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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

Tour Questions? See our FAQ | Email tour@ricksteves.com

Loire to the South of France in 13 Days Tour

from $3,995 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

2023

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 with us
  • 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

Barbara

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Our tour guide, Patrick, made sure we had the best time possible! He added what we in South Louisiana call a sussie, a little surprise at various points on the trip to make the experience more memorable and he did this repeatedly! His sense of humor sustained us when we were tired. This was our first RS tour. The itinerary was well thought out and presented. I struggled a good bit of the time and would have to be in much better shape to do another RS tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Malcolm’s riveting talk of the Chartres cathedral! Our lunch at the winery! the cave drawings! the quarry immersion experience of art and music! and the back of the bus gang."

Michael

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

With only one real rainy day, I couldn't be any happier about the tour. More than expected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Besides Patrick being the best guide so far, the Castles, Chateaus and South of France experience surpassed what I thought it would be."

Martha

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great to be back in France again. The tour took us to a good variety of places and the guide was wonderful. While Covid did rear its ugly head a bit, we were able to continue on to more adventures and explorations to complete the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I am always WOWed by the enormous structures built before modern equipment. On this trip, I was amazed by the medieval beauty of Chartres Cathedral with the stained glass windows that were highlighted by Malcolm Miller. The second WOW was the Pont du Gard. How in the world did the Romans build that before modern machinery? It was stunning in the early morning fog as well as later when the sun came out."

Linda

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All aspects of the tour were excellent! Patrick, our guide was exceptional as he knows the country so well and made sure that we made the most of the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say with such an amazing itinerary, but having to pick one it would be the Venice virtual show at the quarry."

Ryan

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second trip with you and we were worried that there was not way the new guide could measure up to our previous person, Rebecca, but Patrick, while different was wonderful as well…caring, clear, knowledgeable, funny, and warm. He helped to create a special event in all our lives!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Baal’s multimedia display from the modern side, Sarlat overall."

Howard

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I originally was booked for this trip for April 2020 and it was worth the 2 1/2 year wait to take the tour. Everything - the itinerary, the scenery, my fellow tour participants, the guide, hotels was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I am not sure I can pin down to a specific "wow" moment. But, there were three that stuck out: 1. the cave drawings. To think that people 12,000 years ago could create such art. 2. Oradur. To walk through the village and to see what war atrocities can do was stark. Hardly anyone said a word as we walked around. And, to realize this was real and not a movie set. 3. Arles. Seeing the Roman ruins and realize you were not in Rome but in France was eye popping."

Diane

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Unfortunately we had to leave the tour after only four days due to a positive co-vid test. But I enjoyed the brief time we traveled with a great group of people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably the gardens at Villandry"

Bachman

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was led by Julie who was a last minute substitute for another guide. Julie was an excellent guide who knew the tour, its special adventures and she had an engaging personality.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being able to stand in Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, look at his original writings, view the desk and table where he worked and observe replicas of his inventions is an experience I will never forget. Imagining him in that space with his inquisitive and creative mind was truly amazing. My “WOW” moment!"

Brett

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fabulous, all: guide, driver, places, fellow travelers, logistics made this an excellent experience

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many, something every day. One: Carcassonne the evening of a full moon"

Meredith

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

While my tour was short due to contracting Covid I had a great time. The tour guide and group were extremely friendly and helped me to celebrate my birthday in style. I adored touring the chateau, especially Villandry. Our guide made it so seem less and easy to see as much as possible. It certainly reiterated for me why I love taking the tours. And when I told my guide that I had tested positive for Covid she was very helpful with bringing me up breakfast and helping me figure out my next steps

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The gardens of Villandry were epic in their scale. The house also and yet it felt welcoming and homey."

David

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Incredibly knowledgeable guide Julie made the trip alive.. In addition to the great locales and fabulous countryside, our trip came alive because of her insight & analysis. Beautiful countryside and chateaus.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The lovely beaches & city vibes of Nice."

Stacey

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First RS tour. A great lineup of sites, stops, special excursions, and time to explore on our own. Our tour guide Julie was outstanding. A wealth of local and country knowledge. She was warm and nice to be around while always a step ahead keeping us informed and comfortable. Our bus driver was also a step above.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really loved the canoe trip! A beautiful day, a great pace. Something I wouldn’t have thought to plan on my own. Didn’t hurt that we had perfect weather!"

Caroline

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved this tour! Our guide Julie who stepped in at the last minute was outstanding! Loved her enthusiasm, her knowledge, her joy of life and her willingness to share her experiences and insights into French culture, the people and social aspects of France. So fascinating!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several but probably the three most were the Cathedral, bridges and other churches in Chartres lit up at night, so cool! The second was seeing the Pont du Gard, so incredible! And third was seeing the Lumiere show at the rock quarry, like Julie said it was stupefying!"

Michelle

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour met and exceeded my expectations. Our time was filled with many and varied new experiences. The guides, overall, were exceptional.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's difficult to narrow it down to one moment. Time spent in the Chartres cathedral with Michael Miller, canoeing down the river in Dordogne was a treat, and the picnics were fun too. Our city guide in Arles (and the archeological museum) was a delight. The cave tour to see the wooly mammoths come to life was remarkable. I feel so fortune to have the experiences!"

