The European Collection: Normandy to Basque Country

19 days

Trip Highlights

  • Boutique and luxury accommodation throughout France, with breakfasts and city taxes included

  • Private guided tours of the best sights of Paris: foodie experiences in Paris, tours of Louvre museum which is home to the Mona Lisa and many interesting collections and tours to Versaille, Musée d'Orsay and Notre Dame

  • Two full day private chauffeured tours of the D-Day Landings Beaches, to Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery including Utah Beach and Sainte-Mere-Eglise and to Pegasus Bridge and British Beaches

  • Discover the Emerald Coast with a stunning boat trip, and stop on the way to enjoy a lovely lunch with wines

  • Explore the famous Mont Saint Michel, the beautiful historical chateaux and wineries of the Loire Valley

  • Visit the Majestic Medoc in the Bordeaux vineyards, during the day you will be welcomed into three wineries for tours of the cellars followed by tastings. Enjoy a stunning lunch in a Grand Cru Chateau set in the heart of the vineyards

  • Enjoy a full day’s wonderful private chauffeured tour in to the French Basque Countryside, and dine in two world famous restaurants, a 3-star Michelin in San Sebastian and a local 1-star Michelin in Getaria

from $12,997 per person

This is a guide price based on 2 people travelling together and sharing a room.

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Trip details

Day 1

On arrival in Paris, relax with a private transfer to your hotel. Unwind with 4 nights in a 4-star hotel in a prime location in the heart of Paris. On the first afternoon, enjoy a Canal Saint Martin Artisan Food tour, which is the perfect opportunity to grasp the complex world of France’s most ancient art: gastronomy. If the best way to your heart is through your stomach, then the best way to discover the heart of Paris is through its food. This delicious 3-hour small-group food odyssey in this historical district will open your senses with inspiring locales and tastings along the way.

Day 2

In the morning, meet with your specialist guide. In the morning visit the famed Musée d’Orsay with Skip the Line access. Private guided walking tour of Cluny museum and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Enter the building of Cluny where are situated remnants of the Roman times. Discover inside the museum of the middle age. Great collections are dedicated to the subject. Admire original sculptures belonging to Notre-Dame cathedral as well as the famous “Dame à la licorne” tapestry. Finish the visit towards the island of the city where your licensed guide will tell you about Notre Dame and its secrets.

Day 3

Enjoy a full day’s wonderful private VIP tour to Versailles and the Petit Trianon. The palace and gardens of Versailles count among the most prestigious monuments of the world’s artistic heritage, and are certainly the finest and most complete achievement of 17th century French art. During this full-day tour you will see the best that Versailles has to offer without having to wait in line. We will take you back to the Golden Age of France to the former residence of the ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV; a sumptuous royal palace which was home to three of France’s most illustrious Kings for over 100 years. The tour of the palace includes the State Apartments of the King and Queen, Royal Chapel and Hall of Mirrors, a richly decorated gallery which boasts 357 mirrors, French bay windows and crystal chandeliers. After having been dazzled by the splendours of the chateau you will discover the famous gardens à la Française.Savour your 3-course lunch in the “La Flotille” restaurant located at the foot of the Grand Canal; a majestic setting which allows you to appreciate the beauty of the estate. After lunch your guide will take you to the Petit Trianon, a small chateau in the grounds of Versailles used by Marie Antoinette for festivities and to escape the overwhelming court etiquette. You will also discover the Queen’s Hamlet, a stylised Norman village and farm built for Marie Antoinette where she retreated with her closest friends to enjoy an intimately rustic life. Completed just a few years before the Revolution, the Hamlet remains a testament to the Queen’s desire for a simpler life over the cold marble vaults of the main palace.

Day 4

Private guided walking tour of the Louvre museum which is home to the Mona Lisa and many interesting collections. After an introduction to the building and its different functions, the palace and the museum, you will skip the line to enter the museum. For you this is a tailor-made visit, with a private licensed guide, in order to understand the evolution of the art through many centuries and see the highlights. Four thousand years of man’s history, one of the greatest Art collections exposed in a museum. You can select the historical period you prefer; it is possible to tell us the piece of art you want to see when booking this tour. Of course, rarely are forgotten the masterpieces of the Italian renaissance painting like the Mona Lisa from Leonardo Da Vinci, famous Greek sculptures like the Venus of Milo and the Samothrace Victory. You can also visit of Napoleon III apartments in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre. The other classical wings of the museum that you will see are: Sully with the medieval Louvre and Denon with the traditional Italian and French paintings. Fabulous lunch cruise, a memorable gastronomic river cruise along the Seine. An intimate setting over Paris with a welcome glass of Champagne on arrival. Enjoy a magical cruise of gastronomy and refinement cruising along the Seine.

Day 5

Meet with your driver/guide after breakfast and relax with a private transfer to Giverny. Giverny is a village in the region of Normandy in northern France. Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived and worked here from 1883 until his death in 1926. Enjoy a private guided visit of the Foundation Claude Monet, including the world-renowned gardens that inspired some of his most famous paintings including “The Water Lily Pond”. Private transfer from Giverny to Bayeux. Enjoy four nights 5-star luxury Boutique Hotel with a chic but casual atmosphere located in the heart of the Bayeux historic centre, facing the Cathedral, 2 steps from the tapestry and very close to the D-Day landing beaches.

