Normandy, Brittany and Loire
Day 1 - Landing Beaches
Starting in CAEN the City 80% destroyed in 1944 we explore the Landing Beaches working from East to West from British Sector to the American. Our first stop is Pegasus Bridge, where we study the most amazing feat of the British 6th Airborne Division and specifically the glider born infantry who in darkness landed 47 yards from the bridge and seized it intact.
From here we continue to Arromanches famous for its floating harbour and in the museum here we marvel at this engineering miracle that facilitated the arrival of men, vehicles and essential supplies for this enormous army as it fought for Normandy. Now onto Omaha Beach where the Americans landed and we study this near disaster turned into triumph before visiting the cemetery and visitor centre.
Into Bayeux - the Medieval town thankfully spared during the battle. We have time to explore wandering the delightful lanes, seeing the most impressive example of a Norman Gothic Cathedral and a chance to enjoy Norman cuisine at a recommended restaurant. We stay here tonight.
Day 2 - Bayeux Tapestry / Villedieu-les-Poeles / Mont St Michel / St Malo
No visit to Bayeux is complete without seeing the world famous tapestry, actually more of an enormous comic strip that tells of the earlier invasion in the other direction, from Normandy to England in 1066, under the command of William the Conqueror.
Onwards towards Brittany where just before arriving at the western wonder of the world, Mont St Michel, we pay a brief visit to Villedieu-les-Poeles. This is the capital of the french copper pots and pans production a must for any professional or keen amateur chef. This small town has one street where copper goods abound and make a fetching spectacle for the eye and of course many opportunities to buy.
Now on to the stunning Mont St Michel the small rocky island where they built an Abbey. The approach is awe inspiring an we climb the steps to the very top for the stunning panoramas over the bay, where perhaps we will see the legendary tide advancing at the speed of a galloping horse , then visit inside the Abbey itself marveling at this Gothic Marvel.
After exploring here a scenic coastal drive across the border into Brittany and to the magnificent fortified port of St Malo. The Bretons are a proud people whose history is so tied in with the sea and nowhere expresses tis better than St Malo home of explores and pirates and once an independent republic. Let's walk the ramparts to look out to the Island grave of Chateaubriand and visit Cartier's resting place in the Cathedral or just wander within the walls and amongst the boats in the Marina. For here tonight is our resting place.
Day 3 Loire Valley: Angers / Saumur / Villandry
Now an early start for our drive south to the Garden of France and the playground of the French kings, the Loire Valley. Our first stop is Angers home of the Plantagenets and an imposing Chateau towering over the river Maine. Inside the wall not much remains but today houses another amazing Tapestry of the Apocalypse a 14 Century tale between good and Evil. A brief visit here before a scenic drive along the Loire River continuing to Saumur our lunch stop. This charming town on the Loire has its old town bristling with restaurants and a good chance to try the local specialities of Goats cheese and wine. Now onwards passing the Sleeping Beauty Chateau at Usse before arriving at the real Jewel in the Touraine crown the Renaissance gardens of Villandry, famed for the stunning vegtable as you've never seen them before. Now to our resting place for tonight Tours the vibrant capital town of Touraine.
Day 4 Amboise / Chenonceau / Blois
Continuing with the best of the Chateaux we first visit Amboise and the Clos Luce, last home of Leonardo da Vinci and today a fascinating museum about the great man with models of his before his time inventions.
On now to Chenonceau for many the most beautiful of all, inspired as it was by women and built over the river Cher with scrumptious surrounding gardens.
Last but not least onto Blois and its Chateau so steeped in History where the Duke de Guise was murdered in the Royal Chambers.Here a real splendour of architecturally contrasting styles with Gothic, Renaissance and 17th Century wings. A great Town too to spend the last night of our tour.
We leave for the two hour drive for Paris - should your schedule permit a stop en route at the most magnificent Chartres Cathedral - the end of a magical voyage.