Tailormade tour Chateaux of the Dordogne and Loire self-drive tour France

9 nights/10 days

Honfleur • Chinon • Dordogne • Amboise

This 9-night self-drive touring holiday features the chateaux and manor-houses that both the Dordogne and the Loire Valley are famous for. There is time to explore different aspects of the Dordogne in depth, whilst staying in chateau-hotels and manor houses along the way.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,880 per person.

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to chateaux and manor-houses of the Dordogne and Loire Valley

Highlights

Normandy • Honfleur • Chinon • Dordogne • Visit Bergerac • Visit Bordeaux vineyards • Visit St Emilion • Visit Les Eyzies • Visit Lascaux • Visit Sarlat • Amboise • Visit Chateau Chenonceau

Day by day

You cross the Channel by Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais and then drive south past Boulogne and Le Touquet, crossing the River Somme at Abbeville and then you head for the coast near Le Havre. Here you take the Pont de Normandie across the mouth of the Seine, arriving very close to Honfleur. Take time to visit Honfleur, favourite haunt of artists, with its picturesque fishing harbour before reaching your hotel which is in the countryside not far away.

Today’s drive takes just under three hours, so there is time to linger in Normandy, perhaps to visit the seaside towns of Deauville or Trouville or to drive across the charming Calvados countryside south of Honfleur and stopping to admire the pretty villages and the scenery. The road takes you towards Le Mans and then it’s motorway towards Tours, the capital of the Touraine at the heart of the Loire Valley, and then south to the mediaeval town of Chinon, with its fortress set above the river Vienne.

Today you drive south passing Poitiers in the direction of Bordeaux. North of Bordeaux you skirt the edge of the famous Pomerol vineyards before turning south, crossing the river Dordogne west of Bergerac to arrive at your first chateau-stay in the Dordogne. You have three nights here.

You are situated conveniently in the lush Dordogne countryside between the towns of Bordeaux and Bergerac. There is a wealth of visits and local sightseeing from here, to the east and west. To the west you have Bordeaux, the city and its surrounding vineyards and wine towns such as St Emilion. Bordeaux itself is shaped by bold and impressive architecture, from the Amphithéâtre de Bordeaux dit Palais Gallien, to the amazing Cathédrale de Bordeaux, Basilica of St Michael, and Opéra National de Bordeaux. Spend a leisurely afternoon taking in the sights, and really appreciating the aesthetics of these buildings, before seeing a show at the Grand Théâtre or viewing the artwork in the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Visit such châteaux as the Château Rauzan Gassies, or the Château Mouton Rothschild, to taste the fruity Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. To the east of Monestier, Bergerac also offers wine-tasting opportunities in the Musée du Vin et de la Battelerie. In Bergerac, experience the lively hubbub of conviviality at the weekly (Wednesday and Saturday) market in the centre of town, whilst picking up a few local treasures, be it food, wine, or arts and crafts.

This short journey takes you into a different part of the Dordogne: that north of the river and close to the prehistoric sites of Lascaux and Les Eyzies, where CroMagnon man was discovered, as well as the mediaeval market town of Sarlat. You have three nights here.

Whilst in this part of the Dordogne there are all sorts of activities and sightseeing possibilities, of a cultural, historical, gourmet and active nature. Sarlat is a thriving town with numerous shops and food stalls selling local delicacies such as foie-gras and other duck and goose products. There are several excellent restaurants in the town. Take a scenic drive along the river Dordogne, stopping to see the ruined mediaeval castles that dot the cliffs. Along the length of the river be sure to see the Chateau des Milandes, the chateau at Beynac-et-Cazenac, and the Chateau de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle with its collection of mediaeval weapons. Nearby are the gardens of Marqueyssac, listed as a National Monument and planted with box through which there are numerous paths, creating a maze-like effect. There are fantastic views from a belvedere. Other gardens nearby include the Clos des Sources at Vitrac and the Jardins d’Eyrignac. Other notable villages in the area are La Roque Gageac, Domme and Beynac. From La Roque Gageac it is also easy to hire a canoe or to take a river trip on one of the gabarres, a boat designed after the old river trading boats. The prehistoric sites at Les Eyzies and Lascaux should be visited but you should try to book entrances in advance as it does get very busy.

Today your direction is northwards but take a different route, perhaps to Limoges and on to Poitiers or through Perigueux and then Angouleme and Poitiers. Your destination is to the east of Tours and the small town of Amboise. You have two nights here.

Amboise, on the banks of the river Loire, is home to the Chateau d’Amboise, a 15th century residence of Charles VIII and where you will find the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. Nearby is the Chateau du Clos Lucé where Leonardo Da Vinci lived. In the grounds are displays of working models of this designs. Not far from Amboise is the Chateau de Chenonceau, famous for being primarily owned by women throughout its history and home to a vast art gallery and a collection of Flemish tapestries.

There are a couple of routes today as you drive back to Calais: one route takes you via Paris and the other, slightly longer, but perhaps an easier drive, takes you past Le Mans and Rouen. At Calais you take the Eurotunnel crossing back to Folkestone.

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,880 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD04

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to chateaux and manor-houses of the Dordogne and Loire Valley

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,880 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD04

Our prices include ● Eurotunnel return crossing from Folkestone to Calais for car and passengers
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Country room at Auberge de la Source near Honfleur
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Chateau de Marcay near Chinon in the Loire Valley
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Deluxe room at the Chateau des Vigiers in Monestier in the Dordogne
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Superior double room at Le Vieux Logis at Tremolat in the Dordogne
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Superior room at Le Choiseul in Amboise in the Loire Valley
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel

Additional information Driving times for this touring holiday
Calais to Honfleur 3 hours
Honfleur to Chinon 3 hours 30 mins
Chinon to Monestier 4 hours 20 minutes
Monestier to Tremolat 1 hour
Tremolat to Amboise 4 hours 30 mins
Amboise to Calais 5 hours 20 mins

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,880 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD04

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to chateaux and manor-houses of the Dordogne and Loire Valley

Highlights of Dordogne

Cultural highlights include ceramics, wine festivals, foie gras and truffles, wild mushrooms, castles, valleys, water-sports, and local walks.

Climate of Dordogne

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 10.0, Feb: 9.4, Mar: 12.2, Apr: 19.5, May: 18.0, Jun: 23.7, Jul: 27.2, Aug: 25.7, Sep: 24.2, Oct: 19.7, Nov: 15.4, Dec: 11.0. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to chateaux and manor-houses of the Dordogne and Loire Valley

Highlights of the Loire Valley

Cultural highlights include wines and wine vinegars, wild mushrooms - (visit the mushroom museum), the Troglodyte caves, and local art exhibitions.

Festivals in the Loire Valley

Son et Lumiere in the chateaux in the summer months. Summer festival in Chinon in August.

Climate of the Loire Valley

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 7.8, Feb: 6.8, Mar: 10.3, Apr: 16.1, May: 16.4, Jun: 23.6, Jul: 25.8, Aug: 24.5, Sep: 21.1, Oct: 16.2, Nov: 11.2, Dec: 7.0. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to chateaux and manor-houses of the Dordogne and Loire Valley

Highlights of Normandy

Calvados, cider and camembert, horse-races in Deauville in August, markets every day of the week throughout the region, the Route du Cidre, and the summer art exhibitions.

Climate of Normandy

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 7.6, Feb: 6.4, Mar: 8.4, Apr: 13.0, May: 14.0, Jun: 20.0, Jul: 21.6, Aug: 22.0, Sep: 18.2, Oct: 14.5, Nov: 10.8, Dec: 7.9. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

Other holidays you might be interested in...