordogne. Incredible scenery and just a lot of fun. The third was the visit to a family-owned vineyard in Provence, including a home-cooked lunch on our hosts' veranda. I have been to France many times before, but never had those experiences!"

Steve

Williamstown, MA

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Marvelous in every way - from the expertise, attitude, leadership qualities and personal caring and attention of the tour guide Verginie Moré, to the quality and diversity of the meals, colorful and fantastic sites, comfortable and convenient accommodations, friendly and sae driving skills of bus driver Giles, et al.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Everything was a "wow" moment - honestly! The sense of high adventure, each day, was palpable."

Laura

Williamstown, MA

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A fabulous trip in virtually all respects, and we're "veterans" of prior tours in France, Italy and Holland/Belgium.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Villandry gardens, close second Carcassonne at night"

Hugh

Tallahassee, FL

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We visited wonderful places, had an outstanding tour guide in Virginie, and a great group of fellow travelers to experience it all with, so my wife and I were very pleased with this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many very good moments on the tour, but my favorite was the canoe trip on the Dordogne River. It was very scenic and a lot of fun. I also particularly enjoyed the time in Sarlat, and the wine-tasting, tour, and meal at the organic vineyard and winery."

Thomas

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guide in Virginia More. Interesting well traveled fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Ponte de Gard"

Dianna

Tallahassee, FL

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was overall excellent. We loved our guide, Virginie, and enjoyed being with all of the other tour members. The places we visited were interesting and varied. The accommodations were good and the tour bus was very comfortable. We saw sights that we would have never seen on our own and learned things about the areas we would never have known on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing on the Dordogne River with Castles on our right and the quaint village alongside was my favorite experience. Also the view from the top of the hill after the canoe trip."

Frank

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a wonderful tour that showcased the beauty of the French countryside, and the interesting history of the area using the castles as a vehicle to share the ebb and flow of 1500 years of life in the area. Great balance between scheduled activities, time on our own, included meals 1st night in a new town, and stay-time in each location. Of course, Virginie made the tour a great experience with her seamless planning, humor,individual care and attention to detail.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Scrambling thru the ruins of the Chateau des Baux-do-Provence was amazing to me. Visiting the retirement home of Leonardo de Vinci and the Oradour-sur-glane ruins were close seconds."

Joan

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Tour was excellent, beautifully [INVALID]d. Nice balance between scheduled activities and time to explore on your own. We really felt we had a feeling for the region and its history. Our guide made the experience seamless. She anticipated every need and proactively prepared us for any potential problems. We enjoyed the predictability of an introductory tour and dinner in each new location and appreciated having more than one night at a place.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The night that Seattle had an eclipse of the full and closest moon, we were in Carcassone. After dinner our guide invited us to walk around the back side of the castle and down to the lower town. She brought us to a bridge where we could view the panorama of the lit up castle. And there was the castle with the full and closest moon of the year above it. You couldn't capture it with a camera so it will forever be in my mind."

Doris

Courtenay, BC

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves Tour...and won't be our last! The tour was very special in that our guide Virginie was so informative and insightful about the French culture. She set down the guidelines for expectations at the beginning - no grumpiness (unless justifiable) and be punctual. Meals, bus time and tours together and yet time on your own allowed members to join together with fellow travellers and have time to explore independently. The pace of the tour worked well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Two 'wow' moments - the Lumiere show in Chartres and the gardens at the Chateau de Villandry."

David

Courtenay, BC

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

France provided an excellent canvas for an educational and memorable tour. Our tour guide Virginie was exceptional. She was careful that all tour guests were safe, she was energetic and knowledgable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The very first night in Chartes we were fortunate to experience their annual festival of lights."

