Gardens, Villages & Châteaux of Normandy and Brittany 2023 (2023)


The following itinerary describes a range of museums and gardens which we plan to visit.Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & dinners indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast,L=lunch andD=dinner.

Rouen - 6 nights

Day 1: Saturday 3 June, Paris CDG – Lyons-la-Forêt – Rouen
  • Tour commences at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, Arrivals Hall Terminal 2C at 2.30pm
  • Afternoon tea in Lyons-la-Forêt village
  • Introductory Meeting
  • Welcome Dinner

Meeting Point: Please meet your group leaders at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, Arrivals Hall Terminal 2C at 2.30pm.

This afternoon we drive from Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport to the historic city of Rouen, to begin our exploration of the gardens, great houses, villages and historic monuments of Northern France. En route we stop in Lyons-la-Forêt, one of France’s most picturesque villages, for an afternoon tea in the Hôtel Les Lions de Beauclerc; many of Lyons-la-Forêt’s17th-century houses have façades featuring intricate wooden frames. The village was initially a Roman settlement. Henry I of England, son of William the Conqueror, built a castle here to exploit magnificent hunting grounds in a nearby beech forest. Lyons has an excellent 18th-century covered market. We shall pass the house of one of France’s greatest musicians, Ravel.

We continue to Rouen, arriving in the evening. After checking into our hotel, and some time at leisure, we shall have a brief introductory meeting followed by a welcome dinner at nearbyBrasserie Paul. (Overnight Rouen)D

Day 2: Sunday 4 June, Rouen – Saint-Martin-de-Boscherville – Rouen
  • Romanesque Abbey of St Georges-de-Boscherville
  • Manoir de l’Aumônerie
  • Orientation walkof Rouen
  • Evening meal at restaurant La Couronne

Today, we first visit the Abbey St Georges-de-Boscherville. In the 7th century, a chapel dedicated to St George was built here over an earlier Celtic shrine. In the 11th century an existing college for canons here became a Benedictine abbey. We shall visit the abbey with its fine Romanesque carvings and explore its garden, with plants believed by the monks to cure souls.

Next we visit the 13th-centuryManoir de l’Aumônerie consisting of a stone lodge surrounded by farm buildings. Two magnificent gables, each 15 metres high, characterise this gothic manor. It is built of Caumont stone whose quarries have been exploited since the Gallo-Roman era. There is also the 16th-century Saint-Gorgon chapel decorated with frescoes representing the apostles and the sibyls. The property belonged to the Abbey of Saint-Georges-de-Boscherville between the 15th and 18th centuries and was called “l’Aumônerie” (the chaplaincy). The cartulary of the Abbey tells us that in the middle of the 12th century, the land on which the house was built was given by Henry II Plantagenet to his chamberlain, who gave it to the monks of the Abbey of Saint-Georges. One version of the story is that the Templars built the manor. The owners have recreated the medieval garden which includes vegetables (cultivated in the properties of Charlemagne in the year 800): broad beans, mogettes, crambe, parsnips, and lovage; medicinal and aromatic herbs; fruits and flowers; and also saffron, which was brought back from the Crusades by the pilgrims. A ring of apple, quince, and pear trees forms a circular orchard around the chapel. A boxwood labyrinth can also be seen to the west of the park. More than 300 varieties of flowers, plants, and trees have been planted. We will enjoy drinks in the 13th-century salon and lunch in the newly restored Pressoir(press room).

We return to Rouen for an orientationtour of this historic city. Once an important city of Roman Gaul, it became an ecclesiastical centre from the 3rd century and, ultimately, part of the the Norman kingdom, until lost to the French by King John in 1204. It changed hands during the Hundred Years’ War and by the end of the 15th century had become a centre of the French Renaissance.

