Scotland & Normandy


 Normandy and Scotland 

Gastronomic, Botanic, Historic

May 18th – 6th June

 6 nights in Normandy / 13 nights in Scotland

Starting in Normandy – St Malo /  Bayeux

Argyle -Oban – Isle of Skye -Inverness -Edinburgh – Departing from Glasgow

This Small Group Tour has limited numbers. I have booked hotel rooms and can’t get anymore.

Contact me for prices and itinerary

judith(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)

I have recently spent a second week this year in Normandy and Scotland gathering material for a 19 day tour focusing on culture and history, gardens, food and wine of the regions and of whisky. Spending a lot of time finding fabulous boutique hotels in many stunning situations.

I will be once again joined by my guide Charles Barkla who now shifted from Dunedin to Edinburgh and has lots of  inside  information.

We have combined the two countries because they have been linked for nearly a thousand year by what is known in Scotland as “The Auld Alliance”. It has massive historical implications, especially for Scotland as well for language, food and architecture.

Starting in France we fly into Charles d’ Gaulle Airport – Paris and drive to our first 3 nights in the ancient walled city of St Malo. Although this is just in Brittany it is the perfect setting to visit the famous Mont St Michel and the stunning medieval city of Dinan.

From here we travel to Bayeux home of the extraordinary tapestry depicting the Norman conquest of Britain. Garden visits, time exploring the landing beaches and some Calvados tasting make our 3 night stay very exciting and busy.

Our drive back to Paris includes a visit to Giverny (Monet’s beautiful garden) before flying to Glasgow and spending our first night on Scotland’s West Coast in a large Scottish Manor.

Scotland’s Heritage is full of history, beauty, stunning scenery and great food. We spend the next 12 nights between Oban, Isle of Skye, the Highlands and Edinburgh.

Expect to see fabulous spring gardens, castles, historic sites and stately houses. Enjoy wonderful Scottish cuisine featuring fresh local seafood and meat with the occasional mandatory whisky and haggis tasting! Our tour will finish in Edinburgh where you can fly home or continue traveling.


Itinerary  Normandy| Scotland

18th May – 6th June 2017

I have been working on this tour for quite some time and spent time in both Normandy and Scotland on two different occasions over the past 18 months.

My love of gardening, food and lifestyle attracted me to both of these regions. I am thrilled and excited to share some of the many interesting and fascinating excursions and visits that we will encounter on this 19 day tour.

I once again have Charles Barkla to guide and extoll all his amazing history and knowledge. I spent a very busy week with Charles and his wife Lissa where we traveled for long days, especially in the lengthy daylight hours in Scotland during Spring. I couldn’t have planned this trip without them.

Normandy is one of the great historic regions of France.  During this tour we will become familiar with its links to England and Scotland. A country with a very strong heritage and everything quintessentially Scottish from its Tartan, Music and Whiskey to unsurpassed Scenery, Historical Estates and Famous Golf Courses. From the spectacular highland countryside of Scotland surrounded by lochs and an intricate coastline abundant in delicious seafood to the long beaches of Normandy where on “D-Day” in June 1944, Allied forces disembarked on the Normandy beaches, in a massive surprise attack that was to mark the beginning of the end of the Second World War. Today the beaches and the area inland are the site of many memorials and museums in memory of those who fought through and those who died during this momentous period of history. Using the beautiful historical town of Bayeux as our base we will encompass Word War II history, walk and explore fabulous towns like Honfleur, St Malo and Dinan and find stunning gardens all while we eat regional food and drink good French wine.

Tour Leader: Judith Cullen

I have been hosting tours to Italy for the past 12 years. Over this time I have learned to love the regional diversity of Italy and how it contributes so much to its food, wine, and way of life. Since 2013 I included France and 2017 will be the 5th year of this very succesful Italy / France tour. This trip works beautifully, traveling across the top of Italy, dipping into Switzerland and into the heart of France to Burgundy to learn an appreciation of their wine. For the past 3 years I have thoroughly enjoyed the diverse fun of the Turkey tour. From Istanbul and Galipoli ,down the coast taking in the most incredible Roman ruins you will ever see to the surreal Cappadoccia where my guides Alison and Hasan give us a local insiders tour. In 2017 I am offering Normandy and Scotland and feel it’s addition sits perfectly with my other tours and brings a different perspective of life in two very interesting countries

For the past 20 years here in Dunedin I ran cooking classes from my home ,At the end of 2015 I made the decision to have a change and concentrate on tours.

This year I have also launched a little book called the ‘Dunedin Fonebook’ with Michelle Chalklin – Sinclair. It’s a combination of her fantastic photos and my food. All the photos are taken on an iPhone and we want it to celbrate our wonderful home town of Dunedin.

