Treasures of Northwest France Itinerary

(Paris, Normandy, Brittany, Loire Valley)

Day 1: PARIS (D) Tour starts on a Thursday

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.” Ernest Hemingway
Welcome to Paris, the city of Lights!
Situated on the River Seine, capital of France and one of the most popular destinations in the world, Paris has a lifetime of experiences to discover. It really is a city that does not need any introduction, whether you are here to see the famous landmarks or seek out the secret corners, Paris fulfills all your expectations, and still leaves you wanting more. Enjoy a private transfer to your hotel and shake off your jet-lag by joining your tour manager on an orientation walk around your hotel and take some time to begin exploring this stunning city.

Your Travels with Audrey tour starts at 3:00 PM in the hotel lobby for a walk around the hotel area: Our hotel lobby is where the tour begins and where we all meet for an included Orientation walk around the hotel area and an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers. Optional Eiffel Tower tickets for a before dinner visit, please check with us as to the cost.

INCLUDED WELCOME DINNER TONIGHT: In the evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner in a typical Parisian Brasserie.
Overnight at Hotel Saint Dominique (or similar)
Your Unique Small Group Tour Vacation of France is underway! 

Day 2: HALF-DAY GUIDED TOUR PARIS (B)
After breakfast, enjoy a half-day private walking tour with your local expert guide of Paris, to discover the Louvre; one of the largest palaces in the world, now one of its largest art museums, it is home to the Mona Lisa, the armless Venus de Milo, and some 400.000 works of art, 35.000 of which are on permanent display. We will also visit inside Notre Dame, “a symphony in stone” according to Victor Hugo. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is the historic, spiritual and geographic heart of Paris. Its foundation having been laid in 1163 by Pope Alexander III, its construction completed nearly two centuries later.

We also include a Metro Pass so you can easily explore Paris on your free time.

Afternoon at leisure to explore the many museums and wonderful sights that Paris has to offer or just sit at a café and watch the world go by!
Note: The sightseeing tour in Paris is predominantly done on foot. You’ll also take the Paris metro to get from one side of the city to another on this day.

OPTIONAL DINNER TONIGHT-Enjoy dinner at your leisure tonight. You may opt to join your Tour Manager tonight for dinner or opt to explore on your own.
Overnight at Hotel Saint Dominique (or similar)

Day 3: FREE DAY in PARIS (B)
Paris is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the world.  It is certainly one of the most romantic and historic as well.
Today is your day to spend it as you choose.
From the incredible art galleries and imposing monuments, to the world-renowned shopping, quaint cafes and hidden treasure, Paris is a wonderful city to explore. Pick up delicious “macarons”, check out the many specialty food shops, shop in some of the most prestigious shopping areas of Paris, or simply sit at a café and partake in the “Joie de Vivre”. There’s so much to see! Your tour manager will be on hand to offer plenty of suggestions.

There is of course the Eiffel Tower, Musee D’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, and a host of other wonderful attractions here, but simply walking through the pretty little lanes of the Latin Quarter, lazing in the elegant shop-lined streets of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, wandering down the opulent Champs-Elyseess and meandering through the winding bohemian streets of Montmatre will also give you a wonderful overview of the city. (Montmartre is a district full of bohemian character and activity. Particularly during the Belle Époque period, many notable artists lived and worked in Montmartre, from Dali to Picasso to Monet to Van Gogh.
Head up at to the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city, where on a clear day you’ll get wonderful views across the city. It’s at the top you’ll find the iconic white-domed Sacré-Cœur Basilica).
Sitting with a baguette and cheese in the Luxembourg gardens, one of Hemingway’s favorite retreats, watching the French go about their daily life is the perfect way to while away the hours.
Visit Père Lachaise cemetery, the world’s most visited cemetery due to its ornate tombs and moving memorials to the rich and famous such as Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.
Walk over to Parc de Belleville, the highest park in Paris which has views rivaling those from the hill of the Basilica at Sacre-Coeur but without the mass of other tourists.
Learn about the life and times of cabaret singer, songwriter and actress, Edith Piaf, widely regarded as one of France’s greatest international stars, at a small museum based in her former apartment.

