Normandy and Brittany escorted history tours for small mature grups
This small group tour for couples and solo travellers is centred on the North West corner of France: Normandy, where the peaceful landscape belies a turbulent past; Brittany, where a strongly separate Celtic culture is still evident; Poitou, famous for its rich farmlands and historic ports; and the Loire Valley, replete with royal châteaux.
From A$14,450 AUD
- 1. Visit Poitou, famous for its rich farmlands and historic ports.
- 2. Stand on the revered Normandy beaches where the Allied Forces bravely landed on D Day in 1944.
- 3. Trace the rich history of France through the opulent chateaux of the Loire.
- 4. Explore Normandy, where the peaceful verdant landscape belies a turbulent past.
|04 May 2022 |
Ends 25 May 2022 • 22 days
|28 August 2022 |
Ends 18 September 2022 • 22 days
|03 May 2023 |
Ends 24 May 2023 • days
|27 August 2023 |
Ends 17 September 2023 • days
Normandy and Brittany escorted history tour.
Odyssey offers easy, convenient, and relaxed escorted small group tours across Western Europe and beyond. We explore France’s fairy-tale natural beauty, its ancient Roman, and Imperial heritage, its World Heritage Sites, and world famous cities, all with some truly spectacular scenery along the way. This and more is all waiting to be explored on one of Odyssey’s small group tours of France, designed for the senior traveller, and led by experienced, and enthusiastic like minded people.
Our Normandy and Brittany escorted history tours for small mature groups are a 22-day journey through Northern France. It will appeal to the active senior looking to get beyond the usual 'big cities' destinations and enjoy unique experiences. The Normandy and Brittany Small Group Tour is suitable for both solo travellers and couples. This is a region linked by history, a dramatic coastline and some of France’s great gastronomic experiences.
Our tour travels into the historic regions of Normandy, where the peaceful verdant landscape belies a turbulent past. After 10 nights in Normandy, we travel on to visit Brittany, where a strongly separate Celtic culture is still evident in this long-time independent Duchy. Here, we experience Poitou, famous for its rich farmlands and historic ports. We also visit the Loire Valley, replete with royal chateaux. The program starts and concludes in Paris.
After a night in Paris, our guided small group tour begins with a visit to Rouen, the capital of Normandy. While here, we visit the "Monet Cathedral," the subject of many of his paintings. At each location we visit, a local tour guide will join us to share their deep knowledge. While in Rouen, we also see the strikingly modern Joan of Arc Church in the old market square.
Normandy is regarded as a typically French region of apple orchards, contented cows, cider, and pungent cheeses. Its peaceful pastoral landscape belies its historic conquests and devastating experiences during World War II. While in Normandy, we also explore the adjacent regions of Picardy and the World War I sites of the Valley of the Somme.
Afterwards, the Normandy and Brittany small group tour heads west, before turning south we spend 4 nights in Bayeux. From here, we explore the regional hub of Caen, including learning about the city's medieval past. In Bayeux, our guides provide an understanding of this regional town and of course the famous Bayeux Tapestry. This unique work, which is actually embroidery rather than tapestry, tells the story of the Conquest of England by William the Conqueror from the Norman point of view. It also gives a fascinating insight into life in Norman France during the 11th century.
The Normandy and Brittany small group tour also visits the Normandy beaches. While here, we make time to see any memorials that members of the group may wish to visit.
In the second part of the Normandy and Brittany small group tour, we head south. Continuing to explore the coast, we visit Mont St Michel, basing ourselves in the small seaside hamlet of Tregastel. In Brittany, we learn from its guides about the Celtic influence on this region of France. Afterwards, we visit Carnac. The standing stone monument consists of more than 3,000 granite menhirs, arranged in rows between 3300 BC and 1500 BC. Each stone block weighs a minimum of three tonnes was carved and transported for miles.
The Normandy and Brittany small group tour then moves inland into the Loire valley, viewing castles (chateaux) whilst spending 4 nights in Tours. The city's long history includes Gallic-Roman settlements and a role as the 15th-century French capital and seat of kings. It was heavily bombed in World War II, and its atmospheric centre is now surrounded with modern towers.
Our journeys from Tours includes time in Amboise a town in central France’s Loire Valley. Amboise is famous for the Château d'Amboise, a grand 15th-century residence for King Charles VIII. The château includes the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. We also visit Château du Clos Lucé, Leonardo's former home, where he lived until his death in 1519.
