The Secret Treasures of Normandy and the Pays d’Auge: Exemplary Private Châteaux, Norman Manors & Grand Collections

The ICAA is pleased to present this tour of Normandy's exemplary, historic private châteaux and Norman manors, many of which are never open to the public, offering a rare opportunity to savor unique architecture, decor, outstanding art collections, and stunning gardens. Throughout the course of the tour, participants will meet and enjoy significant exchanges with our eminent hosts, of notable and historic French families, during private visits at their historic and admirable residences.

This tour will be led by Pamela Huntington Darling and Caroline Holmes, scholar, professor, and author of eleven books including Follies of Europe - Architectural Extravaganzas, Money at Giverny, Genius Behind Monet's Water Lilies, and more. Holmes is a member of the Tutor Panel of the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education, and a Course Director for the University's International Summer Program. She also lectures for the Arts Society in Britain, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as the Royal Horticultural Society. She is a regular contributor to BBC television and radio.

This tour is arranged by Pamela Huntington Darling, Consultant and creator of exclusive cultural travel programs. For more information, please email Pamela Huntington Darling ([email protected]), visit, or call +33 1 45 67 62 81.

Please note a fully tax-deductible donation of $500 per person is required to participate in this travel program. All travel program participants have the opportunity to receive a complimentary Individual level membership for one year to the ICAA.

Image: Château de Brécy (Wikimedia Commons/Pimprenel)

Château de Vendeuvre

The tour includes a luncheon with Count and Countess Guy de Vendeuvre at their stunning Château de Vendeuvre, with its admirably preserved original 18th Century architecture, decor, artwork, and furniture. Its park and gardens are spectacular, awarded the French label "Jardin Remarquable," featuring follies and sculptures by the famous Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, and the Tartar Tent, inspired by Madame de Pompadour.

Château d'Outrelaise

During the tour, participants will enjoy a private visit and luncheon at the admirable Château d'Outrelaise, listed as a French Historic Monument, with buildings dating from the 16th to 19th Centuries. Here, the group will be welcomed by the owners Jean-Louis Mennesson, artist, and Walid Akkad, creator of high-fashion jewelry. Here, the group will have a convivial lunch in the orangerie and a visit of this marvelous historic estate with the hosts.

Château de Brécy

The group will enjoy a private visit and dinner with Didier Wirth, President of the Fondation Parcs et Jardins de France, at his marvelous residence, Château de Brécy and its exquisite gardens, recognized as one of the most beautiful in Europe and awarded the French label "Jardin Remarquable." Among the most impressive gardens of Normandy, it was laid out in the 17th Century, reminiscent of the great gardens of Italy. The garden features sculptures, stone balustrades, and fountains.

Château de Boutemont

The tour includes a private visit and luncheon with the owners at the Château de Boutemont, a magnificently restored medieval fortress built between the 12th and 17th Centuries, featuring vernacular architectural elements and luxuriant gardens, considered among the most beautiful in Calvados. The gardens, awarded the French label "Jardin Remarquable," were redesigned in the 20th Century by the famous landscape architect Achille Duchêne.

Private 16th Century Manor

Participants will experience a private visit and cocktails at an admirable manor, welcome by the owners, which dates back to the 16th Century and is listed as a French Historic Monument. Its picturesque park and arboretum were awarded the French label "Jardin Remarquable." The hosts restored this historic edifice with the leading architect of the Pays d'Auge. Here, the group will also enjoy visiting the owners' distillery and tasting their delicious calvados, made according to the traditional methods.

Château de Canisy

The tour participants will be welcomed to the Château de Canisy by the hosts, the Count and Countess Denis de Kergorlay, where the group will stay for three nights. Surrounded by a stunning vast park, forests, and farmlands, it is listed as a French Historic Monument and is one of the seven wonders of the Channel.

Here, the group will enjoy cocktails and a candlelit dinner with the Count and Countess in Château de Canisy's historic dining room, specially prepared by its chef Nicky Hilyer with the best of the surrounding farmland's produce.

Chateau d'Alexis de Tocqueville

The tour includes a private visit and luncheon at the Château d'Alexis de Tocqueville with Countess de Tocqueville. Built and expanded between the 16th and 19th Centuries, it is unique for its harmonious architectural diversity and history. Owned by the Count and Countess de Tocqueville, it is listed as a French National Landmark. Here, the group will visit the remarkable archives of their ancestor, Alexis de Tocqueville, to discover his original work, Democracy in America.

What’s included

  • Three nights at the 5-star luxury Hotel Le Normandy Deauville, located in the heart of this fashionable seaside resort, created during France's Second Empire. Recently renovated, this luxurious hotel offers modern decor, fine hospitality, and beautiful views of the sea.
  • Three nights at the Château de Canisy, welcomed by the hosts, the Count and Countess Denis de Kergorlay. Surrounded by a stunning vast park, forests, and farmlands, it is listed as a French Historic Monument and is one of the seven wonders of the Channel.
  • One night at the Hôtel Le Saint in Paris, located in the heart of the stylish Saint-Germain-des-Prés in an 18th Century private mansion.

Château Alexis De Tocqueville (Image: wikimedia/Edouard Hue)

Château de Vendeuvre (Image: wikimedia, Teysla)

Château De Canisy (Image: Count and Countess de Kergolay)


How do I register for an ICAA travel program?

If you would like to register, you may contact the travel operator organizing the program. Please note that a $500 donation per person to the ICAA is required in order to participate in each travel program.

What does the required $500 donation fund?

Your $500 donation helps to further the ICAA’s goal of advancing the practice and appreciation of the classical tradition in architecture and the allied arts by supporting its varied educational programs, including continuing education courses, college workshops, the Summer Studio in Classical Architecture, New Heights, and many more.

Am I required to pay a $500 donation for each travel program I register for?

Yes, a donation of $500 to the ICAA is required for each travel program you register for. The donation is required for each person attending a tour.

How do I make my $500 donation to the ICAA?

You can make your $500 donation to the ICAA online, or you can download, complete, and mail this form to the ICAA. You can alternatively fax a copy to 212-730-9649. You may also call 212-730-9646 x109 or email [email protected] to make a donation. Donations must be made separately from the registration fee.

Do I have to be a member of the ICAA to participate in an ICAA travel program?

No, membership is not required to attend an ICAA travel program. However, complimentary Individual membership to the ICAA is included with your $500 required donation.

I don’t see the full itinerary for the tour I am interested in. When will it be released?

Please contact [email protected] for more information. Due to the exclusive nature of our tours, some private locations or visits may be omitted from the ICAA's website.

What kinds of trips does the ICAA offer?

Over the past several years, the ICAA has travelled to destinations including Paris; Andalusia; Atlanta; Barbados; South Africa; Chicago; the Netherlands and Belgium; Scotland; the French Riviera; Morocco; the Italian Lake Region; Charlottesville; Naples; and New Delhi, among many other locations. The ICAA is always looking to diversify its travel offerings. If you have a suggestion or location you would like to see added, please email [email protected]