Rouen has some of France’s finest Gothic architecture. Its cathedral façade fascinated Monet, who painted it at different times of the day. Other churches include 15th-century St Ouen and St Maclou (1437), two notable examples of French flamboyant Gothic architecture. The Renaissance Gros-Horloge pavilion contains a 15th-century clock, and the Tour Jeanne d’Arc is where the saint was imprisoned before her execution. The Hôtel de Bourgheroulde (1501-37) is the best example of the city’s fine medieval domestic architecture.

Tonight we dine together at the restaurant La Couronne. Housed in a superbly preserved half-timbered home, and dating from 1345, it is considered the oldest inn in France. (Overnight Rouen) BLD

Day 3: Monday 5 June, Rouen – Buchy – Bosc-Roger-sur-Buchy – Montmain – Rouen
  • Buchy village market
  • Le Jardin de Valérianes, Bosc-Roger-sur-Buchy
  • Les Jardins d’Angélique, Montmain

Today we shop for lunch at the Monday market in the small village of Buchy. Buchy’s Monday market features exclusively local produce specialising in organic products. The medieval covered market hall has fixed wooden tables that were originally butchers’ blocks.

Michel and Maryline Tissait created the nearby Le Jardin de Valérianes. We explore this lovely English-style garden that combines perennials, roses, trees and bushes.

We next visit the Jardins d’Angélique at Montmain, comprising two wonderful gardens. South of the manor house is an Italianate formal garden with walkways and clipped hedges, box-edged beds of perennials and ornamental grasses, yew topiary and a central fountain. It provides marvellous panoramas of the surrounding countryside. To the north is a flowing romantic ‘English-style’ garden with grassy paths winding between shrubs, plants and trees.

In the late afternoon we return to Rouen, where the evening is at leisure. (Overnight Rouen) B

Day 4: Tuesday 6 June, Rouen – Giverny – Auzouville-sur-Ry – Rouen
  • Monet’s House and Gardens, Giverny
  • Le Jardin Plume, Auzouville-sur-Ry

This morning we drive to Giverny to visitthe great Impressionist Claude Monet’sbeautiful home and garden. Here he created a water-lily pond and wisteria-covered Japanese bridge, favourite motifs in his paintings. Monet’s house, ‘Le Pressoir’, and its gardens have been faithfully restored. Our visit will include a stroll through the garden with its thousands of flowers, including the Nympheas. Wecross the Japanese bridge hung with wisteria to a dreamy setting of weeping willows and rhododendrons

In the afternoonwe drive to Auzouville-sur-Ry to visit Le Jardin Plume, where owners Sylvie and Patrick Quibel have converted their orchard into a parterre. There are also a spring garden, summer garden and autumn garden. The summer garden is a modern knot garden with a very formal layout of clipped box. Each part is filled with a very natural planting of grasses and perennials but the colours are superb – lots of golden yellow, deep red and burning oranges. In September the box hedges are typically filled with vibrantly coloured flowers, interspersed with grasses.(Overnight Rouen) B

Day 5: Wednesday 7 June, Rouen – Ermenouville – Varengeville-sur-Mer – Tourville-sur-Arques – Rouen
  • Château de Mesnil Geoffroy, Ermenouville
  • Church & Sailor’s cemetery, Varengeville-sur-Mer
  • Le Bois de Morville, Varengeville-sur-Mer
  • Château de Miromesnil, Tourville-sur-Arques

Today we head north to the Château de Mesnil Geoffroy, built at the beginning of the 17th century on the site of a 13th-century castle. The current building is in the Louis XIII style, with high slate roofs, large fireplaces and central main corps de logis. It is surrounded by a 10ha French garden designed by Collinot, the gardener of André Le Nôtre. It has the most important private rose collection in Normandy with 2,900 rose bushes and 2,000 different varieties. The romantic flowered vegetable garden gathers ancient varieties of vegetables from all continents.

We eat a picnic lunch near Varengeville-sur-Mer Church and sailors’ cemetery. Varengeville, perched atop white limestone cliffs, attracted many artists including Monet, and is famous for its church, with its stained-glass windows designed by Georges Braque. From its sailors’ cemetery, where Georges Braque is buried, there is a superb view of Dieppe and the cliffs towards Le Tréport.

