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Honeymoons
& weddings
  
Honeymoons and weddings abroad are tailor-made by Expressions Holidays. Contact us for a range of honeymoon and wedding destinations around the world and an amazing choice of honeymoons from island-hopping to visiting cultural sites.
Authentic
Experiences
  

With Authentic Experiences from Expressions Holidays you enter a world of genuine holiday and travel experiences within the framework of one of our tailor-made holidays, be its significance culture, gastronomy, wine appreciation, wildlife, sports or special occasions.
Spa
holidays
  

Expressions Spas opens a world of tailor-made spa holidays that allows you to choose according to region, type of treatment desired, product type and recommends for your party type, whether it be for couples, singles or perhaps mothers and daughters travelling together.
Family
holidays
  

Expressions Families affords you an amazing choice of sophisticated resorts ideally suited to families in selected destinations worldwide. You can also choose according to required facilities in resort and we suggest holidays for families with grandparents and single parent families too.
Rail
holidays
  

Expressions Holidays offers you tailor-made rail holidays and journeys by train, including luxury trains, scenic journeys and classic rail tours.
Worldwide
journeys
  

Tailor-made journeys and tours for individuals and small groups to selected destinations around the world from Burma to Italy, from Vietnam to India.
  • France gardens and gastronomy holidays

    The gardens at Villandry

    Chateau de Marcay

    Chateau de Chenonceau

    Le Prieuré d'Orsan

    Le Prieuré d'Orsan

    France gardens and gastronomy holidays: A discovery of the heart of France and re-discovery of the Loire Valley

    A journey back from a few days in Switzerland created a fortuitous opportunity to combine some of our favourite pastimes: visiting gardens, discovering previously un-known parts of France and enjoying the freedom of a leisurely drive across France. Plus, we mustn’t forget the delights of sampling fine French regional wines and tasting local produce, exquisitely cooked.

    We entered France at Argentière near Chamonix after crossing the Col de Forclaz from Switzerland. The splendour of the Mont Blanc massif soon gave way to the gentler slopes of the alpine foothills and then we skirted Geneva heading for Bourg en Bresse, Macon and the Rhone valley. Here we left the autoroute and joined the undulating N79 in the direction of Moulins, passing through the rolling hills and lush pastures of Burgundy, home to the white-coated Charolais cattle. Our destination was practically at the very centre of France in the region of Berry, once of major historic importance and now off the beaten tourist track: the intriguing Le Prieuré d’Orsan and Les Jardins d’Orsan.

    Le Prieuré d’Orsan and Les Jardins d’Orsan
    Orsan held a combined fascination and interest for us. The priory, which dates from 1107 when it was founded by Robert d’Arbrissel (who also founded the Abbey of Fontevraud, burial place of Richard the Lionheart and numerous other Plantagenets including Eleanor of Aquitaine), is now delightfully restored as a boutique Relais & Chateaux hotel but also is home to the incredible gardens, inspired by the mediaeval monastic gardens that would have been here for years after the founding of the priory and the work since 1992 of Patrice Taravella, the unassuming but hugely creative owner of Orsan. The gardens have come to the interest of the British public recently due to being featured in Monty Don’s BBC Two programme on French gardens and deserve to be visited almost more than any other garden in France. The gardens are situated between the priory buildings and are divided into individual areas of intense interest: there are vines, fruit trees, a flourishing kitchen garden, a maze, lavender beds and wild flower meadows. It is an artistic creation that resembles a tapestry yet where organic crop rotation is practised. The thought and the care that goes into the attention to detail is spectacular. It is a truly wondrous place. The gardens are peaceful, the birdsong is intense and butterflies abound.

    The gardens are open to the public and you are allowed to walk on the grass! However, the adjacent priory is not open to the public and the shady courtyards and pergola covered tables and a wild flower garden are only accessible to guests of the Prieuré. Restored by Patrice Taravella and fellow architect Sonia Lesot, the first floor of the priory are inter-connecting sitting and dining rooms where guests can relax and browse the library of books on art, architecture, garden design and so on. The handful of bedrooms are located on the second floor and on garden level where they open out onto private garden areas. There are no televisions, phones or mini-bars in the rooms. The boot room is a characterful and unusual room – it is here you can select gardening clogs to wear into the woods and fields or borrow a straw hat. A highlight of a stay here is dinner. Patrice serves a menu of the day, based on seasonal and local produce, including of course many of the fruits, herbs and vegetables he grows. We enjoyed one of the best meals we have ever had in France because it was unusual, wholesome, flavoursome but relatively unfussy. Breakfast was equally unusual with slices of goat’s cheese, cake, home-made quince or plum jam and their own apple juice.

    Writing this now brings back the amazing integrity and beauty of the place. It is a very special to visit and even more special to stay at. We think that almost every visit to France should include a stay here.

    In fact this area can be combined with the Loire Valley ‘proper’, Sancerre, Burgundy and the Auvergne.

    The Loire Valley
    From the magical stay at Orsan we drove northwards along straight open roads, bordered by fields of corn and sunflowers towards the Loire Valley ‘proper’: home to numerous chateaux, hunting grounds of the kings of France, troglodyte caves and vineyards. We were in search of more gardens and visited the Chateau de Chenonceau, the Chateau d Villandry and the Chateau de la Bourdaisière, which has a collection of 650 varieties of tomato and over 200 varieties of dahlia. The chateau is also a 3 star hotel, so ask us for more details if you would like to stay here. Our base for two nights in the Loire Valley was the Chateau de Marçay near Chinon, one of our most popular hotels in this region. The Chateau de Marçay makes an excellent base and Chinon is only a 5-minute drive away, so you can get into town easily in the evenings for dinner if you don’t want the more formal dinner at the hotel every night.

    The Loire Valley region is bursting with all sorts of things to do and places of interest. The chateaux alone could occupy an entire holiday but then there are the wine villages and vineyards, the troglodyte caves, cycling and walking, boat trips on the Loire and the Vienne, Son et Lumiere shows for after dinner, the towns of Tours, Blois and Saumur. It is a pleasant and pleasing region to visit and visit again.

    Find out more about luxury holidays to the Loire Valley

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  • OUR HOLIDAYS

    • Rail holidays

      Rail holidays and train journeys, tailor-made.

    • Garden holidays

      Italian garden holidays and tours for individuals and small groups

    • Family holidays

      Visit our selection of tailor-made family holidays to selected hotels and resorts around the world.

    • Cookery holidays

      Tailor-made cookery holidays in Italy

    • Spa holidays

      Rejuvenating, relaxing, refreshing, good for the body and the soul; spa and well-being worldwide

    • Authentic experiences

      Our selection of authentic experience and special interest holidays.

    • Worldwide journeys

      Luxury tours for individuals around the world

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