Lynnae

Flagstaff, AZ

Tour: 09/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful! Places [INVALID]ed to visit were top-notch, with two extra very knowledgable experts (Chartres and Nice), as great addition to one of the best tour guides in the business, Virginie. Loved the orientation to places, then time to explore. Regional food was delicious and appropriate, though loved it so much that always seemed to be stuffed. Virginie always had an extra surprise for us that was delightful, from extra castles to visit to treats. Highly recommend this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Full moon over the castle Carcassonne! The medieval city, alone was amazing with three walls, a full city and church inside two walls, with a very well preserved castle, with detailed information on fortress life and defenses. But when we left the organized dinner which was fabulous, and went on a walking tour into the lower town, and saw the impressive castle on the hill, lit up to its full advantage, with the huge fall full moon over it. WOW!"

Gray

Elk Grove, CA

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my very first overseas trip and I was definitely not disappointed! Once the tour started, it was always a new and wonderful experience for me wherever we went. The sights ranged from highly interesting to stunning, yet it went beyond the typical "tourist" approach. The tour met or exceeded my expectations. For me, it was the perfect combination of history, culture, and personal revelation in a new land.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The rafting trip down the Dordogne stood out for me. I had been eagerly looking forward to it since we had booked the tour. It was in doubt due to prolonged rain, but once the weather improved, everybody was excited to go. It seemed to unify the tour group and improved our outlook."

Ruth

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having been on three former tours, i believe my expectations were realistic. I was not disappointed. I really wanted this tour to be special because I was bringing my daughter who had never been to Europe before. The location was her choice, and it duplicated some of the places in France where I had been before, but that was OK with me. I was a bit apprehensive about my ability to "keep up" with the group because of my age (85), but that didn't seem to be a problem.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to choose just one. Oradour-sur-Glane was impressive, the Pont du Gard, another high point. Les Baux was the literal "high point," but we were there on a day of cold wind and not dressed warmly enough (our fault) so that detracted. The standout dinner was at Chinon and the best lunches were Toni's picnic and the winery lunch."

Malcolm

Zionsville, IN

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Loire to the South of France Tour was a delight. The points of interest were well selected to give us a broad view of French culture. The balance between structured and free time was perfect. We enjoyed the smaller hotels. Our tour guides and driver were amazing. Phillipe could drive that enormous tour bus through narrow streets without harm to paint or stone. Richard was an excellent source of general travel information. Toni had poise, pace and a ton of information.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The 15,000 year old cave art was the greatest "wow". I still ponder the implications."

Barbara

Westport, CT

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was fantastic! We visited areas of France that we had never heard of before, and each was unique. We were with energetic and outgoing tour guides and fellow travelers. The meals were delicious, and they created fun opportunities to chat with our fellow participants. On a scale of one to ten, this trip was a twelve!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to limit myself to one favorite moment, because each day was filled with unforgettable moments. I loved hearing Malcolm Miller at the Chartres Cathedral because he was just as spectacular now as he was when we he was our guide there in 1983. I was amazed by the Chartres Cathedral light show. My husband and I had been in Nice on our honeymoon in 1976; walking through the town again was a very special experience for us."

Terri

Elk Grove, CA

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our experience was outstanding. The amount of activity was at the level listed. The small group made all the difference. It was not long before we bonded. Bus driver, Philippe, got us to where we needed to go and we enjoyed him at dinners. Our guide, Toni, brought everything together with her history lessons and calm demeanor. We will be on another tour in 2017 - picking one will be difficult. Thank you for this tour experience. We will cherish our memory and we have the pictures to prove it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to Pont du Gard was the best. It was so much taller than I thought it would be. Toni's historical info added to the atmosphere. To think I was going to walk across a bridge built thousands of years ago that was still standing was quite emotional. My love of history added to the visit. What a magnificent feat to build this aqueduct that brought water to so many. Most of the tour group hiked up on the left side to see the full view of the bridge and it was a nice bonding moment."

