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Ultimate France

Paris to Lyon | 22 Days
Date Range: Aug 2015 - Oct 2015Ships: River Baroness, River Royale, S.S. Catherine

Paris to Lyon | 22 Days

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Program offerings are subject to change.
Day 1:
Paris (embark) MotorcoachEmbark/DisembarkDinner
Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, where you will be transferred to the ship.
Day 2:
Vernon (Giverny), Les Andelys MotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchWelcome Gala Dinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Monet’s Giverny and hike to Château Gaillard

Visit Monet’s home in his beloved village of Giverny, where he lived and worked for more than 40 years. When Monet bought the property, most of it was an orchard; he transformed it over the years into the enchanted vision that he painted, essentially creating each work of art twice: once as a living garden and again as a painting. Stroll through the grounds and admire the familiar Japanese bridge and water garden that inspired him. Though the town suffered bomb damage during WWII, you’ll still be able to recognize many scenes from the master’s iconic paintings. Step even further into the past with a hike to Château Gaillard. Your adventure takes you to the dramatic white-stone remains of Richard the Lionheart’s 12th-century stronghold. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the river and surrounding countryside. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner.
Note: Giverny will be closed during the March 15, 22, 29, and November 1 cruise departure dates. Instead of Giverny, guests will visit the gardens of Versailles.

Day 3:
Rouen (Normandy Beaches) MotorcoachBuffet BreakfastDinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Full-day Normandy Beaches with choice of Arromanches 360° Cinema or Juno Beach and Canadian Centre or Tapestry Museum in Bayeux

Normandy’s proximity to the sea has made it the site of many battles, including the famous D-Day Invasion by Allied forces during WWII. Before visiting the beaches of Normandy, you’ll experience the spectacular circular cinema at Arromanches; by surrounding you with images from archival material, the 360° cinema puts you in the middle of the action. Or choose to visit Juno Beach, where the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landed, and take in the exhibits at the Canadian Center. Or, after spending time in Arromanches, drive to Bayeux to see the famous 11th-century tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings. Continue to the Allied landing sites at Omaha Beach before visiting a haunting reminder of the Allied forces’ hard fight for freedom—the American Cemetery. Located in Colleville-sur-Mer, near the section of coastline designated “Omaha Beach,” the cemetery and memorial honor American soldiers who lost their lives while fighting in Europe. Should you wish to pay your respects, you’ll be provided with flowers.

Day 4:
Rouen Buffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Rouen walking tour or exclusive guided “Go Active” bicycle ride along the Seine River

Rouen, founded in pre-Roman times and the medieval capital of the region, has managed to preserve many notable buildings despite being invaded, conquered, and bombed countless times over the years. Your visit will take you to the stunning Gothic cathedrals, the haunting medieval quarter, and the Gros Horloge, a Renaissance clock tower. The walk ends at Vieux Marché, where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by the English in 1431. Or enjoy a bike ride along the Seine with an expert guide. The Seine River banks are popular with locals, and cycling on the docks is part of the quintessential Rouen experience.

Day 5:
Caudebec-en-Caux (Honfleur) MotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSION: Honfleur walking tour

After crossing the river delta via the majestic Normandy Bridge, travel through the Calvados countryside to Honfleur, a charming French harbor town re-created in paintings by such artists as Monet, Courbet, and the painter who inspired so many others to come to Honfleur: Eugene Boudin. Charles Baudelaire, the French poet, called Boudin’s stormy pictures of the harbor “meteorological beauties.” Tour the former smugglers’ harbor of Vieux Bassin—the most frequently painted scene in Honfleur—and St. Catherine’s church, which was built by shipwrights.

Day 6:
Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Auvers sur Oise) MotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchFarewell Gala Dinner

FEATURED EXCURSION: “Vincent van Gogh’s Footsteps” walking tour of Auvers-sur-Oise

Find yourself in Auvers-sur-Oise, following the footsteps of impressionist master Vincent van Gogh. The ill-fated artist spent just the last two months of his life here, but in that time he painted many of its buildings, including the Town Hall, the church, and the home of his physician, Dr. Gachet. Your guide will transport you to the 19th century and give you a true-to-life sense of the artist’s final days as you stand in the very place where Van Gogh set his easel. You can see the former inn where he stayed until his death in 1890 and then visit his tomb in the “new cemetery” (inaugurated in 1858). Van Gogh is buried beside his brother, Theo, who died a year later. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner.

