Normandy: Step Into Living History

Travel Partner: Butterfield & Robinson

Duration | 7 Days

Destination | Normandy

Starting Price | $9,895


Though every region of Europe boasts a long history, Normandy has been deeply shaped by two watershed moments that are pillars of European history and culture: the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the Allied landing on June 6, 1944. Discovering this region is like turning the pages of a history book while riding through lush fields, along white sand beaches, past quaint thatched cottages and ancient churches; the combination of these elements has created in Normandy a unique region. The locals speak of their love for the land and their attraction to the sea – a feeling you will share as we bike the Channel Coast and past historic beaches.

Day 1 – Honfleur

Overnight – La Ferme Ste. Siméon

Bienvenue en Normandie! Upon your arrival to the Deauville-Trouville train station, a car and driver will be waiting to chauffeur you to the lovely nearby seaside village of Honfleur. Depending on your arrival time, you may have a chance to browse the elegant shops of this beautiful old harbor town, people watch along the Corniche, or wander into the wacky Satie Museum. Meet your guide over cocktails this evening, as he or she lets you in on the adventures that lie ahead. Dinner is on your own tonight and we will gladly make a recommendation or two; for example, you may want to dine at the fabulous SaQuaNa restaurant. This stylish two Michelin-starred restaurant blends Japanese and French cuisines, with spectacular results. Or perhaps a local bistro is more up your alley after a long day of travels, L’Absinthe just happens to be a Butterfield & Robinson favorite. After a delicious meal, make sure to get a good night’s rest so you’re ready to start your journey tomorrow!

Day 2 – Normandy

Overnight – La Ferme Ste. Siméon

Today, begin your adventure by exploring the hidden valleys of the Parc Naturel Régional des Boucles de la Seine Normande. After a short drive we’ll start pedaling through this natural reserve, known for its rich cultural heritage, biodiversity and wetlands that provide a crucial habitat for the region’s flora and fauna. These wetlands of the lower Seine offer an easygoing and gorgeous introduction to Normandy as you ride passed quintessential châteaux, abbeys and thatched roof cottages. At midday, you’ll pause for lunch at a lovely local auberge – a perfect introduction to Norman cuisine – before continuing back to Honfleur. The late afternoon is yours to take a self-guided walk of this artistic harbor town where Impressionists Monet and Boudin worked in the 1860s. Or, if you prefer, you may log some extra miles or indulge in a soothing spa treatment. This evening for dinner, you may once again choose from a variety of great options in town, or perhaps treat yourself to your hotel’s exquisite gastronomical restaurant.

Day 3 – Deauville

Overnight – La Ferme Ste. Siméon

Today you’ll continue to ease into the pace of seaside life, but first you roll inland through the famous horse-breeding farms of the area. Deep forests alternate with lush prairies as you descend into Deauville, an elegant resort often called the “Parisian Riviera” for its casino, stately buildings, and annual film festival. If you fancy shopping, you will have a chance to browse the chic designer boutiques or simply pause for a coffee on one of the many lively terraces. There will be plenty of great lunch spots to choose from today. Ask your guide to point you toward Les Vapeurs, a typical brasserie across the bridge in the sister town of Trouville that has managed to preserve the simple fishing village traditions of the coast. This afternoon, you can follow the coast back for free time in Honfleur. The evening is yours to enjoy together; for dinner, your guide will point you in the right direction depending on what you are in the mood for.

Day 4 – Bayeux

Overnight – Villa Lara

Today starts with a short drive to Pegasus Bridge and its museum. Vital to the success of the D-Day strategy, this bridge had to be taken from the enemy to facilitate the advance of troops landing west of the River Orne. From Pegasus, you’ll head inland to the Abbaye d’Ardennes to begin your ride, returning to the spectacularly lush Norman countryside. In a small village, you’ll sit down at a private château for a great country lunch, complemented by samples of two of the region’s liquid specialties: cider and calvados. The afternoon ride takes you past châteaux, abbeys, churches and quaint villages en route to bustling Bayeux, home to about 15,000 inhabitants and your base for the final three nights of the trip. We will gather again in the early evening to visit the Bayeux tapestry. This medieval wonder of craftsmanship depicts in splendid detail the exploits of William the Conqueror around the time of the Battle of Hastings. After this historical glimpse of the invasion that “went the other way,” you’ll head into town for dinner. Your guide will have several recommendations for you this evening; whether you are in the mood for classic regional cuisine or a gastronomical delight, Bayeux’s restaurant scene is sure to deliver!

Day 5 – Arromanches

Overnight – Villa Lara

The next morning you delve more deeply into the D-Day locales with a ride to Juno, the middle of the five beaches that was the Canadian objective on that historic day. From here, with views to the dramatic Channel cliffs, you’ll continue to the Invasion Museum at Arromanches. This compact, fascinating facility lays out the geography and strategy of June 6, 1944, including the challenges of creating an artificial harbor nearby to facilitate debarkation. Without an artificial harbor there would not have been a landing in Normandy, and today you have a chance to admire this masterpiece of engineering as some of its pieces still form a half moon shaped break wall around Arromanches. After lunch on your own in town, this afternoon’s ride back to Bayeux will pass by the imposing guns of the bunkers at Longues-sur-Mer. The late afternoon is yours to enjoy some shopping, down time or explore the town and discover Bayeux’s rich cultural heritage. For dinner tonight, why not try a local’s favorite near the cathedral? It’s time for a good steak-frites or seabass done the Norman way!

Day 6 – Bayeux

Overnight – Villa Lara

Your final day saves the best for last. The ride will first take us to Pointe du Hoc, the German stronghold overlooking the American landing beaches. Here, you’ll meet up with our WWII expert, who will explain what the place looked like on D-Day and how the Rangers took it, in one of the most heroic actions of the landings. Farther along the invasion coast, you’ll have lunch together in a Swedish-style wood house that makes some of the best seafood and barbecue skewers. After lunch, you come to Omaha beach, where you’ll learn about its fortifications and get a spine-tingling description of what happened on June 6, 1944. The tour will end at the American Cemetery, where you may take a moment to reflect and pay tribute to the fallen soldiers. With this fitting closure, you’ll conclude your trip as well, toasting heroic ghosts over cocktails this evening. Your guide will be sure to recommend a memorable restaurant for your final evening in Bayeux.

Day 7

This morning after breakfast, it’s time to bid farewell to your guide. A car and driver will take you from Bayeux to the Caen train station, which has direct connections to Paris. À bientôt!

Prices are per person, based on two people sharing. Room categories, dates of travel and changes to services will affect the price. Dollar conversions shown (if applicable) will fluctuate throughout the year. Contact the Andrew Harper Travel Office to customize this itinerary to fit your needs.

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