Our next visit is Le Bois de Morville, created in 1982 by landscape architect Pascal Cribier. It has the distinction of being a “botanical, aesthetic and scientific laboratory garden”. The fruit of forty years of colossal earthworks, wringing, and transplants in this place, which, originally, was only a wild wood planted on a soil full of water. The complex consists of multiple intimate gardens or great landscapes: the rhododendron valley, the orange gardens, the holly labyrinth, the flowered meadow, the large cut oak that thrones in the middle of an amphitheatre, the wild trail, rare species trees, and the incredible view of the sea modelled with great reinforcement of the capes. This wooded valley overlooking the sea has become a majestic setting of unique botanical atmospheres associated as if by magic. Pascal Cribier was not only one of the most important French landscape gardeners of his generation, but also one of the most influential. He worked on more than one hundred gardens all around the world, ranging from Parisian terraces to a lagoon in Bora Bora, from the Tuileries Gardens to a swamp in Fontainebleau Forest, from an English kitchen garden to an American ranch.

In the late afternoon we continue to the Château de Miromesnil at Tourville-sur-Arques, a splendid 17th-century (Louis XIII) château, where Guy de Maupassant was born. Located in a large plantation dominated by two 200-year-old cedars of Lebanon, it contains a very fine kitchen garden. with vegetable plots surrounded by a bewildering variety of flowers. The park, enclosed by old brick walls, features fruit trees, rose trees, magnolias, arborescent peonies and a magnificent variety of clematis. Following dinner at the Château de Miromesnil we return to Rouen. (Overnight Rouen) BD

Day 6: Thursday 8 June, Rouen – Le Neubourg – Rouen
  • Morning at leisure in Rouen
  • Château Champ de Bataille, Le Neubourg

This afternoon we visit the Château Champ de Bataille. Interior decorator Jacques Garcia has completely renovated this 18th-century castle and gardens. The château boasts a magnificent garden based in part on the classic French style and heavily influenced by drawings by the French designer André Le Nôtre. A surviving outline plan of the château’s former gardens revealed its basic outline. Jacques used this as a general guide; the result is a masterful blend of classical French and Italian styles with modern influences. Parterres, follies, classical temples, fountains and lakes are crowned by a stunning view that stretches over a mile down the garden from the château’s main terrace.

After the visit we return to Rouen where the rest of the day will be at leisure. (Overnight Rouen) B

Honfleur - 2 nights

Day 7: Friday 9 June, Rouen – Varengeville-sur-Mer – Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer – Honfleur
  • L’Etang de Launay, Varengeville-sur-Mer
  • Le Jardin du Vastérival, Ste Marguerite-sur-Mer

This morning we depart Rouen for the port of Honfleur. Our first stop isL’Etang de Launay, the recently created private garden of Jean-Louis Dantec, with its highly-pruned specimen trees leading to a lake and ponds, and one of Europe’s finest woodland plantings beyond.

After lunch, we drive to Marguerite-sur-Mer to visit the gardens of Vastérival, residence of the late Princess Sturdza. Vastérival contains one of France’s finest plant collections. Cleverly designed paths wander through this ‘informal’ garden, passing rich under plantings of the woodlands, into lovely glades. The garden is famed for its collections of rhododendrons, hydrangeas, maples, birches, viburnums and camellias.

In the late afternoon wemake our way to the old trading and fishing port of Honfleur, situated at the mouth of the Seine, where we shall spend two nights.(Overnight Honfleur) BL

Day 8: Saturday 10 June, Honfleur – Le Havre – Honfleur
  • Morningat leisure: Old Port of Honfleur and Saturday Market
  • Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux, Le Havre
  • Dinner at Le Manoir des Impressionistes, Honfleur

This morning there will be time at leisure to explore Honfleur, with its old, picturesque port painted by artists like Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet. Honfleur is also famous for its Saturday market, taking place around the lovely Sainte Catherine church, the largest timber church in France.

