Tailormade tour French Basque country self-drive touring holiday France

13 nights/14 days

St Jean de Luz • Normandy • Loire Valley • Bordeaux region • North of France

This self-drive holiday to the French Basque country has as its focal point a 7-night stay in the charming fishing port and beach resort of St Jean de Luz. Additionally, there are three overnight stops in each direction included, with stays near Honfleur, in the Loire valley and near Bordeaux.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,590 per person.

Luxury self-drive touring holiday to French Basque country, with overnight stops in Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux region and North of France

Highlights

St Jean de Luz • Honfleur • Amboise and Chenonceau in the Loire Valley • Bordeaux region • North of France

Day by day

After arriving in Calais via the Eurotunnel, begin your drive through the rolling, chalky fields of the Pas-de-Calais and then the valley of the Somme, into the charming landscape of Normandy, crossing the mouth of the mighty River Seine by the dramatic Pont de Normandie. Your overnight stop is just outside Honfleur. It’s worth trying to arrive early enough in the afternoon to have some free time in Honfleur before reaching your hotel. Honfleur’s harbour is lined by elegant, townhouses and warehouses that are now occupied by an array of restaurants and art galleries.

Today’s drive takes about three hours, so you have time to explore the vicinity of Honfleur, perhaps with a drive along the coast to the seaside resort of Deauville or to drive through the delightful Calvados countryside with its apple trees, pasture-land and half-timbered Normandy farmhouses. The road takes you towards Le Mans and then it’s motorway towards Tours, the capital of the Touraine at the heart of the Loire Valley. Your overnight stop is a short distance from here and near to the famous Renaissance chateau at Chenonceau.

Setting out from near Tours today, your journey time is about 4 hours. There is a motorway direct to Bordeaux or you can take the route nationale through Angouleme. Unless you have a desire to veer off to somewhere such as La Rochelle on the coast, it’s worth reaching the Bordeaux region early, giving time to explore the vineyards of Pomerol and St Emilion near the Dordogne river, or venture onto the left bank of the Garonne to visit the might Medoc vineyards where you’ll find Margaux, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild as well as other well-known names.

The drive today is about three hours but also offers a few variations of route. South of Bordeaux you pass through the flat fields and forests of the Landes. Instead of taking the motorway from Bordeaux south, you could deviate right towards the coast at Arcachon and follow it for a while, although it does zig in and out, or left towards the spa and market town of Dax on the river Adour.

St Jean de Luz, almost on the Pyrenean border between France and Spain, is renowned for its pretty architecture, sandy beach, gastronomy and light. The coastline here is a mixture of cliffs and sandy beaches, creating interesting scenery, and there are the foothills of the Pyrenees in the distance. This fishing port has a charming town centre, lined with picturesque 17th century shipowners’ houses. Many of the buildings are in the distinctive Basque half-timbered style, often with the beams painted a dark red or green, with matching shutters at the windows. The Church of Saint Jean Baptiste was the site of the marriage of Louis XIV in 1660. Its interior makes it a unique religious building, split onto three levels, and adorned with extravagant gold decoration, while in the centre of the main room hangs a model ship, harking back to the nautical history of the town. To the north is the sophisticated and larger resort of Biarritz and inland is the historic town of Bayonne. Just across the rocky Pyrenean border in Spain is San Sebastián - an essential day-trip. As well as its reputation for excellent cuisine, San Sebastián boasts of an impressive heritage and royal connection. The La Perla spa building on the waterfront was built for the Queen María Cristina and is still believed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. St Jean de Luz hosts numerous festivals including a Sardine festival at the end of July and beginning of August, a classical music festival in September and an International Basque Choral Singing Festival at Halloween.

You retrace your steps towards Bordeaux, cross the river Dordogne and head north but stopping short of Cognac for your overnight stop.

Today we recommend an early start and a visit to Cognac, home of the eponymous ‘digestif’. There is a museum of cognac production and history, and the cognac houses of Remy Martin and Hennessy that can be visited. Re-join the motorway for the journey back to the Touraine, the River Loire and the chateau-town of Amboise. The chateau houses the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci and his former home, the Chateau de Clos Lucé is nearby. There are numerous restaurants in the town for tonight’s dinner if you want to stroll the short distance from the hotel.

The most direct route today takes you back past Le Mans, to Rouen where you cross the Seine, and then north to Abbeville in the Somme valley and the small town of Montreuil, a few miles from the site of the battle of Agincourt, and just inland from the coastal resort of Le Touquet. This route avoids Paris, although it’s also possible to take the motorway to Orleans, Paris and Amiens instead.

On your final day in France, there might be time for a stroll in Le Touquet or to take the coastal road after Boulogne, through the villages of Wimereux and Wissant, back to Calais and your return Eurotunnel crossing.

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,590 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD14

Luxury self-drive touring holiday to French Basque country, with overnight stops in Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux region and North of France

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,590 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD14

Our prices include ● Eurotunnel return crossing from Folkestone to Calais for car and passengers
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Campagne double room at the Auberge de la Source, near Honfleur
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Chateau de la Bourdaisiere, near Chenonceau
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Comfort double room at the Sources de Caudalie, near Bordeaux
● 7 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at the Hotel Parc Victoria, St Jean de Luz
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Chateau de Mirambeau, north of Bordeaux
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Traditional double room at Le Choiseul, at Amboise
● 1 night’s dinner, bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Chateau de Montreuil, at Montreuil sur Mer
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel

Additional information This self-drive holiday can be arranged throughout the year subject to the opening dates of the hotels.
Driving times for this touring holiday
Calais to Honfleur 3 hours
Honfleur to Loire Valley 3 hours
Loire Valley to Bordeaux 4 hours
Bordeaux to St Jean de Luz 3 hours
St Jean de Luz to north of Bordeaux 4 hours
North of Bordeaux to Amboise 4 hours
Amboise to Pas-de-Calais 5 hours

Hotels included in this tour
Honfleur
Auberge de la Source

Auberge de la Source is a 4-star hotel in an idyllic country location a few miles from Honfleur and near the Cider Route and Calvados distilleries. The excellent fresh local cuisine and secluded setting afford guests a truly tranquil and authentic Norman experience.

