Sample Custom Itinerary

London, Paris, and the Loire

The gardens of Château de Villandry in the Loire Valley

The gardens of Château de Villandry in the Loire Valley

Custom Europe Itinerary Overview

This ten day itinerary was created for couple in their 40’s who had never visited Europe before. They knew they wanted to visit London and Paris and they also wanted a small town or rural experience. After some discussion, we settled on the Loire as it’s a) an easy trip from Paris b) chock a block with gorgeous Chateaux, and c) home to incredible wine. After discussing their travel style at length, we put together an itinerary that included:

  • Luxury hotel stays (that still offered good value)

  • A mix of scheduled activities and free time for exploration

  • A mix of amazing dining experiences along the way ranging from casual to fine dining

  • Tickets to a show in London’s west end

  • A Balloon ride in the Loire

Their budget was $8,000 (not including airfare). Check out the full itinerary below:

London Custom Itinerary

Arrive: September 19 | Depart: September 22

Accommodations: Zetter Townhouse Marylebone

  • Contact Info:

  • Cost: £848

  • Booking Confirmation: 62049SB015120

  • Note: Breakfast is not included at your hotel, but there are plenty of nice café’s and bakeries close by!

Notes:

Getting around London using public transportation is easy. We suggest buying an Oyster Card, which can be used on the Underground Trains as well as the Buses. You can buy an Oyster Card at most Tobacco Shops (basically a convenience store) and Underground Terminals. They cost £5 and we suggest loading it with £15. You can always top it up if you need more. Single rides are about £2.40, but there is a daily cap of £6.80 so it’s a great deal if you use it more than a couple times a day. You will each need a card. Google Maps does a great job of giving you choices of which Underground or Bus lines to take.

Wednesday, September 19

  • 9:00 AM: Arrival at Heathrow

  • 9:30 AM: Follow airport signs to the Taxi stand and take a cab to the Zetter Townhouse Marylebone (28 Seymour St). Alternatively, you can order an Uber from your phone – it will be significantly cheaper than a cab.

  • Afternoon: Enjoy tea at the Zetter Townhouse (booked for noon) then take it easy for the afternoon – perhaps explore the neighborhood, do a self-guided walking tour (ask at your hotel or check your guidebook for suggestions in your area), or just settle into your room and get cleaned up.

    • If you’d like to pick up a UK/EU sim card for your phone, we’d recommend going to the Three store at 297 Oxford Street.

  • 6:30 PM: Dinner at Honey & Co. (25 Warren St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 5LZ). This outstanding and critically acclaimed Middle Eastern restaurant is an easy 25-30 minute walk from the hotel. We'd definitely recommend the set-sharing menu as all the appetizers are outstanding. Don't miss out on dessert - the baked goods are very unique and delicious.

    • Reservation made via OpenTable. Call (020 7388 6175) with any changes.

Thursday, September 20

  • 10:45 AM: London Walks tour of Westminster Abbey. Meet outside the St. James's Park Tube (Broadway/Westminster Abbey exit, opposite 40 Broadway). The cost is £10 each for the tour, plus £20 for entrance to the Abbey.   Make sure you have cash.

  • Early Afternoon: Lunch at Bao in Soho (53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS). Bao serves up incredible Taiwanese small plates, with a focus on their namesake - steamed buns filled with a variety of meats and/or vegetables. They do not take reservations, and for dinner, the queue for this popular restaurant can wrap around the block, but it should be easy to get in for a late lunch. Just remember, don't fill up too much - you'll want to save room for your very special dinner! If you want to stop somewhere for a proper pint either before or after lunch, The Lyric (a Victorian era pub just 2 blocks down the street) is excellent.

  • Late Afternoon: After lunch, wander the streets from Piccadilly Circus to Leister Square.  You might want to follow the Rick Steves West End walking tour in your guidebook.  Drop down to Trafalgar Square and visit the National Gallery* and St. Martin in the Fields. Go around the side of the church and go downstairs. If you choose, have tea in the Cafe in the Crypt. Walk to Covent Garden and explore this district for its shopping, restaurants, theater, bars, history and culture.

    • *Note: The National Gallery, like most of the major museums in London, is free. That makes it really easy to stop in and see a few of your favorite pieces of art and then move onto something else when you've had enough! The National Gallery is open 10:00 - 6:00.

  • 7:30 PM: Dinner at The Ledbury* (.127 Ledbury Rd, London W11 2AQ). This amazing, tasting menu only restaurant is one of the best restaurants in the world. Chef Brett Graham creates innovative dishes using British produce and game.  

