(Deauville, Port en Bessin)
Quiet towns and peaceful countryside camouflage the somber war sites and historic treasures which make up the rich treasury of French history, famously illustrated by the Bayeux Tapestry.
Experience the rich history and diversity of Northern France as you embark on this all-encompassing signature tour. From the glorious Palace of Versailles to the thought-provoking sites of World War II, this region offers an experience rich in tangible French history. From the beaches of the D-Day landing to the centuries-old monastery at Mont Saint-Michel, nowhere else quite compares with this rich assembly of sights. Add a little sea air at one of the northern resorts, such as glamorous Deauville, before enjoying a change of pace in the stunning Loire Valley with its timeless natural beauty. Prepare to be awed by the grand Renaissance chateaux built for royalty in this glorious rural region of France.
Explore the quaint towns and coastal ports of northern France with the comfortable services of modern French trains and private chauffeur-driven vehicles, which may be particularly appreciated after a local cider-tasting experience! Your English speaking driver/guide will make independent travel easy, while the ability to stop on a whim to see an unexpected delight are what this signature tour is all about. Experience first-class hotels in buildings of character as you follow your tailor-made itinerary from the sights of Paris to the beaches of northern France. Visit opulent chateaux along the scenic Loire Valley and perhaps find yourself staying in your very own chateau-hotel or manor house as you are transported in style from one awesome attraction to the next.
Enjoy a personalized vacation that best suits your needs, developed by one of our experienced destination experts. Relax during your trip with our 24/7 support and expert local guidance.
For your added comfort, we will have a Meet & Greet assistant waiting for you outside of customs. This assistant will have a sign with your name on it. Your representative will help you to co-ordinate meeting up with your private driver and accompany you to your accommodation.
A welcome package with a city map, train tickets (if relevant), and any other touristic information that we deem you may find useful will be waiting for you upon your arrival at your first hotel on your trip.
You will be picked up from the airport and taken to the train station.
After being picked up at your hotel, enjoy exploring Paris with your private vehicle - a comfortable sedan for groups of 2 and a minivan for a group size up to 7, and English speaking Driver. Your driver will be knowledgeable about Paris, but is not a certified Guide so cannot enter into the sites with you as a Guide - If you would like to have a Guide this can easily be arranged - please speak to your Sales Advisor. Your driver will be a great source of general information about Paris and drive you from site to site, as you explore the city. Paris was created 2000 years ago, beginning at the Cite Island (Ile de la Cite). The driver is at your disposal for 3/12 hours but here is a suggestion on how to spend the time; discover the Marais District and the Latin Quarter before heading to the Notre Dame Cathedral with your driver. Then discover Place de la Concorde, Avenue des Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe amongst other main sites within the city. At the end of your tour, you will be either dropped back to your hotel or left in a central place within the city, depending on your schedule. If you would like to have a certified Guide accompany you on this tour, please just ask your Sales Advisor and this can be arranged for you.
Enjoy a half day visiting the Palace of Versailles with a private car and English speaking driver-guide. A superb Baroque palace known to the world as a symbol of civilization and pleasure, the Palace of Versailles dates back to 1038, and was the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 until 1790. Used by Louis XIV initially as a hunting lodge he had the property expanded to become the magnificent site of French classical architecture complete with extensive manicured gardens that it is today. The interior showcases magnificent examples of baroque furnishings, a rare collection of objects d'art and houses special exhibitions. Your guide will lead you through the most beautiful rooms, the State Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and the Queen’s private Apartments. Free time is planned at the end of the tour for a walk in the French style gardens which are full of magnificent statues, busts and marble vases. At the end of the tour, you will be dropped at accommodation or in a central location of your choice in the city. This tour includes entrance into the palace and the gardens.
Take a private train station transfer with a private vehicle and driver. Please note drivers may or may not speak English as their sole responsibility is to transfer clients from one location to another. If you would like to have the presence of an English speaking Assistant or Guide for your transfer this can be pre-arranged upon request and would be subject to an additional supplement.
Take the train to Deauville. The journey will take approximately 2 hours.