After lunchtime at leisure we drive south to Le Havre, situated on the estuary of the Seine and on the English Channel. Here we visit the André Malraux Modern Art Museum, which contains the second most extensive collection of Impressionist paintings in France. There are paintings by Claude Monet and other artists who worked in Normandy including Camille Corot, Eugène Boudin, Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Paul Sérusier and Édouard Vuillard. Modern art is well represented with works by Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, Raoul Dufy, Kees van Dongen, Fernand Léger, Alexej von Jawlensky and Nicolas de Staël.

We end the day with a dinner at gastronomic restaurant Le Manoir des Impressionistes, in Honfleur, overlooking the estuary of the river Seine. (Overnight Honfleur) BD

Bayeux - 3 nights

Day 9: Sunday 11 June, Honfleur – Ouilly-le-Vicomte – Mézidon-Canon – Bayeux
  • Château de Boutemont, Ouilly-le-Vicomte
  • Château de Canon, Mézidon-Canon

Today, on our way to Bayeux, we visit the Château de Boutemont. Dating back to the 12th century, it is today surrounded by an 11-hectare park. Achille Duchène’s early 20th century French gardens have since been augmented by landscape architect Georges Hayat’s Renaissance Italian garden, rose trees-decorated arches and small ‘scent garden’. Lunch will be served in the tearoom of the Château.

After lunch we visit the gardens of M. Alain de Mezerac’s Château de Canon, an 18th-century house surrounded by contemporary gardens and a park, created by Jean-Baptise-Jacques Elie de Beaumont and his wife Anne-Louise. The family has owned this property since the Middle Ages. Their present splendid two-storey Neo Classical structure has garden pavilions and statuary in the English style. In the late afternoon we continue our drive to Bayeux, our next base in Normandy, which is famous above all for its tapestry. (Overnight Bayeux) BL

Day 10: Monday 12 June, Bayeux – Brécy – Bayeux
  • Cathedral Notre-Dame & historic centre of Bayeux
  • Bayeux Tapestry Museum
  • Château de Brécy, St-Gabriel-Brécy

We begin today with a walking tour of Bayeux’s historic centre and the fine Cathedral of Notre-Dame (1077), a gem of Norman architecture.

We next visit the special museum dedicated to the Tapisserie de Bayeux which chronicles the Norman invasion of England. This Anglo-Saxon work, presented by Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror) to Bishop Odo in c.1080, chronicles events from Harold Godwin’s promise to bequeath his kingdom to William to his death on the field at Hastings; it is fascinating for its detailed depictions of arms and the 11th-century methods and machinery of warfare.

After lunch at leisure, we drive to M. and Mme Didier Wirth’sChâteau de Brécy, with a wonderful formal French garden. The house dates from the 17th century, and bears many hallmarks of the great François Mansart’sarchitecture. The garden immediately behind the house consists of five terraces, fine stone work, elegant parterres, pools, topiary and beautiful wrought-iron gates.(Overnight Bayeux) B

Day 11: Tuesday 13 June, Bayeux – Saint-Maurice-en-Cotentin – Castillon – Bayeux
  • Le Jardin de la Bizerie, Saint-Maurice-en-Cotentin
  • Les Jardins de Castillon-Plantbessin, Castillon

This morning we cross the Cotentin Peninsula to visit the private gardens of La Bizerie. Benefiting from the Cotentin micro-climate, Jérôme Goutier hastransformeda damp valley into a unique garden, filled with mediterranean plants as well as semi-tropicalspecies usually found in the southern hemisphere.

