If a visit to Normandy & Brittany isn't at the top of your bucket list, it should be. Just a short drive from Paris along the river Seine, this extraordinary part of France has a distinctive character that will captivate you at every turn. We'll explore the iconic destinations - the cliffs of Étretat, Honfleur, Omaha Beach, Mont Saint-Michel, and Saint-Malo - as we delve deeply into the soul of the region. The bucolic charm of Normandy’s rolling pastureland, apple orchards, half-timbered farms, and thatched cottages evoke historic ties to Britain, while the Breton language, rugged coastline, and granite architecture capture Britany’s Celtic heritage. Many of France’s most beloved taste treats are native to Normandy and Brittany - from Camembert, Calvados, crepes, and cider – to salted butter caramels, Breton biscuits, scallops, and oysters. The restaurants have such bounty to draw from, it's no wonder it's become a foodie mecca! And get ready to see some of the most beautiful gardens in France, from Monet's gardens at Giverny to the "Jardin Remarquable” at Château de Miromesnil to the Gardens of Étretat. Even if you don't have a green thumb, you can't help but marvel at the extraordinary beauty. It's no surprise that Normandy and Brittany have been timeless sources of artistic inspiration.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip
We’ll meet at Place du Trocadero, in Paris, at 9:00 am, and head out to Monet‘s incomparable gardens at Giverny, the inspiration behind his iconic water lily paintings. In July the lilies will be in full bloom! After a leisurely visit through the house and gardens, we’ll lunch at Le Bistrot des Fleurs.
After a scenic drive through the Norman countryside, we’ll arrive in Rouen for an overnight stay at the Hotel de Bourgtheroulde, a listed 15th-century property in the heart of the ancient capital. After a brief rest, we'll take a 5-minute stroll to Notre Dame Cathedral, whose gothic façade was immortalized in a series of thirty paintings by Monet.
This evening, dinner and a champagne welcome await you at La Couronne the oldest auberge in France, dating back to 1345. It's where Julia Child experienced her life-altering first meal in France.
This morning we'll set out north to Château de Miromesnil, the birthplace of Guy de Maupassant, Flaubert's protegé and father of the modern short story. The marvelous walled potager garden and elegant parks are classed as “Jardin Remarquable”.
After a delicious lunch at Château de Miromesnil, our our afternoon destination is Varengeville. GEO ranks Varengeville as one of Normandy’s most beautiful villages. We’ll stroll through the picturesque streets before visiting Le Jardin de Shamrock, a beautiful private garden. Afterwards, we'll stop at Lin et L’Autre Boutique, a unique boutique that specializes in traditional Norman linen tableware and clothing but also a veritable treasure chest of decorative notions and brocante finds. Our final stop will be the visit of Eglise Saint-Valery, a fascinating historic church perched on the cliff, with beautiful modern stained glass window by Georges Braque, and paintings by Michel Ciry. Both artists lived in Varengeville and are buried in the peaceful churchyard with a spectacular view of the coastline and Dieppe.
On to the enchanting port village of Honfleur, where the romantic hotel La Maison de Lucie is our home base for three nights. Upon arrival, take a rest in your room, or join a small excursion of the town. An inspiration for generations of artists, Honfleur’s historic and cultural heritage is evident at every turn.
We’ll regroup for a lighthearted meal of sustainably sourced regional cuisine at foodie favorite, Au P'tit Mareyeur
Today’s destination is legendary Etrétat. The imposing cliffs and impressive villas attest to the glamorous transformation of this small fishing port into a fashionable seaside resort. It has beguiled artists and writers for centuries and was beloved by Marie Antoinette.
Our day begins with an exhilarating nature walk along the cliffs and beach led by a local expert who will enrich your knowledge of sea birds, coastal plants, and cliff formations, and regale you with the myths, legends, art, and literature imbued in this mythic destination.
We’ll pop in for local fare at Lann Bihoué, a casual village café for lunch.
Our afternoon discovery is the celebrated neo-futuristic Gardens of Étretat, winner of the European Garden Award and a Michelin Green Guide star.
Back in Honfleur, you might stroll the waterfront and stop to savor vin blanc overlooking the quay, or shop tempting boutiques for mementos and gifts. Later, we'll savor a cheese tasting in the garden of La Petite Lucie.
Dinner will be on your own tonight.
Today, we'll visit the beautiful St Catherine’s - France’s largest wooden church,
Our next stop is the fairytale gardens of Chateau de Bouttemont, created by famous landscape designers. Here, we’ll marvel at the topiaries, Italian garden, reflecting pond, green room, and boxwood waves.
