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Gardens, Villages & Châteaux of Normandy and Brittany 2021

Status: open

5 Jun – 25 Jun 2021

Overview

Gardens, Villages & Châteaux of Normandy and Brittany 2021
Tour Highlights

Led by Stephen Ryan, with the assistance of Craig Lidgerwood, this cultural garden tour explores the gardens, agricultural landscapes, villages, towns and great monuments of two of France’s most beautiful and historic regions: Normandy and Brittany.

  • An introduction to the wide range of gardens in French history, featuring visits to medieval monastic gardens, grand Renaissance estates, and intimate modern creations.
  • Private gardens (several listed as ‘Jardin Remarquable’), many visits will be hosted by their owners.
  • Work inspired by the great André Le Nôtre at the Château Champ de Bataille and Château de Sassy.
  • The rose garden at Château de Mesnil Geoffroy, most important private rose collection in Normandy. It has 2900 rose bushes, of which 950 are old varieties.
  • Le Jardin du Vastérival, residence of the late Princess Sturdza, containing one of the finest plant collections in France.
  • The beautiful, unspoilt northern coast of Brittany with its deep-cut inlets and inland wooded valleys enjoys an exceptional climate due to the Gulf Stream; we explore the Jardins de Kerdalo with a rich collection of plants, the private manor house garden, Le Jardin du Pellinec; and Le Grand Launay which boasts a beautiful modern garden built around an old castle.
  • A journey ‘in the footsteps of the Impressionists’, to Monet’s garden at Giverny, the coast he painted, and the port town of Honfleur; the Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux (Le Havre) containing one of the most extensive collections of Impressionist paintings in France.
  • Visits to major monuments such as the Abbeys of St-Georges de Boscherville and Mont Saint-Michel; Romanesque and Gothic Cathedrals such as Notre-Dame (Rouen) and St-Étienne (Caen).
  • The megalithic site on the south coast of Brittany in Carnac, where we examine the largest Neolithic alignment in the world (3500-3000 BC).
  • The Bayeux Tapestry Museum, containing the 11th-century embroidered cloth depicting the Norman conquest of England.
  • Explore a rich variety of village architecture in a number of ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ including the pretty half-timbered houses of Lyons-la-Forêt and Dinan, the walled towns of Vitré, Vannes and Saint-Malo, and the charming washhouses of Pontrieux.
  • Sampling of French regional produce, with visits to specialist local markets; tastings of Normandy’s Livarot, Pont l’Évêque cheeses, apple juice and calvados, and Brittany’s crêpes, seafood, the famous custard cake, ‘Far Breton’ and the ‘Kouign-Amann’ (cross between a croissant and a palmier).
  • Fine dining in renowned restaurants including historic restaurant La Couronne, Rouen.

Testimonials

This tour certainly exceeded our expectations. The mix of history and wonderful (often private) gardens made for a memorable tour.  David & Chris, QLD.

On the ‘Gardens, Villages & Chateaux of Normandy & Brittany’ tour the weather was generally pleasant and the venues were lovely and very interesting. I loved the charm of many of the French people, their generosity of hospitality, the stunning countryside, and the food, especially when it was local fresh and not nouvelle cuisine.  Rhyll, VIC.

21-day Cultural Garden Tour of Normandy & Brittany

Overnight Rouen (6 nights) • Honfleur (2 nights) • Bayeux (3 nights) • Bagnoles-de-l’Orne (2 nights) • Auray (2 nights) • Perros-Guirec (3 nights) • Saint-Malo (2 nights)

Itinerary

Itinerary

The following itinerary describes a range of museums and gardens which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Rouen - 6 nights

Day 1: Saturday 5 June, Paris CDG – Lyons-la-Forêt – Rouen
  • Afternoon tea in Lyons-la-Forêt village
  • Introductory Meeting
  • Welcome Dinner

Today drive from Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport to the historic city of Rouen, to begin our exploration of the gardens, great houses, villages and historic monuments of Northern France.

