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GRAND FRANCE - CATEGORY E - 2017

This splendid vacation showcases France’s exciting scenery, history, and culture as you sail along its beautiful rivers. Embark in Paris and head northwest along the Seine River up to the picturesque Normandy region. Dock at Vernon and choose between a guided visit of Claude Monet’s stunning gardens at Giverny or remarkable Bizy Castle. Continue to Les Andelys—home of Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart in 1196. Then, on to Caudebec, where you choose between an included excursion to the poignant Normandy landing beaches or a fascinating “Taste of Normandy.” Visit Joan of Arc’s historic Rouen, and in Conflans, choose between a guided excursion to Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s elegant Château de Malmaison before heading back to Paris for sightseeing that includes the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. Disembark and ride the TGV train to Dijon, then travel south to fascinating Beaune for a visit of the Hôtel-Dieu. In St. Jean de Losne board your second cruise ship and sail on to Macon, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage, Viviers, Avignon, and Arles, as well as France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon, where you have time to explore this fascinating city. Your vacation ends with an overnight on the stunning Côte d’Azur.

Click here to view 11th July departure (World War II Themed Cruise)

Click here to view 8th August departure (Art Themed Cruise)

Click here to view 17th & 21st October departure (Wine Themed Cruise)

Inclusions

15 breakfasts
15 lunches
15 dinners
Tour Provider Avalon Waterways
Number of Days
16
Price From
AUD $10,089
Start Location
Paris, France
End Location
Cote D'azur, France
Age Range
Avg. 100+
Group Size
20 to 44
Tour Style
Comfort
Tour Themes
Small Marine/Cruise
Physical Rating
Easy to Moderate
ItineraryExpand
Day 1: ARRIVE IN PARIS, FRANCE (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Paris, France's capital on the River Seine, the "City of Light," where romance fills the air. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. Before dinner, your ship glides smoothly out of Paris. (D) 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 Giverny and a visit to Bizy Castle. Claude Monet lived at GIVERNY from 1883-1926, and viewed his 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 Chateau 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 3: CAUDEBEC.
Today, join either a guided excursion along the "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 4: CAUDEBEC.
Make your choice today between an included full-day excursion to the historic NORMANDY LANDING BEACHES-with poignant sites such as Juno Beach, Pegasus Museum, and the Commonwealth Cemeteries - 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 5: 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 included GUIDED WALK through the medieval quarter with its half-timbered, glazed-tile houses, and take your pictures of the intricate Gros Horloge astronomical clock, dating back to the 16th century. Visit the gothic CATHEDRAL, which was once the tallest building in the world and the subject of a series of paintings by Claude Monet. The afternoon is free to explore on your own. (B,L,D)
Day 6: CONFLANS.
After breakfast you may either join our guided excursion to AUVERS-SUR-OISE, the quaint town where Vincent Van Gogh lived and died, or to Napoleon and Josephine's CHATEAU DE MALMAISON just 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 7: PARIS.
One of the world's most romantic and lively cities, Paris delights the senses. Included CITY SIGHTSEEING shows off the must-see attractions: Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum with its glass pyramid as a contrast to its ancient architecture, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. Alternatively, you may wish to join a GUIDED WALK through historic Ile St. Louis with its narrow one-way streets and Ile de la Cite, the centre of Paris where the medieval city was founded and home to NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL. In your free time, stroll down the Champs-Elysees with its lavish cafes, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre or Montmartre with its Sacre Cur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre. Paris is known for its colourful nightlife, and an optional outing to one of the cabaret shows makes the perfect finale to the Seine portion of your cruise. (B,L,D)
Day 8: PARIS (DISEMBARKATION)-DIJON-BEAUNE-ST. JEAN DE LOSNE (EMBARKATION)-SEURRE.
This morning, say goodbye to your crew and transfer to Beaune, the unofficial capital of the Cote d'Or area. Beaune owes its wealth to the production, aging, and selling of fine wines. Although life here centres around wine, Beaune offers much more. Visit the HOTEL-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. Continue to St. Jean de Losne, where your ship awaits. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception as you depart for Seurre. (B,D)
Day 9: SEURRE-MACON.
Enjoy some leisurely cruising today and before lunch, enjoy an ONBOARD CHEESE TASTING. In the late afternoon, arrive in Macon, a city that plays an important role in the wine trade. Free time allows you to explore on your own. Alternatively, you may choose to participate in one of the optional excursions on offer, such as a visit to a wine cellar. (B,L,D)
Day 10: LYON.
Lyon, France's third-largest city and its gastronomic capital, was 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, excellent museums, and renaissance architecture delight visitors. A LOCAL GUIDE joins you as you survey the city from Fourviere Hill and explore the Old Town with its maze of medieval alleyways and Place des Terreaux, a popular area with lively cafes, monuments, and the famous fountain often depicted on postcards. (B,L,D)
Day 11: LYON.
Enjoy a free day to explore at leisure. Early risers might like to visit the local produce market. Perhaps wander through one of Lyon's parks, discover some of the murals (there are over 100 of them), or select one of the available optional excursions. Be sure to taste the gastronomic delights and sample Beaujolais, the wine of the region; wine connoisseurs know the grapes must be hand picked. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for things to do. (B,L,D)
Day 12: TOURNON/TAIN L'HERMITAGE-VIVIERS.
The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l'Hermitage lie nestled among vineyards between the Rhone River and the 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 Roman ruins. Arriving in Viviers in the late afternoon, an included GUIDED WALK shows you this charming town that developed around its ROMANESQUE CATHEDRAL. The OLD TOWN has an appealing mix of Christian, Roman, and medieval influences. (B,L,D)
Day 13: AVIGNON.
The fortified city of Avignon is the capital of the Vaucluse region-the most picturesque part of Provence with its intact ramparts encircling 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 centre 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. A photo of the famous Pont Saint Benezet (Saint Benezet Bridge), of the popular song Sur le Pont d'Avignon, is a must. Optional outings to Pont du Gard or to the famed wine cellars of Chateauneuf-du-Pape are available. (B,L,D)
Day 14: ARLES.
This morning, wake up early to the tranquil vistas of Camargue National Park (daylight permitting) before arriving in Arles after breakfast. Located on the northern tip of the Camargue, Arles is capital of the Provence region. Your LOCAL GUIDE will show you highlights of the city and you'll visit the ROMAN AMPHITHEATRE. Still used today, it dates to the 1st century and was constructed to hold over 20,000 spectators. (B,L,D)
Day 15: ARLES (DISEMBARKATION)-COTE D'AZUR.
After breakfast, a comfortable motorcoach ride takes you to the Cote d'Azur for a last night in France. Also known as the French Riviera, the Cote d'Azur stretches along France's Mediterranean coast from Toulon to the Italian border and is synonymous with prestige and beauty. (B)
Day 16: COTE D'AZUR.
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)