12 Sep 21 tour - day by day review

Day 1 – tour start time has been posted as 2:30 or 3:00 and that is to give you time to visit Versailles - actually, you’d do best to arrive the day prior - Tauck via the concierge got us Passport tickets with a timed entry slot to the chateau for a self guided tour - you could use an audio guide or prior to leaving the US and your home wifi, download the Versailles App which has all the audio guides plus info like maps, restaurants there, etc. Passport tickets get you in to everything – the gardens on the weekend when musical gardens is a charge, the Trianon complex, etc. – the day ended with meeting our TD and group for the welcome dinner – surprised to find there was only 9 guests for a classic sized tour – so many had canceled last minute – sorry folks, a big mistake – you should have gone

Day 2 – bus to Chartres cathedral for a guided tour – amazing and varied stain glass windows – then about an hour for walking around and lunch – head to Loire valley and check in to our chateau – dinner was the Chateau Champchevrier with a hunting dog demo, tour of the chateau and excellent dinner – the demo and tour were with the Baron’s daughter and son-in-law

Day 3 – tour of Chateau de Langeais in a small quaint town – a little walking around on our own – then we headed to Le Moulin Bleu winery for a tour, tasting and lunch outside – lovely – then our visit to Villandry – the gardens were so extensive and varied you could spend your entire time there but there is also a house to tour

Day 4 – drive to Angers Chateau to see the Apocalypse Tapestry – I was ready to dislike this but actually found it quite interesting using the provided audio guide – there is also a room with models of the chateau at 4 different stages of building that was very interesting - on to Port Crouesty and check in to the hotel we dubbed the “Love Boat” because its designed to look like a cruise ship – all the rooms have balconies with seating and we all got sea views – bring your swimsuit for this hotel as it has a rooftop salt water pool and another on the bottom floor with different jets to treat different body parts

Day 5 – our TD and guide walked us a short way to visit the WWII bunker and celtic cairn near the hotel – then we headed to the port for our luncheon cruise on Morbihan gulf – next up was a visit to Rochefort en Terre which is a quaint village with interesting buildings and shopping – back to the hotel we were on our own – lots of nearby restaurants with some shopping for local products like salted caramels, sea salt, hard cider, etc – you could also pick up something to eat on your balcony which is what we did

Day 6 - a walking tour of the quaint seaside town of Vannes with lunch on our own – then a drive to Josselin for a guided tour of the chateau still in the Duke of Rohan’s family – arrival at Dinard – our group was the first to stay in this hotel and we loved it’s seaside location

Day 7 – was supposed to be the day for the tour of Mount Saint Michael but about half of us were reluctant to go as it was Sat, good weather and a day the French have free entry – we worried about the crowds – plus they have made it a bit more difficult to access – so 5 of us took a ferry across the bay to St Malo (discounted tickets from the concierge) and had a wonderful time walking the old walls around the city with views of the sea, nearby islands, etc – we then headed to a restaurant recommended by the TD for lunch – it was mostly seafood which I needed a break from and found there was a child’s portion of steak and fries – the waiter kidded us about it but for a change I finished a meal completely without feeling stuffed – then our group met up with the others and could have a guided tour or time on our own

Day 8 – the Bayeaux tapestry tour with audio guides – plus there is a nice cathedral there and a few shops – one had needlework kits but sadly was closed since it was Sun – then we headed to the Caen Memorial/Peace Museum for lunch and lots of time on your own to tour it – plenty to see about WWII – bring a magnifying glass as the audio guides aren’t good and the English font is small and hard to read – otherwise excellent museum - arrival at Deauville – wonderful beach to walk here but not much time to really enjoy the place

Day 9 – very long day for the D-day invasion sites – we picked up our guide at his private museum/academy then headed to Pointe du Hoc, lunch at Omaha Beach golf club, then Omaha beach and finally the cemetery – our group ended the day at a pizza place very close to the hotel where they treated us well

Day 10 – time to head towards Paris – first up was an unscheduled stop in Honfleur, the quaint seaside town in Normandy, for a walk around, pictures and a coffee – then Monet’s home in Giverny – we had been to both these sites on our Seine cruise a few years ago and were happy to return – colors were different but still lovely – we also had a little over an hour to walk the small town and have lunch on our own – then off to Paris and our final hotel and dinner on our own – if you want the concierge to help you get tickets this evening was the best time

Day 11 – our Paris schedule was changed up a bit by the TD to make it work better – at 8:30 the TD arranged a tech to come to our hotel to administer our covid antigen tests – cost was 40 euros in cash – we all tested negative and the results were back to us (from both the French government system and the tech) within a couple of hours – they could then be printed by the hotel front desk staff – while waiting for results we had our city tour - partially walking and partially bus – after we had the option of another walking tour or time on our own which is what we all opted for – all our group had been to Paris before and had ideas of where they wanted to go - this evening we had our “farewell dinner” at the Ciel de Paris – that’s the highrise in downtown Paris with a rooftop terrace and top floor restaurant – get your camera ready – lots to take pictures of – quite the treat

