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★★★☆☆

“My honest view after 15 tours - what to expect.”

Written on: 22/04/2019 by daviddkkelly (1 review written)

I've done 15 tours with Leger over the last 8 or 9 years, including 2 week multi country, multi destination trips, a couple of mini breaks and 3 Christmas Market trips. People often ask me what they are like, and in all honesty they have been a very mixed bag. Some tours have been great, some have been average or even poor. So rather than review a specific tour I will give my honest opinion of travelling with Leger generally, coming from my experience of probably 10 or more tours with them.

Firstly, most guests are elderly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this IMO, but if you are a younger couple hoping to meet similarly aged people you likely won't. You often get single travellers too, so if you are a travelling solo, you probably won't be the only one. What can be frustrating though is when you get solo travellers who don't like travelling solo and try and force their company on you and try to tag along. We've had this happen more than a few trips. It's horrible trying to politely excuse yourselves from someone who is imposing themselves a little too much into your own holiday.

Ok, hotels. Don't expect much or you will be disappointed. We have over the years stopped in a handful of lovely hotels, then the rest have been an equal mix of slightly below average 2 star equivalents or poor hotels. Some people go expecting luxury or to stop in well known chain hotels. You may in your initial overnight stops in Northern France or Brussels, but most hotels are cheap, family run, probably 2 star equivalents. Leger will have a budget to work to, but will also try to maximise their profit. Which means you will never stop in the best hotels, only the best hotels that will agree to let you all stop for a certain budget or less. So hotels won't be in good locations. They will probably be quite far away from the centre of whichever city or town you are visiting. This sometimes means that you could be in the middle of nowhere, or an industrial, and if you have desires to explore your surroundings of an evening - the only local attractions might be a supermarket and McDonalds and a Motorway. We have stopped in a handful of nice hotels, with great locations, but we have stopped in some really abysmal ones too, where most guests have complained. You would hope that if enough guests are complaining about particular hotels then Leger would stop using them. That isn't the case though. After all they have a budget to meet and profits to maximize. If you dont expect much from the hotels and treat them as a place to sleep, you wont be disappointed. Some of the tours I've really enjoyed have included some very average or below average hotels, but for me the important part was visiting the great cities and countries, and where food in the hotel has been average at best I've made up for it with the food I've eaten elsewhere for lunch and snacks etc.

The other downside of having a strict budget and having to maximize profits is the food. Generally the food will be below average and often even very poor. We have probably only stopped in one hotel on one tour in Valkenberg where we could actually say the food was good. Again the hotels have a cost per head to meet. During some tours you might stop at several hotels. It's not unusual to have to eat sliced pork and chips multiple times during the same holiday at different hotels. My advise would be to enjoy the food you have out on your trips and buy yourself, treat your meal in the hotels as something to keep you going, not a luxurious meal to be enjoyed.

When booking your holiday please be aware that you will have to pay more to go on excursions. The cost of these can soon rack up , so if you are on a budget be prepared. If you don't go on the trips you are very much left on your own at your base hotel, which again may be far from the main areas of interest/beaches so you may find yourself having little to do. Drivers will also come up with their own off schedule excursions that aren't on the list which they have likely arranged themselves to make themselves some money, or they will sometimes offer stop offs at particular restaurants for lunch, from where they likely receive a kick back from the restaurant for doing so.

As for the drivers, again they have been very mixed bag over . Some have been great. Some have been idiots, racists, arrogant. You will notice how for many of them their attitude completely changes once they have your tips and you are back at Calais, from friendly to rude in some cases.

I think overall it's a case of managing expectations. These are tours not holidays. They aren't restful - some days you will be getting up at 5 or 6 am, having breakfast at 6.30am and hitting the road at 7.00am and can be on the road for 12 hours or more getting to your next destination or overnight stop. You will stop every 3 hours maximum for a toilet break and a leg stretch. If you are going expecting a relaxing, restful time with lie ins and meals at your convenience you will be in for a shock. Likewise if you go expecting luxury when it comes to hotels and food you will be disappointed. You will get enough to eat but it won't be high quality, you will get a bed for the night but dont expect the Hilton or modern luxury - go with these expectations and enjoy the cities, the sightseeing, the travelling and scenery itself and you will probably enjoy it. Despite staying in some absolute stinkers when it comes to hotels and having to eat school dinner standard meals on some holidays there was only one tour that I really didn't enjoy at all. I've looked forward to going every time.

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