A Brittany & Normandy Sojourn

Sojourn to Brittany & Normandy, two neighboring regions, linked by history, dramatic coastlines and some of the finest gastronomic legacies in France. Experience stunning medieval towns and some of the most incredible landscapes that encapsulates the meaning of "Joie de Vivre" that brings out the best of France. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Witness stunning medieval towns and cities of Brittany & Normandy

Savour exquisite gastronomy 

Stay in refined boutique hotels 

Enjoy an insightful experience with the local characters

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE NANTES / ROCHEFORT-EN-TERRE / VANNES / BILLIERS

Arrive into Nantes Atlantique Airport where you will be met as we then begin a scenic and leisurely drive to the charming village of Rochefort-en-Terre, voted as one of France's most beautiful villages in southwest Brittany. Explore the unmistakable charm of its attractive central square and main street dominated by pretty medieval houses and buildings dating back from the 17th Century. Notable to visit is the Chateau de Rochefort-en-Terre (open from May to September) from the 12th Century that has been painstakingly-restored from major damages suffered in the 1800s. Later, we then continue to the walled town of Vannes, fortified entirely since the days of the Romans in the 1st Century. On a walking visit, we explore some of its most impeccable sights including the Jardin des Ramparts, beautifully-decorated with flowers and offers splendid views of the Garenne Bastion; the cute timber-framed "Colombage" houses and buildings along its cobblestone streets painted in vibrant colors. Consider a visit to the Vannes Cathedral, a melange of styles , with romanesque, gothic, Italian renaissance and neo-gothic elements, all built from granite. 

Finally, we retreat to the spectacular settings of the Domaine de Rochevilaine where you will be seduced by its amazing scenes of the Atlantic Ocean, as far as the eye can see. 

Overnight: Domaine de Rochvilaine, Billiers

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: BILLIERS (EXCURSION TO MEGALITHS OF CARNAC & GULF OF MORBIHAN)

We begin the day with an excursion to the Megaliths of Carnac, viewed as a continuation of an ancient sacred land stretching from the Isles of Scotland, down the west coast of Britain and across the English Channel. It is along this expanse that the Megalithic Stone Builders of the Neolithic Age left their mark in the form of sacred areas and pilgrimage routes covered with stone circles, long-barrows, chambered tombs and standing stones. Carnac is known throughout the world for its unique rows of ancient standing stones. Predating Stonehenge by around 100 years, Carnac (Garnag in Breton) tops it with the sheer number of ancient sites found in the vicinity, making this the world's greatest concentration of megalithic sites.  We will also enjoy a boat ride to the island of Gavrinis (April to October) in the Gulf of Morbihan, the small uninhabited island of Gavrinis is home to what is arguably Brittany’s most impressive Neolithic site – a pyramid-shaped stone burial chamber whose interior walls are covered with artwork. 

Later, we embark on an insightful visit of an oyster farm and tasting where oyster farming has been active in Carnac since the 1880s and it is now a major economic activity for the town. There are around 80 farmers based around the Anse de Pô from whom you can buy shellfish direct. 

This evening, we tuck into a celebrated Michelin star dinner at Domaine de Rochvilaine exquisitely prepared by Chef Maxime Nouail where you get to sample the freshest ingredients in the area. 

Overnight: Domaine de Rochvilaine, Billiers

Meals: Breakfast & Michelin Dinner

DAY 3: BILLIERS / CHATEAUGIRON / RENNES / DINAN / CANCALE

We leave the Domaine de Rochevilaine today where we stop en route at the Chateau de Chateaugiron, built in the mid 11th Century. The castle had six towers, a gatehouse with a drawbridge and a stately home. The oldest part is formed by the chapel choir of the Romanesque style. Four towers still stand: the dungeon, originally independent of the castle, which overlooks the city from its 38 meters, and the clock tower that served as the belfry; the watchtower and Cardinal, were unsuccessful probably built by Jean de Derval and retained their circular path on battlements.

 

Thereafter, continue to the vibrant university city of Rennes - administrative capital of Brittany where we embark on a walking tour of its historical centre dominated by imposing 18th Century mansions and medieval timber-framed houses. 

Our final visit of the day is the beautifully-preserved riverfront town of Dinan, and perhaps Brittany's most visually-pretty town. Dinan’s old town is a warren of narrow streets where it appears that time has stood still. Flanked by colorful timbered houses, enjoy a delightful walk in the medieval atmosphere of the town and consider a climb up 158 steps to the top of the 40m high Tour de l’Horloge for wonderful views over Dinan. 

