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Loire to the South of France in 13 Days Tour in 2022!

Who else has paid their deposit for this tour in 2022? I'll be in the Sept 25th-Oct 7th group! This will be my 2nd RS tour (first one was GAS in 2019).

I know it's far away, but I'm so excited! Would have loved to go this fall (2021), but I'd rather things be back to "normal" and not have to worry about closures. Looking forward to exploring more of France since I've only been to Paris!

Are you booked for this tour or have you done this tour previously? Any pointers?

Posted by
1671 posts

I am booked but not confirmed Sept 11-23. So trying to control my anxiety. This will be my 2nd RS tour, previous was South of Italy in 2019. Hoping I’ll be confirmed soon.

Posted by
206 posts

From what I've read, unless you're on a waitlist, if you've already paid your deposit, you should be fine. But yes, much like a job offer, always good to have it in writing!

From a recent email from the RS office:
"With so many travelers signing up all at once, you can imagine we are quite busy confirming everyone. Please be confident that if you signed up, you are on board, and we will be in touch in the next few days with your confirmation. Our systems are working wonderfully and it is all-hands-on-deck here at Rick Steves’ Europe to ensure that each and every traveler is being taken care of."

Posted by
153 posts

Fabulous tour with such tremendous variety in sights and activities. We chose to spend 2 nights in Paris prior to tour start and stayed in the 14th with nearby access to Gare Montparnasse for the easy train ride to Chartres. Hotel Mistral on rue Cels was charming, well run and freshly updated and super clean. In the vicinity is a market street, rue Daguerre, which has plenty to offer. The Catacombs are easy to get to and we made a point of taking in the flea market at Porte de Vanves. On the tour we chose to pay the additional cost to visit da Vinci's last home at Chateau du Clos Luce and did not regret it though I heard other tour members say they didn't enjoy it as much without a guide providing expert commentary. Even if not big into shopping, the Saturday market in Sarlat is a wonder and has lots to offer. Canoeing on the Dordogne River was great and was enjoyed by everyone including the older folks (80+!). We also had extra time after tour end to spend in Nice and surrounding French Riviera spots. AH-mazing views and gorgeous geography. France is incredibly diverse and this tour offers many parts that will simply astonish you. Hope you have a wonderful time.

Posted by
2418 posts

I'm excited for you. This was our first and only RS tour so far. The train station in Paris to get you to Chartres is large. Give yourself extra time to figure out wear to buy your tickets and find your train.

Consider the Lascaux Caves while in Dordogne region. Our guide Virginie arranged a ride and tickets after a group of us expressed a desire to go.

You can have Carcassonne to yourself later evening or early morning.

We had a free afternoon in Arles and took a 30 minute train to Avignon to see Palais de Papes.

Best lasagna I ever had was at Lu Fran Calen in Nice. We went there a day after the tour ended.

Posted by
3467 posts

This tour was at the top of our favorite RS Tours. We took the tour in Sept. 2013. I can't believe it's been that long ago! We chose to spend 5 nights in Paris prior to the tour. It was enough time to get over jet lag before heading to Chartres. At the end of the tour we stayed an extra couple nights in Nice to visit the Matisse and Chagall museums. On our last day eight of our tour group took the bus to Monaco for a walking tour and a celebratory lunch. We are still in contact with several of our tour friends.

As mentioned up thread the Saturday Market in Sarlat was the best Market we had ever experienced. Canoeing on the Dordogne River was another amazing highlight. So many photo opportunities on this tour. The biggest surprise was a visit to the Camargue to see the wild horses and pink Flamingos. We spent 2 nights in Chartres and enjoyed the incredible light show on the facade of the Cathedral. Special thanks to our guide Toni Seymour who made every stop extra special.

You are in for the treat of your life. À vôtre santé!

Great trip report:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/tour-review-loire-valley-south-of-france-may-6-may-18th-2018

Posted by
306 posts

Exciting!! I booked my mom and me for one of the June departures after we noticed it was filling fast, so hopefully we will get the confirmation soon! My mom has been on a few tours but this will be my first one, though I’ve traveled in Europe a few times before.

