Grand Tour of the Loire

Among the glories of the Loire Valley are the magnificent chateaux studding the banks of the Loire river. The playground of nobles, the valley became the cradle of the artistic explosion of the French Renaissance. Today, you will also find vineyards flanking much of the length of the Loire, and you will blend your visits of the chateaux with tastings of the best wines of the region alongside your English-speaking guide. Your accommodations will be in an elegant 4-star hotel, situated in the heart of Tours, the perfect place to explore all the chateaux that the Loire Valley has to offer.

During this special and exclusive cooking vacation, you will enjoy tastings at some truly remarkable locales. Visit world-class wineries where the the experts will lead you in a tasting of the Loire’s famous wines; explore the amazing array of chateaus with licensed and bilingual guides who will share plenty of anecdotes, and see Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb; and discover the origins of goat milk cheese in France.


Latest Review

No rating given with this review
I am happy to tell you that the tour people in the Loire were first rate. Absolutely wonderful knowledge of the area, the program was great, when we didn't like the hotel it was changed instantly and so on. You have really found a treasure in Pascal. We got lost in Blois and couldn't find the rental car return place, and Pascal literally found us and guided us there. The wine caves, chateaux and the Michelin star cooking lessons were all memorable. Thank you for arranging such a wonderful trip. Jackie K., CA

Trip Details

Your stay in the Loire will feature 1 cooking class with a chef at a boutique cooking atelier. At this cooking school, there is a team of 10 chefs, who are all passionate about their art and are proud to share their knowledge and love of French gastronomy. Following a visit to the local Tours market, where you’ll discover the best vegetables and tastiest cheese, you’ll head to the kitchen to learn how to make a seasonal meal.


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Itinerary

Gourmet dinner in France

Day One

Order of activities may vary depending on the season and your start date.

  • Arrival at Tours train station on your own.
  • A short taxi ride (not included) to your 4-star Hotel de L’Univers (or similar), which is located in the fashionable shopping area of Tours. The hotel offers all the comforts of a grand hotel and has been the hotel of choice for a number of European celebrities.
  • Time to relax or explore Tours, the largest city in the Loire Valley. Historically and architecturally speaking, it is one of the cradles of the French Renaissance. Stroll thrown the city and discover the area known as “Old Tours,” pedestrian streets, and numerous 15th and 16th century timer-framed houses, the famous Plumereau, Charlemagne Tower, Saint-Martin collegiate church, and the new Saint-Martin Basilica.
  • Dinner on your own with a list of recommended restaurants from the hotel.

Chateau of Chambord


Day Two

  • After breakfast, meet at the Tours Tourist Office at 9:30 a.m. (just 200 meters from the hotel).
  • Your tour today starts at Chateau of Blois, which is unique for its combination of four architectural styles, Gothic, Flamboyant, Renaissance and Classic. As such, the chateau is like a resume of architecture from the Middle Ages to the classical period.
  • Cheverny & Cour Cheverny wine tasting: This appellation produces elegant red wines, such as pinot noir and gamay, as well as fruity white wines, including chardonnay and sauvignon, that are perfect for real connoisseurs. One such wine is the “Cour Cheverny Appellation,” a stunning white made from the Romorantin grape.
  • Lunch in a local restaurant with wines, cheeses, charcuterie, salad, and dessert.
  • Guided visit of the Chateau of Cheverny. In the 17th century Cheverny was the first chateau incarnating the classical style in the Loire Valley. Built by the governor of Blois city, this chateau is known for the richness of its interiors, which have been kept unaltered thanks to its owners, the Hurault family. Cheverny presents a magnificent collection of furniture and master paintings from the Renaissance period. It is also famous for its tradition of the horse-back hunt and its impressive pack of 100 dogs.
  • Visit of the Chateau of Chambord. Chambord was the very first Chateau of the Valley to be proclaimed by UNESCO as a world heritage. Leonardo Da Vinci most likely participated in the conception of the chateau, which has more than 400 rooms.
  • Around 6:30 p.m., your guide will return you to the Tours Tourist Office.
  • Dinner on your own.

Amboise in the Loire Valley


Day Three

  • After breakfast, meet your driver at 9:30 a.m. at the Tours Tourist Office.
  • Guided tour of Chateau de Chenonceau, which is also known as the “Chateau des Dames,” for the great female figures who have lived here, including Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. It’s also known for its beautiful gardens.
  • Following a tasting of Vouvray, Montlouis, Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil wines, enjoy a lunch at a wine specialist’s. Wines will be paired with a selection of delicatessen meats and cheeses.
  • Guided tour of the Royal Castle of Amboise, once residence to Charles VIII, and a young Francois d’Angouleme, future Franocis I. Discover this wonderful castle, a perfect example of transition from Gothic to Renaissance. The Saint Hubert Chapel today shelters the grave of Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Next, visit the Manoir du Clos Luce, a few yards away from the castle. Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life here and died in 1519. Tour his bedroom, office, reception room, and kitchen. His invention room will leave you in awe, as models of his most spectacular machines are displayed.
  • Your driver will return you to the Tours Tourist Office.
  • Dinner on your own.

Villandry


Day Four

  • After breakfast, meet your driver at 9:30 a.m. at the Tours Tourist Office.
  • Guided tour of the Chateau of Azay le Rideau, a gem of Renaissance architecture. Situated on an island on the Indre river, it’s an unforgettable gem that’s been well preserved due to it’s mullioned, pepper pots, dormers, and graceful staircase. Be sure to take a stroll around its charmiing English-style gardens.
  • Guided tour of Langeais fortress, one of the most picturesque towns of the Loire Valley. A tour of the interior not only gives a good idea of day-to-day life in the Middle Ages, but also provides reminders of a key event in French history: the marriage of Charles VIII and Duchess Anne of Brittany.
  • Tour and wine tasting at a vineyard in Bourgueil followed by a lunch (drinks included).
  • Take a guided tour of a spectacular garden in Touraine, Villandry. With its diversity (love garden, kitchen garden, medicine plant garden, water garden, and sun garden), and its size (15 acres), this is a garden that should not be missed.
  • Your driver will return you to the Tours Tourist Office.
  • Dinner on your own.

