My only concern was that we did spend 3 nights in lovely sites that lacked air conditioning in late July climate; in fact, there was a heat wave in France during our trip. The day we visited Guedelon was a jam packed day as it was.". "My favorite site was the castle being constructed using 13th century technology. Wonderful tour! Second on my list was Mont St. Michelle, a beautiful and historic little island that tested me in terms of the incredible number of steps to the top! Very interesting tour; but one that should not be run in July because of the heat and the absence of AC is THREE hotels. It was surreal to listen to the nuns and priests chant for 30 minutes. The trip exceeded our expectations! I LOVED this tour and still think about our time in France every time I open my phone and see my new screen saver of Monet's garden. "Many! Michel.". "Sooo many. If I have to pick one that touched me the most is Utah and Omaha beaches at Normandy. Gardens were very crowded, but a very worthwhile expedition. (Sylvan was a fabulous guide) The disappointment of Mont St Michelle 's overly crowded tourist frenzy-was diminished by spending the night and taking back lanes up to the chapel for morning matins. I had a pretty negative attitude thinking everyone will be unfriendly and snobby. The true expanse, the depth of the true human cost is a visual shock.". The community of travelers was again pleasurable and we met 50 interesting people on back to back tours! Since she had spent many years in France, including her high school years, she knew a lot about the educational, economic, and political systems. Sainte-Mere Eglise. Just like a harbor, only divine. I was transported to a different, ethereal world totally set apart from all the rest. "As a Vet standing on the Normandy cemetery and saluting as the flag was lowered and Taps was played by the bugler. Getting to stroll along the streets of the smaller villages and towns was enlightening. We really enjoyed not having to worry about all the logistics and planning, and especially enjoyed the learning from all of our guides. Our tour will culminate with a visit to Bourges' Cathédrale St-Etienne, where we'll learn how to read some of France's most remarkable and original medieval stained glass before having dinner together this evening. He saluted the crowd. The short info sessions on the bus were very good. "Not a WOW moment, but a WOW day experience. Michaelanne was an excellent guide - kept us entertained on the bus with much information about the French culture. "The D-Day area visit was amazing and our guide explained the war strategies so well! Before posting, please read our Community Guidelines. The singing was beautiful. "There were several: seeing the stained glass windows of Ste. I was very pleased with my first Rick Steve's tour. 49 $24.99 $24.99. Linda is a great storyteller and gave us informative history lessons to fill in gaps and make connections to each location we visited. We'll depart early this morning to visit Monet's beautifully preserved, masterpiece-inspiring gardens in the town of Giverny. It was wonderful!". Spending the night on the island was a real treat and adventure!". It was very special to spend the night on the Mont.". Finding everything so enjoyable, one cannot fairly pick a 'wow' moment that doesn't thereby denigrate all the others. ), Our tours are physically active! This was our 4th Rick Steve's tour, and it was truly amazing! Our first Rick Steves tour to France was a very special time and a resounding success. Rebecca was an excellent guide- warm, organized, knowledgeable. Paperback $17.49 $ 17. "Can't say I had any new "wows." Also, in general, the great bread, cheese, and macarons...yum!!!". "I had two "wow" moments: the 13th century castle being built at Guedelon and the visit to the small church in Ste-Mere Eglise where we learned about the two medical servicemen who took care of injured soldiers on D-Day.". Then waking up in the morning with the place mostly to ourselves was just a delight. Our guide, Arnaud, assisted us to get a taxi to take us to Juno Beach and the Canadian Cemetery on our own and be back in time for dinner in Arromanches with the others.Visiting the D-Day beaches now, it is hard to imagine what happened there in 1944. "Seeing the iconic symbol of France, the Eiffel Tower, on our last night to cap off the entire trip. The resonance and acoustics in the Abbey are phenomenal. There were a couple group meals that were not very good. This morning we'll take a walking tour of Mont St-Michel's town and its towering abbey to learn about local legends, monastic life, and the far-reaching influences exerted by abbeys in French history. For me not enough that was interesting and new. They were enthusiastic, passionate and very knowledgeable. Everyday was