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Loire and The South of France.

Loire and The South of France
Day 1 and 2 - Few Currency Exchanges exist post Covid. Though you can exchange currency at CDG -Shuttle service from CDG to Chartres costs 230 Euros – takes about 1 ½ hours (Paris traffic) - Campanile Chartres Center Hotel was basic and cold – no heat – no laundry. Met everyone with Patrick Vidal on Sunday at prescribed time with negative Covid Tests in hand. Before the tour started, we have one person drop out. Not sure what it was from. - Malcolm Miller was a delight particularly for his age and knowledge. They are still doing restoring of the Cathedral and the noise stopped him several times in his speech and commentary. The Cathedral was fascinating, but the light display was just OK. First Group Dinner (first night) Day 3 and 4 - Drove to the Loire Valley. Visited Amboise and Leonardo’s last home. Fascinating. - Afternoon we spent in Chenonceau Chateau. Stunning gardens. Then on to Chinon where we had our second group dinner. Still laughing - Catherine de Medici kicking Diane de Poitiers out. -Began to understand the “Troglodyte Homes” that are built into the rocks and sides of mountains and hills. Easier to maintain since it’s only three sided. - The hotel Diderot was a delight. The owners of the hotel presented a wine tasting of the local. - As RS stated, Chateau de Villandry is an incredible gardener and photographer’s dream for sure. Day 5, 6 and 7 - On to the Dordogne region with a picnic catered by Patrick and Phillippe. - Oradour-sur-Glane was a reminder that our world and lives have been and continue to be shattered by greed and non-concern for human life. - The Group dinner in Sarlat kept the ante up. Patrick keeping us in superb food. - Each hotel was very different and in Sarlat again we had good dwellings. - The Caves of Rouffignac and the visit to see Cro-Magnon in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac makes you ponder that long before our great great grandparents there existed the start of the human race. - Our Canoe trip was cancelled due to rain, but we saw other wonders to fill up our day. - Laundry and Market Day filled up our day of rest in Sarlat. Definitely a treat. Loved the village. Day 8 - On to Carcassonne where the wind was gusting, but otherwise a fantastic medieval fortress. Learning about the Cathars and the desires of the Pope and French King, still plays out in the world. - Once again dinner was great along with the evening stroll across the bridge to see the mighty fortified city at night lit up. The Champagne provided as a nightcap was a delight as well. Day 9 - We stopped at the winery Domaine Guinand, treated not only to a tour of the winery but to a sumptuous lunch with various wines. Then off to Arles. Several of us helped moving tables, chairs and setting up the meal outside in a spot next to the winery. - The walking tour later in Arles was great. You forget that the Romans built so many roads and towns along their way to create such an empire. Day 10 - Off to The Pond Du Gard first thing in the morning, we were treated to the Roman Aqueduct shrouded in morning fog that slowly lifted as we began our tour. We walked through the small cavern on the very top, where 2000 years ago the water roared through its lengthy hole bringing water to villages. Patrick knew of spots where you could see the extensions of the aqueduct. - Dinner was once again a tour delight with Patrick supplying a favorite restaurant. Day 11 - We drove to the hill town of Les Baux and besides the town we were treated to a spectacular video and music extravaganza inside the Quarry that was called “Venise – La Carrières des Lumières 2022: Venice, La Serenissima”. A definite WOW. The we were off to Nice. Day 12 -A walking tour in the morning was followed by my own exploring. The Final Dinner with Patrick and the group was the crème de la crème – the very best of a great tour and tour guide. He could be the best guide so far on the three tours that I have been on.

Posted by
2881 posts

Oradour-sur-Glane was a reminder that our world and lives have been
and continue to be shattered by greed and non-concern for human life.

We took this tour in 2019 and it had so many Wow moments. It's seems a bit disrespectful in my mind when I think of it as a wow moment, but it's the one part of tour that I still think about above all others.

Posted by
11117 posts

Thanks for taking the time to write up a Trip Report!

When did you travel? (wondering about the no heat at the hotel!)

Also, did the shuttle only take cash or could you have used a credit card? I think most of the folks who frequent the forum get cash out of an ATM with their regular bank's debit card instead of traveling with a fistful of US dollars. This last trip (just got back from Best of Italy) I used ApplePay for most things which was so very easy!

Posted by
2297 posts

Great report on one of my favorite travel areas ever!!!

Posted by
10 posts

Allan, Thanks for the reply. The WOW moment was for the Quarry and some of the other sites. Regarding Oradour, this is not a WOW moment but rather the opposite. It certainly made me pause in light of the current world situations.

Posted by
10 posts

Pam, Thanks for the note. I am well versed now, since I hadn't travelled in several years regarding the currency exchange situation of the digital age. The tour recently ended October 8-21. Chartres had been chilly, however the rest of the tour stayed mostly in the high 50's into the 60's. Some overcast days. Nice was still hot in the 70's. All in All, it was a superb trip especially with Patrick Vidal at the helm as our tour guide.

Posted by
11117 posts

Good to know! There are "rules" in France and Italy about turning on heat and or AC and they mystify me, lol.

Posted by
2881 posts

Regarding Oradour, this is not a WOW moment but rather the opposite.
It certainly made me pause in light of the current world situations

Just to make sure that you don't think I was being insulting, I'm the one that thought it was a Wow moment, but thought the use of the word could be considered disrespectful for a place like that. Maybe a "sobering" moment.

Posted by
92 posts

Thanks for submitting this trip report. I am signed up to do the same trip in 2023 and during the same time period. I am hopeful to do the canoe trip but was wondering what you did instead, in case my trip gets that part rained out as well? Was there anything in Nice you highly recommend seeing/doing that is not included in the RS tour before I depart?

Posted by
10 posts

Connie, instead of the Canoe trip down the Dordogne we first went thru the Rouffignac Cave to see the drawn artwork of bison, horses and the like. It's amazing to think that our Cro-Magnon ancestors could lie on their back and draw so far into the cave and the animals so clear. They were like Michaelangelo, eons before. We then went to La Rogue and the little town of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil , where we spent the later part of the afternoon before heading back to Sarlat. It did drizzle that day, but I had gelato anyway. The many homes built into the overhanging rocks is something to see, since they only had to build three walls against the mighty rock. The dwellings located are traditional troglodytes, built against the cliff.
Even as a semi-visitor to Nice for my business, this was my first time to walk the promenade, climb the castle and hang out at the harbor like other tourists. If you are shopping this is the place to come for sure. So many alleyways, little streets and shops to look at. And of course, the food and the local "Socca" can't be beat. Socca is chickpea flour that after it's cooked is like having a soft piece of pizza without the toppings. It's quick, inexpensive and will keep you going until it's Aperol Spritz time. Enjoy the tour. Hopefully you will have Patrick and/or Claire. They are both great.

Posted by
3907 posts

I enjoyed reading your detailed report. This was our first RS Tour in 2013. So happy to hear that Malcolm Miller is still giving his tours. The Chartres Cathedral is a top favorite. I enjoyed Malcolm's book. Oh, and Philippe is still the bus driver? What a guy. :) He was so much fun. Sorry to hear your canoe trip was canceled. In spite of that it sounds like you had a great trip! Thank you.