EXTEND YOUR CRUISE WITH 3 NIGHTS IN THE LOIRE VALLEY
Begin your discovery of the châteaux of France with four days in the Loire Valley, including guided tours of two of the region’s most spectacular estates.ALL THIS IS INCLUDED:
- 3 nights accommodations: 1 night in Paris—Le Méridien Etoile, Paris (or similar); 2 nights in Tours—Clarion Château Belmont Tours (or similar)
- 3 breakfasts
- 3 guided tours: Orléans City Tour; Tours City Tour; Tour of Château Chambord & Tour of Château Chenonceau
- Fully escorted by your Viking Tour Director
- Hotel & ship transfers
Day 1 | Paris
Fly to Paris. We meet you at the airport and transport you to the First-Class Le Méridien Etoile, Paris (or similar)*. The evening is yours to relax or enjoy a romantic dinner in the “City of Light.” Your Viking Tour Director is available to help you plan your time in Paris so you can make the most of your visit.
Day 2 | Orléans
After breakfast, check out of your Paris hotel and begin your ride through the French countryside. Our first stop is the city of Orléans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city’s long history includes everyone from the Druids, Gauls, Romans and Attila to the famous Maid of Orléans, Joan of Arc. Later, during the Renaissance, the area became a fashionable location for châteaux, and the University of Orléans achieved great prestige. When France colonized part of North America, they honored Orléans by naming a certain city La Nouvelle-Orléans, or New Orleans. See some of the city’s sights, including the university, the botanic garden and Joan of Arc’s childhood home (now a museum), then take some free time to explore on your own or get some lunch. In the afternoon, we will continue to Tours, where you will check in to the First-Class Clarion Château Belmont Tours (or similar) for a two-night stay. Relax on your own this evening. Your Viking Tour Director is available to help you plan your time in Orléans so you can make the most of your visit. (B)
Day 3 | Loire Valley
After breakfast, set off on a guided tour of Loire Valley châteaux, including walks through two of the best-known and most beautiful of these grand houses, Chambord and Chenonceau—plus along the way you will catch views of several prominent châteaux and learn about their history. Your first guided tour is of Chambord. Built in the early 16th century by Francis I, a great admirer of Leonardo da Vinci, the structure is reminiscent of the Tuscan style, centered around a magnificent double spiral staircase. Chambord was later greatly expanded by Louis XIV; it has hundreds of apartments, each equipped with two rooms and its own fireplace, as well as grand royal apartments and an elaborate rooftop terrace offering panoramic views of its vast parklands.
After your tour, stop in Amboise to see its hilltop Château Royal and take free time or grab a bite before proceeding to Chenonceau for a tour of one of the world’s most beautiful estates. The grand castle, built beside the Cher River in the 16th century by the wealthy Bohier family, was confiscated by the same Francis I, who enjoyed many festive times there, as did his heir Henry II and Henry’s queen, Catherine de Médicis. Toward the end of the 16th century, a new wing was built that stretched across the river with graceful arches, a sumptuous ballroom and a kitchen with convenient docking facilities for groceries and arrivals by boat. The last French sovereign to stay in Chenonceau was Louis XIV in 1650. The house has been relatively well cared-for, and after serving as a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I, it has been completely restored, including the lovely formal gardens. Drive back to Tours for dinner. (B)
Day 4 | Tours
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and enjoy a guided exploration of Tours, including the main cathedral and some of the city’s many parks and bridges, before beginning your scenic ride to Bordeaux. Stop in Poitiers for a brief tour of this picturesque medieval city, once the capital of the Vienne region, which features well-preserved Romanesque architecture and the Baptistery of St. John, thought to be the oldest Christian church in France. Take some free time to look around a bit or grab lunch before continuing on to Bordeaux to embark your river cruise ship. (B)
The following meals are included for all days as listed:
B = Breakfast
* Airport meet and greet transfers included when air is purchased from Viking Cruises.
NOTE: Explore More pricing is based on extension hotel check-in date. Extension availability is limited and some restrictions apply with regard to departure date and cruise direction. Please call for details.