My husband and I were celebrating our 15 year wedding anniversary with a trip to Paris and decided that we would like to make a day trip to the Loire Valley. We researched online and found excellent reviews for Loire Valley Time Travel. The reviews did not disappoint.....our day out with Susan and Simon was absolutely wonderful!
The first class service started from the time we booked our tour (about a month in advance) with Susan & Simon sending detailed instructions on how to catch the TGV from Paris and which tickets to book for specific times; it made the train process a breeze!
When we departed from the train, Susan was right there to greet us & took us to meet Simon and Celestine (the beautiful French car) to begin our tour. We started with scenic drive through the Loire Valley to Chateau de Chononceau; both Simon and Susan instantly made us feel at "home" and comfortable in our travels. We pulled up to Chenonceau and it was just so beautiful and peaceful; the gardens were amazing & the chateau just made my jaw drop with it draping itself across the river. Susan provided us with a wealth of information on the history, the women & the lives they lead at Chenonceau, the art/architecture of the chateau, as well as insight into what is required to properly maintain a "home" of this size and age. She was also a walking book of knowledge on the flora and fauna around the chateau! It really was a special treat to have our own personal tour guide who had so much information to share......I felt sorry for the large tour groups who were not getting all of the individual attention that we were receiving!:) From Chenonceau, we drove to a local town restaurant. Susan and Simon called it a French "truck stop", but it is nothing like the truck stops we have in the US. The restaurant was filled with working French folk & the food was so fresh & delicious! We felt that we truly had a "real" french restaurant experience (with the much appreciated translation through Susan and Simon)!:)
After Chenonceau, we took a beautiful tour of the Loire Valley country side......nothing but miles and miles of rolling hills with wheat, barley, and canola plant growing; we had never seen anything like this and it was breathtaking! We stopped and visited a medieval dolman grave that was out in the middle of the fields. My husband thoroughly enjoyed this stop as he loves medieval history!
Next, was a visit to Montpoupon which is essentially a huge chateau that is a families "hunting lodge". Not your typical hunting lodge as it is so elegant & filled with history on horses, hunting, and hunting dogs. Interestingly, the family who owns it still lives in a part of the chateau! Once again, Susan provided a wealth of information and loved that we were able to tour the chateau at our own pace & ask questions of Susan whenever we had them (& she always had the answers!).
Next, was a drive to Vouvrey to the Gaudrelle Winery. We were able to get a tour from Alexandre the owner/grower of the winery & the tour was amazing! We learned so much about the steps to making wine and now have a much greater appreciation for the precision that is required in achieving a high quality wine. We were also able to take a tour of the where the wine was stored (in a cave like area built into the side of a mountain); it was remarkable to see 130,000 bottles of wine all stored for a minimum of 2 years! Next was a wine tasting which I was a bit dubious about as I appreciate wine, but do not typically enjoy the taste. Well, Alexandre found a wine that I absolutely fell in love with and am now awaiting a shipment from the winery to our home in the US! :) My husband was happy as he has tried to get me to like so many different bottles of wine & I have not like a single one......until this wine!
We really did have an amazing day out with Susan and Simon and we would HIGHLY recommend this tour. It is a bit pricier than some other tours, but no where else will you get the warmth, enthusiasm, knowledge, & personal treatment that you do through this tour! Plus, you can't beat riding around in beautiful Celestine with Simon's "masterful" handling. :)
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