Food and restaurants

Hello everyone! I was wondering if our very knowledgeable forum members might be able to answer a question for me. We have taken two river cruises with Tauck before but never a land tour as we are about to next Saturday! 😁 Our experience with Tauck was that we always ate breakfast and dinner on the ship, and for lunch we either ate at a pre-arranged excursion or we were actually given money to go eat on our own. (I think in Switzerland it was 75 Euros for lunch for two). Knowing that it might be tough to get into some of the restaurants without a reservation, especially in Paris, I was hoping someone on the forum who’s been on this trip (or a similar land trip) might be able to provide some guidance. Thanks so much and happy, SAFE travels to you all! Kim


    edited September 2021

    My experience with land tours is that breakfast is always included. Tauck lets you know in advance what other meals are included. Tauck does not give out funds to pay for meals that are not included, though occasionally, the Tour Director might provide a treat. If dinner is not included, I will often just go to the hotel bar and get something light to eat. I don't travel for the food (not even in France), but Tauck makes sure that no one goes hungry. If you do want to make reservations for dinner somewhere, try to find out what time Tauck's last activity of the day will end. I had made a dinner reservation for one night of my recent Hawaii trip for 7:00 p.m., only to learn that the cruise that we were taking with Tauck was a sunset cruise and wouldn't be returning to the hotel till 7:30 at the earliest. Fortunately, I had no trouble cancelling the dinner reservation (and again, went to the bar when I got back to the hotel).

  • edited September 2021

    This is a "it depends" situation. Breakfast, always, even for zero dark thirty departures Tauck will arrange for breakfast service.

    Lunch can be on Tauck at the hotel, a restaurant of their choosing out in town, or on your own, but we've also experienced the TD passing out cash or making arrangements for meals that were scheduled to be on our own(dime), etc. usually as compensation for a known or unknown reason. Dinner the same.

    For instance, we experienced dinner supplied by Tauck when it was supposed to be on our own (dime) on the B,SA, Z tour- we had a significant flight delay getting from Maun to Capetown which limited the time available to search for, select, or make reservations at nearby restaurants, so Tauck arranged with the hotel (One & Only) for us to eat in their wonderful main restaurant (on Tauck's dime). Not in this case, but we've sometimes had restrictions places on what we could order (both food and especially drinks) (Sometimes we've had a TD who says, "ignore the restrictions" :) ). Bottom line, you won't go hungry, and, unfortunately, in all likelihood will gain weight. :D

  • Thanks to you both, AlanS and MCD! Believe it or not, we don’t usually gain weight on Tauck trips due to all the walking. But, MCD, we are different in that one of the things I’m looking forward to the most IS the French food, and of course the wine! And I certainly don’t care about the money. After the year (or two!) we’ve had, I’m not worried about anything but getting there! Once there, I’m not going to think about my waistline or my wallet! :)

  • Yes, I agree with everything Alan says, .always breakfast. Sometimes they will hand out money for a lunch, sometimes the TD will say order what you like on the rare occasion you can’t have something that is extremely expensive on the menu compared to everything else.
    The TD will also help you make reservations for restaurants when dinner is not included. If restaurants are limited in a place, that’s when lunch or dinners are likely included.
    We don’t go for the food either, we gain weight, we do far more walking and exercise at home than any Tauck tour I can think of that we have been on. I find it takes a couple of months to lose the weight. We sometimes can’t manage yet another big meal and sometimes prefer to spend the extra time a meal takes just site seeing instead. Lunches with Tauck can be partly huge.
    I have to laugh, my hubby still takes energy bars on pretty much every trip as an emergency, and they always co,e back home 😀 I swear some of the same bars have traveled all over the place.

  • edited September 2021

    Sadly, even on active tours I gain weight (or at least temporary bulk). The food doesn't even need to be great- can be OK to good. I put no restrictions on what or how much I eat on tour, but it sure seems like I only need to see or smell food, to gain weight! :D:D I'm in training for our next trip- Jordan & Egypt- through dieting and exercise I lost 2 lbs this week!! :)

  • AlanS -- I'm in training for our next trip- Jordan & Egypt- through dieting and exercise I lost 2 lbs this week!! :)

    Seriously, your trip is 6 months away. Training - OK, dieting - give yourself a break! :D If necessary start your dieting in January. Enjoy your holidays!

  • I like to front load my program- get to the weight and conditioning I want to be in, then just try to maintain.

    And don't forget the holidays between now and then, too! I gotta allow for some back-slidin' between now and then.