En route we stop in Lyons-la-Forêt, one of France’s most picturesque villages, for an afternoon tea in the Hôtel Les Lions de Beauclerc; many of Lyons-la-Forêt’s 17th-century houses have façades featuring intricate wooden frames. The village was initially a Roman settlement. Henry I of England, son of William the Conqueror, built a castle here to exploit magnificent hunting grounds in a nearby beech forest. Lyons has an excellent 18th-century covered market. We shall pass the house of one of France’s greatest musicians, Ravel.

We continue to Rouen, arriving in the evening. After checking into our hotel, and some time at leisure, we shall have a brief introductory meeting followed by a welcome dinner at nearby Brasserie Paul. (Overnight Rouen) D

Day 2: Sunday 6 June, Rouen – Saint-Martin-de-Boscherville – St Pierre-de-Manneville – Rouen
  • Romanesque Abbey of St Georges-de-Boscherville
  • Manoir et Parc de Villers, St Pierre-de-Manneville
  • Orientation walk of Rouen
  • Evening meal at restaurant La Couronne

Today, we first visit the Abbey St Georges-de-Boscherville. In the 7th century, a chapel dedicated to St George was built here over an earlier Celtic shrine. In the 11th century an existing college for canons here became a Benedictine abbey. We shall visit the abbey with its fine Romanesque carvings and explore its garden, with plants believed by the monks to cure souls.

After lunch we visit the magnificent Manoir de Villers, a beautiful half-timbered manor house begun in the time of Charles VII (1403-1461). Its owners, M. and Mme Robert Mery de Bellegarde, will show you their magnificent family furniture collection and we shall enjoy a light lunch prepared by our hosts in its gardens .

We return to Rouen for an orientation tour of this historic city. Once an important city of Roman Gaul, it became an ecclesiastical centre from the 3rd century and, ultimately, part of the the Norman kingdom, until lost to the French by King John in 1204. It changed hands during the Hundred Years’ War and by the end of the 15th century had become a centre of the French Renaissance.

Rouen has some of France’s finest Gothic architecture. Its cathedral façade fascinated Monet, who painted it at different times of the day. Other churches include 15th-century St Ouen and St Maclou (1437), two notable examples of French flamboyant Gothic architecture. The Renaissance Gros-Horloge pavilion contains a 15th-century clock, and the Tour Jeanne d’Arc is where the saint was imprisoned before her execution. The Hôtel de Bourgheroulde (1501-37) is the best example of the city’s fine medieval domestic architecture.

Tonight we dine together at the restaurant La Couronne. Housed in a superbly preserved half-timbered home, and dating from 1345, it is considered the oldest inn in France. (Overnight Rouen) BLD

Day 3: Monday 7 June, Rouen – Buchy – Bosc-Roger-sur-Buchy – Montmain – Rouen
  • Buchy village market
  • Le Jardin de Valérianes, Bosc-Roger-sur-Buchy
  • Les Jardins d’Angélique, Montmain

Today we shop for lunch at the Monday market in the small village of Buchy. Buchy’s Monday market features exclusively local produce specialising in organic products. The medieval covered market hall has fixed wooden tables that were originally butchers’ blocks.

Michel and Maryline Tissait created the nearby Le Jardin de Valérianes. We explore this lovely English-style garden that combines  perennials, roses, trees and bushes.

We next visit the Jardins d’Angélique at Montmain, comprising two wonderful gardens. South of the manor house is an Italianate formal garden with walkways and clipped hedges, box-edged beds of perennials and ornamental grasses, yew topiary and a central fountain. It provides marvellous panoramas of the surrounding countryside. To the north is a flowing romantic ‘English-style’ garden with grassy paths winding between shrubs, plants and trees.

