A Facinating Stroll Through France

 

Day 1

Upon our early morning arrival in France we will board our Motor Coach to head to the Le Mans area.   In route we will one of the most beautiful churches in France the Cathedral Chartes.  The Cathedral that is also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartes  is a medieval Roman Rite Catholic cathedral located in Chartres, France, about 80 kilometers (50 mi) southwest of Paris. It is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current cathedral, mostly constructed between 1194 and 1250, is the last of at least five which have occupied the site since the town became a bishopric in the 4th century.

The cathedral is in an exceptional state of preservation. The majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century. The building’s exterior is dominated by heavy flying buttresses which allowed the architects to increase the window size significantly, while the west end is dominated by two contrasting spires – a 105-metre (349 ft) plain pyramid completed around 1160 and a 113-metre (377 ft) early 16th-century Flamboyant spire on top of an older tower. Equally notable are the three great façades, each adorned with hundreds of sculpted figures illustrating key theological themes and narratives.

Since at least the 12th century the cathedral has been an important destination for travellers – and remains so to this day, attracting large numbers of Christian pilgrims, many of who come to venerate its famous relic, the Sancta Camisa, said to be the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ’s birth as well as large numbers of secular tourists who come to admire the cathedral’s architecture and historical merit.

Our Guide will be the incomparable Malcolm Miller.

We will have a group lunch in route to Le Mans.  In Le Mans we will have a short tour of the city with its half timbered houses     Le Mans has a fantastic old town and is well worth the visit. Known as the Cité  Plantagenet, this is where in 1129 Geoffrey Plantagenet married Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England and gave birth to Henry II.

Unlike the medieval quarters of most towns and cities in France that of Le Mans is completely separate to the modern day town. It lies high above the town and is almost spookily quiet after the noise of the thriving city below. The magnificent St Julien Cathedral can be seen from below and can be reached by walking up the steps from the car park in the Place des Jacobins.  We will then check into our hotel and have the remainder of the day to explore at your leisure.    Dinner is on your own this evening in town.  Hotel Concordia  2 Nights

 Day 2

After breakfast we will head out for Beautiful Chateaus, a Winery and Lunch

The Gardens of the Château de Villandry – Villandry is best known, at least abroad, as France’s archetypal potager, a kitchen garden elevated to a regal plain and Frenchified to the maximum, with its seemingly endless geometric parterres edged in immaculately clipped boxwood. This, at least, is the impression I had of the garden before I visited.

In fact, the potager forms only part of what in fact is a painstaking and loving restoration of the gardens of a Renaissance château, fraught with romantic symbolism and amenities–or agréments, as the French would call them, features designed for pure pleasure. The potager, for example, is punctuated with numerous latticework gloriettes, or gazebos, whose curved form provide great intimacy to those within as they gaze upon the softly splashing fountain before them.                                                                                                                                                                     Chateau  Chenonceau-  Property of the Crown, then royal residence, Chenonceau Castle is an exceptional site not only because of its original design, the richness of its collections, its furniture and its decorations, but also because of its destiny, since it was loved, administrated and protected by women, who were all extraordinary and who, for the most part have marked history.

For the historical background, the “Château des Dames” was built in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet, and successively embellished by Diane de Poitiers then Catherine de Medici. Chenonceau was protected from the hardship of the revolution by Madame Dupin. The iron, but very feminine, fist in the velvet glove has always preserved Chenonceau during times of conflict and war in order to make it forever a place of peace.  Throughout its history, this emblematic Castle has always attracted talent and inspired great artists. Conveying beauty and combining the elegance of architecture with that of the spirit is also sharing an elegant way of life.  A visionary castle, from the Renaissance up until the Age of Enlightenment, Chenonceau has always benefited from innovation, heir of the greatest thinkers and philosophers of the time.  During the day we will stop for wine tasting and Lunch.        Dinner is on your own back in Le Mans.

 Day 3

After a good night sleep and breakfast in Le Mans we will begin by head towards Normandy.  Enroute to the beaches and the Normandy area we will go much further back in History, stopping to see the Bayeux Tapestry and Cathedral as well as Mont Saint Michelle.  Lunch will be on your own, but when we arrive at our Castle hotel we will dine together there for dinner.