Day 6

Free time to explore Bayeux and discover the Bayeux Tapestry, one of the world’s greatest medieval artworks. It depicts the story of Harold, William the Conqueror, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Bayeux Cathedral, also known as Cathedral of Our Lady of Bayeux, is a Roman Catholic Church located in the town of Bayeux. Late morning departure. Meet with your private guide to discover Honfleur. Honfleur is so utterly enchanting, a city in the department of Calvados, in northern France’s Normandy region. It’s on the estuary where the Seine River meets the English Channel. The Vieux-Bassin (old harbour), lined with 16th- to 18th-century townhouses, has been a subject for artists including Claude Monet and native son Eugène Boudin. Lunch has been arranged in a local restaurant for a cosy, unpretentious setting and the menu specialises in hearty Norman fare. Nearby is 15th-century St. Catherine’s Church; a vaulted timber structure erected by shipbuilders. Honfleur is one of Normandy’s most appreciated port towns, famous for its village-like atmosphere and colourful houses. The old town is charged with history, considering how it was spared significant damage during WWII. Visitors also appreciate its authentic charm. Late afternoon travel back to your hotel.

Day 7

Full day private chauffeured tour to Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery. You will begin with a visit to Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. The day continues with a trip to Pointe du Hoc, where Rudder’s Rangers ascended the steep cliffs to take out the long-range artillery firing on the landing beaches. During the day, relax with free time for lunch in a local restaurant (lunch not included). Explore Utah Beach; stop at the monument near Brecourt Manor, site of Easy Company’s famous assault on a German artillery position. Take time to visit the newest Normandy war museum, the Overlord Museum-Omaha. The afternoon features Utah Beach, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, where John Steele got caught on the steeple of the church, and the Airborne Museum. The day ends with a visit to Dead Man’s Corner Museum in St-Come-du-Mont. Late afternoon travel back to your hotel.

Day 8

Full day private chauffeured tour to discover Pegasus Bridge and British Beaches. The day begins at Pegasus Bridge, the scene of the first actions of D-Day, where Airborne troops stormed the position from gliders and held on until the linkup with ground forces from Sword Beach was made. See where the gliders landed, the Gondrée Café – arguably the first house liberated on D-Day – and visit the Memorial Pegasus Museum where the original bridge is located. In Ranville, see the Airborne graves. After lunch, proceed on to the British landing beaches, starting at Sword Beach. During the day, relax with free time for lunch in a local restaurant (lunch not included). Juno Beach, the Juno Beach Centre which explains the story of the Canadian role in the Battle of Normandy, and at Gold Beach, see where some of the heaviest casualties were suffered by British troops storming the tough defences at Asnelles. We end the day at Arromanches where the Mulberry Harbour was constructed, much of which is still visible out to sea. Late afternoon travel back to your hotel.

Day 9

Relax with a private transfer to Dinard. After checking into your hotel, enjoy an incredible afternoon private boat trip to discover the Emerald Coast. Explore Saint-Malo, cradle of famous mariners and privateers, and its fortified islands along with Dinard, the Pointe du Moulinet, the Harbour and Cézembre islands, the Fort de la Conchée and Grand Bé (please note the boat access can be awkward and will be dependent on weather conditions). Enjoy a wonderful local lunch in St Malo.

Day 10

Full day private chauffeured tour. Meet with your guide and discover Mont St Michel. One of the most picturesque historical sights to see in France, the Mont-Saint-Michel and its abbey on the border between Normandy and Brittany, is one of the first sites to obtain UNESCO World Heritage listing. Be amazed by the prodigious accomplishments of medieval architecture, by the forces of nature, and the ever-changing light. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in the heart of the Mont Saint Michel bay. Transfer back to your hotel at the end of the tour.

Day 11

Departing from Brittany – A full day private chauffeured tour in the Loire Valley with visiting historical Chateaux. Discover the Chateau du Bois d’Orcan, a joyous architectural celebration of the 15th century built by Julien Thierry, Finance Superintendent to Anne de Bretagne, and contemplate the works of the sculptor Etienne Martin. Enjoy a local specialities lunch. The castle of Angers is the biggest one in France, with its ramparts of more than a kilometre long and its 17 towers. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the dukes of Anjou held court here and these enlightened princes were patrons of art and architecture. You can also admire the famous tapestry of the Apocalypse made at the end of the 14th century. Your driver/guide will drop you off at your 5-star chateau in the Loire Valley.

Self drive in France through the Loire
Day 12

Full day private chauffeured Loire Valley wine experience.
Info: The Loire Valley is undoubtedly the most diverse and extensive of all France’s classic wine regions. During the day you will discover the typical climate, soil and grape varieties such as Chenin, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon to make Loire wines. Wine tasting in Vouvray. You will taste different kinds of Vouvray in an exceptional troglodyte cellar. You will also have the chance to discover the ancestral savoir faire thanks to the staff. The royal Château at Amboise is a château located in Amboise, in the Indre-et-Loire department of the Loire Valley in France. You will enjoy a traditional French lunch in Amboise. Next stop, Chinon. The visit of the Val de Loire vineyards will end with the visit of one of the most beautiful private castles of the region. The castle is located in the middle of the Forêt de Chinon. The family first bought this castle in 1636 and the wine they produce is widely appreciated by those who taste it. Later in the afternoon your guide will chauffeur you back to your accommodation.

