Arrive Nice / Monte-Carlo
Tour begins: 6:30 PM, Fairmont Monte Carlo. Bonjour! A transfer is included from Nice Cote d'Azur Airport to the Fairmont Monte Carlo, set in the heart of glamorous Monte-Carlo. Join us for tonight's welcome cocktail reception and dinner.
A day in magical Monte-Carlo
You'll discover much more about Monaco this morning when you get a taste of what life is like on the chic French Riviera during a walking tour of Monte-Carlo and a visit to the royal palace and gardens in Monaco-Ville. The remainder of the day is free to spend as you wish; your hotel is steps from the Monte-Carlo Casino, where lady luck favors the fortunate few! Your hotel is nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the legendary Monte-Carlo Casino.
Nice, Saint-Paul-de-Vence & embark Le Ponant
Depart Monte-Carlo and travel along the French Riviera to Nice, where you'll take a walking tour; see see landmarks that recall the days when Czarist aristocrats and British royals wintered here including the Promenade des Anglais along the seafront and the flower market in Cours Saleya. Next, visit the picturesque walled town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a Provençal hilltop town that was built in the 13th century - you'll be taken with its medieval look and easily understand why it became an artists' enclave. Artist Marc Chagall was inspired by Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a place he called home for the last 19 years of his life; a walking tour of the town includes a visit to his grave. Enjoy some free time, then return to Nice to embark on Le Ponant, for the start of your 7-night cruise along the Mediterranean Sea.
Exploring Napoleon's island of Elba
Le Ponant in the Mediterranean cruises to the island of Elba and the secluded harbor of Portoferraio. Today you'll learn about the isolated life of Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba, who spent a brief exile here in 1814 prior to his daring escape. You'll have two choices of sightseeing - visit Villa San Martino, where he lived for a time; spend some free time in Porto Azzurro; and go to a wine tasting at a family-owned Elba winery before reboarding the ship. Alternatively, take a walking tour of Portoferraio and the Teatro dei Vigilanti. Enjoy a welcome reception followed by dinner onboard tonight.
Corsica's hidden harbor of Bonifacio
Sail into the nearly hidden Corsican port of Bonifacio with a deep, narrow harbor sitting at the base of sheer limestone cliffs - a highlight of most Mediterranean cruises. Your entrance into the harbor aboard Le Ponant will be remembered forever... keep your camera at the ready! The fortified 12th-century town is built on the top of the cliffs with great views of the sea. You have a choice of exploring today; take Le Petit Train for a ride to the town's walled fortress area where you'll explore medieval lanes, stroll along the bluff above the harbor, and see the former barracks of the French Foreign Legion. Or, board a local boat for a cruise along the coast of Bonifacio for a visit to the Lavezzi Islands and a beach visit. Make an afternoon return to Le Ponant, and set sail once again, bound for Ponza.
Ponza and cruising the Mediterranean
Ponza is fringed with dramatic coves and cliffs lined with yellow and pink houses. Fishing boats set out from the 18th-century harbor and vineyards cover the hillsides for a quintessential snapshot of daily life here. Spend the morning at leisure exploring the island village, before setting sail for the Amalfi Coast. Cast anchor in the Gulf of Salerno late tonight.
Spectacular Amalfi Coast & Ravello or Positano
Le Ponant anchors and you travel by Zodiac to the picturesque town of Amalfi - with two different sightseeing excursions to choose from. You can explore today on a guided walk in Amalfi, including a drive on the mountainous route along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most spectacular drives in the world. Arrive in stunning Ravello, perched on cliffs overlooking the sea. Visit Villa Rufolo, with roots dating back to a wealthy 13th-century merchant family, where you'll savor outstanding coastal views, then enjoy a wonderful lunch of seasonal specialties in town. Or, if you wish, go on a guided walk in picturesque Amalfi followed by a drive along the Amalfi Coast to Positano, a stunning cliffside town that has been a magnet for the world's jetsetters - writers, painters, film stars, royalty, fashion designers - for centuries. You'll return to Amalfi by motorboat for a different perspective. Rejoin Le Ponant and cruise to the Aeolian Islands.
Lipari and the fiery lava of Stromboli
The largest of the Aeolian Islands, Lipari sits on red volcanic rock and looks like "a wall of bronze" according to the Greek poet Homer. Archaeological remains found have yielded clues to civilizations which date to 1700 BC, including the Neolithic stones that sit alongside ancient tombstones, and ruins of Greek walls and Roman villas. The Spaniards found their way here in the 16th century, building the castello (castle) and the 17th-century cathedral that is perched above the harbor. Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands, noted for its colorful houses, 17th-century cathedral and 16th-century castle. You have a choice of two sightseeing excursions today - a walking tour of Lipari plus a visit to the Archaeological Museum or a drive across the island and a visit to the village of Quattropani and its unique vineyard. Back aboard ship, experience a different view of these volcanic islands when you sail by the island of Stromboli tonight, home to one of the world's few constantly active volcanoes - it has continuously erupted for 2,000 years. The view is unforgettable.
Cliff-top Taormina or Mount Etna on Sicily
Anchor in Giardini-Naxos, a lovely beach resort, and transfer ashore by Zodiac for a choice of sightseeing excursion. First possibility is a visit to Taormina, a terraced town clinging to high cliffs on the east coast of Sicily with Mt. Etna towering in the distance sightseeing. A guided tour takes you to Teatro Greco, featuring both Greek and Roman elements, and for a stroll along the Corso Umberto, Old Town, Taormina's main pedestrian street lined with cafés and pasticcerie. Or, join us for a visit to Mount Etna, the largest volcano in Europe - and still very active. Travel by cable car up its slopes and board a special off-road vehicle, accompanied by local guides, for the ascent to one of the world's most stunning panoramas 9,514 ft. (2900 meters) above sea level. View Mount Etna's varied landscapes up close and gain insights into volcanic activity. Everyone enjoys some afternoon free time in Taormina before Le Ponant departs for Siracusa.
A day well spent on Malta
Early this morning Le Ponant docks in the Grand Harbour (Port of Valletta) where you'll disembark. Rich in historic treasures, Valletta was founded by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century. A guided tour of Malta includes the medieval walled city of Mdina, perched atop a cliff, and a drive around St. Julian's Bay, a favorite setting for the colorful Maltese boats that are often photographed here for worldwide enjoyment. Return to Valletta for a walking tour and The Malta Experience, an audio-visual show that tells the dramatic story of Malta's 7,000-year history; Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a virtual open-air museum of Baroque architecture. Visit the splendid St. John's Co-Cathedral to see its silver and gold-leafed interior and rare art treasures, including the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Italian painter Caravaggio. Arrive at your hotel late afternoon, then join us tonight for a Tauck Exclusive - a farewell reception and dinner at Palazzo Parisio; originally the hunting lodge of Grand Master Don Antonio Manoel de Vihena who ruled the Order of the Knights of Malta between 1722 and 1736. The property was lived in by noble families for centuries and is still owned by the great-granddaughter of the Marquis Scicluna, who owned the palazzo at the end of the 19th century.
Tour ends: Valletta, Malta. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Phoenicia Hotel Malta to Malta International Airport. Allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.