Enjoy an afternoon private tour with your own vehicle and English speaking driver-licensed guide as you explore the beautiful coastal town of Honfleur and the surrounding countryside. The small medieval town of Honfleur is a quaint town and encompasses the Old Dock surrounded by picturesque narrow houses, many churches, cobblestoned streets and old Salt Stores. (Entraces not included).
A visit to Normandy without seeing the landing beaches would be a shame and so, today you'll get to re-live the past and understand a little more of the strategic importance of the northern coast of Normandy in WWII and get to visit one or two of the soldiers cemetries where so many thousands lost their lives. Start the day with a vist of the Caen Memorial museum.
The Caen Memorial is a massive museum dedicated to 20th-century history. Destruction wreaked across almost three quarters of this martyr city of the Liberation in the summer of 1944, and so it only seems fitting that Caen deserved a fitting tribute for the damage it suffered. The Memorial museum's main focus is reconciliation and during your visit you will be guided through the museum’s different stages, taking you back over the 20th century, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 until 9 November 1989 in Berlin with the “Fall of the Wall”. Between these two dates and between these two World Wars, some 60 million people would lose their lives and the most hostile of political systems to the key principles of respecting life would plunge the world into the chaos and brutality that characterized the last century.
Pointe du Hoc is a clifftop location that lies 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Omaha Beach, and stands on 100 ft (30 m) tall cliffs overlooking the sea. It was a point of attack by the United States Army Ranger Assault Group during Operation Overlord in World War II.
Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II. Landings here were necessary in order to link up the British landings to the east at Gold Beach with the American landing to the west at Utah Beach, thus providing a continuous lodgement on the Normandy coast of the Bay of the Seine. Taking Omaha was to be the responsibility of United States Army troops, with sea transport provided by the U.S. Navy and elements of the Royal Navy. The primary objective at Omaha was to secure a beachhead of some five miles (eight kilometres) depth, between Port-en-Bessin and the Vire River, linking with the British landings at Gold Beach to the east, and reaching the area of Isigny to the west to link up with VII Corps landing at Utah Beach. Standing on this wind swept, expansive beach, you can just imagine the ships as they became visible on the skyline and the battle that was to occur on this land.
There will be plenty of time to stay at each of the sites of interest since you have the flexibility of having your own vehicle and Driver-Guide. Though sobering, the day will surely be a memorable one. Please note that this tour is with a Driver which is also a licensed Guide.
Today's highlight is the jewel of Brittany, the island of Mont Saint Michel - a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most visited sites in France. Explore the spectacular and well-preserved Norman Benedictine Abbey of St Michel at the peak of the rocky island, and the surrounding winding streets of the medieval town in the company of your driver-licensed guide for a 3hr guided tour. The bay of Mont Saint Michel has some of the highest tides in Europe and the link road between the mainland and the island is often submerged due the tides. This region is well known for its apple orchards (you will have probably seen a few this morning!) and of course, it's cider (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Try some of this local produce en route back to Bayeux this afternoon (tasting included). You have your driver-guide at your disposal for the rest of the day.
The culinary specialities of Mont Saint Michel are omelettes, whipped until frothy and light, and saltmarsh lamb (agneau de Pré Salé) which is sourced locally. It is worth noting that eateries in Mont Saint Michel, are mostly overpriced. The old town at the base of the abbey hosts a wide selection of restaurants, cafés, fast food outlets and other food venues. Du Guesclin, on the ramparts offers good views out to the sea, and the "menu touristique", can include oysters, omelets and lamb, and starts from approximately €17, which is positively cheap by Mont St Michel standards. La Mere Poulard, right at the entrance of the island is world famous for their omelette and proudly showcases many celebrities on the walls which has dined here including Ernest Hemmingway and Yves Saint Laurent amongst others. They put non-traditional ingredients into it and cook it right in front of the window of the restaurant. Be careful to make reservations ahead of time because it is usually crowded. Also they only sell their world famous omelette at certain times of the day, so when you make reservations, be sure to make them for the right time if you're intending to get an omelette. (expect to pay more than €30 per omlette).
