Impressions of Northern France

Summer 2020 • 11 Days • Price TBA

This tour takes in the countryside vistas and coastal views of Northern France, starting in Chantilly and finishing in Paris!

Traveler Rewards Program: New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the Impressions of Northern France tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.

Paris City of Light Extension

Summer 2020 • 4 Days • Price TBA

Paris is available as a 4-day extension with an outstanding all-day walk connecting many of the highlights of the City of Light, a tour through the famous Palace of Versailles followed by a walk through its expansive gardens, and a free day to explore Paris on your own, before returning home from the Charles de Gaulle Airport. The excellent Paris Museum Pass will be issued to you for use throughout your stay in Paris!

Now accepting Early Bird deposits on this 2020 tour! If 25 Early Birds are received for this departure, we’ll add it to our official 2020 Schedule. An Early Bird is a $50 deposit that holds your spot during the planning stages of a trip, when we don’t have a set itinerary or dates. Early Birds are always refundable!

View Daily Itinerary

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Impressions of Northern France

Including:

  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day
  • All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 18 meals: all breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 6 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • 5 walks as outlined plus optional walk in Chantilly for early arrivals
  • Fees for walking credit for those collecting IVV Credit
  • Cultural & historical expertise of our local guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy; single accommodations may be available for a supplement.

Visits to/Activities:

  • Monet’s Garden – Giverny
  • Walking tour of Rouen
  • Farm tour and farm products lunch – Étretat
  • Guided coach tour of Caen
  • Full day guided tour of D-Day Beaches of Normandy
  • Airborne Museum – Sainte-Mère-Église
  • Guided crossing of Mont Saint-Michel Bay (challenge walk)
  • Guided walk through Mont Saint-Michel
  • Gardens of Château de Villandry – Villandry
  • Château de Chenonceau – Chenonceaux
  • La Cave des Roches Champignonnière et la ville souterraine – Bourré
  • Le Marché des vins de Loire winery visit – Montsoreau
  • Fontevraud Abbey – Fontevraud
  • Guided tour of Chartres Cathedral – Chartres
  • Seine River cruise – Paris
  • More fun stops than we can list!

The charming town of Chantilly, which gave its name to the lace and the cream, is our rendezvous point. From there, we head north into Normandy, stopping to explore Monet’s (the father of Impressionism) gardens at Giverny. Photogenic Honfleur (birthplace of Impressionism) is our base to explore the Alabaster Cliffs of Étretat, and the site of Joan of Arc’s untimely death at Rouen. The D-Day beaches of Normandy are a central theme, and an excellent local guide leads us through the dramatic events of the largest amphibious assault in the planet’s history during a full day tour of the Normandy beaches and villages most affected. Mont Saint-Michel is a medieval, fortified abbey island at high tide, but accessible for us to walk to at low tide – an unforgettable experience! Our final three days are based from the medieval Loire Valley town of Chinon exploring chateaux and other delights of the Loire River countryside. A final evening in Paris, with a Seine River cruise, is the capstone on this 11-day Impressions of Northern France program!

Paris Extension

Including:

  • Land travel as outlined
  • Hotel to airport group transfers on last day
  • First-class hotel accommodations
  • All breakfasts as listed (B)
  • 2 Walks as outlined
  • Fees for walking credit for those collecting IVV Credit
  • Cultural & historical expertise of our local guide for Paris walk and day at Versailles
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy; single accommodations may be available for a supplement.

Visits to/Activities:

  • Paris Museum Pass
  • Guided walk in Paris
  • Roundtrip transfer to Palace of Versailles
  • Guide tour of Palace of Versailles
  • Gardens of Versailles
  • Grand and Petite Trianon

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Superior Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

Breakfasts included with a selection of lunches and dinners as denoted (BLD)

Airfare

Not included. The start and finish point for this tour is the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France.

Transportation

Full-size motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 40+ seats

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Roger & Jana DorwayRoger & Jana Dorway have always appreciated the experiential, paradigm-expanding value of travel, and have been privileged to explore destinations on 5 continents. Since retirement, they’ve increased their commitment to discovering the world, fostering a growing desire to share cultural and historical insights as part of the WAI guide team. Roger & Jana will be accompanied by local guides throughout this tour. They look forward to walking the countryside of Northern France with you!

Itinerary

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Click on each day for more details.

Impressions of Northern France

Day 1: Arrive Paris, overnight in Chantilly (D)

Chantilly Lace Walk – Distance to be determined; rating 1A

Travelers arrive into the Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, France throughout the day. You will be notified of a central meeting point at the airport, where you will meet a WAI representative and be transferred to our hotel in the historic old town of Chantilly (yes, both the cream and the lace come from here!), about 40 minutes north of the airport. Our first group activity will be a Welcome Orientation this evening at our hotel, followed by dinner.