    • Reservation confirmation: 440554419. Call (020 7792 9090) to confirm the reservation the day before.

Friday, September 21

  • 9:00 AM: Visit the Tower of London (St Katharine's & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB). Tours with a Yeomen Warder (Beefeater) leave every 30 minutes, with the first tour leaving at 10:00am. Tours begin near the main entrance and are included in the price of admission.

    • Tickets will be sent to you via email. Print prior to arrival.

  • Early Afternoon: Lunch at Borough Market (8 Southwark St, London, SE1 1TL). Across the bridge in Southwark, you’ll find London’s legendary Borough market. In addition to butchers, bakers, and produce stands, you’ll also find an array of excellent street food.

  • 2:00 PM: Visit the Museum of Methodism & John Wesley’s House (49 City Rd, London EC1Y 1AU). Arrive no later than 2:30 if you'd like a tour of the whole site.

  • 5:30 PM: Dinner at A. Wong * (70 Wilton Rd, Pimlico, London SW1V 1DE). This excellent, upscale restaurant serves modern versions of classic Chinese dishes. It’s conveniently located 7 minutes (walking) from the theatre!

    • Reservation made via phone. Call 020 7828 8931 with any changes.

  • 7:30 PM: Enjoy Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre (Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1E 5EA).

    • The information you need to claim your tickets was sent to you when we purchased them.  Make sure to have it with you when you go to the theater.  Arrive a little early as there will be a line with everyone claiming their tickets.  Don’t worry – it moves quickly.  Enjoy the show!

Saturday, September 22

  • 10:24 AM: Take the train to Paris from London St.-Pancras (Euston Rd, Kings Cross, London N1C 4QP).

    • Tickets will be sent to you by email. Print prior to arrival

Paris Custom Itinerary

Arrive: September 22 | Depart: September 25

Accommodations: Grands Boulevards Hotel

  • Contact Info:

  • Cost: €849

  • Booking Confirmation:  79574SB002136

  • Pick up your tickets to the Musee L’Orangerie when you arrive.  They will be waiting for you when you check in.

Notes:

We didn’t include recommendations for breakfasts, but great bakeries are a dime a dozen. Just wander, find something that looks tasty, and enjoy! If you want a little more guidance, here is an excellent article about some of the best bakeries in Paris (as told by master baker and inventor of the cronut, Dominique Ansel).

We again suggest using public transportation to get around town. You can buy single trip tickets for €1.70. If you are going to be using the Metro or buses multiple times during the day, consider a Mobilis One Day Pass for €7.50-10.00 depending on the zones you use. A three-day pass costs €26.65 and all cover the Metro, RER, Trams, and Buses. These can be purchased in Metro Stations or Tourist Information centers. Google Maps will help you choose the best route.

Saturday, September 22

  • 1:47 PM: Arrive in Paris and walk to your hotel (about 25 minutes) or take a cab or Uber.

  • Afternoon: Walk to Notre Dame. The walk from your hotel to the cathedral is about 30 minutes. Get to know your neighborhood. Chances are there will be long lines to get in to the cathedral at this time of day. We suggest saving it for tomorrow morning before the crowds hit. You can explore Ile de la Cite, Ile Saint Louis, or cross to the south bank for marvelous views back at the cathedral.

  • Early Evening: Visit Sainte-Chapelle (8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France). Not far from Notre Dame you'll find this Gothic masterpiece. The stars here are the stained-glass windows. Check out the Sainte-Chappelle stained glass app! 

  • 8:00 PM: Dinner at Le Bon Georges (45 Rue Saint-Georges, 75009 Paris, France). This delightful French Bistro is picture perfect, and the food is classically French - the perfect thing to welcome you to Paris! A commitment to using seasonal ingredients means the menu changes frequently. 

The Eiffel Tower on a sunny day

The Eiffel Tower on a sunny day

Sunday, September 23

  • Morning: Visit Notre Dame (6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France). A visit to the cathedral is free. It opens at 8:00 am and will get busier later. The earlier the better. The towers are fun to visit and get close to those gargoyles! €10 each to climb the 387 steps to the top!

  • Early Afternoon: Enjoy a Picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. Shop the legendary market street, Rue Cler, before heading to the Champ de Mars park in front of the Eiffel Tower. You'll find everything you need on Rue Cler for a great picnic - from cheese, to cured meats, to fresh fruits, to a chilled bottle of rose. Google maps will help you get there.  Check out this great article by Rick Steves to learn more about this historic shopping area.