After lunching together we return to Bayeux via Castillon to visit the Jardins de Castillon-Plantbessin, created by Colette Sainte Beuve as a water garden to complement her plant nursery. Here you will find a marvellous treasure trove of plants that includes beautiful samples of Japanese plants as well as herbs and heather. (Overnight Bayeux) BL

Bagnoles-de-l'Orne - 2 nights

Day 12: Wednesday 14 June, Bayeux – Caen – Bagnoles-de-l’Orne
  • Fine Arts Museum, Caen
  • Abbaye-aux-Hommes & its abbatial church St Étienne, Caen

This morning we visit Caen’s excellent small art museum built within the ruined walls of William the Conqueror’s castle. Among its treasures are works by Van der Weyden, Perugino, Poussin and Veronese.

After lunch at Café Mancel in Caen, we explore Caen’s Abbaye-aux-Hommes, and its church, St Étienne. This masterpiece of Romanesque church architecture was begun by William the Conqueror as his mausoleum. One reason for the finesse of this building, which influenced many later Romanesque churches, was this region’s abundance of good building stone.

We stay for the next two nights in a lovely small heritage hotel, Le Manoir du Lys, at Bagnoles-de-L’Orne, owned by a family noted for their fine cuisine, which we shall sample in our evening meals. The hotel is set in a pretty garden on the edge of the Andaine Forest.(Overnight Bagnoles-de-l’Orne) BLD

Day 13: Thursday 15 June, Bagnoles-de-l’Orne – Saint-Biez-en-Belin – St-Christophe-le-Jajolet – Bagnoles-de-l’Orne
  • Le Jardin d’Atmosphère du Petit Bordeaux, Saint-Biez-en-Belin
  • Jardins et Terrasses du Château de Sassy, Saint-Christophe-Le-Jajolet

Today we drive toward the Maine region. We visit Le Jardin d’Atmosphère du Petit Bordeaux, a private 1.5-hectare garden, full of trees under planted with hydrangeas, day lillies, hostas, ancient roses, acers and dogwood. Two large ponds provide focal points in the garden. There are more than 4,000 different plants including collections of Acers, Hydrangeas, Cornus, roses and grasses. We shall have lunch in the gardensbefore making our way to Saint-Christophe-Le-Jajolet.

We next drive through the majestic Forêt d’Écouves to the Château de Sassy. Its garden, a benchmark of the French formal style, was inspired by the great André Le Nôtre, creator of the gardens of Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte. The garden rolls out like a vast, magnificent carpet below an 18th-century château. Its strict formality beautifully counterpointsa surrounding pastoral landscape of hedges and clumps of fruit trees. A deep perspective of terraces with intricate broderies (‘boxwood embroideries’) passes tiers of moats and features a round pool. A lovely small pavilion flanked by two monumental fastigiate yews and rows of shaped lindens forms the perspective’s centrepiece.(Overnight Bagnoles-de-l’Orne) BLD

Auray - 1 night

Day 14: Friday 16 June, Bagnoles-de-l’Orne – Vitré – Vannes – Auray
  • Guided tour of the medieval town of Vitré
  • Guided tour of the walled town of Vannes incl. Saint-Pierre Cathedral
  • Dinner at CrêperieSaintSauveur, Auray

Today we drive through the scenic department of Mayenne to Brittany via the medieval town of Vitré, located on the slopes of theVilaineriver valley. A guided tour will take us from the Château de Vitré to the heart of the old merchant town. One of Brittany’s best-preserved towns, it has remained remarkably unchanged for 500 years, with half-timbered houses, ramparts and religious buildings. During the Renaissance, merchants built large private, ornately decorated mansions within the city walls; these are still visible today.

After lunch, we drive to the south coast of Brittany. Nestled in the Gulf of Morbihan, in one of the world’s most beautiful bays, Vannes is a fortified town with a 2,000-year history. Here you can sample two of the region’s famous specialities. Far Breton is a traditional custard cake with prunes, whileKouign-Amannismade with flaky, buttery, caramelised pastry.

A guided tour will lead us through Vannes’ remarkable old quarter to impressive Saint-Pierre Cathedral and along the town’s ramparts. These 13th-century fortifications, regularly remodelled until the17th century, provide wonderful views of the town’s formal gardens and itscathedral.

