Fabulous France: Paris, Loire Valley & Normandy
Paris/Orleans/Tours/Mont St. Michel/Caen/Paris
This package includes:
- 8 nights of accommodation in a 3 or 4 star hotel inc. breakfast
- Roundtrip CDG Airport Transfers in Paris
- Private City Tour in Paris (4h) with Transportation and English-speaking local Guide
- 5 days of private vehicle at disposal as per the program (max 10 hours at disposal per day), from Day 4 to Day 8
- Château de Chambord inc. audioguide
- Château de Chenonceau inc. audioguide
- Château de Valençay inc. audioguide
- Mont St. Michel
- Caen Memorial
- Normandy D-Day Beaches
- Visit and tasting at the Graindorge Cheese Dairy
Day 1 - Paris
Welcome to Paris! Upon arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, meet your driver for the transfer to the hotel. Check in and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in central Paris.
Day 2 - Paris
Discover the city’s most famous tourist sights and monuments on a Half Day Private City Tour with a professional English-speaking guide. Marvel at Paris's best-known sights: Place Vendôme Square, the Opera House, the Pantheon, the Luxembourg Palace and Gardens, the Orsay Museum, Place de la Concorde Square, the Champs-Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Invalides. Your tour will end back at the hotel or at another central location, as you prefer. You will have the rest of the day to explore Paris at your leisure. Overnight in central Paris.
Day 3 - Paris
Day spent at leisure. Overnight in central Paris.
Day 4 - Paris - Orléans - Chambord - Tours
After breakfast, leave Paris on-board your private coach towards the Loire Valley and its wonders of the Renaissance period. Our first stop is Orleans, capital of the Centre-Val de Loire region. The history of this lovely city on the banks of the Loire River is inseparably bound with the history of Joan of Arc. The city owes its survival to the 17-year-old "Maid of Orléans," who helped lead the French to victory against the English when Orléans was besieged in 1429. An important landmark you should not miss is the 13th-century Sainte-Croix Cathedral, with its monumental exterior featuring twin towers (81 meters high), five doorways, and elaborate Baroque decoration. The sheer size of the interior leaves a lasting impression, while colourful stained-glass windows allow visitors to marvel at the history of Joan of Arc. For a further immersion into the city's culture, you can peruse the art collection at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, displaying around 700 artworks (paintings, sculptures and decorative objects) from famous artists of the 15th to the 20th century, such as Correggio, Tintoretto, Delacroix, Gauguin, and Picasso. After lunch, we will proceed to The Chambord Estate, where you will have an audio-guided visit. A breath-taking sight to behold, this enormous castle provided inspiration for the building of the Château de Versailles, and it is one of the most emblematic examples of Renaissance architecture in France. The estate was created in the early 16th century (at the height of the French Renaissance), by François I, who spared no expenses. With immense proportions, the building has iconic turreted towers, impressive vaulted ceilings, 440 rooms, and a gigantic double-helix staircase at the entry hall. The architect remains unknown, but the influence of Leonardo da Vinci is very perceptible. Outside, you will be dazzled by the French Formal Gardens that are landscaped in geometric patterns with perfectly manicured shrubs and tidy flowerbeds. After your visit, you will be taken to the historic city of Tours. Check-in at the hotel. Overnight.
Day 5 - Tours - Chenonceau - Valençay - Tours
This morning you will explore through an audio-guided tour the magnificent Castle of Chenonceau. The two-story gallery stands upon a graceful arched bridge that crosses the Cher River, giving the impression that the château is floating on water. Also known as "The Ladies’ Castle", it was initially constructed in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet. Later when forming part of the Crown Estate, King Henri II left the Castle to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. But then once he had passed away his widow Catherine de Medici deposed Diane and extended the Castle to stretch over the river Cher. Equalling the beauty of the interior, the château's Renaissance French Gardens were perfectly landscaped with decorative pools and flower beds, and are one important destination for garden lovers from all over the world. The afternoon will be spent at the Château de Valençay, including an audio-guided tour. Built in stages from the medieval era through the Renaissance period, the building blends a variety of architectural styles. The Château de Valençay also encompasses vast grounds. Set in a 53-hectare park including lush forests, the property features immaculate gardens with an infinity of flowerbeds, sculptures, decorative pools, and fountains. After our visit, we will return to Tours, where you can take some time to explore the city. A walk through the cobblestone streets between Place Plumereau and the Place du Grand-Marché will give allow you to see the beauties of the Old Town. With its tree-lined courtyard space, bustling outdoor cafés, and handsome half-timbered houses, the Place Plumereau is a particularly inviting place to stop. You can spend some time at the Saint-Gatien Cathedral and admire its Flamboyant Gothic façade, glorious vaulted sanctuary, and stained-glass windows from the 13th century. Overnight in Tours.
Day 6 - Tours - Mont St. Michel
After breakfast, we leave Tours heading towards the world-renowned Mont Saint Michel, a Unesco World Heritage site. Please note that the car park stands approximately 1.5 miles away from the island. Once you leave the coach, head for the Place des Navettes, where shuttle buses called Passeurs will take you to the mount itself. The Mount has been consecrated to St-Michel from the year 708, the Benedictine abbey presents a big panorama of the medieval architecture from the centuries XI - XVI. A lunch of omelette at the famous local restaurant “Mère Poulard” is suggested. Spend some time exploring the village build on the slopes in the shadow of the fortifications. Overnight in the surrounding areas.
Day 7 - Normandy D-Day Beaches - Caen
After breakfast, we will visit some of the WW-II landing beaches of the Allied Forces (you can choose which memorials, beaches you prefer to visit). We will also visit the Memorial de Caen, a museum and war memorial commemorating World War II and the Battle for Caen. More generally, the museum is dedicated to the history of the twentieth century, mainly focused on the fragility of peace. Overnight in Caen.
Day 8 - Caen - Paris
After breakfast, it is time to learn more about the best food and drink that this rich region of France has to offer, starting with a visit to the Graindorge Cheese Dairy in Livarot. Since 1910, three generations of cheese makers have succeeded one another to produce Livarot and Pont l’Evêque, cheeses that are Norman Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses. You will see all stages of cheese production then taste four different cheeses (Livarot, Pont l’Eveque, Normandy Camembert and Neufchatel). After the visit, we will head to Honfleur, where we will have time for lunch. This small city and harbour dates back to the Vikings invasion in the 11th century. Its position, right in the Seine estuary, designed it to be both defensive line of Royal Seine River and the starting place for numerous great sea adventures. After the Hundred Years War, from 16th to 18th centuries, Honfleur basks in its glorious maritime history. On our way back to Paris, we will stop at the city of Rouen, the capital of Haute-Normandie, which owes everything to its advantageous location on the road from Paris to the sea. Marvel at its exquisite Gothic cathedral and see Rouen square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. After a couple of hours exploring the city, we will continue our journey eastwards until we reach Paris. Overnight.
Day 9 - Departure
At the designated time, transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport for your return flight home.