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Loire Valley Itinerary – Top 6 Must See Castles Tour

Loire Valley Itinerary – Top 6 Must See Castles Tour – by Off the Beaten Path

Loire Valley Itinerary - Castles & Foodie TourJust imagine a Loire Valley Itinerary that features personalized, hands-on gourmet experiences combined with guided tours of the Loire Valley’s “Top 6 Must See” culturally and historically rich castles. Thanks to 22 years of exclusivity and a beaming reputation in France, our unparalleled Loire Valley Tour experiences have been voted #1 small group tours in France for over 2 decades.

France tour travel is Off the Beaten Path’s specialty!

Each castle selected for our Loire Valley tour itineraries represents different and monumental events that contributed to shaping modern France. Each castle in the itinerary line-up is unique. We complement guided castle tours with personalized foodie experiences hosted by local friends. Off the Beaten Path’s Loire Valley friends rank as some of France’s most prestigious professionals in their fields. They welcome tour guests to their family homes, professional kitchens, and workshops, as a group of friends traveling together.  Participate in 2 fun cooking classes, a specialty “Tour de France” cheese and wine tasting, and tour and taste at our favorite chocolatier (chocolate maker). Then burn off those gourmet calories on 2 spectacular walks that feature walking amidst castles, historical villages and Touraine vineyards.

Loire Valley ItineraryAnd the result of all of these privileged experiences?  Off the Beaten Path Tour guests experience a very personalized, authentic side of the Loire Valley. These intimate small group experiences set our tours apart from other tour companies operating in France. Review our day-by-day itinerary below, then go to the Loire Valley Tour schedule page to choose either a 2016 or 2017 Loire Valley tour date, and join us for the Loire Valley tour experience of a life-time. Come experience for yourself why Off the Beaten Path tours have been voted #1 in France for more than two decades!

Visit our Facebook page for photos of Off the Beaten Path Loire Valley tours and more…


* Click on the numbered day tabs below to view Loire Valley itinerary details for each day! 


Group Meets, Hotel Check-in, Welcome Dinner Together – D

Loire Valley Itinerary“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 our 4-star Hotel – Pavillon des Lys in historic Amboise.

DINNER: Gourmet dinner together this evening prepared by one of the best loved 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.  Your tour guides will go over the details of your Loire Valley Tour itinerary and the activities planned for the week.

The Highlights: Arrival to the tour, Michelin-star Welcome Dinner in a historic castle…

(B) = Breakfast Included, (L) = Lunch Included, (D) = Dinner Included





Morning: Tour & Tasting at our Friend’s Award Winning Chocolate Workshop, Tour of Chambord Castle, Fun Cooking Class and Demonstration Accompanied by Wine & Cheese Tasting with Friend and Michelin Star Chef Damien G. – B, D

Chambord Castle - OTBP

BREAKFAST. Enjoy the early morning at leisure in Amboise. Relax on the terrace at the hotel with a beverage and write postcards, surf the internet or read. Explore the beautiful cobblestone walking streets of town. There are numerous artisan, art and specialty shops in Amboise that offer fabulous shopping. PLEASE NOTE — Guests may wish to walk up the street to Clos Luce to visit the former home of Leonardo da Vinci during this independent morning.

OTBP-Loire-Valley-tour-13LATE MORNING: We depart to our friend’s Award Winning Artisan Chocolate Workshop where we’ll enjoy a tour of the facility and learn about French Artisan Chocolate Making followed by a tasting of his finest chocolate specialties. Afterwards, we continue on to  Chambord Castle. There will be an introduction to the history of Chambord Castle – followed by an independent visit of the castle.  Chambord is thought to have been the architectural masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci, yet this has never been 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.

OTBP Loire Valley TourLATE AFTERNOON & DINNER: Hands-on cooking class and demonstration with friend, Michelin-star Chef Damien G. in his professional kitchen. 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.

cooking classThe 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. Learn very important details about the history and production of cheese in France. We’ll taste a variety of cheeses accompanied by regional wines. 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.

The highlights: Free Morning – Shop for Souvenirs in Town, Visit Clos Luce, Tour & Tasting at Our Friend’s Award Winning Artisan Chocolate Workshop, Chambord Castle, Michelin-star Cooking Class, Cheese Tasting Discovery and Dinner…

(B) = Breakfast Included, (L) = Lunch Included, (D) = Dinner Included



Morning: Tour Azay-le-Rideau Castle, Explore and Shop in the Village, Afternoon: Discover Villandry Castle and Gardens in the southern Touraine – B

**NEW in 2017 – WALK #1 – Castle to Castle and Historical Villages, Southern Loire**

Loire Valley TourBREAKFAST. Morning: (for both walkers and non-walkers) Our day begins 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 embodies 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.

NEW in 2017 – Walking Amidst Castles – Optional and designed for interested guests – Walk amidst historical villages, southern Loire Valley vineyards and Castles of Azay-le-Rideau and Villandry. Nothing is more spectacular than walking in the foot-steps of French Kings and Queens to discover the beauty and architecture of the Loire Valley.

LUNCH:  Independently in Azay-le-Rideau for both walkers and non-walkers.

OTBP castle tourWinding our way along the Vienne & Loire Rivers, our next 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.

Loire Valley ItineraryLATE AFTERNOON: Return to our hotel in Amboise.

