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River Cruise Description
This fantastic 2019 16 day Avalon river cruise from Paris to Côte d’Azur will introduce you to the very best of Grand France. That includes more than the scenic beauty of this wonderful country, it will and the culinary delights of fine wines, delicious cheeses, and visit’s to some of the most charming and historic parts of France.
Your adventure gets underway on the beautiful Seine River and you’ll enjoy an historic excursion to the legendary Normandy Landing Beaches, where American heroes fought for freedom and sacrificed their lives. Your tour includes world-renowned Omaha Beach, the impressive Point du Hoc monument, and a solemn visit to the American Cemetery where many of our heroes are buried. As you continue your French river cruise adventure, you’ll tour world-famous Joan of Arc’s Rouen, and then you can choose between famous artist Claude Monet’s Giverny, or the magnificent Bizy Castle, nicknamed “Normandy’s Versailles.” Or, you can opt for a tour of Vincent Van Gogh’s Auver-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s Malmaison.
Before you leave the picturesque Seine River, you’ll spend some fantastic time in Paris, the “City of Light,” considered one of the world’s most romantic and dynamic cities! This amazing place is home to the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral, the iconic Eiffel Tower, and the impressive Louvre Museum with its extravagant glass pyramid. You’ll go on a guided stroll through the historic Île St. Louis.
During your stop in quaint Lyon, France’s third-largest city, you’ll discover it’s considered the culinary capital, not to mention an excellent example of historic medieval and Renaissance architecture. The charming twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage are beautifully nestled amongst the lush green grape vineyards that support the country’s famous wine region. You’ll join a guided walk of Tournon, offering an abundance of ancient Roman ruins and a stunning 16th-century castle. On a marvelous guided tour of historic Avignon, you’ll marvel at the captivating elegance of the 14th-century Palace of the Popes – the world’s largest gothic fortress. Located on the banks of the breathtaking Rhône River, charming Arles is famous for inspiring the fantastic paintings of world-renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh and its ancient 1st-century Roman Amphitheater that still hosts world-class plays and concerts to this day.
As the perfect conclusion to your amazing 2019 16 day Avalon river cruise from Paris to Côte d’Azur, your senses will be treated to an exciting time in the captivating Côte d’Azur. You’ll explore and discover this magnificent area and make sure you take time to relax along the fantastic deep blue waters of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive in Paris, France (Embarkation)
Welcome to Paris, France’s capital nestled on the banks of the alluring River Seine, the “City of Light,” where romance fills the air. This afternoon, board your river cruise ship and meet your crew at a casual evening welcome reception. Before dinner, your ship sails quietly and smoothly out of Paris. (Dinner) *NOTE: Flights into Paris must arrive by 2:30 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.
Day 2 Vernon–Les Andelys
This morning in Vernon, choose between a guided visit of beautiful Giverny and a visit to impressive Bizy Castle. World-famous artist Claude Monet lived at GIVERNY for almost 43 years, from 1883-1926, and viewed his stunning flower and water gardens as works of art – just like his colorful paintings. See his collection of amazing Japanese prints, his quaint house, and his biggest sources of inspiration. Or, visit remarkable 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, located on a bend of the Seine and considered one of the most beautiful places in France. Join a Local Guide for a GUIDED WALK of the town, visiting the elegant PARISH CHURCH OF LE GRAND ANDELY. Grandiose Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart as a fortress in 1196, can be seen high above the town. Constructed in only a year, it is a masterpiece of medieval military architecture. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 3 Caudebec
Today, join either a guided excursion along the captivating Route des Chaumières, “THATCHED COTTAGE ROUTE,” to see some of Normandy’s quaint and traditional half-timbered houses with their long, sloping thatched roofs, often featuring beautiful 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 fresh 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 dazzling coastal town of Honfleur. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4 Caudebec
Make your choice today between an included full-day excursion to the historic NORMANDY LANDING BEACHES – with sites such as Omaha Beach, the Pointe du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery, which can raise emotional memories of the sacrifice of war – or a “TASTE OF NORMANDY” for a more in-depth look at this picturesque, mainly farming region. The most important products produced there are dairy (milk & cheese), apples, and grain. Camembert cheese is a popular specialty, as is CALVADOS, a strong apple brandy that you’ll have the chance to taste at a quaint local distillery. And for a touch of history, visit the famous BAYEUX TAPESTRY. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5 Rouen
Enjoy a visit to Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy. This charming town is an important commercial community, but is perhaps best known for its connection to Joan of Arc. She lived there, was imprisoned, and in 1431 was burned at the stake in the marketplace of this historic town. Enjoy the included GUIDED WALK through the medieval quarter with its half-timbered, glazed-tile houses, and make sure you take photographs of the sophisticated Gros Horloge astronomical clock, dating back to the 16th century. Visit the elegant gothic CATHEDRAL, which was once the tallest building in the world and the subject of a series of world-famous Claude Monet paintings. The afternoon is free for you to explore more of the city on your own. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6 Conflans
After a wonderful breakfast you may either join our guided excursion to AUVERS-SUR-OISE, the quaint little town where world-renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh lived and died, or to Napoleon and Josephine’s extravagant CHÂTEAU DE MALMAISON just outside the “City of Light.” Requiring extensive renovations, this large country estate was purchased by Napoleon’s wife, Josephine in 1799 while her husband was fighting in Egypt. It was her aim to make the estate “the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation.” (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 7 Paris
