It got us to places that we would never have gotten to efficiently. Kudos to Super-Guide Virginie for getting us in! Sleep in Arles. I have down loaded the playlist to relive!". Two really wow moments!". Never have I experienced such a trip since the 1973 Boy Scout Jamboree, a two week experience. I do love to learn about the antiquities (which we did on both tours), but the unexpected delight of the Steve's tour was understanding the culture, economics, politics, speech oddities, foods, and just how the "real" people live in France. One of my favorite people i've ever met. This morning we'll say au revoir to Chartres and drive south to the Loire Valley, the land of a thousand châteaux. How about dozens? I loved everything about it. I bet the same will happen for your group! When challenges arose, she handled them with clarity and grace. Each day was better than the last, so there we too many "Wow" moments to go over. he tour of the cave drawings was a special experience. Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. I've always enjoyed Van Gogh's work and seeing it illuminated on different planes and bigger than life was startling. Our tour guide Michaelanne, did a fabulous job hosting the tour and sharing the history, culture and dynamics of each site we visited. Local tour guides and specialists added to this experience. The chateaux, Carcassonne and days spent in Aries were my favorites. Great itinerary, great guide, great traveling companions and wonderful experiences. It was very well organized, an excellent tour guide, lots of fun, good travel companions, and a good mix of fun, education, awesome, and just enjoying the moment and the views. Sleep in Chartres. Bus: 4 hours. We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. We immediately fell in love with Rick's tours and his travel philosophy. Maybe RS Tours attracts a most enthusiastic & genuinely nice group of people? An added bonus at the Pont du Gard was a school project fair run by local students offering samples of local products that they made themselves. Time devoted to stops and activities seemed about right although I would have liked a little more independent time to connect with the locals. "To see the Roman aqueduct and to be able to walk into the structure was a highlight for me.". "I had several; 1.Chartres Cathedral lesson from Malcolm Miller and the fabulous evening light show; 2. the sobering visit to Oradure sur Glen; 3. the gardens at Villandry; and 4. Enjoyed seeing more of France than Paris. Carcassonne was like time travel and the local guide was unique. As we have experienced in the past, our tour introduced us to wonderful locations while incorporating the culture, history, food, and wine of course, of France. It rained (a lot!) However, it was more physically active than I had anticipated, based upon the catalog description, as well as upon my own previous experiences on Rick Steves' tours. Aquaduct was very nice too.". Well organized with a minimum of time spent on herding and corralling the group. Your afternoon will be free back in Arles for making your own discoveries. Then, with your expert Rick Steves guide, you'll wind your way south, savoring the perfectly preserved châteaux of the Loire, prehistoric caves and traditional markets of the Dordogne, the medieval city of Carcassonne, the Roman Pont du Gard, and a French Riviera finale in Nice. "Probably the Van Gogh light/sound experience in the old rock quarry... something Virginie added for the group and it was amazing.". We forgot about missing canoeing . Linda was wonderful, knowledgeable, kind, organized, fun and had a twinkle in her eye. Our day will end with dinner together in the quintessential market town of Sarlat. The tour overall was a blast! Arnoud really gave us a lot for our money - starting with intensive French language and etiquette lessons through his vast knowledge of history. I would certainly love to travel with them again! This morning we'll drive to the hill town of Les Baux and enjoy sweeping views of the Provençal countryside from atop the ruins of its medieval citadel. The Dordogne canoe trip everyone that did it loved it. Visiting the small villages and staying at small boutique hotels really allowed us to immerse ourselves in the French culture. The light shining on that chateau was absolutely beautiful and is something I've envisioned since I was a student of French while in high school. We enjoyed catching up!". I loved having the variety of towns and food choices.". It was hot! Rick Steves: Exploring Europe’s hidden gems. The Itinerary. However, the beauty of the land around the area was quite astounding. Food experience was disappointing, expected more from France. The tour was great. I reacted by saying "Hello, how are you?" We especially enjoyed walking along the river. Linda was terrific! "This is difficult because since it was all new to me and all that we saw and did were "wow" moments for me. I loved it. Visiting Les Baux and thanks to our great guide Linda seeing carrieres les lumieres. Rouen; Honfleur; Bayeux; D-Day beaches; Mont St-Michel; Brittany Dinan; St-Malo; Loire Amboise and nearby (including Chenonceau, Blois, Chambord, Cheverny, and Chaumont-sur-Loire) Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Our guides kept the fun meter pegged, wine tasting in Sarlat, Champagne on the beach at night in Nice, side trip to Les Baux-De-Provence for the Carrie'res de Lumie'res Van Gough exhibit in the stone quarry, to market days in Arles and Nice makes for life time memories. Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements and transfers are completely up to you. We'll hop aboard a subterranean train to marvel at engravings and drawings depicting bison, horses, woolly rhinoceros, and…mammoths. Interestingly, Rick Steves got his start by telling people to avoid tours and venture out on their own. Not only was Patrick's knowledge of France, both past and present, amazing, but his energy, enthusiasm, and sense of fun were contagious. Great Tour and this our fourth. We enjoyed all the activities and the people in our tour group. The French really know how to meld the old with the new in a truly fitting manner.". Au revoir et merci! Travelling with other people was a complete joy. "There were many wow moments during the tour so this is a hard question to answer. It was extraordinary! There were many highlights, although the walk through the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, while sobering was very impact-full. see our FAQ. This tasty collection of French treats begins in the cozy, historic town of Chartres — an easy train ride from Paris. "The entire tour was a 'wow.' Everything went as planned and the weather cooperated. We arrived on Sunday in Chartres, but the town was closed as it was on Monday. It was one of those unscheduled but delightful experiences that can happen on an RS tour. ... We arrived shortly before noon, had crepes for lunch at a small cafe, then explored the town until time to meet our tour group and guide. I just stood in one place and was surrounded by the beauty of his art. I saw places I had not seen before, and had intimate lessons and encouragement to explore more. "My favorite time was with Malcom at Chartres Cathedral. I plan to participate in future Rick Steves tours. The schedule was good, with more than 1 night at most hotels and enough free time. The rest of your day is free to explore the town, or to learn more about the art of creating stained glass. Jan 23, 2020 - Explore France with Rick Steves' Europe. I loved Chartres Cathedral, Sarlat, Carcassonne, Arles; walking through the medieval cities & chateaus; seeing the 10,000 yr old cave paintings. The market town of Sarlat, where we slept for three nights, was a different enlightening experience, where I experienced the fun of the market (and their music festival).". This tour was just as special, as was the guide, Virginie. The one that stands out is the museum outside of the village of Les Baux. I thought the tour was excellent! Unless you mean that TA doesn't allow those sorts of tours (day/few hours, etc) to have a review page - but, I'm talking about a forum, not review pages. Things were so well put together but always time to see more. "2 fabulous features the 15,000 year old cave paintings and the Van Gogh quarry she @ Les Baux. It was just the right combination of museums, city tours and the wondering canoe ride down the Dordonge River. It was amazing how the images in the light show told the historical story of the cathedral. I was a little disappointed with Nice and the tour a little long. And our guide, Patrick Vidal - if the rating scale is from 1 to 10, he deserves a 20! Although our guide mentioned the light show in Chartres, I think including this as a planned activity would have been worthwhile. There were many more "wow" moments where At our hotel in Arles, I ran into a former colleague from home. Been to Europe a number of times for work, this time for vacation did not disappoint. The first was canoeing on the Dordogne. I saw so much more than I could have seen on my own. "Probably the cave but the ruins at Les Baux were a close second. "Overall, the entire tour was a WOW moment because we didn't expect the quality of tour guide or quality of immersion into French culture and language that Virginie gave us. "At least three. You'll have some free time in the charming town of Amboise, where you can visit the home of Leonardo da Vinci (even grab a little lunch there) and study working models of the Renaissance man's cleverest inventions. Malcolm at Chartes was fascinating. Difficult to engage with locals. Get inspired with Rick Steves’ recommended places to go and things to do, with tips, photos, videos, and travel information on France. As always, the provided food was outstanding and the bus and driver were wonderful, "We all enjoyed the Cro-Magnon caves and art work - our granddaughter thought that was the best. Her knowledge about and deep love for France is apparent, and I highly value the deepened understanding I now feel for the country, it's regions, and the French people. The bus