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LA BELLE FRANCE

NORMANDY, BRITTANY, & THE LOIRE VALLEY

  • 9 Day tour
  • 15 passengers maximum
  • Cost per person A$3,820 Twin-share
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NORMANDY, BRITTANY, & THE LOIRE VALLEY


Step into a land of renowned artists and royal crusaders, hilltop monasteries and valley castles. This tour takes us from France’s dramatic northernshores to châteaux-sprinkled countryside, breaking off to see WWII sites, explore centuries-old villages and sample home-grown delicacies.


ITINERARY

Day 1 PARIS – HONFLEUR

Our first impressions of France are formed in Giverny, Normandy, at the home of one of the world’s most celebrated artists – Claude Monet. The vivid colours in every room paint a picture of his life and the gardens outside are brimming with every shade of flower. We carry that image with us all the way to Honfleur. With a harbour lined with a parade of tall, brightly painted merchant’s houses, it’s one of the most beautifully preserved old ports in Normandy – and our home for the next two nights. Bustling cafes and restaurants line the pavements. So what better way to celebrate the start of our trip than with a welcome dinner together. (D)
Overnight: Hotel des Loges (or similar)

Day 2 HONFLEUR – NORMANDY – HONFLEUR

On the menu today is Normandy’s ‘back country’. We take the road less travelled to Livarot where a renowned dairy produces wonderful cheeses –and invites us to sample them. Of course, cheese is made even better when followed up with drinks. So we track the Route du Cidre towards Beuvron-en-Auge, voted one of the most beautiful villages in all of France. From cool, crisp ciders to heady, amber-hued calvados, it’s here that we pause to taste the fruits of the region’s orchards – a delicious end to our day. (B)
Overnight: Hotel des Loges (or similar)

Day 3 HONFLEUR – NORMANDY BEACHES – CALVADOS

We turn our attentions to the windswept shoreline, where history has left an enduring mark not just on the landscape, but the lives of countless people around the world. At the Normandy Beaches, we stand at the sites of the D-Day Landings of 1944. Afterwards, there’s the opportunity to pay a poignant visit to the American War Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, which is in a peaceful spot overlooking Omaha beach. When bed beckons, we find ourselves in a countryside hotel not far from the coast. (B, D)
Overnight: Ferme de la Ranconniere (or similar)

Day 4 CALVADOS – BAYEUX – MONT ST MICHEL – DINAN

Time to unfold another layer of Normandy history this morning with a trip to see the remarkable Bayeux Tapestry. The town of Bayeux is a find in itself, which we enjoy exploring afterwards.That afternoon, we drive onto enchanting Mont St Michel, crossing the tidal causeway to wander the buzzing island village. There’s even time to visit the medieval monastery, which crowns the hilltop and gazes imperiously back to the mainland. To top off a charmfilled day, we spend this evening in Dinan – and it’s yours to enjoy. (B)
Overnight: Hotel le D'Avaugour (or similar)

Day 5 DINAN

With a whole day to yourself in Dinan, you can really get under the skin of this Gallic gem. Picture ancient ramparts, a hotchpotch of timbered houses, a postcard-pretty quay and 13th century castle. You’ll get a sense of its arts and crafts heritage in the quirky shops and galleries that line the cobbled streets, with talented craftspeople ranging from bookbinders to glassblowers plying their trade here. And it has little bars and restaurants to suit every taste. (B)
Overnight: Hotel le D'Avaugour (or similar)

Day 6 DINAN – ANGERS – CHINON

We’re deep into fairytale territory when we travel towards the Loire Valley, a landscape whose skyline is peppered with the turrets of castles. Our first port of call is Angers, once the medieval stronghold of the Plantagenet kings. It gives us a chance to get up close to a moat-encircled castle and admire a beautiful tapestry. Then we move on to Chinon where dinner at a local restaurant awaits. (B, D)
Overnight: Hotel Diderot (or similar)

Day 7 CHINON – CHÂTEAU DE VILLANDRY – CHINON

Our first château of the tour is the last of Loire’s greats: Château de Villandry. There is plenty of time for us to explore its majestic interiors and even more magnificent grounds. Be sure to peek out of an upstairs window for a birds-eye view of the parterre planting, with intricate patterns laid out in meticulously trimmed hedges and vivid flowers. Taking it all in is thirsty work. So on our way back to Chinon we enjoy a detour at a regional winery and linger over a glass or two. (B)
Overnight: Hotel Diderot (or similar)

Day 8 CHINON – CHÂTEAU DE CHENONCEAU – MONTLOUIS-SUR-LOIRE

Château de Chenonceau gives us the opportunity to stroll through manicured gardens and explore the fascinating museum. While at our own château, deep in the heart of the Loire Valley, we turn into lords and ladies of the manor with a night spent in stately surrounds – but not before a guided tour of the gardens and an indulgent farewell dinner. (B, D)
Overnight: Chateau de la Bourdaisiere (or similar)

Day 9 MONTLOUIS-SUR-LOIRE – CHARTRES – PARIS

A fitting finale to our tour is a visit to the celebrated cathedral of Chartres, reckoned to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in France. Its soaring spires and ornate 13th century stained glass windows are a sight to behold, and a beautiful image to take back to Paris where we say “au revoir”. (B) 


Tour Inclusions

  • 8 nights’ accommodation
  • Driver/tour leader
  • Luxury mini-coach transportation
  • European breakfast daily
  • 4 x evening meals
  • Cooking demonstration & dinner
  • Cheese tasting
  • Cider & calvados tasting
  • Wine tasting
  • Guided château garden tour
  • Included Entrances: Monet’s House & Garden at Giverny, Angers Castle, Bayeux Tapestry, Mont St Michel, Chateau de Villandry & Chateau de Chenonceau.