Day 1 – Avignon (Embark)
Arrive at Marsaille Airport, where you will be transferred to the ship docked in Avignon.
Day 2 – Tarascon (Arles or Tarascon)
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Arles walking discovery tour OR Tarascon walking discovery tour
Vincent van Gogh found inspiration in Arles, and you will, too. Under the spell of the Provençal light and the vivid colors of nature, he spent a period of impassioned work under these bright sunny skies. As you explore the capital of the Camargue region with your local expert, see Van Gogh’s Arles, as well as a fascinating wealth of Roman monuments, such as the Amphitheatre and Constantine’s baths. For those who wish to discover another wonderful town along the Rhône, visit Tarascon, home to the oldest producer of French-made indiennes, Souleiado, established in 1806. In the evening, enjoy a festive Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner.
Day 3 – Avignon
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Avignon walking discovery tour with choice of Palace of the Popes OR Pont du Gard OR choice of exclusive “Off the Beaten Path” Avignon walking discovery tour, and exclusive guided “Go Active” kayak ride on the Gardon River
Avignon—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is endlessly inviting; cafés and boutiques line tree-shaded squares enlivened with street performers. Discover the city built by the Avignon papacy with your guide, including the vast Palace of the Popes, or visit the UNESCO-designated Pont du Gard built by the Romans 2,000 years ago. If you prefer to see a different side of the city, join a local expert to venture “off the beaten path.” Discover the city’s picturesque hidden alleys and secret squares, strolling from enchanting Place Crillon to the Jewish quarter, and end at Place Pie, in the old city center, home to Avignon’s famous market hall. Here you’ll want to stroll through, as there is a treasure trove of Provençal delicacies on display. Later in the day, you can also “Go Active” by paddling a kayak on the tranquil Gardon River. Note: The kayak ride on the Gardon River is only available for May through September departure dates.
Day 4 – Viviers
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Exclusive intimate Viviers “Village Day”
Viviers retains much of its medieval character and charm, with narrow lanes and historic structures. See the sights on foot, then climb Rue du Château to take in the view from the 12th-century St. Vincent Cathedral. Afterwards, you can go inside the cathedral to hear a recital of music by Puccini, Bach and Handel. Before returning to the ship, spend time enjoying some local activities. You have a choice to learn the art of clay pot making at a demonstration, and then be treated to an aperitif of the local favorites, such as olives, rosé wine and apricot juice, or you can enjoy your aperitif at a private mansion in the village.
Day 5 – Tournon (Tain l'Hermitage)
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Tournon and Tain-I’Hermitage village stroll with wine tasting OR exclusive guided “Go Active” Hermitage vineyards hike with wine tasting
Nestled on opposite sides of the river in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage are an ideal destination for wine connoisseurs. Experience this famous wine district in one of two ways. Explore Tournon and its historic castle, then cross over the suspension bridge to Tain-l’Hermitage to taste Côtes du Rhône wines. If you prefer to explore the Hermitage vineyards more actively, then take a guided hike through the steepest vineyards on the Rhône, where the world-famous wines are produced. After you’ve seen how the grapes are grown, taste the fruit that has been transformed by the vintners’ craft into legendary wine.
Day 6 – Lyon
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Lyon tour OR exclusive silk weavers walking discovery tour OR exclusive guided “Go Active” Lyon peninsula bike tour, and exclusive Lyon “Illuminations” tour
Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and with roots stretching back over 2,000 years to the days of Julius Caesar, Lyon is a place of fascinating dualities. You have your choice of ways to explore this city of contrasts. Foodies will want to delve into France’s capital of gastronomy with a guided tour of Les Halles, Lyon’s world-famous food market, taking in a tantalizing array of elaborate food stalls, bars and restaurants. In addition to being known for its culinary heritage, Lyon is also known for its history with silk—at one time, almost a third of the city’s population were silk weavers—so for those who enjoy this dignified fabric, you’ll be delighted to discover its heritage, and you’ll even have a chance to see a Jacquard loom in use. For a more active exploration of the city, pedal through the city designed with bike riders in mind. Cap the day off on an evening tour showcasing the best way to see the city’s architectural heritage, with over 100 sites illuminated.
Day 7 – Macon (Beaune)
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Beaune, Hospices de Beaune and open-air food market visit
Beaune may not be a large town, but it brims with history, a wealth of splendid regional architecture and incredible food. You’ll recognize the Hospices de Beaune immediately by its fabulous multicolored tile roof—it’s a symbol of Burgundy. Learn about Burgundy’s celebrated wines on an excursion here, where monks have been making and selling wine to support their charitable work since the 15th century. Afterwards, check out the farmers’ market, which spills from street to street in the Old Town. Cheeses, fruits, vegetables, local sausages, breads—all are on colorful display here. Celebrate the evening at the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner. Note: The open-air food market visit will take place in Arles on the reverse direction cruise (Bordeaux to Avignon).