driver, Phillipe, was terrific as well. "Prehistoric cave art. Highlights included: the magical light show at Chartres, the unexpected hill town of Les Baux, the entertaining Medieval guide at Carcassonne and, of course, the picnic day in Sarlat. As usual, our tour was outstanding, educational, and fun. Perfect weather, no crowds and impeccably planned by our tour guide Toni. Sleep in Sarlat. As this was our first tour and my first vacation in 13 years when the our family enjoyed Hawaii, there is nothing more to say than WOW. ", This was our second RS escorted tour and it did not disappoint. Great tour, beautiful scenery, good food! This afternoon we'll visit the elegant, river-straddling Château de Chenonceau, where we'll learn about royal life in France, with free time to roam through the château's opulent interior and gardens. This was our third tour with RS. "This is the hardest question to answer. So many varied activities (churches, cave paintings, canoeing, Roman ruins) and a good pace. The hotels were good although a couple of the rooms were basic and small. I was very happy with my tour and had wonderful experiences every day. The tour stops were spot on and obviously well devised. But, my favorite "wow" moment was when we were standing in the cave at Rouffignac and gazing at the animal drawings just a meter away that were made by humans living in the area over 15,000 years ago. Being my first tour experience, got to rate it Outstanding! Join Rick Steves for a taste of what it's like to travel the Rick Steves way with his company's staff of personal tour guides, and see testimonials of satisfied patrons who had the trip of a lifetime. Bus: 2 hours. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. The "wow" moment for me was seeing the Carrieres de Lumierers Van Gogh exhibit in Les Beaux. I was skeptical about the light show but found it to be a celebration of both the architecture of the cathedral and the ingenuity of today's technologists. Virginie, our guide, was a fantastic teacher. Previous trips were to Scotland and Italy. "Favourite WOW moment? One of the most impressive structures in all of Europe, it's also home to some of the world's finest medieval stained glass and the veil of Mary. "I have to say it was the part that wasn't "on the tour." I could go on and on.....Arles...Chinon....", "The "private" tour inside the aqueduct. "SO hard to choose just one, but I'm going to go with visiting the Pont du Gard. I cannot emphasize how fortunate Rick Steves is to have the level of quality she provided to the overal experience. As she flipped through the pages, she had visions of a traditional European vacation to the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Colosseum in Rome. With our group, people invited me to join them for lunch or dinner, and it's so easy to make friends. Arnaud made French history and culture come alive. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Magical.". The Dourdogne canoe trip was rained out but it would have been awkward to switch to light clothing for a warm canoe paddle after a cold cave trip. The itinerary was perfect - just enough time at each stop to feel as though we got to know the place, but at the same time wanting to come back for more. We were impressed with the ease of the schedule. and would lay out the day's plan perfectly. He put the put is foot down early, but with humor and tact, about the importance of promptness. 16795 posts. Both were wow moments for me that did not disappoint!". We find that a few hours here and there of free time to do some wandering really fills out the trip, And the tour guides (we had two; our tour guide Julie, and Veronique in training, both terrific.) He provided far more than I expected, especially in his ability to weave his personal experiences with what we were seeing, and with his insights on the French personality. Our bus driver, Roger, was incredible at negotiating narrow roads and streets. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own. No complaints. "I loved the Chateau de Chenonceau, We also love market day in Sarlat!". "Oh my. We spent a lot of time on the bus, but we had a lot of unexpected small stops (like seeing the canal system). The tour was much like the Rick Steves guidebook: practical, efficient, fast paced, with hotels close to the center of the old town. We had great food and wine, and our guide, Linda, was very good. There was a very nice mixture of sites and experiences[INVALID] castles, chateaux, cities, markets, vineyards, picnics, foods, wines, and everything French. Take a vacation from your vacation! This was a wonderful trip in every possible way. What I found about my Rick Steve's Tour with Virginie More and the Loire Valley was what a REAL outstanding tour is like. Linda, our guide, was great. I thought the dinners were fun and offered good opportunities to try a wide variety of regional French dishes and wines. The tour was lovely. My experience with previous RS tours have always been great We had a fabulous trip. Also, for pure emotional