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Self-drive Somme, Normandy and Loire Valley

(11824)
Country
France
Travel Departs
Paris-Gare Saint-Lazare
Travel Ends
Tours
Travel Periods
01 Mar 2022 - 31 Oct 2022
Experience
Self-Drive
Travel Style
Independent Holiday Packages
With this ultimate experience you'll combine the historical regions of Somme and Normandy with the stunning landscapes of Loire Valley during this 11-day Self-Drive!

Highlights

Visit the area of the Somme WW1 battlefields and the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux

Explore Mont Saint Michel Abbey at your own pace

Lunch at Les Caves Duhard, the Loire Valley Wine Experience!  Sensorial visit and Vintages' Odyssey followed by a commented wine tasting with a sommelier. 

Discover the Bayeux Tapestry, that has survived many turbulent periods and continues to reveal its secrets today!

Explore Chateau de Chambord, a unique monument due to its architecture and proportions!

Visit the Chateau & International Gardens Festival

As you travel from Paris to Amiens, take in the splendid panoramic view. Then commorate major historical events before moving on to Normandy where you'll feel the enchantment of Mont-Saint-Michel, a wonder of the Western World.

As you continue towards the Loire Valley, be ready to be amazed by the most beautiful of the French castles - such as Chenonceau, Chambord and Azay le Rideau. Take time to enjoy some prestigious wine at the Caves Duhard and visit the world- famous International Gardens Festival.

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Included

3 nights in Amiens at Mercure Cathedral -4*
3 nights in Bayeux at Hotel Bellefontaine - 4*
4 nights in Chaumont-sur-Loire at La Jacquière
Private transfer from hotel to railway station in Paris
TGV from Paris-Gare Saint-Lazare to Amiens
Car rental (SUV auto Nissan Qashqai or similar) for 11 Days
Daily Breakfast
Somme WW1 battlefields day tour (including the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux)
Discover the Bayeux Tapestry
Guided Small-group day-tour of Loire Valley chateaus (Chambord and Chenonceau)
Tour & wine tasting at the Caves Duhard
Parking included
Entrance fees for Mont Saint Michel Abbey, Chaumont sur Loire Chateau & International Gardens Festival, Royal Chateau of Amboise and The Clos Lucé
Optional Extras
Hot Air Balloon flight

Hot Air Balloon flight

Have you ever dreamed of Jules Verne’s adventures?
We offer an unforgettable experience to discover the Loire Valley and its Chateaux, getting a bird’s eye view on board of the Montgolfier brothers’ invention. The departure of the balloon takes place at either sunrise or sunset. The take-off point is chosen by the pilots according to the wind direction -  it be Chaumont sur Loire, Amboise or Chenonceaux. The passengers are all welcome to participate in the hot air balloon assembling. Safety briefing with the pilots follows.

Then, take off for a flight of about 1 to 1.5 hour.

Shared flights: up 16 passengers per balloon.

Cruise down the Loire on a Gabarre

Cruise down the Loire on a Gabarre

You will board a Gabare (a traditional wooden open boat/barge) for a private cruise down the Loire for 2 hours.

Your pilot has a true passion for the royal river and the gabares, which he shares generously. You feel as though there were only you in the world, in an exceptional environment (the Loire is the last untamed river in Europe). All you have to do is to enjoy... An unforgettable experience! A little later, the gabare can stop on sandy islands, in the middle of the river.

* Prices are dynamic based on travel dates. Please proceed to Book Now or contact us for details.
Day 1
Paris→ Amiens

Enjoy a private transfer from your centrally located Paris hotel to the Saint-Lazare trainstation. Then, board your TGV train from Paris to Amiens.

Collect your car in Amiens, a comfortable, air conditioned automatic Nissan SUV (or similar) with GPS included! 

Amiens is located in the North of France and is the capital of the department of Somme, in the region of Picardy. Although the city is small, it is well known for the Cathedral Notre-Dame d'Amiens. It is the largest Gothic Cathedral in France with a height of 40 metres.

Overnight stay in Amiens at Mercure Cathedrale.

Parking not included

Paris→ Amiens
Day 2
Amiens

After breakfast, enjoy your Somme WW1 battlefields day tour (including the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux).

