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Grand France – Northbound 2018
(Arles to Paris, Cruise-Only)

15 days with Avalon Waterways  Rating: Deluxe

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  • Save $500 per couple off 2018 Europe cruises. Expires April 4. Click here for eligible departures.

Offers subject to change or withdrawal, availability is limited. Some discounts are not combinable.

River Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Arles, France (Embarkation)
Welcome to France! This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel docked in Arles in the Provence region. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception, then sail toward the mouth of the Rhône for a taste of the tranquil vistas of Camargue National Park (daylight permitting). (D)

Day 2 Arles
In Arles, capital of the Provence, join your LOCAL GUIDE for a tour of the city. See the church of St. Trophime, dating from the 12th century, and visit the ROMAN AMPHITHEATER. Still used today, the amphitheater dates to the 1st century, and was constructed to hold over 20,000 spectators. Vincent Van Gogh was inspired by the special light of the Provence and spent a very productive year in Arles. (B,L,D)

Day 3 Avignon
On your GUIDED TOUR, you may choose to join an included visit of the PALACE OF THE POPES, built in the 14th century as the sovereign popes’ residence. With a living space equivalent to four gothic cathedrals, it is the largest gothic fortress in the world. Alternatively, you may opt for only city sightseeing and more free time to explore on your own, or to join an optional outing to Pont du Gard or the famed wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. (B,L,D)

Day 4 Cruising–Viviers
A leisurely morning on board to relax and enjoy the passing scenery. After lunch, join your LOCAL GUIDE for a walk around the charming town of Viviers, which developed around its ROMANESQUE CATHEDRAL. The OLD TOWN has an appealing mix of Christian, Roman, and medieval influences.(B,L,D)

Day 5 Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Vienne
The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage lie nestled among vineyards between the Rhône River and the granite slopes of the Hermitage. Enjoy a GUIDED WALK of Tournon, one of France’s oldest medieval cities, with its imposing 16th-century castle and Roman ruins. Arriving in Vienne in the late afternoon, a GUIDED WALK shows you the charming little town surrounded by steep hills. Explore the town center to see the Roman Theater, which once held 13,000 spectators, and the Augustus and Livia Temple, built around 20 BC and converted into a church in the Middle Ages.(B,L,D)

Day 6 Lyon
Lyon is France’s third-largest city and its gastronomic capital. Founded by the Romans in 43 BC, the city’s prosperity dates back to the 16th century and is due to commercial, industrial, and banking activities. Roman remains, many excellent museums, and much renaissance architecture delight visitors. You are joined by a LOCAL GUIDE as you survey the city from Fourvière Hill—with its splendid views over the city—and explore the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its maze of medieval alleyways and Place des Terreaux, a popular area with lively cafés, monuments, and the famous fountain often depicted on postcards. Be sure to sample Beaujolais, the wine of the region.(B,L,D)

Day 7 Cruising–St. Jean de Losne
A leisurely day today to enjoy your final day on board. If you prefer to stay busy, a choice of optional excursions is available, including a visit to a wine cellar. While sailing to Chalon-sur-Saône, enjoy an onboard CHEESE TASTING.(B,L,D)

Day 8 St. Jean de Losne. (Disembarkation)–Beaune–Dijon–Paris (Embarkation)
After breakfast, disembark and head by motorcoach to Beaune, the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Or area and Burgundy’s wine capital. Although life here centers around wine, Beaune offers much more with its ramparts, medieval houses, cobblestone streets, and historical monuments. Visit the HÔTEL-DIEU charity hospital, built in 1443 and paid for by the chancellor of Burgundy after the Hundred Years’ War left many of the town’s population destitute. Today, it houses Van der Weyden’s painting of The Last Judgment and is one of France’s architectural highlights. After lunch, continue to Dijon and board the TGV train to Paris, the “City of Light,” where your ship is docked on the River Seine. Meet your crew at a welcome reception; before dinner, your ship glides smoothly out of Paris.(B,D)

Day 9 Vernon–Les Andelys
This morning in Vernon, choose between a guided visit of Giverny and a visit to Bizy Castle. Claude Monet lived at GIVERNY for almost 43 years (1883-1926) and viewed his flower and water gardens as works of art—just like his paintings. See his collection of Japanese prints, his charming house, and his biggest sources of inspiration. Or, visit BIZY CASTLE, built in 1740 and nicknamed “Normandy’s Versailles.” It is known for its famous stables—inspired by those at Versailles—and its magnificent courtyard and water garden. This afternoon, your ship arrives in Les Andelys, situated on a bend of the Seine and one of the most beautiful places in France. Join a Local Guide for a GUIDED WALK of the town, visiting the PARISH CHURCH OF LE PETIT ANDELY. Imposing Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart as a fortress in 1196, is seen above the town. Constructed in only a year, it is a masterpiece of medieval military architecture.(B,L,D)

Day 10 Caudebec
Today, join either a guided excursion along the Route des Chaumières, “NORMANDY VILLAGES ROUTE,” to see some of Normandy’s charming and traditional half-timbered houses with their long, sloping thatched roofs, often sporting blue wooden doors and window shutters, or along the “NORMANDY ABBEYS ROUTE,” a short drive from Caudebec. More than 100 abbeys once covered this region, which has a microclimate particularly suited to the production of fruit such as apples, pears, plums and cherries. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or to join an optional excursion to the pretty coastal town of Honfleur.(B,L,D)

Day 11 Caudebec
Today, choose between an included full-day excursion to the historic NORMANDY LANDING BEACHES—with poignant sites such as Omaha Beach, the Pointe du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery—or a “TASTE OF NORMANDY” for a more in-depth look at this picturesque, mainly agricultural region. The most important products are dairy, apples, and grain. Camembert cheese is a specialty, as is CALVADOS, a strong apple brandy that you’ll have the chance to taste at a local distillery. And for a touch of history, visit the famous BAYEUX TAPESTRY.(B,L,D)

