Accommodations in centrally-located three-star or four-star hotels. Rooming on a triple basis. Double rooms: $320 per person.
Round-trip transportation on scheduled airline. Deluxe touring motorcoach.
All breakfasts. All dinners. Dinner aboard ferry on Day 4.
Services of a specially-trained passports Tour Director throughout.
Entrances and activities as noted on itinerary.
passports provides and pays for a Post Departure Travel Protection Plan that includes coverage for Trip Interruption, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss or Delay, Medical Expense and Evacuation and more.
Optional London Eye
London City Sightseeing: Local guide
Optional West End Theatre Performance
Visit to Stonehenge, Ferry Portsmouth-Caen/Ouistreham, Transfer from the pier
D-Day Beaches, Film at the Arromanches 360 circular cinema, American Cemetery
Excursion to Mont Saint-Michel: Visit to Mont Saint-Michel Abbey
Visit to the Château de Chenonceau, Château du Clos-Lucé
Visit to the Louvre Museum
Paris City Sightseeing: Local Guide
Visit to Notre-Dame Cathedral
Eiffel Tower Level Two: Optional Eiffel Tower Summit, Optional Dinner on the Eiffel Tower
You head east, into a short night, and suddenly it's morning, and you're in England. Londontown: the hub and focus for theatergoers worldwide!
Settle into your hotel, then venture into your surroundings. Red, double-decker buses groan along the "wrong" side of the road, escorted by innumerable black taxicabs with engines that sound like sewing machines.
Enjoy a ride on one of the world's top ten Ferris wheels. It's magnificently situated by the River Thames, across from the Houses of Parliament. Revolving slowly above the London skyline, this "Millennium Wheel" takes visitors on a unique ride over England's capital city.
Enjoy a tour of the sights and sounds of the British capital. See such sights as St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Kensington, and Trafalgar Square.
A local guide will accompany your group.
The remainder of the day is free to plan as you wish.
Consider a visit to the Tower of London to view Traitors' Gate, the Bloody Tower, the Block (where two of Henry VIII's ill-fated wives lost their heads), the White Tower and the Crown Jewels. If you choose to follow one of the Beefeaters, you'll also be able to visit the Royal Chapel.
Attend a performance at a West End venue. In London you can find anything you're looking for, from classical drama to Rodgers and Hammerstein. Perhaps a good tear-jerker?
Head west to the rolling landscapes of Wiltshire.
Learn about the origins of this colossal structure erected between 2,000 BC and 1,500 BC. Hear how the immense blocks of stone were transported to this site and speculate about the religious customs of these prehistoric builders, who possessed a sophisticated understanding of arithmetic and astronomy.
Travel to the port where Lord Nelson's flagship, H.M.S. Victory, is anchored. Portsmouth has been a major base of the Royal Navy since 1194.
From Portsmouth Harbor, a ferry will take you across the English Channel to the port of Ouistreham, the gateway to Caen, hometown of William the Conqueror. Have a thought for the young Allied troops who embarked on a momentous journey along this same route, over seventy years ago, headed, as you are now, for Normandy.
This is indeed Second World War country: sobering memorials, bunkers, and occasional remnants of barbed wire. Three-quarters of a century after D-Day, the beaches of Normandy are still referred to by their WWII code names.
Stop on the cliff that overlooks the landing beach of Arromanches to watch the impressive Normandy's 100 Days HD film with surround sound that's presented on nine screens. It places the spectator in the middle of the Battle of Normandy, thanks to archival footage.
Just over the coastal bluffs, in Colleville-sur-Mer, lie the 9,387 military graves of the American Cemetery, which you will visit. The endless, crisp rows are poignant reminders of heroic days that changed the outcome of World War II.
Proceed to the medieval harbor known as la Cité des Corsaires for famous native seafarers such as Surcouf, who captured countless English ships, and Jacques Cartier, who sailed to the New World and up Canada's St. Lawrence River in 1535. Saint-Malo is perched on a rock at the mouth of the River Rance, its only link to the mainland a narrow causeway.
See how the Mont rises out of the sea mists, its spired abbey church perched upon a mountain of granite.
On your way up the hill for a visit to the abbey, you will walk along steep streets filled with tales of pilgrimages and of prisoners who were once kept on this small island.