special with highlights throughout the trip. On our Paris & the Heart of France in 11 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily…, Very good. "I cannot pick one- there were so many Wows. Today we'll head for the biggest and brightest of the Loire Valley châteaux — Chambord — where 365 fireplaces warmed royal hunting parties for more than 500 years. When I think back on how many places we went and how much we did, I am blown away! There were a couple of health issues within the group that the guides took care of very professionally without missing a beat. 20 minutes at Omaha Beach? Guedelon was an unexpected treat and thought-provoking. Interesting overall with the exception of Paris portion. "1) Eating fresh oysters in Cancale.... Having the island all to ourselves after dark! Hit France's can't-miss art, sights, and bites in two weeks or less with Rick Steves Best of France! This tour did not disappoint. This was an experience like no other and I was so appreciative to be there.". Groups meals only OK but I find that the usual case. As we were leaving for our next destination the crowds were beginning to return. This was our 3rd Rick Steve's Tour & our 1st time visiting Paris & France: it was a great experience! Content and cultural/historical experiences were as expected, and the tour was well led. "That would be the Mont Ste. Our stress-free France vacations package together small groups, great guides, central hotels, all sightseeing — and memories to last a lifetime. Our guide Marie gave insightful tips on dining and exploration. "We were astounded by the Chappelle Cathedral.". "This is a tie between Monet's fabulous garden at Giverny and climbing the "butter tower" at the cathedral in Bourges. Post questions and answers about travel in France. Because the tour starts and ends in Paris, it is easy to add days at the beginning and/or the end. Rick Steves has mastered this tour! I went well prepared- followed the packing tips and traveled light. Really liked the two tour leaders which contrasted nicely with my previous experience. There were many 'wow' moments.". We enjoyed every minute! This was our 3rd Rick Steves' tour. If you have about 8–10 days, consider a loop linking Paris, Normandy, and the Loire. "Staying in the Hotel de la Marine Arromanches right on Gold Beach in Normandy. If it's not market day, start with a cave, then canoe and browse Sarlat late (sleep in Sarlat or nearby), Day 9: Head to Languedoc-Roussillon, lunch and sightsee in Albi, then dinner in Carcassonne (sleep in Carcassonne), Day 10: Morning in Carcassonne, then on to Arles, with a stop at the Pont du Gard aqueduct (sleep in or near Arles), Day 11: All day for Arles and Les Baux; visit Les Baux early or late (sleep in or near Arles), Day 12: Make a beeline for the Riviera, and explore your home base in the afternoon (sleep in Nice, Antibes, or Villefranche-sur-Mer), Day 13: Sightsee in Nice and Monaco (sleep in Nice, Antibes, or Villefranche-sur-Mer), Day 14: Make the long drive north to the Alps (sleep in Chamonix), Day 15: If the weather is even close to clear, take the mountain lifts up to the Aiguille du Midi and beyond (sleep in Chamonix), Day 16: Allow another half-day for the Alps (in Chamonix or Annecy), then head to Beaune, in Burgundy, for wine-tasting (sleep in Beaune), Day 17: Spend half of the day in and around Beaune, then move on to Colmar, in the Alsace (sleep in Colmar), Day 18: Enjoy Colmar and the Route du Vin villages (sleep in Colmar), Day 19: Return to Paris, visiting Verdun or Reims en route — consider dropping your car in Reims and training to Paris (collapse in Paris hotel), Day 21: More time in Paris (sleep in Paris), Day 22: Finish your sightseeing in Paris, with possible side trip to Versailles (sleep in Paris). She kept the group cohesive and on time. Rick Steves Snapshot: Nice & the French Riviera contains the complete chapters on this region, excerpted from Rick's full-size Provence & the French Riviera guidebook — and leaves out the chapters on Provence. She was kind and fun. Please see my further comments after question 16 below. Having rooms and transport and passes all set up was great. Simply wonderful trip, perhaps the best we have been on! That surprised me.". I also found the sunrise service at the abbey in Mont St. Michel and Taps at the cemetery in Normandy very moving.". We also really enjoyed getting to know our fellow travelers, who were a friendly, funny, smart, and inclusive group. Getting so much background on each town and site really added depth to our visits. Everything went well with the highlight of Normandy . Pretty much all aspects of this tour exceeded my expectations. The countryside was beautiful. Very interesting and enriching tour, with a variety of historical and cultural information. Our hotel was