Tour Report: Loire to the South of France, May 1 – 13, 2022
I'm going to follow the same format I used for my 2019 France tours. The first installment will be a general overview, while later installments will get more specific, probably going day by day.
Our guide was Arnaud Servignat. He has been a guide for RSE for years, and leads a number of tours in France. Our bus driver was Philippe, also French, who had worked with Arnaud before. This was the first South of France tour to run since 2019, and it showed, with a few hiccoughs and rough spots. It is a good tour, and we enjoyed it. This was our 15th RSE tour.
The tour members: Our group consisted of 26 people, mostly retired, mostly couples. There were 11 couples, and four single women, two of whom were traveling together. The age range was from the mid 40s or so to 80. Most people were probably in their 60s. Stan and I were not the oldest, but we took second place!
Over half the people were educators, attorneys, or CPAs, but we also had one dentist, several IT people, and a few who said they worked “in finance.” Two couples had never been on a Rick Steves tour; everyone else was an enthusiastic veteran.
We were delighted to discover that we knew one of the other couples, who had been on our Eastern France tour in 2019. The husband had been my “buddy” on that tour, and he claimed me again this time.
Packing: Stan and I each took an Appenzell backpack (23L) and one personal item. My personal item was a smallish cross-body bag I got as a premium for renewing our Sierra Club membership. Stan carries an older laptop bag, without the laptop. His Appenzell and laptop case each weighed in at 10 pounds. My Appenzell was 11 pounds, and my shoulder bag was 6.
Here's what I packed:
• 3 pairs of slacks, including one very light, loosely cut linen blend, and 2 heavier cotton blend pants, one black, one light beige.
• 6 tops, 4 long sleeved, one of which I only wore once, and two short sleeved. One top was very heavy, the others were more lightweight. Mixed colors, but all went with my neutral pants.
• one cardigan
• one very light jacket
• one windbreaker
• 2 bras
• 3 pairs of underpants
• 4 pairs of socks, 2 white, 2 black
• 2 pairs of shoes
• 1 set of “comfy clothes,” including a tee shirt and a pair of light jersey pants. These were my sleep clothes, as well as my lounging-around-the-room clothes.
• 1 hat – a straw fedora I bought in Paris the week before the tour began.
Also in my bags were toiletries for both of us, our 3-1-1 bag, my supplements, useful odds and ends such as tweezers and a tiny sewing kit, my journal, and all the paperwork we would need. I also had a tablet and, for the first time, a cell phone. I missed my bluetooth keyboard for my tablet, but several of the keys (like a, m, n, r, and s) had quit working, and evidently cannot be repaired. I found this out too late to replace it.
Stan carried all his clothes: 3 pairs of slacks (one dark, 2 light,) 4 shirts (3 short sleeved, 1 long,) 2 knit shirts which he wore when he needed an extra layer or as his sleep shirt, 2 pairs of shoes, undies, socks, comfy lounge pants, a jacket, his supplements, plus the maps and guidebooks. He also brought one cap. He bought 2 more caps in Europe, but one of them was inadvertently left on the plane on the way home.
Hotels: I had promised myself I would pay closer attention to the hotels this time, since that's what most people ask about. I did make a few notes, but not as detailed as I had planned.
For the most part, the hotels were typical RS hotels: small, centrally located, quirkily laid out, with a wide range of room sizes and amenities. The exceptions, as usual, were the first and last hotels, which were business class. All were acceptable, and all served a good breakfast, some better than others, of course.
Oops, out of room. And time, for now. More later.