France - history & culture

Tailor-made tours for small private groups - friends, families & social groups


From earliest times - the emergence of France & Germany out of the post-Roman world - right through the story of the 20th century, from World War I to the Cold War.


The countries today, through their cities, their architecture and their lifestyles.

Where we go in France

  • Normandy - Rouen & Caen, D-Day beaches; Mont St Michel
  • Hauts de France - the new name taking in Picardie & the Nord / Pas de Calais area. Coast, cathedrals & cities
  • Grand Est - Champagne, Lorraine, Alsace, including the great cathedral of Reims, Metz & Strasburg

Just-Enough History©

You can purchase our short history of France on Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Google Books or Kobo for £7.99 / €9.99 / $9.99.  This is history for the interested visitor and/or interested citizen:  for those who want more than the too-short history sections in guidebooks, but less than a medium-length book (which most texts marketed as ‘short histories’ tend to be).  The aim is something that can be read in three to four hours;  a maximum of 60,000 words

How we operate

* We organise tours DIRECT with you – we have no public list of tours

* We handle numbers from 2 to 10 – families, small groups of friends.

* We provide personal guiding, but also organise itineraries, book hotels and site entries, and find you a minibus company if your group is larger than 4 people.

* We step onboard your car / rental car *, or a minibus that we can arrange (but you pay direct to the company, in advance). NB: we do not organise travel to/from the tour start/finish point(s) - eg flights, trains.

* You pay our guiding & organising fee, and then pay as you go for your accommodation, meals and museum entries (and, if you need one, you pay for your minibus direct, in advance).

* Go to our Prices & References page for an idea of cost, then email us at 

                         *  (happy to drive if you can add us as an Additional Driver)


Normandy stretches from Monet’s Garden in its south-east corner to the giant chalk cliffs at Etretat in the north, and from Mont St Michel in the south-west to the cathedral city of Rouen in the east.

It includes the D-Day Beaches and the lands fought over afterwards - stretching down to Falaise, with the castle where William the Conqueror was born, and a striking new museum commemorating the story of civilians in Normandy in World War II.

Normandy is the apple orchards of the beautiful Pays d’Auge countryside, and the beaches and cliffs at Dieppe where Canadian soldiers suffered in an August 1942 raid.

See Normandy - some itineraries for some suggestions.

The bridge at Monet’s Garden

Bayeux Cathedral

The cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, scaled by U.S. Rangers on D-Day


Hauts de France

This large, new region takes in Picardy – including the Somme, Amiens, and the beautiful Bay of the Somme – and the former Nord / Pas-de-Calais region, with the Channel cliffs, the big cities of Lille and Arras, and the Canadian World War I memorial at Vimy Ridge. 

It includes the striking cathedral at Amiens (the largest in volume in France), the Louvre-Lens offshoot of the Louvre museum in Paris, some of the major World War I sites, beautiful open, rolling countryside, and two interesting inter-war sites in Roubaix: the ‘La Piscine’ art gallery in a former municipal swimming pool, and the Villa Cavrois, the modernist family home of a textile magnate.

For more see Hauts de France - some itineraries.

Cratered landscape of the Battle of the Somme

The River Somme

The open roads of eastern France

Grand Est

Another of the new ‘mega-regions’, Grand Est takes in, from west to east, Champagne, Lorraine and Alsace.

This includes the champagne fields between Reims and Epernay, de Gaulle’s home at Colombey-Les-Deux-Eglises, the great medieval cathedrals of Reims, Metz and Strasbourg, the Verdun & Argonne battlefields of World War I, the Vosges Mountains, Maginot Line forts near the German border, and the Surrender Room in Reims where German forces surrendered at Eisenhower’s HQ in May 1945.

A stunning mix of open, rolling countryside, huge forests, great cities, and some off-the-beaten track villages in Lorraine particularly. 

See Grand Est - some itineraries.

From the top of Reims cathedral

Champagne fields at Epernay

Occitanie  Pyrénées - Méditerranée

The new ‘mega region’ of Occitanie includes the regions of Languedoc - vineyards, medieval villages, Mediterranean coast, limestone Causse scenery - and Midi-Pyrénées: stunning architecture (the Romanesque cathedral in Toulouse; the 21st-century Millau Viaduct spanning an entire valley), high-tech (the  Airbus plant in Toulouse) & Pyrenean scenery.

See our separate Occitaine page for more.

A hilltop village in Languedoc

Dr Thomson’s Tours

Private Guide & Tour Organiser

All text, maps & photos © Dr Thomson’s Tours Ltd.

Website design by Joseph Thomson

Last updated November 2023

Bethany, 37 The Crescent

Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7AW