STEVE WHYSALL
Garden Writer
FRANCE TOUR
There's still room if you want to come with me to see great gardens in France next spring

Wow! You really want to see Paris in the springtime.

The garden tour to France in May has been an enormous hit. We received an avalanche of bookings within a few days of details of the 14-day tour being announced.

In fact, there were so many people wanting to go we decided to put on a second tour. The option was to disappoint dozens of people who were very excited about going. For some of them, it would be there first visit to Europe.

Rather than disappoint them, we managed to arrange precisely the same tour to begin when the first one ends.

There are still a few spots left on this second tour if you are interested. You will find details and contact information at the bottom of this story.

The tours start out in Paris and sweep around the picturesque Loire Valley and up close to the Burgundy border.

We will be visiting some of the most spectacular gardens in France, including, of course, Claude Monet’s famous garden at Giverny.

As well we will be visiting places of historical and architectural interest, such as Chartres, to see the amazing cathedral with its exquisite rose-windows of stained glass, and Versailles, the palace and garden that had immense impact on design and style in Europe for centuries.

We will also do some wine tasting and eat in some of the nicest country restaurants before returning to Paris for a deeper exploration of the City of Light.

The tour has been put together as a custom-built adventure for garden and culture lovers with four-star accommodation and access to a plethora of top-notch gardens, including the breathtaking landscape at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte, the exquisite Renaissance-style garden at Chateau de Villandry and Parc Floral de la Source in Orleans, which was judged one of the best gardens in France with its spectacular English-style herbaceous borders and mass planting of irises.

Certainly one of the highlights will be time at Claude Monet’s world-famous garden at Giverny.

This iconic garden has wowed garden-lovers for generations with its definitive arching bridge over a lily-pond and sophisticated colour schemes. It never fails to impress with its intelligently planted borders and dreamy avenues of artistic flower combinations

From Paris our tour will head southwest into the Tours area of the Loire Valley and then sweep around to the historic village of Apremont-sur-Allier on the border of Burgundy and back via Orleans and into Paris.

We will also visit the romantic gardens in Le Parc de Bercy. French gardeners rave about these gardens, which were designed by a collaboration between top architects and landscapers in the 1990s.

The tour has also been structured to allow us to see and do the maximum, with minimum number of hotel changes. So there will be plenty of time to see all the sights of Paris — the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Champs Elysees, Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighbourhood and so on.

The idea is to relax in beautiful gardens and spend the rest in good company exploring the cultural riches and treats of Paris and rural France.

The total cost, including airfare, garden entrances, wine tours, four-star accommodation, breakfasts and taxes is $4,935.16.

For more information call Lyle Truden, manager, international travel consultant with Flight Centre in Vancouver at 778-370-0423 (1-866- 514-3710 toll free) or e-mail lyle.truden@flightcentre.ca.