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

This 9-night self-drive touring holiday of France takes you from Calais to the Dordogne where you explore different aspects of this historic and beautiful region in depth and have overnight stops in historic chateau or manor-house hotels in the Loire Valley with time to explore in more detail on the way back. Your journey starts in Calais and then you head south through Picardy, crossing the Somme and the Seine to have an overnight stop near the pretty fishing port and artists’ haven of Honfleur. Then it’s south to the Loire valley, hunting grounds of the kings of France, and a stop near Chinon. The next day, as you make your way further south, you pass the lace-making towns of Alencon and Le Mans, before reaching the Bordeaux area. Your first three nights in the Dordogne is south of the river and to the west of Bergerac, giving you access to the Bordeaux region and the wine-producing town of Bergerac. Your second stay of three nights is north of the river Dordogne and within easy reach of the prehistoric villages and caves at Les Eyzies and Lascaux, the market town of Sarlat and a route of chateaux along the river, with beautiful gardens to visit nearby. There is plenty of time to relax in both places and to enjoy the food and wine for which the region is so famous. Your return journey to Calais is broken by two nights in Amboise on the banks of the river Loire and within striking distance of some of the most beautiful chateaux in the area. You return to Calais for the Eurotunnel crossing back to Folkestone.

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

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

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

About Dordogne

The Dordogne region at the heart of Perigord abounds in clear, flowing rivers, craggy hillsides of golden rock, hill top villages and castles built of the local stone, and attractive houses with grey slate roofs and mini turrets, with vines trained along their walls. A holiday in the Dordogne is ideal for those seeking a combination of activity, sightseeing and relaxation. There are pre-historic grottoes to explore, market towns of mediaeval houses and cobbled streets such as Sarlat, numerous sporting activities such as riding and cycling and castles to visit. Plus, the gastronomy of the Dordogne is renowned for its truffles, foie gras, `magret de canard` and walnuts. The Dordogne region possesses much of the essential delights for a visitor to France. A self-drive touring holiday is an excellent way to travel to the Dordogne, perhaps discovering the chateaux and manor houses of northern France along the way. A quicker alternative is to travel to the region by train, collecting a hire-car on arrival which allows you to explore at your own pace.

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

About Loire Valley

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to the Loire Valley offers travellers a chance to explore this magnificent region, known as the `Garden of France`, traditionally the hunting grounds of the Kings of France, is renowned for its gentle countryside, vineyards, forests, rivers and numerous chateaux. At the centre of this region are the regal river Loire and its numerous tributaries, attractive historic towns and cathedral cities such as Tours, Blois and Chinon and of course the chateaux. The chateaux range from vast palaces to fortresses, from mediaeval strongholds to Renaissance delights and include the well-known ones of Chenonceaux, Chambord, Villandry and pretty Azay le Rideau. The vineyards offer great variety from sparkling Vouvray to the reds of Chinon and Bourgueil. Our `Loire Valley` covers the central region of Touraine and the more westerly region of Anjou as well as taking in a more southern part that extends towards Poitiers. The visitor to the Loire Valley is embraced by seemingly endless amusements whatever the time of year, enticing for longer stays and so well situated for overnight stops or short breaks. It is very easy to reach the Loire Valley by train, combining a holiday here with a visit to Bordeaux. Alternatively, a self-drive holiday to the Loire Valley is an excellent option, allowing you to explore the region's Chateaux by car or to combine a stay in the region with a holiday to the Dordogne region and Normandy.

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

About Normandy

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Normandy holds an astonishing familiarity for the British visitor, due to its lush green pastures and close historical ties. Normandy is an attractive land of white chalk cliffs, long sandy beaches, fishing ports and harbours, rich green pastures and apple orchards, half-timbered and thatched houses and barns, lively market towns, sophisticated sea side resorts such as Deauville and Cabourg and sleepy villages. Famous for its dairy produce, cider and calvados, the cuisine of Normandy is hearty reflecting both its rich pastures and its proximity to the sea. Historical ties provide links from William the Conqeror to 1944. Normandy is a gentle and friendly land, small and pretty where the comforting aroma of apple wood fires lingers in the air and where the salt of the sea is in the breeze. With its nearby location, beautiful scenery, countless activities and charming hotels, Normandy is well-suited to both short breaks and longer holidays. A self-drive touring holiday is an excellent way to explore Normandy, and the region is a perfect place to stay en route further south, perhaps to the Dordogne region or the 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.

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