impact, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane is just beyond comprehension. This afternoon, we'll canoe down the Dordogne River from Cénac to Beynac, paddling past medieval castles and villages. The Chartres Cathedral was magnificent & our local 85 year old guide Malcolm Miller set the tone for the trip as he takes you back in time to the 12th century. "I have 3: Pacing of the trip was excellent. The sights? The depth of his knowledge and the style of his delivery were excellent; he is a master teacher, skillful at capturing and maintaining his audience's attention. No bus. 1. The sound and light show in Chatres was spectacular and awe-inspiring. ", Great itinerary and tour guide but moving in a large group of 28 feels like herding liked having multiple nights at most locations - only one stop was a one nighter There were only 22 people on this trip so I felt you were really able to get to know them and hear about their lives and their love of travel. "The Van Gogh light display at Les Baux quarry. We had prehistoric caves, Roman ruins, walled cities, Chateaus, and WWII. It was great. The trip was exactly as described, well-planned and well-organized. 5th Rick Steves' tour and they simply keep getting better! Also the gardens at Chateau de Villandry. Our tour stopped in Albi on day 8 (July 3rd) for lunch (just grabbed a sandwich on the go) and a chance to visit the Toulouse-Lautrec museum (very interesting) and/or the great cathedral. I was very privileged to have seen all that I saw while I was on the tour. Each tour should have a guide like him. It was a perfect blend of group activities and free time. It melded an old natural site with a famous artist (Van Gogh) with 21st century technology. My husband joined in on his harmonica, Such fun! rick steves south of france - Rick Steves. Boy, was I wrong! Interesting itinerary linking together a diverse variety of sites. The group was the perfect size. It's a 60 to 75-minute train ride from Paris to Chartres, where the tour begins. The tour had just the right balance of current, future and not-to-be forgotten worlds and we seemed to float from one amazing experience to another. Sleep in Arles. This was our first tour experience and I felt privileged to have a knowledgeable, personable and entertaining guide like Arnod. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves France guidebook. 3. This evening we'll enjoy a final dinner together, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends. Amazing as it sounds, our biggest "wow" was our first WOW - the Chartes en Lumieres display. My husband and I enjoyed checking out the towns on our own, in our free time. The [INVALID]ion of sites was perfect. Lunch wasn't promised on day 8. "The light show at the old quary in La Beau was my favorite excursion. "Actually I had two wow moments. "Kayaking the Dordogne River, lunch at the winery and the whole reason I chose these dates, Bastille fireworks at Carcassonne", This tour was my third with Rick Steves. The tour was well run, with a great mix of planned group events and time to explore on our own. As such, I felt this tour was too long for me. Roger, our bus driver, was courteous, safe and kind. The trip was a perfect balance of group and free time. It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. I could not have picked a better place to spend those 2 weeks. Close was the last home of da Vinci, Chateau du Clos-Luce -- better models of his inventions than in Vinci, Italy. Overall the tour was great! Our tour guide, Linda, was knowledgable, accessible and fun. The itinerary really captures what France is all about, chateaux, farmland, vineyards and charming villages. 3. She ALWAYS went above and beyond to make sure we were happy, comfortable, and learning as much as possible. Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. I hated to say good bye to France and our group! Probably the Pont du Gard would have been, but I had been there before. We were able to participate in a stain glass project, visit an American born performer's chateau, an old fortified walled city, cave art and a sobering visit to Oradour-sur-Glan memorial. "Carcassonne! "Several especially interesting (and thematically unrelated) sites - Pont du Gard (especially with the opportunity to walk in the water channel on top), Rouffignac Cave (amazing prehistoric art), Chartres Cathedral (Malcolm Miller's lecture and the evening light show were treats), Chateaux Chenonceau and Villandry (the gardens especially), and Oradour-sur-Glane. This topic has been automatically closed due to a period of inactivity. It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. The quick exploration tour of each town was great to get to know the area before free time. "It's very hard to pick just 1 wow moment since there were so many! I had downloaded the Rick Steves' audio podcast on my phone before I left home. It was amazing to get to the top level of the Pont du Gard - terrific views and a marvel of engineering", Overall very good tour The man pointed to his wife and said, "She's from Philly." It was