Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of France as you make your way from incomparable Paris to Normandy, Brittany, and the chateaux of the Loire Valley.

Request a Tailor-Made Itinerary Request Itinerary or Ask Us A Question or Call 855-215-8690
 Panorama of Paris
 Chenonceau, one of the most romantic chateaux in the Loire Valley
 Tour Paris' right bank
 Visit the Sacre Coeur crowning Paris' Montmartre neighborhood
 Place De a Concorde Fountain
 Flowers in a Parisian market
 Paris at night
 Versailles Garden and Chateau Exterior
 The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
 Claude Monet’s home Giverny
 Grounds at Claude Monet's house, Giverny
 The historic port of Honfleur
 Mont St. Michel, Normandy

Paris, Normandy, and the Loire Valley: A Tailor-Made Journey to France

12 days from $9,850

Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of France as you make your way from incomparable Paris to Normandy, Brittany, and the chateaux of the Loire Valley.

Request a Tailor-Made Itinerary

or call 855-215-8690

Overview

When you travel on a tailor-made journey, you will receive a Friends of the Smithsonian Archivist Circle membership. Benefits include:

  • Recognition in the Friends of the Smithsonian Honor Roll displayed electronically on the National Mall in the Membership Reception Center
  • Invitation to a special welcome tour for new members at a Smithsonian venue
  • A Smithsonian Institution annual engagement calendar with full color images of exceptional art and artifacts
  • A complimentary Smithsonian museum guidebook
  • Subscription to the award-winning magazine Smithsonian
  • 20% discount at Smithsonian Museum Stores, 10% discount at selected dining facilities, at SmithsonianStore.com, and Folkways Recordings
  • Special member rate for tickets to the Smithsonian's IMAX® theaters and Einstein Planetarium
  • Admission to Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City
  • Weekday access to the Friends of the Smithsonian Reception Center

If you are already a member of the Archivist Circle or above, you will receive The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 - Paris, France

Arrive at Charles De Gaulle Airport and meet your private driver for the transfer to your hotel in Le Marais. After checking in, join a private guide for a walking tour of Le Marais that starts in the Place des Vosges, a romantic, 17th-century architectural gem that Victor Hugo once called home. From here, walk cobbled lanes past royal manors and hôtels particuliers, getting a glimpse of aristocratic Paris as it was before the French Revolution. You’ll stroll past the quarter’s upscale boutiques and epicurean shops, and stop to taste artisan chocolates or jams along the way.

Day 2 - Paris

Today, your driver and guide pick you up at your hotel for an orientation tour of the broad boulevards and historic sites of Paris's Right Bank. Circle the Arc de Triomphe, at the top of the famous Champs-Elysées, and follow the Jardin de Tuileries to the Louvre where I.M. Pei’s glass Pyramide—controversial when it was built—stands in stark contrast to the classical palace that surrounds it. Take in views of the city from hilltop Montmartre, once the haunt of Picasso, Renoir, and Van Gogh among many others. In the afternoon, enjoy a private tour of the opulent Opéra Garnier, built in the 19th century as a testament to France's empirical power. From here, explore the city’s covered passages, built in the same period to provide clean and sheltered shopping alleys for Parisians. Stroll past cozy cafes and restaurants, and boutiques selling vintage postcards, books, and antiques. (B)

Day 3 - Paris

Immerse yourself in art today, touring your choice of two world-renowned museums—the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay—with your private guide. At the Louvre, your guide helps you skip the line and navigate this extensive collections, ensuring you see the pieces and exhibitions that interest you most, including, if you wish, da Vinci’s heralded “Mona Lisa.” Or head to the Musée D'Orsay, where the works of 19th and 20th century artists—including Monet, Degas, and Cezanne are housed in a lofty former train station. In the afternoon, take a private walking tour of Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis. On Île de la Cité, discover the Gothic masterpiece of Saint Chappelle and learn about its history and exquisite architectural details. Continue to quiet, residential Île Saint-Louis to admire views of the Seine and meander down the cafe- and boutique-lined streets. (B)

Day 4 - Versailles

Get an early start this morning, traveling outside Paris with your driver and guide to visit the Château de Versailles. Tour this extravagant palace, built by the self-proclaimed "Sun King," Louis XIV, and learn about life at the French court. Enjoy time to wander the vast gardens, adorned with statues and water features. Return to Paris in the afternoon and delve into the Marché d’Aligre with your private guide. Explore stalls filled with all manner of local produce and delicacies, and enjoy a wine and cheese tasting. (B)

