Battle Sites of France Tour: From Medieval to World War II

A 9 day trip to France 
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Step into the preserved room of Catherine de’Medici where the aroma of the wood-beam ceiling wafts across the fireplace. Notice a unique engineering design decorating a garden and designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Fishing boats wade in the small marina of a charming coastal village. You look over the large cliffs of Normandy and wonder how the allied forces ever made it to the top. Your custom tailored battle sites France tour shows you the unforgettable history of France, from Normandy to the Loire Valley, bursting with imagination, castles, gourmet cuisine, and unforgettable moments.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Honfleur, Caen, Bayeux, Sainte Mere l'Eglise, Landing beaches, Arromanches, Mont saint Michel, Saint Malo, Cancale, Dinard, Angers, Amboise, Chenonceau, Chambord, Blois

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Landing Normandy

Normandy evokes a flourishing connection for contemporary, medieval, and ancient history. The landscape is rich and diverse, ranging from textured sands at low tide to vibrant seaside harbors overlooking the coastline. The rugged ocean crashes into dramatic limestone cliffs and tranquil valleys create an ethereal pastoral ambiance.

Your plane lands in Paris where your private transfer awaits your arrival. You leave the Charles de Gaulle Airport behind and immediately venture into the sweeping beauty of Honfleur, once the inspiration for impressionist painters Monet and Boudin. The port town maintains its charm in the rugged maritime past radiating from the Old Harbor. Boats wade in the gentle waters. Tall, thin houses line the dock and date back to the 16th century. The seaside aroma filters through the air. Dozens of fishing boats linger in Avant Port, their masts adding to the town’s skyline. In the morning, they sell their catch at the vibrant local fish market. The aroma of buttery seafood emanates from the Michelin Starred restaurant Ferme Saint-Simeon. Locals and visitors sit out on the terrace with a view to the sea and savor every bite. Your transfer leads you to Port en Bessin located on the seaside overlooking a natural harbor. The houses have angled, tiled roofs, and you find the quintessential northern French town to be nothing less than enchanting. 

What’s Included: transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 2: Magnificence in Normandy

In the morning, you wake up to the gentle coastal breeze rippling the water. The small blades of grass surrounding town lightly wave. The aroma of hot, rich coffee accompanies a fresh baked baguette with a selection of butter and fruity jams. After breakfast, your guide meets you at your hotel taking you the short distance to Caen, a town founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. Much of the city was rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s. However the medieval ambiance of the buildings remains.

 Narrow streets wind through the cityscape lined with boutique shops and vivacious gardens. The marina sits in the heart of the city bobbing with boats. Two abbeys create a spired skyline casting shadows over the surrounding buildings. Chateau de Caen has maintained is original walls encompassing the historic castle dating back to the 12th century. The Orne River rushes into the English Channel on the outskirts of the city blending the seaside air with freshwater banks.

The Abbaye-aux-Hommes, the Men’s Abbey, was built in the 11th century and remains one of the most important Romanesque buildings in the region. The stone was taken from around Caen. The church has ribbed vaults and rosette windows. Nine towers and numerous spires make an imposing and dramatic façade ascending above the city. The wonderment of the exterior is matched by the splendor of the interior. Each step you take echoes off of the walls, roaming underneath the arched colonnade lining the nave. After lunch, you depart from Caen and continue your tour in the classical city of Bayeux, home to the sensational Tapestry Museum. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: A More Recent History

Images of Normandy thrive in the stories told about World War II from veterans and movies. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel and takes you into the rich contemporary past of the region. At Pointe du Hoc, you arrive at a large grassy area standing atop 100-foot cliffs overlooking the water. German bunkers stretched across the coastline, and on Pointe du Hoc five 155mm German artillery guns were positioned looking down upon the beaches of Utah and Omaha. The grounds have an authenticity about them and have maintained much of the same look as they did after the battle ended. Pathways meander around the large craters in the ground erupted from shell hits decades ago.

A stiletto-shaped memorial sits atop the German command post. World War II history has never been more tangible. The concrete bunkers around the grasslands are marred with remnants of the battle, including char marks from flamethrowers and bullet holes dotting the walls. It seems hard to imagine the uproarious sounds set by the fighting, when now the coastal breeze sweeps through the air. You can hear the water lapping at the base of the rugged cliffs. A portrait of the past remains strong on the shores of Normandy, continuing to tell the story of what once took place.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Private Island View

Today, you leave behind the town of Port en Bessin and make your way to the unique, tiny island of Mont Saint Michel. At low tide, the water majestically drifts away from the shores leaving a long stretch of textured sand between mainland France and the islet. At high tide, the water can rise to 50 feet, lapping at the raised bluff of the centuries shaped coastline.

The first Benedictine Abbey was constructed on the island in the early 11th century. The Abbey reaches over 320 feet above sea level with 350 steps reaching from the water to the top of the island. During a calm, high tide, the image of the towers reflect in the sea. You can physically see the water rushing back towards the island during the changing of the tide.