Normandy and Brittany escorted history tours for small mature groups is a 22-day tour of Northwest France. The culture and history of this part of France is very rich. The tour is designed for the mature couple or solo traveller this escorted tour is the best for those seeking an in depth tour of this fascinating region. This program is just one of some 20 escorted tours Odyssey offers in France each year.
Head over to our blog for travel tips and a guide to touring France!
(This tour Normandy and Brittany escorted history tour for small mature groups was previously known as "French Tapestry.")
For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
Day 1: Paris
Upon arrival in Paris, we will come individually to the hotel. There will be time to relax and freshen up before our welcome meeting and dinner, with a chance to meet each other.
Day 2: Paris - Giverny - Rouen - Bayeux
We will stop at Giverny as well as Rouen, which is the capital of Normandy. There we can visit the “Monet Cathedral,” the subject of many of his paintings. We can also see the modern, striking Joan of Arc Church in the old market square. It has been said of Rouen that the city has enough venerable buildings of all descriptions to quench even the greatest historical thirst. We pause here for a brief time to explore. Our arrival in Bayeux will be in the late afternoon.
Normandy is regarded as a typically French region of apple orchards, contented cows, cider, and pungent cheeses. Normandy’s peaceful pastoral landscape belies its historic conquests and devastating experiences during World War II. From Normandy we also explore the adjacent regions of Picardy and the World War I sites of the Valley of the Somme.
Day 3: Bayeux - Caen - Bayeux
This morning we will have a sightseeing tour of Bayeux which, needless to say, includes the Bayeux Tapestry. This unique work, which is actually embroidery rather than tapestry, tells the story of the Conquest of England by William the Conqueror from the Norman point of view, and gives an amazing insight into life in Norman France during the 11th century.
On our field trip to Caen we will visit the impressive Memorial Museum. We will also have the chance to explore some other historic sites in Caen, more linked to the city’s medieval past.
Day 4: Bayeux - Camembert - Honfleur - Bayeux
This morning we sample some of the local regional produce with a tasting of Camembert cheese. We will also visit the typically picturesque Norman fishing port of Honfleur.
Day 5: Bayeux - Courseulles-Sur-Mer - Arromanches - Pointe du hoc - Sainte-Mere-Eglise - Bayeux
Today we will tour the Landing Beaches of D Day, the Pegasus Bridge, Juno Beach Centre, and Musee du Debarqueement. We will view the Mulbery Harbour, visit the American Cemetery and Memorial, and Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the milestone zero in front of the town hall (symbol and starting point of liberty). Dinner tonight will again be at a local restaurant with more local dishes.
Day 6: Bayeux - Mont Saint-Michel - Tregastel
Today we will have an early start as we head west towards Brittany. We will explore the island of Mont-St-Michel, crossing by the causeway which links it to the mainland, and briefly visit the fortified port of St. Malo before arriving at our hotel at Tregastel.
With rugged shores washed by the Atlantic, Brittany has a strong Celtic heritage. It is a wild seafaring peninsula dotted with mysterious standing stones, dolmens, and cromlechs. Bretons have their own language and cuisine; the kingdom of Brittany did not become part of France until the 15th century. The gentle scenery of the southern Breton coastline contrasts with the rugged grandeur of the north and in order for us to experience both aspects, we stay at Tregastel in the north and Lorient in the south.
Day 7: Tregastel
We have a full day field trip that explores the village of Tregastel, with its ancient church and “pink granite” aquarium as well as the dramatic Pink Granite coastline with its typical Breton fishing villages and quintessential Breton architecture.
Day 8: Tregastel - Quimper - Lorient
Today we leave the North Breton coast as we travel through some of the towns and villages of the region’s interior en route to the southern city ot Lorient. We will seek out an example of a typical Breton Parish Close with an elaborate crucifixion scene and visit the ancient cathedral city of Quimper. We arrive in time for dinner.
Day 9: Lorient - Concarneau - Port Aven - Lorient
Today’s field trip will take us to the fortified city of Concarneau and the artists village of Pont Aven. We will have a wine tasting experience and sample some of the region’s typical local produce such as succulent oysters, buttery cakes, and fermented apple cider!