Optional Chantilly Lace Walk – Travelers arriving into Chantilly early in the day, or the day before, can enjoy a walk through the charming town of Chantilly. Directions will be provided.

Day 2: Chantilly – Honfleur, France (BD)

Richard the Lionheart Walk – 6/9 km; rated 1B/3B

Our first stop today is in the attractive village of Giverny. Situated on a bend in the Seine River, Giverny is home to the lovely gardens of Claude Monet, father of the style of painting known as Impressionism. Further downstream along the Seine, our walk of the day explores the pleasant town of Les Andelys, ascending to Chateau Gaillard. Now an imposing ruin overlooking the Seine, the castle was built by Richard the Lionheart, who was both King of England and Duke of Normandy, a French/English phenomenon we encounter often on our journey through Normandy. Our next two evenings are spent in Honfleur, a delightful coastal town situated at the mouth of the Seine River.

Day 3: Activities from Honfleur, France (BL)

Alabaster Cliffs of Étretat Walk – 6 km, rated 3B

The modern capital of the region of Normandy, Rouen was overrun by marauding Vikings in the 9th century, then chosen as capital for these Vikings-turned-Normans. Highlights of a walking tour here include the impressive Notre Dame cathedral and the square where, on May 31, 1431, the teenager known as Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for her part in resisting English domination during the Hundred Years’ War. After a guided tour through a small cheese-producing farm, we enjoy a light lunch of local farm products, including the famous local apple brandy called Calvados. Today’s walk winds its way from this farm towards the coastal town of Étretat along stunning white chalk cliff and headlands that tower over the English Channel.

Day 4: Honfleur – Bayeux, France (BD)

Situated at the mouth of the Seine River, the picturesque port of Honfleur captures shimmering reflections of coastal sunlight considered by many to have inspired Impressionism. After free time to explore the photogenic port and town, we drive back roads through the area of farms, orchards, and half-timbered homes known as Pays d’Auge, considered by some to most epitomize the charms of rural Normandy. A guided coach tour takes us through nearby Caen, William of the Conqueror’s capital, but more recently the epicenter of the Battle for Caen, which destroyed 70% of the city in the weeks after D-Day. This evening we arrive in delightful Bayeux. We encourage a visit to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, next to our hotel, housing a phenomenal, 900-year-old, 200 feet long embroidered cloth depicting events leading to the dramatic Norman conquest of England.

Day 5: Activities from Bayeux (B)

June 6, 1944 will forever be remembered as the day the tide of World War Two turned irreversibly in favor of the Allies. We learn about this largest amphibious landing in the history of our planet in the company of a local guide at places with hallowed names like Omaha Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, the Bocage Hedgerows, and the Normandy American Cemetery. The evening is free to wander the inviting, and American-friendly, lanes of Bayeux.

Day 6: Bayeux – Mont Saint-Michel, France (BD)

Mont Saint-Michel Bay Walk – 5 km, rated 1B – STANDARD
Mont Saint-Michel Bay Crossing – 7 km, rated 1C – CHALLENGE

A different kind of tide shapes our walk of the day across Mont Saint-Michel Bay. Two different routes are offered, both focusing on the spectacular sight of the abbey of Saint Michael, rising like a medieval skyscraper from a small rock outcropping  encircled twice a day by some of the world’s highest tides. The “challenge” walk crosses the sandy bay barefoot, wading through at least two streams. The “standard” walk loops along the shoreline and through a couple of villages. The two routes rendezvous at our hotel outside the village. Later this afternoon, our guide will lead you through timeless cobblestone lanes and along towering fortification walkways with sweeping views over the bay.

Day 7: Mont Saint-Michel – Chinon, France (BD)

Traveling south to the Loire Valley is the objective for this morning, stopping en route for a break in the evocative medieval town of Angers. Once in the Loire, we visit the grounds of 16th century Chateau de Villandry, whose gardens are considered among the most beautiful in France. Laid on out three levels, the kitchen garden offers vibrant color in a checkerboard pattern, the ornamental garden dazzles with classic topiary hedge work, and the water garden provides the tranquil sound of bubbling fountains. We spend the next three nights in the small town of Chinon with its picturesque medieval core and intriguing connections with Joan of Arc and English Plantagenet King Henry II and his famous wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Day 8: Activities from Chinon (BL)

Château de Chenonceau Walk – 8 km; rated 1B

Of the 140 châteaux situated along the Loire River and its tributaries, we’ve decided to focus this morning’s activities around Château de Chenonceau. Built in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet, the “women’s palace” was successively embellished and protected by a series of powerful, French noblewomen and royalty. Today’s trail wanders from the palace through forest and field featuring classic views of the dramatic palace profile reflected in the placid waters of the Cher River. A memorable lunch in a nearby “worker’s restaurant” precedes our visit to the caverns of Bourré to experience the marvel of an underground mushroom farm.