Considered one of the world’s most romantic and bustling cities, Paris certainly delights all your senses. Your included CITY SIGHTSEEING features all the must-see attractions: elegant Notre Dame Cathedral, the awe-inspiring Louvre Museum with its glass pyramid as a contrast to its ancient architecture, the historic Arc de Triomphe, and of course, the stately Eiffel Tower. Or, you may wish to 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 the grandiose NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL. In your free time, wander down the Champs-Elysées with its posh cafés, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre or Montmartre with its gleaming white Sacré Coeur Basilica and cluster of artists on Place du Tertre. Paris is also well known for its colorful and vibrant nightlife, and an optional outing to one of the world’s most famous cabaret shows makes the perfect finale to the Seine portion of your river cruise. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8 Paris (Disembarkation)–Dijon–Beaune–Chalon-sur-Saône (Embarkation)–Tournus
This morning, say goodbye to your crew and board the TGV train to Dijon. From there, enjoy a relaxing motor coach ride takes you to beautiful Beaune, the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Or area. Beaune owes its wealth and reputation to the production, aging, and selling of fine wines. Although life here centers around wine, Beaune offers much more for visitors to see and experience. Choose a guided visit to the popular 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 residents destitute. Today, it houses Van der Weyden’s painting of The Last Judgment and is one of France’s architectural treasures. Or, enjoy a TASTING of Burgundy region wines before continuing south to Chalon-sur-Saône, where your cruise ship awaits your arrival. Before dinner, meet your crew during a casual welcome reception as you set sail for the delightful little town of Tournus. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 9 Tournus
After breakfast, your LOCAL GUIDE shows you the highlights of this delightful town situated in the southeast corner of Burgundy. Tournus is one of the oldest and most important monastic centers in the region, with a superb abbey, elegant St. Philibert, part of which dates back to the 10th century. There’s free time to wander through the quaint streets or to explore the arts and crafts shops near the abbey. After lunch, a choice of optional excursions, including a visit to a local wine cellar, is available. Before dinner, enjoy an onboard CHEESE TASTING of some of France’s best. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 10 Lyon
Enjoy some relaxing time on board your cruise ship before arriving in Lyon, France’s third-largest city and its culinary capital. Founded by the Romans in 43 BC, the city’s prosperity dates back to the 16th century and is due to its successful commercial, industrial, and banking activities. Ancient Roman remains, amazing museums, and fascinating renaissance architecture has delighted visitors for centuries. A LOCAL GUIDE joins you as you survey the city from Fourvière Hill and explore the Old Town with its maze of medieval alleyways and Place des Terreaux, a popular area with bustling cafés, historic monuments, and the famous fountain often depicted on postcards. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 11 Lyon
Enjoy a free day for you to explore Lyon at your leisure. Early risers might like to experience the hustle and bustle at the local produce market. Perhaps stroll through one of Lyon’s parks, discover some of the murals (there are more than 100 of them), or select one of the available optional excursions. Be sure to taste the culinary delights and sample Beaujolais, the fine wine of the region; wine connoisseurs know the grapes must be handpicked. Your Cruise Director will have numerous suggestions for other things you can do. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 12 Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Viviers
The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage are situated nestled among grape vineyards between the Rhône River and the ominous granite slopes of the Hermitage. A LOCAL GUIDE will show you Tournon, one of France’s oldest medieval cities, with its imposing 16th-century castle and ancient Roman ruins. Arriving in charming Viviers in the late afternoon, an included GUIDED WALK shows you the sights of the town that developed around its glamorous ROMANESQUE CATHEDRAL. The OLD TOWN has an alluring mix of Christian, ancient Roman, and medieval influences. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 13 Avignon
The fortified city of Avignon is the capital of the Vaucluse region – the most picturesque part of Provence with its intact fortifications that encircle the entire city, cobblestone streets and squares, and private mansions built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Known as the “City of Popes,” it was the center of the Catholic Church in the 14th century. Your GUIDED TOUR includes a visit of the PALACE OF THE POPES, built in the 14th century as the sovereign popes’ residency. Make sure you take a photograph of the famous Pont Saint Bénezet (Saint Bénezet Bridge), of the popular song Sur le Pont d’Avignon. Optional outings to Pont du Gard or to the world-famous wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are available. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 14 Arles
Upon arrival in Arles, situated on the northern tip of the Camargue and the capital of the Provence region, your LOCAL GUIDE will show you all the must-see features of this fascinating city. You’ll visit the ancient ROMAN AMPHITHEATER, still used today. It dates to the 1st century and was constructed to hold more than 20,000 spectators. You’ll learn about world-famous artist, Vincent Van Gogh, who was inspired by the special light he discovered in the Provence area. The artist spent a very productive year painting some of his best works in Arles. This evening, you will sail toward the mouth of the beautiful Rhône River and get a taste of the peaceful vistas of Camargue National Park (daylight permitting). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 15 Arles (Disembarkation)–Côte d’Azur
After breakfast, a smooth motor coach ride takes you to the Côte d’Azur for your last night in France. Also known as the French Riviera, the Côte d’Azur stretches along France’s Mediterranean coast from Toulon to the Italian border and is synonymous with prestige and beauty. (Breakfast)
Day 16 Côte d’Azur (Disembarkation)
While your vacation ends with breakfast this morning, please make note of the wonderful experiences you’ve enjoyed on your exciting River Cruise. Hopefully you have taken numerous personal photos and lasting memories of your journey to take home with you. (Breakfast)