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  • Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
    Chartres Cathedral
  • Château Royal d’Amboise, Amboise, France
    Amboise
  • Château de Chenonceau, Chenonceaux, France
    Château de Chenonceau
  • Chinon, France
    Chinon
  • Gardens of Château de Villandry, Villandry, France
    Château de Villandry Gardens
  • Canoeing on the Dordogne
  • Market day in Sarlat-la-Canéda, France
    Sarlat Market
  • Boules in Sarlat
  • Carcassonne, France
    Carcassonne
  • Pont du Gard, Provence, France
    Pont du Gard
  • Street party, Arles, France
    Arles
  • Les Baux, France
    Les Baux
  • Nice, France
    French Riviera

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Loire to the South of France in 13 Days Tour

from $3,795 per person + air

Single Supplement $775

See Dates & Prices

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

2022

What's Included

You'll get at least 17 group sightseeing events — at no extra cost!

Here's what you'll see and do on this tour of France:

  • Chartres orientation
  • Chartres Cathedral
  • Amboise
  • Château de Chenonceau
  • Château de Villandry and gardens
  • Château d'Azay-le-Rideau
  • Oradour-sur-Glane
  • Rouffignac prehistoric cave
  • Dordogne canoe trip (weather permitting)
  • Sarlat walking tour
  • Carcassonne walking tour
  • Languedoc wine tasting
  • Pont du Gard and museum
  • Arles walking tour
  • Arles museum pass
  • Les Baux
  • Nice walking tour

Plus you'll get all this, too.

  • 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 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
  • A tour kit including a guidebook (when available) and a moneybelt 
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2022
  • 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 your tour

Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions for important details regarding everything listed above.

Group sightseeing events subject to change.

Itinerary

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.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. No bus. Sleep in Chartres.

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's 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.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. No bus. Sleep in Chartres.

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 can 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.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 4 hours. Sleep in Chinon.

Day 4: Villandry and the Loire

We'll begin 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. Next, we're off to visit a château known for its luxurious setting and elegant interior: Azay-le-Rideau. After lunch in the nearby village, we'll return to Chinon, where you'll be free for the rest of the day to explore the town's ancient streets, tour the medieval castle, or sample the local wines.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 2 hours. Sleep in Chinon.

Day 5: Oradour-sur-Glane and Sarlat

Our destination today 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 Nazi troops. Our day will end with dinner together in the quintessential market town of Sarlat.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. Bus: 6 hours. Sleep in Sarlat.

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 that locals have nicknamed it "the cave of 100 mammoths.") This afternoon, we'll canoe down the Dordogne River from Cénac to Beynac, paddling past medieval castles and villages. If the weather is hot, we may even stop for a swim along the way.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. Strenuous canoeing. Bus: 3 hours. Sleep in Sarlat.

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.

Light to strenuous walking (your choice). No bus. Sleep in Sarlat.

Day 8: Medieval Carcassonne

This morning we'll drive south, crossing the scenic valleys of the Lot and Tarn rivers as we make our way 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 and wander through the cobbled lanes. We'll regroup for dinner together.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 4 hours. Sleep in Carcassonne.

Day 9: On to Arles

This morning we'll drive east through the scenic Languedoc-Roussillon region. We'll stop at a winery en route to drink from the bounty of France's largest wine-producing region. Then we'll devote our afternoon to a walking tour of Arles. Your local guide will lace together stories of its impressive Roman Arena, Classical Theater, and Forum — as well as tales of Vincent van Gogh, who lived and painted in this neighborhood just over a century ago.

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Bus: 4 hours. Sleep in Arles.

Day 10: The Pont du Gard

We'll start our morning off visiting France's 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 both the aqueduct and its much younger museum. Your afternoon will be free back in Arles for making your own discoveries.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 1 ½ hours. Sleep in Arles.

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 Provençal 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.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Bus: 4 hours. Sleep in or near Nice.

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 18th 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!

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. No bus. Sleep in or near Nice.