James

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Julie made this trip the best. Her attention to detail and our situations could not have been better. The hotels, restaurants, and tour sites were well picked and wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorite? Hard to pick, but we were wowed at the magnificent Pont du Gard, amazing Rouffignac Cave with its drawings and cave bear beds, the absolutely gorgeous Chenonceau Chateau, and the stunning limestone mine with its light and music show."

Kelly

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the tour except for the hotel accommodations (not location, but the rooms themselves). I hope Rick Steves reviews the rooms of some of the locations and modify them so a person can fully stand upright in the bed area.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking through the aqueduct inside the Port du Gard and canoeing down the Dordogne River."

Cassandra

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The itinerary was a perfect mix of sightseeing, guided tours, landscapes, architecture and food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The prehistoric cave art."

Richard

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third RS tour and maybe the best. Patrick was an outstanding tour guide. He kept us entertained the whole trip with entertaining and knowledgeable facts on a number of topics. We liked the hotels especially the Hotel Diderot in Chinon. Chartres with its amazing light shows was a great way to start the trip. I didn't not know much about these regions and I was blown away by places like Cénac in the Dordogne. The canoeing was a great activity. It gave people a lot of good stories

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cénac and canoeing in Dordogne. The Pont duGard was also amazing."

Tom

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Crossing the aqueduct @ Pont de Gard"

Jill

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I truly enjoyed this tour, which was my second Rick Steves tour. The sites were beautiful, I learned a lot, and was so thrilled to unplug and get away after such a long time.

Janice

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

A few tweaks would have made a very good tour outstanding. Would have appreciated more time at Chenonceau, Villandry, and Clos Luce and less time canoeing on the Dordogne and in Arles. Also the safety and comfort in some hotel rooms left something to be desired. But Patrick, Claire and experts such as Malcolm and Laurent were wonderful!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, being in a space where a creative genius actually lived and worked was monumental. I could have spent another hour or 2 at Clos Luce being immersed in the late life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci, but we had to leave quaint Amboise to move on to our next destination."

Heidi

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was a good blend of old and new. Patrick kept things lively and moving, providing fun opportunities for group bonding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It’s s toss up between the gorgeous light show on the Chartres cathedral, canoeing down the Dordogne, and the fabulous promenade of Nice!"

Stephen

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just an excellent and efficient, and cost affective way to see the country, see significant cultural sights, and imbibe the culture of the country

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I am not a 'wow' moment person. The whole tour, the fellow travellers, and the guide made the tour deeply gratifying. However, for me Pont du Gard was a highlight."

Lois

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my first RS tour and it was as many of my friends described: active, interesting and fun

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing on the Dordogne"

Cathleen

Tour: 09/25/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was fun, fast-paced, educational, and our guide Patrick was just great. He was knowledgeable about history and shared information on contemporary France and French issues. I still can't believe he got 27 people, none of whom had a lot of experience, to jump in canoes and paddle down the Dordogne River! Our group was great also, all good sports and very interesting people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chateau Villandry Gardens and the light show at Chartres - walking along the river in Chartres was lovely."

Bonnie

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an amazing trip with amazing guides and adventures!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is difficult to answer-there were so many! But the Carrieres des Lumieres de Venise was outstanding. As was canoeing on the Dordogne River. And walking through the Pond du Gard. Loved every Village and City that we visited."

Susan

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall, the tour was done in a very adventurous manner and we enjoyed it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several but the Roman Aqueduct and the light show in the excavated limestone quarry were magnifique!"

Dan

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Not knowing what to expect as this was our first tour with RS, we were impressed with the overall organization, our tour leader's knowledge and experience, the diversity of sites emphasizing the beauty and history of France, and having fun during our meals together.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh so many...the light show in Les Carrieres and Pont du Gard. The museum in Arles, Museon Arlaten, founded by Frederic Mistral, is not to be missed."

Dennis

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a great experience! Chris did an amazing job as our tour guide…a wealth of knowledge with incredible background info on each of the areas we visited, plus a lot of fun anecdotes from her past French stays!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The incredible light and musical show at the caves at Les Baux"

Kathy

Tour: 09/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I chose this tour because I wanted to see castles. Everyday there were memorable, awesome places to see; each day better than the previous. With only 10 tour members remaining by Day 7 after Covid unfortunately swept 14 who tested positive and their companions from the tour, the experience was like a private tour. Kudos to our guide Linda who did an excellent job keeping us informed about the health of the others, plus kept us upbeat with her insight into France's culture and history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "WOW" moments: the somber history of Oradour-sur-Glane, so we do not forget the tragedy of war; the magnificence of Pont du Gard, a masterpiece of Roman engineering; the cave art of Rouffignac Cave, what is their meaning; and the castles' history, architecture and splendor. It's impossible to choose just one favorite since each was unique and brought new knowledge, understanding and appreciation."