Tours were filling up so quickly that we decided to go for it!

Posted by
87 posts

Am confirmed on this tour starting May 29 with wife and friend. This will be our 6th RS tour and 2nd in France. We are also doing Best of Paris beginning June 12. Starting pre tours diet soon.

Posted by
206 posts

Everyone, thanks for the tips and links to tour recaps, super helpful! Keep them coming!

I haven't seen info about hotels on this tour, of course things may be different for next year due to the pandemic. For those who have done the tour in the past, what have been the best and worst hotels? I would especially love to hear from people who had single, private rooms like I will.

Also can't wait to meet folks scheduled for my tour!

Posted by
2418 posts

My two favourite hotels were Hotel Montmercy in Carcassonne and Hotel Calendal in Arles.

https://www.hotelmontmorency.com/en/3-star-spa-hotel-carcassonne
Right across the street from the Carcassonne walls. Most memorable because our room was bright pink and orange. Somehow it worked. When you get there, say hello to Elliot the hotel basset hound. It took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to use the shower, but that's just one of the unique memories of being away from home.

https://www.lecalendal.com/en/home
You can make your own freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning. it's quote a hike from where the bus drops you off and the stairway is quite unique. we climbed a set of stairs to get to our room, made a sharp right, went down 3 steps then up 3 steps to get to our room. Heavy packers be warned.

The only hotel that there were numerous complaints about among our group was hotel Stint-Albert in Sarlat. Bets way to describe it was 'good enough'. But rooms were a bit dingy and the owner wasn't all that friendly. Many complained in our group because he kicked everyone out of the bar at 7:00 on a Friday night because he wanted to go home. Our guide had said this wasn't the usual hotel for the tour, but the other was being renovated.

All 3 hotels were in great locations.

Posted by
3467 posts

As mentioned by Allan we stayed at the same hotels In Carcassonne and Arles. Agree, both were excellent hotels. As far as Sarlat we stayed at Hôtel Montaigne. Great location, delicious breakfast offerings, and a short walk to the Saturday Market. They have a lovely sunroom to relax after a day of sightseeing. hotelmontaigne.fr

Posted by
206 posts

Getting very excited about the food on this particular tour! What stood out to the folks who have done the store before, especially in the way of cheese and wine?

Posted by
2418 posts

I'm racking my brain and I can't recall any cheese memories on the tour. There must have been, but I'm drawing a blank. As for wine, there was plenty of it, but I don't drink wine and so I didn't have any. I remember there was a wine tasting one afternoon in Chinon that others took part in. We also stopped at a small family winery on our way to Nice for lunch and tour/tasting. I sat through it but didn't take part in the wine tasting. Honestly, looking back on my review that I filled out, I gave my lowest marks to the food on the tour. But that was me. I know others enjoyed it, but I found French food consistently very bland.

Posted by
341 posts

did this tour a few years ago and it was great! Great food, a mix of interesting chateau and towns, the canoe trip, the caves with prehistoric paintings, Pont du Gard, and much more.

However there are a few things I wish I had planned out before the trip. RS tours don't rush you around constantly but give you chunks of free time. I think it's a good idea to plan something the Sarlat market day. It is a great market but even walking slowly and looking at everything (in France look, don't touch!) I still had most of the day left. In retrospect I wish I had either planned for a train trip out of town or to rent a car to visit another one of the prehistoric caves in the area.

Another day to make afternoon plans for is the very first full day of the tour. All the Loire tours start with Sunday meetup and dinner, probably so they end up in Sarlat on market day. The problem is many smaller French towns are closed up on Monday and Chartres is no exception. You'll do the Cathedral tour Monday morning and then it's on your own, but most of the shops and many restaurants will be closed. If I was doing it again I'd look up in advance train schedules to nearby cities such as Le Mans, or perhaps the bus schedule to Orleans and plan a daytrip

Posted by
206 posts

Thank you for the tips, especially about the market and closures. I plan to arrive the day before the tour like I did with Germany Austria Switzerland. Gives me a chance to settle in, adjust to the time change, and do my own thing before meeting up with the group.

