William the Conqueror, D-Day, atmospheric Honfleur, medieval Rouen immortalised by Monet plus delightful Bayeux. This gorgeous region, a microcosm of France, is just delightful.
For a short break with a difference, Normandy is hard to beat – it really is one of the truly unspoilt corners of Europe. The region is lush and green, with its patchwork of tiny fields and half-timbered buildings and if the beautiful landscapes alone were not enticing enough, Normandy is also known as ‘Cider and Cream Country’ which requires no further explanation!
The history of Normandy is so intertwined with our own. You will see echoes of Joan of Arc, the D-Day landings, Richard the Lionheart and of course the most famous of all, William, the “Conqueror” of England. Everything in Normandy seems vaguely familiar, yet foreign, it’s hard to put your finger on it exactly. This is hardly surprising really as not only is so much of our heritage shared – the same Vikings who visited Normandy also visited Britain. In fact the present day Normans seem to have more in common with us, than they do with the rest of the French! So there is no doubt you will be made to feel at home. Rouen, Bayeux, Honfleur, Fécamp, Arromanches – some of the names you’ll know and some of them you won’t but that’s the beauty of Normandy, it’s sheer variety, so come with us and see.
We take the Eurostar service from London St Pancras to Paris (exact time will be indicated on travel documents), arriving at Paris, Gare du Nord approximately 2 hours 15 minutes later. A coach will then take you to your hotel in Rouen.
Rouen really does defy description – it is one of the most beautifully preserved medieval towns in Europe despite its often turbulent past. This morning we will have a walking tour around the centre of this superb city and although it is not very long in distance, in time however, history will come alive. In the cathedral, immortalised by Claude Monet, you can see the tombs of Richard the Lionheart and William the Conqueror’s grandfather.
During the afternoon we take a short drive to Fécamp, home of the famous liqueur Bénédictine. It was originally distilled in an old monastery from a blend of 27 plants and herbs. Today the Bénédictine Palace itself is a treasure house of artefacts. You can see beautifully delicate alabaster and ivory carvings, old chests with a fantastic number of locks, gold and silver chalices all dating from the Middle Ages, plus a fantastic collection of 19th century ironware and Flemish paintings together with a host of other interesting exhibits.
After our visit and tasting we drive through beautiful pastoral countryside, so beloved by the Impressionist artists who lived throughout the region during the last century, on our journey back to Rouen.
Today we take the drive to perhaps the most picturesque spot on the northern French coast – delightful Honfleur. Beautifully preserved, its old harbour, complete with both fishing boats and luxurious pleasure craft, is surrounded by a perfect waterfront of tall, pastel coloured 18th century houses, many of which have been converted to restaurants specialising in seafood. Along the waterfront, watch the talented artists at work, capturing the delightful view for eternity whilst the intricate maze of streets behind are worthy of some exploration. The eaves of the tall, half-timbered buildings almost touch and on the streets below is an abundance of traditional shops selling all sorts of items such as antiques, books and fine foods.
The locals stop to exchange a few words, kiss each other on both cheeks and continue on their way: everything here blends together so effortlessly to create a most charming example of a French provincial town. Honfleur was the birthplace of Eugene Boudin, the forerunner of Impressionism whose most famous pupil was a certain Claude Monet. There is a museum, which is well worth a visit, housing a number of his works together with those of other artists including Monet himself (please note opening hours vary according to season).
We return to the hotel late afternoon.
Today we have a full day out visiting places for which Normandy is perhaps more famous. We first of all visit Bayeux, which as its name suggests is home to the world famous tapestry depicting the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066 which subsequently led to the Battle of Hastings and the firm establishment of William as, not only Duke of Normandy, but as King of England too. The embroidery is extremely delicate and indeed this is arguably the most perfect relic we have of the Middle Ages.
After lunch we visit nearby Gold Beach, made so famous on 6th June 1944 – D-Day, the landing of the Allied Armies which led to the final liberation of Europe during the Second World War. We have the opportunity to visit perhaps the best museum in the area, at Arromanches, where the remnants of the Mulberry Harbour can be seen.
We then return to our hotel. Whilst the excursions are included in your holiday, they are not compulsory so if you do not wish to take any of them, you can have more time to explore Rouen. Its attractions are numerous: it boasts the largest ceramic art museum in Europe, an excellent Fine Arts museum, including works by Monet, Renoir, Boudin and Delacroix, a superb shopping area, the fantastic cathedral, together with some of the most beautiful “olde worlde” streets you will find anywhere.
Claude Monet’s paintings are some of the most exquisite and familiar works of art ever produced, and to witness first-hand the spectacular displays of colour at the artist’s house and garden at Giverny is an unforgettable experience. In the Japanese-inspired water garden, shaded by a great willow tree and surrounded by bamboo, rhododendrons and azaleas, is the lily pond where he painted his famous Les Nympheas (Water Lilies) series. Little surprise he referred to the garden as ‘my most beautiful masterpiece’. The interior of the house, including the artist’s studio, is similarly outstanding.
Later we continue to Paris for our return Eurostar.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Not included is entrance to the Arromanches Museum - €8.20 approximate cost, payable locally.
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Convenient local departures
Why not enjoy a convenient departure from a station close to home? Booking your own cross-country train transport can be tricky when considering station changes and onward train times, so here at Riviera Travel our Eurostar team work hard finding your preferred regional departure to add to your booking.
We offer departures from stations such as Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Derby, Southampton, Bristol, Lancaster and many more. We endeavour to provide connections from as many stations as possible across the country, so wherever you live you’ll be sure to find a local departure to suit you.
It’s easy to book a local departure; simply select the station you'd like to depart from when making your booking online. If your preferred station is not available to select from the dropdown menu in the checkout, get in touch with us and we can request a station for you.
Enjoy a relaxed journey in the spacious and quiet First Class coach of your regional train. We can add a First Class upgrade to your booking at any time before departure, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
In order to enjoy your Eurostar experience to the full, you may upgrade to Standard Premier Class on the Eurostar (and onward TGV, where applicable). You’ll get a seat in the spacious Standard Premier coach with a complimentary light meal offered from a selection of sweet and savoury cold snacks, and a drink appropriate to the time of day, served at your seat while you relax in the comfort of Standard Premier Class. Upgrades can easily be added to your booking any time before the final balance has been paid, so please call us to enquire further.
UK Citizens do not require a visa to enter France however must have a valid passport. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Train station||Hotel location||Transfer time|
|Paris Gare du Nord||Rouen||2 hrs|
Came on a solo holiday with my sister we were very impressed and would definitely do it again. Hopefully there will be more solo holidays next year. ...
Eileen and Barry Hankinson
This is just a short note to record our thanks for the kind attention and support we received during our memorable visit to rouen etc from the train journey south from newcastle to our return - everything was totally enjoyable - h...