Gordon

Tour: 09/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Unfortunately, our tour was hit hard by covid, but despite this it was a wonderful trip, great guide, good group (the survivors, that is) and altho we covered a lot of ground the tour was well paced

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The prehistoric caves, even tho we didn't go tp the "famous" caves (where you only see a replica of the drawings) I appreciated seeing real paintings from 15,000 years ago, just awe inspiring"

Kennette

Tour: 09/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved seeing a part of France that was new to me. Everything was wonderful, barring Covid and the disappointment it can bring to a fun and educational experience. I love active tours and this one did not disappoint. Our guide, Linda, and driver, Phillipe, were wonderful, personable, knowledgeable, and friendly. They knew the territory and subjects well, and shared in an articulate way. I saw things that were unexpected, but everyday was wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was in awe of the 16,000 year old cave drawings. I was overwhelmed with emotion and sadness at Oradour-Sur-Glane. I would not have missed either of them for any reason."

Stephen

Tour: 09/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour. I had been to Paris a number of times but seeing the rest of France was eye opening and wonderful. The guide was great. The tour was well organized with a perfect mix of events and downtime.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Carcassone was magical. We had a great guided tour followed by time to wander the streets. We were back that evening for cassoulet at a small restaurant."

Tim

Tour: 09/11/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Covid reduced our tour group from 25 to 10 and that was too bad. But everything else was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Could easily have been the Roman Aqueduct, but think it was the Domaine Guinand - an 8th generation family of grape growers and winemakers with great wines. What a treat to see them in action and taste their wines - white, rose and red."

Mary

Tour: 09/11/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Linda, made the experience - educational, fun, surprising, and safe.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Carrieres de Lumieres -- the quarries were so amazing to think that they harvested all that stone in those huge caves and the light show was a very different and enchanting experience."

Steven

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide William was outstanding in how he handled the tour, attentive, keeping our local guides on task and was constantly aware of our concerns and needs (like toilet breaks)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When he supplied us with a special drink or treat."

James

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very good group and extremely competent and personable tour guide

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pont du Gard, walking inside the top of the structure and later wading in the river down below, I felt was a perfectly blended immersion in the past while celebrating the present."

Sara

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful tour of France. Our tour guide William was very informative and enjoyable for the entire tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Illuminati in the old limestone quarry. Absolutely amazing."

Brad

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide (William) was personable, knowledgeable and loves his country (France). Several times he made extra arrangements form us to see sites that were not on the tour (Lascaux II). The group was friendly and we were all considerate of others. Your tour delivered all you said it would. Cathedrals, castles, chateaus, caves, canoeing, (out of C's), memorable dinners (boar cheeks), beautiful countryside and special moments ( lunch at a winery and a picnic in a very old building) Thank you!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The prehistoric caves with 13,000 year old engravings. Awesome."

Sharon

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A wonderfully choreographed itinerary, combining big-cathedral visits with intimate wine-tasting in a vineyard. Really enjoyed our fellow travelers and the historical perspective and help provided by our guide, William.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Amazing gardens at Villandry, and cave paintings."

Janice

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well planned and executed. Our guide was so knowledgeable and informative. The group was a lot of fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think Carcassonne was a wow but Sarlat was my unexpected favorite!"

Steve

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Had a great time and the guide was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This was my 5th or 6th trip to France but this time I saw the country with new eyes and was very impressed with the beauty and the sense of community of the French."

Therese

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first visit to France and I really enjoyed the tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each day was exciting and a new adventure ... can't really identify a specific "wow"!"

Kathleen

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Of my 4 Rick Steves tours, this was the most "active" ! All tour members agreed that our vacation from our vacation in beautiful Sarlat was timed perfectly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was a surprise visit to the Carrieres Des Lumieres in Les Baux. Have been wanting to experience this since learning of it years ago. This year's program, Venice La Serenissime, with its lush visuals and sublime music had me feeling as if I were walking through a Canaletto painting of Venise. And I did purchase the catalogue!"

Roger

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Parts of this tour duplicate the “France on your own” tour I had with you in 2018, especially the Loire chateaux and Pont du Gard, but that was expected and OK.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cathedral at Chartres and light show. Fortifications at Carcassone. Drenching and prolonged Thunderstorm at Les Baux."

Joanne

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The sights were fabulous, our tour members were nice people and fun to be with, the food and wine was wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking across the Pont du Gard was a magical moment. We also had a magical dinner at Les Delices De Laiualice in Sarlat."

Randi

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour, my first trip to France, was a wonderful experience. It was well-organized and included so many adventures: places to see, history to learn about, French culture to encounter, food and wine to enjoy. I found the French people to be friendly and helpful. Our guide, Arnaud, and our bus driver, Philippe, were fun to travel with. Arnaud told us important details about all the places that we visited, and what it is to be uniquely 'French'. I love France and will definitely return!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many "wow" moments: the cathedral in Chartres, the Chateau de Villandry, the market in Sarlat, 13,000 year old cave drawings, the fortress at Carcassonne, wine tasting in Arles, the Pont du Gard, the Mediterranean Sea (though it's tough to go swimming there), walking everywhere, shopping, the tour dinners, the chocolate desserts, the walnut pastries and the ice cream."

