Frequently Asked Questions about Our Loire Valley Tours Click on the accordion menu below to read more Loire Valley Tour information – Answers to our most frequently asked Loire Valley Tour questions. Still need help? Contact us »
Yes. All tours are conducted in English and designed for an English speaking clientele. The majority of OTBP Guests come from the U.S.A., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and England. Guests have also come from the Caribbean, Singapore, the Philippines, South Africa, and Israel.
Where do we rendezvous on day 1 of the Loire Valley Tour?
Your OTBP Guide(s) will meet you at the St. Pierre des Corps TGV train station, Tours, France at 4:00 PM on day 1 of the tour. Specific meeting location details will be included in your complete tour information package we send you 30 days prior to the tour.
Where does the Loire Valley Tour finish?
We depart the hotel in the morning in order to arrive at 9:30-10:00 AM at the St. Pierre des Corps TGV train station in Tours, France.
How should I go about making my travel plans?
Off the Beaten Path is a full service tour operator and it is our pleasure to assist you with all aspects of upcoming travel plans. Whether you are looking for a suggestion for a hotel in Paris or assistance with your rail tickets, simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1.877.846.2831 for assistance.
What is the weather going to be like in the Loire Valley?
April through October, day time temperatures in the Loire Valley range from the 70’s- to mid-80’s Fahrenheit with evenings being slightly cooler. Typically it is sunny, but be prepared with the proper rain gear.
What is not included on my Loire Valley Tour?
Airfare to and from France, train fare to and from St. Pierre des Corps TGV station in Tours, France, lunches, two dinners, gratuities(tips) to guides and driver, personal purchases.
What foods comprise a traditional French picnic?
A traditional French picnic consists of the following : a large selection of cheeses, a couple of varieties of “saucisson” (a cured sausage made from pork and sometimes seasoned with herbs), traditional home-made French bread called “baguette”, sometimes grain or nut based breads (as the custom and preference is that cheeses be accompanied by a nut or grain bread), pates and other potted meat spreads, such as foie gras, country pate or meatier spreads called “terrine” where the meat has been slow cooked in its fat then pulled and canned or sealed in a jar, French style sandwiches, olives or “cornichons” (small tart pickles), condiments including French mustards and butter, a selection of fresh vegetables such as, tomatoes, radishes and/or melon (depending on the season), a choice fresh fruit from the season and a selection of local wines. Our picnics include all of these fabulous specialty foods and each picnic is designed to reflect the regional food culture and the local growing season.
What is a typical French breakfast?
A typical French breakfast is very simple and comprised of all or any combination of the following — traditional home-made French bread called “baguette”, “viennoiserie” known in English as pastries, such as croissants, pain au chocolate (a croissant with chocolate in it — yum!) or pain au raisins (croissant type pastry with custard and raisins in it), cereal and/or yoghurt or a fresh white cheese of the same consistency as yoghurt called “fromage blanc”, fresh fruits and jams, fruit juices and coffee, tea or hot chocolate. When in the heart of “farm” country, one might be offered a small selection of local cheese and French charcuterie which would be a selection of cold cuts. The breakfast description provided here is exactly the type of breakfast offered on all of our tours. If a hotel in Paris, another major city or the occasional country hotel offers omelettes, pancakes, hot sausages and/or bacon, this is not part of the typical French breakfast and has been added to the morning menu to attract non-French tourists. France does not have breakfast specific restaurants like what you would find in your home country.
How should I tip my Off the Beaten Path guide(s)?
Tipping in France is common. Gratuities to hotel staff, restaurant servers and baggage porters are not included in your tour price. Gratuities to your tour guides/leaders and driver are not included in your tour price.
Who are the Loire Valley Tours designed for?
OTBP’s Loire Valley Tours are designed for discerning active travelers of all backgrounds, from the seasoned traveler and independent traveler to the first time traveler to France. Join any one of the our tours as a solo traveler, a couple, a small group of friends or family, or bring your entire travel club, affinity group, women’s organization, or wine society. No culinary, history or other type of experience is necessary. Join us for the vacation of a lifetime to discover the Best of the Loire Valley, as an insider, and make new friends along the way.
Do I need to be an expert to take your Loire Valley Tour?
Not at all. The idea is to learn about French culture, traditions, wine, daily life, artisan lives and culinary practices in a fun and relaxing environment. Our tours offer great learning opportunities for everyone. Off the Beaten Path guides are very skilled at adapting their discussions to the general level of knowledge of the group, providing good introductory information for novices, and more advanced discussions for those who have more experience or a specialty interest. It’s vacation and our tours are all about having fun, enjoying new experiences and being active!
Do I need to be an athlete to participate in the Loire Valley Tour?
No. However, France is a country of walkers. Our Loire Valley Tour is designed for active travelers and includes extensive leisure walking daily. Travelers need to be able to walk and stand for extended periods of time while listening to commentary/history about the castles during visits.
While our tours are structured to appeal to those who enjoy walking, as much as to those who prefer to be shuttled by vehicle daily, our tours are not recommended for travelers who have walking difficulties and or knee or back problems that would result in limited participation in the tour or prevent a guest from being able to stand during castle tours and during cooking classes.
It is not possible to drop-off or pick-up guests at the entry of castles before or after visits, and therefore guests must be able to walk short to medium distances from parking lots to the sites, as well as be able to also enjoy exploring historical villages, towns and corresponding markets on foot where uneven cobblestone walkways may be the norm.
We enjoy the “slow road” taking in the beautiful scenery of the castles and local villages daily, and our tours are focused on actively discovering this magnificent region.
Is wine included at meals? What kind of wines are included at meals?
Yes, wine is included at all scheduled meals together. We expertly match premium wines from the region we’re visiting with each dish. Meals offer an excellent opportunity to try wines from appellations not available to guests at home, and to introduce guests to some select wines worth a favorable mention or that are exceptionally appreciated by the locals.
How are the Loire Valley Tours structured?
Having 23 years experience in the tour industry, specifically with small group touring, we have found that our guests are generally more interested in active experiences, culture, people to people experiences and guided tours of museums and sites. Our guests like to visit private homes, and pursue their hobbies when they travel. Our guests enjoy being able to shop locally for items, such as, collectibles, art and local products. Our guests tend to do more homework and want a meatier trip, but also want to enjoy down time or leisure time to explore independently. All of our trips are designed based on these factors. Each trip offers organized activities and excursions daily combined with periods of leisure time each day. Our tours encourage individual approach and pursuit of your interests, as well as introducing you to new experiences and people during each trip.
How should I pack? How should I expect to dress during the tour?
Please limit your luggage to a size that you can easily manage while traveling around France through the airport(s) and on the French rail system. Try not to over pack; you will not wear all your clothing, and laundry service is not available at our Loire Valley hotel but is available in Blois! A suggested packing list will be enclosed in your tour information package. Pack comfortable light weight, casual clothing. It’s vacation and we want our guests to feel and be as comfortable as possible during our daily activities and excursions. Our dinners together include a mix of Michelin star and casual bistro style restaurants. For men we suggest a business casual ensemble (no tie or jacket necessary unless it’s your personal preference) and for women we recommend a casual dress for dinners. Please no jeans or gym type sneakers at dinner.
What travel documents will I need for my Tour?
All travelers to France are required to have a valid passport. Please make 2 copies of your passport and personal identification before you depart. Keep one set of copies with you in a separate location from your travel documents, and leave the other set of copies with a contact at home before you depart. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please check with your consulate general for entry requirements.