Read what other Viator.com travelers think about the Loire Valley Castles Small Group Day Trip from Paris by Minivan. What they loved, what they liked and what they think could be improved, it's all here to help you make the most of your next trip.
I thought that we would be touring Chambord according to the description but we only stopped far away for a photo. We could not even see the entire Chateau. However, we saw Leonardo DaVinci's residence. Lunch at the the Orangerie at Chenenceaux was wonderful. The day started off badly after the Chambord situtation and I thought we were going to get shortchanged. However at the end of the day my group decided that throwing in Leonardo' s residence actually was a good thing. Three castles in one day plus over six hours of driving is a lot.
Although the tour says " castles and wines" there was no wine tour or tasting. Also it would have been better if our guide walked us through the sites rather than give us our tickets and brochures and allow us towalk through ourselves. Lunch at the Orangerie in Chenonceaux was excellent.
While it was lovely to see the castles, I expected more out of a guide for the price of $300+. Herbert(?) was really just a driver. He dumped us off at the entry of each of the three castles w/ no history or information and let us guide ourselves for appx 1 hour. He had not answers to questions asked after. Lunch was pretty bac as well - low quality food and bad service. I highly recommend going to see the castles and one day was plenty for this; however, I suggest another tour operator w/ more knowledgeable guides.
The tour itself was nice and lunch was really good, but the tour guide was not personable at all. I enjoyed the other guests. However, the guide seemed to be very annoyed by his job and by the guests on the tour (7 total). I felt like we were rushed at the castles, he allowed us 1 hour at each. The tour information indicated we'd get back to our hotels late, 9-10pm, however, we left the last castle at 4:30 and were back in Paris at 7-7:30, but sat in rush hour traffic probably over an hour. The tour guide constantly let on and off the gas pedal so the van was constantly going back and forth. I about asked him if I could drive! On the way home, he was talking to himself, was on and off of his smart phone and swerved in traffic a few times because he was distracted by it. At one point put on his headset and loud music. He was extremely "nervous" acting and very impatient to get back to Paris. He did not want to carry on conversations with any of us and did not have the personality you would expect from a tour guide. He only did what he had to as part of telling us about the castles as we were driving and when we first got to each of them. When we got to Paris he was driving very aggressive and swearing at other drivers. I started to get very uncomfortable and could not wait to get back to my hotel. I also was glad I was not the last one he dropped off because by that time, I was getting a little scared to be by myself with him. I really think he needs to find another job. Other than that, I really enjoyed seeing the castles and meeting the other 3 couples.
Nice trip overall, although the tour guide we had was exceptionally rushed. Even with a small group of 2 families, she would sometimes rush into explanations in a crowded castle before everyone in the group caught up with her. We took several other viator tours and none were rushed like this one. Leaving 3 stars since this is likely because of our guide, your experience may differ.
Needed to have guide within castles or at least, for the cost of the trip we should have been provided with free audio hear phones in the castles.
Enjoyable except for Chambord which would have been better utilised as target practise for the French army
Sights and scenery were amazing, guide was not! There were 4 english speaking person on the tour and 2 french Candian, the guide spoke french for 95% of the tour, I feel my money could have been better spent.
I was very disappointed that the driver guide just dropped us off at sites and did not give us a real tour or detailed history of each chateau.
The driver ( Juan) was great and was very courteous and helpful. He gave us some of the history of the region, politics and the castles, etc. (very interesting) while we were in transit to the Loire Valley. Lunch was very good. The negatives were: (i) we expected, at the price charged ($270 a person), that the "small group guided tour" would have provided a guide to accompany us and narrate at the various venues rather then being dropped off at the venue and having to guide ourselves through the castles, etc. and (ii) the participants (6) spoke two different languages; English (4) and Portugese (2). We would have expected on a "small group guided tour" that the tour would have been conducted only in one language, rather than two and the resulting distraction of hearing the information repeated albeit in two different languages.
Loire Valley is beautiful. I am glad I went. The bus was around forty five minutes late. It you had given me the correct pickup time I would have been able to have breakfast. Secondly, when a passenger becomes car sick the driver must slow down on the curves and move the passenger to the front seat. I requested driver to be more careful. It was miserable for my companion.
The tours of the castles were great. The tour guide/driver was very informative. The lunch provided at the castle was nice for the adults. If traveling with kids, I wish their were other options for the lunch. The only drawback was the wine tour, not too exciting and the wines were not good.
We could not hear the driver on the microphone in the minivan- we got back 21/2 hrs late.This was not the tour I expected.Lunch was excellent
They were rude, and the tours were boring.