Mike

Tour: 08/28/22

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was a small city tour of France. Seemed to have a lot of self guided or audio guided tours rather than local guides or tour leader guided. Some of the tours need to be updated. The quirky hotels were centrally located with no AC for 4 nights and little AC for the rest. The tour guide,Arnaud, was passionate about French history but lacked details on tour practicals and skipped the group picnic in Scarlat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was the light quarry in Les Baux."

Veronica

Tour: 07/10/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Despite only being on the tour for 5 days due to COVID and a sprained ankle, I had a great time. I would tour with Rick Steves again.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light show at the Chartres Cathedral, the stained glass museum, and Malcolm"

Michael

Tour: 07/10/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have always travelled independently but have always wanted to go on a Rick Steves Tour. It was amazing. My daughter and I saw cities and sights that we would not have seen otherwise. The tour size was great and the bus was comfortable. Our tour guide Julie was fantastic and taught us so much. I want to go on another Rick Steves Tour as soon as we can.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the streets of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre was a stunning experience. Similar to visiting Holocaust sights."

Dwight

Tour: 07/10/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was very pleased with the choices of places to visit on the tour. All of the arrangements went very smoothly, and the hotels were very comfortable. Our tour guide Julie was amazing, and really went the extra mile for the tour participants.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing in the places where Van Gogh painted masterpieces in Arles."

Daniel

Tour: 07/10/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First, our guide Julie is top notch. She is a wealth of knowledge and very personable. The record heat and Covid proved challenging, she handled it all like a pro. We met some great fellow travelers that we plan on staying in contact with. This is our second Rick Steves tour and it did not disappoint.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was the "surprise" at Pont du Gard."

Reagan

Tour: 07/10/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Rick Steves' Europe Loire to the South of France tour was my first RSE tour and it was absolutely incredible! I saw and learned so much and our guide, Julie was wonderful. She was very knowledgeable and made all of the French history come alive and made our trip so memorable. RSE did a fantastic job at selecting restaurants that served regional specialties and! One aspect that I particularly enjoyed was the group dynamic because we all got along. Can't wait for my next RSE tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing down the Dordogne was an experience that I will never forget! The weather was perfect and the coastal and chateau views were absolutely gorgeous. It was fun doing an active activity in the middle of the tour with our guide and the other tour members."

Joanna

Tour: 07/10/22

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Limited experience we had only 4 of the 13 days (due to COVID), so we were meeting other participants. First two hotels had no AC and France was in the midst of heatwave. We enjoyed the opportunities to meet with "locals" and learn, specifically in Chartres--Cathedral talk by Malcolm and the Stained Glass window workshop presentation; the wine tasting (I don't drink, but interesting); and Madame Mayor talking about her town before Oradour-sur-Glane visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had hoped to see the Rouffignac Cave, but alas that did not happen. From our limited 4 day participation: learning about the stained-glass windows the first day was pretty neat. And, Stoney's speech at the Oradour-Sur-Glane memorial-- about stopping the US from going down the same path that Germany did so many years ago. And, having the Abilene Paradox being mentioned as part of the bus narrative."

Sandra

Tour: 07/10/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was wonderful!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many wow moments that it is hard to pick one. The gardens at Chateau de Villandry were awesome. Being able to walk through the top of the Pont du Gard aqueduct was amazing!"

Lynnette

Tour: 07/10/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I feel like i really explored France and that was my goal

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Drinking a margarita under the yellow awning where Vincent van Gogh painted!"

Lauren

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely fell in love with France on this tour! Our tour guide was just great and so fun and our tour group I am still missing a week later.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Light show on the cathedral in Chartes with a huge storm rolling through, wandering the streets of beautiful Sarlat, and canoing on the Dordogne river, to name just a few."

Elyse

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a wonderful tour. The people were nice, the places interesting and our guide, Julie was an 11 out of 10

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Climbing the castle ruins in Les Baux and the cave drawings"

Meghan

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour and it exceeded my expectations. Our guide, Julie, did a wonderful job, as did our driver Joseph. They worked well together to make everything run smoothly. The tour was a great mix of experiences, from visiting chateaus, to prehistoric caves, to outdoor experiences like canoeing. There was a nice mix of activities, but still enough down time to explore and relax. I also really enjoyed the tows and cities we stayed in.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many amazing moments. Visiting Oradour-sur-Glane was difficult, but incredibly moving. Other favorite moments were walking across the top part of the Pont du Gard aqueduct, our lunch at the winery, and seeing Carcassonne all lit up while toasting with champagne."

Steve

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great Tour Great Guide

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The gardens of the Chateau Villandry gardens, the reflections of the Chateau d’Azay le Rideau on the lake surrounding it, the double rainbow over Sarlat, my first glimpse of the Pont Du Gard over the Gardon river."

Julie

Tour: 06/19/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting Pont du Gard and walking through the aqueduct."

