Arrive in Nice and Monte-Carlo
Tour begins: 6:30 PM, Fairmont Monte Carlo. A transfer is included from Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, the Nice Ville Train Station (TGV) or the Nice Riquier Train Station to the Fairmont Monte Carlo, approximately a 45-minute drive that follows the coast to Monaco. Your hotel is nestled along the glamorous Monte-Carlo waterfront, where Category 7 guests enjoy Sea View rooms. Join us for a welcome reception and dinner overlooking the seaport.
A wonderful day in Monte-Carlo
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 Vieux Monaco, viewing the cathedral, the Place de Palais and winding medieval streets on a morning orientation tour, followed by time to explore on your own. Join us for an optional drive along the Mediterranean coast seeing villages tucked into cliffside hideaways and villas nestled in the lush country landscapes. Dinner is on your own tonight. You can walk to many restaurants right from your hotel.
A day in Nice and on to Arles to embark your riverboat
Today you'll discover why Nice is a perennial favorite of sophisticated travelers. Go on a city orientation walking tour this morning, followed by time to explore as you please. Early afternoon, travel to Arles, where you'll board ms Emerald and begin one of Tauck's most popular river cruises in France. The crew welcomes you aboard with a reception followed by dinner this evening.
Discover van Gogh's Arles and meet the cowboys in the Camargue
Wake up in Arles and walk into town with our local guide. See firsthand what drew the Romans and artists like van Gogh to this riverfront town and visit sites they immortalized while they were here. Explore the Roman arena, built in the 1st century BC and still in use today. Pass by the café that van Gogh painted in The Café Terrace, the hospital where he recuperated from his ear injury and other iconic settings you may recognize. Enjoy time to wander through town before taking an excursion to the Camargue region, famous for fleur de sel (sea salt), black bulls and pretty white horses. A home-hosted Provençal lunch at a private ranch is made even more memorable when you see an exciting demonstration by fleet-footed gardians (local cowboys) who dodge the feisty Spanish black bulls they raise here. Your riverboat charts a course for Avignon tonight.
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.
St. Remy & Chateauneuf 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.
Vienne or a bike tour along 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. You'll also travel to Mont Pipet for extensive views of the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, you may instead choose to join a guided bicycle tour following the Via Rhona along the River Rhone. Return to the riverboat this afternoon to continue your cruise.
A historic abbey & the equestrian life along the Saône
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 cruse to Chalon-sur-Saône.
Chalon-sur-Saône and beyond
Chalon-sur-Sâone on the River Saône lies in the heart of southern Burgundy. Although its history dates back to the time of Charlemagne, it has another significant claim to fame - this is considered the birthplace of photography. So you have local inventor Nicéphore Niépce, who started it all with several photographic firsts right here in the 1820s, to thank for the great photos of the town's Romanesque churches and other monuments you'll take during a walking tour - and you'll savor local culinary offerings on a guided tasting tour of some of Chalon-Sur-Saône's noted food shops, from an artisan chocolate boutique to a mustard shop. This afternoon, it's your choice for sightseeing. Attend a wine tasting at a private vineyard on a grand family estate along the Route des Grand Crus in Mercurey, the largest wine-producing area in the Côte Chalonnaise; or travel to the town of Beaune for a walking tour that includes a visit to Hospices de Beaune (Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune). Return to the ship for dinner this evening.
Tournus & a day in beautiful Burgundy
After cruising the Saône overnight, ms Emerald calls on Tournus this morning, from which you'll head out to explore the beautiful wine producing region of southern Burgundy, where history lies around every corner (this was a major crossroads during Roman times), and vineyards are everywhere. Picture in your mind what a typical French vineyard looks like... and then view the most amazing landscape that surrounds you for miles and miles. Vineyards, gently rolling hills, orchards, red-tiled farmhouses, medieval cathedrals, the occasional village to stop in... and historic country estates like the 17th-century Château de Cormatin, which you'll explore on a visit today. With its moat, drawbridge, turrets, gilded rooms and parklike grounds - including the mazes and fountains of its completely restored "pleasure garden" that's now among the finest in France - this classic Burgundy château takes you back through the centuries. Return to the riverboat in Tournus for lunch, and continue your cruise this afternoon and evening to France's culinary capital, Lyon.
A day in Lyon, where food is king
Ahh, Lyon. If you're a serious foodie, Lyon is the place for you! But of course there is more to this 2,000 year-old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, than food. Your day includes getting a panoramic view of Lyon from the hilltop district of Fouvière; a visit to the stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière - built in the 1870s on "the hill that prays," it features exquisite marble work, stained glass windows, colorful mosaics and gilt galore; a tour of medieval Vieux Lyon; and a free afternoon to explore more of the city as you please. As ms Emerald spends the night docked in Lyon, join us aboard ship for our farewell reception followed by dinner this evening.
Disembark in Lyon & on to Paris via TGV
As all river cruises in France must, the cruise portion of your vacation ends today as you disembark in Lyon and bid a fond farewell to ms Emerald. Board the TGV (a high-speed train) for two nights in the capital city of Paris. Whether you explore on- or off-the-beaten-path, you'll find yourself navigating the city's arrondissements (districts), beginning with the geographical center and spiraling outwards in a clockwise direction. A panoramic city tour upon arrival shows you landmark icons and the grand boulevards. The remainder of the day and evening are free to spend as you please in one of the world's favorite cities; there are boulevards to stroll, pastries to sample, sidewalk cafés to enjoy, wines to savor and French fare to try that tempts every palate.
Paris as you please & dinner at Fouquet's
Ernest Hemingway called Paris a "moveable feast" - and even if you've been here many times, today might be the day that you discover something about the city that you didn't know before. The day is free to explore and enjoy as you please. We've included admission to your choice of museums from a selection of the city's best, including Musée National de l'Orangie, Musée Rodin and Musée d'Orsay (subject to availability). Tonight, we'll all gather for a memorable farewell dinner at chic Fouquet's, the quintessential Paris brasserie on the Champs-Élysées; elegance and classic cuisine have made it a celebrity favorite for more than a century!
Tour ends: Paris. Fly home anytime. A transfer from InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel to Charles de Gaulle Airport or the Gare de Lyon, Charles de Gaulle or Gare du Nord train stations is included; allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.