In the late afternoon we return to Rouen, where the evening is at leisure. (Overnight Rouen) B

Day 4: Tuesday 8 June, Rouen – Giverny – Auzouville-sur-Ry – Rouen
  • Monet’s House and Gardens, Giverny
  • Le Jardin Plume, Auzouville-sur-Ry

This morning we drive to Giverny to visit the great Impressionist Claude Monet’s beautiful home and garden. Here he created a water-lily pond and wisteria-covered Japanese bridge, favourite motifs in his paintings. Monet’s house, ‘Le Pressoir’, and its gardens have been faithfully restored. Our visit will include a stroll through the garden with its thousands of flowers, including the Nympheas. We cross the Japanese bridge hung with wisteria to a dreamy setting of weeping willows and rhododendrons

In the afternoon we drive to Auzouville-sur-Ry to visit Le Jardin Plume, where owners Sylvie and Patrick Quibel have converted their orchard into a parterre. There are also a spring garden, summer garden and autumn garden. The summer garden is a modern knot garden with a very formal layout of clipped box. Each part is filled with a very natural planting of grasses and perennials but the colours are superb – lots of golden yellow, deep red and burning oranges.  In September the box hedges are typically filled with vibrantly coloured flowers, interspersed with grasses. (Overnight Rouen) B

Day 5: Wednesday 9 June, Rouen – Ermenouville – Varengeville-sur-Mer – Tourville-sur-Arques – Rouen
  • Château de Mesnil Geoffroy, Ermenouville
  • Church & Sailor’s cemetery, Varengeville-sur-Mer
  • The Shamrock Garden, Varengeville-sur-Mer
  • Château de Miromesnil, Tourville-sur-Arques

Today we head north to the Château de Mesnil Geoffroy, built at the beginning of the 17th century on the site of a 13th-century castle. The current building is in the Louis XIII style, with high slate roofs, large fireplaces and central main corps de logis. It is surrounded by a 10ha French garden designed by Collinot, the gardener of André Le Nôtre. It has the most important private rose collection in Normandy with 2,900 rose bushes and 2,000 different varieties. The romantic flowered vegetable garden gathers ancient varieties of vegetables from all continents.

We eat a picnic lunch near Varengeville-sur-Mer Church and sailors’ cemetery. Varengeville, perched atop white limestone cliffs, attracted many artists including Monet, and is famous for its church, with its stained-glass windows designed by Georges Braque. From its sailors’ cemetery, where Georges Braque is buried, there is a superb view of Dieppe and the cliffs towards Le Tréport.

We then head back to the village to visit the Shamrock Garden created by Corinne Mallet. It displays a wonderful Hydrangea Collection including 2,000 plants from over 1,200 varieties.

In the late afternoon we continue to the Château de Miromesnil at Tourville-sur-Arques, a splendid 17th-century (Louis XIII) château, where Guy de Maupassant was born. Located in a large plantation dominated by two 200-year-old cedars of Lebanon, it contains a very fine kitchen garden. with vegetable plots surrounded by a bewildering variety of flowers. The park, enclosed by old brick walls, features fruit trees, rose trees, magnolias, arborescent peonies and a magnificent variety of clematis. Following dinner at the Château de Miromesnil we return to Rouen. (Overnight Rouen) BD

Day 6: Thursday 10 June, Rouen – Le Neubourg – Rouen
  • Château Champ de Bataille, Le Neubourg
  • Afternoon at leisure in Rouen

This morning we visit the Château Champ de Bataille. Interior decorator Jacques Garcia has completely renovated this 18th-century castle and gardens. The château boasts a magnificent garden based in part on the classic French style and heavily influenced by drawings by the French designer André Le Nôtre. A surviving outline plan of the château’s former gardens revealed its basic outline. Jacques used this as a general guide; the result is a masterful blend of classical French and Italian styles with modern influences. Parterres, follies, classical temples, fountains and lakes are crowned by a stunning view that stretches over a mile down the garden from the château’s main terrace.

