We depart from London and Gatwick this morning and travel by coach to Folkestone to catch a Eurotunnel shuttle service to Calais. On arrival in France we continue to our accommodation, the 4-star Hotel Mercure Champs de Mars in Rouen. A welcome drink and dinner is included this evening.
After breakfast this morning we travel north to the beautiful gardens at Le Bois des Moutiers on the northern coast, near Dieppe. The garden, in part influenced by the English designer Gertrude Jekyll, is full of charm. Near the house a white garden, held in check by disciplined box hedges, is full of white valerian, Iceberg roses, white irises and other ghostly plants. One can amble through the glades whose themes, colours and scents vary enormously in one of the most beautiful landscapes of the region.
We continue to the nearby garden of Le Vasterival. In 1957 Princess Sturdza, a talented plantswoman, started to create this magnificent garden in a natural style covering 7 hectares of acid soil, a kilometre from the sea. Princess Sturdza died in 2009 but the garden continues to thrive, with a huge range of plants which grow to perfection in its composted earth. Its informal design with paths, woodlands, glades and immaculate grass walks leading temptingly in all directions, contains a richness of flora in a variety of settings all year round.
After a leisurely lunch in a local restaurant in nearby Dieppe (not included), we visit the Château de Miromesnil, which represents four centuries of harmonious architectural styles including a rare example of Louis XIII monumental style. Of particular interest will be the kitchen garden which was restored forty years ago by the Comtesse de Vogüé, grandmother of the present owners. Separated by alleys made of grass, the squares are ordered with vegetables and flowers that contrast with the profusion of annual flowers on the sides. The surrounding park is dominated by a cedar of Lebanon, several centuries old, and there are also fruit trees, magnolias and a huge collection of clematis.
Evening at leisure.
After breakfast this morning, we visit a rare example of pure Louis XIII architectural style, Château de Bosmelet, which was built in 1632 and still stands at the apex of 300 year-old lime tree avenues planted to classical French designs. Of particular interest will be the rainbow potager garden with some 900 varieties of vegetables and flowers in four chromatic patterns on either side of a central boxwood hedge.
Following our visit we will have an opportunity for lunch in a local restaurant (not included). In the afternoon we will visit the Jardins Agapanthe. There are two gardens and a nursery here, with many interesting and unusual features, including a scented walk, a sunken garden with lavender, a Mediterranean garden with ponds, a pergola, terraces and a fountain.
Evening at leisure.
This morning, following breakfast, we depart for Giverny and the world famous house and gardens of Claude Monet. Our early start today will ensure an early arrival at Giverny - a time when the gardens are at their most tranquil. Both the house and gardens have been lovingly and accurately restored - one would believe that the family have just gone out to walk in the garden. You will have plenty of time to explore this marvellous garden at your leisure.
After lunch (not included) and some free time in Giverny, an opportunity to visit the little church where Monet is buried, we continue to the impressive Jardins d'Angélique at Montmain. Created six years ago, this garden, whose queen is the rose, displays intense bursts of flower in a relaxing environment characteristic of Normandy. Opposite the magnificent former Norman manor house is a subtle and sensuous collection of 1600 varieties of rose surrounded by lawn gardens.
Evening at leisure.
Today, following breakfast, we check out of our hotel and begin our homeward journey, but before we leave Normandy we have time for one more visit, the Jardin Plume. Since 1997, Sylvie and Patrick Quibel have been creating this natural yet structured contemporary garden in a typical Normandy orchard. Making generous use of grasses and perennials, this four acre garden includes seasonal plantings, a central square mirror pool and a kitchen garden.
Following our visit we return to Calais for our Eurotunnel crossing to Folkestone. On arrival we return to our original departure points, where arrival is due in the evening.