Take in the changing scenery on the drive from Port en Bessin to Amoise in the heart of the Loire valley. The drive should take approximately 3.5 hours and is all on highway. After having had some time at leisure for lunch (not included), you'll get to visit a number of the region's majestic castles. This afternoon, you'll get the opportunity to visit the Château de Chambord, and Chateau Cheverny, two of the most famous castles in the area. The royal Château de Chambord is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. It was formerly a retreat for French kings, especially Louis XIV. Inside the chateau, the size of its rooms and halls are impressive. Its fittings and decoration attest to the majesty and royalty of this marvelous palace. The wood floors, wainscotting and coffered ceilings are remarkable for their unequaled architectural and pictorial qualities. The only parts of the chateau that are furnished are the chambers of Francois I and Louis XIV, along with one marvelous room containing toys played with by noble child of this time. The double spiral staircase allows two people to go up or down without crossing each other, and is one of the highlights of the chateau.Chateau Cheverny is an original jewel among the more famous monuments that stretch along the Loire Valley. In fact, Renaissance style did not find its place in Cheverny, which is built in the purest Louis XIII classical style, distinguished by an extraordinarily symmetrical architecture. Cheverny, which was built in the first part of the 17th Century, is a prime example of this style. The beautiful interior design of the castle is the work of Jean Monier, from nearby Blois. Thirty-four painted wood panels surrounding the walls of the dining room depict the story of Don Quixote (the hero of the Cervantes novel). The Arms Room gives a more subdued feel than the King’s Chamber, with perhaps the exception of the magnificent fireplace. In regards to the exterior, the château seems to be in the middle of a sea of carefully maintained lawns.These lawns are an ideal link to the landscaped park with remarkable trees such as the Family lindens, the giant redwoods and cedar trees from the Atlas Mountains, Lebanon and the Himalayas. A new ornamental and pleasure garden stretches from the castle to the orangery. Cheverny is also an important estate for hunting with hounds. Visitors can view the kennels and can even watch the dogs being fed every day at 5pm from the 1st April to the 15th September. At days end, your driver-guide will accompany you to your accommodation in the Loire. Entrance fees included to Chambord and Cheverny.
Enjoy dinner at leisure in Amboise. Here are some suggestions; Brasserie de l'Hôtel de Ville, 3 rue François 1er. Daily 10am-3pm and 7-9:30pm. Reservations recommended. In the town's historic core, a short walk from the château, this bustling Paris-style brasserie attracts local office workers and art lovers visiting the historic sites during the day, and boisterous groups of friends at night. Cuisine is traditional French. If you feel like a casual pizza, you may like to try la Florentine, 50, Place Michel Debre which is housed in one of the oldest houses of Amboise. You can sit outside and have a great view of the castle or enjoy the nice interior.
Visit the Chateau Amboise this morning as well as its neighbour, the Clos Luce with an English speaking driver-guide. Built on a promontory overlooking the Loire River to control a strategic fjord that was replaced in the Middle Ages by a bridge, the Château Amoise began its life in the eleventh century, when the notorious Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou, rebuilt the stronghold in stone. The gardens lay claim to being the originator of the French formal garden style, and its upper terrace was subsequently widened to hold a parterre enclosed with latticework and pavilions, around which a gallery was built under the eye of Louis XII. The interior houses many antiques as well as several rooms full of period furniture, weaponry and beautiful tapestries. During summer evenings, sound and light shows take place regularly at the castle, complete with fireworks and costumed actors. Its chapel houses the tomb of Leonardo De Vinci.
Clos Lucé is a mansion in Amboise, located 500 metres from the royal Château d'Amboise, to which it is connected by an underground passageway. Built by Étienne le Loup in the middle of the fifteenth century, it was acquired in 1490 by Charles VIII of France for his wife, Anne de Bretagne. In 1516, Francis I invited Leonardo da Vinci to Amboise and provided him with the Clos Lucé then called Château de Cloux, as a place to stay and work. Leonardo, arrived with three of his paintings, namely the Mona Lisa, Sainte Anne, and Saint Jean Baptiste and proceeded to live at the Clos Lucé for the last three years of his life, before his death in 1519.
After visiting both the Amboise castle and the Clos Luce, you will be dropped off at the train station. (entrances included).