Day 13: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. It's a breeze to reach Nice's airports by taxi, shuttle, or public transportation. 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.

Physical Demands

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 (possibly several blocks) 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

Suon

Burke, VA

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed all the activities and the people in our tour group. Our guide Linda was very informative and personable. We were very fortunate in having great weather and enjoyed seeing all the sites outside of Paris. The French people we met were warm and welcoming. In particular, Oradour-sur-Glane (martyr village) was made all the more meaningful to us by Linda's moving presentation. This was our third Rick Steves tour and we plan to do more.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I felt so privileged to have Malcolm as our local guide at Chartres Notre Dame - what a wealth of knowledge! The gardens at Chateau Villandry were so beautiful. The canoe trip on the Dordogne was definitely a highlight - we had perfect weather and it was a peaceful, scenic trip. We were the only group canoeing down the Dordogne with the exception of a handful of individual canoeists. It was amazing to get to the top level of the Pont du Gard - terrific views and a marvel of engineering"

Larry

Calgary, AB

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our superb tour guide, Linda, made our trip an awesome experience. She was willing to share her experiences & views that gave us extra insights. She is one of the best guides we have ever had on our trips.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had several "wow" moments but our walk through the martyr village of Oradour-sur-Glane & our canoe trip down the Dordogne River share equally despite very different feelings."

Ed

University City, MO

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We started in Chartres and ended in Nice. Linda, our guide, was great. Our bus driver, Roger, was incredible at negotiating narrow roads and streets. The group was the perfect size. The sites we visited connected me to the history of France and Europe. The weather was sometimes chilly and rainy but when we ended in Nice - WOW! it was sunny and in the 60s, what a way to end the tour! Adjectives cannot describe all of my incredible experiences on Loire to South of France tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments on this tour. But, my favorite "wow" moment was when we were standing in the cave at Rouffignac and gazing at the animal drawings just a meter away that were made by humans living in the area over 15,000 years ago. That said, the canoe trip on the Dordogne was a close second."

Barbara

Prince George, BC

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall very good tour Pros: excellent tour guide (Linda) & bus driver (Roger) good pace of tour with "right" amount of free time to explore on own/rest liked having multiple nights at most locations - only one stop was a one nighter hotels were centrally located, good quality breakfasts and staff nice variety of activities (chateau visits, canoe activity, museums) included meals were excellent and fun! Con: two of our hotel rooms were TINY (see below)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chartres Cathedral light show"

Mairi

Reisterstown, MD

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The carrieres et lumieres in the quarry"

Gail

Mcminnville, OR

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was dream tour, the perfect guide, really great fellow tourists, and the most beautiful country. The tour was perfectly paced, we saw so much and yet I never felt rushed or overloaded. I was never looking for something to do either. Our "down" day in Sarlat was well timed and the market a beautiful adventure on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light show at the quarry and the whole city of Sarlat."

Kim

Saint Louis, MO

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Third RS tour and probably favorite. The itinerary was perfect - just enough time at each stop to feel as though we got to know the place, but at the same time wanting to come back for more. We loved getting away from the business of big cities and immersing ourselves in French life, history, culture, and of course food. Our guide Linda was outstanding. She was knowledgeable, friendly, organized, and gave us great insight into French life. I would travel with her any time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"SO hard to choose just one, but I'm going to go with visiting the Pont du Gard. I've marveled over pictures of it for years, but to actually see this massive ancient structure in person was incredible. Another "wow," in a different sense was the visit to Oradour-sur-Glane. Our guide told us that Rick insists the tours stop here, and I'm so glad we did. I was unaware of this tragic chapter in history and I believe that it's very important, now more than ever, to remember these events."

Emily

Cambridge, MA

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was fast-paced and ambition, with a good balance of free time and planned activity.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the prehistoric cave drawings and the light show in Chartres."