Day 7:
Paris UNESCOMotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Paris city tour or exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter walking tour

Your panoramic city tour includes the most Parisian of sights: the grand Champs-Élysées, where you will pass the Arc de Triomphe before stopping at the Champs de Mars for an opportunity to photograph the Eiffel Tower. Then continue on to the Place Vendôme, Hôtel de Ville, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Latin Quarter. Then it’s on to Les Invalides, the Louvre courtyard, and Luxembourg Gardens, where you can stretch your legs and see a slice of Parisian life. Or, take a more intimate look at Parisian daily life with a walking tour of the Île de la Cité, the historic center of Paris, which is home to the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. Your tour also includes a stop by a traditional open-air market to shop as the Parisians do for bread, cheese, and other regional delicacies.

Day 8:
Paris (disembark), transfer to Bordeaux via high speed TGV train (embark) Embark/DisembarkMotorcoachContinental Breakfast/Buffet Breakfast
Day 9:
Cruising the Garone River and Gironde Estuary, Pauillac MotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchWelcome Gala Dinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Médoc panoramic tour with exclusive wine tasting or exclusive guided “Go Active” vineyard bicycle ride with wine tasting

Set sail on the Garonne for the pretty town of Pauillac, gateway to the storied Médoc wine route. In Pauillac, you’ll begin a panoramic tour of the heart of the Haut-Médoc AOC (or appellation d’origine contrôlée, a geographical designation that denotes where grapes are grown) before enjoying a visit to a winery where you’ll get a chance to taste the celebrated Médoc wines. Or experience the terroir in an entirely different way: with a guided bike ride through the beautiful Médoc vineyards. You’ll get an up-close look at the vines and a real feel for the atmosphere—the earth, the sunshine—of this famous wine-growing region. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner.

Day 10:
Libourne (Saint-Émilion) UNESCOMotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSION: Saint-Émilion walking tour with wine tasting

Saint-Émilion offers exceptional historic architecture, and historic vineyards, too. The Romans were the first to plant grapes here, and this was the first vineyard region to be protected by UNESCO. The town, built atop limestone hills, offers many interesting shops, but what makes it extraordinary is what exists below the cobbled streets—Saint- Émilion’s Monolithic Church, which dates back to the 12th century. 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 11:
Libourne (Bergerac) MotorcoachBuffet BreakfastDinner

FEATURED EXCURSION: Bergerac city tour

Bergerac, which is located in the southernmost part of the Périgord and boasts 12 AOCs, is your jumping-off point for today’s adventure. On your walking tour of the town you’ll explore the popular farmers’ market, hear the fateful story of Cyrano de Bergerac and his Roxanne, and watch the flat- bottom boats glide along the river. Stop at the 16th-century Château de Monbazillac, which offers marvelous views overlooking Bergerac and the Dordogne River. The drive along the Dordogne is an especially scenic one, and you’ll cross bridges to explore charming bastide villages on both sides of the river.

Day 12:
Blaye, cruising the Garonne River, Bordeaux UNESCOMotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Scenic drive along the Route de la Corniche Fleurie with Blaye Fortress and exclusive private evening tour of Bordeaux

Be treated to a scenic drive alongside limestone cliffs on a little road called the Route de la Corniche Fleurie. The road winds through the picturesque hamlets of Pain de Sucre, Marmisson, and Roque de Thau, where you’ll find charming stone houses built by 19th-century ship captains. Return to Blaye for a guided walk through the 17th-century citadel built by famed military engineer Vauban. Its fortress and tunnels are a UNESCO monument. Board the ship to sail back to Bordeaux. Upon returning to Bordeaux, enjoy an exclusive evening tour. Bordeaux under the stars—what could be more magical? After Paris, Bordeaux has more protected buildings than any other French city. From the alleyways of the Saint-Pierre district to the avenues of the Place des Quinconces, you’ll see why Queen Elizabeth II deemed Bordeaux “the essence of elegance.”