Meet your driver for a private transfer from Amboise to Tours. The journey is approx. 30 mins.
Enjoy the train ride from Tours to Paris. There are typically numerous trains departing throughout the day, some of which are direct. Direct train travel time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to the city centre and 2 hours to Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Take a private train station transfer with a private vehicle and English speaking driver.
Transfer using a local taxi. Please note that this is not included in trip price and is payable locally.
The luxurious Melia Royal Alma Boutique Hotel (4*) is located right by the Seine River, between the Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower in the heart of Paris. The hotel provides 64 bright and spacious guest rooms – each one of them outward-facing with gorgeous views. Savour the hotel’s magnificent international breakfast buffet, featuring traditional French pastries, as well as other familiar items. Unwind at the hotel’s warm and welcoming bar with a refreshing cocktail and delicious tapas and snacks. Sit back and relax on the hotel’s beautiful covered terrace while enjoying the scenery. Wander out into the surrounding area and explore local shops and attractions.
The Royal Barriere Hotel (5*) is ideally located in Deauville, on the Norman-French coast. Here you will discover a new style of contemporary luxury, in a sumptuous 20th century architectural setting. This palace offers the charm of an authentic tradition blended with modern conveniences. The 253 spacious rooms at the Royal Barriere Hotel have been perfectly designed by French interior decorator, Jacques Garcia. L’Etrier Restaurant, one of the greatest restaurants in Normandy, offers inventive and sophisticated traditional cuisine. Dine at the majestic Côté Royal to sample mouth-watering local and seasonal ingredients. Sample some of The Etrier Bar’s prestigious Champagnes and rums, or enjoy a small snack during the afternoon. Relax in the sun by the outdoor heated pool, where guests are invited to enjoy buffets during the summer season. The onsite fitness centre features modern equipment, a Hamman (Turkish bath), sauna and more. Indulge in a soothing moment in the hands of the DESSANGE hair-dressers and beauticians on the second floor of the Royal Barriere Hotel. Surrounding activities and facilities include tennis courts, bicycle rentals, horseback riding, golf and more!
A long cord-traced path lined with trim lawns winds through formally-appointed grounds with century-old trees at the stately Chateau de Sully (4*). Dating back to the 16th century, the property has a chapel with listed frescoes and walls pierced with miniature gun ports, a vast cylindrical dovecoat with bas relief and at the rear, an English garden. Welcome to the heart of history in this noble dwelling set between Port-en-Bessin and Bayeux (the latter is merely 4 km away), which will guide you through the 18th century in the footsteps of the Lords of Sully. The interior of the hotel features furnishings in the French style tradition. The 13 bedrooms within the chateau are all uniquely decorated and have their own personality, and look out over the expansive grounds, while the 9 spacious rooms in the Manor provide direct access to the pool and spa facilities. There is complimentary wi-fi in all of the rooms of the manor, in the suites and also in the lounges. The restaurant within the chateau features dishes gleaned from the land and sea of the area and are fashioned with the freshest of ingredients. Enjoy fine dining in the two chandelier lit dining rooms complete with a veranda which overlooks the garden. A wine cellar with over 500 selections of wine with a focus on French wines will surely delight. On the leisure side of things, there is an indoor heated swimming pool with fitness and training room as well as a wellness centre which includes a sauna and jaccuzzi. There is also a tennis court and billiards room on site.
Le Choiseul (4*) comprising of three delightful manor houses dating from the 15th and 18th century, overlooking the River Loire, Le Choiseul sits at the foot of Château d’Amboise. Close to most of the Loire Valley’s finest châteaux, the hotel has pretty terraced gardens bordered by Troglodyte caves, stunning river views and the choice of two exciting restaurants.The atmosphere is peaceful and relaxing. Antiques and attractive classic furnishings can be found throughout the rooms which are bright and light. Wander around the delightful gardens and admire the Italian sculptures, before retiring to the terrace for a glass of Vouvray Moelleux. Explore historic Amboise or take a river cruise. Return for gourmet cuisine either in the renowned formal restaurant or in Le Bistrot 36 where you can enjoy innovative youthful creations for lunch. During summer, watch a ‘Son et Lumière’ show at Château d’Amboise.
