Start with a couple of nights in indescribable Paris, `the city of Lights`, on your last day, pick up your rent a car and proceed to your chateau or inn of choice in the The Loire Valley.
THE CASTLES OF THE LOIRE
In the very heart of France, the Loire Valley marvelously combines fantastic architecture and natural heritage. The region is unspoiled and exceptional with its rich historic past. Formerly very popular with the French Royalty, Val de Loire is renowned for sumptuous castles and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Loire Castles, all compete with each other for their beauty and their elegance. Magnificent parks and gardens, and also unspoiled nature, offering a series of rivers, forests and lakes makes this region de Garden of France.
Heading from east to west, the most popular and visited chateaux in the region include:
There are also several classified `Most Beautiful villages of France'`dotted around the Loire countryside to discover and explore.
These include Lavardin; Candes-Saint-Martin (6 miles SE of Saumur); Apremont-sur-Allier (9 miles SW of Nevers); Montresor (12 miles E of Loches); St-Benoit-du-Sault (12 miles SW of Argenton-sur-Creuse); Gargilesse-Dampierre (6 miles SE of Argenton-sur-Creuse) and Crissay-sur-Manse (18 miles SW of Tours)
After your stay in the Loire Valley, continue to the Burgundy Region of France and a stay at another one-of-a-kind chateau or inn.
BURGUNDY AND CHABLIS - WINE REGION
Burgundy, `Land of fine art and living` is one of the most fascinating regions of France, Surrounded by hedge-rowed countryside, fabled vineyards, and magnificent Romanesque abbeys, all the sights - from the medieval sanctuary of Cluny to the charming wine village of Beaune - invite the traveler to partake of their mellow splendor.
The Burgundy wine of Chablis and Beaune, Nuits-St-Georges and Mâcon is world famous and the vineyards are confined to relatively small areas, so it is easy to tour the region by car.
The Gastronomy of the Region: cheese, Charolais beef, mustard sauces, blackcurrants and escargots. Visit the markets and fine shops, go wine tasting, and try out the local recipes such as Boeuf Bourguignon and Gougères. Burgundy is a gastronomic delight!
The small villages - dressed for visitors, and brimming with geraniums in summer, ideal for a leisurely wander followed by lunch. Among them, Avallon, Sens, Joigny, Tonnerre, Auxerre, Montreal and Noyers-sur-Serein. The historical center of Chalon-sur-Saone and the attractive village at Brancion.
Beaune - famous for its wine caves and its medieval hospital complex and Dijon, one of France?s prettiest cities and famous for its mustard.
There are chateaux to visit, with both `traditional` castles such as those at Ancy-le-Franc and Tanlay Chateaux, as well as the Chateau de Sully,
The Romanesque architecture of the abbeys and churches of Burgundy is regarded as some of the finest in the world: Fontenay Abbey, one of France's finest abbeys and architectural treasures. In Yonne, Vezelay Abbey and Pontigny Abbey. The well-known abbey at Cluny. The Paray-le-Monial basilica and the church at Anzy-le-Duc are other important religious monuments.
Stepping further back in time, see the Roman ruins at Autun. The attractive village of Semur-en-Brionnais and the towns of Tournus and Macon are also highlights of a visit to this southern part of Burgundy.
After your stay in Burgundy, continue to the Champagne Region and a stay at another one-of-a-kind chateau or inn.
THE CHAMPAGNE REGION
Champagne, the very symbol of style, refined living and merriment, is produced nowhere else in the world. All champagnes are made within a few miles of each other outside Reims and Epernay, near the Abbey of Saint-Pierre where the legendary Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, supposedly invented the bubbly by accident in the early 18th Century (some would say by divine inspiration). Just as still wines have different characteristics and tastes, so do champagnes, and the great houses of Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, among more than 100 others, prove this.
First stop for champagne enthusiasts will surely be Epernay - the center of the champagne world - where you can visit caves and sip champagne to your heart?s content. The local tourist authorities also suggest several driving tours that explore the vineyards and chateaux of the region around Reims and Epernay and in the villages south-east of Troyes:
The Montagne de Reims route (47 miles) starts in Reims and goes to Epernay, home of the famous Moet & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët vineyards.
The Marne Valley route (33 miles) begins in Epernay and extends past Hautvillers, Ay, Dizy, Cumières, Chatillon and Vincennes.
The Côte de Blancs route (68 miles) goes from Epernay south to Verus and Villenauxe la Grande, an area planted almost exclusively with Chardonnay white grapevines.
Elsewhere in Champagne-Ardenne you will enjoy exploring the rolling forests of the Ardenne to the north and the peaceful, unspoiled villages in the southern part of the region.
Be sure to visit the 'largest castle in Europe' at Sedan.
Reims with several important monuments including the cathedral, also the Palace of Tau and Reims basilica, and an important Museum of Fine Arts.
The lovely medieval town ofTroyes, and the ancient ramparts ofLangres, while the Chateau de Motte-Tilly is a listed national Monument in the Aube department.
An interesting architectural feature of the region can be seen in the villages betweenTroyes and Saint-Dizier, where there are about 10 half-timbered churches, mostly built from the 16-17th centuries, which are both interesting and attractive.
And finally, end your vacation with a final night in Paris.
Paris - Loire - Burgundy - Champagne
Spend a few days in Paris, then rent a car, and continue with a sumptuous stay at one of the charming chateaux or inns in the Loire Valley, from there, continue to Burgundy Wine Region and another stay at a Chateau, then on to the Champagne wine region for another stay at a chateau and finally, end with a night in Paris.
Price history for this itinerary (past 14 days):
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