Jeffrey

Roseville, CA

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All aspects of the tour were outstanding, from our guide, Linda, to the towns and villages we stayed in, to the walking tours, to the restaurants chosen for group dinners...all outstanding!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No favorite, many memorable experiences!"

James

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light/photo show in the old stone quarry, plus the canoe trip down the Dordgne River."

Stephen

Reisterstown, MD

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall the tour was great fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Van Gogh light show and the canoeing on the Dordogne were highlights."

Janet

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 10/06/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour. Pace was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"the son et lumiere in the quarry"

Cindy

Chino, CA

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Unbelievable! I'm still absorbing the trip. It was so beautifully organized with one adventure flowing into the next. Things were so well put together but always time to see more. You never had to worry about anything and could spend all your time enjoying the sites, smells, tastes, sounds and touch of the beauty of France. We had an amazing group that made the trip one to remember.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments its hard to choose one. On our way to Sarlat Michaelanne prepared us well for a stop we made in Oradout-sur-Glane. As she talked about it I wasn't sure I wanted to go at all. Why would we stop here? After stopping and walking through it, I understood. A hard but important town to walk through. On our trip there were so many beautiful places to see but for me this stood out, not for the beauty of land but for the beautiful people who lost their lives."

John

Greenwood Village, CO

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide Michaelanne, did a fabulous job hosting the tour and sharing the history, culture and dynamics of each site we visited. The [INVALID]ion of sites that we visited was a good introduction into the Southern France area. The hotels were good although a couple of the rooms were basic and small. The meals were great and treated us to the cuisine of each area. There were many highlights, although the walk through the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, while sobering was very impact-full.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The walk through Oradour-sur-Glane, the peaceful boat trip along the Dordogne outside Sarlat and drinks afterwards in I believe Beynac were memorable."

Robert

Essex, CT

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second RS escorted tour and it did not disappoint. Great itinerary, great guide, great traveling companions and wonderful experiences. Pace of tour was excellent

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow moment was in improvised afternoon by our fantastic guide Michaelanne. After visiting the fascinating cave art of Rouffignac Cave it became apparent that the weather would keep us from canoeing down the Dordogne. Michaelanne arranged a boat ride down the Dordogne, Chateaux Tour and late afternoon wine at a riverside cafe in Beynac. We forgot about missing canoeing . Thank you Michaelanne."

Diana

Essex, CT

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour was fabulous! The itinerary was varied and I liked visiting small villages as well as larger cities. The pace was also well thought out and I felt like we spent just the right amount of time in each stop. Also liked the variety of sites from chateaus and beautiful gardens to Roman ruins and WWII memorials. Michaelanne was great and we had a very compatible group of travelers. The group dinners were a lot of fun with excellent restaurant choices and delicious food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's very hard to pick just 1 wow moment since there were so many! Each stop had its own special feature but I especially enjoyed the lighted Chartre cathedral, gardens at Villandry, Sarlat market, the sobering stop at Oradour-sue-Glane, cave art and seeing the Arles coliseum lighted at night. But, one of the very best moments was the day our canoe trip was cancelled and Michaelanne regrouped for the best afternoon ever! Castle tour, boat ride and wine!"

Paula

New Albany, OH

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We saw wonderful sites, learned much important information about French culture, and shared these experiences with a wonderful tour group and guide. Unfortunately, I battled a respiratory virus for much of the time and felt totally exhausted every day. As such, I felt this tour was too long for me. I would have preferred cutting out Carcassonne. However, the beauty of the land around the area was quite astounding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Actually, there were several "wow" moments. I was taken aback by the beauty of the French countryside when we left Carcassonne and traveled through Provence. I truly valued hearing about French and European history and how it influenced past and current conditions."

Phyllis

Roswell, GA

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The pace of the tour was well planned for snack and restroom breaks and we also had time to make our own discoveries and photos at our own pace. for a single traveler that's important.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many, especially the unexpected ones: being walked around the tour of Mortemont by its feisty mayor; the thorough tour of a winery and the outdoor picnic on the grounds of the winery on a beautiful sunny day; and the very sobering visit to Ordour which stands as a monument to the monstrosity of war."