Ideally located at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport between the three main terminals, the Hilton Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport hotel (4*) is set in an impressive, brightly lit atrium with a magnificent glass roof arching beyond the glass elevators. All of the guest rooms at this modern Paris hotel feature bright, contemporary decor and Wi-Fi. Swim a few laps in this Paris hotel's heated indoor pool or work out in the fitness center, which is fully equipped with cardio machines and weights. Enjoy a day of sight-seeing in Paris city center, and then relax in the hotel's sauna. Savor modern French cuisine at Skylight Restaurant. The à la carte menu showcases fresh, quality and local produce with an emphasis on telling the story of the origin of the dishes.
Vanessa Oquendo ,
April 21, 2014
"Melissa Field was extremely helpful! She was courteous, professional, knowledgeable, and friendly! She kept me updated on the status of everything and provided timely correspondence. She took ownership for any problems I had and remedied them. I had the most amazing time of my life in Iceland and Paris! I would not have experienced everything without the help of Kensington Tours."
Marilynn Weaver ,
April 21, 2014
"All of our guides were beyond fabulous! Our time in Dublin was much too short, would have loved to stay there at least one more full day. Would recommend extending this package to 15 days for any future visits. The train to Edinburgh was super! Beautiful scenery and great steak pies!"
Ann Saxon ,
November 06, 2013
"Our trip was fantastic!!! I cannot say enough good things. Lianne worked with our exact dates and time frame beautifully.Our drivers were prompt and friendly. The private guides were so knowledgeable. We left with an appreciation of the history, the culture, and the beauty of Andulasia. We were very pleased and will certainly recommend your company to friends and family."
Coby Scherr ,
November 05, 2013
"Everyone involved in our Portugal trip made it terrific. Exactly as advertised. Every event on time and most pleasant. Guides were well-informed, courteous and friendly. Really made for a great journey every time. Each hotel was clean, upgraded and staffed with knowledgeable and friendly folks. Breakfasts were complete -- almost too much to eat. It will always be a wonderful memory thanks to Kensington Tours."
Couples Dellinger & Hubbell ,
November 06, 2013
"We've been raving to everyone about the food, the friendliness of the people and the amazing history and sites in Turkey. Yes, we want to go back."
John Edstrom ,
October 22, 2013
"Overall, our tour in Spain was very enjoyable, and well planned and executed. Our private tour of the Alhambra was excellent. Virginia, tour guide for royal palace ruins outside of Cordoba, was also excellent. In Seville, we went to the Flamenco Show/dinner, and the Flamenco was outstanding!"
Kevin Wilshere ,
October 19, 2013
"Great trip to Spain! Thanks again for all your help, Lianne. The destinations, hotels, guides and everything were all top notch."
Chery Westlund ,
November 07, 2013
"My husband and I took a 3 week vacation to southern Europe and North Africa and had a great time. All the guides were very knowledgeable and bent over backwards to accommodate us. The arrangements made by Kensington went off without a hitch. This is our second trip with Kensington (we went to Peru in 2009) and we will certainly book with them again."
Randy Gramlich ,
October 07, 2013
"Thank you for your follow up, we both loved our time in Croatia. It’s really a beautiful place, especially the coast. Your choice of hotels was great. It was an incredible view from the Bellevue hotel in Dubrovnik and the Vestibule in Split was in the best possible location. We were able to relax in our room listening to the wonderful singers in the courtyard and its central location made it so easy to walk anywhere we wanted to see with ease. "
Jay Steffan ,
September 24, 2013
"We just returned from a 10 day trip to Paris and Normandy. We spent three nights in Paris and then enjoyed a seven night cruise on the Seine to Normandy with AMA Waterways. The time in Paris was well spent and has piqued our interest to return for a more thorough visit. Guide Wafaa Lankey was superb in our visit to Versailles. The Seine cruise was relaxing and beautiful. So many wonderful little towns and we wished we had more time in each one to explore and enjoy.
We traveled to Croatia and Slovenia using Kensington earlier this year which was a fantastic trip."
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