Tour begins: 7:00 PM, InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel. A transfer is included from Charles de Gaulle Airport or the Gare de Lyon, Charles de Gaulle or Gare du Nord train stations to InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel. Join us tonight for a welcome cocktail reception followed by a dinner at Fouquet's, the quintessential "Oscar" of Parisian brasseries on the Champs-Élysées.
Paris sightseeing and a choice of museum
Ernest Hemingway called Paris a "moveable feast," and that's how you'll see it this morning as we drive you past its iconic landmark sights. You will have a choice of museum visits as well, choosing to visit the Musée du Louvre, Musée National de l'Orangerie in the Tuileries Gardens, Musée Rodin, or the Musée d'Orsay housed in a former Belle Époque train station, subject to weekly closures. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore the treasures and pleasures of the city as you wish. Feel free to ask the hotel concierge for suggestions. Have dinner on your own tonight in inimitable Paris.
A high-speed TGV train to Lyon... and your river cruise begins!
A free morning in Paris gives you an opportunity to do those last few things that will make your time in Paris memorable. Say au revoir to one of the world's great cities as you board the high-speed TGV train to Lyon, home to a bounty of wines produced by local vineyards, locally produced cheeses, spicy sausages, warm-from-the-oven baguettes... You'll return to Lyon in a few days - but today, embark ms Emerald late afternoon for the start of your France river cruise along the Rhône. Join us tonight for the ship's welcome reception and dinner.
Food and wine in Chalon-sur-Saône and Mercurey
Get ready to see picture-perfect sights today not just because this Burgundy town is known as the birthplace of photography, thanks to native son Nicéphore Niépce, but because Chalon-sur-Saône is also home to striking Romanesque churches, quaint half-timbered houses and painted doorways colored with French flair. Taste your way through town as you sample local culinary offerings at some of its noted food shops, from an artisan chocolate boutique to a splendid pâtisserie where the baker shares expert tips about baguettes and buttery croissants. Drive this afternoon along the Route des Grand Crus in Mercurey, stopping at a private vineyard for intimate wine tastings with the owners. Sail on to Tournus tonight.
A day well spent in the south of Burgundy
Huddled below one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in all of Europe on the banks of the river Saône, Tournus is also the perfect place to anchor our riverboat for a drive through the landscapes of southern Burgundy to the 17th-century Château de Cormatin. A noble symbol of prestige and power with towers, turrets and a drawbridge over a wide moat, this castle was built to impress. After your tour of its "gilded rooms" and pleasure garden, we think you'll agree. Cruise to Mâcon this afternoon and take a walking tour of the historic town.
Mâcon & Cluny - Horses, an abbey & more
Your riverboat arrives in Mâcon on the Saône River this morning, for exploration in Cluny. During the reign of Charlemagne (742 - 814), monastic influences inspired a great revival in art, education and culture; today you'll visit one of the great monasteries of the period when you tour the great Benedictine Abbey of Cluny. Founded in 910, it was at the center of this major monastic reform movement and was also the largest Christian building in the world until the construction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. You'll also visit Haras National de Cluny (France's national equestrian center), which dates back to the 19th century, to learn about its high-quality thoroughbred stallions. Have lunch off the riverboat today; later, reboard ms Emerald and enjoy onboard entertainment after dinner as you cruise to Lyon.
Spend the day in Lyon, culinary capital of France
Ahh, Lyon. If you're a serious foodie, Lyon is the place for you! Regarded as the culinary capital of France, there are more restaurants here per capita than anywhere else in the country. But of course there is more to this 2,000 year-old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, than food. Begin your exploration with a panoramic view of Lyon from the district of Fouvière, set high on a hill. Check out the town's winding passageways and the Cathedrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, with its 19th-century astronomical clock. Your day also includes the stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière - built in the 1870s, it features exquisite marble work, stained glass windows, colorful mosaics and gilt galore; and a tour of medieval Vieux Lyon. Depart Lyon and enjoy dinner onboard while continuing your France river cruise to Vienne this evening.
