Impressions of Northern France

Tour #1: July 6 – 16, 2017 • 11 Days • $4690

Tour #2: July 28 – August 7, 2017 • 11 Days • $4690

We’re excited about this brand new Walking Adventure in northern France! We are now accepting registrations on both departures!

Paris City of Light Extension

Tour #1: July 16 – 19, 2017 • 4 Days • $990

Tour #2: August 7 – 10, 2017 • 4 Days • $990

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!

WATCH A BRIEF VIDEO

WAI Guide Dan Friesen presents Impressions of Northern France 2017 at our most recent Tour Presentation.

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View Daily Itinerary

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!

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 (3 star) or better hotel accommodations
  • 18 meals: all breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 6 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • 5 walks as outlined (IVV sanctioning will be requested), plus optional walk in Chantilly for early arrivals
  • Fees for walking credit
  • Cultural & historical expertise of our local guide throughout
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • All tipping for local guides and coach drivers
  • A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $690

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!

Paris Extension

Including:

  • Land travel as outlined
  • Hotel to airport group transfers on last day*
  • First-class (4 star) hotel accommodations
  • All breakfasts as listed (B)
  • 2 Walks as outlined (IVV sanctioning will be requested)
  • Fees for walking 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 and coach drivers
  • A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $300

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

*Details of transfers provided are listed in Adventure Advice memo sent upon receipt of tour registration.

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 (3 star) 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 45+ seats

Traveler Age

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

Tour #1 – Your Guides

Dan Friesen & Roger DorwayDan Friesen has been guiding tours for over 20 years. He took over the reins of the company from George Friesen, its founder and Dan’s father, in the mid-nineties, and has been expanding the reach of Walking Adventures ever since. His personal interests lie in the areas of history and current events, and he enjoys exploring new areas of the planet, interacting with different cultures, and sharing these experiences with others. Dan will be leading Tour #1 of Impressions of Northern France with WAI Guide Roger Dorway.

 

Tour #2 – Your Guides

Roger & Jana DorwayRoger & Jana Dorway will be guiding Tour #2 of Impressions of Northern France. Roger & Jana have always appreciated the experiential, paradigm-expanding value of travel, and have been privileged to explore destinations on 4 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.

Itinerary

Impressions of Northern France

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

July 6 & July 28

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)

July 7 & July 29

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)

July 8 & July 30

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)

July 9 & July 31

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)

July 10 & August 1

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)

July 11 & August 2

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)

July 12 & August 3

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)

July 13 & August 4

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)

July 14 & August 5

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)

July 15 & August 6

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)

July 16 & August 7

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)

July 16 & August 7

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)

July 17 & August 8

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)

July 18 & August 9

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)

July 19 & August 10

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

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

We are now accepting registrations. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call us to save your spot with a $500 registration. A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted in each group.

Two Departures

We expect two tours for this popular new Adventure. Tour #1 will be led by WAI Guides Dan Friesen and Roger Dorway. Tour #2 will be led by Roger and Jana Dorway.

Both departures are currently open for registration!

First Time Traveler Savings

In appreciation for joining us for your first Walking Adventure, we offer new travelers a $400 credit on international tours!

Group Travel Credit

If you are part of a group, remember that your full deposit of $500 is still required to hold your spot on this Adventure. Your group leader is responsible for submitting your name in writing to us before you make your $500 registration payment, qualifying you for the Group Travel Credit. A full registration payment is needed to officially reserve your place. Your Group Travel Credit will be reflected on your final statement.

Check out more information on the Group Travel Program.

General Tour Conditions and Registration Form

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

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. We recommend that you contact the travel agent we work with to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, mailed to you after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!

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.

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure.

Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507 -OR- email debbi@wtpdx.com). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the Insuremytrip.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Here are some additional options for travel insurance:

  • Allianz
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter, initial invoice, and Adventure Advice flyer with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 2 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

We look forward to exploring this historic and diverse region of France with you in 2017!