Finally, we arrive at the Les Maisons de Bricourt in the little port of Cancale, offering views of the bay of Mont St Michel and oyster farms. 

Overnight: Les Maisons de Bricourt, Cancale

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 4: CANCALE (EXCURSION OF MONT ST MICHEL & FOUGERES)

Ready your spirits as we visit the UNESCO World-Heritage-listed Mont St Michel, billed as a "gravity-defying" religious refuge dating back over 1000 years. Enjoy a guided visit of the abbey founded by Saint Aubert at the beginning of the 8th century, which became a major cultural and pilgrimage centre during the middle ages. Admire the Romanesque Church, the Gothic "Marvel" with the monk's cloisters and refectory, the knights room, the guest room, the undercroft and the refectory.  We will also see various chapels- St. Stephen, St Martin, Our Lady Underground, St. Mary Magdalene, Crypt of the 30 Candles. 

Walking across the Bay of Mont St Michel:

During the big flood which takes place only 6 - 7 times a year, Mont St Michel is bathed with water and becomes an island. The highest tides take place 36 to 48 hours after the full and new moons. During the peak of the spring tides, the sea goes out 15km from the coast and comes in again very quickly. The walk across the Bay of Mont St Michel is only conducted by certified guides in favorable conditions to be monitored and are not guaranteed.

We then head over to the fortress town of Fougeres, flanking the River Nancon with a most traditional medieval atmosphere dominated by its towers and ramparts and more incredibly-beautiful timbered houses. Visit the Chateau de Fougeres, undoubtedly one of the finest fortresses in Europe on the Brittany-Normandy border. The current castle dates from the 12th century and consists of three enclosures whose walls are dotted with towers: the most impressive is the Mélusine Tower.  We also spend time discovering the Upper and Lower town soaking in the captivating essence of Fougeres before returning to Les Maisons de Bricourt where this evening, we enjoy a degustation dinner at its 2 Michelin star Le Coquillage restaurant helmed by Chef Hugo Roellinger who devotes  to the ideal of the artisan cook and strives to protect nature and its riches by defending local small-scale fishermen and farmers as well as spice growers from afar. His cuisine reflects the taste of living here, the taste of the sea, the bocage and seafaring adventures. Seaweed, spices and shells. His culinary quest is to create flavours that evoke Ocean abysses and sea spray carried on the wind, a quest that earned him two Michelin stars in 2019. 

Overnight: Les Maisons de Bricourt, Cancale

Meals: Breakfast & Michelin Dinner

DAY 5: CANCALE / BAYEUX 

Leave Cancale today as we head north to the historical Normandy town of Bayeux renowned for the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Norman conquest of England in 1066 chronicling the feats of William the Conquerer, Duke of Normandy. A unique piece of Roman art, the 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry depicts 58 scenes across cloth measuring 70 meters wide and 50 centimetres high. The embroidery illustrates the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, with a total of nearly 650 different characters, monuments and animals. The tapestry is a precious slice of history and a testament to Franco-English relations. 

OPTION:

From Bayeux, we have the option to visit the D Day Landing Beaches where we take a step back in time to experience the raw emotion of D-Day. On 6 June 1944, American, Canadian and British troops landed on Normandy's beaches to free France from Germany's deathly grip. Arromanches, Juno Beach (Courseulles-sur-mer) and Omaha Beach are just some of the beaches made famous by this devastating event. An unmissable stop-off and a crucial chapter in French history. We also make a visit to the Caen Memorial, a fitting tribute to France's history. Sweeping exhibition spaces explore key events of the 20th century such as WWII, the Invasion of Normandy and the Holocaust. A fusion of memory and high emotion, the Caen Memorial is an essential part of any trip to Normandy. 

Thereafter, we arrive at the incredibly ornate Chateau d'Audrieu, located between Caen and Bayeux, offers the opportunity to travel back in time. This 18th century edifice, listed as a historical monument, offers the warm welcome of a family home. The elegantly proportioned château is set in an extensive 25 hectares of wooded grounds and gardens. 

Overnight: Chateau d'Audrieu, Bayeux

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 6: BAYEUX / FALAISE / DEAUVILLE / HONFLEUR 

Our journey continues in the path of William the Conqueror where we visit his hometown of Falaise where we visit the Chateau de Falaise, built in the 10th century by a Viking chieftain whose descendants went on to become the Francisized Normans and witnessed countless battles between the armies of France and England throughout the "Hundred Years’ War" with a seemingly endless cycle of violence occurring here. It was the backdrop for a great many sieges during this period and both armies occupied the castle at different times of the war. 

