7 nights and 8 daysWith two luxury hotels lined up, this leisurely touring holiday offers a dual-centre itinerary for exploring the Normandy Coast and the Loire Valley, two famously beautiful regions in France. With two destinations, this tour dedicates more time to discovering the sights, culture and history of these regions, partaking in a wide range of sports, and simply relaxing. This tour combines a few nights at a former favourite refuge of the Impressionists, today a luxurious five-star hotel in the picturesque seaside town of Honfleur, with a stay in an elegant château overlooking the river Loire near Angers. Click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested French touring holidays.Having arrived in Calais via the Eurotunnel, your first port of call in Normandy is Ferme Saint-Siméon near Honfleur, where you spend three nights. This was a favourite amongst the illustrious names of the Impressionist movement, such as Courbet, Boudin and the master himself, Claude Monet, who came to capture on canvas the beautiful vistas offered by Honfleur and the Normandy coastline. A drive to the chic resort of Deauville, with its boutiques and casino, is an absolute must, while the delightful towns of Pont-Audemer, Venice of Normandy, and Pont l’Évêque, famous for its cheese, are also well worth a visit. En route to your second hotel, you’ll drive past the lace-making town of Alençon and then Le Mans, famous for its 24-hour road race, both of which deserve a brief stop. At Le Mans, you can also visit the old mediaeval town and Musée de l’Automobile. Drive on to Briollay, a short distance northeast of Angers, and your hotel, the Château de Noirieux, where you spend four nights. Here, explore the many châteaux of the Loire by car and enjoy a tasting at the excellent local vineyards. After driving back to Calais, take the Eurotunnel back to Folkestone.PRICESPrices for this self-drive holiday from £1155 per personWhat's included:- Three nights’ bed and breakfast at the Ferme Saint-Siméon in Honfleur- Four nights’ bed and breakfast at the Château de Noirieux near Angers- Eurotunnel return from Folkestone to Calais
Day-by-Day ItineraryDAYS ONE TO THREEArrive in Calais and drive west to Honfleur in NormandyAfter arriving in Calais via the Eurotunnel, begin your drive through Pas-de-Calais and into the varied and dramatic landscape of the Normandy region. Your hotel, the Ferme Saint-Siméon, has two main buildings. The first has an immaculate silver façade, while the second has the appearance of a traditional French farmhouse; both are surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens, with a backdrop of breath-taking views, making this hotel every bit the artistic and inspirational haven today that it was for the likes of Monet and Baudelaire. Inside, the restaurant and bar are rustically decorated, but with contemporary refinement in the food, produced as it is by a chef who learnt his trade from Michelin-starred chefs. The suites and rooms are similarly elegant and refined. Honfleur itself is perhaps best recognised for its tall, colourful French townhouses that line the harbour, and overlook the Seine Estuary, and, of course, its artistic connections. The nearby Trouville-sur-Mer is an equally ‘arty’ town and gathering place for contemporary and modernist authors, with its quirky architecture and vibrant lifestyle. Popular names associated with this town include Marguerite Duras, Marcel Proust, Claude Monet, and Gustave Flaubert, all of whom chose to either live or stay in Trouville. Exhibitions are regularly held at the Villa Montebello, the former residence of Napoleon. Across La Touques, and accessible by boat or train from Trouville, is the chic resort of Deauville, a town still beautifully traditional in appearance, but with the ambience and reputation of a modern, designer town. A favourite haunt of Napoleon and Coco Chanel, Deauville is, like its counterpart across the water, a popular and prestigious town in Normandy. As well as being home to the Deauville Film Festival, Deauville is a hub for sports such as horse-racing and polo. After a day at the races, or looking around the many boutiques of Place Marny, perhaps take a relaxing stroll down the Promenade des Planches. Visit Deauville on a Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday, to catch the market in the Place du Marché and purchase some of the speciality cider and camembert. For a break from the bright lights and bustling atmosphere of the Normandy towns, drive out to the formidable, but beautiful, white Cliffs of Étretat and their views over the turquoise sea. Just half an hour inland will bring you to the winding waterways of Pont-Audemer, and Pont-l’Évêque, both quintessentially picturesque Normandy towns. Enjoy dinner by the water in any one of these recommended towns or back in the hotel’s restaurant, before retiring to the comforts of your suite at Ferme Saint-Siméon.DAYS FOUR TO SEVENLeave Normandy and drive south to Briollay in the Loire ValleyYour journey into the Loire Valley takes you through the rolling green fields of the Parc Naturel Régional de Normandie-Maine and onto the very banks of the Loire itself. The Château de Noirieux, your hotel for the next four nights, with its elegant furnishings and high ceilings is the perfect introduction to the Loire châteaux and heritage. The town of Angers is shaped by its abundant gardens, and its magnificent centrepiece – the Château d’Angers, home of the Apocalypse Tapestry. Many more opportunities arise in Angers for visitors to explore the waterways of France. Perhaps take a traditional river shuttle across the local waters, or travel a little further on a Loire de Lumière river cruise that explores the 300km of navigable waterways in the