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Chelsea Flower Show, Keukenhof Gardens, Het Loo, Monet’s Garden, Villandry, Castle Howard, Harewood Holehird, Chatsworth, Stowe, Hidcote and Wisley.
The tour commences at check-in to our city centre hotel, our home for four nights. We rest from the flight, or take an afternoon canal cruise to get our bearings, before meeting our fellow travellers for a Welcome Drink and Dinner. [D]
AMSTERDAM (Keukenhof Gardens)
Every day on a Great Trains of Europe Tour begins with a full buffet breakfast [B]. We spend a full day in one of the world’s finest bulbfields, the Keukenhof Garden, with 80 acres of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other flowering bulbs, shrubs, ancient trees, exhibitions, gurgling streams, flower parades, and seven themed gardens. Little wonder we need all day to visit the Keukenhof! There are restaurants and tea shops. [B]
AMSTERDAM (Het Loo)
We head into the countryside today (who will be first to see a windmill?) to the Gardens of the Dutch Baroque Palace Het Loo, the Royal Palace from the 1680s until 1982. Established by LeNôtre, the gardens feature perfect symmetry, axial layout with radiating gravel walks, parterres, fountains, basins and statues. [B]
A great rail journey today. Our luggage is taken on ahead as we take our reserved First Class seats in the sleek Thalys train, for Paris at 300kph. On arrival we settle in to our boutique 4 star hotel on the Left Bank. On our city sightseeing tour we begin our acquaintance with the City of Lights. [B] [D]
A day in the country to visit two of France’s grand gardens - Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainbleu. The forerunner of Versailles, the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte was laid out in 1661 and includes a parterre, immaculately clipped topiary yew, water features, reflective pools, and a grand canal with grottoes on one side and a cascade on the other. [B]
A quiet morning to stroll in the nearby Luxembourg Gardens or to visit a museum. Monet’s waterlilies are finally on view in their original context at l’Orangerie. See them in real life this afternoon on our visit to Giverney and Monet’s Garden. We enjoy the flower garden called Clos Normand and the water garden with its famous Japanese Bridge covered with wisteria, which should be at its best this week. Then the weeping willows, and the famous nympheas (water lilies). [B]
A high speed French TGV train today into the Loire Valley and the Garden of Villandry, created by Dr Joachim Carvallo, from 1906, in complete harmony with the Renaissance architecture of the chateau. Great horticultural skill was deployed, especially in the use of vegetables. An arbour of grape vines leads to a great parterre, conceived as a Garden of Music. On the other side of the canal is a Garden of Love. [B]
To NORTH YORK MOORS
Another of the great rail journeys of the world as we farewell Paris and join the 300 kph Eurostar through the Chunnel. Customs requires that we travel with our luggage today. In London we join British Rail in the tracks of the Flying Scotsman to the mediaeval city of York. We see the Minster and the Shambles, then transfer to our inn in the North York Moors village of Pickering. A pub dinner tonight. [B] [D]
NORTH YORK MOORS
This morning we visit the gardens of Castle Howard, laid out by Sir John Vanburgh in the early 18th century. Castle Howard is the palace of the Flyte family in “Brideshead Revisited”. We lunch (with Claude Jeremiah Greengrass?) in the village of Goathland, “Aidens field” in the TV series “Heartbeat”. Here we join the historic North York Steam Railway home to Pickering. [B]
NORTH YORK MOORS
This morning we visit historic Harewood House. Its garden is classic Capability Brown - forming an idyllic rural setting. We move on to the spa and garden town of Harrogate for a cream tea or a stroll around Harrogate's famous public gardens. Can you spot Agatha Christie? She “disappeared” here in 1926. [B]
We journey this morning through the Yorkshire Dales, immortalized in James Herriot's “All Creatures Great and Small” novels and television series. A village pub lunch stop, then on to the Lakes District where we settle into our Lakeside hotel. [B] [D]
We take a magical rail journey today through some of the Dales' and England's finest scenery on the historic Settle to Carlisle Railway. A pub lunch, an afternoon cream tea and visits to some more of the Yorkshire Dales' picturesque villages. [B]
This morning we visit Beatrix Potter's garden, Hill Top - watch out for the fierce bad rabbit - and then move on to the National Trust's 14th century Sizergh Castle, with gardens dating from the 18th, loved for their ponds, borders, lawns and avenue of lowering cherries. [B]
To the COTSWOLDS
Our British Rail journey south today brings us to the Peak District of Derbyshire, to visit the gardens of historic Chatsworth House, dating from 1687. Another Capability Brown garden, Chatsworth has been famous for its beauty since Jane Austen's Day. We move on in the late afternoon to the Cotswolds where we stay in a village inn in the pretty riverside village of Bourton-on-the-Water. [B] [D]
This morning’s sightseeing takes us to picturesque Cotswold villages of honey-golden stone: Lower Slaughter, Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden. After a village pub lunch we visit one of England’s favourite gardens - Hidcote Manor, designed and developed by Maj. Lawrence Johnston, who scoured the world to secure rare and exotic species for this extremely pretty garden, a series of “outdoor rooms”. [B]
Today we visit Stowe Landscape Gardens, covering 750 acres and including 40 listed historic monuments and temples. It is considered one of England’s most important landscape gardens and the greatest names in English garden design were involved in its creation from Bridgeman in the 1710s to Vanbrugh, Kent, Gibbs and “Capability ” Brown. Afternoon tea in the Cotswold village of Burford, serious about antiques. [B]
Back on British Rail today we journey through more of the Cotswolds’ rolling hills, as our luggage is taken on ahead to await our arrival in our London hotel. We enjoy London’s sights from a double-decker bus. The Oxford Street shops are only a bus ride away from the hotel. A West End Show tonight? [B]
The Oxford Street shops or Harrods this morning before an afternoon excursion to the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley Garden, where keen English gardeners have gone to be inspired for over 100 years. Spread out over 240 acres, Wisley is a lovely, peaceful place for a stroll as well as a demonstration garden full of practical garden design ideas and cultivation techniques. [B]
A full day today at the renown Chelsea Flower Show, arguably the world's greatest and best known. Our Farewell Dinner tonight. [B][D]
Our tour ends this morning after breakfast. [B]
$AUD 12,950 ($NZ 14,000) per person Twin Share. Land Content only join in Amsterdam, leave in London
Single Room supplement $AUD 2,000.
This tour may also be taken as:
a) Blossoms and Bulbs of Holland and France. Commence Amsterdam Day 1, end Paris Day 7. 7 days $AUD $4,500 twin share, $AUD $800 single suppl, or…
b) England’s Gardens and Chelsea Flower Show. Commence London Day 8, end London Day 20. 14 days $AUD $9,000 twin share $AUD $1200 single suppl.
Also enquire about competitive and ‘early bird’ airfares.
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