Day 12 Rouen
Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is an important commercial city perhaps best known for its connection to Joan of Arc, who lived, was imprisoned, and burned at the stake in the marketplace of this town in 1431. Enjoy the GUIDED WALK through the medieval quarter with its half-timbered, glazed-tile houses, and take your pictures of the Gros Horloge, an intricate astronomical clock dating back to the 16th century. Visit the splendid gothic CATHEDRAL, which was once the tallest building in the world and the subject of a series of Claude Monet’s paintings. The afternoon is free for you to explore on your own.(B,L,D)

Day 13 Conflans
After breakfast you may either join our included guided excursion to AUVERS-SUR-OISE, the quaint town where Vincent Van Gogh lived and died, or to Napoleon and Josephine’s CHÂTEAU DE MALMAISON outside Paris. Requiring extensive renovations, this large country estate was purchased by Josephine Bonaparte in 1799 while Napoleon was fighting in Egypt. It was her aim to make it “the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation.”(B,L,D)

Day 14 Paris
Known as one of the world’s most romantic and lively cities, Paris delights the senses. Join a GUIDED WALK through historic Île St. Louis with its narrow one-way streets and Île de la Cité, the center of Paris where the medieval city was founded and home to NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL. In your free time, stroll down the Champs-Elysées with its lavish cafés, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre or Montmartre with its gleaming white Sacré Coeur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre.(B,L,D)

Day 15 Paris (Disembarkation)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.(B)

Tour Map
River Cruise Highlights
  • Cruise: deluxe 14-night cruise in an outside stateroom with Avalon’s exclusive Comfort Collection BedsSM
  • Arles: welcome to France! onboard welcome reception; sail into the Camargue region (daylight permitting); guided sightseeing, visit the Roman Amphitheater
  • Avignon: guided sightseeing, visit the Palace of the Popes
  • Cruising–Viviers: guided walk, visit Old Town and the cathedral
  • Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Vienne: guided walk in Tournon; guided walk in Vienne
  • Lyon: guided sightseeing, picture stop on Fourvière Hill
  • Cruising–St. Jean de Losne: day at leisure; cheese tasting
  • St. Jean de Losne (Disembarkation)–Beaune–Dijon–Paris (Embarkation): visit the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune; TGV train from Dijon to Paris; onboard welcome reception
  • Vernon–Les Andelys: choice of guided excursions to Giverny or Bizy Castle; guided walk in Les Andelys, visit the Parish Church of Le Petit Andelys
  • Caudebec: choice of excursion along either the “Normandy Villages Route” or the “Normandy Abbeys Route”; choice of excursions to Normandy landing beaches or “A Taste of Normandy”
  • Rouen: guided walk, see the Gros Horloge astronomical clock and visit the cathedral
  • Conflans: choice of guided excursions to Auvers-sur-Oise or Château de Malmaison
  • Paris: choice of guided sightseeing or “Heart of Paris” walk, visit Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Special onboard and onshore experiences presented by entertainers, artisans, and experts, designed to enrich your cruise.
  • Learn from a local expert about D-Day, and attend an onboard “les guitares de camargue” musical presentation.
All This Included

This river cruise vacation showcases France’s charm, breathtaking scenery, and rich history. Your adventure begins on the Rhône River with a visit to Arles, France—famous for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh—and its 1st-century Roman Amphitheater, which hosts plays and concerts to this day. On a guided tour of historical Avignon, see the 14th-century Palace of the Popes—the largest gothic fortress in the world. The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage are beautifully nestled among vineyards and you’ll go on a guided walk of Tournon, a medieval treasure with plenty of Roman ruins and a fascinating 16th-century castle. Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, sits at the junction of the Rhône and Saône Rivers and is a showcase of medieval and Renaissance architecture. The Seine River offers a choice of excursion opportunities, such as a visit to the historic Normandy Landing Beaches, including Omaha Beach, the Point du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery; a visit to delightful Les Andelys, Joan of Arc’s Rouen, and the choice between a visit to Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s Malmaison.

On this French river cruise, you’ll enjoy wine, cheese, beautiful scenery, and stops in charming and historical parts of France, but your adventure would not be complete without a visit to Paris—one of the world’s most romantic and vibrant cities! The “City of Light” has Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum with its elegant glass pyramid contrasting its ancient architecture. A guided walk through historic Île St. Louis with its narrow streets, and Île de la Cité where medieval Paris was founded, will be a delight.

  • Superb dining with meals on board featuring full breakfast with complimentary sparkling wine, lunch with complimentary soft drinks, and dinner including complimentary wine, beer, or soft drinks; a welcome reception, Captain’s reception, and farewell dinner; one sitting with open seating arrangements
  • Deluxe cruise in an outside stateroom with hotel-style beds
  • Included excursions with Certified Local Guide; sightseeing as outlined in the day by-day itinerary; inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE.
  • Headsets for shore excursions
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi access
  • Personalized room options & excursions
Accommodations on this Tour
Cruising: Cabin onboard Avalon Poetry II and Avalon Tapestry II
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Port charges: $336.
  • Prices and itineraries are subject to change. Final details will be available in April 2017.
  • Gratuities to Local Guides & Excursion Drivers are included.
  • Please call for single accommodation price. Triples not available.
  • In the event that the TGV is unavailable due to strikes or technical reasons, the transfer from Dijon to Paris will be operated by motorcoach.
  • In the event of water level problems or any problems of a technical nature, it may be necessary to operate the itinerary by motorcoach or to alter the program.
  • Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change becomes necessary, a substitute will be offered.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.



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