After a bite at L’Authentic, we'll tour the distillery and taste Normandy’s famed apple-based alcohol at Pierre Huet distillery, a family domain that has produced Calvados, Pommeau, and cider over five generations.
We end the afternoon and explore the delightful Jardins du Pays d’Auge, a pastoral garden, landscaped around picturesque traditional half-timbered buildings. It's another “remarkable garden” of France.
Dinner tonight will be at Le Breard.
Today’s itinerary digresses from our theme. The occasion of July 4th and the D-Day landing beaches proximity is an opportunity to focus on America’s pivotal role in the liberation of France. It's fascinating history at its best.
We'll stop to view the Bayeux Tapestry en route to the coast. This rare treasure depicts the defeat of Anglo-Saxon King Harold and the conquest of England by Norman King William I at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Our D-Day landing beaches guide will lead us on a poignant tour featuring Arromanches, the German battery at Longues-sur-Mer, American Cemetery, and Omaha Beach. We'll stop for lunch at a casual brasserie.
Today, we’ll stay local and concentrate on our host destination - the walled city of St-Malo, with an excursion to the neighboring oyster capital Cancale.
Marin Moulin is our skipper on a private boat ride along the waterfront. He’ll share his passion for “la cite Corsaire” recounting anecdotes and lore surrounding its storied history.
After a stroll along the harbor, we’ll lunch in the heart of the old city at Bergamote, a chic insider address, where after a light salad, galette, or quiche you can justify one of their signature desserts.
Time permitting, we'll stop off at La Maison du Beurre Bordier– the butter and cheese boutique of the renowned Brittany butter dynasty.
Mid-afternoon we'll learn the secrets of oyster cultivation at La Ferme Marine. Our guided visit concludes with a “degustation” of their first-rate harvest.
Back in Saint-Malo, we'll tour the ramparts of the walled old city to enjoy the spectacular view and visit the Cathedral of Saint Vincent. You are then free to explore the atmospheric old town or return to the hotel for a relaxing spa treatment. (Appointments must be made in advance.)
We dine tonight at DOMA restaurant.
In the morning we’ll visit the magical Mont Saint Michel with an expert guide. After strolling about the winding streets and visiting the Abbey we’ll enjoy a hearty lunch at Ferme Saint Michel.
Our afternoon discovery is the dramatic garden of Chateau de la Ballue, designed in the Italian mannerist style, and featuring the Yin Yang inspirations of landscape architects Paul Maymont & François Hebert Stevens. Its “outdoor rooms”, set against the elegant backdrop of the grey granite Louis VIII chateau, are linked by stunning vistas and spaces filled with imaginative topiary.
The owner will share the property’s singular history, including its many famous guests.
Our farewell repast at La Fourchette à Droite is a gourmet celebration of shared memories and new friendships formed.
After a leisurely breakfast, it's time to say our goodbyes. All good things must come to an end. We will catch a midmorning fast train to Paris, arriving at midday in the City of Lights.
Everyone has their own fabulous room at Hotel de Bourgtheroulde
Your second hotel is the romantic La Maison de Lucie in the historic town of Honfleur.
This trip will be led by Casey O’Brien Blondes, a Girls' Guide colleague based in the Loire Valley since 1992. A dual-national and author of two travel and lifestyle books about France. Casey never misses a chance to explore Normandy and Brittany, two of her favorite regions. On her frequent visits she has scouted hidden gems to complement the iconic destinations you will discover. The July 2023 trip received rave reviews and she is excited to return with you!
"A place that shaped the world as we know it, this corner of France stirs feelings of gratitude and hope
From Honfleur to the Glénans: the coastal towns of Brittany and Normandy. Located in north-western France, both these neighbouring regions share a coastline attractive for its wild beauty, capes, ports, religious buildings, châteaux, and historic towns.
Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals (unless otherwise indicated) plus wine with dinner
Beautiful, unique hotels
All guides, experts and entry fees
All transportation in Brittany and Normandy
Your international flights & trains to and from the start and finish of the trip.
All personal souvenir purchases
Extra wine or beer beyond what is offered
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
The trip officially starts on the morning of July 1st. We do recommend that you arrive a day early due to the time of day the official trip starts. You will probably want to take time to relax and get acclimated to the time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we will provide you with some hotel suggestions.
Airport transfers are not included. It is very easy to grab a taxi from the airport to your destination in Paris.All transportation in Normandy and Brittany is included.
The weather is nice in July. High temperatures will be around 74F and low's will be around 55F,
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.