Michael

Saratoga Springs, NY

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Being my first tour experience, got to rate it Outstanding! Michaelanne went above and beyond to insure all all a very memorable experience. Enjoyed every aspect about the France experience. Been to Europe a number of times for work, this time for vacation ...it did not disappoint. Michaelanne and our bus driver Phillip MADE our France experience...would travel with them France anytime and into any village. Lastly our group was the best..all great travelers. Thanks for memories!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chartres cathedral light shows tops for a "WOW" experience category. Next,,,WOW for a great tour guide, fellow travelers, places - villages, cities,chateaus and forts, wine, cheese (and baguettes)."

Joyce

Saratoga Springs, NY

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was everything I expected it to be, and so much more. The tour guide, coach driver, and travel companions, all made it an enjoyable experience. The itinerary, lodging, and meals included, were all excellent. Visiting the small villages and staying at small boutique hotels really allowed us to immerse ourselves in the French culture. I appreciated the tour guide bus talks that were entertaining, informative, and educational. Learning about the history and culture enhanced our site visits

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing in the brisk night air, watching the Chartres Cathedral come alive with lights and music was a magnificent "wow" experience to behold. It was amazing how the images in the light show told the historical story of the cathedral. You have to experience it in person to truly appreciate it. Praises to the lighting engineers."

John

Lafayette Hill, PA

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great tour and it was enhanced by Michaelanne, our tour guide. Her years living in France gave us a unique perspective on life in France especially as a student. The towns were great and the history surrounding each was fascinating.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mine was a little offbeat. In the little town of Chinon, I went to the local Laundromat to wash some clothes. A couple walked in speaking English. I reacted by saying "Hello, how are you?" Since they figured that I was from the US, they asked what state and city. I said, "Philadelphia, PA". The man pointed to his wife and said, "She's from Philly." Turns out we went to the same high school together but a few years apart. I spent the rest of the episode exchanging info on sites to see."

Marcia

Wayne, NJ

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a fabulous, well-organized tour of north to south France with so many "wow" moments along the way. From the spectacular cathedrals with exquisite stained glass,elegant chateaux with magnificent gardens,the Pont du Gard, daVinci's home, the colorful and vibrant market days,VanGogh in Arles, great local food, delicious wine, everything was delightful.The opportunity to walk in and around structures built centuries ago is a fantastic experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several "wow" moments: Pont du Gard, an engineering marvel built without mortar in c60 A.D, still standing intact and even more "wow" that we could walk on it!; Chenonceau and the chateaux of the Loire royal life; Chartes cathedral; Roman amphitheatre in Arles."

Diane

Lafayette Hill, PA

Tour: 09/29/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The places we saw and experienced were excellent. Enjoyed seeing more of France than Paris.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Carcassonne! I learned more about the Middle Ages from that one tour than I did learning about them at school."

Cheryl

Bluffton, SC

Tour: 09/22/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was amazing. A lot of wonderful experiences. The selection of the stops was top notch.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Well I definitely have more than one favorite wows... Canoeing down the Dordogne. Staying so near the beachfront in Nice was very special. The hotel was so nice and we were right across the street from the water. Staying so close to Carcassone Castle."

Kathryn

Maple Valley, WA

Tour: 09/22/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was very happy with my tour and had wonderful experiences every day. It was very well organized, an excellent tour guide, lots of fun, good travel companions, and a good mix of fun, education, awesome, and just enjoying the moment and the views.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can not choose one wow moment as nearly every day had its own moment from the light show in Chartres to the gardens in Villandry to Carcassone to the caves at Rouffignac to Pont du Gard, and the beauty of Nice and the Mediterranean."

Richard

Oakland, CA

Tour: 09/22/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Light show on the facade of the cathedral in Chartres, on the first night of the tour."