Ellen

Missoula, MT

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Arnaud did an excellent job. He was energetic, enthusiastic, attentive, thoughtful. He had a great grasp of history which helped us understand the country and the differences in the regions. Really nice to have Kevin along, too, and Gil, the bus driver was super. We enjoyed seeing the different parts of the country, variety of activities, and the regional food differences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The organic farm!!! But really, it was all excellent."

Karen

Durham, NC

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I really appreciated the variety of sites we experienced. The tour was packed with things to do, all well organized.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed the gardens at Villandry, it was nothing like I have ever seen. I also really liked the Chatres Cathedral and the nightly illumination show there and at other buildings around town. Also, the canoe trip down the Dordogne River."

Mark

Durham, NC

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The tour as okay, but it was not nearly as enjoyable as our previous experience. A lot of things did not go smoothly, starting with the train travel from Paris to Chartres. Did not have 100% participant buy-in to the Rick Steves rules (no complaining). One couple simply chose to blow off the orientation. Several group meals were average at best. Timing for various stops didn't match interest - needed more time at the DaVinci home and less at the following chateau.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Light show at Chartres followed by Pont du Gard."

Newell

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was very well organized, with activities in the am, then many afternoons free. We like this format so we can explore on our own. There were some "biggies" like the Loire chateaus and Arles, but also sites we had known little about such as Oradour sur Glane and Les Baux.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our room at Chartres had a view of the cathedral. Before daybreak we looked out to see a dark blue sky, the Cathedral fully lit and Venus ascending near the steeple."

Kurt

Cornville, AZ

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I got a broad exposure to a wide range of French geography, geology, society and gastronomy. Best sorbets and screwiest language I have ever encountered. Got a better understanding of the religious/political conflicts that made for all the really cool castles and monasteries and the really awful living conditions for the mass of people, along with the propensity to be continually at war for thousands of years.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say. There were several, but the best for me was Les Beaux Provence, probably because I enjoy climbing around on things."

Robert

Missoula, MT

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our second tour (Turkey before 4-5 yrs ago). We once again found the right balance of history, scenery, culture, cuisine, unique opportunities (winery @ cave art tours and canoe trip) as well as enjoyable-interesting travel companions. And our guide was first rate as was our tour assistant. An excellent experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In terms of memorable-engaging moments (my definition of "wow" for my trip), I would have to say that the opportunity to visit a unique, regional organic winery ended up on top of the list. There was an extensive tour of the facility energetically and informatively led by one of the owners, coupled by one of the best (actually maybe #1) meals we had in France. I felt we were being afforded a rare insight into an issue that happens to be important to us personally in Montana"

Marilyn

Alexandria, VA

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I usually only take a tour if the area isn't conducive for individual travel, but my friend didn't want to drive. Was she right! Not only did I love the tour, but I'd sign up for another Rick Steves' tour in a heartbeat. The tour was exactly as described, and conducted exactly as described. The group was fun to to tour with and friendly. There was plenty of free time and individual touring, and some wonderful Rick Steves' extras like picnics, canoe and barge rides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't narrow it down to one. Our stops at the castle's in Amboise and Chinon were beautiful. Our stop in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane will never be forgotten. The countryside was beautiful, and the cave drawings were amazing (previously had no idea they existed), as was the Chagall museum."

Earl

Akron, OH

Tour: 08/30/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Beautiful and educational. Toni made me feel welcome and a wanted part of the group from the very beginning . She always listened and seemed like I was valued

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Several. But I liked. The Roman aqueduct. She explained it so well with history and site. We split up in groups for pictures. And each group crossed paths several times. It was like a group of friends on a project, All comparing notes. Friends."

Luanne

Mill Valley, CA

Tour: 08/30/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful experience with an exceptional group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"While there were many, I think the 15,000 year old drawings in the cave was a high point."

Todd

Akron, OH

Tour: 08/30/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a great time on this, my third, Rick Steves tour. I enjoyed the group and the tour guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Watching a street performer in the town square or Sarlat and riding the 360 degree view elevator there. Plus so many other things."

