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Tour Director
Practical Information

  • Discover the magnificent treasure houses of the French kings from the peak of the Renaissance

  • Take in the beautiful landscape of the UNESCO-listed Loire Valley

  • Visit the final home of Leonardo da Vinci and discover a variety of little-known masterpieces

“Andrew’s knowledge was excellent, and his enthusiasm was infectious”

- ACE customer on a previous tour of the Loire Valley with Andrew Spira

Although the Renaissance is typically associated with the revival of interest in classical art and architecture in 15th and 16th century Italy, the French kings oversaw a version of the phenomenon that was very distinctively their own, blending ideas from antiquity with the rich heritage of medieval France. While the powerful influence of Italy on France is epitomised by Leonardo da Vinci’s relocation to the Loire Valley for the last three years of his life, the art and architecture of the region demonstrates very clearly that the spirit of medieval France remained ever-present throughout the period.


Our tour provides an enchanting introduction to and exploration of some of these medieval treasures, including the 12th century Abbaye de Fontevraud (burial site of the Angevin kings), the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien in Tours and the unique cycle of 14th century ‘Apocalypse’ Tapestries at the Chateau d’Angers.


The region is equally rich in Renaissance chateaux, dating from the 15th to 17th centuries. Among its gems is the Chateau de Chenonceau, which, straddling the Loire River, transports visitors back to an age of impeccable courtesy and grace. Other wonders include the gallery of portraits at Beauregard, untouched since the 17th century, and the ‘double-helix’ staircase at the Chateau de Chambord. The latter is one of the most distinctive examples of French Renaissance architecture, and a true jewel in the crown of the Loire Valley.


A further highlight will be a visit to the Chateau de Montreuil-Bellay; inhabited by the same family since 1822, it marries Renaissance elegance with defensive features conserved from the Middle Ages. The estate has a long tradition of winemaking, with cellars dating back to medieval times, and we look forward to a wine tasting here.


As well as guided tours of the chateaux, focusing on their architecture, history and collections, this tour will include an opportunity to view some of the parks and gardens surrounding them, including the world-famous restored Renaissance gardens at the Chateau de Villandry on the banks of the Loire.


Our itinerary also takes in the picturesque riverside town of Blois, and the museums of fine art in Angers and Tours, home to masterpieces by artists ranging from Mantegna and Boucher to Monet and Degas.


We will stay at the four-star Hotel Oceania l’Univers Tours, an elegant and comfortable hotel located in a 19th century building in the heart of Tours, a short walk from the cathedral and Musée des Beaux-Arts.


Tour Director Andrew Spira, MA, studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art and City University, London. For several years he was a specialist in Byzantine and Russian icons at the Temple Gallery, London, before working as a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Andrew was subsequently Programme Director at Christie’s Education, and has been leading tours to cultural sites for over 20 years. He looks forward to returning to the Loire Valley with an ACE group in 2023.

Tour Code

Included: Cost of £2565 includes: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, seven breakfasts, four lunches, six dinners with wine, water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: Not included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £495.

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