After a light lunch in restaurant Le Café Garcia, located in the château’s former stables, we return to Rouen for an afternoon at leisure. (Overnight Rouen) BL

Honfleur - 2 nights

 Day 7: Friday 11 June, Rouen – Varengeville-sur-Mer – Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer – Honfleur
  • L’Etang de Launay, Varengeville-sur-Mer
  • Lunch at Le Piment Bleu, Varengeville-sur-Mer
  • Le Jardin du Vastérival, Ste Marguerite-sur-Mer

This morning we depart Rouen for the port of Honfleur. Our first stop is  L’Etang de Launay, the recently created private garden of Jean-Louis Dantec, with its highly-pruned specimen trees leading to a lake and ponds, and one of Europe’s finest woodland plantings beyond.

After a lunch at Le Piment Bleu, in the grounds of the Château de Varengeville, we drive to Marguerite-sur-Mer to visit the gardens of Vastérival, residence of the late Princess Sturdza. Vastérival contains one of France’s finest plant collections. Cleverly designed paths wander through this ‘informal’ garden, passing rich under plantings of the woodlands, into lovely glades. The garden is famed for its collections of rhododendrons, hydrangeas, maples, birches, viburnums and camellias.

In the late afternoon we make our way to the old trading and fishing port of Honfleur, situated at the mouth of the Seine, where we shall spend two nights. (Overnight Honfleur) BL

Day 8: Saturday 12 June, Honfleur – Le Havre – Honfleur
  • Morning at leisure: Old Port of Honfleur and Saturday Market
  • Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux, Le Havre
  • Dinner at Le Manoir des Impressionistes, Honfleur

This morning there will be time at leisure to explore Honfleur, with its old, picturesque port painted by artists like Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet. Honfleur is also famous for its Saturday market, taking place around the lovely Sainte Catherine church, the largest timber church in France.

After lunchtime at leisure we drive south to Le Havre, situated on the estuary of the Seine and on the English Channel. Here we visit the André Malraux Modern Art Museum, which contains the second most extensive collection of Impressionist paintings in France. There are paintings by Claude Monet and other artists who worked in Normandy including Camille Corot, Eugène Boudin, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Paul Sérusier and Édouard Vuillard. Modern art is well represented with works by  Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, Raoul Dufy, Kees van Dongen, Fernand Léger, Alexej von Jawlensky and Nicolas de Staël.

We end the day with a dinner at gastronomic restaurant Le Manoir des Impressionistes, in Honfleur, overlooking the estuary of the river Seine. (Overnight Honfleur) BD

 

Bayeux - 3 nights

Day 9: Sunday 13 June, Honfleur – Ouilly-le-Vicomte – Mézidon-Canon – Bayeux
  • Château de Boutemont, Ouilly-le-Vicomte
  • Château de Canon, Mézidon-Canon

Today, on our way to Bayeux, we visit the Château de Boutemont. Dating back to the 12th century, it is today surrounded by an 11-hectare park. Achille Duchène’s early 20th century French gardens have since been augmented by landscape architect Georges Hayat’s  Renaissance Italian garden, rose trees-decorated arches and small ‘scent garden’.

After lunchtime at leisure we visit the gardens of M. Alain de Mezerac’s  Château de Canon, an 18th-century house surrounded by contemporary gardens and a park, created by Jean-Baptise-Jacques Elie de Beaumont and his wife Anne-Louise. The family has owned this property since the Middle Ages. Their present splendid two-storey Neo Classical structure has garden pavilions and statuary in the English style.

In the late afternoon we continue our drive to Bayeux, our next base in Normandy, which is famous above all for its tapestry. (Overnight Bayeux) BL

Day 10: Monday 14 June, Bayeux – Brécy – Bayeux
  • Cathedral Notre-Dame & historic centre of Bayeux
  • Bayeux Tapestry Museum
  • Château de Brécy, St-Gabriel-Brécy

We begin today with a walking tour of Bayeux’s historic centre and the fine Cathedral of Notre-Dame (1077), a gem of Norman architecture.

We next visit the special museum dedicated to the Tapisserie de Bayeux which chronicles the Norman invasion of England. This Anglo-Saxon work, presented by Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror) to Bishop Odo in c.1080, chronicles events from Harold Godwin’s promise to bequeath his kingdom to William to his death on the field at Hastings; it is fascinating for its detailed depictions of arms and the 11th-century methods and machinery of warfare.

