In the very heart of France, the Loire Valley marvelously combines fantastic architecture and natural heritage. The region is unspoiled and exceptional with its rich historic past. Formerly very popular with the French Royalty, Val de Loire is renowned for sumptuous castles and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Loire Castles, all compete with each other for their beauty and their elegance. Magnificent parks and gardens, and also unspoiled nature, offering a series of rivers, forests and lakes makes this region de Garden of France.
Heading from east to west, the most popular and visited chateaux in the region include:
There are also several classified `Most Beautiful villages of France'`dotted around the Loire countryside to discover and explore.
These include Lavardin; Candes-Saint-Martin (6 miles SE of Saumur); Apremont-sur-Allier (9 miles SW of Nevers); Montresor (12 miles E of Loches); St-Benoit-du-Sault (12 miles SW of Argenton-sur-Creuse); Gargilesse-Dampierre (6 miles SE of Argenton-sur-Creuse) and Crissay-sur-Manse (18 miles SW of Tours)
After your visit to the Loire Valley, head northwest to Lower Normandy.
The Normandy region of France combines a 360-mile dramatic coastline, including the dramatically evocative World War II landing beaches, with a verdant interior of lush farmland, bustling market towns, and historic landmarks. Gastronomic delights abound, from fine cheeses to cider and Calvados.
D Day Beaches - The largest military landing in history took place in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Monuments, museums, bunkers and cemeteries are a living commemoration to the Battle of Normandy.
Bayeux - A perfect base from which to tour the beaches, this tiny town is built around the magnificent Cathedral of Notre-Dame and is home to the 200-foot long Bayeux Tapestry, a world famous masterpiece whose cartoon like scenes depict the epic tale of William the Conqueror's expedition to England in the 11th century.
Giverny - A pilgrimage for art lovers, this picturesque village on the banks of the Seine was the home of French impressionist painter Claude Monet. Visitors can wander through Monet's cheery spacious house and the exuberant gardens which were the inspiration of his famous water lily series.
Rouen - Steeped in history. Both William the Conqueror and Joan of Arc died in the town Victor Hugo called `the city of a hundred spires`. Rouen is home to many museums as well as the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame, immortalized by French Impressionist Claude Monet
Deauville. Trouville and Honfleur - Driving along the `Flowered Coast`, three picture perfect towns stand out, the glamorous resort town of Deauville, home to the rich and famous, is a thriving vacation spot of luxury hotels, casinos, race tracks, golf courses and polo grounds. Its twin city, Trouville, separated from Deauville by the Touques river, is a more sedate fishing village. Both towns boast wide sandy beaches. Honfleur is the birthplace of impressionist painting. Honfleur is a charming harbor village with narrow timbered houses. Monet and Baudelaire are but two of the many artists who spend time in this 11TH century town.
Mont St. Michel - The Abbey is perched precariously on a 264-foot high rocky islet connected to the mainland by a causeway. Surrounded by over half a mile of massive walls and reached by a steep climb up winding streets, it remains one of the greatest sightseeing attractions in Europe and the second most visited place in France after the Eiffel Tower. The Mont-St.Michel is also known for its tides, the highest on the continent, which race towards the isle at the speed of `galloping horses`.
Then return to Paris for a visit to the City of Lights!
Loire Valley and Normandy
Begin with a a sumptuous stay at one of the charming chateaux or inns in the Loire Valley, follow that with a visit to Normandy for the D Day Beaches and the coastline and end with a stay in Paris.
Price history for this itinerary (past 14 days):
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Paris - Alsace and Strasbourg; Paris - Champagne and Alsace; Paris and Normandy (D Day Beaches); more >>
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Recomended for 8 to 12+ nights.
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* Sample prices displayed include international and domestic airline tickets as per itinerary and ALL airline-related taxes and fuel surcharges and are per person, based on double occupancy, and are dynamic in nature. Prices do not include insurance or delivery charges which are optional and customizable by the traveler. The airfare portion of the itinerary price is based on economy class, midweek departure. Prices do not include fees for carry on or checked baggage which can add up to $120 per ticket on a roundtrip flight. It also does not include any entrance fees or visa fees that may be charged at international airports. Some cities may charge local taxes that can only be collected by hotel at destination.
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