Welcome to the Loire Valley

Welcome to another adventure created by your friends at Castles and Concerts. Please join us for Castles and Concerts first trip to Paris and the Loire Valley!

In the following pages, we'll share with you our excitement about our lodgings, our music and entertainments, our daytime excursions, our night-time parties, our gastronomic banquets, the wines of the region and, of course, the simple joys of friendship while visiting one of the most beautiful places on earth. We hope you can join us!
Château d'Artigny
Aerial View of Château d'Artigny
Exactly 100 years ago, at the end of WWI, François Coty, the creator of the modern cosmetics industry and one of the world's richest men, decided to build himself a new home. He bought over 3,000 acres of land that included over five miles of river frontage. He promptly tore down the old chateau (originally built by a finance minister of Louis XV) and started building a new home intended to surpass Versailles in comfort, if not in size. He was proud that his Chateau, unlike Versailles, would have indoor plumbing and electric lights along with rooms for forty servants, a wine cellar for 45,000 bottles, cold storage for the lady of the house's furs as well as a walk-in dressing room with 78 closets. He finished it in 1928. When the Germans arrived they thought this was a dandy place, and moved in until the end of WWII. Coty's descendants have restored the family home and have invited Castles and Concerts to join them there next May.

Pre-Trip to Paris

When we first decided to invite the group to France, we didn't consider taking the group into Paris. After all, the idea of walking around Paris with a group and a tour leader just did not sound appealing. Additionally, one could spend several weeks in Paris and still only scratch the surface of its treasures. But when Matt and Tom arrived at the Paris airport preparing to drive to the Loire Valley, we overnighted in Paris. Checking out the jazz scene we found that a musical friend, Laurence Hobgood was appearing that week in the most famous jazz house in Paris, so we decided to check it out. And it was here that we decided that it would indeed be great fun to have our group together for three nights of grand events, including “Billy Valentine and Friends in Concert at the Duc des Lombards”.
Regina Hotel
We will provide wonderful hotel accommodations in the very heart of the city, and fabulous parties and concerts for three evenings. We'll dine on a rooftop overlooking the city and take a riverboat along the Seine at night to view the monuments, which are now magnificently lit up. Our Paris pre-trip is set-up so that you have three nights of parties and music with your friends in the heart of Paris while leaving the daytimes free to pick from among the thousands of choices in this most beautiful of cities.
Saint James Albany Paris Hotel
Tuileries Garden
We are pleased to offer two wonderful hotels right across the street from each other in the heart of Paris. Both the St. James Albany and La Regina are on the Rue de Rivoli at the Place de Pyramides at the west end of the Tuileries Gardens. The four-star St. James Albany is newly remodeled, chic, modern and very comfortable. La Regina is a five-star art deco masterpiece from the Belle Époque era. All the rooms that we have reserved have been upgraded to the deluxe or junior suite categories. Using two hotels offers us some flexibility in our pricing while being able to offer great suites and views to those who prefer to splurge.

Our Time in the Château d'Artigny

We'll arrive from Paris on the afternoon of Monday, May 6. The staff will greet us with a reception in one of the grand halls or outdoors on the terrace overlooking the river. After check-in, take time to explore the buildings and grounds of this great estate. Our hotel has 56 bedrooms spread over three buildings. The Main House offers ballrooms, music rooms, libraries and dining rooms; the Chapel is a direct copy of the chapel at Versailles; and the Perfumery has the largest rooms on the property with some of the best views. You can even go between buildings via the underground passageways (very cool). Our festivities will commence that evening with a great banquet and concert.
Our Salon at Château d'Artigny
As has become our custom, we will divide our group into several smaller groups during the daytimes. Each group will go on a different adventure and take lunch in a different restaurant each day on a rotating basis. So by the end of the week you will have the opportunity to enjoy all the excursions. We have had the great pleasure of visiting the many local châteaux, vineyards and gastronomic shrines in order to pick out the very best ones to share with you. For example, the Château de Chenonceau, built during the early 1500s, functioned as both a palace and a bridge. It's been a focal point of French history and French historical figures for 500 years. It's been owned by three queens and several mothers and mistresses of kings. The fact that it was the only bridge over the river for several miles saved it from being destroyed in the French Revolution. In WWII, the chateau straddled the border between the Nazi controlled and the “free” parts of France, respectively, with the front door and back door controlled by different governments. We'll hear many colorful stories.
Château de Chenonceau
We'll take lunch one day at the l'Etape Gourmande, a farm to table restaurant with a wonderful ambiance and lovingly prepared cuisine created in a 300-year-old farm outside the village of Villandry. We'll also visit the nearby Château of Villandry, which has one of the most famous gardens of France.