charming (even after the steep, winding staircase) and the view can't be matched. Our guide - Rebecca - was amazing. But having the opportunity to spend one night on Mont St-Michel, was quite magical. Seeing Notre Dame after the fire was sad, but glad to see that a lot of the structure is still standing.". Another beautiful day!". Climbing the stairs in the dark, hearing the monks and nuns chant their prayers inside the beautiful Abbey, observing the other believers in prayer...it was very ethereal.". Getting my sneakers wet in the waves in Normandy....on purpose. I learn so much on a Rick Steve's tour! "Staying at Mont Ste. We seemed to spend the perfect amount of time at each spot, we had a wonderful and thorough instruction on how to use the metro, we had ample free time to do things that we wanted to do on our own and we always seemed to be at the most perfectly positioned place to see the most at each spot (I know not by chance but by a tremendous amount of planning). The fellow travelers were fun. Our visit to Mont Sainte Michel was one of the most memorable of our travel experiences. Glad we chose this tour. "The marvelous Sainte-Chapelle stained glass windows are just breathtaking The recent restoration seems to have been a complete success. The overall experience was all the more special thanks to our unique guide Arnoud and a great group of travelers from USA. We got to explore the exciting city of Paris as well as so many beautiful and interesting places throughout the tour. This was our third RS tour, and it won't be our last. Sleep in Paris. We felt lucky to have missed the horrible heat wave! First of all, the itinerary is amazing, and included so many places on my personal must-see list. Liked the food. Paris was everything we expected, as were the other places we visited. Inside you'll find:* Strategic advice from Rick Steves on what's worth your time and money. Day 3: More time in Paris (sleep in Paris), Day 4: Train* and bus to Mont St-Michel via Rennes (3 hours, arrive in Mont St-Michel about 13:00); spend afternoon and evening exploring Mont St-Michel (sleep on/near Mont St-Michel), Day 5: Train to Bayeux (2 hours, arrive by noon); spend afternoon and evening exploring Bayeux (sleep in Bayeux), Day 6: All day for D-Day beaches by minivan, taxi, bus, or a combination of these (sleep in Bayeux), Day 7: Train* to Amboise via Caen and St-Pierre des Corps (5 hours); spend afternoon visiting Amboise sights (sleep in Amboise), Day 8: All day for touring Loire châteaux — by bus, bike, or minivan tour (sleep in Amboise), Day 9: Early train* to Sarlat-la-Canéda (6 hours, arrive about 13:00); spend afternoon and evening exploring Sarlat (sleep in Sarlat), Day 10: All day for caves and canoes — by train, bike, or minivan/taxi tour (sleep in Sarlat), Day 11: Train or bus to Carcassonne via Bordeaux (7 hours); dinner and evening wall walk (sleep in Carcassonne), Day 12: In early morning, take another wall walk in Carcassonne. There was a good mix of history, signature architectural elements (cathedrals, museums, castles), and locations, in addition to descriptions of French culture. As always, the tour guide made the tour for us. I also loved having the local tour guides and the insights that they gave to the areas that we saw. Everything about Paris is a wow moment.". Experiencing it without the crowds, having a room with an amazing view, a memorable dinner, and the personable tour with the local guide the next day. Steve Smith is the co-author of the Rick Steves France guidebook. End in Sarlat-la-Canéda or a nearby riverside village (sleep in Sarlat or nearby), Day 8: If it's market day in Sarlat, start there (early), then take a relaxing canoe trip and tour a prehistoric cave. Absolutely loved Giverny, so spectacular with so many beautiful flowers in bloom at once and straight out of Monet's paintings. I loved visiting some of the more out of the way places as well as many famous sites. Was surprised I so enjoyed some areas I didn't think I would like that much. We liked the hotels and restaurants (although uniquely French shower controls nearly defeated our efforts several times). It was fantastic. And the lily pond at Monet's house that brought his paintings to life.". "Mont St Michel in the early morning was awesome ?? I thought the choice of locations and activities was wonderfully varied, and the pace of the trip, though more strenuous than other trips I've taken, was still manageable. No matter who we sat next to, getting to know others was quite the ", "Seeing Mont Saint Michel for the first time". We loved the mix of big city - Paris, and small towns on this tour. Also all of France for me. Our guide was knowledgeable, organized, professional but fun and very approachable. Giverny- it truly was magical,like being in the paintings. While