After lunch at leisure, we drive to M. and Mme Didier Wirth’s Château de Brécy, with a wonderful formal French garden. The house dates from the 17th century, and bears many hallmarks of the great François Mansart’s architecture. The garden immediately behind the house consists of five terraces, fine stone work, elegant parterres, pools, topiary and beautiful wrought-iron gates. (Overnight Bayeux) B

Day 11: Tuesday 15 June, Bayeux – Saint-Maurice-en-Cotentin – Castillon – Bayeux
  • Le Jardin de la Bizerie, Saint-Maurice-en-Cotentin
  • Les Jardins de Castillon-Plantbessin, Castillon

This morning we cross the Cotentin Peninsula to visit the private gardens of La Bizerie. Benefiting from the Cotentin micro-climate, Jérôme Goutier has transformed a damp valley into a unique garden, filled with mediterranean plants as well as semi-tropical species usually found in the southern hemisphere.

After lunching together we return to Bayeux via Castillon to visit the Jardins de Castillon-Plantbessin, created by Colette Sainte Beuve as a water garden to complement her plant nursery. Here you will find a marvellous treasure trove of plants that includes beautiful samples of Japanese plants as well as herbs and heather. (Overnight Bayeux) BL

Bagnoles-de-l'Orne - 2 nights

Day 12: Wednesday 16 June, Bayeux – Caen – Bagnoles-de-l’Orne
  • Fine Arts Museum, Caen
  • Abbaye-aux-Hommes & its abbatial church St Étienne, Caen

This morning we visit Caen’s excellent small art museum built within the ruined walls of William the Conqueror’s castle. Among its treasures are works by Van der Weyden, Perugino, Poussin and Veronese.

After lunch at Café Mancel in Caen, we explore Caen’s Abbaye-aux-Hommes, and its church, St Étienne. This masterpiece of Romanesque church architecture was begun by William the Conqueror as his mausoleum. One reason for the finesse of this building, which influenced many later Romanesque churches, was this region’s abundance of good building stone.

We stay for the next two nights in a lovely small heritage hotel, Le Manoir du Lys, at Bagnoles-de-L’Orne, owned by a family noted for their fine cuisine, which we shall sample in our evening meals. The hotel is set in a pretty garden on the edge of the Andaine Forest. (Overnight Bagnoles-de-l’Orne) BLD

Day 13: Thursday 17 June, Bagnoles-de-l’Orne – Saint-Biez-en-Belin – St-Christophe-le-Jajolet – Bagnoles-de-l’Orne
  • Le Jardin d’Atmosphère du Petit Bordeaux, Saint-Biez-en-Belin
  • Jardins et Terrasses du Château de Sassy, Saint-Christophe-Le-Jajolet

Today we drive toward the Maine region. We visit Le Jardin d’Atmosphère du Petit Bordeaux, a private 1.5-hectare garden, full of trees under planted with hydrangeas, day lillies, hostas, ancient roses, acers and dogwood. Two large ponds provide focal points in the garden. There are more than 4,000 different plants including collections of Acers, Hydrangeas, Cornus, roses and grasses. We shall have lunch in the gardens before making our way to Saint-Christophe-Le-Jajolet.

We next drive through the majestic Forêt d’Écouves to the Château de Sassy. Its garden, a benchmark of the French formal style, was inspired by the great André Le Nôtre, creator of the gardens of Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte. The garden rolls out like a vast, magnificent carpet below an 18th-century château. Its strict formality beautifully counterpoints a surrounding pastoral landscape of hedges and clumps of fruit trees. A deep perspective of terraces with intricate broderies (‘boxwood embroideries’) passes tiers of moats and features a round pool. A lovely small pavilion flanked by two monumental fastigiate yews and rows of shaped lindens forms the perspective’s centrepiece. (Overnight Bagnoles-de-l’Orne) BLDe