Kern

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

excellent overview tour of the Loire and south of France. The selection of sites and towns was just right, nicely balanced

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many but "the one" is Chartres cathedral- daytime, meeting and having a tour with Malcolm Miller. Night, the incredible light display on the cathedral"

Karen

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed the tour very much. Lots of history, which made me wish I had studied a primer before leaving on tour. Great food and great wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed the lightshow at the cathedral in Chartres and the wine tasting and lunch at Guinand vineyard."

Erin

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my 13th RS tour and it was wonderful. I appreciate how the tours maximize my limited vacation time. There is a perfect balance of planned activity and free time. While most of the itinerary is known, there are moments each day on the tours where a little travel magic occurs. Sometimes it’s a new food, or unexpected sightseeing stop, or a connection with a fellow tour member. Taking a tour in 2022 was a leap of faith, but RS and our guide did everything possible to keep us healthy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The highlights of the trip for me were the nighttime light show in Chartres, the gardens at the Villandry château, and the lunch at the winery."

Lisa

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our hotels, towns, excursions and meals all provided a good immersion and exposure to the areas we were visiting. Arnaud our guide and Phillipe our driver were excellent. We had a great group of people which also made the experience so enjoyable. Mask compliance on the bus and inside busy places was not an issue as the group understood the assignment and were responsible adults. At the same time indoor meals felt safe because we were our own “bubble”.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light show of Chartres cathedral and the quarry light show were breathtaking. The Oradour-Sur-Galane visit was heartbreaking but deeply moving and I appreciated that experience. Market day in Sarlat was also an immersive experience as a “local”. So much fun and every shopkeeper and local we met were so friendly! That was one of our favorite days despite the HEAT!"

Nancy

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time. I learned so much about the French culture and history. Our guide Arnaud did an amazing job each day giving us so much information on the bus while we traveled to our destinations. Our driver Phillip was so kind, warm and engaging. At times we felt exhausted as we had some days over 100, but we would get reinvigorated at each new place we visited. We enjoyed each location so much we would have liked to have stayed an extra day at each town.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many. I have a tie. We really enjoyed seeing the home of Leonardo Da Vinci. It was magical and awe-inspiring. We also really enjoyed the hill town of Les Baux. We visited a small cemetery at the top of the village. It was very moving and touching. We bought a couple of miniature statues made by the town locals. We ended our time there at a lovely lunch over looking the rock canyon hill town. We had the local dish of ailoli with snails, cod and delicious local vegetables."

Christina

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Rick Steves tour was amazing as always. The hotels, the choices of locations to visit and our your guide were all outstanding! All the people on the tour are friendly and outgoing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light shows at both the cathedral in Chartres and in the quarry, and visiting the Pont du Gard."

David

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour was fantastic. Arnaud was a wonderful and funny guide. The group was great and the pace was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Carcassonne lit up at night, but there were many."

Kip

Tour: 06/12/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have taken many Rick Steve’s tour and this one provided all we have come to expect and more. Arnold, our guide was fantastic. He was informative and entertaining. He was very helpful whenever a participant had a problem. The itinerary was well thought out, and showed how varied France is. There was a nice balance of history and culture as well experiencing modern French life.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking atop the Pont du Gard."

Michael

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From Jeanne Brenneis: it was wonderful to be immersed in French history and culture, especially to be exposed to the differences in the country outside of Paris. The tour director was great, the bus was comfortable, the food was delicious, the sights were awesome. Overall the trip was superb.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Chenonceau, after reading about it in French history; the drawings in the cave near Lascaux; the spectacular sound and light show at Les Baux; and all the delicious foie gras."

Heather

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great itinerary and guide

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Beach at Nice"

Gail

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wine tasting and lunch at the vineyard. Also the canoe trip on the river."

Anna

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Appreciated the excellent guide, Linda, and the variety of experiences

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing down the Dordogne AND Les Baux quarry show!!!"

Tina Devon

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Linda was a terrific guide. The tour was well-run and everything we saw and did was spectacular and extremely worthwhile. The food and wine were fabulous and completely over the top. My suggestion for improvement: see fewer things at a slower pace. I could have spent all day at just one of the chateaus, like Azay. Also, the visit to Leonardo Da Vinci's house in Amboise really meant a lot to me, but I felt we were rushed through it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sarlat in the Dordogne region. Everything about my experience there was a wow moment – the lush green beauty of the region, the cave drawings, paddling a canoe down the Dordogne River, the beauty of the town."

Theo Alford

Tour: 06/05/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Very well organized and managed. Tour guide was highly experienced. No glitches.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The food; apparently there's a reason the French are know for their cooking! Also walking through the Roman viaduct in Pont du Gard."

Gail

Tour: 05/29/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great tour guides, great tour members. Weather only got better as the tour went on. The French people we met were all warm and friendly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sarlat was a beautiful town and the market was very fun. The paella we got at the market was yummy!"

