chefs & chateaux

The Loire Valley is home to over 300 chateaux and many of France’s best wineries, making it a fantastic location for our Culinary Highlights tour! Traveling with an award winning chef, learning the secrets to French cuisine, biking through vineyards and along the Loire River, exploring some of France’s most famous chateaux- these are some of the reasons why you will love this trip!

2020 Dates

May 31st – June 5th

*additional dates by request

Duration

6 Days/ 5 Nights

Difficulty

Easy

Group Size

12 guests maximum

Price From

$2,295 per person

Loire Valley Culinary Tour Highlights

  • Learn to cook amazing dishes from an award winning French chef
  • Live like French nobility when you spend the night in a beautifully restored chateau
  • Bike through the French countryside and through picturesque villages
  • Eat delicious French food (from hors d'oeuvres to dessert!)
  • Sample France's finest wines and learn about the wine making process during a winery visit
  • Fly above the vineyards, chateaux, and forests in a hot air balloon (additional cost)

The Carpe Mundo Touch

Welcome to our most luxurious tour yet! This tour is a combination of many of our guests favorite aspects from our other trips- staying in castles, enjoying delicious food and fine wine, the perfect balance of relaxation and activity, the ability to personalize the trip based on your travel preferences, and of course our industry-leading small group size. The Loire Valley has been a popular destination for centuries, including for the kings and queens who made the area famous with their extravagant chateaux.  We are excited for you to experience this magical part of France with us! 

We are excited to introduce Chef O to the Carpe Mundo team for this tour. She will be bringing a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the trip- she’s an incredible chef, a lot of fun to be around, and oh so French! The trip has a culinary focus with tasting tours at local markets and cooking classes where you can learn to make delicious French dishes of your own. If cooking is not your thing, you can opt out of these activities and just eat the scrumptious meals. In keeping with the Carpe Mundo philosophy, there are plenty of other options to include on your vacation to the Loire including hot air balloon rides, cycling tours, and visits to museums and chateaux. 

Itinerary

This is the general itinerary that is used for the trip. Itineraries are subject to change based on weather, group preferences, and other circumstances. Click on each day to discover a more detailed description of the itinerary.

Bienvenue a la Val de Loire! Welcome to the Loire Valley, one of the most beautiful parts of France. This area has been attracting visitors for centuries, and was a favorite spot among French royalty and nobility in the 1500s, resulting in the dozens of magnificent castles that are scattered throughout the area, several of which you will become very familiar with on our tour! Amboise makes for the perfect location to start your culinary adventure. Enjoy wandering the cobblestone streets and admiring the town’s chateau. We will give a variety of options for you to choose from to explore on your first day before meeting for a group dinner in the evening.

Sunday is market day in Amboise, and you will experience market life to its fullest as we walk around trying various specialties and delicacies that vendors from the nearby towns are selling. From chocolate to cheese to charcuterie, bakers to butchers, the quantity and quality of food will amaze you! Your guides will explain a bit about the various products while you sample and enjoy. After a tour of tastiness and a delicious lunch, you can choose to either explore the surrounding countryside by bike, visit Château du Clos Lucé (Leonardo da Vinci’s home, now a museum highlighting his many inventions and accomplishments), or visit the town on your own.

Is there a better way to start the day than a hot air balloon ride, admiring the majesty of the chateaux, vineyards, and forests below?! This optional activity will be an experience you will never forget! After ballooning, we leave Amboise and head a short distance to the nearby Cher River. Along the way we will stop at a winery to learn about French wines and why Loire wines are some of the best. Visit the vineyards and cellars, speak with the vintners, and sample a variety to see which is your favorite. After a fun and relaxing afternoon, we continue to a chateau where we will stay for the next two nights. Charles de Gaulle used to frequent here, and you may even be able to stay in his room. In the evening, Chef O will be preparing one of her phenomenal French feasts. You can help as much or as little as you want, whether it’s simply pouring wine or being a sous chef, but creating a delicious meal is very rewarding!

