Spring Gardens of France
Experience the romance, beauty and grandeur of France with its remarkable gardens, picturesque villages, distinctive regional architecture and mouth-watering cuisine.
In Normandy, travel the ‘cider route’ to the medieval town of Bayeux, gateway to the World War II Normandy landing beaches and home of the world-famous Bayeux tapestry. Gain access to private estates and historic castles, surrounded by manicured gardens.
Continue to Brittany and enjoy a leisurely stay on the coast. Visit a selection of superb gardens and quaint villages, and marvel at stunning panoramas and rugged landscapes.
In the Loire Valley, known as the ‘Garden of France’, explore châteaux, vineyards and gardens. Explore the outstanding gardens at Château de Villandry and attend the annual International Garden Festival at Château de Chaumont.
Arrive in Paris on suggested flights. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including travel insurance (a condition of travel), accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
Meet your tour leader Christine McCabe at a Paris hotel (venue to be confirmed) at 10:00am. Depart Paris and travel to Rouen, the capital of Normandy, visiting the 17th-century Château du Champ de Bataille en route. Purchased by renowned interior designer Jacques Garcia in 1992, Garcia revived both the château and its vast grounds to their original splendour in one of the most important private constructions and restoration works in France.
Check in to your hotel in Rouen in the late-afternoon, before joining Christine and fellow travellers for a welcome dinner.
Begin the day with a walking tour of Rouen. Visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral with its magnificent Tour de Beurre (butter tower) and see the Church of Saint Joan of Arc located where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, as well as the Gros-Horloge, a 14th-century astronomical clock.
Later, visit the Jardins d’Angélique. Created by Gloria and Yves Le Bellegard, the gardens surround an 18th-century Norman manor house and were established in memory of their daughter, Angélique.
In the evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant in the historic centre.
This morning, visit the Château de Miromesnil, an impressive structure set amongst beautiful woodland. Enjoy a guided tour of the walled kitchen garden and the castle park, with its 17th-century fenced brick walls.
After lunch, explore the Jardin de Valérianes, nestled in the heart of a green valley. The site is covered with over 2,000 plants, most of which are perennials, and consists of two themed areas – an English-landscape garden and a zen-like garden.
Today, travel to Giverny to visit the magnificent garden and home of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. Wander through his picturesque Japanese-style gardens, the inspiration for his famous Water Lilies series that he painted over the course of three decades.
After lunch in the charming village of Giverny, continue to Le Jardin Plume in Auzouville-sur-Ry. Meet the owners, Sylvie and Patrick Quibel, as they guide you around their contemporary garden surrounding an apple orchard.
Transfer to the coastal area of Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer and visit the renowned garden of the late Princess Sturdza of Norway, Le Vasterival, accompanied by one of the gardeners.
After lunch in the coastal town of Varengeville-sur-Mer, explore the nearby 30-acre seaside estate Le Bois des Moutiers, due to reopen in the spring of 2024 after a major restoration. The Arts and Crafts house, as well as the park and gardens – a collaboration of the famous English architect Edwin Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll – are listed as a historical monument and a Remarkable Garden of France.
Return to Rouen for an evening at leisure.
Depart Rouen for a leisurely day’s drive to Bayeux. Journey through picturesque postcard towns and into the heart of Pays d’Auge, home of the Normandy Cider Route, adorned with apple orchards and half-timbered houses. Stop at Beuvron-en-Auge for a stroll through this quintessential Norman village featuring lovingly restored half-timbered houses, local producers and antiques dealers.
Continue to Les Jardins du Pays d’Auge gardens and eco-museum situated in the village of Cambremer. Located on a seven-acre lush estate, the property boasts a number of themed gardens surrounding a 17th-century farmhouse.
In the afternoon, visit the Domaine Dupont, famous for its ciders, pommeau and calvados. Enjoy a tour of the distillery and cellars followed by a tasting.
Arrive in Bayeux in the late-afternoon and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore the city at your own pace. You may wish to see the Bayeux Cathedral or visit the Bayeux Tapestry, an embroidered cloth more than 60 metres long made to commemorate events in the Norman conquest of England in 1066.
Depart Bayeux and explore Les Jardins de Castillon, a remarkable garden set in a leafy valley on the outskirts of Bayeux.
Continue to the riverfront city of Dinan, considered one of the most attractive and well-preserved towns in Brittany, and stroll the cobbled streets filled with art galleries and craft shops.
