Enjoy 2 World Famous Flower Show Events in the same tour!
Ghent Flower Show/Gentse Floralien & Chelsea Flower Show
Why not travel on this special tour with members of your gardening club?
Highlights of Belgium, Northern France + Paris & London
This is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes. Price based on how many travelers, your chosen package inclusions and your chosen level of accommodation.
This tour begins in Brussels and finishes in London.
NOTE: This garden tour involves ample walking and visits many rural locations and places of interest with several steep inclines, many with pathways of grass, stone, gravel and dirt which can be very slippery when wet. Suitable footwear is essential. Those with mobility issues may not find this itinerary suitable. If in doubt, please discuss conditions with us. It can be modified appropriately.
This tour begins in Brussels, Belgium. Brussels is well connected with an international airport and via the Eurostar from London and TGV rail services from most major European cities including Paris and Lille. We are happy to assist you with incoming journey if you wish. Please ask us for details.
Brussels hardly requires an introduction as everyone at least knows the Manneken Pis! This famous statue of a little boy peeing in a fountain is a perfect representative of the irreverent Belgian humor. There is so very much more to this wonderful city, explore the Grote Markt and Grand-Place, meander the cobbled streets, sampling the local chocolates and beers…We recommend spending time pre-tour in this lovely city!
Our tour begins in Brussels. We will make our way to the charming small city of Leuven.
For those looking to find the most beautiful medieval buildings in the world, look no further than Leuven, the magnificent 15th century town hall alone is worth the trip! Leuven Botanical Garden is small at just 4 acres but well worth some time. This is the oldest medicinal herb garden in the country, dating from the 18th Century, and features a water garden, an Alpine conservatory, a fruit garden and greenhouses of tropical plants.
Later we turn our direction to the art city of Gent/Ghent. Subject to availability, accommodation is either in the picturesque riverside town of St Martens-Latem, a few minutes outside of Gent/Ghent, or in Gent/Ghent itself.
Stay: in/near Gent/Ghent, Belgium
CLOSING DAY of the Ghent Flower Show/Gentse Floraliën
We will spend the entire day in Gent/Ghent to enjoy the flower show events and the city highlights.
Gent/Ghent is one of the country’s noted art cities, a university city, a port city and the capital of East Flanders. In addition to the flower show, we recommend you spend a bit of time in the city itself, perhaps enjoy the stunning city views from St Michael’s Bridge, a walk through the Grote Markt or visit inside St Bavo’s Cathedral featuring the VanEyck masterpiece, the ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.’ There is much to discover in this lovely little city!
Of course priority is the Gent Floralies - 2020 dates are 01 - 10 May, 2020
The first FLORALIES Ghent were organised in 1808. The organisation behind the floralies Ghent is the Royal Society for Agriculture and Botany. Over the years the event has built up a strong reputation for itself as the must-attend event of the horticultural industry in Belgium. Its values can be summarised as follows: trend-setting, creative & innovative, open, sustainable, informative & interactive, co-operative, proud & dynamic.
Overnight: in/near Gent/Ghent, Belgium; same property as above
Note: The flower show is typically rather crowded on the closing weekend. If you have the time, perhaps consider beginning your special tour 2 days earlier (arrival Thursday 07 May and attending the flower show Friday 08 May.) The additional time can be spent in Brussels and the Belgium National Botanical Gardens. That would make a total of a 2 week garden adventure!
This morning, the charming city of Antwerp and a panoramic look around the city. This fantastic place has much to offer visitors! Our focus will be Rubenshuis, the painter Rueben’s home where he lived for 29 years, now a museum dedicated to his life and work. His garden is an enclosed renaissance style, typical of its time, with straight walks and parterres bounded by yew hedges. Faithfully reconstructed from engravings, this home and garden is a rare insight into Renaissance daily life. Antwerp is also home to a lovely cathedral and world class shopping.
Kalmthout Arboretum has been described as the best example of the gardenesque style of garden design; its oldest trees were planted over 150 years ago. Strolling through this 12 hectare gem, expect to see flowering magnolias and cherries plus diverse flowering borders with over 7,000 varieties of plants. There is also a butterfly garden.
Overnight: in/near Gent/Ghent, Belgium; same property as above
Today spend ample time meandering the most famed of all Flanders cities, Bruges/Brugge. This medieval gem, criss-crossed by canals and cobbled streets, never fails to surprise and delight visitors. There’ll be free time to take an optional horse drawn carriage ride around the city, for shopping in the famous lace shops, perhaps visiting a brewery as individuals choose.
