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Gardening - Insight Vacations

Magical Gardens of France, Spain & Southern England

Private Custom Group

Duration: 19 days • Countries visited: France, Spain, England
Group trip type: Gardening


Day to Day Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Welcome To London

    On arrival at London’s Heathrow Airport, you are transferred to your hotel and have the rest of the day at leisure. Tonight enjoy a welcome drink with your Travel Director.

  1. Day 2: London Sightseeing

    This morning, sightseeing acquaints you with the vibrant West End of London. Explore Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.  See historic Westminster Abbey and also Buckingham Palace, home of the Queen. A highlight of the trip is a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world’s greatest museum of art and design, with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. Your guide will show you just some of the 3000 years’ worth of amazing artefacts, ceramics, furniture, fashion, glass, photographs, sculptures and paintings. After your visit, Harrods is only a short stroll away.  (BB)

  1. Day 3: Hampton Court Flower Show

    Today visit one of the world’s most vibrant flower shows at Hampton Court Palace, which welcomes you with colour and fragrance. The idyllic setting of Henry VIII’s favourite palace is transformed for six sumptuous summer days.

  1. Day 4: Eurostar to Paris

    This morning you are transferred to Waterloo Station for our Eurostar Express train to Paris. On arrival in the French capital, join your Parisian guide who will show you all the fabulous sights. See Notre Dame Cathedral, drive through the courtyard of the Louvre to the Palace de la Concorde and the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower where you ascend to the second-level viewing platforms which give a spectacular view over Paris. Dinner tonight is at a typical Parisian Bistro followed by a glittering illuminations excursion, to view Paris by night. (BB, HD)

  1. Day 5: Monet’s Giverny & Paris by Night

    This morning a lovely drive takes you along the Seine to the village of Giverny, where Monet lived for the last 43 years of his life. The décor of the house itself is fascinating for its blend of colours, but it is the garden where the spirit of the artist is revealed. A spectacular array of colour is created by poppies, delphiniums, lupins, irises and roses, while the water garden is a wistful dream of bamboo, willow and rustic bridges sweeping over waterlilies which were one of Monet’s favourite subjects. Back in Paris, tonight is free for you to relax at a café on the Champs Elysees, or by night why not try one of the world-famous cabaret shows? (BB)

  1. Day 6: Chateaux Country & the Loire Valley

    Farewell romantic Paris as you head south towards Chateaux Country. View the mighty Chambord, and return to the Loire River to see the magnificent royal fortress at Blois with its memories of intrigue and assassination. Then a scenic drive along the valley, past Amboise where there is a chance to sample some of the local wines. We continue onto the beautiful Chateau de Rochecotte, once the home of Tallyrand and now your home for 2 nights! Enjoy a highlight dinner tonight with wine at the hotel. (BB, D)

  1. Day 7: Gardens of the Loire Valley

    Start your day with a relaxed breakfast and enjoy the setting of your Chateau, before driving out past the fortress of Langeais to Chateau De Villandry, the ‘Jewel of the Loire’. Visit the glorious gardens and ensure you don’t miss the water garden, ornamental garden and kitchen garden - a stunning sea of fragrant green herbs, silvery cabbages and purple basil. Return to your superb Chateau for relaxation and free time.  Perhaps take the opportunity to hire a bicycle from the hotel and enjoy one of several scenic cycle routes available. (BB)

  1. Day 8: Limoges & the Dordogne Valley

    Southwards today, we pass an old town associated with the “Black Prince” and birthplace to the notorious beauty Diane de Poitiers. We continue to the town of Limoges, famous for its pottery and enamels, where we visit a porcelain showroom. Now we go onto our hotel in Brive-la-Gaillard for a 2-night stay. (BB, D)

  1. Day 9: Discover The Dordogne Valley

    This morning, we travel to the town of Salat to visit the Salat markets which date back to medieval times and are famous throughout the region. The Dordogne and Sarlat are famous for duck, goose and walnuts all of which can be found at the market, along with regional gourmet delights such as Rocamadour goats’ cheese and Bergerac wines. Then onto visit Lasaux II where the world-famous Prehistoric Cave paintings have been faithfully reproduced, before heading back to our hotel. (BB)