You will start with a visit to the 1918 battlefields and memorials, starting with Villers-Bretonneux where we will pay our respects at the imposing Australian National Memorial which commemorates the 10,719 Australian soldiers who died in France and have no known grave. We will then visit a German cemetery on the way to Albert, where we will have a break for lunch.

In the afternoon we will head towards the 1916 battlefields : the impressive Lochnagar mine crater, a huge mine which was blown up on the 1st of July 1916, Pozières, and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. The names of 72,000 missing British and South African soldiers who died in the Somme before March 1918 are commemorated on this impressive monument. Lastly, you'll visit the Canadian Historic Site of Beaumont-Hamel and its preserved trenches. 

After this extremely moving day we will return to Amiens.

Overnight stay in Amiens at Mercure Cathedrale.

Parking not included

Breakfast
Amiens
Day 3
Amiens

After breakfast, today is at leisure to enjoy Amiens and the Somme area.

Spend the day in Amiens, visit the "Hortillonnages" (Floating Gardens), walk through the pretty houses of the Saint Leu district, visit the Picardie Museum or Jules Verne's house  We can also recommend visits to: 

  • Amiens' Cathedral
    The cathedral was built in the 12th century but largely rebuilt between 1220 and 1270, after the cathedrals at Chartres and Reims. The form of its apse was copied elsewhere until the late Middle Ages. During its restoration in the 19th century, Viollet-le-Duc principally worked on the corner towers housing the staircases, the balustrades at the top of the towers, the gargoyles and the bell-ringers' gallery;

  • Cliffs of Etretat
    You’ll get some spectacular photos of those famous Falaises d’Étretat. The cliffs at Etretat are truly a photographer’s dream and I actually you can't take a bad photo;

  • Parc du Marquenterre
    Between land and sea, with its 200 ha of marshes, dunes and reed beds, the Marquenterre Park is
    a preserved area that will seduce you with its unique landscapes and natural riches;

  • Swamps of Crotoy
    The swamp is home to many migratory birds as well as some Henson horses, the richness of its fauna and flora make it a remarkable place.

Overnight stay in Amiens at Mercure Cathedrale.

Parking not included

Breakfast
Amiens
Cliffs of Etretat
Day 4
Amiens → Bayeux

After breakfast, drive towards Bayeux.

Spared from the World Wars, the medieval city of Bayeux has a rich architectural heritage. The historic centre, beautifully preserved, invites walkers to discover its Gothic-style cathedral and stroll through its old streets lined with mansions and old, half-timbered houses.

Overnight stay in Bayeux at the Chateau-Hotel de Bellefontaine.

Parking included

Breakfast
Day 5
Bayeux → Omaha & Utah → Bayeux

After breakfast, day is at leisure to explore on your own the area.

We suggest that you visit Sainte-Mère-Eglise, Omaha and Utah Beaches, these are names that echo with tragic memories. In the heart of the American sector, discovering Omaha and Utah Beaches will take you back to this frightening and also triumphant day of June 6, 1944. Try to imagine the thunderous bombings on the beach contrasting with the peaceful atmosphere of today. “Bloody Omaha”, called after the unspeakable casualties endured on the beach - here is a great example of human bravery, while Utah offers the striking image of the famous parachutist stranded on the bell tower of Sainte-Mère-Eglise.

We suggest that you then continue on with a visit of Pointe-du-Hoc, another dramatic and historic site, where you see the remnants of hundreds of craters, evidence of the massive bombing. 

Return to Bayeux and enjoy a visit of Tapisserie de Bayeux (entrance fees included). The Tapestry has had several lucky escapes. Its existence has been marked by turbulent periods when it was in danger or at serious risk of being damaged. After being rescued many times, the tapestry has survived and continues to reveal its secrets today.

Overnight stay in Bayeux at the Chateau-Hotel de Bellefontaine.

Parking included

Breakfast
Bayeux → Omaha & Utah → Bayeux
Bayeux
Day 6
Bayeux →Mont Saint Michel→ Bayeux

After breakfast, drive to the breathtaking fortified island village of Mont Saint Michel.

Visit Mont Saint Michel Abbey (entrance fees included) Normandy's best-known attraction. Surrounded by the most powerful tides in Europe and perched high on a rocky island, this medieval fortified city and its abbey are a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site. Many of its monastic buildings date from the 13th Century and are considered outstanding examples of true Gothic architecture. 

The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Overnight stay in Bayeux at the Chateau-Hotel de Bellefontaine.