My love of cooking, gardening and travel has led me to plan these exciting tours using an expert character in Charles, who is perfectly suited to guide us and help you experience a combination of France / Italy / Normandy and Scotland.


Guide: Charles Barkla:

Now resident in Edinburgh, Scotland and New Zealand, Charles lived in the areas that we will visit for over 12 years, latterly as the New Zealand Consul General in Milan.

He has visited the Alps since his childhood and has developed a deep local knowledge and understanding, much of which will not be found in guide books.

He enjoys sharing his love of the scenery, history, food and wine of this exciting part of the world, which has accurately been described as the ‘Crossroads of Europe’ since pre-Roman times.

Charles has been the guide on this tour since the first in 2014. You will be in awe of his comprehensive knowledge, fingertip historical facts and cultural understanding.

Day 1              Bayeau                                                                               (18th May)

On arrival at Charles d’Gaulle Airport we will transfer you to our coach and drive 2/12 hours to the historic Normandy city of Bayeux.

After a chance to unpack and settle after a long flight and day. We will meet for a pre-dinner dink and an early dinner.

Days 2/3         Bayeux                                                                                   (19th/20th May )

We will have two full days in this region of Normandy – close to the historical landing beaches, beautiful villages and gardens visits :

  • Be come acquainted with Bayeux Tapestry Masterpiece created in the 11th
  • Guided visit to American Cemetery and Omaha Beach.
  • 360 circular movie of the D Day landings at Arromanche.
  • Visit and lunch to the pictureque Village of Honfleur.
  • Garden visits – Chateau De Brecy and its beautiful formal French garden.

Castillon – one of the best gardens I have visited. Walk around Balleroy in the grounds of this historic French Chateau.

  • An opportunity to find out about Calvados and Camembert Cheese.
  • There will be some free time to get to know Bayeux .

Day 4  Bayeux to St Malo                                                                     (21st May)

We travel to day to St Malo through the Normandy counrtyside. We bestopping for a visit to the famous Mont Saint Michel to arrive in the middle of the afternoon and spend a couple of hours walking up to the Abbey and becoming familiar with the legend of the Monastery . It sits on an island by itself and towers out of the water surrounded by the village at its feet and the surging waters with very dangerous tides. This remarkable mediaeval walled city, crowned by its great gothic abbey, is built on a small granite outcrop standing all by itself in the flats of the estuary of the river Couesnon, in an area now known as Mont Saint Michelbay. Mont Saint Michel was one of the first monuments to be classed as a UNESCO world heritage site, as far back as 1979.

By late in the afternoon we will be in St Malo home for the next two nights.

Days 5           St Malo                                                                                  (22nd May)

A full day with a local guide to immerse us in the Medieval towns of St Malo and Dinan. St Malo is a magnificent island walled city on the north coast of Brittany. Heavily damaged in World War II, it has since been rebuilt virtually as it was, and is an architectural gem. It is seaport from which many merchants and adventurers set out in centuries gone by, to seek their fortunes trading and privateering in distant waters. The wealth that they brought back is reflected in the city’s magnificent architectural heritage.

In contrast Dinans attraction is the town itself, delightfully preserved because it escaped the bombs of World War II. Experience these two charming towns. You will have time to walk on top of the walls to enjoy the views of the Rance valley, wander the quaint streets

Day 6         St Malo – Giverny                                                                               ( 23rd May)

I try and resist one night stops but in this case to take advantage of the well known garden of Claude Monet we need a hotel close to Giverny .

The gardens change with the seasons and the Clos – Normand is an never ending display of colours planned by a painter who was crazy about flowers .

You will have time to visit the garden and the Musee des Impressionnismess Giverny where they bring together major artists of Impressionism..

Day 7 – Giverny – Paris Charles De Gaulle Aiport – Glasgow – Argyle         (24th May )

Traveling Day – Its one of those days where we just have to be on time get through Aiport proceedures to take a realively short flight to Glasgow where our bus will be waiitng for us to drive about an hour to the lovely stately house of Knockderry for our second one night stop.

Day 8 /9/10     Argyle   – Oban                                                                      (25th , 26th,27th May )

A very stunning day departing Knockderry House. Driving up the side of Loch Lomond to Inveraray.

Here we will stop for a lunch and for those oyster lovers – Lochfyne Oysters maybe for you.

