Three Weeks' TOur in Normandy, Brittany and Touraine
The following, three weeks' itinerary through Normandy, Brittany and Touraine, in conjunction with the three weeks' tour through Aquitaine, the Pyrenees to the Riviera, and back through Auvergne to Paris, although scheduled to travel by rail, is an ideal auto route. The highways of France are the finest in the world for motor cars. The many delightful excursions to historical points of interest from the cities and towns mentioned could be included in the charter of a motor car, whereas they would cost additional when engaged from the different cities; to say nothing of the exhilarating pleasure of traveling by this means through such a beautiful country as France.
|Rouen. Whether he starts from London or Paris for a tour through France, the traveler should make Rouen his first stopping place. This ancient and interesting city, grandly situated on the Seine, with its hills arranged like a vast amphitheater around it, was a Roman capital under the later emperors, and centuries after, conquering Northmen made it the capital of the duchy of Normandy. Long after the conquest of England the Norman kings still continued to reside in Rouen, making it their seat of government for both countries. The city is rich in mediaeval architecture, secular and ecclesiastical, and no finer specimens of the Gothic exist in Europe than the noble Cathedral and the Church of St. Ouen. Jeanne d'Arc, the Maid of Orleans, is supposed to have been burnt at the stake here by the English, in 1431. On the heights overlooking the Seine are the ruins of Chateau Gaillard, well worth a visit for the fine views which may be had of river and city.
|Leave by steamer on the Seine for Caudebec en Caux, a charming little fourteenth-century Normandy town. The Notre Dame, begun in 1426, has been called the loveliest church of its type in Normandy. Leave Caudebec by rail for Havre, thence by steamer for Trouville.
|Trouville, one of the most frequented seaside resorts in France, glories in the best of bathing beaches. Charming drives are to the Chateaux d'Hebertot and Glatigny.
|Caen, next to Rouen, is the most attractive • town in Normandy. It has many fine examples of church architecture. The Abbaye aux Hommes, as well as the Abbaye aux Dames, was erected by William the Conqueror and Queen Matilda in expiation of the sin they committed in marrying within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity. Charlotte Corday, the heroine of the Revolution, was born here
|Mont St. Michel, about six hours from Caen, is a small village curiously built about the base and sides of an isolated rock, surmounted by an ancient monastery, and on the highest point of all, by the church from which spread the impulse which converted to Christianity the pagan inhabitants of the western portion of the Frankish empire.
|Dinan (two hours by rail). An ancient town on the summit of a steep granite hill, 250 feet above the River Rance. The town is picturesque, and from it many delightful excursions can be made, the scenery in the neighborhood being the most charming in all Brittany. The Cathedral of St. Sauveur is a handsome building, peculiar in having its north side of Gothic architecture and its south of Renaissance.
|Brest (six hours by rail) , stopping off at Vitre to visit Madame de Sevigne's charming chateau, " Les Rochers." Brest is the chief naval station of France, although of minor importance as a commercial port. In its dockyards are permanently employed nearly 10,000 workmen. The very name seems to breathe of the sea.
|Quimpers (three hours by rail), a charming old Brittany town, and a good place for the purchase of curios.
|Auray (three hours by rail). Headquarters for excursions to the Celtic Megalithic Monu- . ments at Carnac, Locmariquer and Gavrinis.
|Nantes (five hours by rail). A handsome town of considerable industrial and commercial importance. The birthplace of the heroic Anne of Brittany, wife successively of Charles VIII and Louis XII; headquarters of the " League," and later of La Vendee revolution between the Royalists (Chouans) and Republicans (Blues).
|Angers (hour and a half by rail). An ancient Gallic town which has played an important part in English and French history, being the capital of the Counts of Anjou, and considered at one time the military key of France, as its giant feudal fortress testifies. King Rene still sleeps in his tomb in the Cathedral, being about the only king of France, prior to 1793, who lies where he was interred.
|Chinon (one hour by rail). At the famous chateau the Maid of Orleans was presented to Charles VII, to urge him to march to the relief of Orleans. Chinon was the feudal home of the Plantagenets.
|Tours (one hour by rail), the chief town of the " Garden of France," Touraine, and the ancient residence of the French kings. Many pleasant excursions can be made from Tours, notably to Plessis-les-Tours, where Louis XI died in 1483; Chenonceau, the favorite chateau of Diana of Poitiers; Amboise, of bloody memory; Loches, with its famous chateau; Langeais; Azay le Rideau, with its chateau, a gem of the French Renaissance; and the artists' resort, Montbazon.
|Blois (two hours). The magnificent Castle impresses itself on the town, as it does on French history. It was reduced to ruins by the revolutionists, but was restored by M. Duban. An interesting excursion is to the Chateau Cham- bord, which was to the Valois what Versailles was to the Bourbons.
| Orleans (one hour from Blois), associated with the names of Jeanne d'Arc, Diana of Poitiers, Agnes Sorel, etc. In a room of what is now the Hotel de Ville, Francis II, the first husband of Mary Queen of Scots, died. From Orleans the traveler can either take the train to Paris, in two hours, or can proceed by the following itinerary to the Riviera.