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Gardens of Regional France : Normandy, Loire, Dordogne and Bordeaux

7 – 21 September 2019

ITINERARY
Capture the essence of rural and regional French culture as reflected through her gardens: Normandy, Loire, Dordogne and Gironde. A soulful and sensory experience at the peak of the autumn harvest. We travel through river valleys, fertile farmland and mediaeval villages to see the very best chateaux, cloister and kitchen gardens in the country.
DAY 1
Friday 6 September 2019
Home to Paris

Meet Linda Ross at Sydney International Airport for your flight to Paris.

DAY 2
Saturday 7 September 2019
Arrive Rouen

Our tour commences in Rouen France. Travel from Australia with tour leader Linda Ross on 6 September or join at Hotel Bourgtheroulde in Rouen. Meet at our hotel in Rouen for our welcome dinner this evening.

Accommodation: Bourgtheroulde Hotel, Rouen

DAY 3
Sunday 8 September 2019
Normandy (B)

Normandy is the first of our four regions with two exciting gardens today. Jardin Plume has been designed with flair, dynamic plant combinations and outstanding use of ornamental grasses. Trimmed hedges work well with a nod to the ‘garden room’ design of Sissinghurst and to formal French garden design.
Next stop is The Etretat Gardens that overlook the iconic “Needle” rock cliff of the Etretat coast.
Madame Thebault was a good friend of Claude Monet who came regularly to her Villa Roxelane in Etretat to paint. He inspired the famous French actress to create an avant-garde garden in this idyllic clifftop location. Living sculptures give this garden its dimension.

Accommodation: Bourgtheroulde Hotel, Rouen

DAY 4
Monday 9 September 2019
Giverny (B/L)

Travel through Normandy this morning to Monet’s Garden at Giverny, where the famous Impressionist painter lived and painted until his death in 1926. Claude Monet drew inspiration for his paintings from his garden. Stroll around the Water Garden with its famous Japanese bridge and through the flower garden, Clos Normand, with roses growing over arches and flowers jostling for space; all in this cleverly engineered garden. Close by is Musee D’Art Americain with a series of colour-themed gardens and restaurant where we will have lunch. The museum was opened in Giverny to explore the historic and aesthetic connections between French and American artists. There was an American artists’ colony here at the turn of the nineteenth century with many artists experimenting with the impressionist aesthetic. Return to Rouen with a walking tour of the old city later this afternoon.

Accommodation: Bourgtheroulde Hotel, Rouen

DAY 5
Tuesday 10 September 2019
Rouen to Loire Valley (B/D)

We are travelling to the Loire Valley, the second region of our tour. Lunch stop in Chartres to visit its famous Cathedral, probably the finest example of French Gothic architecture and said by some to be the most beautiful cathedral in France! We are heading to Tours, a regional centre of the Loire Valley, that’s sandwiched between the Loire and its tributary the Cher. Our base for the next three nights will be Hotel Oceania L’Universe in the city centre. Stroll through the old city to see the flower market beneath the plane trees lining Boulevard Béranger, the Belle Epoque City Hall, the opulent Grand Théâtre de Tours, the towering Saint Gatien Cathedral and finish in Place Plumereau.

Accommodation: Hotel Oceania L’Universe, Tours

DAY 6
Wednesday 11 September 2019
Villandry and Chenonceau (B)

A treat today at Chateau Villandry, the last great ‘Renaissance’ chateau in the Loire Valley with one of the finest gardens in France. It’s best described as a gigantic kitchen garden planted in symmetrical parterres, arranged on a series of splendid terraces with formal fruit, vegetable and patterned gardens. Successive owners brought about unfortunate changes, in particular, an inappropriate but fashionable (at the time) ‘English’ garden. Dr Joachim Carvallo bought the chateau in 1906 and set about its restoration with a passion, back to its original formal French design. It’s a garden for the intellect with a sense of measure and proportion.
Next stop is the undisputed star of the Loire chateaux, Chenonceaux. The chateau was home to Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de Medici and Mary Queen of Scots. It’s the most romantic of all the chateaux on the Loire, and one of the prettiest in France. Its famous galleried bridge casts a magnificent reflection in the waters of the River Cher, complimented with parterre gardens, one for Diane de Poitiers and the other Catherine de Medici. Don’t miss the potager and the cutting garden where flowers are grown to decorate every room of the chateau.

