An experience of a lifetime
(Exciting 6-Day/5-Night Event for Groups of 8 to 14 People)
The hidden secret of the smaller Loir Valleys, Romanesque churches, their unique 12th century murals, the medieval town of Le Mans, Chartres cathedral and exclusive visits to the famous Loire valley chateaux.
Immersion into French history and architecture from Medieval Christianity, through the 100 years war and into the Renaissance.
Alongside the discovery of the Loir vineyards, cellars and wines.
During 5 full days of tailor made visits, come live the life of an 18th century gentleman with the Comte and Comtesse de Vanssay, 20th generation of the family to have resided in Chateau de La Barre since the XIVth century.
Chateau de La Barre, surrounded by 16th century dry moat fortifications, is a peaceful haven, set in 100 acres of meadows and woods, with its own chapel, flower gardens, fountains, and pond.
Rates and Conditions
Day 1 - Chartres Cathedral
Upon arriving in Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, you will be met by our chauffeur. On the way to Chateau de La Barre, you may choose to be shown the extraordinary stain glass windows of Chartres cathedral during a private tour given by renowned scholar Malcolm Miller. Then proceed to Chateau de La Barre, where a champagne welcome and luxurious en suite guest rooms gilded with sumptuous fabrics and fine antiques, plus all contemporary comforts, await you!
Spend the afternoon simply enjoying aristocratic living sipping tea under the centennial elm trees or a cool fruit juice by the fountain in the garden. The energetic may wish to take advantage of the bicycles to discover the forest of Vibraye nearby, or saddle up some horses at the stables, 10 minutes away, to ride through fields and woods. Or relax with a shiatsu massage in the peace and quiet of your room.
In the evening, Guy de Vanssay will conduct a tour of the Chateau, unveiling the local and family history since the 10th century, whilst pointing out interesting architectural elements, family portraits, archives, furniture and memorabilia.
An informal buffet supper with local specialities, cheeses and wine will be served in the billiard room, by the monumental 14th century fireplace, or on the terrace overlooking the garden.
Day 2 : Mural paintings
Your chauffeur will pick you up after a hearty breakfast to lead you on the path of the Saint-Jacques-de- Compostelle (Santiago de Compostela) pilgrimage. Unless you prefer to borrow a map and rent a 1935 totally restored "Traction Avant" Citroen, to discover today's sights with this "French Touch"! Begin visiting the Abbey of Holy Trinity in Vendôme, a masterpiece of Romanesque and early gothic architecture housing the oldest stain glass window of the Virgin Mary with child. Then amble along the canals overlooked by ancient houses towards the college where the 19th century writer Balzac studied. During the afternoon, discover the Byzantine chapel of St Gilles in Montoire, followed by visits to the Romanesque churches of Troo and Lavardin, with their newly revealed 12th century frescoes. Finish your afternoon in the rose garden of Chateau de La Possonnière, home of the Renaissance court poet, Ronsard.
At the foot of the ruins of the castle of Lavardin, on the banks of the Loir river, you will enjoy a gourmet dinner at the 'Relais d'Antan' before returning to a glass of port wine in the peace and quiet of your room at Chateau de La Barre.
Day 3 : Medieval town of Le Mans, wine tasting and Renaissance Manors
Visit the Cistercian Abbey de L'Epau, built by Richard the Lionhearted's widow, Queen Bérangère. Then enter a time tunnel, as you step into the huge Cathedral of St Julien, with the celestial choir painted in the 14th century on the ceiling of the Lady Chapel. All around, discover the spectacular old city of Le Mans, home of the Plantagenet kings, with it's Gallo-Roman walls (the largest remaining in France), surrounding its myriad of medieval streets all beautifully restored. Films such as the Three Musketeers, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Man in the Iron Mask were set here. Many little bistrots will offer delicious lunch options.
In the afternoon, return to Chateau de La Barre via the Automobile Museum of Le Mans, followed by wine tasting at a selected vineyard, then finish your day with a stroll through the gardens and honour court of the Chateau de Courtanvaux.
That evening, join Guy and Marnie for drinks in the 18th century Grand Salon with boiseries and ornate chandeliers, followed by a candlelit dinner during which you will discover four different wines perfectly suited to the meal and commented by Guy. Then move on to brandy and coffee in the Salon Rose under ancestral portraits or in the 'Piece à Feu' in front of the huge 14th century fireplace where a game of billiards can be enjoyed under the watchful eyes of the fox terrier, the Weimaraner and Kakou the parrot.
Day 4 : Loire Valley Chateaux (1)
~ An experience of a life time ~
Now is the time to move on into the Renaissance completely. A helicopter will pick you up in front of Chateau de La Barre, and fly you over the major Loire Valley chateaux of Chambord, Chenonceaux, Blois and Amboise, before touching down for lunch at the famous 3 star restaurant of Onzain, on the shores of the Loire River.
After lunch, your driver will pick you up and take you to visit the gigantic and magnificent Castle of Chambord built by François 1er, before bringing you back to Chateau de La Barre for a light supper and a lovely rest.
Day 5 : Loire Valley Chateaux (2)
Today your chauffeur will pick you up in a vintage Cadillac, Bentley or Jaguar of the 60s to discover the chateaux West of Tours. You will begin by a special visit of the 18th century gardens of Villandry, then, driving by the romantic Azay le Rideau built in the middle of a small lake and Ussé, the castle of Sleeping Beauty, before visiting the Chateau de Langeais, with it's drawbridge and 16th century collection of tapestries. Dinner near the Chateau du Lude on your way back to La Barre for a last well deserved overnight. Departure next day after a copious breakfast.