That in itself was a highlight. Given the pretty short time allotted (10 days) and the plethora of possible choices, we thought the selection & mix of sites to visit, hotels & group meals were very well chosen. The highlight, of course, was Rebecca ~ I'll expound on how amazing she is later. There were comments shared among several tour members who had similar perceptions. Rick Steves lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington. We loved our guides and their passion for French history and culture. "Chenonceau was absolutely breathtaking. I will say I'm glad we are in good shape as there was a lot of walking and stairs, so your advice is well given that this is an active tour. The tour agenda was as described, Michaelanne did an excellent job, bus rides and hotels were very good. "Paris. Getting to seed this iconic place was a highlight of the tour for me. Beautiful to see from all angles and special to be able to stay on the on the isle overnight. "Three are tied. Paris was lovely and the tour gave us a good taste of the city. Absolutely loved Giverny, so spectacular with so many beautiful flowers in bloom at once and straight out of Monet's paintings. I credit our tour guide Julie for this great experience. The tour was well-planned and organized. Veronique was the same- no matter what questions we had, they both had answers. It was "Rick Steves cool". Michele. While I throughly enjoyed the people, the "groupness" was challenging at times for me. I never expected to visit a place both so spiritual and magical, let alone be able to stay there on the hilltop -- it really felt as if I had stepped back in time and the history of the Abbey itself was fascinating.". We were also there around the time of the 75th anniversary, which was extra special.". The facial expressions and cute little side note pictorial "comments" stitched into it are just delightful.". It was educational to visit the Normandy D-Day beaches and Mont-Saint-Michel for the first time, with the assistance of expert local guides. The chateau st Michelle visit was an incredible highlight. Being part of a Rick Steves tour made the experience (especially Paris) so much easier. "I don't think that I can pick just one "wow" moment. How it was built, the occupants and those that live there now. Staying on Mt. Looking up and feeling like you could touch the steeple was very special.". "Amboise and the night time light/ history show featuring live actors, jousting horses bedazzled in lights & the castle facade the "screen". (This tour does not include the Eiffel Tower. Views from our special rooms. Strong local guides, such as at Normandy, Paris neighborhood, and Bruges. Very good tour. "Driving up to Mont Saint-Michel, seeing it in the distance, thinking it looked like a dream, a fairy tale city. So a nice mix of both.". Rick Steves Paris 2020 Rick Steves France 2020 Rick Steves Best of France Rick Steves Pocket Paris Also Available from Rick Steves From the top of the Eiffel Tower to the ancient catacombs below the city, explore Paris at every level with Rick's annually updated guide. Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographic proximity into account, here are our recommended priorities: If you have only a week and it's your first trip to France, do Paris, Normandy, and the Loire. Thank you!". It is such a wonderful picture of France that most tours do not cover. It was a fabulous experience. The whole experience was magical. Paris is amazing, take extra time. "I was surprised at how emotionally moved I was at the Normandy beaches. Our guide, Virginie, was absolutely fantastic. Bus travel was broken into tolerable amounts. After experiencing a more traditional bus tour in Italy, we were hesitant to book another crowded, shopping filled experience. When friends have asked about the trip I have said that every day was my favorite day of the trip. Rick Steves' Europe also runs a successful European tour program. Our tour guide Virginie was outstanding. "Seeing the Eiffel Tower and the view from the Arch of Triumph.". Great guide and walking tour guides were so warm and informative. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up several flights of stairs to reach your room. The food and wine are everything you would hope they would be, and learning more about french history, politics and culture. Today we'll head for the biggest and brightest of the Loire Valley châteaux — Chambord — where 365 fireplaces warmed royal hunting parties for more than 500 years. We went to Rodin museum and garden on our own. "Attending morning prayers in the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel was one of the most moving experiences in all my travels. Paris and the Heart of France is a journey full of the drama of French history and culture. Our guide, Julie, was a great balance on giving us information and pushing us out on our own. Can I type WOW 500 times.". "If I had to name just one "wow" moment, it would have to be our initial approach to Mont St. Michel. Well planned, with general tour guide (Chris) and local tour guides for specific locations. Our guide was wonderful, and we really got a flavor for the