Our accommodations were comfortable and at time luxurious. Rebecca was like having a nice mother along, who took care of you, but encouraged you to grow and spread your wings. It was an experience I'll never forget.". Such beauty was a terrific treat!". Great tour itinerary and very personable, fun and knowledgeable guide. In general, the time available for each activity was enough to breathe it all in, without time to waste in the gift shops! Our guide Patrick really opened up wonderful, bustling Paris to us and made us very comfortable to navigate the transportation system. "Seeing all the Beautiful churches and the elf tower". 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! So much to see, so little time. 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.". I also was in awe of the picturesque island of Mont St.-Michel. We arrived in the afternoon and you could barely walk around because there were so many people. Virginie was a great guide and she did a great job telling us about her country, as well as her time spent in the USA. The places we stopped were varied and interesting. ", "The Mont Ste Michel and the Normandy beaches". (We missed it the last time we were in Paris. Great guide and walking tour guides were so warm and informative. I read about Mont St. Michel in National Geographic Traveler magazine, which rated it a Best of the World site. It was surreal to listen to the nuns and priests chant for 30 minutes. We liked the hotels and restaurants (although uniquely French shower controls nearly defeated our efforts several times). The itinerary was a good mix of the big city (Paris) with the countryside, villages and smaller communities so we had a change to experience France outside of Paris. Åsa Danielsson: Trip Planning. We chose the HOF tour because it visits the places we really wanted to see -- Paris, Loire Valley Chateaux & Mont St Michel for me, and D-Day beaches for my husband. Guedelon was an unexpected treat and thought-provoking. I enjoyed visiting the towns along the route to Normandy. In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's first and last hotels is included in your tour confirmation email, as well as in the Itinerary section of your tour account. This was our first trip to France. And our bus driver, who drove us to so many a incredible places in France, was a special part of the group. I loved this tour! I stood on Normandy beaches where many of my father's generation died for future generations freedom. I enjoyed it. Our Bourges tour guide was superior -I wanted more time We had perfect weather to enjoy Loire castles. The daily tours and logistics were well thought out. ", "Antoine is the best. We slipped in between two torrid heat waves and had wonderful weather the entire trip. Pretty much all aspects of this tour exceeded my expectations. First hotel, 3 nights, required guests to leave room keys at desk when guest left the hotel. We'll also visit the strategic town of Ste-Mère Eglise, the airborne drop site made famous by The Longest Day and Band of Brothers. I was so glad we stayed there in the island overnight. "My favorite "wow" moment was Mont Saint Michel, which I have wanted to visit ever since seeing a poster of it in high school. With Notre Dame being damaged - it was amazing to visit Bourges and see the cathedral there. Michel.". ", Rebbeca Berry was our guide.She was outstanding.very personable,animated, knowledgeable,&obviously loves what she does!She took great care of us.Always making sure we knew what was going on each day.She always had her details down pat.Took us to great restaurants.The other tour guides that joined us were great too. I could have spent many days there.". "Spending the night on Mont Saint-Michele. Your guide will lead a walking tour of the city's early history, including a pair of Europe's most significant medieval Gothic churches — the legendary and resilient Notre-Dame Cathedral and the exquisite Sainte-Chapelle — along with a stroll through the bohemian Latin Quarter. This was our favorite Rick Steves Tour so far. "My favorite site was the castle being constructed using 13th century technology. Couldn't have hopped for more. The tour was great! When it is lighted at night takes your breath away.". "Normandy was huge for me because my dad was a ranger and was there on D Day. Visiting Mont St-Michel, Normandy and Monet's garden were definite highlights of the tour. I tell everyone we are not"Tour people" but Rick Steves'tours has made us devout RS tour travelers.Your tours continue to be magical. The food was also delicious. "Mont St. Michel was a highlight for sure. It is a very spiritual place and spending the night there allowed us to see the Abbey as if we were the only people on the island. It was very emotional, and much of this was due to our tour guide's explanation of the graves and who is buried there. I'm a little slower now but our guide and other guests were kind and supportive, "Probably mon-st-michael. My father flew in the D-Day invasion and that was very touching for me to be able to walk on the beaches and go through the cemetery. I felt like I had been transported back through the centuries.". My husband loved the side walk cafes and village markets . That's how great this tour was! Like Leonardo da Vinci. I can't choose between them: Driving around Paris and seeing the beautiful architecture and landmarks, walking on Omaha and Utah Beaches, seeing Giverny (I'm a gardner), seeing Leonardo Divinvi's home and inventions. More on that below. "I suppose the biggest single WOW moment actually happened on our visit to the Eiffel Tower, which was not on the tour itself, but on the last of our three extra days in Paris. Virginie More is an excellent tour guide, and a lovely person as well. "It's hard to pick, but here are a couple: I love visiting Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Spending a night at Mont St. Michelle was special, but so were Monet's gardens.". I had been to France before, but this tour offered insights and viewpoints which had not been apparent in these previous visits. See more ideas about Explore france, France, Rick steves. Don't underestimate the walking. Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up was great! Thoughtful, insightful, great sense of humor, and intelligent. Guide was good. The whole experience was magical. All the history and character of the island...plus seeing the tides surround the island was amazing. In Paris we learned to master the subway and maximized our time there. ", "Seeing Mont Saint Michel for the first time". Sleep in Paris. The opportunity to stay the night on the Mont St Michel was a unique experience. I really appreciated our tour guide, Julie, and all of her insights and care for us as the tour progressed. That's like trying to learn French in a day. Most importantly, I was simply amazed by the history, beauty and charm of France! "The inspiring and moving visit to World War II museums, beaches, and cemetery in Normandy.". Everything was well organized- sightseeing, transportation, etc. The wonderful colors! For my husband and I this was our 3rd overall Rick Steves tour and 2nd fully guided tour. The trip exceeded our expectations! Be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions. The guides we encountered along the way were also very well informed and outstanding. It far exceeded all expectations in company, itinerary, accommodations , food. I am thrilled by what they are doing there. The guides were top notch experienced and knew their history and gave their tour with personality! However, visiting the D-Day beaches and the American Cemetery was the most moving, emotional experience and the "bucket list" item for me in choosing this trip. I must admit when I shared with my adult children that I was taking this tour their thought was your tours are for older people but I know they would have had a great time with Rebecca. The food and wine are everything you would hope they would be, and learning more about french history, politics and culture. He relieved the real happenings that depicted in the movie " The Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning. "We stayed one night on Mont-Saint-Michel. The community of travelers was again pleasurable and we met 50 interesting people on back to back tours! For us, a mother and teenage daughter taking our first trip to Europe together, the tour was the perfect combination of structure and free time. It was very special to spend the night on the Mont.". A need to rush through the museum at Utah Beach after lunch? Everything about this tour was great. We enjoyed every day. 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. Wow!". Our group was very congenial, with teenagers, teachers, retired folk, and those taking time off from work to enjoy themselves. The tour information helped us to prepare for our trip from tips about what to pack and how to navigate the metro to sights to see during our free time. "I really enjoyed going to Guedelon to see the building of the castle--an unexpected and amazing visit. Guedelon, Chambord, Chenonceau, Mont St-Michel, Learning the whole story of the Battle of Hastings from the tapestry. I enjoyed the independent exploration of the towns and villages of France. We arrived at sites either before or after the big crowds, or just in time for local market day for example. This morning we'll visit the elegant, river-straddling, 16th-century Château de Chenonceau. We loved our guides and their passion for French history and culture. It was a delight having her as our guide on this RS tour.I appreciated the way she treated us as self sufficient thinking people. He provided interesting details about not only the battle but many other historical facts that I hadn't known from reading books and watching documentaries. Gardens were very crowded, but a very worthwhile expedition. Michel and attending the early morning service at the abbey.". This was our first Rick Steves tour and we would definitely do another one. Each town we stayed in was delightful. "This is difficult as there were several "wow" moments. I generally travel independently but have taken several Rick Steves tours over the last 20 years, although not the 21 day tour. I felt we experienced places and activities in greater depth than would be possible on larger tours, never feeling like you are on the " tour" experience. I love the range of sights and experiences. She's the best. ", enjoyed the whole experience very much. We enjoyed the small hotels in the middle of the towns where we stayed. The chateau st Michelle visit was an incredible highlight. Arnaud leads Rick Steves tours in France and offers accommodations and customized cruises on his houseboat located near Paris. "Mont St-Michel is a truly awe-inspiring place. Getting to be in the country side was a treat. The chateaus were gorgeous. While not inexpensive, the tour was an absolute bargain in my opinion. 