The Real Deal: Six nights' accommodations, car rental, and some sightseeing tours, from $1,236 per person—including taxes.
When: Through Mar. 31, 2008
The fine print: Included are hotel taxes, breakfast daily, two gourmet dinners in the Loire Valley, a four-day car rental, car insurance, a half-day guided tour of Paris, entry to a vineyard and wine tasting, entry to a château, a 10 percent discount coupon to the Galeries Lafayette, and one travel bag per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $450. Read before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability
Contact: France Vacations, 866/613-5630, francevacations.net
Why it's a deal: Rates at the hotels you'll be staying at in Paris and the Loire start at $129 and $99 per person per night, respectively. That comes to $684 per person for six nights. For an additional $552, or about $92 per day, France Vacations includes the six nights' accommodations, the car rental and insurance, several meals, some sightseeing tours, all taxes—and the convenience of having the details planned for you.
Trip details: The package starts with three nights in Paris at Le General, a 242-room hotel located in Le Marais near the Place de la Republique. Extra nights at this three-star hotel cost $99 per person per night; upgrades to four-star accommodations in Paris cost $152 per person per night.
While in Paris, you'll go on a half-day guided tour that covers blockbuster sights like the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. The rest of the time is yours to explore the City of Light. There are optional tours (for an additional cost) ranging from a one-hour cruise on the Seine for $19 per person to a wine tasting for $95 per person.
After picking up your Avis rental car on day four, you'll drive about 160 miles to the Chateau de Rochecotte in Langeais in the Loire Valley. The 35-room château, constructed in the 18th century, features 19 acres of parks and woodlands, manicured gardens, and an outdoor heated swimming pool. On the first and second nights of your stay, you'll be treated to a gourmet dinner in the château's restaurant, which specializes in haute cuisine.
The Loire Valley is best known for two things: châteaus and wine. Explore the former with free entry to one château, choosing from Langeais, Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, or UssÃ©. You'll be able to pair the latter with a complimentary vineyard tour and wine tasting in Bourgeuil.
For the return trip, you'll drive the rented car back to Paris. The compact car has a manual transmission; you can upgrade to an automatic for an additional $55 per person. The package includes unlimited mileage on the car, 24-hour roadside assistance, and all taxes and fees.
Getting there: According to a recent Kayak search, the lowest round-trip fares to Paris in mid-March are $533 from New York City (Air India), $599 from Seattle (Northwest), $618 from Miami (Delta), $622 from Chicago (Northwest), $686 from Houston (Northwest), $695 from D.C. (Northwest), and $711 from L.A. (Delta).