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LA BELLE FRANCE

Views of spellbinding scenery. Stories of maritime towns and picture-book villages. Ancient castles steeped in history, and country inns full of character. The further we go into Southern Ireland’s enchanting landscapes, the deeper you’ll fall under its spell! THE BLUE-ROADS DIFFERENCE – Visit Molly Gallivan’s Cottage and learn the story of a widow who supported her children by brewing illicit whiskey – Embark on a seaweed foraging walk on the Skellig Coast – and enjoy local seaweed delicacies – Tour Killarney in a traditional jaunting car and sample the beers at a local brewery

TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • 8 nights in boutique accommodation 
  • Experienced Back-Roads Tour Leader and Driver 
  • Premium mini-coach transportation 
  • Calvados tasting session in Normandy 
  • Bourgueil wine tasting session paired with local cheese  
  • Local produce tasting session in Normandy 
  • Daily European-style breakfasts (B)5 dinners (D) 
  • Entrance included to all attractions in the itinerary, includingMonet’s garden, the American Cemetery and Memorial, Mont St-Michel, Château d’Angers, Château de Villandry, Château de Chenonceau, Chartres Cathedral

  

Itinerary

  • DAY 1: PARIS – HONFLEUROur first impressions of France will be formed in Giverny, Normandy, at the home of Claude Monet – one of the world’s most celebrated artists. The vivid colours in every room paint a picture of his life, and the gardens outside are brimming with flowers in every shade. Our next stop will be the Arboretum d’Harcourt, a historic arboretum set in the grounds of the Château d’Harcourt. Here, we’ll have plenty of time to meander through the castle, explore the gardens – and even enjoy a local produce tasting session. Our home for the next two nights will be the charming port town of Honfleur (which you may recognise as the subject of a fair few Impressionist paintings).

 

  • DAY 2: HONFLEUR – NORMANDY – HONFLEURThis morning we’ll visit Honfleur’s bustling market and wander past its historic buildings and 17th-century harbour on a walking tour. Then: we’ll track the Route du Cidre to Normandy, pausing to taste the fruits of the region’s orchards – from cool, crisp ciders to heady, amber-hued calvados – making for a delicious end to our day.

 

  • DAY 3: HONFLEUR – NORMANDY BEACHES – ARROMANCHES-LES-BAINSToday we’ll turn our attention to the windswept shoreline of the Normandy beaches, where we’ll visit the sites of the D-Day landings of 1944. Afterwards, there’s the opportunity to pay a poignant visit to the American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer. And this afternoon? We’ll stroll through the medieval town of Bayeux on a walking tour before moving on to Arromanches-les-Bains.

 

  • DAY 4: ARROMANCHES-LES-BAINS – MONT SAINT-MICHEL – DOL-DE-BRETAGNE – DINANThis morning we’ll drive on to the enchanting Mont Saint-Michel, crossing the tidal causeway to wander the buzzing island village and explore the abbey. Later, on the way to Dinan, we’ll stop off for photos at Dol-de-Bretagne – where we’ll see the famous Menhir de Champ-Dolent. Tonight, an included dinner awaits us in a traditional Breton crêperie.

 

  • DAY 5: DINANToday is yours to spend however you wish in Dinan. Wander cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses, take a closer look at the Basilique St-Sauveur, visit the old bridge… You certainly won’t be short of things to do!

 

  • DAY 6: DINAN – ANGERS – CHINONToday will find us deep in fairytale territory as we travel towards the Loire Valley. Here, the landscape’s skyline is peppered with the turrets of castles. Our first port of call will be Angers, which was once the medieval stronghold of the Plantagenet kings. After spending some time absorbing its history at the castle, we’ll move on to Chinon – where we’ll dine together at a local restaurant.

 

  • DAY 7: CHINON – CHÂTEAU DE VILLANDRY – CHINONNext stop: the Château de Villandry, which is famous for its impeccably manicured gardens. Taking in so much beauty is thirsty work, so on our way back to Chinon we’ll enjoy a detour at a Bourgueil winery – where we’ll visit the vineyard and cellars before sampling a glass or two (along with some delicious local cheeses).

 

  • DAY 8: CHINON – CHÂTEAU DE CHENONCEAU – MAINTENONToday’s château? Château de Chenonceau, where we’ll take some time to stroll through the idyllic gardens and explore the fascinating museum. Afterwards, we’ll make our way to Maintenon – where we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner together.

 

  • DAY 9: MAINTENON – CHARTRES – PARISA visit to the celebrated Chartres Cathedral will make a fitting finale for our tour. It’s believed to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in France – and it’s a beautiful image to take with us back to Paris, where we’ll say au revoir.
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