Campagne double room

Chenonceau
Chateau de la Bourdaisiere

Château de la Bourdaisière is an exclusive château-hotel set in a beautiful countryside location. Labyrinthine gardens filled with botanical delights and traditional château features afford guests a truly relaxing and unique experience.

Classic double room

Martillac, near Bordeaux
Les Sources de Caudalie

Les Sources de Caudalie is a 5-star hotel in an excellent location among the vineyards. Perfect for gourmands and oenophiles, the hotel offers a 2-Michelin-star restaurant, Vinothérapie spa as well as unparalleled access to some of Bordeaux's most prestigious wineries.

Comfort double

St Jean de Luz
Hotel Parc Victoria

Hotel Parc Victoria is an exclusive 5-star hotel in an excellent location. Delicious cuisine and excellent wellness facilities afford guests a truly tranquil and indulgent experience,

Standard double room

Cognac
Chateau de Mirambeau

Château de Mirambeau is a 5-star luxury hotel in a beautiful location. Gourmet cuisine, opulent decoration and spectacular grounds afford guests a truly tranquil and relaxing experience.

Classic double room

Amboise
Le Choiseul

Le Choiseul is a very attractive, exclusive 4-star traditional hotel in a superb location for visiting the region. Excellent cuisine and pristine grounds and gardens afford guests a truly tranquil and indulgent experience.

Traditional room

Montreuil sur Mer
Chateau de Montreuil

Le Château de Montreuil is an exclusive 4-star country-house hotel in beautiful grounds. The fine dining restaurant, charming decor and lovely grounds afford guests a relaxing retreat.

Classic double room

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,590 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD14

Luxury self-drive touring holiday to French Basque country, with overnight stops in Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux region and North of France

Highlights of French Basque Country

Sample traditions such as pelota and pimento festivals. Local crafts such as the makhila walking stick, fine linens and Thalassotherapy are also available throughout the region. There are excellent golf courses and sandy beaches. Notice the red and green timbered houses.

Climate of French Basque Country

Average air temperatures by month in centigrade: Jan: 10.0, Feb: 9.4, Mar: 12.2, Apr: 19.5, May: 18.0, Jun: 23.7, Jul: 27.2, Aug: 25.7, Sep: 24.2, Oct: 19.7, Nov: 15.4, Dec: 11.0. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

Luxury self-drive touring holiday to French Basque country, with overnight stops in Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux region and North of France

Highlights of Bordeaux

Visit vineyards and chateaux, for tasting and buying. Visit the oyster beds. Experience the Cognac distilleries, and the Romanesque architecture. Bordeaux is the historical centre for wine however you may also visit the villages of the wine region such as St Emilion.

Climate in the Bordeaux Region

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 10.0, Feb: 9.4, Mar: 12.2, Apr: 19.5, May: 18.0, Jun: 23.7, Jul: 27.2, Aug: 25.7, Sep: 24.2, Oct: 19.7, Nov: 15.4, Dec: 11.0. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France

Luxury self-drive touring holiday to French Basque country, with overnight stops in Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux region and North of France

Highlights of the Loire Valley

Cultural highlights include wines and wine vinegars, wild mushrooms - (visit the mushroom museum), the Troglodyte caves, and local art exhibitions.

Festivals in the Loire Valley

Son et Lumiere in the chateaux in the summer months. Summer festival in Chinon in August.

Climate of the Loire Valley

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 7.8, Feb: 6.8, Mar: 10.3, Apr: 16.1, May: 16.4, Jun: 23.6, Jul: 25.8, Aug: 24.5, Sep: 21.1, Oct: 16.2, Nov: 11.2, Dec: 7.0. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

Luxury self-drive touring holiday to French Basque country, with overnight stops in Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux region and North of France

Highlights of Normandy

Calvados, cider and camembert, horse-races in Deauville in August, markets every day of the week throughout the region, the Route du Cidre, and the summer art exhibitions.

Climate of Normandy

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 7.6, Feb: 6.4, Mar: 8.4, Apr: 13.0, May: 14.0, Jun: 20.0, Jul: 21.6, Aug: 22.0, Sep: 18.2, Oct: 14.5, Nov: 10.8, Dec: 7.9. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

Luxury self-drive touring holiday to French Basque country, with overnight stops in Normandy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux region and North of France

Highlights of Pas-de-Calais

Seaside towns with fabulous seafood restaurants; Anglo-Norman and Art Deco architecture in the super chic Le Touquit; the castle museum, basilica and belfry of Boulogne-sur-Mer; a stroll along the promenade at elegant Wimereux; St-Omer’s narrow, winding streets, fortified upper old town and 13th century Notre Dame cathedral; the Flemish- baroque Heros and Grande Place squares of Arras, surrounded with cafes selling local gingerbreads, and galleries selling local artwork; the citadel and ramparts of Montreuil-sur-mer; locally brewed beer and cider; visit the crystal glass factory at Arque; Opal Capes and Marshes natural reserve, crisscrossed by waymarked trails; the 500ft sheer chalk cliffs at Cape Blanc-Nez, with footpath running above it.

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