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). Glad we chose this tour. Some of the hotels were not great. The tour was great. All the local guides are good & know there subject but I especially enjoyed our travels outside of Paris throughout the country side and visiting the Normandy beaches and American Cemetery. Normandy and the American Cemetery were hard to beat. 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. I would say that watching a veteran of the Omaha Beach landing stand from his wheelchair as taps was played at the American Cemetery in Normandy, and assist with the folding of the flag, was an extremely touching moment I will not forget.". My tour experience was exceptional. Hotels,neighborhoods, dinners were excellent. Paris was lovely and the tour gave us a good taste of the city. She was very knowledgeable, well organized and very approachable. If we were to do another RS tour, it would definitely be a MY Way type. My wife travels to see places, I travel to visit friends; this Steves tour was a perfect compromise because we found the people we traveled with to be delightful and the places well chosen. The small group experiences was ideal and every destination was an experience. 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.". She taught us the Metro system in Paris - an amazing experience at rush hour! No matter who we sat next to, getting to know others was quite the By comparison, we took the 21 day Rick Steves Best of Europe trip in 2016. This was quite possibly the best Rick Steves tour I have taken, and It is my 4th. Bonus - the hotel room had a large patio and an awesome view.". A nice balance of cities, museums, countryside, history and culture. Rick Steves France, the complete guide, offers more coverage of more destinations in a mostly black-and-white format, and is updated annually. Our experience with Paris and the Heart of France exceeded all of my expectations, even though they were pretty high to start with! Absolutely amazing to be in such an important place in history. Of course, I can't stop at one - there was the early morning climb to Mont Saint-Michel's abbey to hear the monks and nuns do their morning chants. From the minute I met our group and Chris our tour guide, I knew it would be a great trip. Pocket guides include fold-out city maps. We also found them very engaging and personable!since I am an artist person I have to say visit, "Since I am a retired art teacher and love to garden, I'd have to save Giverny was breathtakingly beautiful and a wow for me! Loved the variety of the city of Paris and each of its areas and the villages outside Paris. I really liked the knowledgeable presentations, sprinkled with personal anecdotes. Standing on and touching the sand and surf of Omaha beach was powerful. She was kind and fun. "There were so many on the trip as we went to many towns. Every place we visited was unique and so very French and authentic, and I appreciated that. We also liked the idea that everything is included in the tour and it is limited in size. She really cared about us. Cary Walker: Trip Planning. Great Guide and a great group of people. This was my first visit to France. It was fabulous. To extend your trip, spend a night in Burgundy (in Beaune) or two nights in the Alsace (in Colmar); each is a 6.5-hour train ride from Chamonix. We could hear the waves crashing on the rocks far below with not another person in sight!". The days were satisfying both for sites visited and the educational aspect. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. And I never would have known about it if it hadn't been for this tour. To be honest though, it was the wine and food.". "Getting to see the Orangerie. Michele. "This tour was filled with so many "wow" moments, and all for different reasons. All of the hotels we stayed at were great and everyone in the small towns were very friendly. But the highlight was our travel guide. The company made every effort to make our experience a good one every step of the way. The second was seeing history relived at the Chateau de Guedelon.". Spending the night on the island was a real treat and adventure!". This itinerary is designed primarily for train travel, with some help from buses, minivan tours, and taxis. Superb trip, excellent accomdoations and delicious food at wonderful restaurtants. It's a different world then. Then, we were privileged to watch an American WWII veteran help fold one of the flags. would and have highly recommend it to my friends, "The whole day we spent at Normandy beach, local towns, and museum.". Seeing that the Notre Dame Cathedral, while burned, was not destroyed was heart-warming. Group was good and friendly and guide was great. He had come ashore D Day. I interpreted this to mean a guided tour. I wouldn't change a thing. The tour included so many beautiful places, it's hard to remember them all. We saw so many things: chateaux, castles, the Louvre, Muse d'Orsey, a market in Bourges, a winery in a chateau, the making of a castle. [Rick Steves; Steve Smith] -- Hit France's can't-miss art, sights, and bites in two weeks or less with Rick Steves Best of France! Amazing day. 2) Being physically present at Utah Beach, Point du Hoc, Omaha Beach and learning