Loire Valley Castles and Culinary Tour Itinerary - 6 Days/5 Nights
Fun Cooking Classes, Gourmet Meals, French Wines and Discovering Castles in the Loire Valley, Plus Hot Air Ballooning!
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"Where did you learn to exceed expectations? It just keeps getting better and better every day!"
...question commented by guests Dennis and Pat Gelner during 1 of the 2 tours they enjoyed with us, September 2012!
Valley Summary • Loire
Dates & Prices • Loire
Award winning France Off the Beaten Path Tours Voted BEST Active, Gourmet Tours in France for Discerning Travelers by Conde Nast, National Geographic, Forbes Traveler, CNN Traveller, USA Today, The New York Times, eHow.com, Gourmet Get-a-Ways, Travel & Leisure and many more!
Off the Beaten Path, LLC Loire Valley, France Tours Feature:
- Professional Off the Beaten Path, LLC Tour Guide(s) - history, culinary and wine specialists
- 5 Nights, historical castle hotel accommodations at Chateau des Tertres --Voted one of the BEST boutique hotels in 2012 in the Loire Valley and Rated No. 2 on Trip Advisor! (NO Hotel Hopping)
- 10 Meals: 5 buffet breakfasts, 5 gourmet dinners (mix of cooking class dinners, restaurants and French picnic).
- ALL of our Chefs during this exclusive castles & culinary tour are good friends with one another. Each will share his/her individual specialties and favorite regional recipes with us in cooking class. Each cooking class offers a unique look inside the professional and personal lives of each of our Chefs, and how distinctly different their culinary styles are from each other. We'll prepare three course meals during each class and then indulge in tasting wonderful local sparkling wines from the region and tasting the sumptuous recipes we've prepared together in class.
- Regional classified wines included at all group meals.
- Private tours and leisure time at all of the following castles (chateaux): Chambord castle, Chenonceau castle, Blois castle, Amboise castle, Villandry castle, Azay-le-Rideau castle
- FIRST CHEF: A special welcome dinner prepared by one of our favorite Chefs of the region.
- Two (2) cooking classes with three (3) different Michelin-Star/Master Chefs
- SECOND CHEF: Cooking Class and Cooking Demonstration Accompanied by a Wine & Cheese Tasting during class with Michelin Star Chef in his professional kitchen
- THIRD CHEF (A husband & wife team): Cooking Class with celebrity Master Chefs, our friends Angelique and Christophe at their home
- FOURTH CHEF: Cocktail hour and gourmet farewell dinner with our friend and Michelin-star Chef at his restaurant
- Visit and Shop at the Weekly Village Markets in Amboise and/or Blois
- Optional hot air ballooning excursion and French picnic
- Artisan Wine and cheese tasting throughout the trip
- This exclusive Loire Valley Tour is limited to 14 guests per Tour date.
- Comfort Zone - Designed for the interests of and to appeal to the Occasional Walker.
- EMAIL US or CALL 1-877-846-2831 to speak with a tour specialist.
Day-by-Day Itinerary for Off the Beaten Path Loire Valley, France Tour
DAY 1: Group Meets, Hotel Check-in, Dinner Together with our FIRST CHEF - D
"Meet and greet" by your tour guide at at St. Pierre des Corps (Tours) TGV Rail Station. Group pick-up time is at 4:00 PM. Check-in at the hotel.
DINNER: Gourmet dinner together this evening prepared by one of the newest up and coming Chefs of the region who has been rated and recommended by world renowned 3-star Michelin, French Chef Alain Ducasse, as well as our local Michelin-star Chefs.