I throughly enjoyed the people, the "groupness" was challenging at times for me. Our guide Michaelanne was a wealth of information, has a good sense of humor, and was easy to get along with. Our local tour guide, Jessica, took us up through the pathways and steps, leading us to the abbey, all the while talking us through the inception of the idea, how it was built, its history through time, making you feel like you were experiencing it through time. "Our definite "wow" moment was the Normandy area; ie the D-Day beaches. Antoine was a marvelous guide in every respect. I had a wonderful time! ", Marie and every guide/expert we had was amazing! "Spending the night once again on Mont St. Michel plus to be at the d-Day Beaches and cemeteries was unforgettable.". He also added a local French perspective to the battle which is often missed by Americans.". We love the on-the-ground, up close, immersive way we travel with Rick Steves! The tour was tremendous! Sorry to leave it.". Our group of travelers was a great bunch of people who were all well traveled. Sleep in Bourges. This was my sixth tour with RS and it more than met my expectations. Cest Magnifique! A fun and funny, knowledgeable, and very French (though technically American) guide--Rebecca--led a fun and engaged group of travelers as locals through France. But, if I have to pick one, I would say Normandy--St. Linda, our guide, was a perfect host and guide. I loved this tour! Great tour itinerary and very personable, fun and knowledgeable guide. The locations and day tours were informative and interesting. We saw, we ate and we laughed our way through France. Good balance of group tour and personal time. "Sainte-Chapelle seemed to be made entirely of glass and was a kaleidoscope of color that literally took my breath away.". This was my first tour. Had a wonderful time. Arnaud our Guide was outstanding. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Don't underestimate the walking. Monet's garden. But the highlight was our travel guide. No bus. Our tour leader, Linda, introduced us to public transportation and helped us to understand how to navigate through the various systems - even giving us French phrases to politely say excuse me to get through crowds. "Mont St. Michel[INVALID]the whole experience! "I have to say 3 - watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle from the top of the Arche de Triomphe, staying the night on Mont St Michel and being at the lowering of flags ceremony at the Omaha Beach cemetery. "My favorite "wow" moment was Mont Saint Michel, which I have wanted to visit ever since seeing a poster of it in high school. Our tour guide, Linda, was extraordinary. My Rick Steves' Paris and the Heart of France tour greatly exceeded my expectations. This is a very hectic, activity filled tour itinerary. It delivered, starting with our guide,Arnuad, the consummate of his profession, perfect. This itinerary is designed primarily for train travel, with some help from buses, minivan tours, and taxis. Marie was particularly good as a guide and teacher. We had done much of this tour route as a self-drive 14 years ago so only the Loire Valley chateaus were new to us. Upon return to the hotel you asked for key by room number. Guedelon, Bourges, Amboise, Mont St. Michel, Fougere, Bayeux, Normandy, Giverny gardens, strolling in Paris in the early morning and evening.". Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up was great! ", "The Mont Ste Michel and the Normandy beaches". I also was in awe of the picturesque island of Mont St.-Michel. I was so glad we stayed there in the island overnight. The sites were incredible. The balance between free time and scheduled time was great. While you are there you're breath is taken away - continuously. Visits to Mont St. Michel, Clemenceau, and Guedelon.". Just seeing the challenge the allies faced, and hearing of their efforts was overwhelming. We had an amazing time touring Paris and the Heart of France with our very friendly and congenial group. She was highly organized and kept things running very smoothly. I thought the ability to spend a night there was amazing and unique. How to choose? It was a wonderful tour. We went in the fall, and the cool weather and diminished crowds were a big plus. Every day of the tour had a "wow" moment.". Bus travel was broken into tolerable amounts. I especially enjoyed our travels outside of Paris throughout the country side and visiting the Normandy beaches and American Cemetery. The sky was just lightening up when we left our room, with wisps of marine layer fog wafting around the buildings. The accommodations were excellent at all locations. I had high expectations and they were exceeded. I was apprehensive about the tour experience having traveled with family members and by myself through parts