The fairytale Château d'Azay was built at the same time as the Château de Chenonceau. The finance minister of King Francis I joined with the mayor of nearby Tours, and used creative accounting to pilfer enough money to construct the first Renaissance-style chateau in France. The chateau was only half finished when the bookkeeping discrepancies were discovered. The minister lost his head and the mayor fled the country. After our visit, we’ll lunch in Les Grottes, a wonderful little restaurant built into the caves under a hill in the village.
l'Etape Gourmande
We’ll visit Amboise and the Château du Clos Lucé, given by Francis I to Leonardo da Vinci. This is where the great artist and thinker of the Renaissance passed his last years. By coincidence, he died there in the first week of May 1519, so we will be there on the five-hundredth anniversary of his death.
The Gardens of Château de Villandry
Château d'Azay
Da Vinci’s Workshop At Clos Lucé
Tours Town Hall
When he died, the Mona Lisa, still unfinished, was on an easel in his studio. The studio is still there with many of his drawings and tools where he left them. Amboise is a wonderful little town. We’ll have some free time to shop or visit the grand palace of Francis I that towers over Leonardo’s chateau.

We’ll take a little walking tour of the old center of Tours. There are lots of antiquities from Roman times, a magnificent cathedral, as well as charming antiquary shops like from an old novel. We also have a gastronomic treat in store. Our sommelier in d’Artigny, Antoine, has arranged for us to lunch privately in Le Saint Honoré, a restaurant created by one of France’s rising culinary stars, Benoit Pastier.
Antoine Lefort, Sommelier au Château d’Artigny
In order to give you time to use the spa, ride horses, bicycles, helicopters or hot air balloons, we will keep one day free at the Château d’Artigny. Or maybe you’d just like a day to relax. It’s up to you.

Each day we will arrive back to the Chateau by mid-afternoon in time to relax before we start our evening festivities. We will offer an hour of talks, tastings, and demonstrations on diverse topics. We have already made several wonderful contacts concerning the art and architecture, wines and gastronomic specialties of the region.
Benoit Pastier, chef of Le Saint Honare’
Amboise and the Loire River

The Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey

After six nights deep in the Loire Valley we will move back to the outskirts of Paris for our final two nights in the Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey (pictured on the cover). The Abbey was founded in the year 1118 and played major roles in medieval history and the crusades. It continued to grow for 650 years, adding more buildings and monks. It was disbanded as a monastery in the French Revolution (1789) and was abandoned for a hundred years. It was then bought by Charlotte de Rothschild in the 1880s. The Rothschilds fully restored the Abbey and made it the family home until WWll. It is now one of the great hotels in France. The Abbey is very close to two of France’s major monuments, Chartres and Versailles. Chartres, the greatest gothic cathedral ever built, has just finished a major renovation. We are used to seeing gothic cathedrals interiors as monochromatic expanses of bare stone. The recent repainting of the interior to match the exuberant colors of the original decorations is truly a revelation.
Courtyard of the Abbey
Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
On our accompanying visit to the charming town of Chartres, we will enjoy the delightful pedestrian medieval walkways replete with shops and cafés. And if you haven’t been to Versailles in several years, you should know that they now offer specialty guided visits in addition to the grand tour of Louis XIV’s apartments. You can visit the workshops, tour the jewelry (it takes an hour), visit the carriages or the gardens with heated soil where they grew fruits and vegetables for the king in winter.