We then return for dinner to Auray. Its ancient quarter of St-Goustan, has delightful 15th and 16th-century houses. Situated at a bend in the River Loc’h it soon became one of the busiest ports in Brittany. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin landed here on his way to seek Louis XVI’s aid in the American War of Independence. Here we shall eat together at a local crêperie. The word crêpe is French for ‘pancake’ and is derived from the Latin crispus meaning ‘curled’. Crêpes originated in Brittany and were oncecalled galettes, meaning ‘flat cakes’.(Overnight Auray) BD

Perros-Guirec - 4 nights

Day 15: Saturday 17 June, Auray – Carnac – Pont-Aven – Perros-Guirec
  • Guided tour of Carnac: stone alignments and circles
  • Pont-Aven Museum

This morning we leave Auray for Carnac to explore the largest Neolithic alignment in the world (3500-3000 BC), with almost 3,000 upright stones arranged in 11 almost parallel lines over several kilometres. We continue to our hotel located outside the town of Perros-Guirec, on the northern coast of Brittany at the centre of the ‘Coast of Pink Granite’. The region’s combination of pink rocks, blue sea and a few islands on the horizon gives it a picturesque beauty. While based in Perros-Guirec we shall visit a number of private gardens as we journey through the area’s rocky coastline, deep-cut inlets and inland wooded valleys.

In the afternoon we drive to Pont-Aven, a small, picturesque Breton village which owes its fame to the Pont-Aven School of artists of whom the most famous was Paul Gaugin. We visit the gallery devoted to the work of the Pont-Aven School with paintings by Paul Gauguin and his fellow-artists. You will then have time at leisure to explore the village, walk along the River Aven and sample the town’s ‘galettes’ – butter biscuits. (Overnight Perros-Guirec) BD

Day 16: Sunday 18 June, Perros-Guirec – Saint-Rivoal – Penvénan – Perros-Guirec
  • Jardins de Pellinec, Penvénan
  • Eco-musée des Monts d’Arrée, Natural Regional Park of Armorique

In the morning we explore Le Jardin du Pellinec, a private manor house garden. This seven-acre garden on the Pellinec estuary has excellent soilsand a particular microclimate that enabledMonsieur Jean to grow a huge diversity of plants. The view is ever changing; at high tide, the sea laps at the garden’s edges, a spectacular sight.

After lunch we travel through the Natural Regional Park of Armorique. We shall drive up to the highest hills of Brittany, Les Monts d’Arrée, stopping in the town of Saint-Rivoalwhere weshall visit the eco-museum and be introduced to the Park’s uniquefauna and flora byour localguide. (Overnight Perros-Guirec) BLD

Day 17: Monday 19 June, Perros-Guirec – Plévenon – Trédarzec – Perros-Guirec
  • Les Jardins de Ker Louis, Plévenon
  • Les Jardins de Kerdalo, Trédarzec

The English garden of Ker Louis near Cap Fréhel was started by Louis Tranchant in 1980 (Kermeaning home in Breton dialect), and the decision was made to make the most of the slope of the land, with an optimized view from the house. Each curve brings a new perspective and the garden blends into the environment in complete harmony. Following the gardening principles laid down by Gertrude Jekyll, the garden is centered around roses, acid-loving plants, and beds of perennials in pastel shades structured with warm hues. Ker Louis includes a Zen garden and a lake forming the centerpiece of the garden. Enthusiasts can discover 300 rhododendrons, 250 camellias, 100 roses, hydrangeas, 60 magnolias, several dozenaraliaceae, trees with patterned bark – snakebark acer,prunus serrula,prunus maackii,acer griseum,betulas– oaks and ash trees, and many varieties of maple.