magical, gliding smoothly down this gorgeous river,feeling a profound sense of well-being and connected-ness with my partner and the immediate world around us.Such a beautiful day!". She arranged an additional stop enroute to Les Baux...Immersing us in Van Gogh in a giant underground quarry...Van Gogh's paintings on the ceilings, the floors, all the walls simultaneously...felt like i was swimming in Van Gogh...she arranged this for us all. (The event count dropped to 16 too.) The markets were amazing and the restaurants were suburb. This was another wonderful Rick Steves tour for me. from the moment the tour began 'til the moment it ended, it was obvious that a great deal of decisive care and planning had gone into every aspect of the experience. "Seeing the prehistoric cave drawings and the light show in Chartres.". "It's hard to say. Skip to main it was sunny and in the 60s, what a way to end the tour! Our tour guide, Virginie in particular made the trip wonderful. For a visual person this was such a unique experience.". "The cave art and the villages of the Perigord, expecially Sarlat. I loved this tour. Kudos to our guide Patrick for his patience and efforts at educating us regarding French history, cuisine and wine, along with day to day practicalities. This tour was a nice balance between scheduled activities and free time to explore on our own. Seriously, I have been asked this question by friends and family and I am unable to determine the best moment because everything resulted in my saying, Wow!". "Chartres Cathedral tour and especially the laser show on the cathedral at night. It moved and enchanted us both. Arnaud, our tour guide, was excellent. tours, the bus driver takes us in and out of villages with ease. We also enjoyed the camaraderie with our fellow travelers. Roman aqueduct. The food, the wine, the history, the company, the sites all met our highest expectaions! The music wasn't what I would call high quality but it was fun and genuine. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. The free time to explore was invaluable. Big point: We avoided falling in.". On our Loire to the South of France in 13 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily… Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up … Our "down" day in Sarlat was well timed and the market a beautiful adventure on our own. All of history is represented on tour. Sleep in or near Nice. My 3rd RS tour, each one is different, each one is fabulous. "Mine was a little offbeat. We had an amazing group that made the trip one to remember. All the guides (Local and Tour) are informative and friendly. We'll send the notification email when a tour opens within a season (spring, summer, fall, winter) or region. We had many experiences that a traveler on his/her own probably would not have experienced--eating a bull casserole at a winery,talking with a mayor of a small town and walking on the top level of the Pont du Gard. Our guide, Mary, had to do some creative thinking when an activity became "out of the question" at the last minute. Great as these sights are, they're just the lyrics — the culture of France provides the melody you'll never forget. Third RS tour and probably favorite. Wish every tour was a fortunate as we were. "Oradour-sur-Glane and Sarlat.. What a colossal structure, and to be able to walk along the top of this world class icon was so very cool! We covered a lot of ground, but it didn't feel rushed. There was a good balance between planned activities and free time, and, there was a good balance between city, small town and rural activity. So, it wasn't really an "included" lunch but it was a good one! She is one of the best guides we have ever had on our trips. Canoe trip seemed to be out of place thought the time could have been better used visiting other sites. "It was an amazing experience canoeing down the Dordonge River. I liked all we saw in a limited time span. What a great tour! It was extremely informative, and getting to meet a whole group of new people made me feel more invested in what I was doing. Trip potential was excellent, the tour as is needs to be revised as there were many hectic days and many slow days. Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. "I loved seeing da Vinci's home. I chose this tour because I was very interested in the itinerary: Chartres, the Loire valley, Dordogne, and Carcassonne, It was easier to have a tour bus take me instead of driving or taking the train. Oradur was powerful!! Oradour-sur-Glane is a must see; I had no idea; thank you for bringing us there. I learned more about the Middle Ages from that one tour than I did learning about them at school.". The day before there was a "wow" of a different kind, the solemn walk through Oradour-sur-Glane which added to our knowledge of the horrors of war and which we will always remember.". nice variety of activities (chateau visits, canoe activity, museums) "Virginie arranged for a champagne toast on the bridge at Carcassonne overlooking the castle wall and the full moon was rising just behind the view.