paris, normandy & Loire valley

Day 1  Overnight flight

Day 2  Paris

Ruijs Travel France - Paris Notre Dame 2

Bienvenue en France! Arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Meet your driver and tour escort. Transfer to the city centre. Get your cameras ready for a coach tour of the most photogenic city on earth. A local guide will show you the treasures of Paris, including views of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera Garnier, Arc the Triomphe, the Champs Elysees and the Place de la Concorde. After this first acquaintance with “the City of Lights”, check in at the hotel and have some time to relax before dinner.
Welcome dinner and overnight in Paris.

Day 3  Paris

Ruijs Travel - France - Paris Louvre 3

This morning, enjoy a guided walk through the characteristic neighbourhood Montmartre. A district full of authentic charm, famous for the Sacré-Cœur. This Basilica, consecrated in 1919, is one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. Standing at the top of Montmartre Hill, it has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the capital, from 130 metres above ground. A short walk from the Sacré-Cœur is Place du Tertre and the district of Abbesses with its steep, winding roads, and at the bottom of the hill, the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret. In the afternoon you will visit the most famous museum of the world; Musée du Louvre. Your local expert guide will guide you through the different wings of the museum. Besides the most famous artworks in the world, like the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and the Grecian Venus de Milo you will also see masterworks by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Veronese. Conclude your day in Paris with River cruise on the River Seine. Remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight in Paris.

Day 4  Paris – Giverny – Honfleur – Bayeux

8 Ruijs Travel France - Giverny Claude Monet

Today you will leave Paris and head to Normandy. On your way you will stop at Monet’s Gardens and House in Giverny. You will visit the house and gardens of the French impressionist and painter Claude Monet. Walking through the gardens, you will recognize many scenes from Monet’s paintings, like the bridge festooned with wisteria, arching over the water and water lilies below. Travel onwards to the beautiful coastal village Honfleur, situated on the Seine estuary. The quay’s are flanked by colorful half-timbered houses, art galleries and restaurants. Each more beautiful than the other. You will have some time to stroll around the Vieux Bassin, the heart of the port and to see the Saint Catherine’s church, France’s largest timber-built church. Continue your way to Normandy, where you will arrive in the late afternoon.
Overnight in the Normandy area.

Day 5  Normandy – World War II sites

7 Ruijs Travel-France-Normandy Arromanches

Today you will have a full day excursion to the World War II sites. Your first destination will be Utah Beach, the site of the first allied beach landings on D-Day. Travel onwards to Sainte-Mère-Église, considered to be the first town liberated in France, and also depicted in the film “The Longest Day”. Visit he Airborne Museum, which makes you experience and understand the D-Day landings. The museum is located opposite of the church where John Steele famously was caught, hanging on the bell tower with his parachute. Continue your way to Omaha Beach, where you will see ‘the Wings of Hope, Freedom and Fraternity’ and visit the Omaha Beach Memorial Museum. This museum is located on Omaha Beach itself where the American naval landing took place on June 6th called Bloody Omaha. Your last stop for today will be the American Cemetery and Memorial near Colleville-sur-Mer, the final resting place of nearly 10,000 members of the US military. You will also see the Visitor Centre, where several films are played and home to poignant exhibits that depict the stories and operations of the American soldiers. After this moving visit you will return to Bayeux. Overnight in the Normandy area.

Day 6  Mont Saint Michel – Loire region – Tours   

Ruijs Travel France - Mont St. Michel 6

After breakfast you will depart for the Loire region, you will make an on route stop at Mont Saint Michel, the ‘Wonder of the Western World’ and France most glorious and famous abbey. The island, a granite outcrop, surrounded by extensive sandbanks is exposed to strong tides and used to be accessible only at low tide. See Mont Saint-Michel with its abbey complex and the surrounding bay, which is declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will have time to explore the village at your own pace, before travelling to Tours in the Loire region where you will arrive in the late afternoon.
Overnight in Tours area.

Day 7  Tours – Amboise – Château Clos Lucé – Château Chenonceau – Tours  

This morning you will travel to Amboise, a charming Loire Valley village. Enjoy some free time here to stroll through the atmospheric cobblestone streets and the old town. You might want to visit Château Amboise. The castle houses the Chapel of Saint Hubert, the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. Not far from the castle, another Château is situated, the Clos Lucé, home to many Kings and the place where Leonardo da Vinci lived the last few years of his live. After the guided visit to Clos Lucé, you will travel onwards to the troglodyte village of Bourré to have a guide tour of the tunnels of the former Tufa Quarry and the unique underground town. Afterwards you will visit the stunning Château de Chenonceau, literally built on the river Cher. The history of Château de Chenonceau is defined by a an almost uninterrupted succession of women who built, embellished, protected, and restored it. The castle is therefore nicknamed ‘Château des Dames’. Enjoy your guided tour of the castle and marvel the beautiful gardens at your own pace. This evening you will enjoy a dinner cruise. You will board a bateau-mouche near Chenonceau. Dinner will be served on board while cruising on the river Cher. Overnight in Tours area.

Day 8  Tours – Château Villandry – Monsoreau – Saumur – Tours

Ruijs Travel-France-Loire Valley 8

Today you will explore the western part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Loire Valley. Your day starts with a visit to Château Villandry. Admire the Medieval fortress, with its unique furnishings, Renaissance décor and its extensive and lush gardens. Afterwards you will travel through the renowned Loire Valley vineyards. In the surroundings of Bourgueil you will visit a wine estate. Enjoy a guided visit of the vineyards here, followed by a cold lunch consisting out of local specialties, accompanied by award-winning wines of the Château. Your journey continues to Monsoreau, to visit a troglodyte mushroom cellar. The river cliff of the Saut-aux-Loups is a group of 15th century troglodytic dwellings that lead to a maze of tufa-quarry galleries once used for mushroom production. Travel onwards to Saumur, known for its iconic castle overlooking the Loire River and the famous horsemen of the ‘Cadre Noir’. Enjoy some free time in Saumur’s old town with lively streets and tufa facades. Conclude your day with a dinner in a troglodyte restaurant hewn in tufa and limestone. A unique space with a stunning six-metre high ceiling. Sample a wide range of local produce and wines. Overnight in Tours area. 

Day 9  Tours – Château Chambord – Château Fontainebleau – Paris

Ruijs Travel - France - Chateau Chambord 9

After breakfast you will leave the Loire Valley and head for Paris. But first you will visit Château Chambord, situated in a immense game reserve.  Chambord’s design was probably initiated by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1537 and was the brainchild of the extravagant King Francois I who suggested diverting the River Loire to flow directly in front of his château. Continue your journey north to Paris. Around midday you will arrive in Fontainebleau. After a lovely lunch together you will enjoy a guided tour of Château Fontainebleau. The Château is unrivalled in its majestic architecture, dimensions with over 1500 rooms and has been the scene of important events in French History. It was home to many dynasties, a Pope, and French Emperors and it is truly unique in its kind.  You will see the stately halls, lavishly gilded rooms and the beautifully decorated chapel. Travel onwards to Paris, where you will arrive in the early evening. Enjoy your farewell dinner together at a local restaurant. Overnight in Paris.

Day 10 Departure

Ruijs Travel - France - Paris Eiffel Tower 10

After breakfast transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport for your flight back home