Join us on this small-group tour to Paris & Northern France and experience the best of this romantic & beautiful region. During this seven-day tour we’ll explore Paris, see the Normandy Beaches, travel through WW2 battlefields, enjoy a drink in the Champagne region and more…
London to Paris
Our tour to Paris and Northern France begins by departing London via the Tower of London, the financial district of Canary Wharf and the county of Kent. Arriving at the port of Dover, we will board our ferry for the 20 mile transit to the French coast at Calais…
Our tour to Paris and Northern France begins by departing London via the Tower of London and the financial district of Canary Wharf. We’ll pass through the county of Kent and on the way we may get a view of Canterbury Cathedral; the seat of the primate of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Arriving at the port of Dover, we will board our ferry for the 20 mile transit to the French coast at Calais; for many centuries a trading enclave that was part of England. There are a number of dining options for taking lunch on the ferry. Heading south from the French coast we will pass along the line of many of the battlefields of the First World War before making an afternoon visit to Arras, the Capital of Artois region. Architecturally, the city is very Flemish in character with its Grand Place in the Spanish style dating back to 1467. Centrally, the Place des Heros boasts a 16th Century Town Hall with a 75m high Belfry topped by a lion brandishing a sun; honouring the visit of Louis XIV in 1667. Leaving Arras we’ll travel into central Paris from the north and by early evening we’ll arrive at the hotel where we’ll spend the first two nights of the tour.
A Day in Paris
Today we’ll have the entire day and evening to explore the best of Paris. The day is free to explore the highlights of the city.
Today we’ll have the entire day and evening to explore the best of Paris. Our time is free to explore the highlights of the city including:
Monet Gardens and Normandy
This morning we depart Paris, and we’ll travel west towards our first stop of the day, Giverny, the idyllic home of Claude Monet. The leader of the Impressionist School lived here from 1883 to 1926 with the house’s colourful décor and pink brick facade being an intimate reminder…
This morning we depart Paris, and we’ll travel west towards our first stop of the day, Giverny; the idyllic home of Claude Monet. The leader of the Impressionist School lived here from 1883 to 1926, with the house’s colourful décor and pink brick facade being an intimate reminder of its former life. Inside, hung in the manner chosen by Monet himself, you will find a precious collection of Japanese engravings. The gardens have been replanted as they once were and offer visitors a glimpse of how the master himself would have viewed nature, including the pond that inspired the pictorial universe of the ‘Water Lilies’. Continuing the theme of locations that inspired the impressionist painting movement, our next stop will be the small town of Honfleur. Close to the mouth of River Seine, this former port is especially known for its old harbour area, characterised by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists including Monet himself. In the narrow streets around the harbour, there are many small outlets offering a taste of one of this region’s most famous products, Calvados; an apple brandy made from the plentiful local supplies. The final stop of the day is the up-market coastal resort of Deauville. With its horse racing course, super-yacht marinas, international film festival, society villas, Grand Casino and sumptuous hotels, Deauville is regarded as the ‘queen of the Norman beaches’ and one of the most prestigious resorts in all of France. Take a stroll along the famous boardwalk or seek refreshments at one of the many cafes. Then we head a little further west along the Cote Fleurie (Coast of Flowers) to the small town of Ouistreham where we’ll stay for the next two nights.
The Normandy Beaches & Bayeux Tapestry
Today we continue westwards along the coast from Ouistreham, and our morning takes us on a journey along the famous Normandy beaches. We will pass through the numerous seaside settlements that front onto the beaches across which 150,000 allied troops came ashore…
Today we continue westwards along the coast from Ouistreham, and our morning takes us on a journey along the famous Normandy beaches. We will pass through the numerous seaside settlements that front onto the beaches across which 150,000 allied troops came ashore on 6th June 1944. Passing Sword, Juno and Gold Beach we pause in the small town of Arromanches where, tide permitting, you will be able to stroll on the vast expanse of sandy beach, and see the remnants of the temporary wartime Mulberry logistics harbour out in the shallows of the ocean. Moving further west through Longues sur Mer with its intact German artillery battery – part of the Atlantic Wall – we arrive at Colleville, overlooking Omaha beach and its cemetery housing the graves of almost 10,000 US servicemen. This afternoon we’ll head inland inland to the small city of Bayeux, renowned as the location of a museum housing the 11th century Bayeux Tapestry. This is a 70m long pictorial depiction of the events leading up William, Duke of Normandy’s 1066 invasion of England and victory over Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings. Originally housed ornate, romanesque Cathedral of Our Lady of Bayeux, the embroidery is now displayed in its own dedicated museum. By late afternoon we’ll return back to Ouistreham.
