Explore Ireland with VBT

Cliffs of Moher
celtic cross-LEvery year, in the middle of March, many parts of the world turn their attention to Ireland—a gorgeous island nation full of history, culture, and amazing biking and walking routes. St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland, Northern Ireland and certain parts of Canada that occurs annually on March 17th—the death date of Ireland’s most famous Patron Saint—and celebrates the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. While religious ceremonies are an integral part of the holiday within Ireland, it has evolved into more of a cultural celebration by Irish diaspora around the world with parades, festivals, consumption of traditional Irish food and alcohol, green clothing and plentiful displays of shamrocks—Saint Patrick’s preferred symbol for the Holy trinity.  Although VBT doesn’t run tours to the Irish homeland during St Patrick’s Day, we have many departures on both our Irish biking and walking tours from May through September this year. So join us and discover the beauty, people and rich history of this amazing country.

Ireland: Galway & Connemara Coast ​Biking Tour
Traveler Rating: 4.9/5  | Difficulty Rating: Easy/Moderate
Ireland BikingImmerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes, ancient roots and colorful people of Ireland one of the best ways—thatch roof lunch stop by bicycle—on this sweep of the country’s west coast. Highlights of this tour include a visit to the Burren (a rare place where arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants thrive side by side), a stay at a family-run guesthouse in the Aran Islands, a walk along the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, learning about Irish culture from a local historian, attending live traditional Irish music performances, an authentic home-cooked meal, and chatting with locals at a lively pub. We’ll also spend 2 nights at one of Ireland’s best-loved small hotels—Sheedy’s Country House Hotel—and enjoy dinner prepared by the owner, John Sheedy, who is also considered one of Ireland’s finest chefs.

Ireland: Walking the West Country​ Tour
Traveler Rating: 4.9/5  | Difficulty Rating: Easy/Moderate
Ireland Beach Vista
Discover why Ireland has long been a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts as we walk through some of the Waterfall in Gleninchaquin ParkEmerald Isle’s most splendid scenery from the soaring peaks of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks to the sandy shores of Derrynane Bay. Along the way, we’ll stay in charming inns and guesthouses, and delight in the warmth and wit of the famously friendly locals we’ll mingle with in lively pubs and charming restaurants. Highlights of this tour include walking in the lush meadows and glittering lakes of Killarney National Park, exploring the Gap of Dunloe— a stunning glacial valley—on foot or via a horse-drawn jaunting cart, walking a stretch of the scenic Kerry Way, Ireland’s most famous walking trail, savoring tea and scones with a Killarney family in their home, and discovering picturesque Kinsale, the “Gourmet Capital of Ireland.”

GuinnessIf you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST. To request a catalog or for more information on these tours please visit www.vbt.com

Visit Locales Where French Impressionists Painted Their Masterpieces with VBT

Alfred_Sisley_-_Street_of_Marlotte_aka_Women_Going_to_the_Woods
Impressionist art was a movement spawned in the 19th century by a group of French painters that emphasized colors, lighting and the essence of time passage in the works which often featured outdoor landscapes and depicted human movement rather than still portraits—a new artistic concept for the times. French Impressionist painters like Renoir, Sisley and Monet—whose Impression, Sunrise painting of Le Havre’s harbor coined the movement’s name—often traveled outside of Paris and into the countryside for their inspirations. Travelers on our Heart of France Bike and Barge tour will get to see some exact spots where famous Impressionist artists painted their masterpieces in Barbizon, Bourron Marlotte, and Moret-sur-Loing while on this unique tour.

We’ll discover the roots of the movement when a pleasurable morning cycle along the banks of the River Seine bringsBiking along the Seine us to the “painter’s village” of Barbizon. During the mid-19th century Corot, Rousseau and Daubigny were leaders of the “Barbizon school”, which became the setting for an artistic revolution that set the stages for the Impressionist painters of the 1870’s, especially their use of the en plein air technique of painting outside in order to capture natural light. Even today many artists live in the area, mesmerized by the countryside. During our visit to the town, we’ll stop in at the local museum of the Barbizon school and see where famous landscape artists painted their works.

A Young Man in the Forest of Fontainebleau by RenoirAnother fantastic day where cycling meets art is when we cycle through the wonderful forest of Fontainebleau, which includes a stop at the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Château of Fontainebleau. The beauty of this forest was famously depicted in A Young Man in the Forest of Fontainebleau by French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  We continue to ride through this peaceful forest to Bourron Marlotte, a community that homed and inspired many artists including Renoir, Cézanne and Sisley—whose 1866 painting Street of Marlotte features a group of women leaving the town’s stone structures presumably for a walk in the woods.

Another artist community that we’ll visit on this tour is the charming, medieval-Moret-sur-loingfortified town of Moret-Sur-Loing, strategically situated on the banks of the Loing. Here Sisley found inspiration for his beautiful Impressionist paintings including the aptly named 1888 piece, Moret-sur-Loing. Our barge actually moors here overnight and you’re encouraged to take a walk on the “Sisley in Moret” trail during the evening to see a variety of places that inspired the artist.

These are just some examples of the Impressionist-themed experiences you’ll enjoy on our Heart of France Bike and Bargetour. To read more about our French vacations, please click here.  If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.