real France instead of just the tourist spots. She kept us entertained on the bus with bits of french trivia, and great stories and history lessons. "Hard to pick one. "Being at Mont St Michel at sunset and seeing it light up, then again at sunrise as we walked up to the chapel for prayer services. The hotel did not ask name/verify identity before providing key. Mt St Michael was a wonder unto itself. Our guide Patrick really opened up wonderful, bustling Paris to us and made us very comfortable to navigate the transportation system. This tour did not disappoint. The weather was perfect for walking the alleys and ramparts in the evening after most tourists had left, followed by a wonderful group dinner celebrating Normandy's 4 C's. I enjoyed visiting Guedelon, Amboise, Mont St-Michel, the Normandy beaches, the winery, the markets, and Bayeux. The days were satisfying both for sites visited and the educational aspect. Our tour was great. First hotel, 3 nights, required guests to leave room keys at desk when guest left the hotel. To extend your trip, spend a night in Burgundy (in Beaune) or two nights in the Alsace (in Colmar); each is a 6.5-hour train ride from Chamonix. From guides, to sights, to the people, to accommodations, to food (!!!) Gudelon, a Castle in the making was amazing. 12 days is not enough to do anything justification. "Mont St. Michel! Our guide, Marie, was wonderful and so helpful. Your afternoon is free to be inspired by Monet's incredible Water Lilies at the Orangerie, perplexed by whimsical water fountains and modern art at the Pompidou, or compelled to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, followed by a classy stroll along the Champs-Elysées. End in Sarlat-la-Canéda or a nearby riverside village (sleep in Sarlat or nearby), Day 8:  If it's market day in Sarlat, start there (early), then take a relaxing canoe trip and tour a prehistoric cave. We especially loved our time at Mont Saint-Michel. Our overall guide, Chris was outstanding. "So many! I wouldn't change a thing. The cathedrals and small chapels. I'm a little slower now but our guide and other guests were kind and supportive, "Probably mon-st-michael. Our guide, was very familiar with all the obstacles we would need to overcome as well as an excellent teacher with a grand sense of humor. The tour was great! Everything was well organized- sightseeing, transportation, etc. Loved what we learned about the culture and history, the places we traveled and experiences we had, the hotels where we stayed (great staffs--very friendly, fun and helpful! Then, we were privileged to watch an American WWII veteran help fold one of the flags. Normandy and Utah beach. Giverny much more beautiful than I ever expected. "Definitely seeing Mont St Michel for the first time or the Normandy beaches were moments that grabbed me. About Rick Steves Guidebook author and travel TV host Rick Steves is America's most respected authority on European travel. "Being an engineer and a history major the museums and architecture always amazes me. Salut! Took a French for travelers class- had no difficulties with language. thoroughly enjoyed Guédelon Castle, the small towns of France, the Normandy beaches, and Monet's house and gardens. Inside you'll find:* Strategic advice from Rick Steves on what's worth your time and money. My husband and I had been to Paris several times, but we enjoyed this trip because we didn't feel compelled to see all of the "must sees" such as the Mona Lisa and the top of the Eiffel Tour. A monk met our small group at the abbey door and walked us up to the church where we took seats on benches. "Mont St. Michel was a highlight for sure. Guedelon were really cool! Even the sites I had some trepidation about visiting turned out to be great! This was the most amazing tour I have ever been on and am looking forward to the next one (Italy). Wows come in unexpected places sometimes - I enjoyed how the tour built on the theme of craft, whether Medieval stone architecture or terrior.". Highly recommend this tour for anyone interested in visiting France. The guides we encountered along the way were also very well informed and outstanding. Sitting in a cafe in Paris drinking a glass of rose. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Leonardo da Vinci's home and garden. What a glorious sound.". The coach was clean, large and comfortable and the hotels selected were always nice. Looking at the stained glass windows at Sainte-Chapelle was awe inspiring. It was a great trip and tour! With Notre Dame being damaged - it was amazing to visit Bourges and see the cathedral there. ", "The knowledge of tour guider Rebecca --- everything.". Virginie More is an excellent tour guide, and a lovely person as well. Our experience with Paris and the Heart of France exceeded all of my expectations, even though they were pretty high to start with! Their opinions and insights on what the current situations were in each country were interesting and current. This is our third RS tour and as expected it did not disappoint. "Spending the night at Mont St. Michel plus the excellent discussion at Utah beach". "Viewing a laser light show at the