Normandy, Brittany, Paris & Loire Valley

Hi Folks,

My husband and I expect to sign up for the August 2012 departure, and past experience (travel) to France tells me that the weather is warmer in August and we can still take summer clothing. We also would like to extend our stay in Paris and maybe Monte Carlo. Does anyone have suggestions about this idea? Or, if you have combined this tour with another, perhaps you can share this info as well. Also, on past Tauck tours I have taken a skirt for the special dinners. Would I be "over the top" if I do so in France, or would I fit in fine, particularly the evenings we are on our own. My husband always takes at least one tie, as he feels more dressed for special occasions. Any comments on this? My impression is that the people in France dress "very well". But I also don't want to look out of place!

If anyone is expecting to take this tour in August, 2012 please let us hear from you. Tauck is "the best" if you are a new to their tours. Will be anxious to hear comments.


  • Which departure date are you taking? I just booked for the August 19th tour.....this is my first Tauck Tour.
  • We took the June 9 departure and just returned. We extended our stay in Paris for the 2 days offered by Tauck and are very glad we did as we had more time to explore on our own than the trip allows. (Walk, don't take the Metro except to go to the Eiffel Tower and Monmarte.) As to dress, particularly for the portion of the tour near the ocean, assume it will be cooler than normal and take jackets/sweaters. We found the French indeed do have higher expectations of dress. I took a sport coat, not expecting to wear it all, and wore it at least 6 times for dinner (no tie, though, but there were even one or two occasions a tie would have been good). Blue jeans were ok almost everywhere on the trip, but, somewhat to my surprise, shorts were rarely seen even on warmer days. Overall, I would suggest taking at least some extra layers for cool days, good walking shoes, umbrellas (we needed them quite a bit), and assume a higher expectation of dress for dinner than might be the case in other places.
  • We should have added that we saw a question on one of the Tauck message baords before we left asking about the visit to the Versailles Palace which Tauck says is included in the tour. In its trip details on this website, Tauck doesn't do a particularly good job of explaining how this works - just that if you get to the hotel early enough, you can do the visit. No info on how you get the tickets, how long it takes, etc. We even e-mailed the hotel twice to ask these questions and never got a reply. We contacted Tauck as well, but the Tauck rep could not answer what really is a pretty easy question.
    The ANSWER is that the hotel concierge has tickets and once you arrive at the hotel (even if you haven't checked in yet), go to the concierge, identify yourself as a member of the Tauck tour, and he/she will give you the tickets (already paid for). The Versailles Palace and gardens are a short distance (easy walk) from the hotel and would take you 1-3 hours to visit, depending on how much you want to see, whether you want to tour the Palace itself (which we recommend), etc. So, if you get to the hotel by 2-3 p.m. on the first day of the tour, you have time to see at least some if not all of the Palace and gardens before the opening reception and dinner.

    Also, you do spend a lot of hours on the bus on this tour. Highly recommend taking books (real or electronic) with you on the long bus rides. With rare exceptions, the hotels had free Wifi (Trianon in Versailles does not) if you're travelling with IPad or IPhone.
  • I also had trouble getting the answer to the tickets at Versailles and exactly what they included. It seems the rep has not been to the Versailles web site and seen all that is offered. The reply to my first inquiry was it includes all. I rechecked and found that is is general admission to the palaces and gardens. If you would like to see the private apartments--which is a guided tour, you must purchase your own tickets, and also those for the evening Serenade show and fountains. I have purchased these online. Am I correct??? Thanks for your input.
  • Sorry for the delay answering your question. You are correct that the tickets cover general admission to the palace and grounds, but that is a lot to see in a few hours. We didn't make inquiry about the private tour due to time constraints on day of arrival. We also didn't pursue the evening serenade and fountains since we thought (correctly) that our opening reception and dinner would last most of the evening, and we were leaving early the next morning. If you are arriving a day or more early in Versailles (we arrived on the 1st day of the tour), you will obviously have time for the evening activities.
  • Thanks for your reply. We will be arriving early the day before the tour starts, so will have almost 2 days to explore Versailles. Glad to know I did not purchase these tickets in vain.
  • Which site did you use to secure tickets to the private apartments? We are arriving a day early and would like to secure the extra tickets (September 27). Also Joann at the customer service desk @ Tauck had no clear information on what Tauck's free tickets include.