The Bayeux Tapestry is a 0.5 by 68.38 meters (1.6 by 224.3 ft) long embroidered cloth — not an actual tapestry — which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England as well as the events of the invasion itself. It is exhibited in a special museum in Bayeux, Normandy called Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux.  The earliest known written reference to the tapestry is a 1476 inventory of Bayeux Cathedral, but its origins have been the subject of much speculation and controversy. French legend maintained the tapestry was commissioned and created by Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife, and her ladies-in-waiting. Indeed, in France it is occasionally known as “La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde” (Tapestry of Queen Matilda). However, scholarly analysis in the 20th century shows it probably was commissioned by William’s half brother, Bishop Odo. The reasons for the Odo commission theory include: 1) three of the bishop’s followers mentioned in Domesday Book appear on the tapestry; 2) it was found in Bayeux Cathedral, built by Odo; and 3) it may have been commissioned at the same time as the cathedral’s construction in the 1070s, possibly completed by 1077 in time for display on the cathedral’s dedication.

Mont Saint-Michel  – The towering turrets of the abbey at Mont Saint-Michel are one of the most iconic images of France. The village and monastery is built on a rocky outcrop in the middle of a tidal flat and connected to the mainland by a causeway. Mont Saint-Michel is considered to be one of the wonders of the western world, and is one of France’s most visited attractions.                                                                                                                                                     6th-7th Centuries: Mont Tombe, which was the name of the islet until after the first monastery was contructed in the 8th century, was sometimes used as a military stronghold for Romano-British troops.  In 708 According to legend, the archangel Michael (Michel in French) appeared to St. Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church on the tidal island. The bishop ignored the order and Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull. Ouch! October 16, 709 After that, you can bet a small church was built by the Bishop of Avranches and dedicated to St.-Michel, tout de suite. In 966: A community of Benedictines settled there at the request of the Duke of Normandy and built the pre-Romanesque style church. 14th Century: During the Hundred Years’ War set of military installations were set up to protect Mont Saint-Michel, which enabled it to hold out against a siege lasting 30 years. Middle Ages: The original Romanesque church, which had deteriorated, was replaced by a Gothic Flamboyant chancel in 1421. It was also during this time that Mont Saint-Michel became a center of religious and intellectual pursuits, and one of the most important destinations for Medieval pilgrims. French Revolution: The abbey was turned into a prison and deteriorated significantly.      1979: Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site! And rightly so. I mean, LOOK AT IT!  Hotel :  l’ Hostellerie du Chateau, Bricquebec  3 Nights  http://www.lhostelleriebricquebec.com/English/presentation2.htm

Days 4 and 5

These days will begin with breakfast at the hotel and will be followed by guided tours of the beaches, the towns, the churches and the cemeteries of this very Historic area.  During these days you find yourself once again walking on US soil.  Yes the French have given us areas along these beaches as our very own, as they understand the Americans paid dearly for it.  Be sure to bring a small jar (similar to a baby food jar) many people find the simple sand of these beaches better than any purchased souvenir. There is no explaining the feelings you will have as you walk in others footsteps, hear the stories,  see the blood stained church pews and marvel as the truly unique stained glass in the churches of the area.

History buff or not, a visit to the D-Day beaches is definitely worth your time if you find yourself on the coast. For those who had family fight WWII, the memorial honors American soldiers who died in Europe during WWII. It is located in Colleville-sur-Mer on a cliff overlooking OmahaBeach (one of the main landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion.One day we will have a group lunch and the other day will be a packed lunch from the hotel.   One evening will be on your own for dinner in Cherbourg, a beautiful waterfront city.  The other evening will be dinner on your own back at our hotel

Day 6

We will again begin with Breakfast,   Load up our motor coach with an early departure and begin our way to Paris.  In route this day will spend time in Monet’s Gardens in Giverny and the Afternoon at Versailles,  arriving at our hotel in Paris in the early evening.  Dinner will be on your own.

Monet’s gardens in Giverny

You’d imagine that a painter most famous for his beautiful landscapes would probably surround himself with, well, beautiful landscapes. And by train from Paris. Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny are well worth a visit. You can see the water lilies that inspired the painter and stroll through the absolutely stunning gardens that were Monet’s muse for so many of his well-known prices of art work.

 Day 7

After Breakfast we will begin our day with a walking tour of the many of the churches of Paris.  They afternoon will introduce you to the Lourve seeing the Mona Lisa and having the rest of the day to do as you please.

The optional dinner evening at the Moulon Rouge is this evening

Day 8

After breakfast we will begin with a walking tour of  the Right bank, the Champs Elysees, the Arch D’ Triumph, the Eifle tower and more.  We will gather in the late afternoon for our Sunset Cruise on the Sein.  Dinner will be on your own.

Day 9

After breakfast we will begin with a guided tour of the Muse d’ Orsay,  with the balance of the afternoon on your own.  We will once again gather for a final group dinner before  heading home tomorrow

Day 10  Travel Home

We will have breakfast and head to the airport for our flights home.

Starting as low as $3,278 usd, Inlcuding Air from New York

  • Limited to 20 People
  •  Per person based on double occupancy
  • Single supplement $1,000. usd

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