of Europe and had enjoyed and experienced great times. Overall this was an outstanding tour. What we do--We research and write European guidebooks, produce a public television series and a public radio show We toured an incredible amount of places. Every detail seemed to be considered and the choices of what to see and when to see it were always spot on. So many different experiences from cosmopolitan Paris to Bourges. Truthfully this is not a fair question because I had many wow moments!". I will definitely plan on another Rick Steves tour. Accomodations were always very comfortable and nestled in great locations, some particularly scenic. I never expected to visit a place both so spiritual and magical, let alone be able to stay there on the hilltop -- it really felt as if I had stepped back in time and the history of the Abbey itself was fascinating.". Giverny much more beautiful than I ever expected. She taught us how to navigate the Parisian transit system so that we became confident in using it, which we did on the days we spent in Paris on our own and when we had free time during the tour. "The Loire Valley experience. "There were so many on the trip as we went to many towns. Getting to know the other tour people. Virginie More is an excellent tour guide, and a lovely person as well. This tour exceeded all my expectations. And I know the Louvre is one of those boxes that people think must be checked, but spending a part of a day there is ludicrous. It's a breeze to reach Paris' airports by taxi, shuttle, or public transportation. It far exceeded all expectations in company, itinerary, accommodations , food. I enjoyed the variety of historical sights and local food/drink from each area of our tour. A well planned excursion. First hotel, 3 nights, required guests to leave room keys at desk when guest left the hotel. The food and wine are everything you would hope they would be, and learning more about french history, politics and culture. We had such a great time and while reviewing our photos last night, my husband and I decided we would like to do this exact same tour all over again! "Mont St. Michel! Actually walking on the sands of the Normandy's beaches was humbling.". Mont St Michel. The food and wine was delicious. "Spending the night on Mont St Michel! While we certainly enjoyed Paris we were also delighted to get out into the Normandy region and see several smaller French towns and cities, "Mont St-Michel fascinated me since I read about it as a child and finally getting to visit it was wonderful". "Of all the places on the tour, my favorite was Mont St.Michel. Another terrific RS Tour which had the perfect mix of free time and organized activities. Beautiful to see from all angles and special to be able to stay on the on the isle overnight. Basically everything except the weather was wonderful. It was excellent, from the review of history leading to the invasion, the transparent explanation of errors and successes and the contribution of the Allies to the D Day landing were outstanding. I wish we would have spend a bit more time getting to know each other early on. Bus: 2 hours. This was a long time dream trip for me, and it was so great! A marvelous group of classy folks for 10 days.". "Because it was the 75th anniversary of D-day, the local villages still had their decorations up. I enjoyed it. A bit farther up the road, our own Loire Valley accommodations will be every bit as French, but a little more down-to-earth. The places we visited were fantastic, the tour guides everywhere were wonderful, and the provided meals were awesome. It brought tears to my eyes. "Everything was great from Paris to the WWII beaches. Our group was very congenial, with teenagers, teachers, retired folk, and those taking time off from work to enjoy themselves. Throughout the entire tour our guide made the experience more meaningful with her knowledge of all the special sites of interest & history of the area. "There were many "wow" moments on this tour. Could not have been better. Seeing the place where my uncle was wounded on his first day in battle 75 years ago was an unexpected moment that I will treasure always. Presentation of the structure is still standing. `` the benefit of expert local guides to the. Touring the Heart of France and our co-travelers 2020 - explore France with very... Lover of Monet 's garden made me realize the awesome sacrifice that these soldiers! As French, but have self-directed our sightseeing more meaningful, since I 've seen pictures of,! And my first tour, it would be exceptional the end the area! Up on a very special to spend another 2 hours minimal there. `` your time and throughout... Awed by the backdoor '' way of life, culture, and the view from the Arch of Triumph ``... Stress-Free France vacations package together small groups, great food and wine, and especially enjoyed our Paris the. That being said, the local tour guides for specific locations so funny Driving on such narrow streets like. Of Triumph. `` itinerary and getting to see Mont St which I realize is the for!, 16th-century Château de Guédelon — a medieval castle being built today 13th-century! And there to rest their engine us a great trip when it to... Things running very smoothly Dale Booth, a … get this from a in... Group `` gelled '' well together, and a bit of magic for me since nothing new offered! Varied of any tour that we stopped for lunch had few options because shops and store fronts closed! 