Saint-Malo | The Pink Granit Coast | Loire Valley Castles | 4 days

Day 1

St-Malo, named the Corsair City, the base and hometown of the most famous ship owners and “legal pirates” is an amazing fortified city on the emerald coast in the northern part of Brittany. You will take a walk on the city walls to understand that it is a former island. Your private guide will take you through the maze of the narrow streets that have their own funny stories such as the “Dancing Cat Street”, “Pelicot Street” one of the tiniest where some houses date from the 16th century and by a miracle were not destroyed during World War 2, and many more. You will also appreciate the conception of the“belt” of the fort islands such as la Conchée, le Fort National, Harbour, le Grand Bé, le Petit Bé… that were mainly designed by the engineer Garengeau disciple of one of the greatest french engineers Marshall Vauban who especially designed la Conchée Fort, At low tide you can walk to some of these islands.

St Malo inhabitants have always been sea oriented, like most of the people in Brittany, because its wealth until nowadays depended on that connection with the ocean.

St-Malo was named after Maclow a monk who came from Wales in the 6th century. Your private guide will take you to the original settlement of the monk : Alet area, a beautiful site with an impressive 180° overview of the bay and the Rance river mouth. A very stategic location too with the most recent examples of contruction, the 18th century military fort built under the king Louis the 15th and as a part of the the atlantic wall a German heavy battery artillery dating from World War 2. You will definitely enjoy strolling in the old town and getting the overview outside the walls.

Then you will head to the beautiful Pink Granit Coast a unique place where the pink stones carved a ragged coast and where future Christian Saints coming from England arrived as they did all over Brittany. Ploumanach which is an area of the little charming town Perros-Guirec is one of the best example of this mix of splendid nature and history. A perfect place for an enjoyable lunch break.

Then you will visit the Abbaye de Beauport.

It is a quiet and spiritual shelter between land and sea overlooking Paimpol bay. You are now in Beauport Abbey founded in 1202. Commissioned by the Count Alain de Goëlo who wanted to ensure his parents to be hosted in heaven and to provide a religious structure to the locals the whole site spreads out up to 300 acres and shelters now an effervescent wildlife.

Before being, on purpose, this evocative ruin, it’s been turned into residential accommodations, stables, city hall, school and a cider press since the 18th century. Cider is still being produced nowadays thanks the orchard in the site.

Then you will need 2 hours to reach the Morbihan Gulf where you will stay overnight.

(overnight in Vannes)

Day 2

On the way to the Loire Castles you will stop in the labeled «most beautiful villages of France» Rochefort en Terre.

Then you will reach Angers and after an enjoyable lunch break in this city your private guide will take to the castle.

Angers was the capital city of the County of Anjou owned, since the 10th century, by the Foulques family, ancestors of the Plantagenêts family.

17 massive towers around 50 meters high (150 feet), Angers royal castle was built in order to not be 

captured, and indeed it was never taken.Although most of the castle is gone the scale remains very acurate and impressive. Most of all Angers hosts the Apocalypse Tapestry, the largest ever woven in Europe between 1373 and 1382. The scale, over 100 meters large (300 feet) 4,5meters high (14 feet). The scenes depicted show the visions of Saint John set in the Apocalypse, the last text of the New Testament. This masterpiece is a testimony of the medieval society and will definitely bring you to interesting questions. For example why such scale for a tapestry whereas there was not a hall large enough in the castle to display it ?

Then your private guide will drive to your accomodation.

(overnight in Amboise)

Day 3

You will start this day with FONTEVREAUD Abbey

At first in 1101, a small religious community in the “middle of nowhere” was established with an unusual aspect : it was opened to both men and women. Later, the founder of that community Robert D’Arbrissel decided ,not without difficulty, that a woman would be the leader of the Order.

At the end of the 12th century, Fontevreaud owned 100 priories in France, Spain and England. Such fast evolution was also thanks to the financial support of powerful and wealthy noble families. The most pretigious was the Counts of Anjou family called the Plantagenêts. Mathilda of anjou was abbess from 1149 to 1155, when her nephew Henri 2nd Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou and King of England died, Fontevreaud Abbey became a royal necropolis. After the decline of the 13th and 14th centuries there was a new golden age in the 15th century when Fontevreaud was turned into a Royal Abbey. In 1792 the community was ordered by the French Revolution to leave the Abbey grounds. In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte decided to convert this into a state prison that was shut down in 1963.

Fontevreaud is not a castle but a beautiful site, historically eventful where restauration works are perfect, a must see place in the Loire.

If you want to stay longer, there is a beautiful hotel in the grounds.

Then you will head to VILLANDRY.

During this visit you will enjoy the best example of Renaissance gardens. The construction commissioned by Jean Le Breton, President of the Revenue Court under the king François 1st, took place between 1532 and 1536 again above foundations of 12th century fortress whose keep is still here.

In 1906 Ann Coleman and Doctor Joachim Carvallo bought the place and redesigned the original Renaissance Gardens that will leave you breathless. The gardens works were inspired by the book of Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau, french architect in the 16th century.

The Ornament Garden with all forms of love, The Water Garden, The Sun Garden, The Vegetable Garden with an amazing palette of colors, are an appealing and evocative summary of this place where people were fed, healed, had fun and loved.

Take a moment in that dream!

On the way back to Amboise and after an enjoyable lunch break you will visit your third monument of the day : Le CLOS LUCE Castle.

This time this is not a king who honored the people by his presence but a common man who honored the king by accepting to go to France in the Loire valley to spend the last 3 years of his life accomodoted in the castle of le Clos Lucé. The tuscan genius Leonardo Da Vinci was invited by the 

king François 1st to do what he did best dream and conceive and also to have the pleasure to spend some time with this unique artist. He brought with him to settle in France in 1516 three paintings, one was The Mona Lisa.

During this visit you will enter the intimate life of a genius that you will especially appreciate through the models designed according to the plans of Leonardo Da Vinci.

(overnight in Amboise)

Day 4

You will start your day with the visit of the Ladies Castle : CHENONCEAU

Probably the most refined castle in the Loire valley, not only thanks to its incredible location over the Cher river, tributary to the Loire river, or the furnitures or the paintings (Primaticcio, Van Loo, Murillo…) or the sculptures (Jean Goujon) or the wealthy and elegant grounds it is also thanks to several unforgettable ladies.

It is named the Ladies Castle because the queen Catherine Di Medici, Diane of Poitiers, Louise Dupin, representative of the age of Enlightenement, were, among others, the soul and the guardian angels of this beautiful place. It is one of the jewel of the Loire valley your private guide will take you to. Then you will head to CHAMBORD.

The greatest example of the Renaissance architecture started in 1519 was the will of the King François 1st.

All the aspects of the medieval defensive architecture were used to make a massive jewel in the middle of a huge well livestocked forest.

This unique castle is built around an ornamented core : the famous doule helix staircase, probably designed by Leonardo Da Vinci or inspired by his notes.

Your private guide will lead you in this unique construction through the King’s appartments, The Queen’s appartments, the Parade Appartments, the 18th century Appartments…But in this royal castle whose construction lasted over than 20 years and where the king himself spent 2 months in two decades the real beating heart and place to be is the Roof Terrace. That will be the highlight and the key of your private guided visit.

In Chambord architecture is magic.

Then your private guide will drive to your accomodation.

(entrance fee included. Meals and accommodation not included).