France

The tour

Our plan is to travel for 10 months from March 2024 until January 2025. During that time, we'll be taking in parts of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa and finally back to Australia, home after more than ten years living in Hong Kong.

The difficulty in planning a trip like this is not just where to go, it's how long to spend in each location. We know where we want to start, India and we know where we'll be ending; Sydney, January 2025. In between, we've carved out what we think will be enough time for each place along the way, but only by visiting will we truly know.

Since we started planning, the itinerary has changed and will no doubt, keep changing; if there's one lesson everyone must learn on a travel adventure, it's to be flexible.

Highlights
  • Catching a wave in Biarritz
  • Visiting the holy site of Lourdes
  • Visiting the wineries around Bordeaux
  • Attending the 2024 Olympics opening ceremony
  • Visiting World War One battlefields
  • Crossing the Channel from Calais to Dover

Tour Plan

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Biarritz

After a couple of weeks hiking The Camino, we'll look forward to a bit of downtime. This resort town sits on France's Basque coast and has enjoyed all sorts of influences over the centuries from architectural to gastronomic. All the research says this is a real foodie town. We'll definitely be spending time in Les Halles, a late 19th century covered market hall visit a swag of fabulous seafood restaurants. Biarritz is also a surfer's paradise so we'll factor in plenty of time in the water and may even follow up with a drink at the famous Eden Rock Café. Then there's shopping which I said I wouldn't do but this area is home to the original espradille so browsing could well turn to buying. Just saying...

Lourdes

Lourdes is a small town situated in the Pyrenees. In 1858, a 14 year old peasant girl named Bernadette proclaimed she had an encounter with the Virgin Mary. She'd go on to witness a further 17 apparitions. Since then, Lourdes has become one of the world's most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites and has a special place for the sick, the fragile and the weak. While Nick and I have been there before, this is the first time the twins will be visiting this holy and historic place.

Bordeaux

If you drink wine, you've probably heard of Bordeaux but interestingly, no wines are produced within the city limits. For that, you have to travel about an hour out of town, cue, wine tours. And with 65 appellations and more than 7,000 chateaux, the question is,  will there be time to do anything else? Of course, with two underage tourists we'll have to find something. Fortunately, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers plenty of other things to see and do from splashing around in the Miroir d’Eau, the largest reflecting pool in the world to sampling oysters in Arachon, visiting the thousand year old Cathedral Saint-Andre and perusing the famous Marché des Capucins.

Tours

Called the gateway to the Loire Valley, Tours is a the perfect base to explore the region's fairy-tale châteaux and vine-clad slopes.  The city itself will provide more magic with its medieval-era winding streets and half-timbered homes dating back to the 14th century as well as a bustling centre square. Given its history, it's not surprising to learn this is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Normandy

We're spending the better part of a month in France but you could probably spend a month just in Normandy and still not see everything. You've got the stunning coastline and its white-chalk cliffs, the WWII beachheads, including Omaha Beach, the site of the famous D-Day landing. Then there's the rocky island of Mont-Saint-Michel just off the coast which is meant to be awe-inspiring close up. And not to be outdone, you've got the city of Rouen where Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen stands, the site where saint Joan of Arc was executed in 1431.

Paris

Paris is one of those cities you have to keep revisiting to appreciate its beauty, history, culture and way of life. This first visit as a family is all about the Olympics and watching the opening ceremony as it unfolds down The Seine in a magical, outdoor spectacular. We plan to stay up all night and drink in the city and when things settle down post-Olympics, we'll eventually return.

Amiens

After Paris, we're heading to northern France to begin our war cemeteries tour. This will be a very special part of the trip for all of us as we pay homage to those who have fallen, and visit the sacred places where so any brave men fought and lost their lives. We'll follow the paths of Australian soldiers during World War One in the Somme and visit major sites including Pozieres and Villers Bretonneux.

Fromelles
Some consider Fromelles the most tragic event in Australia's war time history. More than 5,000 Australian soliders were killed, wounded, went missing or were taken prisoner on one day, the greatest loss by a single division in 24 hours during the entire war. It's an extraordinary loss to ponder. We'll visit the Fromelles Memorial Park, the scene of the first Australian operation in the Great War plus see the famous ‘Cobbers’ statue and VC Corner Cemetery, site of mass Australian graves.

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“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― Augustine of Hippo

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