Many wonderful optional activities are available such as a visit to Versailles, Giverny and a painting lesson, or combination full day Giverny and Auvers-sur-Oise, Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte, Chateau Fontainebleau, Chateau Chantilly or a day in the Champagne region.(please check with us as to pricing)
1/Versailles: Housing the most flamboyant court since ancient Rome, France’s most visited chateau was home to the French Monarchy at the height of its glory. Louis XIV brought his court here in 1682 from Paris. Of the palace’s 700 rooms, the most famous is the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors). The room has witnessed everything from the marriage of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles after WWI. There is also the option to visit Marie Antoinette’s Trianon, but this would be about a 6 to 7 hour day for a visit to both.
2/Giverny: Monet’s Garden in the small village of Giverny, home of the French impressionist, Claude Monet, famously the inspiration and subject matter of many of painter Claude Monet's master pieces. This tiny country village is a place of pilgrimage for devotees of Impressionism. Monet lived here from 1883 until his death in 1926 surrounded by flower filled gardens at his home. Maybe enjoy a painting lesson in the very impressionist region. Visit his house and gardens, of which there are two: Clos Normand, a flower garden in front of the house and a water garden complete with Japanese bridge. A place for quiet reflection and stopping to smell the roses. You may choose to make this day a full day visit adding Auvers-sur-Oise, internationally known for the Impressionist painters that came here in search of inspiration: Cezanne, Monet, Pissarro and Van Gogh.
“There is quite a well-being floating in the air amid the abundant charm of the greenery and tranquil order” wrote Vincent Van Gogh in May 1890. Or you can also add a visit to the Gaillard Caste (Think back to the fantastic life of Richard the Lionheart, Robin Hood, as Walter Scott in his novel Ivanhoe. Chateau-Gaillard is the very place where these romanticized stories meet History. For this fortress was designed and built by the fiery Richard I of England, feudal Duke of Normandy, better known as Richard the Lionheart. This nickname was given in recognition of his bravery in the Crusades)

OPTIONAL DINNER TONIGHT-Enjoy dinner at your leisure tonight-You may opt to join your Tour Manager tonight for dinner or opt to explore on your own.
Overnight at Hotel Saint Dominique (or similar)

DAY 4: BAYEUX, BEAUTIFUL NORMANDY (B-D)

Today after breakfast, you will be taken by private transfer to the train station for your ride to Bayeux. Once checked in to your hotel and lunch, your tour manager will take your on an orientation walk around town with a visit of the Cathedral, as big as the Notre Dame in Paris.

INCLUDED DINNER: Enjoy a dinner together with your fellow travelers for a typical Norman dinner.
Overnight at Hotel Lion d’Or (or similar)

DAY 5: WWII DISCOVERY (B)

This day is dedicated to the discovery of the Landing Beaches where the Allied Troops set foot on France on June 6, 1944. This WWII tour is very moving, you’ll see the sites that are very important the success of the Operation Overlord, including Arromanches, Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery (museum), Pointe-du-Hoc and Sainte-Mere-Eglise. This is going to be a long and rewarding day. Of course there will a lunch break!

OPTIONAL DINNER TONIGHT - Join us tonight for an optional dinner or explore on your own and enjoy dinner at your leisure tonight at a local restaurant featuring local dishes.
Overnight Hotel Lion d’Or (or similar)

DAY 6: FREE MORNING IN BAYEUX and GASTRONOMIC DISCOVERIES (B)

Bayeux is a wonderful city to hang out in. This medieval town with cobbled streets was spared during the war, thanks to the fact that it was quickly taken by the Allied during Overlord Operation. In Bayeux, you have the option to visit the Tapestry Museum or maybe the Bayeux Museum about the Battle of Normandy during WWII.
There are also some really nice local gastronomy visits available today (please check with  us as to pricing and options).
The Tapestry of Bayeux is without a doubt the world’s most celebrated piece of embroidery. Over 58 panels it recounts the invasion of England in 1066 by William I (William the Conqueror).