  • Late Afternoon: Visit the Musee L'Orangerie. This beautiful museum features a room filled with canvases of Monet's water lilies and other impressionist masterpieces.

    • Tickets have been booked and will be waiting for you at your hotel when you check in.  Be sure to ask for them and take them with you when you leave the hotel this morning.  You can skip the line with these tickets.

  • Evening: Dinner at Frenchie Bar a Vins (6 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France), a wine bar with excellent small plates to share. This restaurant is popular among chefs and restaurant industry folks. They do not take reservations - to avoid a wait, arrive a few minutes before they open (6:30) or after the dinner rush (around 9:30)

Monday, September 24

  • Morning: Walk the Champs Elysees. Take the Metro to the Concorde stop. Start at Place de la Concorde. Walking Northwest, you'll go by Jardins des Champs-Elysees on your right and Grand Palais and Petit Palais on your left. Once past the parks you are in the commercial zone. The tree-lined street is one of the prettiest shopping streets in the world. Look out for The Lido, the famous cabaret, on the right, a few blocks before you arrive at the Arc de Triomphe at Place Charles de Gaulle, the giant traffic circle featured in Chevy Chase's European Vacation. The walk is a little over a mile long.

  • Afternoon: If you're up for more walking take Metro 2 from Charles de Gaulle to Anvers. From here you can walk up Montmartre or take the funicular to the top and walk back down (sounds better doesn't it?). From the top, you have beautiful views of the city including the Eiffel Tower. You can visit Sacre-Coeur Basilica and Saint Pierre de Montmartre if you would like. There are little cafes for an aperitif, stands for french fries with mayo, street markets and lots of cute shops and art galleries. At the bottom of the hill on the Southwest side you'll find the famous Moulin Rouge.

  • 8:00 PM: Dinner at David Toutain (29 Rue Surcouf, 75007 Paris, France). Experience a tasting menu featuring modern French dishes in a pared back, refined setting.

    • Call (+33 1 45 50 11 10) to confirm your reservation the day before.  

Tuesday, September 25

  • 9:37: Train to the Tours

    • Tickets are booked and have been sent via email. Print prior to arrival.

Views from a hot air balloon ride in the Loire Valley

Views from a hot air balloon ride in the Loire Valley

Loire Custom Itinerary

Arrive: September 25 | Depart: September 28

Accommodations: Château d’Artigny

  • Contact Info:

  • Cost: €951

  • Booking Confirmation: 24-5181-10358

  • Notes: Breakfast is included. Tourist Tax must be paid at the hotel (€1.50 per person per day)

Notes:

We have intentionally not pre-booked chateaux entrances for you because we want you to be free to make decisions about what you want to see, as you go. We don't anticipate long lines for entry in the Loire, however, sometimes it can get busy. If you find that lines are long, you can pre-book entry into the chateaux. You can buy tickets up front via the internet on the individual chateau’s website (linked in this itinerary). This will save time in the waiting line if there is one. You can even do this by phone when you’re in front of the castle if you don’t know exactly when you plan to go there.

Tuesday, September 25

  • Upon Arrival: Pick up rental car from Hertz. From here you have the option to check into your hotel or go straight to Amboise (both are about 30 minutes away).  You will need to have your passport to pick up your car, so be sure to have it handy.  Follow all instructions on the voucher.

    • Booking confirmation: 365635948

    • Voucher will be sent to you via email. Print prior to arrival.

  • Afternoon: Visit Château Amboise (Montée de l'Emir Abd el Kader, 37400 Amboise, France) and the village of Amboise.

    • The price to enter the Chateau is €11.60 (includes an audio guide). Visit at your own pace.

    • Info on parking can be found here (https://www.experienceloire.com/parking-in-amboise.htm)

  • 7:30 PM: Dinner at La Roche Le Roy (55 Route de Saint-Avertin, 37200 Tours, France). Delicious, classical French food in a splendid manor house.

    • If you decide that you do not want to go here for dinner, be sure to call the restaurant to cancel at least 3 hours before your reservation time. They require a credit card to confirm the reservation and will charge you if you do not show up or do not cancel in time.

Wednesday, September 26

  • Morning/Afternoon: Today is a day for visiting castles and you can do it totally at your own pace. We suggest only touring 1 of the castle interiors/gardens and enjoy the view from the outside of the others. Our recommended game plan for the day is as follows:

    • Visit the Blois market on the Rue Pierre et Marie Curie on Wednesday morning (approximately 1 hour from your hotel) -  just find a parking place and follow the people with carts, shopping bags and baskets and you'll find the market. Pick up supplies for a picnic and find a park bench with a view of the Blois castle to enjoy your treats or take your picnic with you to your next destination!