Vannes - 2 nights

Day 14: Friday 18 June, Bagnoles-de-l’Orne – Vitré – Vannes – Auray
  • Guided tour of the medieval town of Vitré
  • Guided tour of the walled town of Vannes incl. Saint-Pierre Cathedral

Today we drive through the scenic department of Mayenne to Brittany via the medieval town of Vitré, located on the slopes of the Vilaine river valley. A guided tour will take us from the Château de Vitré to the heart of the old merchant town. One of Brittany’s best-preserved towns, it has remained remarkably unchanged for 500 years, with half-timbered houses, ramparts and religious buildings. During the Renaissance, merchants built large private, ornately decorated mansions within the city walls; these are still visible today.

After a picnic lunch at Pré des lavandières, we drive to the south coast of Brittany. Nestled in the Gulf of Morbihan, in one of the world’s most beautiful bays, Vannes is a fortified town with a 2,000-year history. Here you can sample two of the region’s famous specialities. Far Breton is a traditional custard cake with prunes, while Kouign-Amann is made with flaky, buttery, caramelised pastry.

A guided tour will lead us through Vannes’ remarkable old quarter to impressive Saint-Pierre Cathedral and along the town’s ramparts. These 13th-century fortifications, regularly remodelled until the 17th century, provide wonderful views of the town’s formal gardens and its cathedral. (Overnight Auray) BL

Day 15: Saturday 19 June, Auray – Pont-Aven – Carnac – Auray
  • Pont-Aven Museum
  • Guided tour of Carnac: stone alignments and circles
  • Dinner at Crêperie Saint Sauveur, Auray

This morning we leave Auray for Pont-Aven, a small,  picturesque Breton village which owes its fame to the Pont-Aven School of artists of whom the most famous was Paul Gaugin. We visit the gallery devoted to the work of the Pont-Aven School with paintings by Paul Gauguin and his fellow-artists. You will then have time at leisure to explore the village, walk along the River Aven and sample the town’s ‘galettes’ – butter biscuits.

In the afternoon we drive to Carnac to explore the largest Neolithic alignment in the world (3500-3000 BC), with almost 3,000 upright stones arranged in 11 almost parallel lines over several kilometres.

We then return for dinner to Auray. Its ancient quarter of St-Goustan, has delightful 15th and 16th-century houses. Situated at a bend in the River Loc’h it soon became one of the busiest ports in Brittany. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin landed here on his way to seek Louis XVI’s aid in the American War of Independence. Here we shall eat together at a local crêperie. The word crêpe is French for ‘pancake’ and is derived from the Latin crispus meaning ‘curled’.  Crêpes originated in Brittany and were once called galettes, meaning ‘flat cakes’. (Overnight Auray) BD

Perros-Guirec - 3 nights

Day 16: Sunday 20 June, Auray – Mûr-de-Bretagne – Penvénan – Perros-Guirec
  • Les Jardins du Botrain, Mûr-de-Bretagne (subject to confirmation in 2021)
  • Jardins de Pellinec, Penvénan

This morning we depart Auray for Les Jardins du Botrain, located outside the small town of Mûr-de-Bretagne in the centre of Brittany. Inspired by English garden design, this romantic garden surrounds an 18th-century manor house with its unique apiary. The garden which consists of many rooms, includes a Japanese garden, a rose garden, an iris garden, an area of hostas, acers, a pond and even a small lake.

After lunch we explore Le Jardin du Pellinec, a private manor house garden. This seven-acre garden on the Pellinec estuary has excellent soils and a particular microclimate that enabled Monsieur Jean to grow a huge diversity of plants. The view is ever changing; at high tide, the sea laps at the garden’s edges, a spectacular sight.