This afternoon after lunch, you will be in for a treat: Calvados, a specialty brandy made from apples from Normandy, Cider tasting with a visit to a local cheese farm. Normandy is a cheese producing region and it has its great cows to thank for the abundance of rich milk that they produce. Well known specialty cheeses in Normandy include Camembert, Pavé d’Auge, Livarot, Pont l’Evêque, Neufchatel, Boursin, Brillat-Savarain and Brin de Paille.

OPTIONAL DINNER-choose from one of the various wonderful local restaurants
Overnight at Hotel Lion d’Or (or similar)

DAY 7: MONT SAINT-MICHEL, SAINT-MALO (B-D)

Today, travel a short distance to the magnificent Mont Saint-Michel, a Unesco world Heritage site, for a guided visit. Perched on a rocky islet, this 11th century Gothic style abbey is one of France’s most recognizable sights. The fortified island village ranks among the wonders of the Western World. It is a long climb to the top, involving walking up fairly steep paths and steps to arrive at the imposing abbey on top, but it is worth every step for the views. You’ll have about 3 hours here, so you can take your time to make your way up to explore the abbey with your guide.
Arrive in Saint-Malo: once renowned for being a haven for pirates and adventurers, the ancient walled city is considered to be the most attractive channel port in France with its cobbled streets and interesting history will feel like you have stepped back in time. Long sandy beaches, small islands you can walk to at low tide, and a Canadian connection: in the district of Rotheneuf, you will find the former house of one of Saint-Malo's most famous sons, Jacques Cartier, a French explorer known for exploring the St Lawrence river and giving Canada its name.

INCLUDED DINNER: Dinner together in a local restaurant with savory crepes and sweet crepes
Overnight Saint-Malo at Hotel Le Nouveau Monde (or similar)

DAY 8: CANCALE, FREE AFTERNOON (B)

This morning, discover Cancale, the oyster capital of Brittany, and taste the famous oysters of the area for lunch. Mention Cancale to a Frenchman or a foodie and the instant response will be oysters. Cancale oysters have been famous for at least 2000 years, since the days when they were eaten by the soldiers of Julius Caesar and later when they were delivered daily to Louis XIV. Cancale oysters are thought to be some of the best available. In 1994, the town was classified as “Site remarquable du gout”, a town known for the taste of its oysters. After lunch, return to Saint-Malo where you can enjoy the rest of your day wandering around town taking one of the several walking paths or you can choose to attend a crepe cooking class as an option.

OPTIONAL DINNER: try one of the many different great options around town.
Overnight Saint-Malo at Hotel Le Nouveau Monde (or similar)

DAY 9: COINTREAU, LOIRE VALLEY (B-D)

This morning, driving south towards the Loire Valley, also known as the Valley of the Kings where you will spend the last nights of your vacation, you will have a chance to explore Dinan, an attractive medieval town, for a nice walk around town. Sitting high above the River Rance the old town is like something straight out of the middle Ages, with narrow cobblestoned streets and squares lined with crooked half-timbered houses.

Onto the small town of Saint-Barthelemy d’Anjou, after a lunch in the town of Angers, to visit the historical plant of the Cointreau family, the very same people that created the world famous Cointreau drink. Cointreau was created more than 165 years ago!

INCLUDED DINNER: Tonight we dine together enjoying wonderful local cuisine
Overnight at Hotel Diderot (or similar)

DAY 10: LOIRE VALLEY GASTRONOMY DAY (B-L)

Today starts off with a walk around the town of Chinon with your tour manager followed by explorations in the region around Chinon, with wine tasting; enjoy a special lunch together, discover some of the beautiful towns along the river (Montsoreau, Candes-Saint-Martin). This will also be a unique opportunity to see the troglodyte lodgings excavated in the cliffs overlooking the Loire River, caves, wine cellars, castles, and taste some of France’s finest food and wine.
Chinon, a town which lies between its medieval fortress and the Vienne River, is forever etched in France’s collective memory as the place where Joan of Arc first met future King Charles VII in 1429.
Candes Saint Martin, recognized as one of France’s prettiest villages, occupies an idyllic spot at the confluence of the Vienne and the Loire rivers and is where Saint Martin of Tours died in 397. You’ll notice the villages and towns in the region shimmer with tuffeau chalk, which is the region’s trademark white stone on which the vineyard slopes are built. Savor crisp whites and chewy to punchy reds.
The main grapes grown in the Loire include Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne (or Muscadet), Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Grolleau.

