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Best of Eastern France or Loire to the South of France

If you were going to take only one tour of France, which of these two would your select? I have not been to France and still need to see Paris sometime, maybe (?). France seems to be a lower priority to me. Thanks for your advice.

Posted by
6337 posts

I love France and they both have wonderful itineraries. Having been to most of the places on both tours, I might lean toward the Loire to the South of France but that's just a personal choice. It really depends on what your interests are and what you like to see and do on a trip. What about the itineraries sound of interest to you, do some research and make your decision on that. It may also depend on when (what time of year) you would be going, although weather may be quite similar between them except the section of the Eastern France tour from Reims to Colmar - that may be a bit cooler and wetter depending on when you go. Either way, I would go over a few days early and spend them in Paris before meeting up with the tour. I wouldn't pass up that chance to see Paris at the same time.

Posted by
853 posts

Two years ago we did the Eastern France tour and really enjoyed it. In October, 2016 we did the Loire
trip. Both of our guides were excellent. For me, the Loire trip had a couple of highlights that were very different. Hubby and I particularly enjoyed the cave with the prehistoric paintings on the ceiling. Not many places where you can see that! The food on both trips was particularly good. No matter which one you choose, I think you will have a great time. Please let us know what you have decided and what you thought of your trip!
Have a great time!

Posted by
134 posts

Hello Tim,
We have taken both tours and would highly recommend either. We have posted scrapbooks of both tours (Loire 2013) and (Eastern France 2014) on Rick's website under Theresa and William Barr. They might be helpful for you to get a better idea of what you will see. I think I would lean a bit toward Eastern France because you get to see the fabulous Alps at Chamonix. But whichever one you choose, it will be a marvelous experience and I would also recommend that you spend a few days before the tour in Paris. By the way, we took the Paris Tour in 2012 and posted a scrapbook for it too, if you would be interested in looking at it.
Teri

Posted by
4601 posts

We're not helping you at all, are we? ;-)

We were planning to take one of these trips in 2016, and kept going back and forth, forth and back - trying to decide which one we'd take. Well, RS unveiled the new Villages of South England tour, and one look at the itinerary sent me and my DH both back to the drawing board.

So these trips are still in our future (someday; we already have plans for 2017 and 2018!), but I don't see how you can go wrong with either one. BTW, we have done the Paris in 7 Days tour, and recommend it highly. We have also heard great things about the Paris and the Heart of France tour, which might be better for you. It's on our "someday" list, as well.

Have fun planning and deciding.

Posted by
1584 posts

I just watched the live presentation of Test Drive a Tour for the Heart of France. And, we're signed up for the Eastern France this summer. Since this is your first trip, I'm going to vote for the Heart of France. it gives you time in Paris and then hits most of the best-loved sites in France. I know they don't always use the same hotels or guides, but the Bayeux section used a hotel and guide that we used independently and LOVED. It also takes you to Bourges, which you should definitely look up -fascinating place.

Can't go wrong with either

Posted by
290 posts

Tim C,
My husband and I were in the same dilemma. France was further down our bucket list of European destinations. (We had to vist Italy, England and Germany, Austria, and Switzerland first). There were parts of all of the France tours that we wanted to see. This September we are taking the Eastern France tour, but we are adding the 7 day Paris tour the week before we head to Reims. I think the one thing that drew us to the Eastern France tour was the stop in Chamonix. We love the mountains and had a little visit to them on 2 of the other tours. (Dolomites in Italy, alps on the GAS tour). The cave paintings and all the neat castles of the Loire valley really interest me, but they'll have to wait for another trip. You have to examine what appeals to you... Roman artifacts, castles, cathedrals, art, history, food, wine, mountains, fields, lakes, rivers, big cities, little towns. We're getting a mix of almost all of these with the two tours we've lined up. Whatever you decide...you'll have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
1616 posts

Hi Tim, we've done both of these tours and honestly, you can go wrong with either one. Both tours focus on good food and good wine.