Mary

Omaha, NE

Tour: 08/30/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fabulous sights, food, wine and the people were really fun to travel with. Our tour guide was very accommodating!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably the cave experience."

William

Omaha, NE

Tour: 08/30/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was great. I liked the cities/towns, gardens and chateaus we visited. Toni was very good. The bus driver was really good. the meals were good, especially the picnic Toni set up.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cave art (#1) and gardens at Chenonceau"

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!"

BJ

Bryan, TX

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Every place we visited on this tour was new to me, and a great introduction to parts of France most tourists never visit. It included many interesting sites (from chateaux to Leonardo da Vinca's home to Roman ruins) and fun experiences (like canoeing down the Dordogn River and picnicking on a canal boat.)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The chateaux of the Loire Valley were amazing, as was the town of Sarlat. I was not particularly looking forward to the garden at Villandry (we had seen several at other chateaux) but it was truly amazing...a wow moment!"

Sarah

New Bern, NC

Tour: 06/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well done, meaningful, educational, and fun experience. Perfect blend of art, history, and culture through a variety of different experiences. The small group allowed us to get to know everyone and we became like family. It also allowed us to do activities a larger group could never do. We played petanque (bol) in the park in Salat (taught by an actual Frenchman), we had a picnic on a barge on the Canal du Midi, and we canoed down the Dordogne River and went swimming afterwards.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to say. So many wonderful experiences! Here are a few highlights: Chartres Cathedral: tour with Malcom Miller, giving us the history of the cathedral, teaching us to read the sculptures and the stain glass windows Arles: seeing the Roman ruins, comparing Van Gogh's pictures to the actual sights Canal du Midi picnic and seeing how the locks work And, of course, canoeing down the Dordogne River"

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."

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."

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"

Mark

Moraga, CA

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely fantastic. Everything promised was fulfilled. Perfect balance of tour time and free time. Loved it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to pick. Really. One was walking into my hotel room and looking out the window and seeing Charte Cathedral perfectly framed in my hotel window. Superfantastalistic!"

Nancy

Mashpee, MA

Tour: 06/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Basically, I took the tour because it went to Carcassonne and no other guided trip I could find went there. I expected it to be an all right tour but it was better than better. I have been to Europe many times and France at leased half of those times. With the exception of Paris (which I adore) and Nice, I had never been to all the other places on the itinerary. It was fabulous. Everyplace was great and although the tour was busy every day, we still had enough free time to ourselves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chateau de Villandry was amazing-- Such beautiful gardens. And the Pond du Gard--the history and we were just so lucky to be able to see something that old and that beautiful and useful."

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."

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."

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."

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!"

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."

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!"

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."

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."

Susan

Columbia, MD

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Love tour of the South of France with a wide variety of activities. Cave paintings, canoeing, museums, Roman ruins, and castles/chateaus/fortressess and Medieval buildings galore. What could be better? Our guide was great and the specialists that you provided for various activities were amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We loved viewing the cave paintings and that was very special. The guide helped us understand how someone could crawl into these dark areas way underground and create such astounding works. It was one of the most incredible experiences to see something that has remained for this long and to imagine how someone could do this. Thanks to the French for protecting these sites. The organic vineyard showcased the methods the French are using to minimize fertilizers, etc.; lunch there was fabulous."

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."

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"

William

Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, the tour was great. Everyone on the tour was very compatible, and our guide Julie was terrific. The itinerary really provided a good sense of many parts of France, and showed its diversity in geography, food and history. The tour was well paced, and for the most part allowed sufficient time for the various activities. And the activities were diverse, from tours of cathedrals, chateaux and their gardens to picnics in small towns and even a canoe adventure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The prehistoric cave drawings were very impressive. So too were the chateau gardens, especially Villandry. And of course finding out that you can buy wonderful baguettes for less than one euro!"

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."

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."

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."

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."

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"."

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."

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."

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"."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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!!"

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."

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 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 (60–75 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 the 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.