Day 8 – Lyon (disembark)
Disembark the ship, transfer to Paris via high-speed TGV train, and embark your ship.
Day 9 – Vernon (Giverny), Les Andelys
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Monet’s Giverny OR exclusive guided “Go Active” bike ride to Giverny and hike to Château Gaillard
Monet often painted the little riverside town of Vernon, your port of call, so you are likely to recognize scenes the master rendered in oils on your way to his home in Giverny. You have a choice as to how you wish to journey to his home where he lived and worked for more than 40 years—via a short bus ride or by bike. Once there, you’ll discover how Monet immortalized his home and gardens in his paintings. Later, cruise along the peaceful Seine to Les Andelys, where you may wish to hike up to Château Gaillard, Richard the Lionheart’s 12th-century stronghold, offering inspiring views of the Seine. Cap the day off at the festive Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala dinner. Note: Giverny will be closed during the October 29 and November 5 cruise departure dates. Instead of Giverny, guests will visit the gardens of Versailles.
Day 10 – Rouen
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Rouen gourmet walking discovery tour OR exclusive guided “Go Active” golfing at Rouen’s Mont-Saint-Aignan
Victor Hugo called Rouen the city with a hundred bell towers—and easily the most famous is the one rising above Notre Dame Cathedral, which you’ll visit. You will also see the Renaissance clock tower and the bronze cross marking the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Your tour includes stops to sample some delicacies of Normandy, including white cider and Camembert. For a more active experience, you have a choice to go golfing at Rouen’s Mont-Saint- Aignan, just minutes from the city. This 18-hole course offers both veterans and beginners the chance to play in a beautiful setting surrounded by woods.
Day 11 – Caudebec-en-Caux (Honfleur or Étretat)
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Honfleur walking tour OR exclusive guided “Go Active” golfing in Étretat
Travel through bucolic Calvados countryside to Honfleur, an enchanting seaside town. You’ll soon discover why impressionist painters came to paint its inspiring scenery. For those who want to continue their French golf experience, you’ll want to go play at Golf d’Étretat, perched on the clifftops more than 150 feet above the sea, making playing golf here both a memorable experience and a visual feast.
Day 12 – Rouen (Normandy Beaches)
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Utah and Omaha beaches, Sainte-Mère-Église OR Juno Beach OR Bayeux, and Arromanches and the American Cemetery
Normandy has been the setting for many battles over the centuries, including the D-Day invasion of WWII. You decide how you wish to experience it. For those wishing to visit the American airborne forces’ landing beaches, you’ll want to go to the historic Utah and Omaha beaches, along with Pointe du Hoc, one of the strategic strong points between the two beaches. You’ll also visit Sainte-Mère-Église, which became the first town in France to be liberated, and its airborne museum. If you prefer to go to the Canadian landing beaches, journey to Juno Beach, where the 3rd Canadian infantry division came ashore; you’ll see the exhibit at the Canadian Centre. And for those who wish to see an astonishing millennium-old textile listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, you’ll wish to travel to Bayeux to view the famous 11th-century tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings. All groups will meet later in the day at the American Cemetery and Memorial honoring US soldiers. While here, you are welcome to participate in a special remembrance ceremony that includes a wreath laying, the American national anthem and a moment of silence.
Day 13 – Mantes-la-Jolie (Versailles)
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Palace of Versailles OR Château de Malmaison
Dock in Mantes-la-Jolie, gateway to either an excursion to Versailles or Château de Malmaison. Versailles set the standard for opulence, not just in the 17th century but for the succeeding centuries as well. Tour the royal apartments, which still look much as they did when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled in 1789. Marvel at the magnificent Hall of Mirrors and walk through some of the fountain-filled gardens. Château de Malmaison, once home to Napoleon’s first empress, Josephine, is filled with Empire-style furnishings, thanks to the keen eye of young Josephine. Here the empress entertained in elegance and created gardens that were world famous in her day. Cap your royal day off with the festive Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner.
Day 14 – Paris
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of “Heart of Paris” cruise and city tour OR exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter walking tour OR exclusive guided “Go Active” Seine riverbank bike ride
Hemingway called Paris a moveable feast: Once you’ve experienced it, you will take it with you wherever you go. You have three choices for how you wish to experience the city. If you are experiencing Paris for the first time, you may wish to take a cruise along the Seine for an unforgettable look at the heart of Paris from the water and continue on a panoramic tour to see the City of Light’s most famous sights, with a stop at the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. For those who wish to experience Paris as a true Parisian, join the “Do as the Locals Do” tour. Take the Métro to the Île de la Cité, the historic center of Paris, and the great cathedral of Notre Dame. An expert in the history and architecture of this magnificent cathedral is your guide as you explore both inside and out. After you’ve admired Notre Dame’s stained glass, flying buttresses and idiosyncratic gargoyles, cross the Archbishop’s Bridge to the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter. Wander through the narrow streets where for centuries artists, writers, philosophers and the Sorbonne’s students have lived and worked, argued politics, painted, sipped absinthe and lived the bohemian lifestyle for which the district is famous. And for those who prefer a more active exploration of the city, hop on a bicycle for a guided ride along the Seine.
