Day 1 Arrive in Côte d’Azur, France.
Welcome to France! Located between the mountains and the deep-blue Mediterranean Sea, the Côte d’Azur is synonymous with prestige and beauty—with its enchanting yachts, glamorous villas, and famous events. Time at leisure lets you get acquainted with this amazing place.
Day 2 Côte d’Azur–Arles (Embarkation).
This morning, enjoy free time to explore or join an optional excursion. In the early afternoon, transfer by motorcoach to Arles in the Provence region, where you’ll board your river cruise vessel. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception, then sail toward the mouth of the Rhône for a taste of the tranquil vistas of Camargue National Park (daylight permitting).
Day 3 Arles.
In Arles, capital of the Provence, join your Local Guide for a GUIDED CITY TOUR. See the church of St. Trophime, dating from the 12th century, and visit the ROMAN AMPHITHEATER. Still used today, the amphitheater dates to the 1st century, and was constructed to hold over 20,000 spectators. Vincent Van Gogh was inspired by the special light of the Provence and spent a very productive year in Arles.
Day 4 Avignon.
On your GUIDED TOUR you may choose to join an included visit of the PALACE OF THE POPES, built in the 14th century as the sovereign popes’ residence. With a living space equivalent to four gothic cathedrals, it is the largest gothic fortress in the world. Alternatively, you may opt for only city sightseeing and more free time to explore on your own, or to join an optional outing to Pont du Gard. This afternoon an excursion takes you to the famed wine cellars of CHÂTEAUNEUF DU PAPE to learn about and to taste this famous wine. A Master of Wine will join you on board and will introduce you to some of France’s wines in the coming days.
Day 5 Cruising–Viviers.
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 CHOCOLATE and WINE. After lunch, join your LOCAL GUIDE for a walk around the charming town of Viviers, which developed around its ROMANESQUE CATHEDRAL. The OLD TOWN has an appealing mix of Christian, Roman, and medieval influences.
Day 6 Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Vienne.
The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage lie nestled among vineyards between the Rhône River and the granite slopes of the Hermitage. Enjoy a GUIDED WALK of Tournon, one of France’s oldest medieval cities, with its imposing 16th-century castle and Roman ruins. Arriving in Vienne in the late afternoon, a GUIDED WALK shows you the charming little town surrounded by steep hills—one of the oldest towns in the region. Explore the town center to see the Roman Theater, which once held 13,000 spectators, and the Augustus and Livia Temple, built around 20 BC and converted into a church in the Middle Ages.
Day 7 Lyon.
Lyon is 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, many excellent museums, and much renaissance architecture delight visitors. You are joined by a LOCAL GUIDE as you survey the city from Fourvière Hill and explore the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 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. This afternoon an excursion takes you to sample BEAUJOLAIS, the wine of the region. This evening enjoy a special on board FOOD AND WINE PAIRING DINNER hosted by our Master of Wine, who has specifically chosen the wines for this occasion.
Day 8 Cruising–St. Jean de Losne.
A leisurely day today as your final day on board. If you prefer to stay busy, a choice of optional excursions, including a visit to a wine cellar, is available. While cruising to St. Jean de Losne, enjoy an onboard CHEESE AND WINE TASTING. Here, too, our Master of Wine will guide you through this wonderful experience.
Day 9 St. Jean de Losne (Disembarkation)–Beaune–Dijon–Paris.
After breakfast, head by motorcoach to Beaune, the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Or area and Burgundy’s wine capital. Although life here centers around wine, Beaune offers much more with its ramparts, medieval houses, cobblestone streets, and historical monuments. 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. After lunch, continue to Dijon, where you board the TGV to Paris, the “City of Light.”
Day 10 Paris.
Known as one of the world’s most romantic and lively cities, Paris delights the senses. Your included CITY SIGHTSEEING shows you magnificent must-see sights, including Notre Dame Cathedral, the unique Louvre Museum with its glass pyramid as a contrast to its ancient architecture, the commemorative Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. Alternatively, you may wish to 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 gleaming white Sacré Coeur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre.
Day 11 Paris.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.