Your guide leads you through the marvels of the meandering streets and into the stunning Abbey. The interior tiles add color beneath the length of large stone pillars supporting the archways. Thin, long windows let in slivers of light showing the radiance of the interior. At the lowest level of the monastery, you can find a collection of pillars sprouting into low-lying arches, often connoting the oldest parts of the structure inside the brick lodging rooms.  

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: Showing Brittany

Throughout the region of Brittany, you can find dramatic coastlines and medieval towns alongside thick forests. A prehistoric mysticism emanates from the landscape and filters into the stories told throughout the centuries. In the morning, you find the water around Cancale shimmering with cerulean. The town lies to the east of the famous city of Saint-Malo. The quiet streets become energetic around the fishing port. Cancale is known as the oyster capital of Brittany, noticeable in the numerous restaurants serving rich and unforgettable seafood. A coastal path leads from Pointe du Grouin to Mont Saint-Michel and back again.

A chateau peaks over the verdant trees overlooking the coastline. The beach has golden sand beneath the small city wall dividing the water from the road. At low tide, you can see the oyster beds poking out of the water, divided by nets and small walkways for farmers to use stretching over two square miles. Along the water you find numerous vendors underneath the traditional blue and white colors of Brittany, vending fresh oysters for locals and visitors to taste. People squeeze lemon onto the fresh catch and let the natural briny zest blend with the light citrus to shape the decadent, yet bright flavor.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Coastal Drama to Valley Harmony

Your private transfer and guide meet you at your hotel in the morning to whisk you into the sensational countryside of the Loire Valley. The valley is filled with fairytale castles and remarkable forests, foothills, and prairies. Before reaching the valley, you stop in the historical riverside city of Angers, once home to the seat of the powerful Dukes of Anjou. The pedestrian streets meander around the bustling old city with a thriving café culture. Locals sit at tables watching passersby, sipping on espresso, nibbling at fresh baked pastries, and enjoying the theater of life.

The chateau d’Angers was constructed in dramatic black stone and stands above the riverbanks surrounded by firm battlements. Seventeen watchtowers climb into the sky. The castle houses the famous Apocalypse Tapestry commissioned by Louis I, Duke of Anjou in the 14th century. The tapestry runs 341 feet long, recounting the Day of Judgment from beginning to end.  The theme is captivating and the artistry truly remarkable. The tapestry is breathtaking in both size and captivating theme.

You continue to the Doutre neighborhood where students lounge on the banks of the Maine River. The houses radiate in their black and white stone colors. The current of the river brushes the grassy banks. You continue into the Loire Valley and relax in the cool evening air.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 7: Imagining of da Vinci

The regal history of the Loire Valley bursts out of the storybooks with elegant design and undeniable charm. Chateaus cross the Loire River, line the riverbanks, and stand at the edge of reflective lakes. After breakfast, your guide leads you to Manoir du Clos Luce where Leonardo da Vinci lived for the final years of his life. The manor stands near the Royal Chateau of Ambrose overlooking the town and the Loire River. The multi-arched stone bridge leads across the water where you see the wide, circular tower adding force to the castle ramparts. The Chateau du Clos Luce was constructed in the 15th century; the original watchtower is the last of the original fortifications remaining.

It was in the Chateau that da Vinci finished his celebrated painting of Saint John the Baptist. The monument has been restored to revive the immaculate spirit of the Renaissance. In the artist and engineer’s chamber, you can find an immaculate representation of its original décor, from the plush velvet bedding to the theatrical stone hearth. Wooden beams cross the ceiling and an open window lets in the natural light to cool the room. In the garden, a two-level bridge crosses the pond. Numerous drawings and works are displayed on the grounds, showcasing da Vinci’s continuous inspiration and thought processes throughout his life.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Remarkable Royalty

In the morning, your guide leads you to the top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the northern bank of the Loire River. The historic Chateau Royal de Blois contains an immense history of France from the Middle Ages to World War II, where a number of meandering medieval streets remain in the heart of town. The chateau watches over the town, near the statue of Louis XII sitting on horseback. You view the impressive structure head on, noticing the four wings edging the large courtyard.

The chateau maintains elements of Gothic, Renaissance, and classical architecture dating back to the 13th century. The bedchamber of Catherine de’Medici, wife of Henry II, has its original décor. An upholstered chair sits near the ornate, rosy bed. Elaborate tapestries drape the walls along with graceful oil paintings. The stone base of the chateau takes the palace to new heights. The mixture of extravagance and power make for an unparalleled visit expressing the lifestyle of true grandeur.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 9: Cherished France

In the morning, you wake and find the picturesque view of the Loire Valley all around you. The stunning chateaus and vibrant riverbanks, postcard villages, and powerful outcroppings will always fill your thoughts of France from here forward.

After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in your hotel lobby and escorts you to the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris for your flight home. You will always remember the splendor of your French countryside exploration.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$2,470
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.