FRANCE SELF DRIVE CASTLE HOTELS AROUND FRANCE: Alsace – Burgundy – Ile de France – Loire Valley
Experience 8 Nights – 7 Days
PARIS – TGV – STRASBOURG
In the morning, experience the most recent Train à Grande Vitesse, (TGV – high-speed train) connection to Strasbourg, reaching the capital city of Alsace in only 2 hours and 20 minutes! Rent your car at Strasbourg Gare Centrale then familiarize yourself with the city before checking into the Château de l’Ile, a rambling, eclectic and picturesque 19th century castle, that perfectly exhibits traditional Alsatian architecture.
STRASBOURG – THE WINE ROAD – COLMAR – ROUFFACH (120kms)
Driving along the Alsatian Wine Trail you’ll discover the charm of the wine-growing villages such as Obernai, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, and Kaysersberg with their half-timbered houses. Stop at the mountaintop Château de Haut-Koenigburg, to experience its atmosphere of the Late Middle Ages. Then to Colmar, the ‘Capital of Alsatian Wine,’ known for its old town and the Unterlinden Museum, with the sublime Isenheim Alterpiece. Retire to the elegant Château d’Isenbourg, perched high above the vineyards of Roffach with panoramic views of the city, the Vosges foothills and the Rhine Plain.
ROUFFACH – FRANCHE COMTE – VOUGEOT (BURGUNDY) (280kms)
Departing Alsace you’ll drive through the Franche Comté region, bordering Switzerland. First stop: Belfort, with its pentagonal wall built by Louis XIV’s military architect, Vauban, to fortify the city; turning Belfort into an impressive stronghold and one of the most spectacular towns in the region. Then to Montbéliard, which has preserved the unique charm of the lovely cities of the Württemberg Empire. Your next discovery: Besançon, which offers visitors the charming spectacle of its narrow streets. Your journey ends in Burgundy’s Vougeot and the beautiful 16th century Château de Gilly, formerly a residence of the Cistercian Monks in heart of the finest wine (Grand Cru) producing area in Burgundy.
VOUGEOT BEAUNE AND DIJON VOUGEOT (BURGUNDY) (90kms)
Today’s your day to tour Dijon, City of Dijon mustard! This condiment has been made since 1856 when Jean Naigeon substituted the acidic juice of unripe grapes, verjuice, for the traditional vinegar. Besides its mustard, Dijon supplies spice for the eyes with its toits bourguignons – polychrome, graphic-patterned roofs made of terracotta tile glazed in red, green, yellow and black that covers architecture from medieval times to the Renaissance. Day done, you’re back for a second night at the beautiful Château de Gilly with its classic garden, stone vaulting and carved beams.
VOUGEOT – ROUTE DES GRANDS CRUS: COTE DE BEAUNE & COTE DE NUITS – VOUGEOT
Today you’re on the Route des Grands Crus, to tour Burgundian vineyards including Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits. The grapes of the great Burgundy vineyards grow in the golden-reddish soil of the slope with names that haunt the dreams of wine lovers the world over: Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, Chambolle-Musigny, Romanée Conti, Nuits-St-Georges, Meursault, Chassagne Montrachet and more – all available for visiting and sampling! Don’t be so wrapped up in wine that you forget to visit Beaune! Once the region’s main town, it’s now the capital of Burgundy‘s wine-producing region.
BURGUNDY – VÉZELAY – FONTAINEBLEAU – ST. SEPHORIEN LE CHÂTEAU
Bidding farewell to the Château de Gilly, you’re off through Avallon to Vézelay’s 12th century Abbaye Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It holds the relics of the revered Saint Mary and was a starting point for medieval pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostella. Then move north, passing Auxerre. Near Nemours, you could easily side-trip to the forest and Château of Fontainebleau. Passing through, you’ll reach tonight’s resting-spot, the fairytale-like Château d’Esclimont (built 1543) in St. Sephorien le Château.
ST. SEPHORIEN LE CHÂTEAU – CHARTRES – ORLEANS/BLOIS – TOURS (250 kms)
Today, visit Chartres, then Orléans or Blois. Each has a wealth of experiences to offer. Chartres boasts its world-famous cathedral, the most beautiful and largest in Europe. Orléans, residence of the Capetian kings in the 10th century, is famous for Jeanne D’Arc, who led her troops to lift the siege of Orléans (1428-1429). Blois, a royal domain in the 15th century, retains its historic facades to this day. The ancient capital of the Kingdom of France, Tours is preeminent at the centre of the famous Loire valley. That night you’ll stay the elegant Château d’Artigny in Montbazon, just south of Tours.
This morning you’re off to the Château de Chambord, with its fantastic roofs cape of towers, cupolas, gables, lanterns and chimneys. Begun in 1518 by François I, it’s reputed to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Then it’s a short drive to the refined Château Chenonceau, a mid-river château spanning the Cher. This residence of the wives and mistresses of kings and nobility reflects a feminine influence and has retained its delicate late-Renaissance style. From Chenonceau it’s a short hop back to Château d’Artigny for a second luxurious night.
MONTBAZON – VILLANDRY – TOURS – TGV PARIS
From Montbazon, drive to Villandry, the last great French Renaissance château built in the Loire Valley; or to Azay le Rideau (26 km from Tours), one of the earliest. Villandry is a perfect example of the late Renaissance and whether you garden or not, you’ll be astounded by its extensive parterre gardens. Azay-le-Rideau, on the other hand, designed to look like a Gothic fortress it was only used as a summer residence. After all this revelling in the Renaissance, drive back to Tours to drop off your rental car at the TGV station and high-speed-it back to Paris. *** You might want to add some extra days in Paris to extend your wonderful experience in France! ***
• 8-night accommodation in selected hotels/chateaux during the tour in a double/twin room for 2 people with breakfast included
• Car rental group D (manual medium size car like a Peugeot 508, or similar) during 8 days with unlimited mileage, CDW and TP, Super Cover, WDW, VFL (Road Tax), Airport/Railway station surcharge, Tax and PAI (24hrs technical and medical assistance)
• High-speed train ticket in comfort class from Tours to Paris – one way
• Arrival and departure transfers
• All meals and all drinks
• Car rental does not include: RSN (Road safety net, tires, wrong fuel, key loss…)
• Pre and post accommodation in Paris
• City Taxes if required to be paid locally
• Tips and Gratuities
• Insurance Policy
• Flight Tickets (Local and International)
• Anything not mentioned in the inclusion section above
Rates and Participants
Price varies by number of participants and by date of travel. Contact your travel agent.