We are heading for Oban which sits on the West Coast of Scotland. Originally only a small fishing and trading village. It is now an active town and a hub for the busy ferries traveling to the Western Isles. Along with a strong sailing tradition and busy port you will get to taste the best of Scottish Scallops and seafood here. Visiting Islands of Scotland has always held a fascination they are often described as remote, lonely, wind swept and wild, which can sometimes be the case on the islands of Scotland. We will be visiting several on this tour starting with:

  • Day trip to the Isle of Mull. This is a little mountainous island and we will start in the colourful village of Tobermory. Mull is the seat of Clan McLean and their Duart Castle sits with a commanding view over the island. We will pass it driving down through the Island to the Isle of Iona and visit the beautiful restored Abby.
  • Drive south of Oban stopping for a visit to the quiet sheltered garden of Arduanine Garden before traveling onto the Isle of Gigha for a unique lunch at the Boathouse Restaurant in a perfectly stunning setting. Return with a stop at Kilmarton Museum and a very interesting insight into some of the oldest civilizations in the UK over 6000 years old

Day 11/12     Isle of Sky                                                                                         ( 28th/29th May )

Leaving Oban after 3 nights we head for Isle of Sky. However our journey today takes us by bus, train and ferry. Traveling first to Fort William which is the natural centre of the highland routes and stands at the focal point of the area known as Lochaber. It sits on the shore of Loch Linnhe with the majestic Ben Nevis as its backdrop in distant views.

  • For railway enthusiasts we will be taking the Jacobite steam train which runs from Fort William to Mallaig . This is wonderfully scenic line, which crosses the impressive Glenfinnan Viaduct and provides great views down Loch Shiel.
  • From Mallaig you will get stunning views of Skye and our short crossing will take us to Sleet on the Isle of Skye. But before arriving at our two night stop in luxury Duisdale House once an 1865 Victorian hunting lodge, we will visit the grounds and home of Clan Donald and Armadale Gardens.

Day 13 / 14 / 15 Inverness                                                                 ( 30th , 31st, May . 1st June )

Today we say goodbye to the Isle of Sky and depart over the bridge through Lyle of Lochalsh, once a very busy village when the only way getting to Sky was by ferry.

Eilean Donan Castle, near Dornie, is one of the most easily recognised castles in Scotland and it’s our big ticket item today. A Scottish icon and you will recognize it from many movies and photographs .If you are interested in history The Jacobite uprisings of 1689, 1715 and 1744 maybe familiar. We will pass where the brief and ill-fated 1719 uprising, “the Nineteen”, which reached its conclusion at the Battle of Glen Shiel on 10 June 1719. Conclude our afternoon with a beautiful drive up the side of Loch Ness to Inverness our home for the next 3 nights.

  • Visit to Eilean Donan Castle
  • On 16 April 1746 the last battle between the Jacobites and the Royalists to be fought on British soil took less than an hour to reach its bloody conclusion here on what is now know as Culloden Moor. We will visit the excellent visitors centre and you have a chance to walk on the battle field

Today is one of my favouite garden vists to Cawdor Castle . The house and gardens are still in private ownership and the garden will give you plenty of ideas to take home.

We will return to the hotel via Speyside past many whiskey distilleries and beautiful countryside

  • Our second day based in Inverness is a drive North for a lovely long lunch at the cute town of Dornoch. Famous for its golf courses and lovely stone buildings, almost pink in some lights, from which so many of Dornoch’s structures are constructed.
  • Before returning to Inverness we will visit the magnificent castle of Dunrobin, the home of the Sutherland clan.

Day 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 Edinburgh                                                               ( 2nd,3rd,4th,5th June )

Our last driving day takes us from Inverness to Edinburgh stopping at Pitlochry. Apart from being a very cute village, one of the most attractive features of Pitlochry is that it is surrounded by mountains.

  • Before our lunch stop however, we will visit the ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl -Blair Castle Blair Castle. It holds an important place in Scotland’s history and has fascinating link to the Jacobite rising and finally Culloden.

Just when you thought we were not going to a Whiskey distillery, we visit to the smallest Whiskey distillery – lying in the hills overlooking Pitlochry, Edradour is a micro-distillery and was the smallest in Scotland.

Arriving in Edinburgh is always exciting and our lovely traditional hotel the Roxburghe has a perfect position to explore Charles hometown for the next four days.

  • Walking tour with Charles to become familiar with Edinburgh and its history.
  • Optional visit to the loval market – Maybe a mutton pie for morning tea?
  • Tickets to Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House .
  • Day trip to St Andrews home of the famous golf courses. It is Sunday so you can walk the old course if you wish.Today we will visit the gardens of Faulkland Castle .
  • Half day to Learn what the Falkkirk Wheel is ?….

Day 20   – Departing                                                                                                       ( 6th June )

Transport to Flights and Trains

Tour Inclusions

  • New Zealand/ Scottish tour directors
  • Accommodation for 19 nights in high quality hotels selected for their location and other special features
  • All 19 breakfasts plus 13 Dinners and 5 Lunches
  • Flight from Paris to Glasgow
  • Deluxe transportation with A/C (including parking, tolls and ferry fees) and transfers to and from airports as specified in itinerary
  • Professional English speaking guides
  • Entrance fees for museums, sites and historical places in the itinerary
  • Expenses and tips for all hotel staff, guides and drivers (no tipping necessary by you).


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