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Day 1 Sunday, May 21
Our tour begins at 9 a.m. at the Novotel Hotel, Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. After a 90-minute drive, we arrive at our exciting first destination the fabled house, studio and garden of Claude Monet at Giverny. After a tour of this living museum, including the studio of the artist who invented Impressionism, we have LUNCH at an inn in the village. Later, we continue to beautiful Honfleur, our home for the next three nights. Near day’s end, a walking tour orients us to the narrow, winding streets of the Old Town and the Old Port, followed by a WELCOME COCKTAIL. OVERNIGHT HONFLEUR
Day 2 Monday, May 22
Today we visit the fascinating city of Rouen, capital of Normandy, exploring the lively Old City, bristling with spires and bell towers, and adorned with hundreds of half-timbered houses. See the square where Joan of Arc was martyred. Late in the day we return to Honfleur for free time. OVERNIGHT HONFLEUR
Day 3 Tuesday, May 23
We travel to two of France's most famous Belle Epoque resorts, Deauville and Trouville, to experience life along the planches wooden boardwalks facing the sea. For LUNCH, we enjoy super-fresh seafood at the Art Deco Brasserie les Vapeurs. As we head back to Honfleur, there will be time to swing by one of the many farms selling fresh cider and calvados (apple brandy). OVERNIGHT HONFLEUR
Day 4 Wednesday, May 24
Through the green landscape of Normandy we arrive in old Caen and visit its medieval château in the old city. By about 1 p.m. we are in Villedieu-les-Poêles, where we stop for lunch and to tour one of the town's foundries, manufacturer of church bells that ring the world over. Then, via Avranches, the launching point for the July 1944 offensive by troops under Gen. George Patton, a decisive event in World War II, we head to our hotel, located on the mainland overlooking the monastery village of Mont St.-Michel. DINNER. OVERNIGHT – MONT ST. MICHEL
Day 5 Thursday, May 25
?We spend most of the day on Mont St. Michel, a magical place. This morning we visit its Abbey, one of the world's wonders. Our tour is timed to avoid the worst of the crowds. Climb to the crown of the rock that supports the abbey, then wander through the vaulted rooms of this atmospheric fortress-palace. After LUNCH, you may enjoy free time, or if you wish come along on an optional day trip to the pretty town of St. Malo, surrounded by imposing walls. OVERNIGHT MONT ST. MICHEL
Day 6 Friday, May 26
Leaving Mont St. Michel, we soon enter D-Day country and visit Ste. Mère Eglise and Utah Beach, both associated with the landings of June 6, 1944. Later, we arrive in Bayeux, where we view the tapestry woven to commemorate the victory of William the Conqueror over England in 1066. After checking into our comfortable, centre-ville hotel, we enjoy free time, then DINNER in town. OVERNIGHT – BAYEUX
Day 7 Saturday, May 27
Our visits today encompass the D-Day region, very close to Bayeux. We will do as many as time allows, including museum visits; Omaha Beach, where American troops landed on D-Day; the American Cemetery, final resting place for more than 9,300 U.S. soldiers; the moving monument to the Fifth Engineers Special Brigade; the nearby German cemetery, a somber place in stark contrast to the cemeteries of the Allies; and other monuments to this day that changed the world June 6, 1944. OVERNIGHT BAYEUX
Day 8 Sunday, May 28
Leaving Bayeux, we drive outh, to the Loire Valley. Arriving near mid-day at the pretty medieval town of Amboise, we explore the attractive center and have lunch. In the afternoon, come along to visit the Château d'Amboise, an imposing fortress overlooking the town and river. Here, you'll be dazzled by the sumptuous rooms, expansive views and the tiny chapel that holds the remains of Leonardo da Vinci. Late in the day, after checking into our comfortable hotel, we enjoy free time. OVERNIGHT AMBOISE
Day 9 Monday, May 29
This morning we visit the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, Clos Lucé. The artist’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, arrived in France in a saddlebag when Leonardo moved to Amboise from Italy. After a picnic lunch, we visit Chambord, the Loire Valley’s most impressive château 440 rooms and 365 chimneys set in a vast meadow surrounded by the ancient forest of Chambord, hunting preserve of kings. Following our visit, we travel a short distance to the old town of Blois. Here we can view the Château of Blois, part of which was designed by Leonardo. DINNER tonight. OVERNIGHT AMBOISE
Day 10 Tuesday, May 30
From Amboise, we visit the former Royal Abbey of Fontvraud, an amazing complex of medieval buildings whose church shelters stunning funerary monuments to King Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard Lionheart. Following a lunch break in the pretty town of Chinon, we arrive at one the most beautiful châteaux of the Loire – Azay-le-Rideau, surrounded by water. OVERNIGHT – AMBOISE
Day 11 Wednesday, May 31
Another beautiful château is on our itinerary today – Chenonceau castle, stretching across the Cher River. It's called the Château of the Ladies because it was fought over by two women romantically involved with France's King Henri II. (After Henri's death in 1599, his queen, Catherine de' Medici, seized the castle and ousted her rival, Diane de Poitiers.) Our LUNCH today is a very special meal at the Michelin-starred Auberge du XII Siecle, in Saché. Late in the day we come to our final castle, Villandry. Here we marvel at the vast ornamental and vegetable gardens, renowned throughout the world. Returning to Amboise, there is free time to prepare for our return to the Paris area tomorrow. OVERNIGHT AMBOISE
Day 12 Thursday, June 1
From the Loire Valley we journey back toward Paris, but there's still one adventure along the way medieval Chartres, boasting perhaps France's most beautiful gothic cathedral. Following a visit to this magnificent church, and a ramble around the old, half-timbered heart of Chartres, we continue toward the rolling countryside north of Paris. Here, near day's end, we check into the comfortable Relais d'Aumale, a former hunting lodge near the forest of Chantilly, and gather for a festive AU REVOIR DINNER. OVERNIGHT AUMALE
Getaway day June 2
This morning we make the short drive to Charles de Gaulle Airport for our flight home or on to new travel adventures.
Hôtel l'Ecrin, Honfleur
Hôtel Lion d'Or, Bayeux
Hôtel Mercure, Mont-St.-Michel
Hôtel Vinci, Amboise
Relais d'Aumale, Chantilly
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS Subject to change according to availability.
* TOUR PRICING Price of $3,995 is based on a "benchmark" U.S. dollar/euro exchange rate that existed pre-tour and could change if there are significant exchange rate fluctuations. Call us for details - (800) 676-1247.
ITINERARY Details of this preliminary itinerary could change. A final itinerary will be issued closer to trip departure.
SIGHTSEEING All sightseeing listed in itinerary is included as part of the tour.
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