  • Hello again! My husband and I have been on keto since January (with occasional cheats of course!) and when I went to the doctor last week for my annual check-up, he told me that when we got to France, we should eat, drink and buy anything we wanted - that this was the time in our lives to do so. (I’m 67 and my husband is 74). When my guy went the next day to the same doctor for his check-up, he joked that I had been given “doctors orders” to spend a fortune! Needless to say, I love our doctor! And I’m going to be very, very bad in Paris…

  • Exlandlubber,

    Just like the river tours, you will never go hungry on a Tauck land tour. For lunch on our own we enjoy buying a baguette and cheese from a market then sitting on a park bench and people watch. There are a plethora of outdoor brasseries (pre-covid) where you can enjoy a light lunch and also people watch. For dinner and the quintessential French cuisine, there are many restaurants that specialize in Coq au Vin. We enjoyed this dish at La Gauloise close to the Eiffel Tower. Escargot...Coq au Vin...lemon souffle...and wine, of course! I do not know if the restaurant survived through the lockdown. If you have pre and/or post tour days, the best thing to do is to ask the hotel concierge for dinner suggestions. Have a wonderful time and happy eating!

  • The first time we visited France, it was to Normandy. Our first meal out there was was a lunchtime ‘Plat du jour’ it looked like the scrawniest piece of chicken I ever saw, but it was Devine! We bought cheese and meats from the local markets and the baguettes for lunch most days. You also can’t beat things like Croque Monsieur. I just loved my son at about age six, tucking into snails and langoustines. Come to my house and I’ll make you a great coq au vin any day of the week. Not made lemon soufflé for a long time, one of my classic desserts is chocolates mousse.
    The Loire Valley is my favorite area of France!

  • Kim, as we are a month behind you please post a trip report on your return including COVID entry experience. Safe travels and have a Wonderful and safe journey!

  • Taxare, I’ll be happy to. I woke up this morning and thought by this time next week, I’ll be waking up at the Waldorf Astoria across from the Chateau Versailles. No wonder I’m having a hard time believing this is all going to be real!

  • British - Not all TD will make reservations - many refer you to the concierge. Some will give you recommendations for restaurants others will not. Those that go the extra step to recommend some good places to eat and engaging activities always get a bonus from us.

    When we are on our own, we generally go for a picnic with food from the street markets or cafes. We get tired of all the large meals on the Tauck tours, especially lunches.

  • Bucketlist,, I guess we have been lucky with our TD’s . We never thought to ask them originally until one heard us discussing where to have dinner and he immediately offered to help. Other TD’s have announced they will help with booking, or certainly give you a list of suggestions. They do stress that the list is from good reports from other Tauck guests.

  • On every land tour--at least as far back as I can remember--the tour director has always given us a list of local eateries including a brief overview of the type of cuisine offered. Asking the locals is always a great thing to do, as well.

  • edited September 2021

    I've found restaurants, that we enjoyed very much, in both Berlin and Tel Aviv via Trip Advisor. You can find out everything you want, usually, that way - location, menu, if reservations are required, etc. The restaurant in Berlin didn't require reservations - we ate there twice. The one in Tel Aviv did require reservations. We had the concierge make the reservation for us when we first arrived in Tel Aviv, even before we had our welcome reception and met the TD. It was a good thing too because people that waited until the desired day were unable to get reservations. That restaurant is a very popular restaurant right on the beach. The point is, if you know the restaurant you want, it is better to get the reservation as soon as you can vs wait for the TD to do it for you.

  • I find an unincluded meal a good opportunity to take a break from the over-abundance of food provided on tour. I either find some street food or skip a meal and munch on some trail mix or similar.

  • I had Wienner Schnitzel one day when we had lunch on our own in Berlin. I was floored when they brought it out and I saw how big it was- it was almost larger than the large dinner plate it was served on!

  • edited September 2021

    ah, British, the well-traveled energy bars...I know them well & have used recent downtime to eat up old inventory lol. Re Tauck's oversized lunches, in Patagonia TD asked Tauck to cut down lunch portions at one 3-course stop & was refused. A few times the empanadas b/f dinner were a meal in themselves. My storage boxes & fridge were full-up that trip. One evening I thought we finally had a meal break when upon a late return to my hotel room, I was greeted with an unannounced sumptuous spread. So glad Tauck is now occasionally skipping meals. I remember Natl Geo handing out generous cash allowances for lunch several times in Japan; saved me ATM stops!

  • edited September 2021

    Well here I am. Eating lunch, hummus! 😀
    I suppose too much food is better than when we were on tour with another company and we went seven hours without any food offered to us.
    Do you remember those 10 pm dinners and then slow service in Patagonia? I want to take that tour again! At least we will be prepared this time.

  • I recall slow service, but not dinner that late in patagonia. IIRC, British, I was on that tour about a month after you (the one where it never rained!)

  • edited September 2021

    I was on Patagonia tour in 2018. Yes, dinners did run late. Towards end a cold started circulating, and I managed not to show symptoms until I arrived home, exhausted after all those long days and early mornings. I'd like to return to Buenos Aires and wanted more time in San Antonio del Areco near BA, but don't need to see glaciers again, though glad to see them while they're still with us.