Mary

Rochester, NY

Tour: 09/22/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I visited places I would not have thought to visit on my own, and spent time in lovely small villages, getting to try out the language and meet people on a level that doesn't happen in the more tourist-filled cities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light show in Charter-What amazing timing for our tour!"

Frederic

Port Dover, ON

Tour: 09/22/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great tour. Our guide, Patrick Vidal, was outstanding. All the people on the tour were friendly and pleasant.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Actually I had two wow moments. The first was canoeing on the Dordogne. Not only was this an unusual thing to do on tour, it was the first time my wife and I had canoed together. The second wow moment was market day in Sarlat. My wife and I had so much fun looking at things and interacting with the local people."

Joan

San Mateo, CA

Tour: 09/22/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour. Our tour guide, Patrick, was a fountain of knowledge, very personable, very professional, and also a fun person. Every detail of our travel was well-organized, and the tour included a wide range of interesting experiences and places. Aside from scenery, history, architecture, food, and culture, we were challenged to explore and interact on our own, in spite of the language differences. We appreciated this valuable perspective.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was very pleasantly surprised with the 3-hour paddle down the Dordogne River. It was so beautiful and not very difficult - even though it rained during the last 15 minutes. This is something I would never have planned on my own."

Patricia

Modesto, CA

Tour: 09/22/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I chose this tour because I was very interested in the itinerary: Chartres, the Loire valley, Dordogne, and Carcassonne, It was easier to have a tour bus take me instead of driving or taking the train. The tour was much like the Rick Steves guidebook: practical, efficient, fast paced, with hotels close to the center of the old town.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I liked the Dordogne area best, especially the Grotte de Rouffignac. We arrived early and were the first visitors. The drawings were so detailed and well drawn, over 15,000 years ago by early Cro-Magnon man."

Elizabeth

Sacramento, CA

Tour: 09/22/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What a great tour! So many varied activities (churches, cave paintings, canoeing, Roman ruins) and a good pace. And our guide, Patrick Vidal - if the rating scale is from 1 to 10, he deserves a 20! A French native, his passion is sharing his country with tour members. This was my 5th RS tour, and I can' wait to go no another one.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting Carcassone, and the guided tour and presentation on medieval life. A bonus was a concert of songs of "courtly love" given in the lovely by two costumed women, singing and playing period instruments. It was one of those unscheduled but delightful experiences that can happen on an RS tour."

Mary

Glen Ellyn, IL

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All the stops of the tour were very worthwhile.I was thrilled that we had a talk from Malcolm Miller in Chartres--however the talk really focused only on the stained glass windows.I would have liked more info on the actual cathedral. The chateaus were wonderful, in particular Villandry and Chenonceau. he tour of the cave drawings was a special experience. Carcassonne was like time travel and the local guide was unique. Oradur was powerful!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Pont du Gard. I was in awe of the 2000 year old aqueduct and the technology of the Romans. Best of all our local tour guide was able to take us for a walk on the top of the structure because we were on a Rick Steves tour!!"

Emily

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall great itinerary. Great mix of towns, sights and activities. Hotel Diderot wine presentation and tasting great mix of chateaux to visit cave Art was awesome-it was great to visit a family run cave and not the big attractions great Sarlat market really liked Carcassonne-but not enough time there wine tasting and lunch on the way to Arles was a big day-with added walking tour Pont du Gard was interesting but not wow Nice beautiful

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oradour-sur-glane, I did not know such a place existed. It's a great place for Americans to see and understand the devastation of WW II to the common European/French people."

Denise

Holliston, MA

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As we have experienced in the past, our tour introduced us to wonderful locations while incorporating the culture, history, food, and wine of course, of France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had several; 1.Chartres Cathedral lesson from Malcolm Miller and the fabulous evening light show; 2. the sobering visit to Oradure sur Glen; 3. the gardens at Villandry; and 4. Carcassonne, especially the nighttime view from the old bridge; 5. Walking on the Pont du Gard. An added bonus at the Pont du Gard was a school project fair run by local students offering samples of local products that they made themselves. Their teacher was excited that they had to practice their English!"