DINNER:  Independently in Amboise village. Stroll through the village, enjoy cocktails at sunset overlooking the Loire River and dinner at one of the many favorite places in the village.


The highlights: Walking in the Southern Touraine of Loire Valley, Azay-le-Rideau Castle & Village, Villandry Castle & Renaissance Gardens…

  • WALKERS – Shuttle to the start of walk, then join rest of group to tour Azay-le-Rideau & Villandry during and at the end of the walk. Van support provided for ALL walks so you decide how much walking they would like to do.
  • NON-WALKERS – Shuttle to Azay-le-Rideau and Villandry for our Castle Visits today.

(B) = Breakfast Included, (L) = Lunch Included, (D) = Dinner Included



Morning: Exploring Amboise Market & Historic Village, Tour of the Royal Castle of Amboise, Afternoon: Tour of Chenonceau Castle & Gardens  – B

**NEW in 2017 – WALK #2 – Walking Amidst Vineyards & Castles – Village To Village**

OTBP Loire Valley TourBREAKFAST. Morning: New in 2017 – Walking Amidst VINEYARDS & Castles – Village to village – Optional and designed for interested guests – Walk amidst historical wine producing villages and their castles through beautiful vineyards and countryside. This walk is a a beautiful complement to our southern Loire walk. Experience first-hand why French Kings and Queens loved and chose this area as their home during the Renaissance.

OTBP Loire Valley Tour

AMBOISE – SHOP AT THE MARKET, and explore more of Amboise village and surroundings.  

ROYAL CHATEAU OF AMBOISE – Enjoy a guided visit of the Chateau of Amboise followed by time to explore at leisure. Today’s 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 for both walkers and non-walkers.

OTBP Chenonceau castle

AFTERNOON: Tour of the Castle and Gardens of Chenonceau, 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 fireworks display in France, parties and deception and how royal debt nearly led this castle to be confiscated by the French state.

DINNER:  Independently in Amboise village. Stroll through the village, enjoy cocktails at sunset overlooking the Loire River and dinner at one of the many favorite places in the village.

The highlights: Walking Amidst Castles, Vineyards, and Historical Villages, Amboise Village, Royal Castle of Amboise, Chenonceau Castle & Gardens…

  • WALKERS – Shuttle to start of walk, and join rest of group to tour Amboise Castle afterwards. Van support provided for ALL walks. ALL walks so you decide how much walking they would like to do.
  • NON-WALKERS – Shuttle to all Castle Visits today.

(B) = Breakfast Included, (L) = Lunch Included, (D) = Dinner Included



Morning & Afternoon: Shopping at the Blois Market & Exploring the Historic Town, Tour of Blois Castle, Early Evening: Culinary Class with celebrity Chefs, Friends, a husband and wife team, Christophe and Angelique Q. at their Home – B, D

Blois castle tourBREAKFAST. 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.

cooking with Christophe

LUNCH:  Independently in Blois. Guests are welcome to join their guide at a local favorite brasserie owned by a friend, also a Michelin-star chef.



EARLY EVENING & DINNER: Fun, hands-on cooking class with our friends, Master Chef Angelique and Meilleur Ouvrier de France Master Chef 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, currently on leave from the school to work with his friend and colleague Alain Ducasse on the development of Ducasse’s new worldwide culinary project and “Ecole de Cuisine” concept in Paris. Christophe’s wife, 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.

Loire Valley France CastlesWe will prepare a gourmet aperitif and a three course dinner of local Loire Valley recipes together. Our Loire Valley Tour guests will have the great pleasure of partaking in an “aperitif dinatoire”, as we call it in French, of the recipes prepared under the guidance of chef Angelque prior to dinner. Guests will also learn how to prepare the award winning, regional “Tarte Tatin” dessert with Christophe.

Loire Valley France castlesThe 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 with cocktails on their garden terrace followed by a gourmet dinner together of the recipes prepared during cooking class. Cooking class, drinks and dinner at Christophe and Angelique’s home is a fabulous way to celebrate a fun week together in the Loire Valley!

The highlights: Blois Town & Artisan Market, Blois Castle, Cooking at Home with Celebrity Chef Friends…

(B) = Breakfast Included, (L) = Lunch Included, (D) = Dinner Included



OTBP-loire-valley-sept-christopheLoire Valley Tour Conclusion – B

BREAKFAST. Your Loire Valley Tour concludes today with a 10 AM arrival to St. Pierre des Corps TGV Rail Station. Earlier and later departures can be organized – Please contact us for details.

France Off the Beaten Path Loire Valley Tour Information Pages –


(B) = Breakfast Included, (L) = Lunch Included, (D) = Dinner Included


mapsandstampmontage2“… Just returned from the Loire Valley trip, this was one of our favorite trips. Our sons loved it too!!! The combination of gorgeous chateaus with excellent and knowledgeable guides, and the cooking classes and meals with top Michilin chefs was fabulous!!!  The hotel was confortable, perfectly locateded and we had the best rooms in the Chateau. Our two guides stayed in the hotel with us… Sometimes the best trips aren’t necesarily the most well known. This company deserves to be! It’s wonderful!!! …  After about 15 worldwide trips including most continents, my sons ranked this one up near the top. This took the cake!! Would return in a flash!!” –Connie and Ken Yonan, Chicago, IL