Then, travel west to the popular seaside town of Perros-Guirec, on the stunning Côte de Granit Rose (Pink Granite Coast) in northern Brittany. Enjoy dinner at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant.
The morning is at leisure to further explore Perros-Guirec at your own pace; take a coastal walk or relax and enjoy the seaside town.
In the afternoon, travel south to the Jardin du Grand Launay. Built around a manor, this modern garden has been gradually formed over 30 years by its owners, Jean and Jacqueline Shalit.
In the early morning, travel to Roscoff, a well-known seaside town that is linked to Plymouth (England) and Cork (Ireland) by its numerous ferries. Take a short boat ride to the Île de Batz to visit Jardin Georges Delaselle’s coastal garden. The garden is comprised of a unique botanical collection derived from five continents.
Return to the mainland and visit Le Jardin Exotique de Roscoff, overlooking the harbour. Due to the warm currents that make up the Gulf Stream that runs along the coast, a distinctive microclimate is created resulting in a superb variety of subtropical plants.
Today, visit the Jardins de Kerdalo, created by the late Prince Peter Wolkonsky and considered one of the finest gardens in the region.
Continue to the nearby port town of Tréguier, best known for being the birthplace of Saint Yves, the patron saint of lawyers. Enjoy some time at leisure for lunch at one of the many eateries on the harbour.
In the afternoon, wander through the charming village of Pontrieux and discover the many flower-decked washhouses which adorn the banks of the Trieux River.
Depart Perros-Guirec for a leisurely day’s drive to Tours, stopping to visit the medieval Château de Josselin – a highlight of the French Renaissance. Stroll the castle grounds and its three distinct gardens: the Formal French, the English and the Rose garden.
Enjoy some time at leisure in Josselin before continuing to the Loire Valley. Arrive in the beautiful and vibrant city of Tours in the late-afternoon and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
In the morning, visit the beautiful Château du Rivau and discover not only a genuine medieval castle at the heart of a UNESCO world heritage site, but also botanical arts in a six-hectare garden with contemporary sculptures.
Enjoy a wine tasting at a local winery before spending some time at leisure in the picturesque town of Chinon.
Then, discover the Jardins Haute Couture, grown on ancient terraces tumbling down the hillside to the water meadows known as the Ile Saint-Martin. After 15 years in the making, English owner Coral Miles opened her gardens to the public in May 2023.
Today, depart for the Château de Chaumont, overlooking the Loire River, and attend the annual International Garden Festival. Every year, landscape architects and garden designers are invited to create a themed garden. Enjoy the day exploring some of the over 30 gardens in the magnificent grounds of the château.
In the afternoon, return to Tours via the village of Chédigny, famous for its rose gardens.
This morning, visit the Château de Villandry. One of the largest and last castles built along the Loire River, it features six outstanding gardens. Enjoy the morning strolling through its extensive terraces.
Return to Tours and enjoy an afternoon at leisure to wander around the charming historic centre, lined with wood-framed and stone-gabled townhouses.
Tonight, enjoy a special farewell dinner with Christine and fellow travellers.
Depart Tours in the morning and return to Paris. On the way, stop in Chartres, home to a glorious 13th-century cathedral with dazzling blue stained-glass windows. Enjoy some time at leisure to explore the cathedral at your own pace before continuing to Paris.
Tour arrangements conclude at 5:00pm upon arrival at a central Paris hotel (venue to be confirmed).
For those returning home today, make your way to Paris Airport for suggested flights to Australia or New Zealand. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including private airport transfers, additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Note: At time of publication (August 2023), most but not all garden visits were confirmed. Private owners, in particular, are reluctant to commit more than two to three months prior to the visit. Therefore, while we undertake to operate the tour as published, there may be some changes to the itinerary.
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Final payment due
18 March 2024
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally-located 3- to 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including wines with dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation on comfortable air-conditioned coaches as per itinerary
- Expertise and insights by your tour leader, garden writer Christine McCabe
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers and wait staff
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport porterage
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Rouen – Radisson Blu Rouen Centre****
Bayeux – Churchill Hotel***
Perros-Guirec – L’Agapa Hotel*****
Tours – Oceania L’Univers Tours****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Tour code: GD2403
Fitness level: Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions here.
Suggested airline: Qatar Airways/Emirates
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit France.
Download booking form here.