Day 10: Lorient - Rennes - Lorient
A full day field trip takes us to the Breton capital, Rennes, where we will visit the parliament building, the Parc du Thabor. There will be time to explore the city individually.
Day 11: Lorient - Quibern - Carnac - Lorient
We will explore the dramatic coastal scenery of the Quiberon Peninsula. Later on we explore the more mysterious Neolithic age, as evidenced by the world famous standing stones of Carnac.
Day 12: Lorient - Josellin - Vannes - Noirmoutier
Before leaving Brittany, we explore the impressive and historic Chateau of Josselin as well as the city of Vannes, Breton capital since Roman times which still boasts impressive walls and city gates. We then continue our journey south into Poitou-Charentes and the island of Noirmoutier.
The Poitou region is renowned for its fiercely independent nature. Richelieu took La Rochelle by siege in 1628 during the Religious Wars and La Vendee rebelled against Paris during the Revolution. We stay close to the mouth of the Loire, on the island of Noirmoutier as our base to explore this green and historic region. We use this base to explore the countryside and historic cities of Poitou, La Vendee, and the Lower Loire Valley. We will experience the verdant canals of Venise Verte (Green Venice), historic Nantes, and the Island of Noirmoutier with its tiny capital and market.
Day 13: Noirmoutier - Nantes - Noirmoutier
We will pause in Nantes, the former seat of the Dukes of Brittany. We will see the main sights, the cathedral, and Les Machines de I’lle de Nantes.
Day 14: Noirmoutier
Today we will explore the island of Noirmoutier and see its saltpans, submersible causeway, and tiny historic capital.
Day 15: Noirmoutier
The Marais Poitevin (Poitou Marshlands) are the destination for today’s full day field trip as we take a canal ride through the canals of the Venise Verte and visit the ruined Benedictine abbey of Maillezais.
Day 16: Noirmoutier - Angers - Saumur - Tours
Our journey to Tours takes us along the Western stretches of the Loire Valley. The Loire Valley has long been the hunting region and playground of the French aristocracy with many fine castles along the River Loire and its tributaries. We will travel through historic Angers and medieval Saumur before arriving in Tours.
From here we learn about the golden age of the Loire Valley as we experience some of the magnificent towns, royal residences, and chateaux which make this one of France’s most visited regions. We also sample some of the local produce of this wine region.
Day 17: Tours - Amboise - Tours
We start our exploration of Tours and its main sights today. First we will visit Amboise Royal Chateau. This emblematic monument and its landscaped gardens offer one of the most remarkable panoramas of the Loire Valley, and are registered as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The site carries political and artistic importance within Europe in the Renaissance.
We also visit Chateau de Clos Luce. The spirit of Leonardo da Vinci remains in the Château du Clos Lucé, mingling with the memory of all the famous guests who contributed to the richest times enjoyed by the building.
Day 18: Tours - Blois - Valencay - Tours
We start our day with a visit to the Chateu de Blois. The Royal Chateau offers a true panoramic survey of art and history of the chateaux of the Loire Valley. The residence of 7 kings and 10 queens of France, the Royal Chateau of Blois is a site reminiscent of the power and daily life at court in the Renaissance, as are the royal apartments, furnished and embellished with magnificent polychromatic decors. This afternoon we discover the classical Renaissance Chateau of Valencay as well.
Day 19: Tours - Chambord - Chenonceau - Tours
We start our exploration of Chateau de Chambord and the petite French Renaissance style Chenonceau spanning the River Cher.
Day 20: Tours - Chartres - Paris
This morning we pause in the cathedral city of Chartres before arriving in Paris. Entrance to the Louvre included today.
Day 21: Paris
We will have a full day city tour, including a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral, entrance to Sainte Chapelle, and Les Invalides, Napoleon’s tomb. Tonight we enjoy our farewell dinner.
Day 22: Paris
Our tour concludes in Paris.
For those staying on in Paris, there is plenty of time to enjoy the city’s many great historical sights, museums and galleries.
- Please note that, although contents will not vary, the order of days may be changed if local conditions demand.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 21 nights of accommodation.
- 21 local-style breakfasts and 12 dinners.
- Transport, lectures, and field trips as indicated.
- Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
- Services of a Tour Leader.
- Service charges and gratuities.
- Detailed tour information booklet.