Daniel

Huntington Beach, CA

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Comfortable Bus, Great Tour Companions, Great Tour Guide, Great and Careful Bus Driver,

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pont du Gard Wine Tasting Oradour-Sur-Glane Chartes Catherdral and Malcolm Miller's Talk!!!!! Chartes Light Show- Great dinner 1st night there Great dinner in Chinon Great dinner in Carcassonne-Loved the Medieval tour guide there Overall the tour was great! A bit fast paced, but necessary to see and experience all that we did"

Dan

Chattanooga, TN

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well paced tour......great sights and experiences!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many!"

Jeff

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour overall was a blast! It was well organized and enabled us to enjoy the local food and wine for each area that we visited across France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many it is hard to pick a favorite! Seriously, I have been asked this question by friends and family and I am unable to determine the best moment because everything resulted in my saying, Wow!"

Wallace

South Bend, IN

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Awesome fellow travelers and a great guide helped to make this a wonderful trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many. The chateaux, Carcassonne and days spent in Aries were my favorites. The final bridge on the canoe trip was also a welcome sight!"

Mary

North Easton, MA

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Learned a great deal about France, it's people, history, culture, food and wine. The sights and towns we visited were interesting and wonderful to experience

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The gardens at Villandry"

Jean

Campbell River, BC

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was very enjoyable and interesting. It was extremely well organized. We especially appreciated travelling without any concerns about hotels or transportation between locations. The tours to various sites allowed us to visit out of town places that we would otherwise not have seen. Local tour guides and specialists added to this experience. Time on the bus was comfortable and very interesting as we listened to the guide's stories about French history and current life.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favourite moments were visiting the chateaus in the Loire Valley. Chenonceau and Villandry were both spectacular."

Charles

Livingston, NJ

Tour: 09/15/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great. It was extremely informative, and getting to meet a whole group of new people made me feel more invested in what I was doing. I played a lot of team sports growing up so I have a soft spot in my heart for large groups doing everything together. Arneau was literally incredible. One of my favorite people i've ever met. Funny, charming, smart, articulate, and just made the trip a blast to be with. That dude needs his own show.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oradour-sur-Glane probably was for me. I'm a big WW2 guy...there was something about standing in that church, knowing at one point in time 400 people stared down their final moments, facing ultimate horror in that very spot that blew my mind."

Judith

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The schedule was good, with more than 1 night at most hotels and enough free time. The tour guide has a wealth of knowledge about the area and is very well organized.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A highlight was visiting the ancient cave drawings."

Mary

Bethlehem, PA

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great itinerary and tour guide but moving in a large group of 28 feels like herding We blocked sidewalks in small towns and I felt like we attracted attention and annoyed locals Difficult to engage with locals

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The prehistoric cave stt"

Dianne

Vestavia, AL

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful experience as with all RS tours. Patrick, our, guide, was so instrumental in bringing the history to life in all the places we visited.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was not a one wow moment. All the places had their own character. I loved having the variety of towns and food choices."

Carlos

Dallas, TX

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great Tour and this our fourth. Going for the fifth soon

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pont du Gard"

Robin

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Rick Steves tours not only provide me with wonderful sites, but a wealth of knowledge about the places and things we see which adds so much more meaning, and allows me to tell interesting stories to those who want to hear "all about my trip". Not only was Patrick's knowledge of France, both past and present, amazing, but his energy, enthusiasm, and sense of fun were contagious.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rounding the corner in the bus and seeing Carcassonne for the first time. Also the gardens at Chateau de Villandry. Two really wow moments!"

Susy

Brentwood, CA

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our guide Patrick made the tour of France very enjoyable. His sense of humor enhanced our experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Chartres Cathedral light show."