Rouen, Amiens & Reims
This morning we leave the Normandy coast and make our way to our first stop Rouen, these days a large city and port on the River Seine, but still with an intact medieval centre. Rouen was formerly one of the largest and prosperous cities in medieval Europe. Its Norman cathedral…
This morning we leave the Normandy coast and make our way to our first stop Rouen; these days a large city and port on the River Seine, but still with an intact medieval centre. Rouen was formerly one of the largest and prosperous cities in medieval Europe. Its Norman cathedral was made famous by Monet who was so obsessed with it, he painted its facade no fewer than 28 times. Stroll the medieval streets in the heart of the city, underneath the 14th Century astrological clock, and down to the old Market Place. Behind the market hall full of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish stalls you will find the commemorative cross to France’s most famous heroine Joan of Arc, on the site of her 1431 execution. Heading east into the Department of the Somme, Amiens cathedral – twice the volume of Notre Dame de Paris – can be seen from afar as we approach. This is our next stop; the home city of Jules Verne where there will be the opportunity to stroll the exquisite boulevards around the cathedral, down to the riverside restaurants of the Quai de Ganges, made famous in the Sebastian Faulkes’ novel Birdsong, or along to the ‘hortillonnages’, the famous floating gardens. This afternoon we’ll travel through the countryside that saw some of the most prolonged and costly battles of the First World War, and into the Champagne region. We’ll arrive in Reims, the regional capital and commercial centre of the champagne industry, in the early evening. This is where we’ll stay for the next two nights.
The Champagne Region
The theme of the day is Champagne. We’ll start with a leisurely drive, meandering through the famous vineyards and many of the small villages with their independent producers, discovering the history, mystique and anecdotes associated with one of the world’s most famous drinks…
The theme of the day is Champagne. We’ll start with a leisurely drive, meandering through the famous vineyards and many of the small villages with their independent producers, discovering the history, mystique and anecdotes associated with one of the world’s most famous drinks. At the heart of the vineyards is the town of Epernay, home to many of the most famous brands such as Moet & Chandon and Pol Roger. Here we’ll will have the opportunity to tour one of the Champagne houses, receive a guided tour of the vast network of underground cellars, and learn about the traditional techniques of Champagne production. Be sure to stroll into the centre of town, down the renowned ‘Avenue de Champagne’ lined entirely by Champagne houses and period mansions. In the afternoon we travel the short distance to the hillside village of Hautvilliers and visit the very modest tomb of the monk Dom Perignon who is credited as being the spiritual father of champagne. Arriving back into Reims – the ‘City of Kings’ – in the middle of the afternoon, there will be ample time to visit sights such as the cathedral, where French kings were anointed and crowned in medieval times, the neighbouring Palais de Tau, or the Surrender Museum where General Eisenhower received the surrender of all Third Reich forces in May 1945. Tonight is the final night of the tour.
Laon, Boulogne and the White Cliffs of Dover
The final day of our tour takes us first to the Chemin de Dames, a route running along a ridgeline and so-called as it was the route taken by the two daughters of Louis XV, Adelaide and Victoire, who were known as Ladies of France. There are some spectacular viewpoints from an area…
The final day of our tour takes us first to the Chemin de Dames, a route running along a ridgeline and so-called as it was the route taken by the two daughters of Louis XV, Adelaide and Victoire, who were known as Ladies of France. There are some spectacular viewpoints from an area that became of strategic importance first in 1814 when Napoleon’s young recruits beat an army of Prussians and Russians. A transit of this region would not be complete without a visit to the stunning medieval hilltop town of Laon. Unspoilt and off the beaten track this walled medieval town boasts an architecturally important and cavernous 12/13th Century Gothic cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Laon) which pre-dates Notre Dame de Paris, and ranks along side it in ecclesiastical importance. There will be the opportunity to stroll the tiny medieval streets and ramparts and take some lunch. Our final pause in France will be at Boulogne and the Cote d’Opale (Opal Coast). The history of the port of Boulogne dates back to Roman times when Caesar used it as a launching point for his unsuccessful invasion of Britain. Its 13th century ramparts enclose the town wall that has 4 gates and 17 towers; sections of it can be walked. The Basilica Notre Dame has a magnificent dome and boasts the largest crypt in France and has been a site of pilgrimage since the 12th century. Usually on a Saturday there is a flower market in the Place Dalton. Finally, before journeying back across the Channel to England, be prepared to get blown away – literally – as the downs, heath and farmland sweep up to the grandiose windswept cliffs of Cap Griz Nez (Cape Grey Nose), geographically the closest point to Britain and from where the White Cliffs of Kent will likely be in sight. It is from here that both Napoleon and Hitler personally ‘spied the prize’ but never enacted their invasion plans. Re-crossing the English Channel, we journey back through Kent, arriving back into London in the early evening.
The tour returns to London by approximately 6.30pm.
Tour: Northern France & Paris Tours (7-days)
Includes: Minibus transportation, tours led by friendly English (& French speaking) Driver-Guide, six-nights accommodation, breakfast each morning, entrance to Bayeux Tapestry Museum, Giverny & Champagne House
Extras: Meals (except breakfast), entry to other attractions