Day 12 – the morning started with a guided tour of the Musee D’orsay then the afternoon open til 3 when we had our hotel “dinner” prior to our afterhours Louvre tour - we had gotten tickets to see the Saint Chapelle that afternoon – a bit of a mistake in timing – I should have gotten them for the previous day so we could do some packing this day – plus the chapel is right next to the judiciary building where they are holding a big trial re the terrorist attacks in 2015 – police all over Paris but especially this particular area – you had to access it via only one entrance near Notre Dame – got to practice my French on a lot of gendarmes finding our way in – that evening was the after hours Louvre tour which for some reason our tour date got even though it wasn’t technically a “small group” start – we also shared it with two slightly larger groups from one of Tauck river cruises – not sure what was happening but they were a grumping looking lot – whatever – we had a wonderful time and took lots of pictures of a largely empty museum – late evening a reluctant goodbye to our tiny group
Day 13 – headed for home


  • **Claudia Sails ** Thanks for the great trip report and heads-up on the new VOX ear piece. I usually bring my Bose ear piece because it is more comfortable. Sounds like you had a wonderful tour. Welcome Home. :)

  • Claudia, this was a GREAT trip report. Can't wait to go next month!! Thank you and welcome home after your lengthy travels!!!

  • edited September 2021

    Claudia, thanks for the report! May need to schedule this one for 2023.

    Speaking of the VOX (or Whisper)- the earphone jack on the bottom is standard, so you can use any ear piece (single or dual) or headset that has a standard 3.5mm (1/8″) plug. Though they were a bit large, on one tour I used my Bose noise-cancelling headset when I knew we would be in an especially noisy environment. For me, the cord always seems to get in the way, so for our next tour, I may try smaller and lighter wireless ear buds. I'll need to connect a small blue tooth transmitter to the VOX- I have one and use it when I watch TV.

  • I had some ear buds with me but didn't think they would help. The old vox ear pieces weren't great but I liked that I could switch which ear I had them on when one got irritated. Then all the tangling with my mask ear loops and glasses. I had a few pairs of the old ones and could easily have brought them along.

  • Claudia - please don't use british as your role model for long posts. You can still go back, edit your post, and add line spaces between paragraphs. it would make it so much easier to read.

  • As noted above, considering this poster is jet lagged from two back to back Tauck trips during these difficult times and took the time to try and help other Tauck travelers so quickly in such a complete and cogent manner is much appreciated. I know that my trip will be even more enjoyable due to her information and efforts.

  • edited September 2021

    BKMD, give us a break. At least we post reviews of our tours. Have you ever bothered to do that!
    May I suggest you get glasses or have a magnifying glass. Or view the forum on a larger screen

  • Bkmd, I'll try but was afraid it would push it past a character limit due to size.

  • Thanks for your effort, Claudia. I didn't know there was a character limit. Guess that's why some posts are broken into multiple parts.

    British - give us a break. Suppose I did have a visual disability (which I don't, but as an ophthalmologist, I found your suggestions pathetically amusing). How rude and unempathetic are your suggestions? Do you make rude suggestions to people on tour who may have difficulty navigating cobblestones?

    Face it - you are a rude narcissist who has a compulsion to post your opinion about anything and everything.

  • Claudia, thank you so much for your review. We have rescheduled for 2022. We are waitlisted for April and on the schedule for September. It wasn't my choice to reschedule, but sometimes you have to give up something to keep your spouse happy.

  • Claudia, thanks for the report. I enjoyed reading about what we were supposed to do on this tour this past May, but unfortunately it was canceled. We have rescheduled it for April 2023 followed by the Rhine Enchantment River Cruise Milan to Amsterdam. Hopefully by then, restrictions may have relaxed.

  • Claudia, thank you for the wonderful review. I'm going on this tour in May. I have been to much of it before, but it is always nice to know some of the specifics so I can add some places on my free time or hire a guide. In fact, my daughter and granddaughter are coming to Paris for a 16th birthday trip. They will be meeting us on our extra day, so we will do some touring with them. I'm having my friend Roberto set up a tour day on that day for the four of us. I've talked about Roberto (driverinitaly.com) in here before. I don't want to repeat things that we have seen and you have helped with that. I have one question. On sites like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame, are they just a drive by tour or do you get to spend time actually seeing them? I've been to all of them, but my girlfriend has not. I'd like to spend some time looking at them. I can use our free time to do it, or have Roberto set up a car, driver, and guide. Can you even get into Notre Dame with all of the construction they are probably having? Again, thanks for all of your help.

  • Yes, those sights were just drive by tours. The Arch de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees we saw the day we drove into Paris. It was when the Arch had been covered in fabric in honor of the artist Christo. The bus driver managed to stop for just a few minutes so we could get out and take pictures (along with hundreds of other people). The current Paris mayor has made a lot of changes to rules there promoting things like bicycles and trying to limit vehicular traffic. It's gotten very hard for large tour buses to navigate around Paris (certain routes they are no longer allowed to use) and eliminating places they could stop. I've had better views of the Eiffel Tower on previous tours. You'll likely have better luck with a private driver.

