I’m joining this 10 days La Petite France trip with Albatross Tours. So excited!!!
Sleep in a picturesque château in the Loire Valley, walk amongst the flowers of Monet’s Gardens and Château Villandry and dine on exquisite seafood in the ‘pirate town’ of St Malo. Stand on the Normandy beaches, visit magnificent Mont-Saint-Michel and sip Benedictine in a palace! C’est magnifique…
- Stay 3 nights on the verdant Normandy Coast in the classic seaside resort of Cabourg
- Wander through Monet’s glorious gardens in Giverny
- Explore the pretty harbourside town of Honfleur
- Sip Benedictine in Fécamp where it was invented
- Stay 2 nights in the ‘pirate town’ of St Malo
- Explore the magnificent 11th century Mont-Saint-Michel (I always wanted to visit!!)
- Enjoy time relaxing in the ‘oyster village’ of Cancale
- Visit the famous city of Tours and explore the old town
- Enjoy a relaxing evening in the pretty village of Langeais
- Enjoy the gardens and interior of the elegant Château Chenonceau
- Visit Da Vinci’s residence – Château du Clos Lucé in historical Amboise
- Visit the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, the largest in Western Europe
- Visit the classic 16th and 18th century gardens of Château Villandry
- Enjoy a farewell dinner in your Château
Day 1: Monet’s Gardens, Rouen and Cabourg
Your tour commences this morning in Paris. After meeting your Tour Manager, we board our coach and follow the River Seine north-west to Giverny for our first stop, a visit to the house and gardens of the impressionist artist Claude Monet. World famous, these colourful gardens with lily ponds and shaded walkways are instantly recognisable as the inspiration for so many of his classic artworks.
Lunchtime will be spent in the medieval city of Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. The old town still boasts wonderful half-timbered buildings and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Later we will continue to the Normandy Coast where we will stay the next three nights in the traditional resort town of Cabourg. Created as a fashionable French seaside resort in the 1880’s Cabourg still offers that ‘olde worlde’ experience of café lined, seaside promenades and smart belle époque villas and hotels. Your welcome drink and dinner tonight is a perfect way to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.
Day 2: WWII Normandy landing beaches
We will spend a fascinating morning driving through the lush Normandy countryside, dotted with small, pretty villages, ancient farms and apple orchards, to explore the famous WWII Normandy landing beaches. At Arromanches-les-Bains we will visit the fascinating Landing Beaches Museum. From here, looking out over the English Channel you will clearly see the remains of Mulberry ‘B’ Harbour, often referred to as the ‘key to Normandy’. This afternoon we stop in the historic town of Bayeux, which sits on the River Aure, and enjoy a visit to see the magnificent Bayeux Tapestry, depicting William the Conqueror’s invasion of Britain in 1066.
Day 3: Cabourg,Honfleur and Palais Benedictine
After time at leisure to explore Cabourg, we head east to explore the pretty harbour town of Honfleur which is located on the estuary where the River Seine meets the English Channel. Lined with 16th, 17th and 18th century houses the old harbour is filled with colourful fishing boats. It is no wonder it was one of the classic ‘painting by numbers’ settings. Make sure you wander around the cobbled stone streets to find the perfect bistro for lunch. In the afternoon, we will visit the Palais Benedictine in Fécamp. Five hundred years ago, a Benedictine alchemist discovered a secret elixir that we now know as Benedictine liqueur. Built by Alexandre le Grand who made a fortune with this brew, the opulent interior of the imposing gothic/renaissance style palace is rich in art, sculptures and a wonderful old library. Following a guided tour, we will enjoy a tasting of this ancient elixir.
Day 4: Mont-Saint-Michel and Cancale
Crossing to Eastern Normandy, we visit the amazing structure of le Mont-Saint-Michel. The 11th century Romanesque abbey is perched atop a rocky outcrop linked to mainland France by a kilometre long, narrow causeway. The giant monastery dominates the tiny village below, and the entire complex has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
Entering Brittany we make an afternoon stop in the ‘oyster village’ of Cancale. The region’s giant oysters have been famous since pre-Roman times, and from the old fishing port you will see the seven square kilometres of oyster beds stretching out to sea. Take time to stop in one of the pretty fishing house restaurants and try a few freshly shucked oysters, and maybe a glass of wine. We will stay the next two nights on the Emerald Coast, in the ‘pirate town’ of St Malo.