French cheese


Day Five

  • Check out after breakfast.
  • Meet your driver guide to transfer to Tours for a private cooking class.
  • Your cooking lesson will take place at a boutique Cooking Atelier, which is composed of a team of 10 Chefs, all passionate about their art and proud to share their know-how and their love for French Gastronomy. Gourmet explorers will love visiting the market with the Chef: you will discover the best vegetables, the tastiest cheeses, the best poultry; you will learn how to select your products, and you will prepare a menu according to the season.
  • Back at the cooking atelier, you will cook with the Chef, and will finally enjoy a well-deserved lunch paired with some good wines!
  • Tour and a tasting at a goat cheese farm.
  • In the late afternoon, transfer to Saint Pierre des Corps TGV station.

Trip Details

Included in the 4-Night Trip

Accommodations

4 nights accommodation at 4* hotel in Tours

Food & Beverages

  • Daily breakfast
  • 4 lunches (drinks included)

Classes & Instructors

Your stay in the Loire will feature 1 cooking class with a chef at a boutique cooking atelier. At this cooking school, there is a team of 10 chefs, who are all passionate about their art and are proud to share their knowledge and love of French gastronomy. Following a visit to the local Tours market, where you’ll discover the best vegetables and tastiest cheese, you’ll head to the kitchen to learn how to make a seasonal meal.

Excursions

  • Guided tours of the Chateaux of Chenonceau, Amboise, Clos Lucé, Chambord, Blois, Cheverny, Azay le Rideau, Langeais, Villandry gardens _(Please note that the visits to the monuments are not private, although the number of participants is limited to 8.)_
  • Tastings in the cellar caves of Vouvray, Ceheverny, and Bourgueil
  • Local goat cheese farm visit

Transfer Details

  • Arrival transfer not included (the hotel is a short taxi ride from the Tours train station)
  • Return transfer on the after of day 5 to the Saint Pierre des Corps TGV station

Miscellaneous

  • English-speaking escort guide
  • All transfers in an air-conditioned, comfortable mini-van
  • Entrance tickets to the Chateaux

Not Included

  • Arrival transfer

Accommodation Information

The elegant 4* Hotel L’Univers is in the center of Tours, opposite the town hall. It boasts simply designed rooms with wooden floors and floral accents. The rooms feature flat-screen TVS, WIFi, and en suite bathrooms. The hotel has a bar and restaurant, as well as a new spa with pool, fitness room, jacuzzi and hammam.

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Pricing & Tour Dates

Looking for tour date information?


Year-Round Pricing:

4-night Program
US$2300 per person based on double occupancy
  • Add US$600 for single occupancy (use of a double room by 1 person)

30% deposit due to confirm booking.
Balance payment due 60 days prior to tour start date. Questions? Please contact us!


Tour Dates

Available any dates you choose, but usually starts on either Monday or Thursday.

Pricing & Dates

Class Pricing

Reviews

No rating given with this review
I am happy to tell you that the tour people in the Loire were first rate. Absolutely wonderful knowledge of the area, the program was great, when we didn't like the hotel it was changed instantly and so on. You have really found a treasure in Pascal. We got lost in Blois and couldn't find the rental car return place, and Pascal literally found us and guided us there. The wine caves, chateaux and the Michelin star cooking lessons were all memorable. Thank you for arranging such a wonderful trip. Jackie K., CA
No rating given with this review
Hi Robyn and Karen, I thought you might want to know that our trip was fantastic! Pascal was a fabulous guide of the Loire Valley. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed his company, learned an enormous amount of French history and were treated to exceptional wineries. The two French cooking classes were fabulous. The first one at the smaller Chateau was an intimate lesson in basic French cooking. The chateau owner's mother came from Paris and taught us how to make a cheese souffle. We enjoyed having a family meal with them. The second lesson was a more advanced course that we will need to practice before perfecting the dishes, but was incredible as well. We really enjoyed staying at the gorgeous Chateau de Noizay. Having Pascal as our guide throughout the trip made it exceptional. Thank you for the opportunity. Kind regards, Sally F., NY
No rating given with this review
Everything was perfect. The hotel was the best in town and the guide was an eclectic combo of history buff, architectural enthusiast, and raconteur. He was superb! We went to wineries that would have been impossible to find on our own - in fact, none of this could have been possible without The International Kitchens smoothing the way for us. Four days in the Loire Valley was everything we hoped for and more. It's hard to pick out a high point. The chateau of Chambord - probably. The cooking school with a trip to the local market to buy our ingredients - yep, that too. [Regarding the cooking vacation packet:] We had a disconnect between when we arrived and when the tour started. The local folks straightened it all out in 5 minutes. [Regarding The International Kitchen staff:] You guys were great. We will be back next year for another adventure. Duncan & Theresa N., FL
No rating given with this review
The Tours of the Loire Valley were absolutely wonderful and we enjoyed the friendly and knowledgeable tour guides. Every meal we had was very good and the wine was delicious! We got to see 9 chateaux of the Loire valley with all of the history. The cooking class was a great way to end our 4 days and the chef was very sweet. We made delicious and simple food that will be easy to recreate when we arrive home. L.P.