Michael

Tour: 05/29/22

Overall rating: rating 1 of 5

It was a great tour until my wife tested positive for Covid. At that point, we were dumped off the tour and left to fend for ourselves. I have always praised how the RSE organization treated guests like family, but that only seems to apply as long as you are Covid negative. The help we received while well meaning, was essentially useless. We had to find hotel rooms, arrange travel with the airlines, get train tickets to get to the airport, etc.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beautiful cathedrals, old cities, the excellent discussions of what we were seeing."

Jeanette

Tour: 05/29/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The trip was fabulous. I rated only "very good" because of our COVID experience. Virginie is a wonderful guide and her replacements were good - very good. The choices for meals and accommodations were great. There was a nuce mix of meals on our own and group meals.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The canoe trip down the Dordogne River."

Jenny

Tour: 05/29/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Like our previous 3 tours, this one was wonderful in every way! Our guide, Virginie, was so much fun and a wealth of information. I always learn so much on these tours and am constantly amazed at the places we visit!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing on the Dordogne! I have never been in a canoe so this was a personal challenge…as we canoed around the last bend, a gorgeous chateau came into view and I was just “wowed.”"

Clifford

Tour: 05/29/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It completely matched our expectations even though I caught covid toward the end and we had to quarantine from the rest of the group Rick Steves refunded some of the money but we used the hotel rooms from the tour but provided our own transportation

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The canoe trip down the dordogne"

Kim

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was probably our best Rick Steves tour so far (our third) . The weather, cool in Chartres, warm in Nice, was perfect for mid-late May. We really hit it off with our tour group, as reflected by us keeping in touch after the tour ended. Very good mix of experiences and sites along the way.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many, really hard to narrow it to one. Certainly the gardens at Villandry. The meals together - awesome, and being able to sample France from North to South in one tour with such good company."

Lee

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Linda was an excellent guide and went out of her way to ensure we all had our needs met and exceeded our expectations. This tour did involve a good deal of bus travel and moving from hotel to hotel which gets a bit tedious. Accommodations were very good. My biggest complaint was the food because I’m pescatarian and our meals were heavy on meat. Pescatarian doesn’t mean vegan! But Linda worked it out so I usually got a good meat alternative.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cave art at Rouffignac. Of course the chateaus were amazing but this was the first time I saw prehistoric cave art in person. Lots of scenic beauty on the road, seeing the Pyrenees from the Carcassonne citadel, canoeing on the Dordogne River, walking through the aqueduct on top the Pont du Gard, and views overlooking Nice were other highlights."

Zsuzsanna

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour. I traveled as a single person and didn't really know what to expect. Loved everything on the tour- enjoyed visiting different parts of France that normally most tourists don't visit. Walking in medieval cities is a unique experience. We had a wonderful guide in Linda, charming, knowledgeable, good leader. Equally the group I traveled with was awsome. Kind, intelligent people, wanting to learn. As someone put it, "NPR listening people".

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The video show in Les Baux was very emotional and overwhelming"

Deborah

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour gave us a mix of activities that gave us experiences of history, beauty, wine, culture, and allowed us the time to find more on our own. I loved this tour and would love to do another tour in France.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a humbling experience."

Deborah

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our tour guide was caring and helpful throughout. We saw many sites that would have been impossible for us to arrange as independent travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were two: canoeing in the Dordogne, and walking through the aqueduct at the Pond du Gard. Just hearing about the history of these aqueducts was stunning. Maybe there were three: the cave paintings in the still-open Grotte du Rouggignac were amazing and surprisingly moving. To think that people (perhaps our ancestors) painted these so long ago was hard to get our minds around."

Steven

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide Linda really made the difference. She brought French culture, history, customs alive with her vivid descriptions. The places we visited were all worthwhile stops. The variety was great from architecturally significant places including two beautiful chateaus, historic cave, winery, Roman coliseum and aqueduct, WWII ruins, and a canoe ride through the French countryside. Many side tours were included.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The frozen in time village of Oradour-sur-Glane that the Nazis needlessly wreaked havoc on shortly after D-day. The experience of being there has implications of what is going on in the world today."

Mary

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We’ll balanced between free time to explore and guided tours

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wine tastings"

Carl

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

An intriguing & educational tour, I felt like I was actively immersed in France’s charming historical & cultural heritage going back to the medieval times & even earlier. At times, it took a lot of effort to fully participate in the many daily activities which were clearly worthwhile & it was made into a pleasant experience with the help of our fantastic guide, Linda & the friendly & fun fellow travelers. I suggest enhancing the experience by offering optional higher class hotel rooms for a fee.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, the night light show at the Chartres cathedral, the elegant chateaus, especially the Villandry, the old charm of medieval France, especially at Sarlat, the Pont-du-gard, the Carrieres des Lumieres immersive show, the old town & the Castle Hill in Nice & even the tragic site at Oradour-sur-glane."

Dale

Tour: 05/15/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed the range of experiences, from visiting Roman ruins to canoeing on the Dordogne River.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Watching the illumination show on the cathedral at Chartres was the most incredible experience."

Todd

Tour: 05/15/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Although this was our first tour with Rick Steves, it was everything that we were told to expect from friends and tour info prep guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Chenonceau, the Pont du Gard and the Mediterranean sea were very impressive."

