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In Search of Literary France 2024

Status: open

8 Jun – 27 Jun 2024

Overview

In Search of Literary France 2024
Tour Highlights

  • Lectures and site visits by Susannah Fullerton, President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, with the assistance of award-winning artist David Henderson.
  • Learning about the racy lives and bad behaviour of many great French novelists – Dumas, Balzac, Zola, De Maupassant, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Cocteau and more!
  • A visit to the medical museum in Rouen, Flaubert’s childhood home, and a walking tour in the footsteps of his character Madame Bovary.
  • Seeing the château where Balzac went to write (and escape creditors).
  • Enjoying great art at the Boudin Museum, the Fine Arts Museum of Rouen, the Le Havre Museum of Modern Art, the Richard Anacréon Museum of Art, and the Bayeux tapestry.
  • Visiting fascinating literary homes – the home of Proust’s aunt, Alain-Fournier’s schoolhouse home, Dumas’s exquisite Château de Monte Cristo, George Sand’s glorious manor house, Corneille’s country retreat, Zola’s Medan home which nourished many famous writers, Victor Hugo’s home and Colette’s birthplace.
  • Seeking out ‘lost time’ in the footsteps of Proust – see where he holidayed at Deauville, visit the Museum of Time Found, and sample madeleines, one of the most famous ‘literary foods’ ever.
  • Following in the footsteps of great artists such as Monet and Boudin.
  • Visit the superb Christian Dior Museum in Granville.
  • Enjoy charming villages, stunning cathedrals and rich pastoral landscapes.
  • Eating at gourmet restaurants frequented by great writers and experience the best of Normandy cuisine.

Overnight Villers-Cotterêts (2 nights) •  Amiens (1 night) • Rouen (3 nights) • Honfleur (2 nights) • Bayeux (2 nights) • Vitré (2 nights) • La Châtre (3 nights) • Fontainebleau (1 night) • Saint-Germain-en-Laye (3 nights)

Introduction

France! The very name is full of magic! France is one of the most civilised countries on earth and French food and wines, French paintings, French cinema, French fashion, French villages, the glorious capital city of Paris, and the châteaux scattered through the lovely countryside are all justly famous. It is hardly surprising that France attracts more tourists than any other country.

Another of the great glories of France is its literature. Writers and intellectuals have traditionally enjoyed great prestige there. Many members of the Académie Française have been authors and have pronounced on public events and held high office in the land. Statues of famous writers can be found in so many public parks and squares and streets have been named after the great novelists, poets and playwrights in hundreds of towns and cities. French novels and short stories are considered some of the greatest ever written, French plays are familiar to us through film and opera, French poets have broken new ground.

This tour offers you the opportunity to see France through the eyes of these great writers and their works. You will learn about their fascinating lives – the strings of mistresses, the debts, the scandals, the meals they enjoyed, their travels – and you will see the landscapes that inspired them and the places where they wrote. You will meet playwrights – Corneille and Victor Hugo; novelists such as Flaubert, Balzac, Dumas, Hugo, Proust, Alain-Fournier, Colette, George Sand and Zola; poets, Rimbaud and his lover Verlaine; and acclaimed historian Jules Michelet. You will see where they are buried, wander through their homes, explore the museums created in their names, and dine where they dined. Their characters have become part of our imaginative landscapes, but now you will see the physical landscapes they inhabited as well – the provinces which stifled Madame Bovary, the ancient mill which is home to George Sand’s Miller of Angibault, and the bedroom where Proust’s narrator eats a little cake and experiences something extraordinary.

Writers in France have travelled around their country, experiencing so many facets of French life. This tour reflects that variety of experience. You will visit châteaux and humble cottages, elegant restaurants and simple cafes, stroll along grand boulevards and country lanes. You will go to school one day, and admire some of Europe’s greatest cathedrals. You will enjoy a Chopin concert performed on pianos dating from the composer’s time, admire beautiful gardens, and will learn about the traditional crafts of Normandy. French fashion is included, as is the Australian War Memorial.

No French literary tour would be complete without an emphasis on food, for French writers have lovingly described meals, set scenes in cafes and used food endlessly in their works. We will sample some of the delicacies they wrote of, sip the fine champagnes and wines they indulged in, and treat ourselves to fine cheeses just as the characters they created did on market days.

When the Impressionist painters first tried to display their works, they were met with ridicule from the art critics of the day. One man, however, was more discerning – the novelist Émile Zola. He championed their paintings at the risk of losing his own reputation, he put his friend Cézanne into one of his novels, and he sat as a model for both Cézanne and Manet. Literature and art connect often in France and on this tour, we will have the pleasure of visiting many fine galleries, admiring sculptures of great writers, viewing tapestries that have intriguing historical stories to tell. We will walk through landscapes that inspired both the pen and the brush.