Roman Vienne and cruising the Rhône
It seems that the Romans were everywhere along the Rhône, and Vienne (which they called "Vienna" in their day) was no exception. During your time on a walking tour here this morning, look for the theatre and temple they left behind, as well as other sights straight out of history. Some free time, then a return to ms Emerald to continue cruising overnight to Avignon.
Avignon & a gala dinner in Uzès
The fortified city of Avignon was probably a much more peaceful place before Rome became "inconvenient" for the popes who moved the papacy here about 700 years ago. Although they stayed for less than a century, they kept busy during those years... as you'll see on your visit to the impressive Palais des Papes that they built for themselves during this morning's sightseeing in this key medieval city. After a free afternoon aboard ship, travel to the Duchy d'Uzès - a medieval city dating back to the 11th century, often called the "First Duchy of France," that forms the heart of the town of Uzès - for a guided visit followed by a cocktail reception and a Tauck Exclusive gala dinner at the recently restored Chateau.
Avignon, Saint-Remy & Châteauneuf-du-Pape
With your riverboat docked in Avignon for the morning, you can spend more time exploring the medieval city or take a morning excursion to Saint-Remy-de-Provence - home to the ruins of the Roman city of Glanum, as well as the Saint-Paul Asylum where Vincent van Gogh was a patient. After returning to the ship for lunch onboard, head out again for an afternoon wine tasting at one of the select vineyards permitted to produce Châteauneuf-du-Pape - literally "the New Castle of the Pope" - the most famous of the Côtes du Rhône wines; your host reveals secrets of the terroir as you sample estate-crafted red and white wines from a region that's been producing wine for more than 2,500 years! Catch up with the riverboat in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and spend the evening onboard, bound for Arles.
Arles and a trip to a working farm in the Camargue
It may seem strange to encounter Roman ruins in Provence but Arles was, after all, once a Roman city; while the gladiators are gone, the arena they left behind - just one of the town's many Roman remnants - still hosts performances and bullfights today. Explore Arles' medieval streets and city walls and be sure to look out across the surrounding countryside to what van Gogh found so enchanting. After lunch, it's off to La Camargue, France's "wild west," where cowboys tend to herds of bulls destined for bullfighting rings in Spain. Visit a working farm to see an exciting demonstration by these fleet-footed gardians (local cowboys) who dodge the feisty Spanish black bulls they raise here - not something usually experienced on a France river cruise - with lunch and traditional Provençal entertainment. Join us this evening for the ship's farewell reception followed by dinner.
Disembark in Arles and travel to Nice and Monte-Carlo
Upon disembarking ms Emerald in Arles, travel to Nice; explore the city on a walking tour followed by some free time to spend as you wish. Continue to Monte-Carlo for two nights at the Fairmont Monte Carlo, where guests in Category 7 suites on the riverboat will enjoy Sea View rooms; have lunch and dinner on your own today.
A day in the magic of Monte-Carlo and a roof-top farewell dinner
Few places are as sophisticated as Monte-Carlo, a favorite playground for jet setters and celebrities from around the world. Here mega-yachts anchor in the harbor, an amazing fleet of cars... think Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris à la James Bond... park in front of the opulent casino, and the fairy-tale legacy of Princess Grace, Prince Rainier and the Grimaldi family, who have ruled the Principality of Monaco for over 700 years, lives on today. Explore Monaco Vieux, viewing the cathedral, the Place de Palais and winding medieval streets on an orientation tour, followed by time on your own, or join us on an optional excursion along the Mediterranean coast. Enjoy a roof-top farewell dinner at your hotel tonight.
Tour ends: Monte-Carlo. Fly home anytime. A transfer from the Fairmont Monte Carlo to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, the Nice Ville Train Station (TGV) or the Nice Riquier Train Station is included; allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.