Best of France 12 Day Tour
March-November for groups
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March-November for groups
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Price Includes: Lodging at 3-4 star hotels, breakfast daily, full time English speaking tour escort, services of air conditioned deluxe motor coach, all guides, entrances, touring and transportation as appears on itinerary, baggage handling at hotels (one piece).
Not Included: All lunches, dinners of your choice, tips to driver, guides, and hotel staff, optional travel insurance.
Deposit Required: $300 per person will reserve your place. A $100 service fee will be charged for cancellation at any time in addition to our normal payment and cancellation policy.
Day 1: Departure
Overnight flight to France.
Day 2: Paris, Giverny, Caen
We depart the City of Lights this morning for Giverny, the home of Claude Monet. We'll stroll the gardens which were the inspiration for many of Monet's works. Continuing the day's touring, we visit Caen. Although it was nearly reduced to rubble during World War II, Caen still has its history in tact. An interesting museum, the Memorial features a special gallery dedicated to the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. The Abbaye aux Hommes was constructed by William the Conqueror for atonement of his sins. The Abbaye aux Dames was constructed by order of William's cousin, Mathilda of Flanders. Lodging the next 3 nights will be in Caen.
Day 3: Normandy Beaches
This morning, we depart to the D-Day landing beaches. Entrance to the Peace Memorial is included. We begin with Pointe Du Hoc. It is here that the US Army Rangers stormed cliffs with collapsible ladders and grappling hooks to get onto Omaha Beach. In Arromanches, on Gold Beach, see what remains of Port Winston where allied troops unloaded supplies during the invasion of June 6, 1944. The American Cemetery is lined with endless rows of white crosses and stars of David. Colleville-sur-mer, also known as Omaha Beach, was a site where very little went according to plan. Unexpectedly strong defenses led to heavy U.S. casualties here. Afterwards, we continue to into the town of Bayeux, with its magnificent gothic cathedral and historic houses of the ville. The town is actually renowned for being the home of the 11th century tapestry depicting William the Conqueror's invasion of England. We'll have dinner in the town, which was one of the first to be liberated in the Battle of Normandy, and remained virtually untouched during the war.
Day 4: Normandy Sites
Today, we continue our tour of the sites of Normandy, to include the towns of Cabourg and Houlgate. Our travels also take us to Deauville, a prominent area for American race-horse breeding, and the inspiration for the fictional casino in the latest Bond movie "Casino Royale". We finish our day at the picturesque port of Honfleur, home of the Sainte-Catherine church which is the largest wooden church in France.
Day 5: Mont St. Michel
Several stops at Normandy coastal vistas will be made en route to Mont St. Michel. Enjoy some free time before dinner and lodging for the next two nights, hotel Relais St Michel.
Day 6: Mont St. Michel, Free Time
Today we will have a full tour of Mont St. Michel. The surreal abbey of Mont St. Michel seemingly rises out of the bay on a 264 foot mound of rock. The abbey is situated a few hundred yards off the coast. It is accessible by a man-made causeway. At low tide the flat sandy bed of the bay is completely visible. By high tide, the waves of the bay almost lap against the causeway. A well guided tour of the abbey takes you through its many rooms, passageways and its shining gem, the "lace staircase". The remainder of the afternoon is free time for exploration on your own.
Day 7: Chateau Villandry
We begin today with the Chateaus Villandry, obtained in the early 1500's by Jean Le Breton. King Philip II of France once met King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionhearted) here to discuss peace. The property was confiscated during the 1800's and in the early 1800's was acquired by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte for his brother Joseph. In 1906 the castle was purchased by Dr. Joachim Carvallo, who undertook a series of enormous renovations, and created what is widely considered one of the most beautiful gardens of the world. After dinner we continue to Hotel Univers Tours, our home for the next 2 nights.
Day 8: Loire Valley Tour
Known as The Garden of France and the Cradle of the French Language, the Loire Valley is home to many cultural monuments representing the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. Our stops in this region of fine wine will include Chateau de Chambord, and Chateau de Chenonceaux. Chateau de Chambord is one of the most recognizable castles, as well as the largest in the Loire Valley. Its four massive bastion towers surround the central keep, and the castle contains 445 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Built on the site of an old mill on the River Cher, Chateau de Chenonceaux highlights include the Marques Tower, the guard's room, and the chapel, amongst many others.
Day 9: Chartres, Versailles, Paris
On the banks of the Eure River in Chartres is where we will begin our touring today, best known for the Cathedral of Chartres, widely considered to be the finest gothic cathedral in France. Chartres endured heavy damage from bombings during World War II. Next, it's off to Versailles and the famous Versailles Palace. We will be impressed by the sumptuous architecture, the impressive Hall of Mirrors and the many reception rooms. For the remainder of the tour we will visit the gardens and the many fountains. Continuing on to Paris, we will have dinner on our own, and our lodging for the next 3 nights will be in Paris.
Day 10: Paris Touring
A full day of sightseeing is planned, with visits to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and a driving tour filled with picture stops and a delightful cruise on the River Seine! Dinner will be on your own.
Day 11: Paris Free Day
Enjoy the elegant areas of Place de la Concorde, Arche of Triumph, Foch Avenue, Garnier Opera, St. Honore Street (home of the President and famous fashion designers), Vendome Plaza, the Louvre, or return to the Eiffel Tower- it's entirely up to you! Dinner on your own.
Day 12: Departure
We transfer to the airport early this morning for our flight home.