Nancy

Grayslake, IL

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a perfect blend of group activities and free time. Our guide, Patrick Vidal, was knowledgeable, caring and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chateua Villandry"

Michael

Saint Charles, MO

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Interesting itinerary linking together a diverse variety of sites. I thought the dinners were fun and offered good opportunities to try a wide variety of regional French dishes and wines. Likewise with the picnic, the happy hour, and the winery lunch. Kudos to our guide Patrick for his patience and efforts at educating us regarding French history, cuisine and wine, along with day to day practicalities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Several especially interesting (and thematically unrelated) sites - Pont du Gard (especially with the opportunity to walk in the water channel on top), Rouffignac Cave (amazing prehistoric art), Chartres Cathedral (Malcolm Miller's lecture and the evening light show were treats), Chateaux Chenonceau and Villandry (the gardens especially), and Oradour-sur-Glane. The Chagall Museum and Russian Cathedral in Nice were not part of the formal itinerary, but very worthwhile."

Ginger

Lake Forest Park, WA

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Patrick made us all very comfortable our first night in Chartres following the usual Rick Steve's standards.I really like the buddy system! The trip was a perfect balance of group and free time. We had many experiences that a traveler on his/her own probably would not have experienced--eating a bull casserole at a winery,talking with a mayor of a small town and walking on the top level of the Pont du Gard. As usual,our fellow travelers were friendly, curious and well-informed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to choose just one! Highlights included: the magical light show at Chartres, the unexpected hill town of Les Baux, the entertaining Medieval guide at Carcassonne and, of course, the picnic day in Sarlat. A truly memorable trip under the guidance of an outstanding leader!"

Anne

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent - an outstanding guide, great itinerary, well-paced and well-organized with great sights, great meals and great hotels

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After-dinner optional walk in Carcassone up to a viewpoint where we saw the floodlit medieval hilltop city and enjoyed tiny paper cups of sparkling wine"

John

Brentwood, CA

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great tour with a great guide. Food experience was disappointing, expected more from France. After more than ten tours, would have to say that overall these were the most disappointing hotels we have encountered.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Light show at Chartes cathedral, simply spectacular followed closely by the gardens at Villandry."

James

Yakima, WA

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our tour of South France was very good. Our guide, Patrick was excellent, and generally speaking the itinerary was just the right pace.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We have two wow events. First was the Pont du Gard aqueduct! What a colossal structure, and to be able to walk along the top of this world class icon was so very cool! I think the other super experience was our tour of the fortress at Carcassonne. And the local guide provided some very educational information about life in midevil times. Excellent."

Eileen

Westcliffe, CO

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought the tour was excellent! It was my first time in France and I loved it! We experienced the food, the culture, and the little known areas that most tourists do not see. Of course we did tour the chateaus, gardens and popular sites. I loved our picnics, bot-chi ball, canoe trip and off the grid adventures. The markets were amazing and the restaurants were suburb. My husband and I enjoyed checking out the towns on our own, in our free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I did not have one wow moment, the whole trip was WOW!"

Troy

Westcliffe, CO

Tour: 09/08/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great guide, many interesting sites visited, excellent food and venues with the group, and well orchestrated itinerary.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guest guide at the Walled City of Carcassonne."

Iyla

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 09/01/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enjoyed the countryside and villages. The free time to explore was invaluable. Linda was terrific! She arranged an additional stop enroute to Les Baux...Immersing us in Van Gogh in a giant underground quarry...Van Gogh's paintings on the ceilings, the floors, all the walls simultaneously...felt like i was swimming in Van Gogh...she arranged this for us all. Wish every tour was a fortunate as we were.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I will say the canoeing on the Dordogne and the caves. The Hotel Deteriox owners in Chinon gave an exellent training on the vitriculture of the region with wines and food pairings to accompany the wines...very nice."

Jane

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/01/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my first and my husbands 3rd RS tour. In general it was a good experience. We saw so many beautiful places and learned so much about France. Each time I thought we had seen the most beautiful, we would go to another place that was equally or even more beautiful. The advantages we saw on being on the tour were getting into places early before there were too many crowds. It is also nice to not have to worry about where you are staying each night since it's all already planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the Chateau de Chenonceau, We also love market day in Sarlat!"