Ypres is another Flemish town to explore. It is home to a lively Grote Markt with many restaurants, cafes and pubs so a perfect place for some relaxing time sampling the local cuisine, world famous beers and to savor your ‘Olde Worlde’ surroundings. There is the wonderful In Flanders Field Museum and, like most Belgian towns, there is no shortage of chocolatiers and quaint local shops too!
This afternoon we make our way south and across the border into Northern France.
Overnight: St Omer area, France
Today explore the garden around inner Normandy. Situated in the heart of Authie Valley, Valloires Gardens offer a collection, unique in France, of 5000 species and varieties of rare shrubs from all over Asia and North America. The leafy 8 hectares setting is a botanical park, known for its cherry trees in spring and roses in summer, including several unique varieties. There is an "interactive" garden of the 5 senses and the "Great Evolution Garden" is the first of its kind in France.
Le Jardin Agapanthe was created by non-conformist landscape architect Alexandre Thomas. The style is strongly structured planting and offers a maze of paths, walls, waterfalls and terraces. This profusion of plants also incorporates decorations, furniture, fountains and animals that bring it to life as a unique and human space.
Overnight: Honfleur, France
Today offers a full, relaxing day around Honfleur. Ports don’t come any prettier than Honfleur, located on the Seine’s estuary. Glorious historic houses jostle for position on the quays, as do galleries and restaurants. Honfleur’s beauty has long attracted artists, with works to be seen both in the town museums and in the modern galleries that abound. Along the stretch of estuary, you can stroll through civic gardens to the beach. Up the hillside, there is the option to visit Notre-Dame de Grâce chapel, with its great views over the Seine estuary. There is the option to take a boat trip, or embark on a walk along the phenomenal Pont de Normandie that spans the Seine estuary so sensationally.
Overnight: Honfleur, France; same property as above
A full day today as we make our way through more of Normandy's lovely gardens and towards the outskirts of the capital. If we choose, we can start our day with a brief visit to Joan of Arc's Rouen, with its stunning cathedral.
The compact but bursting with colour, see Jardins d'Angelique, planted with hundreds of varieties of roses plus a wide range of perennials, shrubs, trees and hydrangeas. The garden has been awarded "Jardin Remarquable" status. These gardens, loosely in the style of an English cottage garde, were created by the owners in memory of their daughter Angelique as a beautiful memorial to her.
Since 1997, Sylvie and Patrick Quibel have been creating this natural yet structured contemporary garden Le Jardin Plume, located in a typical Normandy orchard. The 4 acres include seasonal plantings, a central square mirror pool, generous use of grasses and perennials and a flower garden.
Dependant on time, we make be able to route via the village of Gerboroy, where the local homes are just draped in roses.
Overnight: Hôtel Château Corneille La Closerie/similiar (near Giverny)
Another day of artists and inspirational landscapes! Our main port of call today is Monet’s home in Giverny. Claude Monet and his family settled here in 1883 and he created a garden full of “perspectives, symmetries and colours.” The garden is set into two main sections, a flower filled walled garden bordered by orchards and trees and a water park, made famous by his series of water lilies paintings.
Also today, time in the quaint village of Auvers-sur-Oise, a favorite place for painters in the 1800s most associated with Vincent Van Gogh. He lived his last 100 days here and captured local sites in approximately 70 paintings. Located within the Parc Naturel Régional du Vexin Français, this place is protected, layouts not permitted to be altered or expanded, so remains much as it did when Van Gogh painted it. Another opportunity to experience art leaping from the canvas!
An evening for guests to explore and dine independently in Paris, the City of Light. Dependent on our arrival time, there might be an opportunity to visit the Musee de l’Orangerie (opened until 7pm) for those that wish. Here houses Claude Monet’s Water Lilies canvases, inspired by and painted at his gardens in Giverny. Perhaps an evening river cruise seeing the icons brightly lit for night or perhaps dinner in the Tour Eiffel? The Musee de l’Orangerie is opened late, until 9pm on Fridays. Maybe a special meal out on Blvd Montparnasse (made famous by 'The Lost Generation' writers) or an evening of jazz music, mixing and dancing with the locals? Spoilt for choice by the rich Paris nightlife!
