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La Belle France  . all the best of the Loire Valley and Paris, the City of Light, is what you will experience on this tour.  

Mention the Loire Valley and you conjure up visions of fairy tale castles set against a backdrop of green fields and rows of poplars, hillside vineyards and the swift flowing Loire. The river, France's longest, gives the region its name. The Loire's waters nourish this land, the "garden of France", a gentle rolling landscape that seems to breathe peace and prosperity. The magnificent Chateaux (300 to be exact) that suddenly appear on the horizon literally take one's breath away. They served first as fortresses and then later as elegant residences for aristocrats and royalty, and then a barracks after the revolution. We will be photographing them at night and day along with their resplendent gardens.

We depart from Paris and as we drive to the Loire Valley, the pastoral landscapes of the Loire Valley display subtle differences from forests and fertile fields, streams and moors, to fields of rose crops, vineyards, orchards and flower gardens.

The Renaissance was the golden age of the Loire Valley and Leonardo de Vinci and Cellini were invited to embellish some of the marvelous Chatueax. We will visit the Chateau of Blois with its Italiante facade and open octagonal staircase, and Chambord-the most colossal- originally a hunting lodge, with broad roof top terraces, turrets, double helix staircase, pinnacles and fantasy sculptures. Chenonceaux is known for its intrinsic beauty and rare works of art built literally over a river. Azay-le-Rideau reflected in the tranquil waters of the river is a romantic jewel-like Chateau, that time has barely touched. Turrets and battlements that are purely decorative along with period furnishing and Flemish tapestries embellish its rooms. Villandry, know for its magnificent grounds and scupltured gardens, is also on our list.  

Along our journey, we will visit the ancient city of Poitiers, once the capital of France, and shoot the spectacular interior of Notre Dame le Grande, the Cathedral St. Pierre and numerous other architectural wonders. 

We then wind our way to the coast and the beautiful and historical seaport of La Rochelle. There are numerous photo opportunities in the old fishing port and harbor with its towers and ramparts, architecture, fishing boats, and colorful shops.

The next day we travel to the Ile de Re, a quaint little Island just off the coast. Fishermen, boats, a light house, charming little cottages and gardens filled with wisteria and hollyhocks await us.

Next stop is the ancient city of Saintes where we will visit the Romanesque churches and monuments including the Roman Arena and Abbaye Aux Dames.

Back to Paris for the night to shoot the golden spectacle of the Pont de Alexandre III bridge and we depart the next morning to spend the day at Monet's Garden in Giverny. That evening we will shoot Notre Dame and the boats lit up on the Seine.

Our days in Paris will be spent shooting the wonderful gardens of Luxembourg and Tuileries with flowers galore, fountains, sculpture and children floating their boats in the pond, monuments and cafe scenes. Back to the Seine to shoot the book sellers, artists at their easels, and the on-going street performances. We will visit the artists painting at their easels in Montmartre. Dusk will find us at the Eiffel Tower lit up in all her splendor with traffic trails in the front. A fitting closure for our last evening in La Belle France.

"It was better than I expected and I expected a lot. Great people, gorgeous chateaux, and superb night photo ops. I loved that we were constantly on the go from one photo op to the next. We were flexible but covered everything in the itinerary and more." Loire Valley 01, P. Frey, PA

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