  1. Day 10: Pilgrimage Town of Rocamadour, Cahors & Albi

    First we travel to the Rocamadour, a resting place for Pilgrims on their way to Spain. This medieval town is perched on a cliff side above the Alzou River. After some time to explore and sample the delicious cheeses local to the area, continue onto the historic town of Cahors located on a peninsula formed by a meander of the River Lot and famous for its ‘black wine’. Then we go onto the pretty town of Albi on the River Tarn, famous for its Cathedral and the birthplace of Toulouse Lautrec. (BB, D)

  1. Day 11: Medieval Carcassonne Towards Barcelona

    This morning, we cross the Agout River at Castres and continue over the black mountains to the unspoilt medieval city of Carcassonne. Entering Carcassonne is like stepping back in time. The city has a complete set of ramparts, a medieval keep, even a sports ground for jousting! Then we continue towards the Mediterranean coast near Narbonne and turn south. We pass Perpignan, with its Catalan influences, and drive to the Spanish border. Continue past Figures, birthplace of Salvador Dali, and head for the Catalan capital Barcelona. Dinner is served at the hotel tonight. (BB, D)

  1. Day 12: Highlights of Barcelona

    The lively and vibrant city of Barcelona boasts an impressive old town but it’s the daring architecture from the modernist period (1890-1920) that sets it apart. Sightseeing with a local guide begins in the narrow lanes of the Gothic Quarter, centred on the old Cathedral. Then pass the leafy Las Ramblas to enter the Eixample District. See Gaudi’s extraordinary unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral before free time this afternoon to explore on your own. Perhaps visit Park Guelle, Gaudi’s famous example of Art Nouveau landscape architecture.  Tonight you may wish to take in a dazzling Flamenco Show with dinner. (BB)

  1. Day 13: Pamplona & Coastal San Sebastian

    First stop today is Pamplona, the city of the running of the bulls. Perhaps take a stroll to the famous Estafeta Street? Continue onto San Sebastian, the Pearl of the Canabrian coast. Tonight dinner is at a local restaurant. (BB, HD)

  1. Day 14: Highlights of San Sebastian

    In the morning, admire the beauty of San Sebastian on a guided walking visit to the Old quarter. See the numbered balconies of the Plaza de la Constitucian, a reminder of the days when bullfights were held in the square. Ascend Monte Igueldo for beautiful views of the town and La Concha Bay. The afternoon is free to stroll along San Sebastian’s boardwalk. Maybe participate in an excellent dinner with drinks in a restaurant in the heart of Vlo Viejo (old town) tonight. (BB)

  1. Day 15: Bilbao, Santander & Ferry Ride to Portsmouth

    Drive to Bilbao to admire the striking modern architecture of the Guggenheim Museum. Then onto the beach resort of Santander. After time to look around, we enjoy a local dinner before boarding our overnight ferry to Portsmouth. (BB, HD)

  1. Day 16: Plymouth & Ashdown Park

    This morning we arrive at Plymouth, where Drake played bowls while he waited for the Spanish Armada. On arrival we see the new town centre, Barbican and Citadel, and the famous Hoe. Then we travel to our hotel at Ashdown Park for a 2-night stay. (BB, D)

  1. Day 17: Gardens of Sissinghurst

    This morning we head to Sissinghurst, one of the best known & admired gardens in the world where the horticulture is unparalleled. Explore the amazing series of linked garden spaces and walk through to the new Kitchen Gardens. Climb the tower for a fabulous view. We return to our hotel for a hearty dinner. (BB, D)

  1. Day 18: Grand Gardens of Wisley

    This morning, we head first to Sussex for a visit to the acclaimed Wisley Gardens.  Wisley is the historical home of the RHS and is undoubtedly one of the great gardens of the world – at over 200 acres in size and so many sights to see, including the stunning Glasshouse (housing over 5,000 different varieties of tropical plant), Battleston Hill, the Fruit Orchard and dramatic Rock Garden. Then it’s onto London for a farewell dinner. (BB, FD)

  1. Day 19: Farewell London

    After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your onward journey. (BB)

Meal guide: BB = Buffet Breakfast, HD = Highlight Dinner, D = Hotel Dinner, FD = Farewell Dinner, HL = Highlight Lunch


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