Eiffel Tower was exciting. Attending morning prayer service at Mont St. Michel was ethereal. The "What" needs to be accompanied by a "Why". She said it was her favorite trip and I have to agree, it did not disappoint. All the places we visited and our accommodations were great. Loved it. Even with a full schedule we could find moments to pause and savor a delicious coffee at a quaint cafe or enjoy a quiet picnic on a park bench. WE got to see and experience so many things on the tour that we would have missed if we had been traveling on our own. We'll stop for lunch and a walk through a quintessential Breton town, where we'll learn about the Bretons' Celtic origins. I am thrilled by what they are doing there. Great experience. One attraction of this particular trip was the visit to Normandy. "Staying in the Hotel de la Marine Arromanches right on Gold Beach in Normandy. You can tell he loves his country.". The entire visit and stay at MSM was very special. And our bus driver, who drove us to so many a incredible places in France, was a special part of the group. "Staying on Mt. ", I had several safety and security concerns. We enjoyed every day. He had come ashore D Day. ", Rebbeca Berry was our guide.She was outstanding.very personable,animated, knowledgeable,&obviously loves what she does!She took great care of us.Always making sure we knew what was going on each day.She always had her details down pat.Took us to great restaurants.The other tour guides that joined us were great too. It was a touching sobering experience which made me really appreciate the sacrifice of the many soldiers who died or were wounded while fighting for our freedom.Arnou". The D-Day beaches was semi-wow for the opposite reason. I especially enjoyed our travels outside of Paris throughout the country side and visiting the Normandy beaches and American Cemetery. If I had known that was not the case, I would have hired a private guide. ", It was very good. Rick Steves's guide books are the best I've found for planning ahead and for consulting while on a trip. Rebecca was like having a nice mother along, who took care of you, but encouraged you to grow and spread your wings. That's how great this tour was! But having the opportunity to spend one night on Mont St-Michel, was quite magical. Even viewing the island for the first time was a 'wow' moment, and then the moments just kept piling up! All the history and character of the island...plus seeing the tides surround the island was amazing. Mt St Michel when the tide came in and breached the front gate in evening; I loved the peaceful beautiful sunrise next morning. People mingled with one another and became a cohesive group. Seeing Notre Dame after the fire was sad, but glad to see that a lot of the structure is still standing.". To be honest though, it was the wine and food.". Another WOW was the morning service at the Cathedral on Mont St. Michel with the monks and nuns. It was information overload, in a good way. I thoroughly enjoyed the Paris & the Heart of France tour. Planning a longer trip? I always appreciate how the tour is managed to avoid crowds and to see lesser visited areas. It takes 11 days of train travel to do this trip (also consider the cheaper Ouibus and Flixbus for some trips). Please see my further comments after question 16 below. We still fall in love with our guides and continue to be amazed at their ability to educate us even though we have studied the area we are visiting and think we know everything.The thing I still appreciate about the tours are the way they are designed.The perfect mix between educational and a stress free environment. "Mt. Both guides (we had an apprentice) and our fellow travelers were all very friendly which made the whole trip that much better. This tour was great. How to choose? I learned so much French history and culture as well. Adequate hotel rooms though not having air conditioning nor fans in some cases made it somewhat tough to sleep at night. What a great tour! The small size of the group makes it very pleasant. This was the only summer tour for us and heat in France was a factor, though crowds were entirely manageable. 20 minutes at Omaha Beach? Our 11 days were full of profound moments and light and hilarious ones. She shared a wealth of information about France! This tour was our first ever, and we have been convinced that tours are worth it. "We were astounded by the Chappelle Cathedral.". The itinerary was excellent; the guide Virgine exceptional. As I clicked, it was very good. However, the months of April, May, September, and October are best for combining the convenience of peak season with generally good weather and lighter crowds. It was a great tour. Don't underestimate the walking. As I celebrated my 80th birthday, Linda brought wine & snacks, "So many but seeing Claude Monet's work in the Louvre was inspiring as were his Gardens. Longest Day " & everybody said they have to watch the movie again . The group meshed as well and created a singular experience. See more ideas about Explore france, France, Rick steves. This was my sixth tour with RS and it more than met my expectations. Start a New Topic. The tour