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Eastern France tour vs Loire to the South of France

Hello,
I am very conflicted between these two choices and would appreciate any insights. I have always wanted to see the chateaus of the Loire Valley, but also love the idea of going to Chamonix. It's my understanding that the Eastern France tour has more smaller towns which is also very appealing. And while I'm sure the cave drawings in the Dordogne (in the Loire Valley trip) are interesting, I don't think that's at the top of my list. Either way, I believe I'd stay in Paris a few days prior/after to my trip so wondering if I should take a tour to the Loire Valley then. Thank you for your feedback!

Posted by
15 posts

I don’t think you can go wrong with either one. We went on the Eastern France tour in September and absolutely loved every minute. Chamonix was a definite wow moment with taking a gondola to Italy over the glacier. Spectacular! We loved the small towns and going to the vineyards and wineries. Great group of people and fantastic guide. We spent 5 days prior to the tour in Paris and that was wonderful as well. Good luck!

Posted by
7404 posts

It sounds like you would prefer the Eastern France tour more, plus it’s easy to get to the Loire Valley. I went to some of the area cities in the Loire vicinity and then stayed at Tours, France and took a mini-van tour of some of the chateaus. From Tours to Paris on the train is a direct 1-hour train.

There’s a lot to see in Paris, too. Have a great time!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for your replies.

Jane, I'm curious how much time you spent at wineries and vineyards?

Posted by
15 posts

If I remember correctly, we only spent a couple of hours with the champagne maker in Reims but it was very interesting. Both the castle/winery/vineyard on the Route du Vin and the Côte d’Or winery took several hours and were wonderful. Our favorite wow moment though was at the Mourchon winery on the Côtes du Rhône where we spent about half a day walking through the vineyards, watching the grape harvest, touring the winery to see how the wine is made and then having a magical picnic on the grounds of the winery….with delicious wine to drink of course!

Posted by
276 posts

I also went on the Eastern France tour a couple of years ago and it's one of my favorite trips. The wine tastings were fun, and I learned a great deal from the lessons about the vines, how they are cared for, and the general winemaking process. The time in Chamonix was awesome, there wasn't an excessive amount of time spent on the bus, and the small towns we visited and stayed in were delightful. You could easily do the Loire Valley on your own from Paris - I just got back from the RS Heart of France tour which included a couple of days in the Loire Valley and I actually preferred what we saw on the Eastern France tour instead.

Posted by
2252 posts

I have been on both these tours and while I loved both of them, if I had to choose one over the other to repeat (and I just may do that), it would definitely be the Eastern France tour. I loved Reims and spent a few extra days there before the tour started. It’s an easy train trip from CDG airport in Paris. I also spent a few days after the tour in lovely Aix-en-Provence. For me also the small towns and villages hold a great appeal and then there’s Chamonix. WOW! I have been to France several times both for tours and independent driving trips and this tour covers some of my favorite parts of this wonderful and beautiful country. You should know this tour has been called in the past Villages of France, and also was fondly referred to at times as the “wine tour”. We had in depth visits to three different family owned and run vineyards/wineries, some going back centuries. You will enjoy whichever tour you choose; you can’t go wrong.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for your feedback. I am waitlisted for the Eastern France tour so keeping my fingers crossed! I used to live near Napa and have been to lots of wineries. While I love wine, I am hoping to spend a bit more time in the towns than the vineyards, but a picnic in a beautiful winery is certainly a great way to spend some time. Everything sounds delightful.

Posted by
323 posts

Thank you, this is something I’ve been debating as well and this post is helpful!

Posted by
118 posts

We were on the Loire Valley tour last May; other than some Covid complications, it was a great trip from start to finish.

Having been to France many times, I'd not seen the Loire valley, so it was a treat; in particular, we loved Chartres, had a great day in Sarlat, when we were able to enjoy market day, bought some things to bring home with us, had some excellent meals there. I was least impressed with Carcassone; the castle is filled with cheap tourist shops--nothing worth buying, lots of crowds, basically a huge disappointment for us.

However, we loved going in the cave to see the 10,000-year-old drawings; it was unlike anything we'd ever done before. Pont du Gard was fantastic, and we also were treated to a visit to a limestone cave, where moving images were projected on the walls--a truly magical experience--not normally on the Loire valley tour, but included because we'd had so many disruptions from people having to leave our tour group.

The chateaux were great, the gardens--especially Villandry--a sight to behold.

We've only been to Grenoble in the east so we don't have much to compare with, but the Loire tour is well worth the time and money. Going into the French Alps would be great, perhaps something we do in the future.

Posted by
209 posts

I've taken both, albeit back in 2011 the latter was called Paris to the South of France in 15 days.
Both trips were amazing. I think I bonded more with my guide and tour members on the South of France tour, but just focusing on tour only, I'd take Eastern France, especially now that Marseille has been replaced with Aix. (Nothing wrong with Marseille, it just didn't mix well with the rest of the stops and was kind of an abrupt finale.)

You do see lots of chateaus in the Loire, and Chamonix is also amazing. Both were highlight stops. If you're big highlight is mainly chateaux, it probably wouldn't be too hard to take a separate tour from Paris, whereas some of the Eastern France tours are a little harder to get to on your own.

Posted by
8 posts

I’ve been on both tours and both are terrific in their own way. We just finished the Eastern France tour and it was fabulous but… we didn’t get to go up on the gondola and couldn’t see Mont Blanc until the day we left due to rain and clouds covering the mountains. They wouldn’t even sell tickets for the gondolas because of the weather and those who had pre-booked online went up and saw nothing but fog/clouds on the way up and at the top - total whiteout. So no guarantee that you will go up in the gondola in Chamonix.

Posted by
4 posts

We're thinking of take the Eastern France tour in May 2024. Has anyone taken this tour May? Wondering how the weather would be like.

Posted by
6364 posts

Weda, not May, quite, but very early June of 2019. The weather was great; we had just come off the Paris and Heart of France tour where I had bought a rain jacket. I had no need of it on the Eastern France segment of the trip. Oh, wait; yes, in Chamonix I was glad to have it. It was chilly and rainy on our free day there. Other than that, the weather was very pleasant.

I will say that at least one or two of the hotels had air-conditioning turned on, unnecessarily, in my (very biased) opinion. I don't remember it being hot enough for a/c. I do remember one person on the bus insisted on a/c; several of the rest of us (including the guide!) bundled up in response.

This is a wonderful tour, one I would seriously consider doing again.

Posted by
18 posts

We went on the Eastern France tour and loved everything about it except the number of, and time spent, at wineries. I would have rather spent a lot more time roaming the various villages. Just my opinion. Have fun!

Posted by
848 posts

We did both tours in the years before Covid. They are both unique so it’s hard to prefer one over the other. In particular, Chartres Cathedral and the stain glass windows were incredible as were the Chateaus. I really enjoyed seeing Carcassonne after dark, lit up and the tourists gone. The Roman ruins in Arles and southern France were better preserved than most in Italy. On the BOEF, the champagne cellar was a standout as was Chamonix. We lucked out and the mountain came out from the clouds the next day and we hiked down to the glacier. Lunch under the trees at one of the wineries was quite good and the boat ride on Lake Annecy enjoyable. As I said I don’t know how you say one tour is better than the other….

Posted by
65 posts

Hi, shuff200. I was on the Eastern France tour during end of May and early June 2022. Weather was lovely most of the time. I remember a rainy afternoon in Chamonix and some hot days at the end in Aix (stayed 2 days post tour). I loved the tour, especially the winery visits and picnics at Chateau de Rully in Burgundy and Domaine Mourchon in the Rhone. Magic!