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Loire to the South of France tour - May 6, 2018

We just signed up for the Loire to the South of France tour leaving on May 6, 2018. This will be our fifth RS tour. I would be interested in hearing from others who have been on the tour or are signed up for this tour. We are thinking about spending some time in Paris before the tour and staying an extra day in Nice at the end of the tour. We have been to Paris (on the RS city tour) before, but are looking forward to a second visit.

Interesting note: When I paid our deposit on Thursday 9/21 the tour was available for sign-up. The tour is now (Saturday 9/23) on waitlist status.

Posted by
18897 posts

There are a lot of museums, especially art museums, in Nice, plus many others that can be reached on day-trips from a base in Nice. If you happen to be lovers of art, especially 20th century art, I think you'd appreciate having more than one extra day in the area. There are also lots of fabulous gardens. The ones that come immediately to mind are the Villa Ephrussi on Cap Ferrat and two larger gardens in Menton over near the Italian border.

Posted by
853 posts

We did this tour in Oct, 2016. We did fly into Paris for 2 nights before taking the train to Chartres to start the tour. We had been to Paris before on the RS week in Paris tour so we just wanted to recuperate and get over the jet lag. We did enjoy some sights there that we had not seen and got to Chartres refreshed.

We enjoyed the tour a lot. There were some highlights that influenced us to choose this tour, it was our 6th with Rick Steves. We were in the Loire during what was described as duck season, and I love duck. The food on this tour was great! We didn't stay extra in Nice as we had been there before with extra time. We flew directly to Rome, spent 2 nights in an apartment and then moved to the RS hotel for 7 days in Rome tour.
We had been to Rome before also, but wanted to tour it with their local guides and spend extra time there.

You'll have a Great Time!

Posted by
2466 posts

This is a great tour. We had a terrific trip despite an inordinate amount of rain. We too spent several days in Paris. What better place to shake the jet lag and revisit favorite haunts. The food on this tour was very good. Do some research on restaurants for your nights on your own-this will pay dividends. In Nice we enjoyed the Chagall Museum. In retrospect another day or two in Nice would have been nice, but we had other plans. We rented a car and drove to Lourmarin where we had rented an apartment through VRBO. We spent a week visiting small villages in Provence, tasting wines, visiting markets, long afternoons at cafes. This was a splendid week and a great way to cap off this tour.

Posted by
1017 posts

Thanks to all for your helpful responses. We do enjoy art, so we will keep in mind the suggestion to spend more time in Nice. We have been to the major art museums in Paris except for the Marmottan. I notice that the Air France bus runs from CDG airport to the Montparnasse train station in Paris. The train to Chartres leaves from Montparnasse, so I thought it would be a good idea to find a hotel in Paris near that train station. Any suggestions? (I will also make this request in the France forum area).

Posted by
91 posts

We did the tour this past year and enjoyed it very much. We chose to spend our first day and the following morning in Paris and then took the train early in the afternoon to start the tour in Chartres. For us, the free 1/2 day in Chartres was plenty of time to enjoy what we wanted to see in the town. We were glad we took the time at a couple of museums in Paris which we had not been to before, rather than getting off the plane and going straight to Chartres.

We did not try to emphasize staying near the train station since the metro is so efficient and it did not take long to get there when it was time. We took the RER train to the St. Michel station and walked less than 10 minutes to Hotel Diana. It was less than 2 blocks from a Metro stop, so there was no hassle with the luggage when we were ready to leave for Chartres.
We also stayed an extra day in Nice. There are things that can occupy you in Nice of course, but again we saw what interested us (highly recommend the Chagall Museum, Matisse not so much, but everyone has their personal art likes and dislikes) during the free time of the tour. Instead we did a day trip to Antibes (Picasso Museum and overall a much more relaxed setting.) We were back in plenty of time to spend a little time at the beach and have a great dinner. Last hotel was a bit pricey, but it was not worth the effort to make a change for one extra night and they helped arrange the taxi for the quick trip to the airport the next morning.
Hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did. It was nice to see the countryside of France, not just the big city of Paris.

Posted by
18897 posts

There are a couple of art museums in Nice that I especially enjoyed but which are not mentioned by some guidebooks: The Naïve Art Museum and the Asian Art Museum. Both are on the western side of town very near the waterfront, not quite as far out as the airport. After my visit to the Asian Art Museum I was told that there's a nice garden nearby. I am not an art expert, but I thought both of those museums were very good. They are of moderate size, and you can get close to them by bus. Travel time can be significantly affected by traffic along the waterfront, which seems to be rather unpredictable.

Posted by
1017 posts

We are open to staying in other areas of Paris. I was just wondering if the hotels and neighborhood around Gare Montparnasse are decent.

Posted by
174 posts

I took this tour back in 2011 when it was Paris and the South of France in 15 days. The differences are it began with 3 nights in Paris (instead of 2 in Chartres) and finished with 3, not 2, nights in Nice.

I enjoyed Chinon and the Loire Valley (perfect for exploring by foot or bike), Sarlat (markets and lots of foie gras! -- some of the best food on the tour), and a lake cruise on the Med in Nice.