Day 13:
Cadillac, Bordeaux MotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchFarewell Gala Dinner

FEATURED EXCURSION: Cadillac, châteaux, and Sauternes vineyards with exclusive artisanal wine-pairing lunch at Château d’Arche

Vous êtes arrivé à Cadillac, the area known for producing sweet dessert wines under the celebrated Cadillac AOC designation. Today, you’ll embark on a study of Sauternes, the sweet wine which is named for the region. Sauternes is made from grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, a fungus that causes a raisin-like decay, resulting in a concentrated and distinctly flavored sweet wine. You’ll meet the winemakers and enjoy an elegant wine-pairing lunch at Château d’Arche, a nearly 100-acre vineyard with a 17th-century manor house. Enjoy a fabulous luncheon paired with three Sauternes wines of different estates and vintages. You’ll discover the characteristics of each wine: the flavors that result from the different terroir and the different personalities of the wine makers. This wine not only pairs well with desserts—it also proves an exciting match to smoked salmon and beautifully balances a spicy meal. Learn how easy (and fun!) it is to pair a sweet wine with a whole new variety of dishes. The tour concludes with an opportunity to see the grounds of the legendary wine estate, Château d’Yquem, a Premier Cru Supérieur and producer of some of the world’s most sought-after and exclusive wines. A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 14:
Bordeaux UNESCOBuffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Bordeaux walking tour or exclusive guided “Go Active” bicycle ride through the city

See Bordeaux à pied on a fascinating walking tour of the Golden Triangle, where you’ll encounter the very best the city has to offer. Explore luxury food halls, sample Bordeaux’s famous canelés and chocolates, discover marvelous 18th-century architecture, and visit an elegant wine bar popular with locals. If you’re looking for something more active, enjoy the “Pearl of Aquitaine” from the seat of a bike on a guided ride. You’ll have plenty of free time to further enjoy Bordeaux on your own. Revisit some of the places you saw on your tour, explore new sights, or indulge in a little shopping. The choice is yours!

Day 15:
Bordeaux (disembark), fly to Marseille, transfer to Avignon (embark) Embark/DisembarkMotorcoachContinental Breakfast/Buffet Breakfast
Day 16:
Tarascon (Arles or Tarascon) UNESCOBuffet BreakfastLunchWelcome Gala Dinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Arles walking tour or Tarascon walking tour

Enchanted by the light and the vivid colors of Provence, Vincent van Gogh produced more than 300 paintings and drawings in just 15 months, including Starry Night. During your walking tour, discover Van Gogh’s Arles, as well as a wealth of fascinating Roman monuments, among them the Amphitheater and the Baths of Constantine, which were built in the fourth century for the emperor’s personal use. Or opt instead to explore the historic heart of Tarascon, with its charming Provençal architecture, medieval church, and beautifully preserved Renaissance palace. If you’re entranced by Provence’s distinctive printed fabrics, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about them at the Souleiado Museum. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala dinner.

Day 17:
Avignon UNESCOBuffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Avignon walking tour and Palace of the Popes or exclusive “Off the Beaten Path” Avignon walking tour or exclusive guided “Go Active” kayak ride on the Gardon River

Avignon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, brims with history, culture, art, and life, as you’ll see on your walking tour of the “City of the Popes.” Start at the medieval ramparts and continue to Clock Tower Square, where colorful café terraces face the magnificent City Hall, the Opera Theatre, and classic mansions. Then it’s on to Popes’ Palace Square for an inside view of the maze of galleries, chambers, and chapels that make up the grand Palace of the Popes, where seven fourteenth-century popes resided during a turbulent period in church history. Or opt instead to discover Avignon’s picturesque hidden alleys and secret squares on an exclusive guided tour that takes you “off the beaten path.” Alternatively, spend a fun and relaxing afternoon paddling the clear, tranquil waters of the Gardon River. You’ll paddle from Collias to Remoulins, gliding under the arches of the two-thousand-year- old UNESCO-designated Pont du Gard.
Note: The kayak ride on the Gardon River is only available for May– September departure dates.