Accommodation: Hotel Oceania L’Universe, Tours

DAY 7
Thursday 12 September 2019
Loire Valley (B/D)

We’ll see some of the lovely towns along the River Loire; Blois, Amboise, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Langeais, Saumur and Angers. The whole area is classified by UNESCO as a unique cultural landscape: a complex harmony of architecture, society and gardens. Today the valley is known for chateaux and gardens but for hundreds of years, the Loire was an important trading and transport route. Kings of France settled here in the Middle Ages, attracted by the idyllic landscape and benign climate. The Italian Renaissance took hold and flourished. Free time this afternoon in Tours.

Accommodation: Hotel Oceania L’Universe, Tours

DAY 8
Friday 13 September 2019
Prieure d’Orsan (B/L/D)

Travel to the eastern end of the Loire Valley today to visit Prieure Notre Dame d’Orsan, gardens of medieval monastic inspiration. Created by architects Sonia Lesot and Patrice Taravella who restored the ancient priory and created a garden, a free and convincing interpretation of the medieval spirit. They laboured over this project like artists over an illuminated manuscript.
Explore this complex of gardens sheltered by the remnants of the ancient abbey, founded in 1107. With its central cloister made of hornbeam and fountain, eleven rooms, each with its own character, function and symbolic resonance, make up the Jardin Clos; herb garden, circular potager, rose garden, fruit garden and parterre planted with wheat and broad beans. We’ll be ready for lunch today, beautifully presented by master chef, Patrice Taravella, with all produce coming from the gardens. Let yourself be transported to a time when gardens foreshadowed heavenly paradise, reflecting the harmony of creation. Travel into Chateauroux for our overnight accommodation.

Accommodation: Hotel Colbert, Châteauroux

DAY 9
Saturday 14 September 2019
Chateauroux to Sarlat (B/D)

Stop in the famous Saturday Market before we leave Chateauroux this morning. We are heading into the Dordogne through the Limousin with a peep at Saint-Benoit du Sault, a picturesque village (Plus Beaux Village en France) on a raised hill overlooking the Creuse river. Next stop is Chateau Hautefort, built as a medieval fortress, reconstructed in the 17th century and embellished with a French formal garden. This grand chateau stands in an enviable position overlooking the Auvézère Valley. Our destination is the mediaeval town of Sarlat, well preserved and UNESCO listed, our base to explore the Dordogne and the Perigord, the third region of our itinerary. It’s famous for its mediaeval architecture and its delicious foie gras! Settle into our hotel for the next three nights with dinner included this evening.

Accommodation: Hotel de la Moussidiere, Sarlat

DAY 10
Sunday 15 September 2019
Valley of the Dordogne (B)

Discover the rich heritage of the Perigord today: La Roque-Gageac and Domme. First stop is Vezac and Chateau Marqueyssac in its splendid setting on a spur overlooking the entire Dordogne Valley. The paths are organised into three circuits that lead to the Belvedere, a balcony 192m high and 130m above the river. The imaginative planting of buxus gives a unique softness and romanticism.
This afternoon we’ll explore the beautiful village of Domme, another ‘plus beaux village’, a bastide town overlooking the Dordogne. The ramparts are extremely thick and there remain three of the original entry portes; Porte des Tours with impressive round towers, Porte de la Combe and Porte del Bos. Walk through the pretty streets lined with cottages all in honey-coloured stone distinctive to this region.

Accommodation: Hotel de la Moussidiere, Sarlat

DAY 11
Monday 16 September 2019
Dordogne and Vezere (B/L)

Eyrignac Manor, in the picture-perfect Perigord town Salignac, is our first stop this morning. Gardens here were laid out in the 18th century, transformed in the 19th and awarded ‘Grand Prix des Jardins’ in the 20th. The changing light lifts the shadows and accents the design. Spectacular hornbeam walks with buttresses and cylindrical yews; it’s a master class in topiary, a sequence of green spaces impeccably ordered and executed.
Afternoon visit to Terrasson on the River Vezere to Jardins Imaginaire (Gardens of the Imaginary), where you can let your imagination stroll through 13 themed gardens with panoramic views of the beautiful old town. Designed by Kathryn Gustafson in 1990 these gardens are a contemporary interpretation of a classic form of terraced gardens. It’s a journey through the Green Tunnel, Sacred Wood, Theatre of Green, Axis of the Winds, Water Garden and Rose Garden; a harmonious vision to saturate your senses.

Accommodation: Hotel de la Moussidiere, Sarlat

DAY 12
Tuesday 17 September 2019
Sarlat to Bordeaux (B/D)

Leave the Dordogne (Perigord) and travel into the Gironde to Bordeaux through the food basket of France, where they grow half the kiwi fruit, almost half the strawberries and most of the prunes. We will see potatoes, asparagus and maize. The Gironde department around Bordeaux is home to some of the world’s most celebrated vineyards, such as those in the flat Médoc, west of the Gironde estuary, and east to Saint-Emilion. Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River. Check into our Hotel Burdigala just a short walk from the city centre. Linda will take us for a walk through the old city to get our bearings.