OPTIONAL DINNER: Enjoy dinner at your leisure this evening
Overnight at Hotel Diderot (or similar)

DAY 11: CASTLE DAY (B)

From warring medieval counts to the kings and queens of France, many powerful figures have left their mark on the Loire Valley. The result is France’s most diverse and magnificent collection of castle architecture. The lush, fertile valley created by the winding Loire River has captured traveler’s hearts and imaginations for centuries. Hundreds of chateaux line France’s Royal River, the highest concentration of castles in the world.

Today you will visit some beautiful castles in the area, Azay-le-Rideau Castle (1:00), romantic, moat-ringed and one of the purest gems of Renaissance architecture in the Loire Valley, and Villandry castle (1:30), very well known for its world class gardens.

OPTIONAL DINNER: You can choose from several very nice options in town
Overnight at Hotel Diderot (or similar)

DAY 12: WINE AND CASTLES (B-D)

Your castle visit today is of the world famous stunning romantic Chateau Chenonceau, an unsurpassed Renaissance masterpiece (2:00) which sits on the Cher River. Several noteworthy women have left their mark on this beautiful and elegant chateau.
A visit to the Loire Valley would not be complete without a variety of wine tastings, so after your visit of the chateau, time for some wine tasting.
The Loire Valley is a land that nurtures some of the nation’s best vineyards, producing gentle reds and fruity whites such as Chinon, Sancerre, muscadet, Vouvray and Bourgeuil and the roses of Anjou. It is a perfect destination for those who enjoy wine.

The afternoon will be spent in Amboise at your leisure to choose your own visits: Straddling the widest stretch of the river is the city of Amboise, an inviting town with a fine old quarter below its 15th century hilltop château. A castle has overlooked the Loire from here since Roman times. Leonardo da Vinci retired here...just one more of his many brilliant ideas. Amboise and its shopping streets have always charmed visitors. This town of character played host to Leonardo da Vinci, invited by François I to Château du Clos Lucé, the childhood home of Charles VIII and the final resting place of the great Leonardo da Vinci. Even today the genius of the famous inventor haunts this Château, where around 40 of his fabulous machines are displayed.

FAREWELL DINNER TONIGHT- Enjoy your last dinner together with your new friends, sharing the great memories of this vacation over a nice glass of wine and great food.
Overnight at Hotel Diderot (or similar)

DAY 13: RETURN TO PARIS/DEPARTURE DAY (B)

Departure transfer from Hotel to the train station in Tours (St Pierre des Corps) to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. For the train tickets please check with us as to the cost depending on your choice of destination.
Note: Your flight must be later in the day from Paris otherwise you will not make your flight. We recommend spending the night in a hotel near the airport in Paris.
‘I so enjoyed spending time with you, and taking you on this wonderful journey in France. Looking forward to traveling with you again!”

If you are not planning on traveling to France during the dates of the published tours but would like to see the regions with your own private group of friends or family, please contact us.

Note: Audrey has hand-picked an extensive list of quality properties across France and Italy to ensure the very best experience on each of Audrey’s tours hotels but may vary to those listed in this itinerary based on availability.
The earlier a tour is reserved he better the chances of having the ones listed.

Audrey specializes in unique small group tours for mature travelers, providing guests with delights that excite the senses and that are genuine, intimate and unique experiences of France and Italy. With a balance of culture, food, wine and stunning natural and man-made landscapes, tours capture everything that a guest would be looking for in an Italian or French experience. Audrey looks forward to meeting you and traveling with you and like-minded travelers.
Mobility: All of Travels with Audrey’s tours involve lots of walking, standing for long periods of time and requires guests to board and disembark vans several times a day making this tour not suitable for those with reduced mobility.
This tour can be offered as a private tour. Please contact Travels with Audrey for more information.

  • Treasures of Northwest France Itinerary
    Treasures of Northwest France Itinerary

    Click here to download a PDF containing the full, day-by-day itinerary and complete details for what is and is not included in the Treasures of Northwest France Tour.

Click Here to Register