Join two popular itineraries to create a 15-day river cruise that offers the ultimate journey through France. Drink in the colors, cuisine and wines of France’s glorious southern regions of Burgundy and Provence as you visit places like Avignon, Arles and Lyon. Explore the legendary French capital, Paris, and travel along the Seine through the Norman countryside to the historic Normandy beaches. Vive la France!
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Arrive in Paris, romance capital of the world. Transfer from the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to your ship.* After boarding, take free time to explore Paris, or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and get oriented. (D)
Wake up to a full day in Paris. After breakfast, embark on a half-day tour of this dazzling city and take in its most remarkable sights, including the iconic Eiffel Tower. You’ll also see the École Militaire, Orsay Museum and Latin Quarter and the magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame. Then we’ll drive past the Louvre and Opera House and along the famed Champs-Élysées. Return aboard for lunch. This afternoon you’re free to take in the Louvre, shop the fashionable boutiques, visit the artists’ district of Montmartre or enjoy a cruise along the Seine. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Dinner is served aboard your ship. (B, L, D)
Arrive in Vernon before breakfast; take a short ride into the town of Giverny, where Claude Monet resided from 1883 until his death in 1926. Visit the beautiful gardens and charming stone farmhouse where he lived and worked; see the water garden with the recognizable Japanese bridge, water lilies, wisteria and azaleas that inspired many of his masterpieces.†
After lunch, spend some time with your Program Director in the provincial town of Vernon. Take a stroll to see the Maison du Temps Jadis (House of Past Times), Vernon’s oldest house, and the 11th-century Church of Notre Dame. Dinner is served aboard. (B, L, D)† Monet garden not available before April 1 or after November 1; a visit to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, favored by van Gogh and other artists, will be substituted.
Indulge in leisurely morning cruising along the Seine. You’ll spend the afternoon in the medieval city of Rouen, preeminent capital of Normandy. Begin with a walking tour through the center of Old Town, where you see the spectacular Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, often painted by Claude Monet, and the famous Gros Horloge, a 16th-century astronomical clock. As you walk among the half-timbered storybook buildings, you’ll feel transported back through time; see the 14th-century courthouse where Joan of Arc was sentenced to death and the nearby Market Square where she was martyred.
Take free time to discover more of Rouen or visit one of its museums of art or antiquities. Dine aboard or at a sidewalk café. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, begin your full-day tour to the historic beaches of Normandy. Drive past Gold Beach, Courseulles sur Mer and Juno Beach on your way to visit such World War II landmarks as Omaha Beach, the American Military Cemetery and Arromanches Debarkment D-Day Museum. Have dinner and relax aboard your ship or take an evening stroll. (B, L, D)
Enjoy a leisurely morning cruise to the small town of Les Andelys, known for its imposing castle, Château Gaillard, built in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart. After lunch, join a guided walk to this fatally flawed masterpiece of Middle Ages architecture. Return aboard for scenic cruising and dinner. Late in the evening we dock in Conflans, a riverside town whose unique culture reflects its status as a local hub for barge transportation along the Seine and its tributaries. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, set out on a walking tour through the charming neighborhoods of Conflans. Or, join an optional tour to the luxurious Palace of Versailles, former home of Louis XIV. Lunch aboard your ship as you sail back to Paris this afternoon. Dine aboard and then enjoy some free time in the “City of Light.” (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark and enjoy a leisurely ride from Paris through the countryside of east central France to Chalon-sur-Saône. Stop for lunch in picturesque Dijon, with its many churches, its Porte Guillaume (a miniature Arc de Triomphe) and its museums, including one devoted to steak and mustard. Continue to Chalon-sur-Saône to board your second ship, where a welcome dinner is served. (B, D)
After breakfast, take a scenic drive along France’s Burgundy wine route through Pommard, Volnay and Meursault. Arrive in Beaune, wine capital of Burgundy, for a guided tour of beautiful Hôtel Dieu, founded as a hospice in 1443. Learn about local viticulture and enjoy a wine tasting at one of Beaune’s famous cellars. Return to your ship for lunch and enjoy this afternoon's scenery as you sail along the Saône River, arriving in Tournus in the early evening. Or, take an optional excursion to the picturesque Burgundy town of Cluny. Return aboard for dinner. (B, L, D)
After an early morning cruise through the picturesque countryside, you’ll arrive in Lyon during breakfast, then take a morning tour of this city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin with a drive to the top of Fourvière Hill for marvelous views. Visit the Basilica of Notre Dame and drive through town past the magnificent St. Jean Cathedral and the Palace of Justice. A walking tour is next, through the cobbled streets of Vieux Lyon (Old Town), where you’ll have free time to shop for souvenirs or sample some of the fine French cuisine for which Lyon is world famous. Dinner served aboard. (B, L, D)
The morning is free to further explore this remarkable 2,000-year-old city in the heart of France. Depart just before lunchtime. This afternoon, take a walking tour of Vienne, a beautiful town with an ancient Roman past. Visit the Temple of Augustus & Livia, the Roman amphitheater and the Gothic Cathedral of St. Maurice; then spend some time discovering more of this engaging riverside town on your own. Dine aboard and depart this evening. (B, L, D)
Awaken in Tournon. During a guided tour of the area, learn about the region’s wine-making traditions and taste some famous regional red wines. Then visit the Musée de Tain l’Hermitage located in the oldest house in the region. Lunch is served aboard as we cruise through the afternoon; arrive after dinner in Viviers, an engaging little town in a mountainous setting. Join your Program Director for an evening stroll through Old Town with its medieval and Renaissance buildings. Enjoy free time before retiring for the evening. (B, L, D)
Arrive during breakfast and take a walking tour of Arles with its diverse architectural highlights. Experience the city’s vibrant colors and striking quality of light that have inspired artists. Arles is also the site of some impressive Roman ruins, including Les Arènes, an arena that seats 20,000 and is still in use, as well as Romanesque monuments such as the Church of Saint-Trôphime, completed in the 15th century. Return aboard for lunch followed by an afternoon on your own to explore or shop for handcrafted gifts. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Dinner is served as you depart. (B, L, D)
This morning, set out on a guided walk of Avignon, nicknamed “City of Popes” because it was home to seven popes from 1309 to 1377. Stroll through the historic center, stop at the picturesque Pont d’Avignon and walk the Place de l’Horloge. Continue to the renowned Palace of the Popes for a guided tour through this rambling maze of Gothic architecture that served as papal residence, fortress, church and palace. You can join the optional tour to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, visiting the vineyards and tasting the famous wine. Lunch and dinner are served aboard. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the Marseille airport for your return flight.* (B)
The following meals are included: B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner
* Airport meet & greet transfers included when air is purchased from Viking River Cruises