Accommodation: Hotel Burdigala, Bordeaux

DAY 13
Wednesday 18 September 2019
Saint Emilion (B)

A walking tour through the hilltop town of Saint Emilion that is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With 13th century ramparts, cobblestone streets and rock-faced hermitage, this mediaeval town presides over one of the region’s richest wine districts. Then a tour of one of the premier vineyards to learn of their heritage and wines. Share the ancient craft and history of “Cantenac”, the management of the vineyard until harvest, their approach to winemaking and wine ageing, and finish with an informative wine tasting. Free time this afternoon in Bordeaux.

Accommodation: Hotel Burdigala, Bordeaux

DAY 14
Thursday 19 September 2019
Bordeaux to Paris (B)

We have come full circle as we take the fast train (TGV) to Paris. Transfer to our Hotel Westminster well situated a stone’s throw from the Place Vendome, the Opera and the Tuileries gardens. Linda will take us for a walk around the Opera precinct for orientation.

Accommodation: Hotel Westminter, Paris

DAY 15
Friday 20 September 2019
Autumn Fete Beauregard (B/D)

Our finale today at the Autumn Plant Festival at Domaine de Saint-Jean de Beauregard, the beautiful potager of Vicomtesse de Curel, attached to its 17th century-chateau. There are lots of lessons here in fruit and vegetable gardening. But it’s not all about produce; there are wide flower borders, walled garden, grape house and dovecote. Twice a year in spring and autumn, Saint-Jean de Beauregard Plant Fetes attract more than 200 exhibitors, among the best in their respective specialities. Nursery growers and producers from all over Europe have been selected to display at this fair. Enjoy our Farewell Dinner tonight.

Accommodation: Hotel Westminter, Paris

DAY 16
Saturday 21 September 2019
Paris – home (B)

Our tour ends in Paris after breakfast. Transfer to Charles de Gaulle for your flight home.

HOW TO BOOK

To secure your booking and make your deposit, please complete our online booking form. You will be contacted by a Ross Tours Travel Manager to confirm your details and preferred method of payment.

CANCELLATIONS

Cancellations received 180-120 days prior to departure will incur loss of deposit.

Cancellations received between 119-60 days prior to departure will incur a 50% cancellation fee.

Cancellations received between 59-30 days prior to departure will incur a 75% cancellation fee plus any non-recoverable costs incurred.

Cancellations received within 30 days prior to departure will incur 100% cancellation fee.

Cancellations must be sent in writing.

Cancellation fee is based upon the total amounts paid including tours, airfares and all other travel arrangements.

Please refer to the Ross Garden Tours standard terms and conditions.

TOUR INCLUSIONS
TOUR ESCORTED BY
LINDA ROSS
  • Group economy flight with Emirates Sydney / Paris / Sydney
  • Air-conditioned motorcoach throughout tour
  • Deluxe accommodation for 14 nights
  • Breakfast daily, 3 lunches and 6 dinners
  • Entrance fees to all gardens and sightseeing including Jardin Plume, Jardin d’Etretat, Monets Garden, Chateau Villandry, Chateau Chenonceaux, Prieure d’Orsan, Chateau de Hautefort, Chateau de Marquessac, Jardin d’Imaginaire, Chateau Cantenac, Domaine St Jean de Beauregard Autumn Fair
  • Gratuities for porters and drivers
  • Fully Escorted by Linda Ross
TOUR PRICE

Twin Share land only $9,295 per person
Single Supplement $2,295
All prices in Australian Dollars.
Prices based on minimum 15 passengers.

DISCOUNTS

Book and pay in full by 10/5/19 to receive the Early Bird Discount of $250.00 per person off the final installment.
Previous Traveller Discount $100.00
Garden Clinic™ Member Discount $50.00

FLIGHTS

Call Ross Garden Tours to arrange your flights. Travel on our designated flights and receive complimentary airport transfers to and from Paris.

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POSTCARDS

Read what our tour leaders have written about England here.

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It’s a mix of heavenly gardens with Opening Day at the Chelsea Flower Show.

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Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and Naoshima; visiting cities of Tokyo, Matsue, Okayama & Takamatsu.

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Jindabyne is our base for this six-day short break. The brilliant colours of autumn are sublime at this altitude.

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and Madeira one to remember. Highlight is Madeira’s famous Flower Festival.

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