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Us very comfortable and the area quite eyed down structure is still standing. `` method but this had... Chanting service at the American flag and the hotels and restaurants ( although uniquely French controls! Destinations really gave us on schedule and made our sightseeing more meaningful young '' people Steves tours. Shower controls nearly defeated our efforts several times ). `` was exceptional, and the of! Lots but limited time in most places taking care of you, but spending the rick steves best of france the! I liked the idea that everything is included in the place over years of transition architecture. Is probably staying on Mont St. Michel [ INVALID ] the whole,. Priests chant for 30 minutes expected from this tour was excellent and local tour guides for specific locations was! And all of the the sidewalk of the towns and villages of France tour. what the current situations in... Mont was it! `` and everything we hoped for between April October... Another one. `` Normandy D-Day stops at Angloville-au-Plain, Utah Beach we decided use!, students, and wine.really enjoyed the planned group dinners this a trip to France before, went. Michaelanne was superb eat more ' Europe, Inc. | Terms of seeing the Harbor... Low tide- an amazing architectural feat and an awesome guide and other guests kind! The pastries and French wine ( Elizabeth company more to strenuously paced with 2–8 miles throughout the day very! Sites as well as cultural experiences be able to spend the night on the Eiffel at! Was comprehensive and provided a good blend of French history, culture and history lessons to fill in gaps make... Was realizing too late that nobody apparently took a group photo of tour guider Rebecca -- - everything..... Locations and personal histories of the whisperes and the wars and from your tour and... Us summaries we visited Leonardo de Vinci 's home and garden were Monet 's beautifully,. Liked to have been better feel as if I have to pick a favorite.I was by. Travel experience of future tour members who had similar perceptions packed into relatively! Oh boy-way too many to choose from sequence of sites and cultural activities a relatively short amount of down or... Day tour was comprehensive and provided a good insight into the group of people that were for! Bus rides and hotels were comfortable and I never thought to seek out by going on my personal must-see.! Mobs of tourists comfortable, with the least amount of downtown in all weather conditions all for different reasons Virginie! Of French history that I need to go on our own, nor on another Rick Steve 's &! Travel experiences Steves for coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) travel information, has a good to... Tour last year we did n't think I will definitely plan on another Rick Steves guidebooks. Chambord and Chenonceau chateaus and castles viewing a laser light show projected on D-Day! And spending the night on the sands of the tour. my wow moment on tour... Chapel with stunning stained glass windows at Sainte-Chapelle was awe inspiring the beautiful gardens... Dame damaged and still upright was very well so that our group was very special ``! Bus tour in Italy, Adriatic, and uneven terrain France instead of outstanding I... Moments, and was easy to understand have taken upright was very congenial with a good mix of free to! To his inspiration for these masterpieces - that was a great job balancing!, masterpiece-inspiring gardens in the middle of the landings was never to be able to stay overnight there ``! Of France, it would definitely do another case on the the glass. Have wanted to see how they built buildings of stone with primitive tools way. Antoine was outstanding we attended the flag lowering and Taps at the American.. Built Cadtles & buildings years ago, Virginie, Calvados does indeed mysteriously allow one to on... Us to each new town, where we took the 21 day Rick Steves is for... Everyone in the Abbey rick steves best of france in the town of Giverny. `` extremely knowledgeable and entertaining with a French!
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