One thing I wish our last tour guide would have done is provided details about where to do your laundry. He just assumed everyone could do it in their sinks, but that wasn't always an option because some sinks were very small and shallow (especially the single rooms!). This time I will proactively ask! Thankfully I brought my Scrubba bag, but would have preferred to use a washer so that water could be extracted and clothes could dry faster when hung up. That's critical since we don't usually stay in any one hotel for more than two nights. Nobody wants to pack wet clothes or wear dirty ones!

Posted by
2418 posts

One thing I wish our last tour guide would have done is provided
details about where to do your laundry.

There were a couple of hotels where the guide had let us know of a laundry service. I think it was 10 Euros for a bag of laundry. We left it at the front desk at it reappeared in our room the next day. I believe the Arles hotel was one of them.

Posted by
206 posts

As convenient as that is, I don't want a stranger handling my clothes. Ew. :)

Posted by
3467 posts

Jill, to the best of my recollection I believe we did some laundry in Sarlat. It was a coin operated laundromat in walking distance from the hotel I mentioned up thread. We had some free time in the am and a number of us did a load of laundry. It worked out well. Not sure if this is mentioned in RS Guide. I am unable to access that now since we are currently traveling.

Posted by
1671 posts

I’m confirmed for 9/11-9/23 as of this morning Yeh yay!!

Thanks all for the hints about planning out free time. I didn’t do a good job of that on my last tour—lesson learned. I’m going to Chartes the day before the tour after 4 days in Paris and 4 days in London. That’s my plan as of today.
Jill, I understand what you mean about someone doing my laundry. It isn’t so much the “ew” factor than if I ruin clothes it’s my fault but if someone else does I’m not happy. Sink washing will work and if the sunk’s too small the shower will work.

Posted by
206 posts

@horsewoofie, check out the Scrubba bag on Amazon. It's a great wash bag that folds up easily, and you can also buy detergent sheets in lieu of liquid or powder detergent, which can be a pain to lug from city to city and messy. Tide travel packets are also good. Agree with you on the worry about people ruining my clothes, considering I wash most everything in cold and hang dry. I would hate for my things to end up in the dryer and shrunk down to child size during my trip! Lol

Posted by
306 posts

Thank you everyone for everyone for sharing your tips. Allan, thanks for the trip recaps. I enjoyed reading them all and found them to be very informative. I am hoping to be confirmed for my tour soon! I don’t think I’ll have many extra days to tack on hoping for a day or two in Paris.

Posted by
306 posts

We are officially confirmed for our tour now! I’m relieved to have our date locked in and excited to start planning.

Posted by
206 posts

Me too!! Got my confirmation a few days ago and was very relieved.

Posted by
8 posts

I am also confirmed for this tour! I'll be on the tour starting Sep 4, 2022. Very excited as well! I'll be adding on the RS Paris tour at the end of Loire. Thank you all for great tips!

Posted by
5151 posts

Anyone else going in the spring? PM me if you don't want to post your dates in public.

Posted by
1781 posts

Hi Jill, we did this tour a few years ago and it was one of our favorites! Just confirming that there is a laundry in Sarlat, they’ll do it or you can do it yourself.

We loved Sarlat and the market was the best we’ve seen in any town in Europe. We spent several hours walking around the market then wandered around taking photos of the charming old buildings. Our guide arranged an optional evening activity (it was a free day) involving outdoor games and snacks. Everybody showed up. We also had an assignment to purchase picnic supplies for the canal boat ride the next day. We bought duck sausage, cheese, fruit and wine (our guide brought fresh bread for everyone the next morning). The hotel refrigerated everything for us. We loved Sarlat, you don’t need an ‘escape’ plan!