Caudebec-en-caux (for access to Honfleur/Normandy Beaches)
The little town of Caudebec-en-caux makes a great transit point to visit the picturesque harbour town of Honfleur, a favourite spot amongst French artists such as Monet and Boudin. It’s also close to the D-Day Beaches of Normandy, where over 150,000 Allied soldiers landed on French soil in 1944 to reclaim the country from Nazi occupation, and which is now home to dozens of historical sites (including museums, bunkers and cemeteries). Caudebec itself features a beautiful Gothic church built in the fifteenth century, with famous stained-glass windows from the same period.
Normandy’s largest city of Rouen is laden with history. It’s the birthplace of novelist Gustave Flaubert, the site where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake on charges of heresy in 1431 and the location of the stunning Rouen Cathedral - built in the fourth century and inspiration for more than thirty artworks by artist Monet. It’s also where the heart of Richard the Lionheart is was laid to rest! During World War 2, large parts of the city were destroyed by bombs, but the medieval quarter has been beautifully restored and now visitors on a Seine River cruise can enjoy a range of fascinating museums and attractions as part of Rouen’s cultural heritage.
World-renowned for its fashion, food, art and culture, Paris certainly lives up to its reputation. Spiralling out from the banks of the twisting Seine, the French capital boasts stunning architecture in the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral; impeccable artworks in the Louvre Museum and Musee d’Orsay; and wide, tree-lined boulevards filled with the best of haute-couture clothing. Nevertheless, ‘the City of Light’ still retains a quintessential French charm, with locals queueing at their favourite boulangeries each morning while musicians busk on street corners - magical!
Vernon (for access to Giverny)
Vernon, a small city famous for liberating itself from Nazi occupation in 1944, has some stunning half-timbered houses and a quaint mill built on a bridge — but it is also only a few kilometres from Giverny where the artist Claude Monet lived for the last forty years of his life. Wandering the gardens that surround his pastel pink house is like walking through a living impressionist painting, as you enter the house, the energetic colours and walls adorned with artwork beautifully frame the view of the lily ponds and Japanese bridge outside.