We wanted to venture out of Paris so we planned 2 different day trips with a tour company. The company shall remain NAMELESS because both trips were substandard at best and I don’t want to give them any advertising. They were also costly just to add insult to injury. They were booked through Viator which is just a broker for the tours (my 2 cents on Viator later) and in my opinion the prime offender.
TRIP # 1 MONT SAINT-MICHEL
Let me start off with this— THIS IS NOT A DAY TRIP! Let me repeat that THIS- IS -NOT -A -DAY -TRIP people. First and foremost according to Google -Mont Saint-Michel is 3 hr 56 min, 361.2 km or 224.638 miles from Paris. Let’s give you a frame of reference -Los Angeles to Vegas is 270 miles.
Now would you drive all the way to Vegas stay 4 hours then turn around and come home? I guess if you had to get ‘hitched’ or ‘unhitched’ real quick you would, but other than that I don’t think anyone is that stupid. Well that’s basically what we did. But, let’s add the most uncomfortable bus ride known to mankind to the mix. If the person in front of you reclines, you could actually kiss the top of their head. And of course my front seat mate decided to recline the whole 5 hour trip. I got to know every thread of her beanie by the end of the adventure!
So 5 hours later, a gazillion toll stops, 1 pee break and 1 bus driver change —-we arrive to this beauty!
And for those following along…this is Snapchat Gold. When your geofilter matches your picture. I wish I could claim the term but I can’t , I borrowed it from Mr. Philwaukee. And for some reason, it really entertains me.
The Abbey is breathtaking and so is the area around it. It was raining but that actually added to the charm of the area. There are steps, lots and lots of steps.
And more steps…so make sure you have your Wheaties before you go because it’s the only way into the Abbey.
There’s also a quaint little town below but unfortunately we did not get to visit it . Like I said it was booked as a day trip so 5 hours each way, doesn’t give you much time for a leisurely stroll.
According to our guide, who had to say everything in English and Spanish which made the tour twice as long, there are only 25 inhabitants that actually live in the little town.
I just had to add this picture of a Mom and her son. I wish I could have gotten a front picture, the boy was dressed exactly like her in culottes, a beanie with a fur ball on the top, a very fancy looking scarf tied in a big bow, shoes with matching fur accents, and matching jackets. Looked like he should have been in a Shirley Temple movie. Poor kid, he will need therapy when he gets older.
So we stepped on the bus at 7 am and arrived home at 10 pm! A 15 hour day and 10 of those riding in a cramped bus. Did I forget to add we also got stopped by the police? Yep, the bus was pulled over–ching ching add 30 minutes to our day.
Take my advice don’t book a tour, take public transportation instead or rent a car and please please –go over 2 days so you can enjoy it. More importantly don’t use Viator or if you book it yourself don’t use Nameless!
TRIP #2 Loire Valley
So today was our 2nd day trip this time to Loire Valley to visit 3 Chateaux. Unfortunately, we used Nameless again because we booked it days before. It was too late to change it when we returned home at 10pm from Mont Saint-Michel. In fact, it was so late the agency staff went home, the place was dark and locked up tight.
This was a 12 hour trip, much more organized, less people and the tour guide was good. BUT–it was still long but a little more tolerable.
NOW my Viator issue. They have a very ambiguous way to describe the tours. You get the impression by the description the tour is just for English speakers.
Here’s Viator’s hokey explanation- if your guide speaks 3 languages and 1 of those is English then that counts. Meaning technically it is an English tour guide. So it is true –you get to hear the tour in English–but what they don’t tell you is –you also have to listen to the 2 other languages she speaks! So plan on tripling the time on the trip and pulling your hair out while you wait. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what language anyone speaks–I just don’t want an 8 hour trip turning into a 12 hour trip because I have to hear the same thing 2 extra times in different languages.
First stop was Chateau de Chambord a palace erected for the pleasure and the glory of King Francois I at the dawn of the French Renaissance. Like all the other castles we have visited the architecture is grand.
Next was Chateau Cheverny located in Sologne near Blois, Cheverny is one of the best known chateaux in the Loire Region. It’s the smallest of the 3 we visited today and the owners actually live in a part of the castle.
It’s also a hunting lodge and you can rent out the dining room for parties. So if you ever want to throw a big soirée in France, consider this place. (Sorry I had to add the dog picture)
Last, but definitely not least was the most glorious of them all Chateau de Chenonceau she is truly grand. The picture at the top of the post is the beautiful gallery.
The grounds are also gorgeous but of course we didn’t get to walk around because we had to jump on the bus and head home. But I will leave you with this gorgeous view from the top floor window. Enjoy!