In the late afternoon we continue to our hotel located outside the town of Perros-Guirec, on the northern coast of Brittany at the centre of the ‘Coast of Pink Granite’. The region’s combination of pink rocks, blue sea and a few islands on the horizon gives it a picturesque beauty. While based in Perros-Guirec we shall visit a number of private gardens as we journey through the area’s rocky coastline, deep-cut inlets and inland wooded valleys. (Overnight Perros-Guirec) BLD

Day 17: Monday 21 June, Perros-Guirec – Saint-Rivoal – Trédarzec – Perros-Guirec
  • Eco-musée des Monts d’Arrée, Natural Regional Park of Armorique
  • Les Jardins de Kerdalo, Trédarzec

In the morning we travel through the Natural Regional Park of Armorique. We shall drive up to the highest hills of Brittany, Les Monts d’Arrée, stopping in the town of Saint-Rivoal where we shall visit the eco-museum and be introduced to the Park’s unique fauna and flora by our local guide.

After lunch together, we visit to the gardens of Kerdalo. The gardens, in a valley near the Brittany coast, were the subject of a book by its owner-designer, Prince Peter Wolkonsky: Kerdalo: Un Jardin d’Exception (Paris, 1995). Originally a manor farm with natural springs, the formal garden merges into a wooded valley with a lake, pools and grotto and a rich collection of trees and shrubs.(Overnight Perros-Guirec) BL

Day 18: Tuesday 22 June, Perros-Guirec – Ploëzal – Guingamp – Lanrivain – Pontrieux – Perros-Guirec
  • Château de la Roche-Jagu, Ploëzal
  • Lunch at leisure in Guingamp
  • Le Grand Launay, Lanrivain
  • Boat tour of Pontrieux’s washhouses

This morning we travel to Ploëzal to visit Le Château de La Roche-Jagu, which is surrounded by a contemporary garden  overlooking the River Trieux. Inspired by medieval gardens, it features a kitchen garden, a medicinal garden and a flower garden. There are wonderful walks in the woodlands, where you can find areas of palms and camellias and water features.

Following some time at leisure for lunch in the market town of Guingamp we continue inland to Le Grand Launay, featuring a unique design, perfectly shaped topiary and beautiful hedging. The garden was designed by its owners, Jean and Jacqueline Shalit, in collaboration with the landscape designer Gael Boedec. Their modern garden of mostly green plants and some white climbing hydrangeas is built around an old castle which gives it a specific charm. In the fascinating  ‘garden of temptation’, boxwood snakes climb the apple tree as in the garden of Eden.

In the late afternoon we return to Perros-Guirec via the small town of Pontrieux, which is nestled deep in an estuary. It features 50 or so beautifully restored and flower-decked washhouses which adorn the banks of the River Trieux. We take a short tour by boat to view these charming washhouses and dine at a local restaurant. (Overnight Perros-Guirec) BD

Saint-Malo - 2 nights

Day 19: Wednesday 23 June, Perros-Guirec – Dinan – Bazouges-la-Pérouse – Saint-Malo
  • Guided visit of the medieval town of Dinan
  • Château de la Ballue, Bazouges-la-Pérouse

This morning we drive to Dinan. Once a fortified stronghold of the Dukes of Brittany, Dinan is noted for its beautiful maisons à piliers, medieval half-timbered houses built on stilts over the sidewalks. The town centre is dominated by an impressive castle and it is surrounded by ramparts. The ramparts were built in the 13th century when Dinan became a duchy. They were continually improved until the Wars of Religion of the 16th century, after which they lost their defensive role. You may wish to take a walk along the ramparts, starting from the castle.

After lunch we drive east toward the Château de la Ballue, located between Brittany and Normandy. This 17th-century château, visited by writers like Balzac and Victor Hugo, is surrounded by dramatic theatrical gardens. When the castle was built in 1620, it was surrounded by Italian-style gardens. They were abandoned in 1942. Claude Arthaud bought the property in the 1970s and architects Paul Maymont and François Hébert-Stevens created a classic garden and a Mannerist garden. New owners, Marie-France Barrière and Alain Schrotter, have redesigned and reinterpreted the gardens with a modern twist. There are neat traditional geometric terraces, and a lush fernery and scented groves.