was extremely active and we enjoyed visiting the French countryside. "The Bayeux Tapestry, hands down. Good hotels,bus,guides food etc. Loved Bourge and Mont St Michel especially, "There were many but perhaps the most memorable was climbing up the ancient stone steps of Mont St Michel to the Abbey at 6:30 am to listen to the monks and nuns chant. She is knowledgeable, proficient in French, and just a lot of fun. Even if the weather didn't always cooperate. It was a wonderful tour. I learned so much about the events of D-Day.". His stories and anecdotes were great! "Impossible to say just one. Chris shared a great deal of French history,politics and culture with us which made our sightseeing more meaningful. We had a great group of people that just clicked. I enjoyed the independent exploration of the towns and villages of France. New friends. This was our first time in France and we really enjoyed our visit. So a few weeks later we chose 6/14/19 HOF. Our guide was outstanding. It delivered, starting with our guide,Arnuad, the consummate of his profession, perfect. As with other Rick Steves tours I have been on, there is the right amount of free time for the tour members to create their own experiences outside of the tour. He kept us on time and was very helpful. Loved the little side stops for tastings and quick lunches. Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs. Hit France's can't-miss art, sights, and bites in two weeks or less with RICK STEVES BEST OF FRANCE!Inside you'll find: Strategic advice from Rick Steves on what's worth your time and money "Certainly the early morning opportunity at Mont St-Michel to hear the nuns of the abbey singing their morning prayers. We had a great group that really clicked. The tour was great. I chose "very good" overall instead of outstanding because I think the tour tried to cover too many places. Da Vinci's home. This was my first RS tour and I certainly hope it will not be my last. The proliferation of large tour groups due to D-day anniversary, Le Mans, Paris Air show, Women's Soccer, and a myriad of local school groups(exams were over - hurray!) It is a very spiritual place and spending the night there allowed us to see the Abbey as if we were the only people on the island. It was very educational & wonderful. "Mont St-Michel was magical from the first glance from across a field of sheep. "Because it was the 75th anniversary of D-day, the local villages still had their decorations up. "Spending the night once again on Mont St. Michel plus to be at the d-Day Beaches and cemeteries was unforgettable.". To see the D day Beaches on the 75th anniversary of the landings was never to be forgotten. Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Guedelon, too, was fascinating. We were taken to parts of France that we might not have known to go to. Loved having the use of the whisperes and the group size was nice. I stood on Normandy beaches where many of my father's generation died for future generations freedom. Giverny was beautiful. Taps at the American cemetery near Omaha beach. We arrived in the afternoon and you could barely walk around because there were so many people. Linda, our guide, was a perfect host and guide. "The most emotionally moving moment was our visit to the U.S. cemetery at Normandy. Overall this was an excellent tour. We fully recognize that there is a lot to see in this area, but we felt like we were getting the "bums rush". The tour guide Antoine was superb. Our first experience with Rick Steve's Europe and it could note have been better. The overall tour experience was great! I was also sad that no one sent around an e-mail list, but it was a great tour! The balance of tour time & free time was perfect. The tour group was filled with nice, interesting and enjoyable couples so that made it easy. I would say that watching a veteran of the Omaha Beach landing stand from his wheelchair as taps was played at the American Cemetery in Normandy, and assist with the folding of the flag, was an extremely touching moment I will not forget.". It was fantastic. All were quite lovely and afforded me with a uniquely "French" experience". Groups meals only OK but I find that the usual case. The itinerary was packed but very interesting and fun.I thought maybe one less chateau but my husband and sister totally disagreed.After Paris the Loire Valley was wonderful.Normandy had a special significance for us since our father was a Ranger who landed at Pointe du Hoc. This was our 2nd RS tour and it didn't disappoint. Who could be unhappy in Paris! "It's hard to say as there were many to choose from! "Too many to say...staying on Mont St-Michel, seeing Omaha and Utah beaches and the wonderful comments on the store owners windows thanking for their freedom was heart warming. Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. Ago so I could accompany a friend great selection of touring venues, mixing,! Especially friendly and guide was superior -I wanted more time getting to be able to navigate towns and on... Admission to many towns an event great success that they gave to the Louvre and chaotic! 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