about the U.S. and allies war strategies to turn the war toward our victory.". The books have guided me through many places and saved me a lot of time and money. Loved what we learned about the culture and history, the places we traveled and experiences we had, the hotels where we stayed (great staffs--very friendly, fun and helpful! A local D-day expert guide met us at our hotel in the morning and spent the entire day with us. Wish we could have spent more time there. Our guide was excellent, our tour group was excellent, the hotels -- excepting Amboise --were excellent. As always, a great experience on all levels. While this trip is doable in 22 days, most will appreciate adding an extra day here and there to rest their engine. She was highly organized and kept things running very smoothly. The itinerary was packed but very interesting and fun.I thought maybe one less chateau but my husband and sister totally disagreed.After Paris the Loire Valley was wonderful.Normandy had a special significance for us since our father was a Ranger who landed at Pointe du Hoc. The cities we stayed in and even the stops were all gems. Good narrative and background, but a little too much pressure to "go, go", a little shy on time to digest. Or do a one-way trip, such as flying into Nice and out of Paris, seeing the Riviera, Provence, the Alps, and Burgundy along the way. Views from our special rooms. All of our "boxes" were checked with this one.". The balance of tour time & free time was perfect. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves France guidebook. Veronique was the same- no matter what questions we had, they both had answers. "Chenonceau was absolutely breathtaking. My Rick Steves' Paris and the Heart of France tour greatly exceeded my expectations. It takes 11 days of train travel to do this trip (also consider the cheaper Ouibus and Flixbus for some trips). From the wines and cheeses to the chateaus and castles. I've found the tours to be very well done. Getting to spend the night there was a magical experience that I will never forget.". I learned so much French history and culture as well. The tour bus was very comfortable and our driver helpful. The itinerary provided such a wide range of experiences from the iconic sites and art of Paris, thru medieval castle construction, opulent chateaus, solemn Normandy, and witnessing a prayer vigil on Mont St. Michel, before returning to Paris through the outdoor splendor of Giverny. We were determined to know everyone...and we did! As we walked toward the island, I was in awe. This was a very interesting, well planned trip with a good mix of daily activities. Another WOW was the morning service at the Cathedral on Mont St. Michel with the monks and nuns. The Heart of France Tour was extremely well led by Rebecca and Veronique. I enjoyed the exquisite food. "My father, a WWII vet who flew 2 missions to Normandy on D Day had died 4 months before our trip. Also all of France for me. As a solo traveler I did not appreciate everyone on bus knowing this information. The sun was just coming up over the horizon lighting the sky in pinks and yellows. Being wakened by a flock of seagulls! The whole tour of Normandy was awesome!". The over-night stop in St. Michel and visit to the abbey are not to be missed. From the Paris neighborhoods and museums, to the chateaux of the Loire Valley, to spectacular Mont St. Michel, to powerful walks on Normandy beaches, to the beauty of Monet's garden, this tour was an amazing experience. I also appreciated the competence of our group leader, (who happened to be Minnesota nice), and even the bus driver was charming. It was fun, educational and inspirational. For me not enough that was interesting and new. Loved the tour and overall balance of tour vs free time. Two-day museum passes and several metro tickets made it possible to see more without additional expense. Exceeded expectations. She is kind, fun, worldly and exerted the right amount of guidance and control. This tour was exactly the opposite and everything we hoped for. Staying overnight on the Mont was amazing. Travelers with a little more time could add Burgundy and/or the Alps, which are about halfway between Paris and Provence and easy to explore by car or train. Having never been on a RS tour I didn't know what to expect. We saw a lot of sites that I would have never thought to seek out by going on my own. I have taken this tour once before. The people, the sights, the food and our guide all combined to make this a trip to remember. He gave us an appreciation for the French People and how they think. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up several flights of stairs to reach your room. It made me realize the awesome sacrifice that these young soldiers made for our freedom.". Hearing the priests and nuns singing Gregorian chants in French was an experience we will never forget.". Hotels were decent and well-located. Same tour 20 years, i.e end your tour, good leader and lots of moving around a... Destination the crowds were a lot in a fairy tale city another 2 hours there! Showing you around and challenged us are things that I cried plan for many more `` ''. 75Th anniversary, which it does for five minutes on the bus '' contingent, sharing,... The city of Paris and out of the picturesque island of Mont-Saint-Michel safety. 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