Parking included

Breakfast
Bayeux →Mont Saint Michel→ Bayeux
Day 7
Bayeux → Chaumont-sur-Loire

After breakfast, check-out and travel to Chaumont-sur-Loire. 

Welcome to the Loire Valley! Indeed, the Loire Valley has the undisputed reputation of containing the most beautiful of the French castles - such as Chenonceau, Chambord and Azay le Rideau. 

The rest of the day is at leisure, alternatively you can add one of our optional activities such as the Hot Air Balloon or the Cruise down the Loire river ( extra cost).

Overnight stay in Chaumont-sur-Loire at La Jacquière

Parking included

Breakfast
Bayeux → Chaumont-sur-Loire
Loire River
Day 8
Chaumont sur Loire

After breakfast, the day is yours to discover the "terroir" of the Loire Valley with its wines (Vouvray or Chinon), and its cheeses (Sainte Maure de Touraine or Selles sur Cher).

We suggest a visit to the Domaine de Chaumont sur Loire, Chateau & International Gardens Festival (entrace fees included). Since 1992, the International Garden Festival has provided a unique panorama of landscape design from all over the world. Both a source of ideas and a nursery for talent, the Festival gives an extra boost to the artform of The Garden and gains the interest of both the public and those in the profession. 

Overnight stay in Chaumont-sur-Loire at La Jacquière

Parking included

Breakfast
Chaumont sur Loire
Day 9
Chaumont-sur-Loire →Chenonceau→ Amboise → Chaumont-sur-Loire

After breakfast, join a a small-group guided day-tour of the Loire Valley's Castles.

Pick-up is at 9:30 AM at the Amboise Tourist Office. The tour starts with a guided visit of the Chateau of Chenonceau. The unique architecture of the Chateau of Chenonceau makes it one of the most exquisite chateaus in the Loire Valley. Nicknamed "The Ladies Chateau", the castle is associated with prominent French women such as Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. The magnificent Renaissance Gardens around it make it even more spectacular.

Transfer to Amboise for lunch at Les Caves Duhard, the Loire Valley Wine Experience!  Sensorial visite and Vintages' Odyssey followed by a commented wine tasting with a sommelier.  Lunch includes wine pairing, French cheeses, charcuterie and dessert. *Please note that according to availability, the lunch at les Caves Duhard could be replaced by a lunch at a local restaurant.

Continue to Chambord for a guided tour of the Chateau of Chambord. We will drive along the Estate of Chambord, a national game preserve - as large as the city of Paris! The Chateau of Chambord is itself a unique monument due to its architecture and proportions. Leonardo da Vinci very likely took part in the conception of the project. With more than 400 rooms and its double-spiral staircase, the Chambord is a highlight of the Loire Valley. At the end of the tour around 6:00 PM,  you'll be dropped-off at the Amboise Tourist Office.

Overnight stay in Chaumont-sur-Loire at La Jacquière

Parking included

Breakfast, Lunch
Chaumont-sur-Loire →Chenonceau→ Amboise → Chaumont-sur-Loire
Chateau of Chenonceau
Day 10
Chaumont-sur-Loire →Amboise → Chaumont-sur-Loire

After breakfast, the day is at leisure and we suggest that you discover Amboise and its chateaux.

Visit the Royal Chateau of Amboise (entrance fees included). The Royal Chateau of Amboise introduced Italian style to the Loire Valley. It was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. Residence of Kings Charles VIII and François I, it offers breathtaking views of the Loire river. In its splendid gardens the gothic chapel shelters the grave of Leonardo da Vinci.

Visit of The Clos Luce (entrance fees included), Leonardo da Vinci's last residence. The residence where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. King François I invited him and made him his First Architect and Engineer. The end of the visit features Leonardo’s greatest inventions such as the helicopter and the tank. 

Overnight stay in Chaumont-sur-Loire at La Jacquière

Parking included

Breakfast
Chaumont-sur-Loire →Amboise → Chaumont-sur-Loire
The Clos Luce
Day 11
Chaumont-sur-Loire →Tours

Check-out after breakfast.

Depart to Tours and drop off the rental car. End of the services.

Breakfast

Additional information

Official language
French
Local currency
EUR
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Self-drive Somme, Normandy and Loire Valley

11 days
from AUD4,665
per person, twin share
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