After lunch together, we visit the gardens of Kerdalo. The gardens, in a valley near the Brittany coast, were the subject of a book by its owner-designer, Prince Peter Wolkonsky: Kerdalo: Un Jardin d’Exception (Paris, 1995). Originally a manor farm with natural springs, the formal garden mergesinto awooded valley with a lake, pools and grotto and a rich collection of trees and shrubs.(Overnight Perros-Guirec) BL

Day 18: Tuesday 20 June, Perros-Guirec – Gouarec – Guingamp – Ploëzal – Pontrieux – Perros-Guirec
  • Un Jardin en Ville, Gouarec
  • Lunch at leisure in Guingamp
  • Château de la Roche-Jagu, Ploëzal
  • Boat tour of Pontrieux’s washhouses

This morning we travel south to Gouarec to visit Un Jardin en Ville, located at the junction of two rivers, the Doré and the Blavet. In the early 19th century, ambitious planning resulted in the construction of the Nantes–Brest canal. Owing to the very real possibility of flooding, the living quarters of the family home begin on the first floor. During the 1990s, garden designer Michel Gesret took this into consideration and created a garden that could be enjoyed from this level. Classified as a “Remarkable Garden”, the 8000 m² of gardens is made up of structuring elements: walls, terraces, a pond, yews, and arbors. They divide the space into themed gardens of English inspiration. Colour in all seasons, abundant flowers, a touch of humour and original finds make for an enchanting ensemble. Each space or massif has a specific colour scheme and an original design: the French garden, which borders the house; the natural garden, which runs along the river and integrates the environment beyond the limits of the garden; the Japanese garden, with its Far Eastern touch, which calls for contemplation; and various flowerbeds, where a large variety of perennials is reminiscent of English gardens with their exuberant flowering.

Following some time at leisure for lunch in the market town of Guingamp, we continue our journey to Ploëzal to visit Le Château de La Roche-Jagu, which is surrounded by a contemporary garden overlooking the River Trieux. Inspired by medieval gardens, it features a kitchen garden, a medicinal garden, and a flower garden. There are wonderful walks in the woodlands, where you can find areas of palms and camellias and water features.

In the late afternoon we return to Perros-Guirec via the small town of Pontrieux, which is nestled deep in an estuary. It features 50 or so beautifully restored and flower-decked washhouses which adorn the banks of the River Trieux. We take a short tour by boat to view these charming washhouses. (Overnight Perros-Guirec) B

Saint-Malo - 2 nights

Day 19: Wednesday 21 June, Perros-Guirec – Dinan – Bazouges-la-Pérouse – Saint-Malo
  • Guided visit of the medieval town of Dinan
  • Château de la Ballue, Bazouges-la-Pérouse

This morning we drive to Dinan. Once a fortified stronghold of the Dukes of Brittany, Dinan is noted for its beautiful maisons à piliers, medieval half-timbered houses built on stilts over the sidewalks. The town centre is dominated by an impressive castle and it is surrounded by ramparts. The ramparts were built in the 13th century when Dinan became a duchy. They were continually improved until the Wars of Religion of the 16th century, after which they lost their defensive role. You may wish to take a walk along the ramparts, starting from the castle.

After lunch we drive east toward the Château de la Ballue, located between Brittany and Normandy. This 17th-century château, visited by writers like Balzac and Victor Hugo, is surrounded by dramatic theatrical gardens. When the castle was built in 1620, it was surrounded by Italian-style gardens. They were abandoned in 1942. Claude Arthaud bought the property in the 1970s and architects Paul Maymont and François Hébert-Stevens created a classic garden and a Mannerist garden. Former owners, Marie-France Barrière and Alain Schrotter, have redesigned and reinterpreted the gardens with a modern twist. There are neat traditional geometric terraces, and a lush fernery and scented groves.