DAY 2: Shopping at the Blois Market & Exploring the Historic Town, Tour of Blois Castle, SECOND CHEF: Fun Cooking Class and Demonstration Accompanied by Wine & Cheese Tasting with Friend and Michelin Star Chef Damien - B, D
Buffet breakfast. Morning: Prior to our visit of the historic town of Blois and its royal castle, we introduce you to the French tradition of shopping at the weekly open market. From local artisan products to French linens, paintings, clothes, food, wines, artwork and locally made jewelry, the market brings an unparalleled livelihood to villages and towns of the region. Guided visit of the market followed by time to explore and shop independently. Afterwards, guided tour of Blois Castle followed by time to explore the castle and historic town at leisure. We'll share stories about some of the most note worthy events of French history: a Queen's death, two marriages that would forever change the future of France, important accomplishments by the French monarchy, an assassination, details of the rigors of daily life during the Renaissance and quirky facts about royal marriages and deaths.
Lunch independently in Blois.
Early Evening and Dinner: Hands-on cooking class and demonstration with friend, Michelin-star Chef Damien G. Damien is a Michelin star chef with experience that has taken him on culinary adventures around the world. After having traveled extensively to places such as Cyprus and Moscow, he has returned to his native Loire Valley to share his culinary experience and knowledge at his family restaurant; adding a new and tasteful twist to regional recipes using local, seasonal ingredients. Cooking class is both hands-on and a demonstration of recipes.
The focus is on discovering favorite recipes of this beautiful region and indulging in the French wine and cheese tasting and learning more about French cheeses with our Chef. This activity is designed for all interest levels from the beginner to the more experienced. Following class, we toast the evening with a cocktail followed by a gourmet dinner together of recipes prepared and demonstrated in class.
DAY 3: Exploring the Amboise Market & Historic Village, Tour of the Royal Amboise Castle, Afternoon Tour of Chenonceau Castle & Gardens, THIRD CHEF(A husband and wife team): Evening Culinary Class with celebrity Chefs, Friends Christophe and Angelique Q. at Their Home - B, D
Buffet breakfast. Morning: Prior to our visit at the royal castle of Amboise, there will be time to explore Amboise's weekly open market. Again, from local artisan products to French linens, fresh cut flowers, paintings, clothes, food, artwork and locally made jewelry, the market brings an unparalleled livelihood to Amboise, and offers a wonderful opportunity to experience local culture at its busiest time of the week. Time to explore and shop independently at the market. Afterwards: a guided visit of the Chateau of Amboise followed by time to explore at leisure. Today's castle visit includes stories of royal accidents, more stories of some of France's most important historical events, an attempted kidnapping, as well as royal love affairs and the death of royal guest, Leonardo da Vinci. Lunch independently in Amboise village.
Lunch independently in historic Amboise village.
Afternoon: Tour of the Castle and Gardens of Chenonceau (photo above), a castle shaped by women, this castle represents the greatest accomplishments of royal women during the Middle Ages and French Renaissance. Enjoy stories of Queens and their courts, royal love affairs, the first ever fire works display in France, parties and deception and how royal debt nearly led this castle to be confiscated by the French state.
Early Evening and Dinner: Fun, hands-on cooking class with our friends, Master Chefs Angelique and Christophe Q. at their home in the countryside near Chaumont-sur-Loire. Tonight we cook with two of France's highest rated Master Chefs. Christophe is Director of the Val de Loire Culinary Arts school and Angelique is a Professeur de Cuisine in the Val de Loire region. Both are passionate about the culinary arts, and have received top awards from and along with Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon. Christophe is currently featured on gourmet television in France, as one of the Loire Valley's most highly recognized and talented Chefs. He has also recently begun working on a new worldwide culinary project with Alain Ducasse. (Photo right: That's our friend, Chef Christophe having some fun with Rich, the birthday boy and retired Navy fighter pilot).
We'll prepare a three course dinner of local recipes together. The cooking class is designed to appeal to all interest levels from the beginner to the more experienced. Following cooking class, we toast to a wonderful evening with our Chefs followed by dinner together of the recipes prepared during cooking class.