Loire Valley region. Wildlife cruises are available, as well as dinner concerts and cocktail evenings in the summer months. Head to Trélazé to partake in the unique experience of scuba diving in the slate quarry, or drive to Marcé for balloon rides or micro-light rides. Any visit to the Loire Valley, however, insists upon an exploration of the best of the region’s châteaux. The Château de Brissac, home to the 13th Duke of Brissac, offers an informative and delightful tour through the Duke’s collection of ancient paintings, the private theatre commissioned by the Duchess in the 19th century and dedicated solely to opera, and culminating in a tasting of the wines produced on the Duke’s estate in the Duke’s own wine cellar. Utilise this visit and perhaps another visit to a nearby château to taste the produce of the Anjou-Saumur vineyards, amidst which Angers sits, such as the Saumur-Champigny reds and Coteaux-de-l’Aubance whites; the Coulée-de-Serrant, a dry white wine, is the most famous of the wines of this area. Drive a little further west to Nantes to visit the Château des Ducs de Bretagne. This château has architecture that dates from the 15th and 17th centuries, as well as a Renaissance touch, allowing visitors to observe the progression and development of the château and really get a sense for the continued historical importance of the site. If the detail on the château’s exterior and interior is not enough, the building’s sheer scale will definitely impress. If you are feeling adventurous, consider driving an hour and a half east into the Touraine wine region and towards Tours. Two château in particular here are worth a visit: the Château de Chenonceaux, extending out across the Le Cher water on an arched bridge, and the lake-side Château d’Amboise, a tour de force in regal scale and intricate symmetry. Spend your evenings in the Michelin-starred restaurant back at your own château, overlooking the lush countryside of the Loire Valley region. DAY EIGHTDepart Briollay on your final day and return to CalaisYour return to Calais takes you back through Le Mans, through two ‘Parc Naturel Régional’s and back into Pas-de-Calais. There is an option here to take the coastal road through Normandy to make the most of the sea views before you leave France through the Eurotunnel to Folkestone. Driving times for this touring holiday:Calais to Honfleur: 2 hours 35 minutesHonfleur to Briollay: 2 hours 45 minutesBriollay to Calais: 4 hours 50 minutes
Below is some information regarding each of the hotels featured in this touring itinerary. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations - please contact us for full details.Ferme Saint-SiméonHonfleurFerme Saint-Siméon in Honfleur enjoys an illustrious history as a favoured refuge and gathering place of the Impressionists, having welcomed many of the great names of this movement including Courbet, Boudin and the master himself, Claude Monet. Poet Gustave Baudelaire also stayed here in search of inspiration. Today a five-star Relais & Châteaux property, the Ferme Saint-Siméon is a grand, if rather imposing, half-timbered farmhouse set in beautifully manicured grounds overlooking the Estuary. The hotel has a renowned spa, la Ferme de Beauté, complete with a large indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, Hammam, fitness room and a range of treatments including hot stone therapy treatments using stones sourced from nearby Étretat. As one would expect from its proximity to the sea, the attractive wood-paneled restaurant is recognised by Michelin and offers a menu rich in locally-sourced seafood, served on the terrace in fine weather. Light, bright and beautifully appointed, the 34 spacious rooms at the Ferme Saint-Siméon have a charming air of sophistication and lend themselves beautifully for both short breaks or longer stays. Individually styled and featuring all the amenities you’d expect from a five-star hotel, the rooms are situated either in the main building or in the Pressoir, where you’ll find the spa. Many also boast original features such as wooden beams and sloping ceilings, which add to the character and uniqueness of the property. Located just on the edge of the artist’s haven of Honfleur, the Ferme Saint-Siméon occupies an ideal setting for exploring the many historical and cultural delights, both of the Normandy coastline and inland.Find out more here.Château de NoirieuxAngersThe Château de Noirieux is a superbly restored château and manor house. The buildings of this four-star Relais and Châteaux member consist of a manor house dating from the 15th Century, now converted into spacious and very comfortable bedrooms and the chaâteau itself, dating from the 17th Century, refurbished in the 1920s and again in the last couple of years, housing the public areas and several bedrooms. You approach the Château de Noirieux along a drive and then through an avenue of horse chestnut and walnut trees. The attention to detail in the decoration is noticeable throughout; in the cosy lounge with its open fire place, the bar and the elegant restaurant. There is also a terrace outside the restaurant where meals are served in fine weather. The Michelin-starred restaurant continues to gain a well deserved reputation, the chef being Gerard Côme. There is an open air swimming pool, a Jacuzzi in the pool house, cycles, a tennis court and table tennis. There is a ground-floor bedroom with wheelchair access in the manor house. All bedrooms are extremely comfortable and have private bathroom, telephone, television with satellite channels and mini-bar (there is no lift). The Château de Noirieux is highly recommended for luxurious short breaks or long, relaxing stays. Find out more here.
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