Day 5 - Giverny and Honfleur

Depart Paris early this morning with your private driver and travel west to Normandy, making stops along the way. You’ll visit the house and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny, where he painted some of his most eminent works, including the series “Water Lilies.” Stop to take in the view over the riverside village of Les Andelys and the picturesque ruins of Château Gaillard, built by Richard the Lionheart. Then venture into the 7th-century Jumièges Abbey, an important Benedictine Abbey whose imposing columns and lofty nave speak to its former grandeur. Later this afternoon, arrive at your hotel in the seaside town of Honfleur. (B)

Day 6 - Normandy Countryside and Honfleur

Spend the day discovering the flavors of Normandy, one of France’s celebrated gastronomic centers. With your private driver, travel through the rolling green countryside to the Domaine d'Apreval, an apple cider distillery that produces the apple brandy known as calvados. Learn about the fermentation process and taste different varieties during your guided tour. After your tasting, a picnic lunch is provided as you relax in the shade of the apple trees. Your next stop is the Domaine Saint-Hippolyte, a medieval estate where traditional cheeses are made using local dairy. Tour the property to learn about its history and meet its spotted Norman cows. Then observe the stages of cheese production, and enjoy a sampling. (B, L)

Day 7 - Normandy Beaches and Bayeux

Step back in time during a full-day excursion to the D-Day landing beaches. Walk in the sands of immense Omaha Beach, hearing about the dramatic events of June 6, 1944, when thousands of American and British soldiers landed on Normandy’s shores, setting off a campaign that would liberate Normandy—and eventually France—from German occupation. At the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, meander amid the graves of the fallen. Complete your experience at the American landing location of Utah Beach. Spend the night in the charming town of Bayeux. (B)

Day 8 - Mont St. Michel and Saint-Malo

Drive from Normandy into Brittany this morning, stopping en route at Mont St. Michel, a fortified medieval abbey built on a tidal island just off the coast. Climb up to the fortifications for sweeping views of the tidal flat, which fills with water rather suddenly when the tide comes in. Visit the abbey to learn about its history and the monks who still live there. Travel to a nearby seaside town to taste fresh oysters and enjoy lunch. Your driver will drop you off in the walled city of Saint-Malo this afternoon. Enjoy free time to walk the ramparts or stroll the beach, or meander the cobbled streets of the Intra Muros, the old town that was heavily bombed by the Allies during World War II. (B)

Day 9 - Loire Valley and Amboise

After a leisurely morning, leave Saint Malo with your private driver, and make your way to the Loire Valley. Along the way, visit the medieval town of Angers to see the extraordinary Apocalypse Tapestry, housed in the town’s chateau and stretching more than 320 feet. Then delve into the fascinating history of Fontevraud Abbey, a World Heritage site where Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine are buried. Follow the Loire River to the town of Amboise and check in to your hotel. (B)

Day 10 - Amboise

Set off on a private guided walking tour of Amboise this morning. At the Château d'Amboise, learn about the numerous French monarchs who lived here over the centuries, notably François I, who encouraged Leonardo Da Vinci to move to Amboise. Visit Clos Lucé where Leonardo spent the last three years of his life, and take time to examine his numerous inventions which are reproduced in the chateau's gardens. End the tour at the Caves Duhard for a wine tasting. You’ll have the afternoon free to explore as you wish. You might consider renting bikes for an easy pedal along the Loire River. (B)

Day 11 - Chenonceau and Chambord

In the 16th century, the Loire Valley became a hub of the French monarchy, and numerous Renaissance chateaux cropped up throughout the countryside. Explore some of these remarkable pieces of history with your driver-guide today, beginning at the elegant Chenonceau, which arcs across the Cher River. Join a shared boat ride to glide under the archways and take in fantastic views of the castle from the river. Then visit Château de Cheverny, a private residence boasting antiques that have been passed down from generation to generation. End your tour at the largest chateau in the valley, Chambord, which features a one-of-a-kind double spiral staircase inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci. Enjoy a final evening in France. (B)

Day 12 - Depart for home

Bid au revoir to the Loire Valley today as you depart by TGV high-speed train for Charles de Gaulle airport. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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