Roy

Round Rock, TX

Tour: 09/01/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour covered more than we expected. The Chateaux were magnificent but we would have enjoyed visiting villages more. Linda took us to a limestone quarry where an awe inspiring show of Van Gogh art was projected and animated on all the walls accompanied by beautiful music. This should be a regular part of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cave art at Roouffinac rates a big 5 star Wow."

Maureen

Vancouver, BC

Tour: 09/01/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Loved the Loire Valley chateaus, the history (remembering the village of Oradour-sur-Glane and Carcassonne Cite), picnic in Mortemart and meeting madam mayor, the winery tour and of course the wine. The Dordogne canoe trip everyone that did it loved it. Seeing the Pont du Gard and marveling at the Roman architectural abilities. Visiting Rouffignac cave - a true highlight. Visiting Les Baux and thanks to our great guide Linda seeing carrieres les lumieres.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I thought the Rouffignac cave and the light show at Les Baux were my highlights along with the great hotel rooms that I had"

Larry

Claremont, CA

Tour: 07/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As usual, our tour was outstanding, educational, and fun. Our tour guide, Linda did a great job of sharing her knowledge and experience of France and French culture. The local guides were all very good. The experiences of light shows, Bastille Day fireworks, the art display in the quarry, the cave drawings, and the food were just a few things that made this tour memorable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many great moments of this tour but I think the light show at the Cathedral in Chartres was amazing and a great way to start the tour. To call this artistic expression a "light show" does not do it justice. Everyone should experience the impact of this amazing display in person someday."

Laurie

Claremont, CA

Tour: 07/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful experience on the tour. Our tour guide, Linda, was knowledgable, accessible and fun. When challenges arose, she handled them with clarity and grace. Her knowledge about and deep love for France is apparent, and I highly value the deepened understanding I now feel for the country, it's regions, and the French people. The bus driver, Phillipe, was terrific as well. The tour itself was wonderful, and our group only added to the richness of the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This was our third Rick Steves tour, and I have learned that "wow" moments happen on a daily basis...the hospitality at the Hotel Diderot in Chinon was wonderful. The Chartres Cathedral, including the fascinating Malcolm Miller's lecture tour and the light show at night, was spectacular...the luminiere show at the quarry outside of Les Baux...the market of Sarlat...fireworks in Carcassonne on Bastille Day...WOW."

Dondi

Childress, TX

Tour: 06/09/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an amazing time. This was the first guided tour that we have taken as a family. We were impressed with the ease of the schedule. We loved every minute of the tour. I was afraid that my children, ages 14,17, and 20 might not enjoy a tour of historical sights and museums. Boy, was I wrong! They absolutely loved their tour. There were things to do for all ages and our guide made a special effort to include all the children on our tour with special treats and experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Virginie arranged for a champagne toast on the bridge at Carcassonne overlooking the castle wall and the full moon was rising just behind the view. It was really a "wow" moment that couldn't have happened at a more perfect time."

When To Go & Weather

Any time between April and October is a good time to take a Loire to the South of France tour. However, the months of April, May, September, and October are best for offering generally good weather, lighter crowds, and the full range of tourist fun.

France / Paris


France / Nice

Nice Weather

Hotels & Flights

Tour Hotels

In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's first and last hotels is included in your tour confirmation email as well as in the Itinerary section of your tour account. One month prior to the tour departure, you'll find the directions to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying while on tour in the Documents section of your tour account.

Flights

Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements and transfers are completely up to you.

Most tour members arrange to fly into Paris' Charles de Gaulle (CDG) or Orly (ORY) airports and out of Nice (NCE) — choose "multicity" on flight-booking websites. It's a 60 to 75-minute train ride from Paris to Chartres, where the tour begins. Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, or additional overnight stay in France.

We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves France guidebook.