What’s not included in our Tour
- International and domestic airfares.
- Comprehensive International Travel Insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking / hiking up to 8 kilometers per day on uneven ground.
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
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If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
The Sea Kingdoms: The History of Celtic Britain and Ireland
The most powerful representation yet of the race which has repeatedly changed history as we know it' - The Scotsman 'Brimming with interesting facts ... instructive and wide-ranging' - Cal McCrystal, Independent on Sunday 'The best picture of the Celtic race yet written' - South Wales Echo 'Lovingly traces the remnants of a once-powerful people through language, ancient place names, farms, fortresses, harbours and, most of all, through their connection to the sea' - Irish Times Alistair Moffat's journey, from the Scottish islands and Scotland, to the English coast, Wales, Cornwall and Ireland, ignores national boundaries to reveal the rich fabric of culture and history of Celtic Britain which still survives today. This is a vividly told, dramatic and enlightening account of the oral history, legends and battles of a people whose past stretches back many hundred of years. The Sea Kingdoms is a story of great tragedies, ancient myths and spectacular beauty.
By Alistair Moffat
The History of Modern France: From the Revolution to the War on Terror
With the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the next two centuries for France would be tumultuous. Bestselling historian and political commentator Jonathan Fenby provides an expert and riveting journey through this period as he recounts and analyses the extraordinary sequence of events of this period from the end of the First Revolution through two others, a return of Empire, three catastrophic wars with Germany, periods of stability and hope interspersed with years of uncertainty and high tensions. As her cross-Channel neighbour Great Britain would equally suffer, France was to undergo the wrenching loss of colonies in the post-Second World War as the new modern world we know today took shape. Her attempts to become the leader of the European union is a constant struggle, as was her lack of support for America in the two Gulf Wars of the past twenty years. Alongside this came huge social changes and cultural landmarks but also fundamental questioning of what this nation, which considers itself exceptional, really stood - and stands - for. That saga and those questions permeate the France of today, now with an implacable enemy to face in the form of Islamic extremism which so bloodily announced itself this year in Paris. Fenby will detail every event, every struggle and every outcome across this expanse of 200 years. It will prove to be the definitive guide to understanding France.
By Jonathan Fenby
How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People
Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think is a warm yet incisive exploration of the French intellectual tradition, and its exceptional place in a nation's identity and lifestyle
Why are the French an exceptional nation? Why do they think they are so exceptional? An important reason is that in France intellectual activity is regarded not just as the preserve of the thinking elite but for almost everyone. French thought can sometimes be austere and often opaque, yet it is undeniably bold and innovative, and driven by a relentless quest for the regeneration of humanity. Sudhir Hazareesingh traces its tumultuous history in an enormously enjoyable and highly original manner, showing how the French ways of thought and life connect. This will be one of the most revealing books written about them - or any other European country - for years.
Sudhir Hazareesingh was born in Mauritius. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and has been a Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Balliol College, Oxford, since 1990. Among his books are The Legend of Napoleon (Granta, 2004) and Le MytheGaullien (Gallimard, 2010). He won the Prix du Memorial d'Ajaccio and the Prix de la Fondation Napoleon for the first of these, and a Prix d'Histoire du Senat for the second.
By Sudhir Hazareesingh
The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe
Graham Robb's new book will change the way you see European civilization.
Inspired by a chance discovery, Robb became fascinated with the world of the Celts: their gods, their art, and, most of all, their sophisticated knowledge of science. His investigations gradually revealed something extaordinary: a lost map, of an empire constructed with precision and beauty across vast tracts of Europe. The map had been forgotten for almost two millennia and its implications were astonishing.
Minutely researched and rich in revelations, The Ancient Paths brings to life centuries of our distant history and reinterprets pre-Roman Europe. Told with all of Robb's grace and verve, it is a dazzling, unforgettable book.
By Graham Robb
The Discovery of France
Ten years ago, I began to explore the country on which I was supposed to be an authority . . .
France is a country famous for its intellectuals, its philosophers and writers, its fashion, food and wine. And yet the notion of 'the French' as one nation is relatively recent and - historically speaking - quite misleading. In order to discover the 'real' past of France, Graham Robb realised it was not only necessary to go back in time, but also to go at a slower pace than modern life generally allows. The Discovery of France, illuminating, engrossing and full of surprises, is the result of Robb's 14,000 mile journey across France on a bicycle.