Day 9: Activities from Chinon (B)

Loire River Vineyards & Troglodytes Walk – 10 km, rated 2B

Châteaux, churches, and public buildings in this part of France were built with lovely white limestone quarried from surrounding hills. Today’s delightful walk winds through caverns and caves (troglodytes) these quarries left behind, strolls along village lanes, and climbs amongst vineyards overlooking the Loire River. The walk ends at a local winery to sample the fruit of the vine before continuing to nearby Fontevraud Abbey, built nearly 1000 years ago. The overlapping authority of the Norman kings, ruling both England and large areas of France, is evidenced by the choice of expansive Fontevraud Abbey (UNESCO-listed) as final resting place for Plantagenet King Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their famous son, King Richard the Lionheart.

Day 10: Chinon – Paris (BD)

En route to Paris, we stop to take in the spectacle of Chartres Cathedral, embodiment of the gothic style of architecture. This form of building originated in France and uses side supports (flying buttresses) to build higher, towards heaven. Built in less than 30 years, the blink of an eye by standards of the day, the cathedral is a pure gothic without compromising influences of later styles blended into most gothic churches that took longer to build. Upon arrival in Paris, our last activity together is a cruise along on the Seine River. Dinner together is preceded by a Farewell Gathering and a chance to reminisce about our Impressions of Northern France.

Day 11: Depart Paris (B)

We depart Paris this morning with new awareness of the interconnectedness of the story of Europe and the compelling themes contributed by Normandy and the Loire Valley. Shuttles to Charles de Gaulle airport will be arranged in batches according to departing flights. Thanks for sharing this new Adventure in Northern France!

Paris City of Light Extension

Day 1: Activities in Paris (B)

Paris, City of Light Walk – 11 km, rated 1B

Our first full day in Paris is filled with a wide array of City of Light highlights. We’ve mapped out a walk that connects the dots of several must see sights, and will provide you with a museum pass that gains access to most, if not all. We’ll announce a full-day schedule for a guided walk, with stops embedded along the way and you are free to join us, or accept the map and directions to enjoy the route at your own pace. Primary features of the walk include: Hotel de Ville (City Hall), Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle, the Louvre Museum, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, and the iconic Eiffel Tower, a two-minute walk from our hotel.

Day 2: Activities from Paris (B)

Gardens of Versailles Walk – 10 km, rated 1A

The Palace of Versailles was commissioned by King Louis XIV, the Sun King, the dominate force in Europe for much of his astonishingly long 72-year reign. We visit the palace (a vital link to understanding the advent of the French Revolution) on a guided tour, including the stunning Hall of Mirrors. Our walk through the expansive gardens plays hide and seek in a labyrinth of hedges and fountain-filled groves, parallels the seemingly endless Grand Canal, and explores the gardens of the Petite and Grand Trianon, including the Queen’s Hamlet, where Marie-Antoinette indulged her idealized view of peasant life.

Day 3: Activities in Paris (B)

Our final day in Paris is a wild card day. All travelers will have a multi-day Paris Museum Pass that provides free admission to many of the highlights of the city, and skips the line at some. The Paris Metro system is a convenient and inexpensive way to move around the city, and much remains from our City of Light walk for you to explore on foot. Your guide team will have ideas and recommendations for you to consider, and perhaps some restaurant suggestions to try as well.

Day 4: Depart from Paris (B)

Our Paris City of Light Extension ends this morning with batched shuttles to Charles de Gaulle Airport. What a privilege to share this historic city with you! We trust you return home enriched by lessons learned, memories made, and a host of new friends with whom you shared the Adventure.

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

Call or mail in your Early Bird ($50) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted on this Adventure.

Traveler Rewards Program

New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the Impressions of Northern France tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Note: The New Traveler and Alumni Traveler Discounts apply only to the main tour price. The Paris Extension is not eligible for these discounts.

How Is Airfare Arranged?

The official start and finish point for the Impressions of Northern France tour is the Charles de Gaulle Airport (airport code CDG) outside of Paris, France. More details will be made available after this tour has been finalized.

What about the walks?

Walks on this Adventure are guided walks and we generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. Many of these walks are oriented towards history and culture, which slows the average pace to allow for guide commentary. Walks with less commentary generally continue at a steadier pace. In most cases, we are not “strolling”; we are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness to walk at this pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please contact our office at 1-800-779-0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

What happens next?

We are currently developing the itinerary for this Adventure. Once the itinerary is released, we will accept registration deposits ($500) to save space.

If you have Early Birded with a refundable $50 deposit, your spot on the tour will be held for 2 weeks after the itinerary is published while you make a decision on whether or not you’d like to register with an additional $450 fee, bringing your deposit on tour up to $500. If you decide not to join us for this tour, your Early Bird can be refunded or transferred to another tour.

We look forward to exploring this historic and diverse region of France with you in 2020!