On the way back, spend some time browsing in the village's souvenir shops. Have a look at the surrounding seabed, a flat sandy expanse at low tide, where incoming tides are said to rush in as fast as a galloping horse.
Today, travel south to the Loire Valley, where French monarchs built fancy castles to entertain their courtiers.
Visit the prettiest of the Loire Valley châteaux, which spans the River Cher. In 1547, King Henri II gave this property to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. On her orders, splendid gardens were added and a bridge was built to link the castle to the other bank of the Cher. The famous gallery later erected upon that bridge by Queen Catherine de Medici served as an escape route during World War II between Nazi-occupied northern France and unoccupied southern France.
Proceed to the Loire Valley town where the most illustrious resident of all time is not a king, but Leonardo da Vinci. He was 64 when he arrived in Amboise at the invitation of King François I. He was buried within the estate of Amboise's Royal Castle in 1519.
Visit the Clos-Lucé, the manor where Leonardo continued to work with ostinato rigore (in his own words), for the last four years of his life. Some forty models of Leonardo's intricate machines, recently constructed from his plans, are on display and give ample testimony to his creative genius. You will also watch "I, Leonardo da Vinci," an audio-visual presentation which retraces the life and work of the artist.
Vineyards color the roads of the Vallée de la Loire. The poet Joachim du Bellay spoke eloquently about the douceur angevine of the sister province: in Touraine, you will feel the douceur tourangelle of a region regarded as the Jardin de la France.
Today, travel to the region known as the Ile-de-France.
The spires of la Cathédrale de Chartres first come into view, solemnly rising above the wide-open fields of La Beauce. Soon, you're facing the most beautiful Gothic structure in Europe, reputed for its stunning stained-glass windows. As you will see, this cathedral defines Gothic architecture and the concept of the flying buttress.
Pick up speed on the autoroute that takes you into a whole different world: the stately monuments and broad boulevards of the French capital.
Visit the grand Musée du Louvre. Walk along restored galleries, view ancient treasures, and don't miss the underground galleria beneath I. M. Pei's glass pyramid. You will see Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Vénus de Milo, and many other masterpieces.
Set out on a coach tour of the city. On the Right Bank of the River Seine, see Napoléon's Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysées, the Place de la Concorde, and the exuberant Opéra Garnier. On the Left Bank, you'll drive by the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, the Latin Quarter, the Luxembourg Gardens, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
A local guide, well-educated and specially-trained on the history and culture of Paris, will accompany your group.
Cross the River Seine to get to the boat-shaped island known as the Ile de la Cité, the very heart of the ancient city which the Romans called Lutetia. There, visit Notre-Dame de Paris. This cathedral has presided over centuries of glorious and somber French history, from its construction in the Middle Ages to its desecration during the French Revolution, and the coronation of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1804 (the 35-year-old upstart crowned himself emperor, with the Pope and all of Europe watching). Admire its bas-reliefs, statuary, gargoyles and remarkable rose windows.
The remainder of the day is free to plan as you wish.
You may want to have lunch at the Galeries Lafayette, one of the the most elegant of the city's department stores with its splendid 19th-century glass and iron atrium. The cafeteria is located on the 6th floor, from which there's an extraordinary rooftop view of Paris, with the fabulous gilded roof of the Opera Garnier in the forefront.
Take a stroll along the glamorous Avenue des Champs-Elysées, which stretches for more than a mile from the Place de la Concorde, where Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette encountered Dr. Guillotin's invention and their fate. The obelisk at the center of the square was presented by Egypt to France in 1831 and dates back to the 13th century BC, a relic of Ramses II. In the vicinity stands the Palais de l'Elysée, built in 1718, which now serves as the residence of the President of the Republic. At the other end of the avenue, the Arc de Triomphe looms over the city's craziest rotary. (You may want to climb up to the monument's platform for a great overview of the area!)
Take an elevator to the deuxième étage of the most famous cast iron structure ever built, la Tour Eiffel, for an unforgettable panorama of Paris.
Availability permitting, you'll ascend to the third level of the tower.
Enjoy a three-course dinner at the restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel.
Most good things must come to an end. Your suitcase full of memorabilia and of photos ready to be processed, you'll arrive home later today, eager to share your discoveries with family and friends.
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