23 people participated in the tour arranged by Tailored Travel, staying at the Hotel Mercure in Rouen. Throughout the trip we had the services of a tour manager.
It has to be said that the trip did not get off to a good start when our coach broke down before any of us was picked up. Tailored Travel staff quickly found another company with a coach and driver available to take us instead. Eventually we set off 2 hours late, but very grateful for DJ coaches for coming to our rescue.
On arrival at our hotel there was time for those who wanted to stretch their legs to wander into the centre of Rouen for a first look round. Dinner that night was in the hotel. After that eating out each evening was an ‘adventure’ as we went out in little groups. The best restaurants had to be booked. Much to our amazement, seventeen of the twenty three enjoyed their last evening at La Petite Auberge – obviously deemed the best.
On our first full day, we enjoyed a guided walking tour of Rouen passing through the market square to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the famous clock dominating the narrow street and the church dedicated to Jeanne d’Arc with its spectacular curved roof and great stained windows at eye level. We imagined they were stunning from the inside; but unfortunately the church was closed and we missed the opportunity to see for ourselves. We were then free to visit the Musee des Beaux-Arts, a gallery of Impressionist paintings, drawings and sculptures by artists such as Caravaggio, Monet and Sisley.
In the afternoon, we visited Le Jardin Plume (in the middle of nowhere). It was created in 1997 and is a contemporary garden combining structure and nature set in a typical Norman orchard. As it is mainly a summer garden there were very few flowers out but we were able to see the structural plantings and had an explanation of the philosophy behind the development of the garden.
We were treated to a gorgeous day in Honfleur on day two. The sun shone and it was warm. We made a brief visit to the Musee Eugene Boudin, named after the town’s most famous painter (Honfleur is a Mecca for artists). The museum has a good collection of impressionist works and was a delightful museum to visit. We could have spent longer there. After lunch we continued on to Deauville with a choice of looking round the town, or basking in the sunshine watching the holiday-makers on the vast beach whilst enjoying an ice cream.
It was too early for the famous water lilies; but otherwise it came up to expectations. We spent the morning visiting the house and garden and after lunch we walked along the road to the Musée des Impressionnismes, which is dedicated to the history of impressionism and its aftermath.
On our final day, on our journey home, we stopped for a guided tour of Chateau du Mesnil Geoffroy built in and 17th and 18th centuries. It was not very large, but quite charming.
It is noted also for its rose gardens containing over 2,000 rose bushes, all collected by Prince Kayali, the owner of the property. He and his wife were ‘hands on’. He presided at the till in the little shop and the Princess made little rose-scented cakes for the group – a nice touch.
Thanks go to our Visit Secretary, Sheila Stewart for organising this very enjoyable holiday as well as Tailor Travel and DJ Coaches for sorting out of travel problems and ensuring the holiday went smoothly