Denise and Merrick’s Treasures of France – Part One

This is our first time experiencing a guided vacation and I must be honest in saying that we always thought this wasn’t for us. We love to travel and experience this wonderful world we live in and meet the interesting people who make each destination unique. We love to explore and absorb the whole vibe of places we visit, from the smells and tastes to the rhythm of the street. We love to take things in on our own time with only a general guideline for time and no real schedule. However, a friend of ours explained that Trafalgar offered guided vacations that we would love. And so, for our 30th anniversary we are heading back to Europe to try something new.

After reviewing the itinerary for Treasures of France, I was intrigued by how little was scheduled, yet still managing to visit almost all of the places we were hoping to see if we were to go on our own.  I was also excited to read about surprises and unplanned stops as well as the optional excursions. This is actually sounding a lot like the way we enjoy discovering new places! So with our bags packed and our minds open we head off on yet another of our adventures, this time leaving the leg work to professionals.

What can I say?  Our first day was full of “Ooo La La’s!” We arrived from Canada, excited for our first taste of Paris.  Friendly Trafalgar transfer staff whisked us off to our hotel, which to our surprise was just off of the Champs d’Elise on a lovely avenue, lined with wisterias in full bloom. It truly was my vision of Paris, and I was in heaven.

The Eiffel Tower!

The Eiffel Tower!

Our Welcome Dinner was at a lovely bistro just down the street, with a view of the Arc de Triomphe.  The atmosphere and the food was first rate, with a French onion soup to die for, and crème brule for dessert.  We met our travel companions for the week, and I can’t believe over the next week we will actually see all that our Travel Director, Giovanna, has promised!

Our next day in Paris began with the view from Montmartre overlooking the city.  I think the view actually outdid the history and majesty of the beautiful cathedral built up there.  I still can’t believe we are here. I would have to say that although we have been to many places today, from Rouen to Honfleur and Normandy to Bayeau, we are finding the wealth of knowledge wrapped up in our wonderful Travel Director, the most impressive.  We love the beautiful architecture, countryside and towns and villages, but the stories that go with them are the most interesting, and bring the mortar stone and slate to life.

A Parisian cathedral

A Parisian cathedral

The stop at Juno Beach was especially meaningful to us, as so many of our countrymen gave their lives on that beach in the name of freedom. Just standing on that same sand sent shivers down to our very souls.  It was something we will never forget.

One of our next stops was the famous Bayeux Tapestry. Although I, like many people the world over, have come across pictures of this, to see this work of art and history in its entirety was absolutely amazing.  Whether you are a crafter and could marvel at the sheer number of hours and talent required to create a piece of tapestry of this size, or are a history buff and could appreciate the story of William the Conqueror in 1066, this historical treasure was mesmerizing.  To me the most intriguing part about this piece is that in a time long before anyone could pick up a newspaper or textbook, or find information in seconds at the click of a mouse, these people told their story in such a detailed manner, and it has lasted for centuries.  I feel quite humbled and inadequate sitting at my keyboard relating my travels knowing that in a few minutes, I will click “send” and it will disappear and sometimes, to my frustration, disappear forever into cyberspace.

The rain cleared for us to explore the town of Bayeux, and then it was off to Saint Malo, a city with a unique identity and history. We loved the city and our Local Guide, Coco, a proud resident of this wonderful gem.  She brought the city’s history and legends to life, and it’s unique, if not questionable, beginnings. I wonder what surprises tomorrow will bring?

Denise McCall, Canada

6 responses to “Denise and Merrick’s Treasures of France – Part One

  1. I am so glad to hear that you and Merrick are enjoying a Trafalgar Tour; what great news! I hope you enjoy the beauty of France. If you are stopping in London on your way home, let me know, we could arrange to meet up. Take care. xo

  2. Sounds absolutely wonderful Denise, what time of year was this?
    I’ve also been under the impression that travelling myself is easier and cheaper, and have had friends tell me I’m crazy and that Trafalgar is far better for many reasons. I cant wait to hear more about your journey and see what you thought of the whole experience.
    Best regards;
    Maureen

    • We went at the end of April. It was a nice time to go, The spring flowers were all in bloom, the weather wasn’t overly hot but very comfortable and we weren’t fighting the larger crowds that would be there in the summer. Although there are things about travelling alone that are great, we found Treasures of France to be the best value, once we started pricing lodging, transportation and meals. For this destination, for sure, this was a real deal and there is no way we could have seen as much as we did on our own as with Trafalgar. They had everything timed to perfection and were able to fit in twice as much as we would have managed left to our own devices.
      I hope you enjoy the next couple of entries. Let me know if you have any other questions. ~ Denise

  3. Great writeup of The Treasures of France, Denise. It was indeed a wonderful trip during a beautiful time of year in France, and Giovanna is one of the best tour directors (never had a bad one with Trafalgar). The trip to St.Malo was one of the highlights for us as well – so much history, but you’re right: Coco made it an especially memorable afternoon. We really enjoyed her narrative and tidbits about St. Malo’s history and Brittany. This was our fifth Trafalgar trip so we knew there wouldn’t be any worries. And the traveling companions are always topnotch! Hope you and Merrick had a great summer. Can’t wait to read more and thanks for helping us relive an amazing trip.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Trafalgar will definitely be seeing more of us after this trip. We were in the company of so many wonderful travellers; many of whom were repeat Trafalgar travellers, and this really makes the difference. Safe travels!
      Denise

  4. We noticed how many of our travelling companions were repeat travellers with Trafalgar. Now that we have been on one, we know why. There wasn’t one day that I could say did not impress. It really is hard to sum up in words just how awesome and amazing this trip was. Glad you are enjoying it.

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