Overnight: Paris, France
The Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV’s greatest example of regal indulgence, was the seat of French Royal Court for 100 years until its demise in the French Revolution. Visit this UNESCO World Heritage site, experiencing the overwhelming opulence of the park and gardens. The Gardens of Versailles cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French Garden style featuring meticulous manicured lawns, parterres of flowers and the famous fountains.
Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens is another a place of interest today, a little oasis of calm following the vastness of Versailles. In the early 1900 the millionaire French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn lived here. The museum houses his world famous photo collection. The garden, called “scenes,” includes a Japanese garden with a traditional house and tea-room, an English garden, a rose garden and a conifer wood.
Another evening free to enjoy the Paris nightlife as individuals choose.
Overnight: Paris, France; same property as above
Free Day in Paris
The landscape of Paris is instantly recognizable, historic and iconic sites abound, old and modern sitting side by side throughout the city. There's much to explore in the 'artist havens' of Montparnasse on the Left Bank and Montmartre on the Right Bank. Explore the stunning icons as you choose, perhaps Eiffel Tower or Arche de Triomphe, the world class museums of the classical Louvre, modern Pompidou (with extrodinary views of the city,) or simply meander the ancient cobbled streets or along the scenic river and sample life in a sidewalk cafe like a local, people watching and the world go by. How you spend your day is up to you!
On our gardens theme, the formal Tulieries are a perfect place to stroll. Today also is another opportinity to visit Musee de l’Orangerie to see Claude Monet’s Water Lilies canvases. Another is the wonderful Jardin des Plantes, the main botanical gardens of France. Founded in 1626, here is a beautiful expanse of medicinal herbs, 3 hectare of decorative plants, a rose garden, hothouses and The Labyrinth, a garden maze first designed in 1739. Part of the important work done in this 28 hectare center is a prolific seed exchange to maintain biotic diversity. Spoilt for choice!
Overnight: Paris, France; same property as above
Paris has so much to see and do. Our focus this morning is off the beaten track, exploring the parks and gardens of the Left Bank; see a variety of green spaces, famous of course but also discover a few of the hidden gems away from the tourist throng.
The first destination is the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg. Established on behalf of Italian monarch Marie de Medicis in the mid-17th century and perhaps the most popular Parisian garden with locals, the dramatic Renaissance style layout with quintessential statues is sure to be a treat.
The rest of our morning/early afternoon will be spent discovering some local places off the usual tourist route – realms of Romans, writers of the Lost Generation and the Patron Saint of Paris. And yes, we will surely have some time around one or two of the traditional Parisian cafes, sampling local life.
This afternoon, go via Eurostar across the English Channel to London.
Overnight: London, England
FULL DAY, RHS MEMBERS ONLY DAY at the CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW
Today is our grand finale, a full, Members Only day at the Chelsea Flower Show! One transfer will be provided from your London hotel to the show in the morning and one transfer back in the evening. You are welcomed to come and go from the show as you please using public transport. Your Member Day Chelsea ticket is valid from 8am – 8pm.
This evening offers options - a lovely group farewell dinner together or a night out at the theatre!
Overnight: London, England; same property as above
Your tour conludes this morning after breakfast. You can have a transfer to the airport or extend your stay in London/England.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.
Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.
This is a suggested tour itinerary and can be modified to best you your individual wishes.
Suggested tour package includes: # of touring days with vehicle & exclusive services of your driver/guide/companion, your accommodation for # nights while on the tour including full breakfasts, all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Your price also can include dinners and/or entrance fees to attractions or these items can be left out of the up front package/to be paid directly for maximum flexibility. Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, scheduled city day tours/attraction passes/transport passes or theatre/event tickets can be added to your package as you wish, subject to availability.
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The Special Group Tours Advantage is our unique and intimate understanding of what you expect traveling in the UK and Europe. We have not only visited but have spent many years living in and loving the cultures you will experience down the ‘B’ Roads and off the beaten track. We have worked with local suppliers and our guide/companion team for over a decade, creating unique special interest itineraries. Special Group Tours offers our “insider” knowledge to you.
The SGT Small Group Touring Concept is traveling with just 4 - 14 guests per departure. It is our aim to introduce you to the 'real' country and its people, not just ticking the boxes of a standardized route and treating you as an individual and not a number. Our concept allows for a leisurely touring pace and flexibility to get off the beaten track to discover hidden gems. Of course you'll see the major sites but so much more too!
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