Gourmet dinner in France
Amboise in the Loire Valley
Baguettes freshly made on a culinary tour of France
Blois in France's Loire Valley
Delicious cheese during a cooking vacation in France
The Chateau de Chenonceau in France
Château d'Azay-le-Rideau as seen on a culinary tour of the Loire Valley
Goat cheese farm in France
Chateau of Blois as visited on a culinary tour of France
Croissant for breakfast during your cooking vacation in France
Dining out during your cooking tour of France
Chateau de Villandry in France
Villandry gardens as seen from above on a French culinary tour in the Loire Valley
Plate of pate ready to enjoy in France
Chateau of Chenonceau interior on a French culinary tour
Chateau of Chambord as visited during a cooking vacation in France
Bathtub at the hotel Universe in Tours
Chateau of Cheverny during a French culinary tour
Classic room at the hotel Universe in Tours
The indoor pool at the hotel Universe in Tours
Double room at the hotel Universe in Tours
Elegant room at the hotel Universe in Tours
Double twin at the hotel Universe in Tours
Bedroom at the hotel Universe in Tours
Bathroom at the hotel Universe in Tours
Overview

Grand Tour of the Loire: Wines & Chateaux

View of Chenonceau on a tour of FranceHead to France for a wonderful experience during our Loire Valley wine tours and discover the land of chateaux.

As you will discover during our Loire Valley wine tasting tours, in this region white wine is supreme. From Sancerre to Pouilly-Fumé, from Vouvray to Muscadet, Loire Valley wines most often come from the Chenin bland, Sauvignon blanc, and Melon de Bourgogne grapes. You will discover these fine wines on our Loire Valley wine tours to three distinct wineries and caves.

Among the other 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 Loire Valley wine tasting tours at boutique wineries and caves of the region alongside your English-speaking guide.

Wine and cheese pairing on a culinary tourThe chateaux in the region number in the hundreds, and you will visit some of the most famous: the Chateau of Blois, unique for its simultaneous use of Gothic, Flamboyant, Renaissance, and Classic styles; Cheverny, the fist chateau to incarnate the classical style of the Loire Valley and a masterful example of Renaissance interiors and art; Chambord, the first of the valley to be declared a UNESCO world heritage site; the Chateau of Chenonceau, known for its famous personages and beautiful gardens; the Castle of Amboise, former residence of French Kings and final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci; Clos Luce, where Leonardo resided before his death; Azay le Rideau, one of the most visually stunning of the chateaux; the Chateau of Langeais, the wedding site of King Charles VIII and Ann of Brittany; and finally Villandry, with its amazing and diverse formal gardens.

Chateau de Villandry in FranceYour 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.

In addition to your special and exclusive Loire Valley wine tours, during which you will enjoy tastings of some truly remarkable vintages, you will enjoy a cooking class at a local cooking atelier. Visit the market with the chef, cook a full French meal, and enjoy it of course with wonderful Loire Valley wines. This, and a visit to see the famed goat cheese of the region, will cap off your five days of Loire Valley France wine tours, chateaux visits, and wonderful explorations into French gastronomy!

If you’re looking for a more active Loire Valley culinary tour, check out our Biking through a Loire Valley Wine Tour!


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.

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.

Chateau of Chambord


Day Two

  • After breakfast, meet either at your hotel or at the Tours Tourist Office (just 200 meters from the hotel) around 9:00 a.m.
  • 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.
  • Driver to Cheverny and enjoy a tasting at a local organic winery. You will discover Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny wines, said to be King François I’s favorite wines.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • 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 5:30 p.m., your guide will return you to the Tours Tourist Office or your hotel.
  • Dinner on your own.

Amboise in the Loire Valley


Day Three

  • After breakfast, meet your driver around 9:00 a.m. at your hotel or at the Tours Tourist Office.
  • Head off for a 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.
  • Enjoy a tasting of three Loire Valley vintages at a wine specialist’s. cave, formerly a tuff stone quarry.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • Guided tour of the Royal Castle of Amboise, once residence to Charles VIII, and a young Francois d’Angouleme, future François I. Discover this wonderful castle, a perfect example of the 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 your hotel or to the Tours Tourist Office around 5:30 pm.
  • Dinner on your own.

Villandry


Day Four

  • After breakfast, meet your driver at 9:30 a.m. at your hotel or 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.
  • Head to a local organic wine estate for another tasting. The vines here are spread over the entire “terroir” included in the appellation, from the shores of the Loire River to the clay, limestone, and silica soils of the hills overlooking the valley. The red and rosé wines in particularly of note and are of 100% Cabernet Franc grapes, introduced to the area by the monks of the Abbey in the Eleventh Century.
  • Lunch on your own.
  • This afternoon, explore the Chateau of Langeais. this royal castle, built under King Louis XI, was the wedding site of King Charles VIII and Ann of Brittany. You can discover amazing original tapestries and furniture in the spectacular banquet and wedding halls.
  • Next, 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 your hotel or the Tours Tourist Office around 5:30 pm.
  • Dinner on your own.

French cheese


Day Five

  • Check out after breakfast.
  • Meet your driver guide to transfer to a cooking atelier for a cooking class. The boutique Cooking Atelier 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!
  • After lunch, tour a goat cheese farm. The Loire Valley is one of the premiere goat cheese producers in France. See how the cheese is produced and of course enjoy a tasting.
  • 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
  • 1 lunch (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.)
  • Wine tours and tastings at three caves (Vouvray, Cheverny, 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
  • Meals except lunch after the cooking lesson

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. (If unavailable a similar accommodation will  be proposed.)

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Pricing & Tour Dates

Looking for tour date information?


Year-Round Pricing:

4-night Program
US$2600 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. (Monday start dates are posted.)

2020

August 3-8
August 10-14
August 17-21
August 24-28
August 31-September 4
September 7-11
September 14-18
September 21-25
September 28-October 2
October 5-9
October 12-16
October 19-23
October 26-30
November 2-6
November 9-13
November 16-21
November 23-27
November 30-December 4
December 7-11
December 14-18

2021
Available any dates you choose, but usually starts on either Monday or Thursday. (Monday start dates are posted.)

January 4-8
January 11-15
January 18-22
January 25-29
February 1-5
February 8-12
February 15-19
February 22-26
March 1-5
March 8-12
March 15-19
March 22-26
March 29-April 2
April 5-9
April 12-16
April 19-23
April 26-30
May 3-7
May 10-14
May 17-21
May 24-28
May 31-June 4
June 7-11
June 14-18
June 21-25
June 28-July 2
July 5-9
July 12-16
July 19-23
July 26-30
August 2-6
August 9-13
August 16-20
August 23-27
August 30-September 3
September 6-10
September 13-17
September 20-24
September 27-October 1
October 4-8
October 11-15
October 18-22
October 25-29
November 1-5
November 8-12
November 15-20
November 22-26
November 29-December 3
December 6-10
December 13-17

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.

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