France is one of the largest countries in Europe and it is not possible to visit all its literary sites in 3 weeks. This tour concentrates on northern France (Picardy, Champagne, Normandy, the Loire), with a dip into Central France to see where George Sand made her home amidst historic villages and beautiful scenery.

A reading and film list will be supplied and the more you read from that list, the more you will enjoy the tour. However, it is not essential to have a detailed knowledge of French literature in order to enjoy the journey. Susannah will narrate the stories of the authors themselves and inspire you to further reading. Local guides and hosts will join us along the way, to further add to your knowledge and enjoyment.

Flaubert once wrote that “pleasure is found first in anticipation, later in memory”. With this tour you will encounter both his sorts of pleasure, but you will also find pleasure in between the anticipation and the memory – the intense pleasure that comes from the actual experience of searching out and discovering the treasures and the personalities, the art and the architecture, the scenery and the sacred sites, of literary France.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Draft Itinerary currently under preparation

The following itinerary lists a range of site visits which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission. 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. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Villers-Cotterêts - 2 nights

Day 1: Saturday 8 June, Paris – Villers-Cotterêts
  • Morning transfer Paris CDG Airport Hotel to Villers-Cotterêts
  • Welcome Meeting
  • Orientation walking tour of Villers-Cotterêts
  • Musée Alexandre Dumas, Villers-Cotterêts
  • Welcome Dinner

(Overnight Villers-Cotterêts) D

Day 2: Sunday 9 June, Villers-Cotterêts – Juniville – Charleville-Mézières – Longpont – Villers-Cotterêts
  • Musée Verlaine, Juniville
  • Musée Rimbaud & Maison des Ailleurs, Charleville-Mézières
  • Dinner at Restaurant Hôtel de L’Abbaye, Longpont

(Overnight Villers-Cotterêts) BLD

Amiens – 1 night

Day 3: Monday 10 June, Villers-Cotterêts – Amiens
  • Maison de Jules Vernes, Amiens
  • Guided walking tour of Old Amiens and Amiens Cathedral
  • Time at leisure

(Overnight Amiens) B

Rouen – 3 nights

Day 4: Tuesday 11 June, Amiens – Villers-Bretonneux – Lyons-la-Forêt – Vascoeuil – Ry – Rouen
  • Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux
  • Time at leisure in Lyons-la-Forêt
  • Château de Vascoueil: home of French historian, Jules Michelet. Guided tour and light lunch
  • Walking tour of Ry village: in the footsteps of Madame Bovary

(Overnight Rouen) BL

Day 5: Wednesday 12 June, Rouen – Veules-les-Roses – Varengeville-sur-Mer – Tourville-sur-Arques – Rouen
  • Guided walking tour of Rouen including the Cathedral & Flaubert Statue
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen
  • Time at leisure in Veules-les-Roses
  • Sailors cemetery and 11th-century church, Varengeville-sur-Mer
  • Château de Miromesnil, Tourville-sur-Arques: birthplace of Guy de Maupassant. Guided tour of the château and gardens followed by dinner.

(Overnight Rouen) BD

Day 6: Thursday 13 June, Rouen
  • Pavillion Flaubert: the remains of Flaubert’s family home in the hamlet of Croisset
  • Maison de Pierre Corneille à Petit-Couronne
  • Musée Flaubert et d’histoire de la médecine
  • Dinner at La Couronne

(Overnight Rouen) BD

Honfleur – 2 nights

Day 7: Friday 14 June, Rouen – Rives-en-Seine – Étretat – Honfleur
  • Musée Victor Hugo (Maison Villequier), Rives-en-Seine
  • Time at leisure in Étretat
  • Le Clos Arsène Lupin, Étretat
  • La Guilette, Maupassant’s house in Étretat: exterior tour of the house & afternoon tea

(Overnight Honfleur) B

Day 8: Saturday 15 June, Honfleur – Le Havre – Honfleur
  • Walking tour of Honfleur
  • Musée Eugène Boudin, Honfleur
  • MuMa – Musée d’art moderne André Malraux, Le Havre
  • Dinner at Le Manoir des Impressionists

(Overnight Honfleur) BD

Bayeux – 2 nights

Day 9: Sunday 16 June, Honfleur – Deauville – Cabourg – Beuvron-en-Auge – Bayeux
  • Time at leisure to stroll along the Plage de Deauville
  • Villa du Temps retrouvé  (Villa of Time Found): dedicated to the imagination of Marcel Proust & the Belle Époque era, Cabourg
  • Gastronomic lunch at Le Pavé d’Auge, Beuvron-en-Auge