  • Hello everyone! We got a lovely email from our tour director on Monday for the Brittany, Normandy, Loire Valley tour that technically begins Sunday evening but we’ll be there this Sat morning (9/18) letting us know the usual - there’ll be a packet waiting for us, tickets to Versailles,etc. I just wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who have posted very helpful advice over the past couple months. Just as an FYI we got a PCR test this evening and we were told we would receive results via email on Sat. morning, which is fine because that’s when we’ll land. Neither the French, nor Tauck has required one, but we figured better to have as many contingencies taken care of as possible. I’ll be happy to post anything useful once we arrive and maybe even take some food pictures to show off😉. Thanks again and safe travels. Kim

  • On Tauck tours I’m always on a See-Food diet…all the food I see I eat. 😉. One question. I’m not a big wine drinker, but I always have wine in Italy. I usually drink the “house” wine, since it is usually the wine the owner is drinking and they don’t drink bad or mediocre wine. Is that the same in France? I’ve been to France several times but not partaken in much wine. Am I on the right track in France too?

  • I am a true wine connoisseur (took six tries to spell that correctly) and taster. There are four kinds of wine … too sweet, too tart, no flavor, and just right. So there are a lot of ‘just right’ wines that mke me a happy camper. In Saudi. Arabia we made our own wine from grocery store ingredients … Saudi white and Saudi brown … we never could make it red. It was probably the tea bags in the recipe.

  • Hello everyone! We are home from the Normandy/Brittany tour and I’m working on my 3rd cup of coffee to overcome the jet lag, so now might be a good time to provide some overall impressions of the trip. First the Covid stuff: masks were worn on the bus - a little less on the last days after our entire group tested negative for the trip home. (Yay!) Our TD printed hard copies of the negative test for us to show at the airport - easy peasy. Copies of the vax card were accepted everywhere so don’t stress about having the French QR code like I did.
    Pace: this was an intense trip. We changed cities every two days so there was a lot of packing and unpacking - even with cubes or other organizational devices. I would have liked to have had fewer cities with more time in each because I just didn’t feel like we had any time to simply wander around and enjoy the “feel” of these places which is one of our favorite things to do. The problem is what I would cut out might not be someone else’s choice, but I don’t think I’d do another land tour. I like the small ship or riverboat cruises more. Food: the breakfast buffets in all the hotels were outstanding with multiple choices and tons of high quality foods. Pastries anyone?? Ironically it was the big hotel dinners that we all found lacking somewhat. Appetizers were wonderful as were the ridiculous desserts but the main courses were frequently disappointing due to either lack of flavor or undercooked/overcooked issues. A shame really because I know Tauck spends a fortune on this part. Wines were also terrific and there was plenty of it.
    Hotels: absolutely magnificent! Some of the most beautiful I’ve ever stayed in and like I said, it would have been fun to have more time to explore some of the amenities. Our tour director, Nils, couldn’t do enough for us. A little intense at first - he said quite emotionally that this was his first tour in almost two years, but enormously competent and detail oriented. No travel issues either way thank goodness and other than a very long day yesterday, an easy trip. So that’s about it and thanks to all who provided help and insight earlier. Kim

  • Kim, thank you for sharing. A few mundane questions if I may, and if others aren't interested please skip my post. Could you share how many people were on your tour and was it scheduled to be classic or small group? Although there are very few left, did you meet any WWII veterans on your Normandy tours? Was the Louvre tour the "highlights" or a little more detailed? Did your TD provide a list of suggested restaurants? Any other tips for someone going on this adventure soon? Thanks so much in advance!!

  • Hi Taxare! All good questions! We were a group of 19 (20 with the TD) that was supposed to be classic, but obviously wasn’t. We didn’t meet any WWII vets but had a magnificent French guide whose parents were in the Resistance and he was fascinating and made everything very real for us. Paris traffic is the worst I’ve ever experienced due to the multitude of scooters and bikes. As a result it took us an hour and 15 mins to travel the one mile or so from our hotel to the museum. It was rush hour and Fashion week too so it was nuts! I don’t know if that cut our time by a half hour or so (probably) but we were only in the museum for a little over an hour, catching only the highlights obviously. We saw all the show stoppers and it was only our group for the Mona Lisa, which was cool. Our TD did offer restaurant suggestions and we took them twice with good results both times. The single most important thing I would suggest is to have really, really good shoes. There are lots of steps for Mount St. Michel and you want stability and comfort over anything else. Next, wear layers. For women, a good sturdy pair of black slacks and lots of scarfs that go with the pants and jacket. The hotels were dressy and most of the men had a jacket for at least a couple of the dinners. Also, bring something waterproof to wear in case you suddenly get rained on like we did in Normandy. We’re Floridians so I packed for what we would almost consider “winter” but depending on when you’re going, it could get quite chilly. I hope that helps. Kim

  • Thank you Kim, this is helpful. We are looking forward to our upcoming adventure!

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