Laurie

Tour: 05/15/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The church at Chartre - both the talk by the outside guide Malcolm, and the amazing light show on the outside of the cathedral at night. The other one was the Pont du Gard, just seeing it and then walking inside the aqueduct over the river. Hard to believe it was built by the Romans so long ago. Wandering the cobbled lanes in the ancient towns and seeing truffles, bags of walnuts, multi coloured nougat,"

Dana

Tour: 05/15/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was nice to get back on a bus with fellow RS travelers. I especially enjoyed the breadth of area that the tour covered.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing on the Dordonge in the shadows of hillside chateaus was very special."

Kevin

Tour: 05/15/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed the pace of the tour, the beautiful French countryside. Staying in the villages close to the heart of the town. Our guide Arnaud was knowledgeable, good sense of humor yet maintained professional control at all times. The hotels we stayed in were all clean with professional staff and amenities were sufficient. Enjoyed the fact that two of the hotels offered pools as temps were very warm.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Canoeing on the Dordogne River was our Wow moment. Beautiful scenery"

Stephen

Tour: 05/15/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 3rd Rick Steves tour and it delivered as expected. We got a good slice of French culture, cuisine, and history as we worked our way from north to south. I enjoyed the insights of our charismatic guide Arnaud.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This tour was packed with "wow" moments. The most evocative might be viewing the cave art at Rouffignac."

Susan

Tour: 05/15/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time, the tour met my expectations for content, comfort, ease of communication with guide, etc.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour of the Chartres Cathedral with Dr. Malcom Miller as our local guide. He was so clear in his discussion of the stained glass in the windows and its meaning and use not just for beauty but as a study guide for illiterate people."

Greg

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed many wonderful and memorable adventures with a great tour guide that included exceptional activities, inspirational sights and delicious meals and wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Discovering how unique and impressive Loire valley chateaus are, especially considering some were built over 500 years ago."

Roberta

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was excellent overall, with an outstanding guide, Virginie, wonderful learning and cultural experiences, and delicious cuisine. This was our first Rick Steves tour and it certainly will not be our last.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, but the Chartres light show and the Pont du Gard stand out."

Harry

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

18,000 years of history, intimate, fascinating medieval towns, castles and chateaus, great wine and food, wonderful tour companions, unique, well located hotels, etc. All of it expertly enlivened by our marvelous guide, Virginie.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many! Full moon rising champagne toast at Carcassonne; projected light shows in Les Beaux de Provence and Chartres, and the deeply moving serendipity of seeing the lone survivor of the massacre in Orodour sur Glane as he filmed. It was profound and sobering to be there as history is being repeated in Ukraine."

Mary Ellyn

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We've been waiting for this tour since our first cancellation in 2019. And it was everything that I hoped it would be. Each city from Chartres to Carcassonne was a wonderful and rich experience. Our tour guide, Virginie did an excellent job of giving us the background about the city, its important sites, and the French culture and people. The chateaus were amazing, with a special nod to the gardens at Vallandry. Sarlat was a gem, with its wonderful market. Oradour-sur-Glane was sobering

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Experiencing the Quarries of Light at Les Baux-de-Provence. The illuminations show is absolutely amazing, with using the quarry walls at the screen and watching and walking through the pictures, videos, and synchronized sound. Quite the experience. Then afterward to spend time walking through the streets of this hilltop town, shop in the incredibly and thoughtfully laid out shops while the owners looked on with pride when you complimented me on the beauty of their shops."

John

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I've traveled in Europe many times with Rick's guide books but this was my first tour and I must say that I was extremely pleased. The guide was exceptional, the amount of time spent with the group and time for exploring on my own was well balanced and the sites we visited were amazing. There is no way I could have done on my own what we did on this tour. A really wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That's a tough question because there were so many! The Pont du Gard, the amazing chateaux, cathedrals and castles, Oradour-Sur-Glane, the tour and lunch at Domaine Guinand, the Lumieres in Les-Baux, and all of the amazing food!"

Michael

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great trip to experience a variety of French cities and culture. Our guide, Virginie More' did an amazing job. Her creative approach, hard work, and endless enthusiasm and energy, made our trip a remarkable experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A great side trip to Carrieres des Lumieres, in Les Baux-de- Provence , and amazing light show in an enormous underground quarry"

Thomas

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide, Virginie, was excellent. The itinerary was well planned and offered a diverse mixture of sites and cities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments but probably Carcassonne."

Kelly

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great people to travel with, Great Guide, Great places to visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Staying in hotels that were hundreds of years old."

Susan

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A well organized, educational tour with a delightful tour guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our first stop on the tour in Chartres, a beautiful town with its beautiful cathedral. The lighted night show wowed me with its music set to a light show playing out the history of France projected on the towns many historical buildings, churches, bridges, and streets. The tram ride though out the town at night is a must. Another wow surprise stop was to the region of Les Baux, a visit to the quarry for a historical lighted show playing out throughout the many walls, ceiling and floors."