Loire to the South of France (May 2014) - highlights for us were Chartres (cathedral), Sarlat (market day), and Carcassonne (we had the place to ourselves after dark and it was magical).

Eastern France (Sep 2015) - offers a varied itinerary. We enjoyed walking around Beaune (Hotel Dieu and market day). Our free day in Chamonix was amazing. We went to the top of the Aiguille du Midi then took the train to Montenvers to see the ice cave carved out of a glacier. Vaison-la-Romaine had lots of Roman history and beautiful warm (hot) weather.

I also did Paris and the Heart of France in May 2009 and enjoyed that one too. Tough decision!

Plan to spend at least a few days in Paris before the start of whatever tour you choose. Hope you have a great time.

Posted by
375 posts

Hi Tim, I've done both of these and enjoyed both of them. However, if I were to choose one, it would be the Eastern France tour. You said you like wine and food and though the food is great on both, it is France after all, I enjoyed the regions and their cuisine on the Eastern France tour. The Alsace and its food and wine, then Burgundy and the picnic and wine at the chateau, the French alps with raclette and fondue, then the winery tour and lunch in Provence and ending at the southern shore. Wow every day.

And, of course, the scenery in each of these regions, the history, lots of bus riding - but that's a good thing because you see so much of the country. Hiking in the French Alps or just taking the gondola up to view Mt. Blanc. The lifestyle in the south of France. Ahh. You cannot go wrong on this tour!

(I do have to say that for the Loire to the South we had lots of rain and overcast weather, so that may temper my view. The chateaux are lovely and the gardens, the Dordogne and cave paintings very interesting, Sarlat and Carcassone - good sights, Arles and the mistral a good experience. So this is a varied tour also. But I LOVED the Eastern France tour.)

Good luck deciding! And enjoy all the planning.

Posted by
41 posts

I think part of it is that both myself and my wife are not wine drinkers. I am a beer drinker. I really liked Italy but not really for the wine. Still working so doubling up on tours is not yet an option. Maybe we will do something in France on a river cruise. Our neighbors keep asking us to join them on one. Appreciate all the responses, the RS crowd is the BEST!

Posted by
168 posts

You will not go wrong with either tour. Being retired, my hubby and I are able to take longer trips. In September, 2014, we spent the month in France, participating in both the Loire and Eastern France tours. We spent the weekend between the tours in Nice and trained over to Monaco for the day. Too touristy but now we can say we have been there. We flew from Nice back to Paris and trained to Reims to join the Eastern France tour. We thoroughly enjoyed both. Eastern France has more emphasis on the wine growing regions, quite naturally . Both guides were excellent. September weather was gorgeous, still warm enough for lighter clothing but very pleasant. We visited market days, cave drawings, canoed on the Dordogne, walked in the vineyards of several wineries, fabulous meals of regional specialities paired with wines, watched the grapes being harvested and pressed, and on and on! Very active tours as you would expect. Oh, did I mention the wonderful picnics? Once we passed a souvenir stand with a placemat with a map of France designating the different regions. I was pleasantly surprised how many we visited in our month long France adventure! Keep on traveling!!

Posted by
375 posts

There is a scrapbook for the Loire to the South of France. (Look under "Our Tours" and then "Scrapbook Contest". It's great and really shows what that tour is about.

Posted by
174 posts

I've taken both tours and have scrapbooks up for each (Loire - 2011 and Eastern - 2014).

If you like a mix of cities and smaller towns, choose the Loire. If you like villages with an emphasis on wine, choose Eastern. Personally I'd take the Eastern tour and visit Paris on your own prior to the 45-min train to Reims where it starts. You'll really feel like you're in France, and now that it ends in Aix instead of gritty Marseille, even better.

When I took the Loire tour, it was 15 days and called Paris to the South of France, so it had a slightly different itinerary which I'm not as fond of now.