    • It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Blois to Chambord, where you can visit the Chambord castle. If you haven’t enjoyed your picnic yet, you can eat it on the grounds. We’d recommend touring the interior here – it’s the largest chateau in the Loire Valley and the architecture is incredible!

      • The price to enter is €13

    • From there, it takes about an hour to get to Chenonceau.. See the castle and grounds from the outside and then get ready for your balloon ride!

      • The price to enter is €14

  • 5:30 PM: Balloon ride

    • Meeting point: 24 Rue de Chenonceaux, 37150 Francueil, France

    • Be sure to call to confirm your reservation between 10:30 and 12:30. The phone number is: 06 31 29 08 57.  

    • Tickets will be sent to you via email.  Print prior to arrival.

    • If you have any questions about the ride itself you may want to check out the company’s website (https://www.france-balloons.com/balloon-ride,val-de-loire.php)

  • 9:00 PM: Dinner at Auberge du Bon Laboureur (6 Rue Bretonneau, 37150 Chenonceaux, France), an elegant restaurant that is a part of a small 18th century country inn. 

    • Reservation confirmation: L1HBPJBC. Call +33 2 47 23 90 02 with any changes.

Thursday, September 27

  • Morning/Early afternoon: This morning, you can meander the Loire on bike. We’d suggest the following itinerary:

    • Drive to Chinon and visit the market to pick up picnic supplies.  It will take about 40 minutes to get there from your hotel.

    • Do a wine tasting at La Cave Voltaire in Chinon (13 Rue Voltaire, 37500 Chinon, France) to learn a little bit about the region’s famous wines.

    • Rent a bike at E-Follow Me (4 Bis Rue du Commerce, 37500 Chinon, France).

      • Bike rental is €10 euro per person for half a day and €15 euro per person for a full day.

    • Bike to the Enfin du Vin wine store in Candes Saint-Martin (1 Route de Compostelle, 37500 Candes-Saint-Martin, France), talk with the owner and get some wine. Ask him to open it and lend you some glasses or plastic cups. Enjoy a picnic by the river. Bike back to Chinon.

  • Late Afternoon: If there’s time and your feeling up to it, visit Abbey Fontevraud, Europe’s largest Abbey, founded in 1101. Alternatively (or in addition), explore the nearby town of Saumur. 

    • Entry to the Abbey is €11 and includes an audio guide.

  • 8:00 PM: Dinner at Vincent Cuisiner de Campagne (19 Rue de la Galottiere, 37140 Ingrandes-de-Touraine, France). This small, family owned and operated country restaurant is popular among many of the local winemakers and features true farm to table cuisine.

Friday, September 28

  • Morning: If you’ve enjoyed the markets you can stop by the one in the Monbazon, the town where you have been staying! It will be a small market but it might be a nice place to pick up last minute snacks for the train ride back to Paris.

  • Afternoon: Visit the lovely gardens at Chateau Villandry – don’t miss the huge, decorative vegetable gardens.

    • Cost to enter the gardens is €7

  • Late Afternoon:  Return car to Hertz.  Take train to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

    • Train is booked and ticket has been sent to you via email. Print prior to arrival.

Charles de Gualle Airport

Arrive: September 28 | Depart: September 29

Accommodations: CitizenM

  • Contact Info:

  • Cost: €192

  • Booking Confirmation: MCR6JQ

  • Notes: Breakfast is included.

  • Directions from Charles De Gaulle Airport: citizenM is located within walking distance (7 minutes) from Charles De Gaulle Airport Terminal 3. If you are arriving at Terminal 1 or 2 or by TGV, you can take the free shuttle CDGVAL (you can catch it between the TGV-RER station Aeroport Charles De Gaulle 2-TGV and terminal 2F) to Terminal 3- Roissypole (also known as RER station Aeroport Charles De Gaulle 1) and walk to the hotel from there. Take the exit to Continental Square, follow the covered walkway and you will see citizenM straight ahead.

Friday, September 28

  • Evening: If you'd like to go out for one last French meal, we'd recommend Madame est Servie in Roissy (about a 10 minute cab away). Have the hotel call ahead for you when you check in. Alternatively, just grab a sandwich and snacks from the hotel's "canteen" and settle in for a few free movies in your room.