Day 18:
Viviers Buffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSION: Exclusive “Intimate Viviers through music” tour

Lovely Viviers, which developed around its 12th- century cathedral, retains much of its historic charm. Founded in the fifth century, Viviers was once an important regional capital; stone houses, dating to the Middle Ages, still line the tiny lanes. You’ll walk through its charming Old Town, seeing a mix of medieval and Renaissance structures, including the Maison des Chevaliers (House of Knights), before climbing Rue du Château to reach St. Vincent Cathedral. After enjoying the stunning views, you’ll be welcomed into the 12th-century cathedral for a lovely recital of music composed by Puccini, Bach, and Handel.

Day 19:
Tournon (Tain l’Hermitage) Buffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of exclusive Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage “Village Day” with wine tasting or Hermitage Vineyards walking tour with wine tasting, and exclusive Lyon “Illuminations” tour

Nestled among famous vineyards, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage are an ideal destination for true connoisseurs of wine. Visit Tournon and its historic castle, then cross the Marc Seguin suspension bridge and indulge in some midvalley Côtes du Rhône wines from the Hermitage, a wine-growing district credentialed by Louis XIV. Or, if you’re feeling particularly active, you can visit the Hermitage vineyards and then see the cities from above with a walking tour through the lovely hillside garden, Le Jardin d’Eden. Spectacular views await, as do delicious wines and delectable treats. This evening, see Lyon by night on a stunning “Illuminations” tour—unravel the secrets and scandals of the past, all while admiring the beautifully lit cityscape.

Day 20:
Lyon UNESCOMotorcoachBuffet BreakfastLunchDinner

FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Lyon gourmet tour or exclusive Silk Weavers walking tour or exclusive guided “Go Active” bike ride along the Rhône River banks

Lyon is France’s lively and creative capital of gastronomy. Today you’ll stroll Les Halles, Lyon’s world-famous food market, like a local, taking in the 59 elaborate food stalls, bars, and restaurants. Enjoy the hum and thrum of this culinary mecca. Or, you can visit the city’s old Quartier St. Jean, as you follow in the steps of the great silk weavers. You’ll see spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture, including the Cour des Loges and La Tour Rose, before meeting with a modern-day silk weaver who will demonstrate his or her stunning craft on a Jacquard loom. Alternately, if you’re feeling active, you can see Lyon as it was meant to be seen: from a bicycle. Take advantage of the city’s extensive network of bike paths, starting from the University Bridge and riding along the winding waterfront—remarkable architecture and timeless vistas will be your reward.

Day 21:
Macon (Beaune) MotorcoachBuffet BreakfastFarewell Gala Dinner

FEATURED EXCURSION: Beaune, Hospices de Beaune, and open-air food market visit

Located in the heart of Burgundy, Chalon sur Saône is an important center of the French wine trade. Burgundy’s wines are celebrated all over the world; in fact, the wines of this region, along with those of Bordeaux, are the reason France is famous for its wine. You will journey to nearby Beaune to visit the famous Hospices de Beaune, a charitable hospital; the hospice monks have been making wine for auction (in order to support their charities) since the 15th century. You can marvel at the hospital’s magnificent multicolored tile roof before exploring the bounteous market stalls. The expansive open- air market spreads out into the pedestrian streets around the hospice, and you’ll find plenty of local delicacies, including Burgundian and Jura cheeses, heirloom vegetables, honey, and sausages. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner
Note: The open-air food market visit will take place in Arles on the reverse direction cruise (Lyon to Avignon).

Day 22:
Lyon (disembark), transfer to the airport Embark/DisembarkMotorcoachContinental Breakfast/Buffet Breakfast
Disembark the ship and transfer to the Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport for your return flight home, or extend your stay with a visit to Paris, the “City of Light.”