    Does anyone know what the length of cause way to Mt St Michel is?
  • At the end of the trip when you arrive back in Paris for three nights, is there enough time after the bus trip on the second day to catch the afternoon [02:00 pm] guided tour of the Louvre?
  • To Mathteac re the private apartments at the Palace of Versailles==I just googled Palace of Versailles and then chose the link which was the "official" Palace of Versailles link. Hope this helps
  • CALPOLY wrote:
    At the end of the trip when you arrive back in Paris for three nights, is there enough time after the bus trip on the second day to catch the afternoon [02:00 pm] guided tour of the Louvre?
    Assuming you are staying at the Hotel de Louvre (where our group stayed), you should have plenty of time. I also believe your tour guide will enable you to make it even if the bus ride is running long for some reason. Just let him/her know about it ahead of time. The hotel is really well located and a reasonable walking distance to many of the famous Paris sites. The Louvre is literally one block away.
  • JMKND,
    Glad to hear that we have time. Received our travel docs, yes, we are ending at the Hotel Du Louvre. Thanks for the tip to talk to the Tour Director. Now fingers crossed that they are still offering a Guided Tour at 02:00 pm. Otherwise, we will wander around the Louvre on our own and hope we do not miss anything important.
  • CALPOLY, we didn't use a guided tour but explored on our own and you can too. We had the good fortune to find a guidebook (in English) laying on the ground near the entrance to the Louvre and had a chance to study it ahead of time. The guide book/map (really just a foldup map but with detail), which you can get on entering, has a detailed map of the Louvre, floor by floor, exhibit by exhibit - make sure and get one (don't know if there is a charge for it). It also highlights with pictures the locations of what in the Louvre's opinion are the "most important" pieces to see and certainly included everything we wanted to see and more. We can't stress the importance of getting this map enough because you can lay out for yourselves how you want to attack this immense building. We saw everything we wanted to see, which was a lot including the bookstore, in about 3 hours. Many members of our group said they got "lost" trying to find exhibits, and as you'll discover, that can easily happen if you don't have a good sense where you're going. The map was INVALUABLE and you can get even more feedback about how to visit the Louvre ahead of time on the web if you want to. I seem to recall there are sites that include the floor diagram and location of famous pieces. Keep in mind, however, that the info online may be out of date and our suggestion is to trust the guide book/map. You may be tied into the 2 p.m. tour but be advised the Louvre is open a couple of evenings until 9, I think Wednesday and Friday but not sure. Since you are only 5 minutes away from the hotel, that's another option. Finally, you can buy Louvre tickets from the hotel but when we were there in June, you could only buy the total exhibit ticket, which is more expensive but gains you access to temporary exhibitions as well as the permanent collection. We didn't care about the temporary exhibits so bought our ticket (cheaper) at the entrance (the glass pyramid in the Louvre courtyard). Hope this helps.
  • Mathteach, it doesn't look like anyone replied to your question about the length of the walk up the "causeway" to Mt. St. Michel. From where we parked the bus, it was quite a LONG walk from the parking lot to the beginning of the "causeway" - maybe a mile or longer. Not difficult, very flat, but 15-20 minutes at least and I don't recall that there is any option except to make the walk. Once we reached the causeway, there is a public (not reserved for Tauck) shuttle which will take you most of the way to Mt. St. Michel, but even from the shuttle drop off point, you then have a couple hundred yards or more to walk to the entrance. That's the bad news. The good news is that the view during your walk from the shuttle is magnificent and affords you as many picture taking opps as you want.
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