Tailormade tour Normandy Coast and the Loire Valley self-drive touring holiday France

8 nights /9 days

Honfleur • Normandy coast • Angers • Amboise and Loire valley

This self-drive touring holiday introduces you to the picturesque and the thought-provoking Normandy coast with its pretty fishing villages and grand resorts, but also the scars and marks of recent history as well as the connections for the British visitor that date back over 1000 years. You also spend time in two regions of the Loire valley with its emphasis on fine wines and beautiful pleasure chateaux.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,880 per person.

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to the coast of Normandy and the chateaux of the Loire Valley

Highlights

Visit Honfleur • Visit Deauville and Trouville • Visit Pegasus Bridge • Visit Juno, Gold and Sword beaches • Visit Arromanches • Bayeux • Visit Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc • Visit Saumur • Angers • Visit Villandry • Vineyard visits • Visit old town of Tours • Amboise • Visit Chateau Chenonceau

Day by day

After arriving in Calais via the Eurotunnel, begin your drive through Pas-de-Calais and into the varied and dramatic landscape of the Normandy, crossing the mighty Seine by the Pont de Normandie. Your stop for two nights is in the countryside near Honfleur.

Honfleur itself is perhaps best recognised for its tall, colourful French townhouses that line the harbour, and overlook the Seine Estuary, and, of course, its artistic connections. The nearby Trouville-sur-Mer is an equally ‘arty’ town and gathering place for contemporary and modernist authors, with its quirky architecture and vibrant lifestyle. Popular names associated with this town include Marguerite Duras, Marcel Proust, Claude Monet, and Gustave Flaubert, all of whom chose to either live or stay in Trouville. Exhibitions are regularly held at the Villa Montebello, the former residence of Napoleon. Across La Touques, and accessible by boat or train from Trouville, is the chic resort of Deauville, a town still beautifully traditional in appearance, but with the ambience and reputation of a modern, designer town. A favourite haunt of Napoleon and Coco Chanel, Deauville is, like its counterpart across the water, a popular and prestigious town in Normandy. As well as being home to the Deauville Film Festival, Deauville is a hub for sports such as horse-racing and polo. After a day at the races, or looking around the many boutiques of Place Marny, perhaps take a relaxing stroll down the Promenade des Planches. Visit Deauville on a Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday, to catch the market in the Place du Marché and purchase some of the speciality cider and camembert. Just half an hour inland will bring you to the winding waterways of Pont-Audemer, and Pont-l’Évêque, both quintessentially picturesque Normandy towns, and at the heart of the Calvados region.

Today it’s worth having a day of the historic Normandy landing beaches along the coast. The first point you reach is the famous Pegasus Bridge, where you should have a drink at the Café Gondree on the bridge, the first house in France to be liberated. The museum nearby gives illuminating background to the D-Day landings and the feats of the troops landing at Pegasus Bridge. Cross the river and then head to the north and the start of the landing beaches with Sword, Juno and Gold in that order. The area has military cemeteries and memorials well-worth pausing to contemplate. At Arromanches you will see the remains of the Mulberry harbours and another fine museum. From here it’s a short drive to your hotel for the next two nights.

The focus today can be two-fold: Bayeux itself and the remaining landing beaches and their memorials along the coast. Bayeux has plenty to see and do, from its Cathedral, the tapestry and the British cemetery. On the coast, there is the Battery at Longues sur Mer, Omaha Beach and the American memorial and the Pointe du Hoc.

Your journey into the Loire Valley takes you through the rolling green fields of the Parc Naturel Régional de Normandie-Maine and onto the very banks of the Loire itself. You stay to the north of Angers for two nights.

The town of Angers is shaped by its abundant gardens, and its magnificent centrepiece – the Château d’Angers, home of the Apocalypse Tapestry. Many more opportunities arise in Angers for visitors to explore the waterways of France. Perhaps take a traditional river shuttle across the local waters or travel a little further on a Loire de Lumière river cruise that explores the 300km of navigable waterways in the Loire Valley region. Wildlife cruises are available, as well as dinner concerts and cocktail evenings in the summer months. Head to Trélazé to partake in the unique experience of scuba diving in the slate quarry or drive to Marcé for balloon rides or micro-light rides. Any visit to the Loire Valley, however, insists upon an exploration of the best of the region’s châteaux. The Château de Brissac, home to the 13th Duke of Brissac, offers an informative and delightful tour through the Duke’s collection of ancient paintings, the private theatre commissioned by the Duchess in the 19th century and dedicated solely to opera, and culminating in a tasting of the wines produced on the Duke’s estate in the Duke’s own wine cellar. Utilise this visit and perhaps another visit to a nearby château to taste the produce of the Anjou-Saumur vineyards, amidst which Angers sits, such as the Saumur-Champigny reds and Coteaux-de-l’Aubance whites; the Coulée-de-Serrant, a dry white wine, is the most famous of the wines of this area.

This is really a day to explore the north bank of the River Loire and there is lots of see along the way, from fortified towns with the mediaeval chateaux, such as at Luynes and Langeais, to the vineyards at Bourgueil. This might also be the day to visit the Chateau of Villandry, or even venture into the city of Tours, before arriving in Amboise for two nights.

There are numerous places of importance to visit within a very short drive. Amboise, on the banks of the river Loire, is home to the Chateau d’Amboise, a 15th century residence of Charles VIII and where you will find the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. Nearby is the Chateau du Clos Lucé where Leonardo Da Vinci lived. In the grounds are displays of working models of this designs. Not far from Amboise is the Château de Chenonceau, known sometimes at the ‘Ladies Castle’ due to its string of female owners, such as Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers, is not to be missed. This château offers an extensive art gallery and a collection of exquisite Flemish tapestries, as well as wine-tasting opportunities. You can dine in L’Orangerie, the on-site restaurant, or relax in the tea rooms, before exploring the wax museum or enjoying a boat ride. In the warmer summer months of July and August, night strolls around the castle and its grounds are very atmospheric, particularly with the backdrop of music by Arcangelo Corelli. Whilst in Amboise, you may want to visit the capital of the region, Tours. It is an ancient university town and this region purports to speak the ‘purest’ form of French. The old town is a delight with its narrow streets and tall, gabled, half-timbered houses. The Cathedral of Saint Gatien dates from the 12th century but most of it is obviously flamboyant Gothic, completed about the same time as the Chateau de Chenonceau. In Montlouis-sur-Loire, we recommend visiting the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups to taste the local wine: the dry and fizzy Moelleux wines from this region.

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,880 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD08

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to the coast of Normandy and the chateaux of the Loire Valley

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,880 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD08

Our prices include ● Eurotunnel crossing from Folkestone to Calais for car and passengers
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Auberge de la Source near Honfleur
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at La Cheneviere near Port-en-Bessin
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Manor House double room at the Château de Noirieux near Angers
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Tradition double room at the Choiseul in Amboise
● 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 Driving times for this touring holiday
Calais to Honfleur 3 hours
Honfleur to Port-en-Bessin 1 hour 30 minutes
Port-en-Bessin to Briollay 3 hours
Briollay to Amboise 2 hours
Amboise to Calais 5 hours

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,880 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD08

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to the coast of Normandy and the chateaux of the Loire Valley

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 tailormade touring holiday to the coast of Normandy and the chateaux of the Loire Valley

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.

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