Today we visit Château de Chenonceau- one of the most iconic châteaux in the Loire. Chenonceau stretches over the River Cher. Take a tour of the castle and learn about it’s fascinating history involving the wife and mistress of King Henry II. Admire the centuries old Renaissance/medieval paintings and furniture as well as the stately gardens. For those desiring a more active vacation, you can explore the surrounding area by bike or gain a unique perspective as you paddle around and under the château in a canoe! In the afternoon, we return to our own château for the evening for another exciting cooking lesson with Chef O.

Brunch on a Wednesday? Why not! Crepes, croissants, and quiche are all iconic French breakfast items, and you can make requests for any specific dishes you want to learn. We bid adieu to our beloved chateau as we continue our tour to Chambord- the largest château in the Loire and one of the most opulent. The overwhelmingly beautiful castle was barely ever lived in, but rather was used mostly as a hunting lodge. Between the stunning interior and 15 miles of paths in the château’s gardens, there is no shortage of sightseeing to do here! We all share one last dinner together to reminisce over the amazing week.

Au revoir! The tour is over and you can explore more of France- ask us for suggestions! Our top recommendation: head to Greece to join our Greek Isles Sailing trip that starts a few days later!

Dates & Prices

2020 Trip Dates

May 31st - June 5th

Custom Dates (Choose Your Own!)

Pricing

$2,295 per person*

*Prices are in US Dollars, based on double occupancy.

We pride ourselves on offering one of the smallest group sizes and best leader to guest ratios in the industry. Our groups for this tour have a maximum of 12 guests with 2 guides (including one award winning chef). Our small groups allow us to personalize the trip based on the group to best suit your travel needs and preferences. Larger groups are available as a custom/private tour.

IncludeD:

  • Deluxe accommodations for 5 nights
  • Transportation for the duration of the tour from Amboise to Chambord
  • Daily breakfast, two dinners
  • Three private cooking lessons with award winning Chef O
  • Entrance to Chenonceau and Chambord chateaux
  • Wine tasting and winery tour
  • Guided market tour and tasting
  • Recipe book to take home and create delicious French meals on your own
  • Online trip photo album & Carpe Mundo shirt

Not IncludeD:

  • Airfare (we can help!)
  • Airport transfers
  • Meals (not listed above)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • Leader gratuities

Supplemental:

  • Optional activities: biking, canoeing, museum admissions, etc.
  • Room upgrades
  • Hot air balloon ride

Additional Information

Accommodations: The accommodations may be one of your favorite parts of the trip! They are chosen to be comfortable with great locations and with some French flair- très chic! The first two nights are at a hotel in Amboise, the following two nights are at a beautifully restored chateau, and the last night is at a chateau near Chambord! Room upgrade options are available for several nights if you would prefer to have more deluxe rooms or suites- please inquire for additional information.

Payment Terms & Conditions: If you are thinking about signing up for a trip but are not yet ready to commit, we offer a 5 day courtesy hold. To secure your space on a trip, a $500 per person deposit is required and can be paid by check or credit card. The remaining trip balance is due no later than 90 days prior to the start of the trip. If you decide to cancel more than 45 days prior to the start of your trip, you will receive a Carpe Mundo credit that is transferable with no expiration for the amount paid, or we will refund your payment less a $250/person cancellation fee.  If you decide to cancel less than 45 days prior to the start of your trip, no refunds or credits will be available.

Single Supplement: Single accommodations are available for an additional fee, based on availability. If you are willing to be placed in a room with someone else from the trip (with two single beds), we will match you with another traveler if possible and waive the single supplement. 

Packing List: A suggested packing list as well as additional information on travel to France can be found in our Customer Information packet.  

Release of Liability: We require that everyone participating in a Carpe Mundo trip completes and e-signs an Assumption of Risk/Liability Release waiver as well as a Medical Information Form. You will receive these after you have registered for a trip, and they must be completed prior to your trip.

Insurance: Due to the nature and locations of our trips, we highly recommend that everyone participating in a trip has medical insurance that provides coverage while abroad. Although not required, we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance or a travel protection plan for your trip. We adhere to our cancellation policy, and these plans will protect your trip purchase in the event you cancel under certain circumstances.

Testimonials

This trip is new for 2020, so no testimonials yet but we promise it will be an amazing trip!

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