(Overnight Bayeux) BL

 Day 10: Monday 17 June, Bayeux
  • Walking tour of Bayeux
  • Bayeux Tapestry Museum
  • Afternoon at leisure

(Overnight Bayeux) B

Vitré – 2 nights

Day 11: Tuesday 18 June, Bayeux – Granville – Fougères – Vitré
  • Musée Christian Dior, set in his seaside childhood home, Granville
  • Morning tea in La Rose Salon de Tea, Granville
  • Musée d’Art Moderne Richard Anacréon: a collection of paintings, graphic works and books from the early 20th century
  • Guided literary walking tour of Fougères: in the footsteps of Victor Hugo, Juliette Drouet & Honoré de Balzac

(Overnight Vitré) B

Day 12: Wednesday 19 June, Vitré – Combourg – Bazouges-la-Pérouse – Vitré
  • Morning walking tour of Vitré: in the footsteps of Marquise de Sévigné
  • Château de Combourg, medieval fortress and birthplace of François-René de Chateaubriand: guided tour and light lunch
  • Château la Ballue, Bazouges-la-Pérouse, a popular spot for writers including Victor Hugo: Guided tour of the gardens & afternoon tea

(Overnight Vitré) BL

La Châtre – 3 nights

Day 13: Thursday 20 June, Vitré – Saché – La Châtre
  • Château de Saché: writers house museum dedicated to Honoré de Balzac

(Overnight La Châtre) BL

Day 14: Friday 21 June, La Châtre – Nohant – Montipouret – Épineuil-le-Fleuriel – La Châtre
  • Église Saint-Martin de Vic, Nohant: tour of 12th-century frescoes
  • Maison de George Sand, Nohant
  • Picnic lunch at Moulin d’Angibault, Montipouret, Montipouret. Sand wrote Le Meunier d’Angibault in 1844 after visiting the mill
  • Maison École du Grand Meaulnes, Épineuil-le-Fleuriel: home of Alain Fourier from 1891-1898 and where he set his novel Le Grand Meaulnes
  • Evening at leisure with option to visit the Musée George Sand et de la Vallée Noire, La Châtre

(Overnight La Châtre) BL

Day 15: Saturday 22 June, Le Châtre – Boussac-Bourg – Crozant – Gargilesse-Dampierre – Chassignolles – La Châtre
  • Château de Boussac, Boussac-Bourg: George Sand’s holiday place; part of her novel Jeanne is set here
  • La Vallée des Peintres, a 4km walk in the valley around Crozant: in the footsteps of Impressionist painters including Claude Monet & Armand Guillaumin (incl. picnic lunch)
  • Walking tour of Gargilesse-Dampierre including a visit to George Sand’s Villa Algira
  • Piano concert by Cyril Huvé in Chassignoles
  • Dinner at a local restaurant in La Châtre

(Overnight La Châtre) BLD

Fontainebleau – 1 night

Day 16: Sunday 23 June, La Châtres – Bourges – Saint Sauveur-en-Puisaye – Fontainebleau
  • Walking tour of Bourges
  • Maison de Colette, Saint Sauveur-en-Puisaye

(Overnight Fontainebleau) B

Saint-Germain-en-Laye – 3 nights

Day 17: Monday 24 June, Fontainebleau – Milly-la-Forêt – Draveil – Bièvres – Saint-Germain-en-Laye
  • Saint-Blaise des Simples Chapel, Milly-la-Forêt, resting place of Jean Cocteau (subject to restoration works being completed by 2024)
  • Maison de Jean Cocteau, Milly-la-Forêt
  • Maison d’Alphonse Daudet, Draveil
  • Château des Roches: Maison Littéraire de Victor Hugo

(Overnight Saint Germain-en-Laye) B

Day 18: Tuesday 25 June, Saint-Germain-en-Laye – Villebon – Illiers-Combray – Saint-Germain-en-Laye
  • Château de Villebon: the setting for Guermantes castle in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time
  • Château de Swann, Illiers-Combray: the setting of Marcel Proust’s Du Cote de Chez Swann
  • Musée Marcel Proust: Maison de Tante Léonie, Illiers-Combray

