France Culinary Tour Snapshot
Join us on a France culinary tour to the Loire Valley. Experience the local cuisine and the finest wines. The fabulous food and wine are only the beginning of this culinary tour. Gastronomic dinners and hands-on cooking classes are interspersed with excursions into local history and culture. With so much history, culture, and breathtaking scenery, this is a culinary tour you will not soon forget.
Please call for custom tour price
Tour price includes:
- Round-trip airfare from Boston or New York
- 8 nights accommodation in: Truyes (4); Saumur (2); and Amboise (2)
- All ground transportation by minivan and train
- 8 breakfasts; 4 lunches with wine; 7 dinners, most gastronomic with wine
- 3 cooking classes (one professional, two fun)
- 3 private visits to wineries with tour and tasting
- Guided tours of six royal châteaux
- A visit to Le Clos Lucé, home of Leonardo da Vinci
- Optional balloon ride over the Loire Valley
- Visits to local markets and a goat farm for a cheese tasting
- Olde Ipswich Tours Francophile, Jean Moss, as tour escort
- All tips, taxes and entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary
Culinary Tour Itinerary
Driving south from Paris, our first stop is Chambord Château, the first Renaissance château to be built in France and a masterpiece of 16th Century architecture. We spend the next four nights in a beautiful 15th century manor house in the country village of Truyes in the heart of the Loire Valley. This is an ideal location from which we can visit several magnificent châteaux, stopping in medieval picturesque towns along the Indre, Loire, and Vienne rivers, and exploring ancient streets where our French guides tell us stories of the kings and queens who once walked there. The Loire Valley is also known for its many fine wines, and our explorations take us to several private wine tastings in the small caves only the local Tourangeaux know about. Our hosts are warm, charming, and add greatly to our experience.
Overnight: Truyes | Meals: D
This morning we visit the medieval town of Loches and its historic château where so much changed in France’s history. Most exciting is the Donjon with its display of outrageous torture instruments. In the village of Loches we shop in the market for many varieties of local cheeses, hams and salami, olives, pâtés, French pastries, fruits, and wine: perfect for our gourmet French picnic. We then visit a small winery in the nearby Montlouis wine region, where the owner gives us a class on Montlouis wines and a hefty tasting of six different wines of his own.
Overnight: Truyes | Meals: B, L, D
Today we take a professional cooking class taught by a renowned Loire Valley chef. You’ll understand why the Loire Valley is known as the “bread basket of France” and “the garden of France”, known for its haute cuisine. Specialties are many, many types of mushroom (did you know the Loire Valley is second only to the USA as world exporter of mushrooms?); goat cheeses and many other cheeses; fresh river fish; pâtés; and wines. No matter how much or how little you learn, you will enjoy a gastronomic lunch. In the afternoon we visit the most famous château of the Loire Valley, Chenonceau.. and return to Chaix for – of course—happy hour.
Overnight: Truyes | Meals: B, L, D
Today we visit Tours, the lively capital of the Touraine (Loire Valley) region. We take a guided walking tour of the historic neighborhoods of the city and have lunch in the picturesque Place Plumereau. This square has one of the most interesting collections of half-timbered medieval houses in Europe. On our walk, we pass La Tour Charlemagne (Charlemagne Tower), which is one of two remaining towers of the Basilica of St. Martin, built in the 4th century. We can see St. Martin’s tomb inside the ancient church. We then return to our manor house for a fun cooking class in the kitchen, taught by our host chef. Thanks to our efforts, we’ll have a delicious dinner.
Overnight: Truyes | Meals: B, D
After saying au revoir to our wonderful French family, we leave Truyes and stop to visit Château Langeais, one of the oldest châteaux in the Loire Valley. Its “keep”—the oldest tower of the castle—is from the 10th century—the oldest in France. If you like history, the Loire Valley will fulfill your cravings. This region is where all the kings and queens of France ruled from the earliest years—before they moved to Paris. Next to Langeais is the Bourgueil wine region. Here we visit the winery of some friends, who will show us around and then serve us a delicious wine-tasting lunch. After lunch we visit the medieval village of Chinon, another wine region known for its excellent reds. Chinon was the home of the 16th century philosopher, François Rabelais, who said, “Never put water in your wine or wine in your water.” We’ll visit Rabelais’ cave for a Chinon wine dégustation (tasting—you will see this word on signs everywhere). Next, we head to the lovely village of Saumur, where we check into our elegant, historic château, our home for the next two nights. We walk into the village for dinner tonight.
Overnight: Saumur | Meals: B, L, D
There is nothing in the world quite like a balloon ride. This morning we have the option of soaring above the beautiful Loire Valley for an unforgettable experience. The rest of today is all about the traditional cuisine of this region which begins with a visit to a goat farm to watch the process of making the famous Loire Valley goat cheese. We also learn about the local mushroom industry, which began centuries ago, thanks to the 2,000-kilometer cave system below the valley. We then visit a nearby winery for a tour and tasting before spending some free time in Saumur. Tonight, we’ll have a chance to choose one of Saumur’s charming restaurants for dinner.
Overnight: Saumur | Meals: B
This morning we leave Saumur and drive east along the Loire River to the picturesque town of Amboise, which is dominated by its royal castle situated above the riverbank. After checking into another beautiful hotel-château, we head for the Amboise market, the largest in the region. Here we find hundreds of vendors selling a wide variety of cheeses, meats, pâtés, vegetables, and other staples in the French cuisine—not to mention clothing, jewelry and unique furnishings. We take a guided walking tour of Amboise and visit the manor house Le Clos Lucé, where King François I invited his friend, Leonardo da Vinci, to spend the last years of his life. The house and grounds are now a monument to da Vinci’s amazing engineering inventions. Stroll around the park and look at the models that have been constructed from his ingenious drawings—such as the earliest airplane. Tonight, we enjoy a Michelin starred dinner at our château.
Overnight: Chargé | Meals: B, D
Today we visit some friends in another nearby château, where we help prepare lunch and dine with the chef and owners. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon of free time in Amboise or at our own castle. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at our château.
Overnight: Chargé | Meals: B, L, D
In the morning we depart on the train from Tours St. Pierre-le-Corps train station to the Paris CDG Airport for our return flight home.