    On the city tour we did get out at the Luxemburg Gardens and walked around for about half an hour which was a treat for me as I hadn't been there.

    On Notre Dame, it wasn't open for tours when we were there. Maybe by May there will be some.

  • Claudia, thanks. I've heard transportation in the city is tough. We'll survive. I'm been to Paris many times and seen most it has to offer. My girlfriend, daughter and granddaughter have not. To be truthful, Paris doesn't impress me much. But, it is certainly a place that needs to seen once. I'm actually going on this tour to see some of the other sites I haven't seen and to revisit the WWII beaches and cemeteries of Normandy. My father, step-father, and father-in-law all served with the Greatest Generation in WWII. My father-in-law was at D-Day. All of them survived and lived productive and fruitful lives. My Dad, at age 95, just died the day before Thanksgiving. He had a wonderful life and I miss him, but I know he is comfortable from the physical and mental issues of his age. I want to revisit where my father-in-law survived at Omaha Beach. That is one of my primary missions for this trip. However, I want to make sure everyone else gets their proper tour of Paris, along with the other sites of the trip. We'll only get to spend a little over a day with my daughter and granddaughter. They are actually going to arrive a bit before we leave (which was a surprise to all of us, since none of us knew the other was planning their trip) for the celebration of my granddaughter's 16th birthday.

    I'll send a note to the Pope and tell him my granddaughter goes to Catholic School and he should make sure she gets to visit Notre Dame. :D I'm sure that'll work.

    Again, thanks for everything.

  • ndvb, I went shortly after Claudia and did a mini review if that is helpful as well. The Normandy day was indeed special, informative and meaningful as both of our parents served in the European theatre during WWII. My wife was overwhelmed walking on the actual beach where our soldiers landed. My most difficult moment was at the American Cemetery when at 4pm they lowered the flags and played taps. I will never forget that moment. Regarding Paris, we were told that the goal for Notre Dame to reopen is to coincide with the opening of the 2024 Olympics. We did stop at the Eiffel Tower for 10 minutes for a photo app. Everything else in Paris is as Claudia described.

  • Yes, the day spent at the D-Day sites is very interesting. I've been twice now on 2 different Tauck tours with different guides and somewhat different sites. Learned from both. I'm fortunate than none of my relatives were there for the invasion so the cemetery wasn't as interesting as it would be if you actually knew someone. My husband was most excited by an unscheduled stop we made at a gun battery (I believe near where the Canadian's landed). A picture of it was on a glossy brochure we were given and one of our group asked about it. One of the joys of having such a small group (9) is there was some time for additional stops. Be sure to bring a wind-proof jacket for that day. We had pretty nice weather but it was still chilly and windy near many of the sites.

  • Thanks for the D-Day Beach comments. I've been there twice before and it is always an emotional experience. I've walked all the areas where the German bunkers remain. I hope we get to do that again. Since we were there on our own, we had the time, with a private guide, to cover the area well. I have dozens of pictures like the one above of bunkers in various conditions of disrepair. My father-in-law actually was in the D-Day invasion and was part of the 50% that made it through. My father and step-father were on ships in the Pacific. My father died on Wednesday before Thanksgiving last week and at his funeral an honor guard, of course, played taps and presented his wife with a folded American flag. She gave it to me and said I should have it since I was the oldest son, and the only one of six children who served in the military...Vietnam. I just received, yesterday, the frame to put his flag in and will hang it in my office. My girlfriend's dad also served in the Pacific. I have now lost all of my parents, father, mother, step-father, and step-mother (my father's most recent wife was his third wife...very confusing, I know). Again, thanks to both of you for all of your information

  • Sorry for your loss ndvb. It is always hard to lose a parent, especially around the Holidays. My Dad, also a WWII Vet stationed in Italy, passed away a day before Thanksgiving many years ago. Our France River Cruise was cancelled at the start of the Covid Virus in 2020 and I was really looking forward to seeing the D-Day Beaches. As soon as things stabilize, we will try again to book that trip.

  • Reading the reviews here, it doesn't look like they spend a lot of time looking in the area. If I hadn't already been there a few times, I would add a couple of days to the end of one of the trips and drive there. There are several private tour guides in the area that will drive you to any, or all, of the sites in the area. It is worth much more than a half day trip, especially since you have a father who fought in WWII. There is typically a single charge for the tour and then a limit of people (10?). If you want to go by yourself or with one other person, you can just pay the tour freight and have them all to yourself. They also can rearrange the itinerary to add, or delete, some areas you need. A quick internet search will produce a number of prospects.

  • I just returned from The Classic Italy ( which I will post my impressions of the trip soon❤️) and now evaluating where to go next. So, for this moment I’m asking where your favorite trips were, and what to consider next. I’ve been on the Israel/Jordan trip, Russian Glories, Egypt and now Italy. I travel solo, so anywhere in Europe including Eastern Europe is of interest. I’ll stick to land journeys for now as I feel it’s easier to get to know a few folks to pal around with. This will be a trip I’ll take next year.

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