Giverny : a small and remote village on a hillside of the Vexin Natural Park in Normandy. This is where Claude Monet, the impressionist painter, spent the second half of his life, 43 years, from 1883 to 1926. And since, it’s been definitely brought to light.
A hilly, wooded and farming land with preserved villages and white cliffs of lime stone overlooking the valley of the Seine river in a special changing light. These are some reasons why so many painters went trough Normandy to immortalize that natural beauty.
Claude Monet did even more in Giverny, he created his own nature in his own grounds with the Clos Normand Flower Garden and the Water garden where you will admire the Water Lillies.
Your private guide will take you to the lush, colorful and luminous world of Monet, you will cross the japanese bridge covered with wisteria, you will stroll litteraly through the palette of the painter before visiting his pink roughcast house.
That is definitely the place to be as close as possible to the passion or the obsession of this artist.
Then on the way to your next stop : Bayeux, your private guide will drive you through the natural beauty of the Seine river valley for a breath taking stop at Chateau Gaillard, Richard Lion Heart fortress built in 1198.
Then you will head to Bayeux to enjoy a work of the World Heritage List of the UNESCO.
It is the only “large” town that was not damaged during World War 2 and thank to that fact you will enjoy several aspects of this old settlement. World War 2 is still very present with the main British Military Cemetery where more than 4000 British soldiers are burried.
Bayeux is especially connected to the Duke of Normandy,William The Conqueror because it is in this ancient village by the river Aure that his brother Odo, bishop, commissioned the construction of the cathedral Notre Dame and the “Tale of the Conquest” more known as Bayeux Tapestry that depicts the battle of Hastings in 1066 on the shores of England and its main consequence : the coronation of William The Conqueror as king of England.
This unique and old piece of embroidery is 73 meters long (225 feet) was exhibited for the first time in 1077 in the cathedral.
You will enjoy and understand with your private guide why this almost 1000 year old piece of work was such precious asset for the Dukes of Normandy.
(overnight in Bayeux)
Overlord Operation, Neptune Operation, Cobra Operation, Epsom Operation…are some of the events that took place in Normandy that your private guide will inform you about. Most of all, you will be in the Dday sites where millions of Allied Troops landed on June 6th 1944 during several weeks.
The Dday beaches coded Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah is a 120 km (80 miles) extended zone in the west side of the Normandy country. In that coast line there is a sixth zone known as Pointe du Hoc where US Ranger Batalions achieved something that will always remain unique.
It is impossible to cover the whole coast line in one day (that’s why we recommend at least 2 days), however in one day your private guide will take you to 3 or 4 sites such as Pegasus Bridge, one the first site captured during the battle of Normandy by the 6th British Airborne Division in gliders, definitely one of the sharpest action, then the Canadian sector is nearby especially Juno Beach and its museum opened in 2003, from Juno we will reach Gold beach in the British sector where you will see what remains from Mulberry B, the port that was made in front of the little town of Arromanches Les Bains. During this visit you will indeed realize that logistics was one of the most impressive and conclusive aspects of the war.
Then a little bit more west, there is still a heavy German battery of artillery known as Longues Battery where you will have an example of how big was the threat on the Allies.
Once we pass the charming fishing port town called Port en Bessin we are in the American sector and will head to Omaha Beach where the landscape gives a very good idea about what the GI’S of the 1st and 29th US Infantry division had to go through, threatened by the German defense positions mainly on the bluff.
The US Military Cemetery since 1956 overlooks the east side of Omaha Beach.
Before reaching Utah, a must see stop has to be made in Pointe du Hoc to see what the courage and the sacrifice of the 225 rangers achieved on the the top of 30 meters high cliffs (100 feet).
The furthest beach in the west side of the coastline is Utah in the south of the Cherbourg peninsula where around 15000 paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st US Airborne Division jumped into the night to start the combat and to capture the village of Sainte Mère Eglise at 4,30 am on june 6th.
There are many interesting and moving museums in the Dday sites such as the Memorial in Caen, the Pegasus Memorial, the US Airborne Museum… It is feasible to visit one (entrance fee not included) during a day tour as there are war sites too inland.
What ever the time you have to visit these places is, you will be in the footsteps of these young soldiers who liberated a whole continent in a unique amphibious military operation. It is our common heritage.
(overnight in Bayeux or Saint-Malo)
To reach this unique place in the world, also known as the Marvel of the Western World, the sea has to draw aside to let anyone go through. The Mont Saint Michel is at the same time a village, an island and an abbey erected on the top of the rock at almost 100 meters high (300 feet).
Since the dream of the bishop Aubert in 708 to the current abbey generations of workers, pilgrims, monks, sellers, soldiers, kings… were irreparably attracted by this site whose construction was constant from the 10th century to the 17th century. The Mont Saint Michel is located in a bay which is, like the village and the abbey, in the World Heritage List of the UNESCO and where the tides are the largest in Europe, they can be 15 meters high (45 feet).
During your visit you will understand how people could start a building site 1000 years ago on the top of a rocky island, surrounded by water with impressive tides. Your private guide will explain you why the worship of Saint Michael was started here and how a part of the story was made up and by who.It is a unique journey in a very special place. You will of course have time to enjoy a stroll in the village.
On the way back to Paris if time you will stop in Honfleur.
Without any doubt one of the most charming little town of France. It reveals itself to the visitors who take the time to stroll through the maze of narrow streets, the Old Bassin which is today the marina, the narrow buildings with their slate facades.
Honfleur is where the sea meets the Seine river that is why it has been a strategic and economic location for almost 1000 years.
Your private guide will take you as well to Sainte Catherine church, painted by Claude Monet several times, to understand why it was built that way,
You will have an amazing overview of the river estuary and the sea from the hill of the Coast of Grace, right above downtown Honfleur.
You will be inspired by this charming little town like the generations of painters, writers, musicians who went there.
(entrance fee included EXCEPT DDay museums. Meals and accommodation not included)