By closing our trip at the Abbey, we will be close enough to the airport to catch a morning flight home on the day we finish the trip without having to stay overnight at the airport.


We will highlight the musical connections between America and France over the last hundred years. Many great American musicians (including Billy Valentine) have had great success in France, and in return, France exported the musical genius of Django Reinhardt to the American jazz scene. Raul Reynoso is considered one of the great Django-style players in the world. So we will build some of our musical performances around the soulful sounds of Billy and the joyful musical exuberance of Raul. Helping to support will be several entertainers who are masters in their own right: David Jackson, Jeff Sanford, Terry Miller; and, of course our leaders, Matt Montgomery, Tom Montgomery, and Chip Mallari. In the coming months we will surely add others and keep you informed as we do so.
Raul Reynoso
Billy Valentine)
We will emphasize the food and wine of the region. The wine cellar at the Château d’Artigny is the largest in the Loire valley, and Antoine Lefort, the chateau’s sommelier, is a knowledgeable and personable star of the French wine world. He will match our wines with our meals and offer small seminars and tours of the cellar for those who want to learn more. Our meals will be prepared by Chef Hervé Guttin and his staff. He is a third generation grand chef and is now is making the L'Origan Restaurant at the Chateau d'Artigny a food destination for gourmands from around the world. Our evening banquets will certainly be a high point of our visit to this Valley of Kings and Garden of France.

Reservations, Details and Costs

Cost for the Loire Valley (Main-Trip): We pride ourselves in offering you the best adventures at reasonable costs. This trip is special in that we are traveling during the high season in order to open up this experience to the very best possibilities. We have also added an extra night (eight nights rather than the usual seven). And we will be in some of the most magnificent and exclusive venues, with lavish gastronomic delights, great wines and entertainment, and fascinating daytime destinations. All this results in a change in our usual costs, but it still remains reasonably priced, considering the excellent level of care and accommodation on this most magnificent Castles and Concerts adventure. The cost of this trip is $6,950 per person, double occupancy. In both the Chateau and the Abbey des Cernay, no two rooms are alike. So we’ve asked both properties to pick the fifteen best rooms and offer these as upgrades. For $650/person for the week you can reserve one of these upgraded rooms.
The Louvre (located across the street from our hotels)
Cost for the Paris Pre-Trip: The three-day party and hotel package in the Saint James Albany Paris Hôtel Spa is $1,950 and at the Hotel Regina Louvre it is $2,950. Additionally, we have reserved the three big suites in the Hotel Regina Louvre with Eiffel Tower views for an additional cost. Please let us know if you’re interested.

Deposits and Cancellations: A $1.000 deposit will hold your place. As always, your deposit is fully refundable for any reason, up to the time of your second payment, which will be due in in the fall. Your deposits are fully transferable to someone else at any time. If you need to cancel after the second payment, you will receive a full refund if either you or Castles & Concerts can find a substitute traveler to take your place.
Our Cocktail Lounge at Château d'Artigny
Duc de Lombards, Famous Parisian Jazz Club and C&C Pre-Trip Venue


Please feel free to email or call us with any questions you may have. Thank you.

Pre-Trip in Paris:
May 3, 2019 to May 6, 2019

$1,950 per person for 4-star Accommodations
$2,950 per person for 5-star Accommodations

Main Trip in the Loire Valley:
May 6, 2019 to May 14, 2019

$6,950 per person
($650 per person for upgraded rooms)
All Prices are Double Occupancy. 1.5 x rate for single rooms.


(650) 444-3934
(661) 803-2098
(415) 492-1059