The history of the French coast and its modern bounty. Participate in the art of cognac-making in La Rochelle; gather oysters at a farm on St. Malo; and feast on fabulous regional specialties along the French coast. Visit the Normandy D-Day beaches with a local historian and make a reverential visit to the American cemetery nearby; marvel at the iconic Mont St. Michel, Bayeux Tapestry, Napoleon Museum, and Vauban Citadel, a UNESCO site. And have an unforgettable experience of the magnificent Brittany Coast, and the charming port of Honfleur, which inspired great works by both Shakespeare and Monet.
Day 1Bordeaux, FranceArrive in Bordeaux and embark National Geographic Orion in the elegant and ornate city center. Spend the afternoon exploring the cafés and shops along the thriving waterfront, before departing through the Gironde estuary, passing sloping hills and islands en route to the Atlantic Ocean.
Day 2Ile d’Aix/La Rochelle, FranceStretch your legs on a walking tour of the quaint Île d’Aix, Napoleon’s last stop on French soil before his final exile. Visit the Napoleon Museum, then continue to the nearby port of La Rochelle for an afternoon in this charming seaside city guarded by medieval ramparts. Learn how Cognac is made in the traditional way at Château La Péraudière, a privately held estate, established in 1872. Enjoy a special seafood dinner ashore this evening.
Day 3Belle-Île-en-Mer, FranceWake up to magnificent views of Belle-Île-en-Mer (beautiful island in the sea), known for its rugged cliffs on the western side and charming ports on the eastern side. Explore highlights such as the Bangor lighthouse, the rocks at Port Coton favored by Monet, the Vauban citadel (one of 12 Vauban fortifications recognized by UNESCO), and the fishing town of Le Palais. We’ve built in free time so you may explore Belle-Île on your own, too.
Day 4Douarnenez, FranceToday we explore Brittany. Have a guided walk of medieval Locronan, officially one of “the most beautiful villages in France,” with its Renaissance buildings and church. Take time to discover its many craft workshops on your own, perhaps tasting Breton butter cake.
Day 5Saint-Malo/Mont-Saint-Michel, FranceWake up in Saint-Malo, and take a walking tour of this fortified port city surrounded by ramparts dating from the 12th century. Or, head east on an excursion to the iconic abbey fortress of Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage site poised dramatically on a rocky tidal island a few hundred yards off the coast.We’ve arranged for an exclusive visit to a privateer’s mansion followed by a tasting of the cider for which the region is known. Or for an authentic ‘foodie’ experience, join us at a local oyster farm to gather oysters for the ship’s chef, who will shuck and season these delicacies for a sampling on board. If you wish to explore Saint-Malo on your own on foot or by bike, we’ve made it easy with a pre-provided map and a list of the best cafés and shops.
Day6herbourg/The Normandy Beaches, FranceToday we visit the Normandy beaches with a local historian. The D-Day landings on June 6, 1944 were the first wave of the largest seaborne invasion in history; more than 6,000 ships landed on these beaches. Walk in the footsteps of the Allied troops at Omaha Beach, and pay your respects at the American Cemetery nearby. Travel through countryside known for Calvados, cider, and cheese to the city of Bayeux for an afternoon exploration, including a visit to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, which houses the 230-foot wool embroidered account of the Norman Conquest.We’ve planned some active options today, too. Cycle through northern France, stopping at relevant WWII sites and have lunch in Bayeux.
Day 7Honfleur, FranceDock in the charming town of Honfleur, a favorite of renowned artists such as Monet, Courbet, and Boudin. Enjoy a guided walking tour of Vieux Bassin (the old port), and visit the Eugenè Boudin Museum and Église Sainte-Catherine.Be sure to savor time exploring on your own. Interested in art? We can map out the best galleries, nearly 100 in Honfleur. Or, see for yourself what inspired many of the Impressionists with a hike to the arched limestone cliffs of Etretat.
Day 8London, EnglandWake up in London, disembark in the center of the city and head to the airport for your flight home, or remain in London for an added stay.
DetailsEnquire about this itinerary
- National Geographic Orion
- All meals and non-alcoholic beverages
- Cappuccinos, lattes & filtered water (not available on Panorama II)
- 24-hour coffee, tea & soda on demand (soda not incuded on Lord of the Glens)
- Hors d’oeuvres & snacks during Recap
- Fitness center or exercise equipment, depending on the ship
- Fully stocked library, and other gracious public spaces
- The guidance and company of our expedition staff
- The services of a physician on certain ships/destinations
- Hotels ashore as indicated in itinerary
- Meals on land, as indicated in itinerary
- Sightseeing & entrance fees
- Special access permits, park fees, port taxes
- Transfers to and from group flights
- The expertise of our expedition staff
- All excursions
- Zodiac & kayak explorations (Kayaks not available on Panorama II)
- Snorkeling, including wetsuits, masks, fins & snorkel where relevant
- Presentations and guest speakers in the lounge