Thereafter, we return to the coast of the English Channel to the colorful seaside town of Deauville, a symbol of elegance and the art of living with an emphasis on the good life in harmony with its historic Norman half timbered houses. Take a walk through the magnificent villas of Deauville. More than 550 buildings have now been listed as historical monuments and you will discover Norman, Art Nouveau and Baroque buildings during this interesting promenade. We then make a stop at the curiously-beautiful Hotel Barriere Le Normandy where we have time for lunch (on own expenses). 

Finally, we continue to possibly the most beautiful port town of Honfleur on the Seine's estuary. Glorious historic houses jostle for position on the quays, as do galleries and restaurants. Packed with cultural sights, Honfleur has a wealth of attractions to delight its many visitors. Enjoy a stroll around the exceptional Vieux Bassin, the heart of Honfleur where a front-row home overlooking the vessels was a distinct privilege. Now, instead of receiving commercial ships, or fishing boats, which are kept out of the centre in larger docks, the Vieux Bassin attracts yachts. Shops fight for space behind the quays in this extraordinarily picturesque setting, while restaurants stretch their terraces across the cobbles. We then arrive to check in at the La Ferme Saint Simeon, once a refuge for impressionist painters, La Ferme Saint-Siméon is celebrated for its bucolic surroundings and beautiful Seine estuary light. Monet and Courbet would come here and work on their colours, and Baudelaire would flee the melancholy of Paris in search of inspiration.

Overnight: La Ferme Saint Simeon, Honfleur

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 7: HONFLEUR / ROUEN / GIVERNY / PARIS

Leaving Honfleur today, we drive to the historic city of Rouen, renowned for its Roman legacy and was one of France's most significant cities at the time with its incredible array of rich and flamboyant architecture where history awaits at every turn, from the Middle Ages to the modern era. Retrace the steps of Joan of Arc to see where she went to trial and martyred during the height of the "Hundred Years' War" as well as traces of Allied bombings during WWII. In the heart of the old town, visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame, one of the largest and most impressive Gothic cathedrals in France built in the 13th Century with an impressive facade that would inspire the impressionist painter, Claude Monet - heavily featured in Monet's most famous paintings. Consider a visit to the medieval Aître Saint-Maclou, currently housing the Ecole Supérieure d'Art et Design but was once the site of the "Black Death" plague of 1348 that killed a third of the town's inhabitants. Not to be missed as well is the emblematic Gros-Horloge big clock tower that still serves its timekeeping functions for the city. Finally, visit the unmistakable Eglise Jeanne d'Arc which allows us insights to appreciate the invincible spirit of Joan of Arc, who spent the last days of her life in Rouen. The church was built at the Place du Vieux Marché, the very site where Joan of Arc was martyred. 

Later, we continue to the village of Giverny, to marvel at the intricately-beautiful gardens captured in Impressionist artist Claude Monet’s paintings where you have the opportunity to soak in the stunning country life depicted in Monet's famous works. 

Our journey then culminates into our arrival of Paris where your sojourn ends. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

Succumb to the beauty of the historical Domaine de Rochevilaine, set on jagged cliffs and views of the stunning Atlantic Ocean. The Rochevilaine estate includes rooms and suites in private mansions and small manor houses with breath-taking views. The Michelin star-rated restaurant evokes the deck of an ocean liner while enjoying Brittany fares prepared by Chef Maxime Nouail. 

Domaine de Rochevilaine, Billiers

Les Maisons de Bricourt epitomizes the true art of living where the sky meets the sea.  Each room is a restful oasis ideal for relaxation and contemplation. Owned by celebrated Chef Olivier Roellinger, Château Richeux has 11 stylish guest rooms and two apartments located in a setting with breathtaking views of the bay of Mont St Michel. 

Les Maisons de Bricourt, Cancale

The Château d’Audrieu is a listed historic monument that has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment program to recapture the finery of its early 18th-century interior.  The history of the Château d’Audrieu is closely linked to the history of Normandy and its most famous representative, William the Conqueror. All suites are decorated with an 18th century style and with the comfort of the 21st century. 

Chateau d'Audrieu, Bayeux

La Ferme Saint Simeon, Honfleur

La Ferme Saint Simeon, cradle of the Impressionist movement, is a magnificent seventeenth century inn, where rising artists came to be pampered by Mère Toutain. Following their example, treat yourself to a memorable stay in this unique hotel and catch the wonderful light on the Seine.

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