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. Alternatively you may wish to join your guide on a hike up to the ruins of imposing Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart as a fortress in 1196. Constructed in only a year, it is a masterpiece of medieval military architecture. (B,L,D)Day 3:Caudebec.
Today, join a guided excursion 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 Omaha Beach, the Pointe du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery—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 CHÂTEAU 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. 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 NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL. In your free time, stroll down the Champs-Elysées with its lavish cafés, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre or Montmartre with its Sacré Coeur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre. (B,L,D)Day 8:Paris (Disembarkation)–Dijon–Beaune–St. Jean de Losne (Embarkation)–Seurre.
This morning, say goodbye to your crew, board the TGV train to Dijon and from there, drive to Beaune, the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Or area. Beaune owes its wealth to the production, aging, and selling of fine wines. Although life here centers around wine, Beaune offers much more. Visit the 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 population destitute. Today, it houses Van der Weyden’s painting of The Last Judgment and is one of France’s architectural highlights. Alternatively, you can join a TASTING of some of the region’s famous Burgundy wines. 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 this morning. In the afternoon you might choose to participate in one of the optional excursions on offer, such as to a Chardonnay wine cellar, before your ships arrives in Macon. A Master of Wine will join you on board and will introduce you to some of France’s wines in the coming days. (B,L,D)Day 10:Lyon.
A leisurely morning on board to relax and enjoy the passing scenery. As you cruise, our Master of Wine will tempt you with a tasting of CHEESE and WINE. In the early afternoon, arrive in Lyon, France’s third-largest city and its gastronomic capital, 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 Fourvière Hill and explore the Old Town with its maze of medieval alleyways and Place des Terreaux, a popular area with lively cafés, monuments, and the famous fountain often depicted on postcards. (B,L,D)Day 11:Lyon.
Enjoy a free morning 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 This afternoon an excursion takes you to 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. This evening enjoy a special onboard FOOD AND WINE PAIRING DINNER hosted by our Master of Wine, who has specifically chosen the wines for this occasion. (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 Rhône 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. . In the afternoon, while cruising to Viviers, enjoy a tasting of CHOCOLATE AND WINE. Here, too, our Master of Wine will guide you through this wonderful experience. Once in Viviers, 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 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. A photo of the famous Pont Saint Bénezet (Saint Bénezet Bridge), of the popular song Sur le Pont d’Avignon, is a must. In the morning an optional outing to Pont du Gard is available. In the afternoon an excursion takes you to the famed cellars of CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE to learn about and to taste this famous wine. (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 AMPHITHEATER. 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)–Côte d’Azur.
After breakfast, a comfortable motorcoach ride takes you to the Côte d’Azur for a 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. (B)Day 16:Côte d’Azur–Barcelona, Spain.
After breakfast at your Avalon hotel, an included transfer takes you to Nice airport for your FLIGHT to Barcelona, where you will join your Monograms vacation. (B)Day 17:Barcelona.
Starting from Plaza Catalunya, morning guided sightseeing includes a drive along elegant Passeig de Gràcia to see the captivating façade of La Pedrera and to visit Gaudi’s CASA BATLLÓ. Passing through the central Eixample district, reach the extraordinary but still unfinished SAGRADA FAMILIA BASILICA. Your included entrance fees contribute to its completion. (B)Day 18:Barcelona.
Your Local Host has many recommendations for your day at leisure, including an excursion to Montserrat, a trip to the Aquarium, a guided tour of the Picasso Museum, or a visit to whimsical Tibidabo Amusement Park. (B)Day 19:Barcelona.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
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