Winner of both the Duff Cooper and the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prizes, The Discovery of France is a modern non-fiction classic, a literary exploration of a remarkable nation. From maps and migration to magic, language and landscape, it reveals a France few will recognize.
By Graham Robb
Lower Normandy: French Impressions
The sixth in the popular French Impressions series, taking the form of a personal travel narrative exploring the three departéments of Lower Normandy. As well as reviewing more than a hundred towns and villages and tourist attractions, the book looks at the historical events and peoples which helped form the unique character of this part of France. The book also features the recipes and background to many traditional and unusual Norman dishes. In all, a complete celebration of one of Frances most beautiful and fascinating areas.
From the D-Day Beaches to the birthplace of William the Conqueror, George East’s unique style paints a gloriously coloured picture of some of the most visited and intriguing parts of Normandy. Learn about where your favourite cheeses come from, along with recipes for exciting and traditional dishes.
By George East
The French Revolution
Concise, convincing and exciting, this is Christopher Hibbert’s brilliant account of the events that shook eighteenth-century Europe to its foundation. With a mixture of lucid storytelling and fascinating detail, he charts the French Revolution from its beginnings at an impromptu meeting on an indoor tennis court at Versailles in 1789, right through to the ‘coup d’etat’ that brought Napoleon to power ten years later. In the process he explains the drama and complexities of this epoch-making era in the compelling and accessible manner he has made his trademark.
Writing in The Times, Richard Holmes described the book as ‘A spectacular replay of epic action …’ while The Good Book Guide called it, ‘Unquestionably the best popular history of the French Revolution’.
By Christopher Hibbert
France: A History: from Gaul to de Gaulle
I can still feel, as if it were yesterday, the excitement of my first Channel crossing (as a child of nearly 7) in September 1936; the regiment of porters, smelling asphyxiatingly of garlic in their blue-green blousons; the raucous sound all around me of spoken French; the immense fields of Normandy strangely devoid of hedges; then the Gare du Nord at twilight, the policemen with their képis and their little snow-white batons; and my first sight of the Eiffel Tower...This book is written in the belief that the average English-speaking man or woman has remarkably little knowledge of French history. We may know a bit about Napoleon or Joan of Arc or Louis XIV, but for most of us that's about it. In my own three schools we were taught only about the battles we won: Crécy and Poitiers, Agincourt and Waterloo. The rest was silence. So here is my attempt to fill in the blanks...
John Julius Norwich (at 88) has finally written the book he always wanted to write, the extremely colourful story of the country he loves best.
From frowning Roman generals and belligerent Gallic chieftains, to Charlemagne (hated by generations of French children taught that he invented schools) through Marie Antoinette and the storming of the Bastille to Vichy, the Resistance and beyond, FRANCE is packed with heroes and villains, adventures and battles, romance and revolution. Full of memorable stories and racy anecdotes, this is the perfect introduction to the country that has inspired the rest of the world to live, dress, eat -- and love better.
By John Julius Norwich
Becoming Bourgeois: Love, Kinship, and Power in Provincial France, 1670–1880
Becoming Bourgeois traces the fortunes of three French families in the municipality of Vannes, in Brittany—Galles, Jollivet, and Le Ridant—who rose to prominence in publishing, law, the military, public administration, and intellectual pursuits over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Revisiting complex issues of bourgeois class formation from the perspective of the interior lives of families, Christopher H. Johnson argues that the most durable and socially advantageous links forging bourgeois ascent were those of kinship. Economic success, though certainly derived from the virtues of hard work and intelligent management, was always underpinned by marriage strategies and the diligent intervention of influential family members.
Johnson's examination of hundreds of personal letters opens up a whole world: the vicissitudes of courtship; the centrality of marriage; the depths of conjugal love; the routines of pregnancy and the drama of childbirth; the practices of child rearing and education; the powerful place of siblings; the role of kin in advancing the next generation; tragedy and deaths; the enormous contributions of women in all aspects of becoming bourgeois; and the pleasures of gathering together in intimate soirées, grand balls, country houses, and civic and political organizations. Family love bound it all together, and this is ultimately what this book is about, as four generations of rather ordinary provincial people capture our hearts.
By Christopher H Johnson