Linda

Tour: 05/08/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

History and culture came alive for us during this tour. Towns became more than dots on a map. Stereotypes fell apart. The “new” and “unexpected” shoved any superficial expectations we brought with us aside.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our aha moments came more from insights braided through the places we spent time with than from the places themselves. For instance at the Pont du Gard—the layering of the guides’ narrative, our walking though the site, our time in the museum, and our own time wandering the site with our own thoughts built a powerful experience beyond simply a place on our itinerary."

Nancy

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great. The guide and driver were the best. I couldn’t have asked for a better tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cro-Magnon caves near Sarlat followed by the hike along the Pond Du Gard aqueduct."

Beverly

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent itinerary, top notch guide, suitable hotels and meals.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Day in Dordogne River Valley with cave art, canooand outstanding scenery."

Robert

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Right balance of scheduled events and personal time. Spectacular venues

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cro Magnon cave art"

Ann

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

One of the two best Rick Steves ever. A nice balance between sightseeing and time to appreciate the food, wine, and country.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Several wow moments and can't choose. The day with the prehistoric cave paintings and the canoe trip on the Dordogne was the most fun, but the visit to the WWII ruined town of Oradour-Sur-Glane was a moment of reckoning."

Erric

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Other than the time it took us to reach Chartres from CDG is was great. We landed at CDG at 8 AM and reached Chartres. Two hours to get out of CDG, long lines to get train tickets and five train changes. We saw a lot of rural France in the process. We had visited France several times previously, but this was the first time to to see the amazing vistas it provides. I needed more time to “take in” the scenery.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As in all of our previous Rick Steves tours there were numerous wow moments. They started with the light show at Chartres, Chateau de Chenonceau’s amazing gardens, Oradour sur Glane, Rouffignac cave drawings, medieval Carcassone, Pont du Gard, Oh yes, and the unforgettable light show in the limestone quarry."

Michael

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We loved our tour guide, Arnaud. With his "talks" and anecdotal stories, we learned much more about French people, food, politics and culture. The hotels were great - we enjoyed the character and people in some of the unique spots we visited. The bus driver, Phillipe, had amazing driving skills (such tight spots to navigate) and brought additional fun to the experience. The weak spot was outside guides hired in specific locations, except for Malcolm in Chartres who was magnificent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pont du Gard, the cave paintings, the beautiful gardens (at Chateaus and the Diderot Hotel), Van Gogh's inspirations, Sarlat and Nice markets, and the two light shows (Chartres and the mine). Also loved Coliseum/theatre in Arles and the ruins at Les Baux."

Gary

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We saw lots of interesting sites in good weather. Lots of flowers were in bloom. (May was a good time to be in France.) Arles was somewhat disappointing - the museum card gave us access to places that were underwhelming (other tour members made similar comments). I wish that Avignon could have been included in the tour as an alternative.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Two things: The Pont du Gard was incredible. Walking through the aqueduct (at the top) was an unexpected good experience. The other "wow" was the the village of Oradour-sur-Glane - not because it was wonderful, but because it was shocking. It is hard to believe that people (Nazis in this case) could be so inhumane towards others. It brought to mind what is happening in Ukraine now."

Cia

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Arnold is a fabulous guide. Very knowledgeable , great sense of humor and knows how to stay in control. Our bus was comfortable and Philipe a very good driver.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many. Perhaps the going through the waterway in the Pont de Gard!"

Leonard

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Arnaud servignat and phillipe were both professional and welcoming. Tour restaurant’s offerings were tasty although I was put off having to purchase wine with dinner in chinon. All local guides were informative. Chartes was a terrible disappointment. Two nights in a horrible hotel and one full day, for in essence, a one hour cathedral tour was a waste of precious time. Hotel campagnile was not creaky, charming, historic or well located. Worse than a motel 6. It caused anxiety for rest of trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Point de gard. The local tour guide did an exceptional job."

Melinda

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a very enjoyable tour: beautiful countryside, good food & wine, interesting sights. Our guide Arnaud was very informative and fun to travel with and our driver, Philipe, was excellent. We also had a very nice group of fellow travelers to enjoy the trip with. It was so fun getting to France after two years of trying!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many wow moments but the biggest "wow" for me was seeing the 13,000 year old cave drawings of Rouffignac Cave. They looked like they could have been done yesterday."

Dennis

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Engaging mix of activities, sites, and culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The light show projected onto Chartres Cathedral."

Patricia

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour. Our guide, Arnaud, was excellent; the itinerary was interesting; even in the time of Covid precautions everything ran smoothly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the canoeing on the Dordogne, and seeing the Pont du Gard, but the biggest wow had to be Oradour-sur-Glane. It was so unsettling, so different from anything I’d seen before, and so moving."

Nancy

Tour: 05/01/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well paced. There were enough chateaux without overdoing it. The guide and bus driver were fabulous and made a great team. All in all it was one of my most favorite RS tours. It was worth the three year wait!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to pick just one special moment. It was all WOW. To pick one, I'd have to say the light show in the abandoned quarry."

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.