In the late afternoon we continue to the port city of Saint-Malo. Encircled by its strong granite ramparts. (Overnight Saint-Malo) B

Day 20: Thursday 24 June, Saint-Malo – Mont-Saint-Michel –  Saint-Malo
  • Mont-Saint-Michel
  • Time at leisure in Saint-Malo
  • Farewell Dinner

One of the highlights of the tour is a visit to the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, which perches upon a great, isolated granite cone rising from the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, the sands of which are bared at low tide. Believed by the Celts to be a resting place to which the departed were ferried on an invisible boat, it became the site of a hermitage after an apparition of St Michael to St Aubert, Bishop of Avranches (708). A Carolingian church was built in the 10th century, followed by a Romanesque basilica in the 12th century. Count Richard I of Normandy established a Benedictine Abbey here in 966 and it became a major seat of learning in the 11th century. It was progressively fortified in the Middle Ages. We shall visit the small village below the Mount and then participate in a tour of the Abbey, visiting its church, refectory, ancient scriptorium, and cloister.

Enjoy a free afternoon in Saint-Malo to explore the walled city and its ramparts. In the evening we shall meet all together for a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. (Overnight Saint-Malo) BD

Day 21: Friday 25 June, Saint-Malo – Paris. Tour Ends.
  • Transfer to Paris CDG airport

Our tour ends today with a coach transfer from Saint-Malo to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, via Rennes TGV station. On our way, we stop in Chartres, where there is time at leisure for lunch and visit to Chartres Cathedral (1194). B

Accommodation

Accommodation

21-day Cultural Garden Tour of Normandy & Brittany

ASA has selected 3- to 5-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom. Double/twin rooms for single occupancy may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Double (as Single) Supplement. A hotel list will be given to all participants prior to departure.

  • Rouen (6 nights): 4-star Mercure Rouen Centre Cathedral Hotel – a modern hotel close to the stunning Rouen Cathedral in the town’s medieval centre. www.mercure.com
  • Honfleur (2 nights): 3-star Hotel Best Western Le Cheval Blanc – located at the fishing harbour, this 3-star hotel offers 34 renovated rooms with a view of the Port of Honfleur. www.hotel-honfleur.com
  • Bayeux (3 nights): 5-star Hotel Villa Lara – opened in March 2012, located on a pedestrian street in the heart of old Bayeux, just a few steps from the famous Tapestry Museum and the Cathedral. www.hotel-villalara.com
  • Bagnoles-de-l’Orne (2 nights): 4-star Hotel Le Manoir Du Lys – a charming manor house located on the edge of the Andaine Forest, close to the spa town of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne. www.manoir-du-lys.com
  • Auray (2 nights): 3-star Hotel Best Western Du Loch – 3-star modern hotel set in beautifully landscaped grounds. www.bestwesternaurayleloch.com
  • Perros-Guirec (3 nights): 5-star L’Agapa Hôtel-Spa – set in a 1930s art deco-style building overlooking the Rose Coast of Brittany, offering panoramic sea views. www.lagapa.com
  • Saint-Malo (2 night): 4-star Hotel Oceania – a modern hotel overlooking the sea, located on the Chaussée du Sillon (Sillon Causeway) within walking distance from the the walled city. www.oceaniahotels.com

Note: Hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

How to book

How to Book

Make a Reservation

ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION FORM

Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day Garden Tour of Normandy & Brittany involves:

  • A moderate amount of walking mainly during outdoor site visits, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs, along cobbled streets and uneven terrain. You therefore need to be a good walker and be prepared to stand for some time in front of buildings and artworks.
  • Extensive coach travel – often on minor roads.
  • The daily schedule generally involves an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (between 5.30-6.30pm).
  • 3- to 5-star hotels with six hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage only includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $12,280.00 Land Content Only approx. – Early-Bird Special: Book before 31 July 2020

AUD $12,480.00 Land Content Only approx.

AUD $2840.00 Single Supplement approx.

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3-5 star hotels
  • Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees
  • Tour Notes
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Paris, Paris-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas (if applicable)
Tour Map

Tour Map

Gallery
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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