Day 13

Private transfers to Bordeaux. Why not spend the afternoon exploring Bordeaux the European destination of the year, 2015. Enjoy the ambiance, restaurants and bars of Bordeaux. This is a wonderful city to explore, and a stroll along one of Europe’s longest esplanades is a must. Or perhaps spend time shopping in the various boutiques. Bordeaux is an 18th century architectural gem and a delight to discover on foot. To the famous La Cite du Vin! A unique place devoted to the cultures of wine. We have arranged complimentary spa access. Enjoy a private steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and sensory shower experience.

Day 14

Enjoy a full day’s wonderful private chauffeured wine tasting tour in the Medoc vineyards with an English-speaking driver/guide. During the day you will travel along the world famous ‘Route des Châteaux’, passing famous Grand Cru estates in regions such as Margaux and St Julien. Visit a famous chateau in the Medoc. After a thorough walk in the vineyard, you will discover the mysteries of the winery’s surprising gravity-flow cellar and end the visit with a tasting of their wines. Private tour with a tasting. You will visit the cellars and learn all there is to know about the history of the estates. From the wine making process, as well as the techniques used during the wine making and of course taste the wines. As you are visiting during the wine harvest, we invite you to a Grand Cru Chateau for lunch. A Grand Cru chateau in the Margaux appellation ensuring a truly memorable Medoc wine experience. Late afternoon transfers back to Bordeaux City centre.

Day 15

Private transfers to San Sebastian. Stay two nights in a 4-star boutique hotel, this historic building one of the best hotels in San Sebastián city center. This property is 1-minute walk from the beach. Overlooking La Concha Bay, this grand 19th-century building is set next to the beach, on San Sebastián’s seafront promenade. Free time to explore San Sebastian. Meet your local guide for an amazing Pintxos tour (Basque tapas) line every bar in San Sebastian’s famed Old Town, but knowing where to find the best ones is an art. Dive straight into the culinary heart of the city for a night of eating and drinking unlike any you’ve ever experienced. From fresh prawns to line-caught baby squid to perfectly charred steak, the pintxo hunt changes nightly but always features a range of traditional spots and chic, avant-garde bars as we’ll be pairing each pintxo with the perfect pour, from cider to local whites and reds. It really is a superb gastronomic experience!

Day 16

Enjoy a full day’s wonderful private chauffeured tour in to the French Basque Countryside with an English-speaking driver/guide. The beautiful and charming town of Saint Jean Pied de Port (Donibane Garazi in Basque), on the foothills of the Pyrenees, your first stop on our tour of the French Basque Countryside. With its beautiful cobbled streets that run-down hill across a quaint old bridge over the river Nive, the town is renowned for being the starting point of the most popular route of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela on The Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago). After a short stroll through the town, following the footsteps of the pilgrims, we will continue our tour through the small town of St. Étienne de Baïgorry. Deeper into the French Basque Countryside, we will head towards the picturesque town of Espelette, famous for its dried red peppers that are hung to dry during the summer from its houses and shops. We will get the opportunity to stroll through the colorful streets of Espelette and do some Basque-produce shopping. Free time for lunch in a quaint local Basque village (lunch is not included). You will then continue your tour into the small village of Ainhoa. Standing just three kilometers away from the Spanish border, this tiny village of just one street is the typical French Basque village, with its bright red and green houses, a church, a graveyard, and a fronton. Late afternoon transfers back to your hotel to relax.

Day 17

Relax with private transfers. Visit the attractive medieval fishing settlement of Getaria is a world away from nearby cosmopolitan San Sebastián and is a much better place to get a feel for coastal Basque culture. The Txomin Etxaniz winery to visit and taste the txakoli wines with delicious local seafood products. End the trip with a super Michelin star lunch! Dine in a famous a family restaurant on the Bay of Biscay. The history of the restaurant goes back as far as 1964. Over the years this restaurant has become the first address in Basque Country (and far beyond) for whole grilled fish, skin and all. Travel to Bilbao with a VIP private tour. The famous Guggenheim Museum. Hailed as the most important structure of its time when it opened in 1997, Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has changed the way people think about museums and continues to challenge assumptions about the connections between art, architecture, and collecting. Stay one night in a 5-star hotel. Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao is the only 5 star hotel situated directly in front of the Guggenheim Museum, undoubtedly the pre-eminent location in the city.

Day 18

Depart from the hotel with private transfer to the airport.

All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you

This sample itinerary is intended to give you a flavour of what we can do.

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“Thanks for taking the time and trouble to call. You really have set the standard by which we compare all other companies!! Thank you so much for organising a fantastic itinerary with such an interesting and varied range of stop-overs. We are already starting to think about next year’s trip to France so would welcome any suggestions.”

Hilary Alder

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