Day 15 – Paris
Disembark your ship in Paris, transfer to Bordeaux via TGV high-speed train, and embark your ship.
Day 16 – Cadillac, Bordeaux
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Cadillac, châteaux and Sauternes vineyards with exclusive artisanal wine-pairing lunch at Château de Cazeneuve
You’re in for a treat as you embark on a fascinating study of Sauternes, the highly prized, golden-hued sweet wine that takes its name from the region. Visit one of the area’s finest estates for a wine tasting, and then be treated to a delectable wine-pairing lunch at Château de Cazeneuve, an 85-acre estate. Here, you’ll gather for a delectable wine-pairing lunch and learn how easy (and fun) it is to pair a sweet wine with a whole new variety of dishes. Extend your celebration into the evening with the Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner. Note: Sailing on this stretch of the Garonne depends on the tides. If it is not possible to sail to Cadillac, you will be taken to your destination via motorcoach.
Day 17 – Cruising the Garonne River and Gironde Estuary, Pauillac
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Médoc city tour with exclusive wine tasting OR exclusive guided “Go Active” vineyard bike ride with wine tasting
Sail the Garonne River and the Gironde Estuary before heading to Pauillac, gateway to the storied Médoc wine route and the prestigious “châteaux road.” You’ll have a panoramic tour of the heart of the celebrated Haut-Médoc wine-growing region and taste wines at one of its estates. If you wish for a more active exploration of the region, take a guided bicycle ride through Pauillac and the lush landscapes of historic estates that have seemingly remained unchanged for centuries. Do all those beautiful vineyards make you yearn to sample their fruit? Luckily, this adventure includes a stop at Château Lynch-Bages for a wine tasting.
Day 18 – Blaye, Bourg-sur-Gironde, cruising the Dordogne River, Libourne
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Scenic drive along the Route de la Corniche Fleurie with Blaye Fortress
Sail across the peaceful waters of the estuary, where fishing huts rise above grassy marshlands edged by limestone cliffs, as you make your way to the town of Blaye. A visual feast awaits you on a storied road named for the many flowers that line it, Route de la Corniche Fleurie, which wends its way through picturesque hamlets filled with old stone houses. Stop in the medieval walled village of Bourg-sur-Gironde, with a rich historic and architectural heritage, before heading back to Blaye, where you’ll be guided through the imposing 17th-century Blaye Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 19 – Libourne (Saint-Émilion)
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Saint-Émilion walking discovery tour with wine tasting
Hilltop Saint-Émilion offers both exceptional architecture and historic vineyards. The Romans were the first to plant grapes here, and this was the first vineyard region to be protected by UNESCO because of its history. Saint-Émilion is entered by way of one of the seven gates that are part of the original medieval fortifications. Inside the walls, discover steep, narrow cobblestone streets, stores brimming with wine and wine tools, and the extraordinary 12th-century Monolithic Church, carved into a cliff—only the tower is above ground; the rest of the church is subterranean. After touring Saint-Émilion, you’ll visit the cellars of a premier Grand Cru estate where you’ll taste some of the world’s most highly rated wines.
Day 20 – Libourne, cruising the Garonne River, Bordeaux
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Libourne “Village Day” with farmers’ market, and exclusive “Bordeaux under the Stars” tour
How could you visit this rich agricultural land without delving into a farmers’ market? Libourne’s sprawling farmers’ market is a food lover’s paradise, with stands selling fresh produce, cheeses, charcuterie and more. Explore its bounty with a local expert and take a peek inside the workshops of talented local artisans. Cap the day off with the “Bordeaux under the Stars” tour via an open-top bus for a view of this extraordinarily beautiful city illuminated at night.
Day 21 – Bordeaux
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Bordeaux walking tour OR exclusive guided “Go Active” bike ride through the Bordeaux backstreets
How to spend your last day in Bordeaux? You have two exclusive opportunities to see this magnificent place, whose seamless blend of classical and neoclassical architecture led to its being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Do as the Locals Do” as you stroll the most graceful streets with your local expert, including luxury food halls; local delicacies, such as canelés and chocolates; and popular wine bars. If you prefer a more active experience, join a guide for a bicycle ride through city. Celebrate your last evening onboard with the festive Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner.
Day 22 – Bordeaux
Disembark and transfer to airport.