Highlights
  • Explore the perfectly preserved châteaux of the Loire, prehistoric caves and traditional markets of the Dordogne
  • Enjoy the melody of France
  • See the Cathedral of Chartres one of the most impressive structures in all of Europe
  • Explore Europe's largest fortified city: delightfully medieval Carcassonne
  • Awesome drive to the hill town of Les Baux and enjoy sweeping views of the Provencal countryside from atop the ruins of its medieval citadel
  • You will have walking tour across Nice, starting with the busy Cours Saleya, the city's main market square since the Middle Ages.

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.

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8
Rick Steves Travel Reviews & Ratings
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Value
4.9 Guide
5.0 Activities
5.0 Lodging
5.0 Transportation
5.0 Meals
5.0
Loire to the South of France in 13 Days Tour

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M

Recommends

Great Tour of Paris July 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
My family and I took the seven day Paris tour run by Rick Steves and had a great time. Excellent guide and perfect mix of scheduled events and free time. The specialist guides in the museums provided essentially a college level class on art history and appreciation which made it all the more special. The accommodations were well located and nicely sized. The mix of free time was excellent for my photography so I never felt rushed nor did we hold up the group. We look forward to booking another Rick Steves tour sometime in the future.
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Operator Rick Steves

M

Recommends

Our Rick Steve's "Best of Italy Tour," starting in Varenna, October 18, through Rome, November 3, 2015. January 2017

5.0
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  • Guide 5.0
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  • Lodging 5.0
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We flew into Milan and toured the town on our own a few days. Then we took the train to Varenna on Lake Como to formally start our Rick Steves tour with our guide, Lisa Anderson. She was excellent; very organized, helpful to a fault, and took us to a lot of out-of-way places not on the itinerary. What I liked most was the mixture of planned activities and time our own own; a nice balance which I believe gave us a good feel for the people, culture, and historical places we toured throughout Italy. You can read any itinerary for this trip and learn about what you're going to see, but getting to know your traveling companions (there were 28 of us) well, share food (and a cold- achoo!) made it all the better. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone who would really like to get a taste of Italy from Rome north. I had no interest in visiting Italy before, but would go back in a heartbeat. I especially enjoyed our time high up in a ski village in the Dolomite Mountains. Seeing the "big three" of Venice, Florence, and Rome was great, but I also enjoyed seeing Pisa and Assisi, and spending time in places I had never heard of before - Cinque Terre , Siena, and Orvieto. While I know you can't pick your tour hosts, I would give the highest marks to our guide Lisa, her assistant, Alex, and our bus driver extraordinaire, Adrian. They helped put an excellent adventure over the top. Kudos to you Rick Steve's! We'll book another one of your tours in the next few years.
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Operator Rick Steves

BH

Recommends

Excellent! October 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We went on the My Way Best of Euope 14 day tour last month. Excellent tour. So much to see!!! We loved it!! I would highly recommend it if you are an independent traveler who doesn't want any stress.

Operator Rick Steves

M

Recommends

Absolutely fantastic tour! October 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
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  • Transportation 5.0
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Just got back from the Best of Scandinavia Tour. It was absolutely fantastic in every respect: Great venues and sights, great food and lodging, great local tour guides, a wonderful group to travel with, but the best part was having two fantastic professional guides with us every day to make everything come to life and help us connect in a very meaningful way with the cultures and lands we were there to experience. This is my second RS tour and I would say both have exceeded my expectations. I would highly recommend RS tours to anyone looking to travel in this part of the world!!
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Operator Rick Steves

CW

Recommends

Rick Steve's tours are the best! October 2015

5.0
  • Value 5.0
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  • Lodging 5.0
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We had a glorious time in Europe. Rick Steve's tours are the best way to learn about the various country's history, people, and culture. Great recommendations for places to eat when you're on your own. Fun meeting people in the tour group.
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Operator Rick Steves

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. Sleep in Chartres (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

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 is 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. No bus. Walking: moderate.

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 could 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 and sleep (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Villandry and the Loire

We'll spend 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. Afterward, your guide and driver will take you on a little excursion around the Loire Valley, returning to Chinon in the afternoon. You'll be free for the rest of the day and evening to explore the town's ancient streets, tour the medieval castle, or sample the local wines. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: Oradour-sur-Glane and Sarlat

Our destination 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 German troops. Our day will end with dinner together in the quintessential market town of Sarlat, where we'll sleep (3 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.

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 locals have nicknamed it "the cave of 100 mammoths." This afternoon (weather permitting), we'll canoe down the Dordogne River from Cénac to Beynac, gliding past medieval castles and villages. If the weather is hot, we may even stop for a swim along the way. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

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. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

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, wander through the cobbled lanes, and maybe sample a steamy bowl of cassoulet with a glass of vin rouge. Sleep in Carcassonne (1 night). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: The Pont du Gard

This morning we'll drive east, stopping at an eco-friendly, family-run vineyard. We'll learn exactly what that entails as we linger for lunch and an educational tasting of wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Our next stop is the 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 the aqueduct and its much younger museum. Our day will end in nearby Arles, where we'll have dinner together and sleep (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 10: All Day in Arles

We'll start our morning off with a walking tour of Arles. Your local guide will lace together stories of its impressive Roman Arena, Classical Theater, and Forum Square — and tales of Vincent van Gogh, who lived and painted in this neighborhood just over a century ago. Your afternoon and evening will be free for making your own discoveries here. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.

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 Provencal 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. Sleep in or near Nice (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

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 19th 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! No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 13: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. 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!

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 3,295

Price Per Day:

$ 253 per day
 
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 775
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • 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 tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 16 group sightseeing events, Chartres orientation tour, Chartres Cathedral tour, Amboise visit, Chenonceau Château, Villandry Château and Gardens orientation, Oradour-sur-Glane, Rouffignac prehistoric cave tour, Dordogne canoe trip (weather permitting), Sarlat walking tour, Carcassonne walking tour, Languedoc wine tasting, Pont du Gard and museum visit, Arles walking tour, Arles museum pass allowing entry to most sights, Les Baux visit, Nice walking tour…and more
  • 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
  • Rick Steves Travel Store credit to use toward guidebooks for your trip
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2017
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt 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.
Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Standard Group
Maximum Number of People in Group: 28
Start City
Chartres
End City
Nice

Trip ID#: LoiSouRic

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