Day 5: Dinan and ‘My Time’ in St Malo
This morning we will visit the attractive and beautifully preserved village of Dinan. The whole upper town is filled with historic, half-timbered houses which date back up to 600 years. Down near the old port you find stone houses and bridges, and cobbled stone streets lined with craft and artisan shops. The town still has kilometres of ancient ramparts and a massive viaduct built by Gustav Eiffel. Next we enjoy lunchtime in the classic seaside resort of Dinard, with its sea front that is lined with 19th century villas and townhouses. Time to shop and enjoy lunch in the old town centre. Later we catch the ferry across to the old port of St Malo. Arriving by boat we can get the very best view of this fully walled and fortified town. Originally an island stronghold, the town grew on the wealth bought in between the 16th and 18th centuries by the ‘authorised’ pirates and freebooters. The rest of your day is at leisure to explore the cobbled streets, alleys filled with shops and cafés. Perhaps enjoy the 2 km walk along the ramparts that completely encircle the old town.
Day 6: Angers Château and Saumur
Travelling south we make our way to the verdant Loire Valley where, during the 15th and 16th centuries, the Kings of France and their courtiers created their grand holiday palaces. First stop is in the city of Angers with its massive 13th century granite château. In the afternoon we will make a stop in Saumur, famous for its castle and elite riding school. Later we reach our wonderful Château hotel where we spend the next four wonderful nights. This evening we enjoy dinner in our château.
Day 7: Tours and ‘My Time’ at your Château
After a leisurely start, we make our way to the city of Tours. As you would expect of a regional capital there is much to see, from the Cathedral Saint-Gatien and the adjacent cloisters of La Psalette, to the shopping, the vieille ville (old town) and Place Plumereau filled with al fresco cafés and bars. A great place to relax over lunchtime. Late afternoon, after time at leisure back at our château to relax & freshen up, we enjoy an evening in nearby Langeais. The enormous château which dominates the beautiful village can still be visited, and this evening you will have the chance to discover your own intimate bistro for dinner.
Day 8: Château Chenonceau and Château du Clos Lucé
This morning we enjoy a visit to the magnificent Château Chenonceau, spanning the River Cher on a series of graceful arches. Possibly one of the most photographed of the Loire châteaux this was the former home of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. Explore the stunning gardens and interior of the château. Later we stop to explore the charming riverside town of Amboise, on the banks of the River Loire, with its Royal Palace, where Leonardo da Vinci once lived as a guest of King Francois I. We have included a visit to da Vinci’s residence – Château du Clos Lucé. Here in the underground rooms you will see on display, forty machines designed by this amazing inventor. After freshening up back at our château your evening will be free in the old town of Tours around Place Plumereau, to discover your own provincial bistro for dinner.
Day 9: Fontevraud, Chinon and Château Villandry
Our first stop of the day will be to visit the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. Built nearly 1000 years ago, this is the largest Abbey in Western Europe. The Romanesque abbey church with its royal tombs and the renaissance cloister, have all been beautifully restored and the complex is now a museum and cultural centre. Lunchtime will be spent exploring Chinon, with its massive castle looming over the narrow cobbled streets of this riverside town. Time permitting, in the afternoon we will detour from our route to pass through Ussé to make a photo stop at the 16th century château overlooking the Loire and Indre River Valley. Accredited as the castle in Charles Perrault’s story ‘Sleeping Beauty’ it is also sometimes called the ‘Castle of Dreams’. We then visit the gardens of Château Villandry which got its inspiration from the classic gardens of the 16th and 18th century. Different levels of the gardens include ponds, topiary, ornamental hedges and an extraordinary kitchen garden covering 12,500 square metres. Your farewell dinner tonight is included at your château.
Day 10: To Paris
Going home and back to work! 😦