Historically cut off from mainland France by dense, impenetrable forests, the west (or Brittany), became something out of legend. With a language, music, food and a culture of its own, Brittany still remains obscure to most people. Settled by Christian Celtic tribes in the 5th century, Brittany has a rich history of Christian faith and pilgrimage.
As you visit the west you will stay in the oldest Christian monastery in Brittany, established in AD 485 by St. Guenole. The sweet ocean air is constant at this spiritual retreat. We will spend time in quiet exploration of this ancient Celtic Christian site or head into the mystical woodland interior where the legends of Brittany come alive. Imagine otherworldly forests filled with ancient caves, abandoned mines and beautiful rock formations. Brittany is a place for those who want a once-in-a-lifetime mission to France that explores the contemplative roots to our faith.
- Spend some time singing with the monks in an ancient abbey.
- Kayak on the rising and falling tides of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Help with homeless ministry in the bustling city of Paris.
- Visit one of the greatest Christian sites in the world, Mount Saint Michel.
- Quietly contemplate our Christian roots in a 1500 year old monastery.
Every Wonder Voyage itinerary (mission trip and/or pilgrimage) is personalized to the desires, direction and personality of each group. This itinerary is only a description of the kind of journey we can create for your unique team.
- Day 1 – Normandy in Sight
The team, after months of preparation and hard work, has landed in France. We will enter into Europe’s fabled land of good food, iconic landmarks and hidden landscapes and head west to our first monastery in the western borderlands of Normandy. This area of France has been the launching pad and the landing point for several of history’s greatest invasions. After our first French lunch and a bit of exploration, we will arrive at our Abbey home, a magnificent green setting typical of Normandy. We will spend the afternoon exploring the grounds, engaging in orientation and exploring the themes of our pilgrimage. In quiet and silence, this community welcomes us for a time of retreat, recollection, and rest.
- Day 2 – D-Day Remembrances
On the morning of June 6, 1944, “Operation Overlord,” history’s largest military operation, commenced as 6000 ships and boats landed on Normandy’s northern beaches. 135,000 soldiers from the USA, UK, Canada and elsewhere began to recapture French soil from the clutches of the Nazi occupation. History would record this as D-Day and the starting of the 76-day battle of Normandy which would see over 400,000 Allied, German and civilian casualties. Today we explore a small section of France that changed the course of history. We will learn about that fated day by visiting some of the beaches, such as Omaha and Juno. It is a day to contemplate sacrifice and the cost of freedom.
- Day 3 – Mont St-Michel
We depart this morning and head into the heart of Celtic Brittany. On our way out west we will stop at the iconic and holy sanctuary of Mont St-Michel. This small mountain island was originally known in Celtic mythology as a sea tomb for the souls of Celtic heroes. In 708, Bishop Aubert of Avranches built a devotional chapel after receiving a vision from the Archangel Michael. The Benedictines took over the property in the 10th century and a hundred years later the ecclesiastical fortress was built. We will spend the morning exploring this UNESCO heritage site. We may do a bit of exploring on our way to our new home if time allows but our ultimate goal is a Celtic Monastery over 1500 years old. We have now entered into one of the seven ancient Celtic kingdoms. What adventures await?
- Day 4 – A Celtic Abbaye
Today we visit St. Guenole. This monastery is the oldest Christian site in Brittany. We will spend the day in quiet exploration of the ancient monastic site. We will learn about the history of Celtic Christianity and the lives of the saints that once roamed these shores. We will also contemplate monastic rhythms and how they still affect the church today. We may even be able to serve at the monastery alongside one of the brothers who carry on fifteen centuries of continual tradition.
- Day 5 – A Sampling of Towns
Today we will visit several French villages in search of the average French life. We start by heading into the mystical woodland interior where the legends of Brittany come alive. Our first stop is the small town of Huelgoat, surrounded by an otherworldly forest filled with ancient caves, abandoned mines and beautiful rock formations. Our next stop is the mid-sized seaside village of Concarneau, where we will visit an ancient preserved walled town (situated on a small island) from the 14th century for a taste of medieval France. We will finish our journey in the large town of Quimper. This town is a haven of Breton culture and arts and is the capital of this county in Brittany. After a visit to the cathedral we will allow a couple of hours of free exploration. The remainder of our evening will be back at the monastery for quiet reflection.
- Day 6 – Chartres
We leave the adored Abbaye this morning as we wave goodbye to Brittany and head toward the Eiffel Tower. We have a few hours of driving but exploration is never far away. On our way into the city of dreams we will take time to stop at one of France’s most beloved holy sites: Chartes Cathedral. This 13th century sanctuary dominates the medieval town that surrounds it. By late afternoon we will reach our home for the next two days in the heart of Paris.
- Day 7 – Ah, Paris!
We have much to see in our twenty-four hours in Paris. We will start at Ste. Chappelle to get an idea of what Notre Dame would have looked like. From there we will visit the world-famous Notre Dame. Look out for the gargoyles: they are always watching. Then it is off to the Latin Quarter for some free time and lunch. The afternoon will be left for independent exploration. Will you visit the Mona Lisa in the Louvre? We will meet back early evening at the Eiffel Tower and then go for our Celebration Meal. Finally back at our hostel, we will Pass the Candle and share this week’s moments of wonder.
- Day 8 – Pilgrims Return
Our team has engaged in the adventure of a lifetime. Our week in France has been a pilgrimage filled with wonder, laughter and love. We have learned about this amazing country, worshipped God in ancient sanctuaries and visited world icons. Now it is back to our home, where the real pilgrimage of our faith has just begun…
Legacy in Brittany, France
- *This is the base cost of the trip. Your cost may differ depending on housing, activities, etc.