(Overnight Saint Germain-en-Laye) BL

Day 19: Wednesday 16 June, Saint-Germain-en-Laye – Médan – Le Port-Marly – Saint-Germain-en-Laye
  • Maison d’Émile Zola, Médan
  • Château de Médan: home of Maurice Maeterlinck (to be confirmed in 2024)
  • Château de Monte-Cristo, Le Port-Marly: built as a residence for Alexandre Dumas
  • Farewell Meal

(Overnight Saint Germain-en-Laye) BLD

Day 20: Thursday 17 June, Saint-Germain-en-Laye; Tour ends
  • Tour concludes in the morning
  • At leisure/Check out

Our tour ends in Saint-Germain-en-Laye after breakfast. In the morning you will be required to check out of the hotel. Please contact ASA if you require assistance with a transfer to the Paris CDG Airport. B

Accommodation

Accommodation

ASA has selected 3- and 4-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom.

  • Villers-Cotterêts (2 nights): 3-star Hôtel Le Régent – a  charming hotel situated in a former coach house in the city centre. www.hotel-leregent.com
  • Amiens (1 night): 4-star Mercure Amiens Cathédrale  – situated in front of France’s biggest medieval cathedral, which is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. mercureamienscathedrale.com
  • Rouen (3 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 (2 nights): 5-star Hotel Villa Lara – 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
  • Vitré (2 nights): 4-star Le Magic Hôtel & Spa – situated 100m from the medieval castle. www.hotel-lemagic.com
  • La Châtre (3 nights): 3-star Hôtel du Lion D’Argent – located 500m from the town centre and 750m from the George Sand Museum. www.leliondargent.com
  • Fontainebleau (1 night): 4-star L’Aigle Noir Hôtel Fontainebleau MGallery – housed in an 18th-century mansion, and located 100m from the Château de Fontainebleau. www.aiglenoirhotel.com
  • Saint-Germain-en-Laye (3 nights): hotel to be advised

NoteHotels are subject to change. In this instance a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

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.

How to book

How to Book

Making a Tentative Reservation before the tour price has been published

ASA INTENTION TO TRAVEL APPLICATION FORM

Some ASA tours fill almost immediately. Don’t miss out! You can register your ‘Intention to Travel’ by completing this application and returning this to ASA with a AUD $200.00 per person deposit. Once the tour price has been published, the itinerary and ASA Reservation Application Form will be sent to you. From the time you receive the itinerary you will have two weeks to either:

  • Send us a completed ASA Reservation Application Form together with an additional deposit of AUD $300.00 per person. On receipt of this Reservation Application and deposit, ASA will process your booking and if approved, send you a tour confirmation. At this time your deposit of AUD $500.00 is subject to the tour’s Booking Conditions.

Or

  • CANCEL your Intention to Travel in writing. ASA will refund your AUD $100.00 per person deposit, less a $33.00 service fee (including GST).

Participation Criteria

To participate in an ASA tour, you must be reasonably fit, in good health and able to participate in all activities without assistance from Tour Leaders or other tour members. If you require assistance, a fit and able travel companion must undertake to accompany and assist you with all tasks for the duration of the whole tour. ASA’s ability to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your specific needs, your health and safety and the health and safety of other tour members, is of paramount importance to us. For this reason the ASA Reservation Application includes a Medical Information section. As a general guideline, you must be able to accomplish each of these activities without assistance or support:-

  • walk and stand unassisted for at least 2-3 hours a day in hot, humid conditions
  • walk confidently on and over uneven surfaces
  • climb at least 3 flights of stairs
  • embark and disembark from ferries, buses and trains
  • walk up and down steep slopes
  • walk at a steady pace and no less than 1km every 15-20 minutes
  • organise, manage and carry your own luggage
  • follow and remember tour instructions
  • meet punctually at designated times and places
  • administer your own medication.
Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate

Commencing from November 2021 it will be a condition of travel that all group leaders and ASA travellers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. All participants must send ASA a copy of their vaccination certificate at the time of submitting their Reservation Application Form. For information on how to obtain either a Covid-19 digital certificate or a certificate in PDF format please view the Australian Government Services Australia “What types of proof there are” web page.

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 20-day Literary Tour of France involves:
  • A daily schedule generally involving an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (5.30-6.00pm).
  • 2-3 site visits most days, involving up to 1-2 hours of walking at each (sometimes on uneven terrain, cobbled streets, and steep slopes) and/or standing, interspersed with coach travel.
  • 3- to 4-star hotels with four hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage 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.

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 $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3- to 4-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and dinners 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
  • Transfer from CDG Airport to Villers-Cotterêts
  • Hotel-TGV station departure transfer
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour Handbook
  • Entrance fees
  • 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
  • Departure airport transfer
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (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 canel 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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