DAY 4: Tour of Villandry Castle and Gardens and Azay-le-Rideau Castle, Sunset Hot Air Ballooning over the Loire Valley Castles and Countryside, French Picnic Dinner - B, D
Buffet breakfast. Morning: Winding our way along the Vienne & Loire Rivers, our first stop of the day is at Villandry Castle and its Renaissance Gardens. Learn about the numerous owners of the castle and how after the castle's gardens were left in ruin for centuries, one man discovered a very important document in order to re-create the original Francis I Renaissance gardens. The unique Renaissance gardens of Villandry are among the most fascinating gardens of France.
Our day continues following lunch at the fairy tale, moated castle of Azay-le-Rideau Castle, a spectacular masterpiece built during the early years of Francis I's reign. The castle reflects all of the refinements of Renaissance architecture and epitomises the qualities of a traditional French chateau with its high roofs, tall watch-turrets, long rows of windows and dormer-windows and majestic Italian structure.
Lunch independently in Azay-le-Rideau.
Evening: Hot air ballooning over the Loire Valley Castles. A lighter fare picnic dinner is included this evening. During our hot air ballooning excursion guests set off into the sunset on a beautiful hot air balloon with our friend, professionally licensed pilot and his professional flight crew. Following the sunset flight floating above the castles of the Loire Valley, this once in a lifetime experience concludes with Champagne and flight awards certificates.
DAY 5: Morning: At Leisure, Afternoon: Tour of Chambord Castle, FOURTH CHEF: Special Cocktail Hour and Celebration Dinner Together with Friend, Michelin-star Chef Christophe C. at His Restaurant - B, D
Buffet Breakfast. Morning: At leisure. Enjoy a walk into the local village or borrow a bike to peruse and explore the local countryside.
Afternoon: Tour Chambord Castle. An architectural masterpiece, thought to have been the masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci, yet never proven, we share stories about two of France's most influential Kings, Francis I and Louis XIV, their royal lifestyles and personal guests at the castle, as well as stories of Louis XIII's brother, Gaston d'Orleans.
Lunch independently at Chambord.
Cocktail Hour and Dinner: With our 4th Chef: Our friend and Michelin Star, Master Chef, Christophe C. has had the great pleasure of working with the late Bernard Loiseau and ever talented Christian Willer before venturing out into the culinary world on his own, and opening his gem of a restaurant in the late 1990's. What a fabulous way to end our week in the Loire Valley.
DAY 6: Loire Valley Tour Conclusion - B
Buffet breakfast. Your Loire Valley Tour concludes today with a 11 AM arrival to St. Pierre des Corps TGV Rail Station. Earlier and later departures can be organized. Please contact us for details.
Click the following link to download the detailed LOIRE VALLEY TOUR BROCHURE (Adobe pdf).
(B) = Breakfast Included, (L) = Lunch Included, (D) = Dinner Included
Loire Valley Tour Guest Testimonials
"Loved Damien's "Tour de France" experience with wine and cheese tasting-his way of explaining cheese and wine was entertaining and informative. Plus we really liked the combination of demo and hands-on cooking with Damien and Christophe C. Also, LOVED cooking and having dinner in a French home with Christophe and Angelique. We'll never forget that evening. Thank you for wonderful experiences throughout!!" John and Kathy Carroll, Rehoboth Beach, DE (Loire Valley Tour)
"I really loved the cooking classes. I was impressed with how down-to-earth the fantastic chefs were and how they could take ingredients we use every day to make incredible dishes. I loved visiting the castles, but I really enjoyed experiencing food I have never had before and LOVING it. I chose this trip for the cooking classes, gourmet food and ballooning. I loved the serenity and beauty of Chateau des Tertres, lovely place and lovely people. The energy and knowledge that our guide brought to the trip was outstanding. She knows what interests most Americans and zones in on these areas making for a very interesting understanding of French history. LOVED Angelique & Christophe too! I'll certainly come again on another tour. Thank you!!" Pat Herbert, River Vale, NJ (Loire Valley Tour)