In the late afternoon we continue to the port city of Saint-Malo. Encircled by its strong granite ramparts.(Overnight Saint-Malo) B

Day 20: Thursday 22 June, Saint-Malo – Mont-Saint-Michel – Saint-Malo
  • Mont-Saint-Michel
  • Time at leisure in Saint-Malo
  • Farewell Dinner

One of the highlights of the tour is a visit to the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, which perches upon a great, isolated granite cone rising from the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, the sands of which are bared at low tide. Believed by the Celts to be a resting place to which the departed were ferried on an invisible boat, it became the site of a hermitage after an apparition of St Michael to St Aubert, Bishop of Avranches (708). A Carolingian church was built in the 10th century, followed by a Romanesque basilica in the 12th century. Count Richard I of Normandy established a Benedictine Abbey here in 966 and it became a major seat of learning in the 11th century. It was progressively fortified in the Middle Ages. We shall visit the small village below the Mount and then participate in a tour of the Abbey, visiting its church, refectory, ancient scriptorium, and cloister.

Enjoy a free afternoon in Saint-Malo to explore the walled city and its ramparts. In the evening we shall meet all together for a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.(Overnight Saint-Malo) BD

Day 21: Friday 23 June, Saint-Malo – Paris. Tour Ends.
  • Transfer toParis CDG airport

Our tour ends today with a coach transfer from Saint-Malo to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. On our way, we stop in Chartres, where there is time at leisure for lunch and to visit Chartres Cathedral (1194). We are scheduled to arrive at Charles de Gaulle Airport at 5.30pm where the tour officially concludes.B


ASA has selected 3- to 5-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom. Double/twin rooms for single occupancy may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Double (as Single) Supplement. A hotel list will be given to all participants prior to departure.

  • Rouen (6 nights):4-star Mercure Rouen Centre Cathedral Hotel –a modern hotel close to the stunning Rouen Cathedral in the town’s medieval centre.
  • Honfleur (2 nights): 3-star Hotel Best Western Le Cheval Blanc– located at the fishingharbour, this 3-starhotel offers 34 renovatedrooms with a view of the Port of
  • Bayeux (3 nights): 5-star Hotel Villa Lara – located on a pedestrian street in the heart of old Bayeux, just a few steps from the famous Tapestry Museum and the Cathedral.
  • Bagnoles-de-l’Orne (2 nights):4-star Hotel Le Manoir Du Lys– a charming manor house located on the edge of the Andaine Forest, close to the spa town of Bagnoles-de-l’Orne.
  • Auray (1 night): 3-star Hotel Best Western Du Loch– 3-star modern hotel set in beautifully landscaped
  • Perros-Guirec (4 nights): 5-star L’Agapa Hôtel-Spa –set in a 1930s art deco-style buildingoverlooking the Rose Coast of Brittany,offeringpanoramic sea
  • Saint-Malo (2 night): 4-star Hotel Oceania – a modern hotel overlooking the sea, located on the Chaussée du Sillon (Sillon Causeway) within walking distance from the the walled

Note:Hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited.People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to Book


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit ofAUD $500.00 per personpayable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate

Commencing from November 2021 it will be a condition of travel that all group leaders and ASA travellers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.All participants must send ASA a copy of their vaccination certificate at the time of submitting their Reservation Application Form. For information on how to obtain either a Covid-19 digital certificate or a certificate in PDF format please view theAustralian Government Services Australia “What types of proof there are”web page.

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves.Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion.Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day Garden Tour of Normandy & Brittany involves:

  • A moderate amount of walking mainly during outdoor site visits, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs, along cobbled streets and uneven terrain. You therefore need to be a good walker and be prepared to stand for some time in front of buildings and artworks.
  • Extensive coach travel – often on minor roads.
  • The daily schedule generally involves an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (between 5.30-6.30pm).
  • 3- to 5-star hotels with six hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage only includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note:it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $13,790.00 Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: Book before 31 March 2022

AUD $13,990.00 Land Content Only

AUD $3280.00 Single Supplement

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 3-5 star hotels
  • Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where:B=breakfast,L=lunch &D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Transportation by air-conditionedcoach
  • Airport-hotel transfers according to the times as outlined in the tour itinerary
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees
  • Tour Notes
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guidesand restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Paris, Paris-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas (if applicable)

Tour Map


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