If you’re dreaming of a France river cruise, come along with us on a French Escapade aboard ms Emerald along the rivers Rhône and Saône… and visit the "City of Light" Paris, cultural Provence and the jet-setting city of Cannes on the Riviera along the way.
Travel into the countryside past vineyards where some of the world’s best grapes become some of the world’s best wines, stopping to taste some of them. Discover river towns with Roman roots and lingering traces of medieval magic in their streets, experience the cowboy traditions and cuisine of La Camargue, and sample the pleasures of regional cuisine and wine throughout your trip. Explore a palace fit for a pope and an abbey that was once one of the most powerful in Europe. You'll find something new, something wonderful every day. And during two nights in Paris, you'll dine at chic Fouquet's on the Champs-Élysées!
Tour begins: 6:30 PM, InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel. A transfer from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Gare de Lyon Station, Charles de Gaulle Station and Gare du Nord to InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel, in the heart of the city, is included. After your arrival just relax or head out to do some exploring on your own before joining us to meet your Tauck Directors and fellow voyagers at a welcome cocktail reception and dinner this evening at the exclusively chic Fouquet’s on the Champs-Élysées.
Paris sightseeing and a choice of museum
Your day begins with an orientation tour to help you get your bearings and consider all the ways that you can enjoy the "City of Light" at your leisure and as you please for the rest of the day. The remainder of the day is free. We’ve included admission to your choice of one of two of the city's finest museums (subject to availability). You may elect to view the priceless art inside the famous Musée du Louvre, home to da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Hellenistic Winged Victory, the beautiful Venus de Milo and others. Or perhaps you’re interested in viewing the impressive works exhibited at the Musée Jacquemart-André, a stunning museum in Paris’ 8th arrondissement created from the former private mansion of 19th-century husband-and-wife art collectors Édouard André and Nélie Jacquemart – he, a member of a wealthy banking family and she, a renowned society painter – to display the art masterpieces they acquired during their lives together. The collection includes works by Canaletto, Rembrandt, Hals, Gainsborough, Bernini, Botticelli and many others. Note: select departures join us this evening for a Tauck Exclusive – an after-hours guided visit to Musée du Louvre. A showcase of Impressionist paintings. the museum is housed in a former royal palace, astounds with an incomparable collection of some of the world's greatest art masterpieces – old masters, sculptures, antiquities – and the Mona Lisa; ask at booking.
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.
Tastings in Chalon-sur-Saône & Rully
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. Visit the walled city of Beaune – the “wine capital” of the famous Burgundy wine-producing region, and one of France’s most important wine centers. A walking tour includes a visit to Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune, considered one of the best-preserved examples of 15th-century French architecture; you may also see the old market (les Halles), the Beffroi (clock tower), parts of the medieval walls and ramparts, and more. This afternoon you have a choice of wine tasting in Burgundy or a walking tour (and tasting tour) of Chalon-sur-Saône, including a stop at the bakery, the chocolate shop and a mustard shop.
A day well spent in the south of Burgundy
With your riverboat docked in Tournus this morning, 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 picture the most amazing landscape that surrounds you for miles and miles. Vineyards, gently rolling hills, orchards, red-tiled farmhouses, medieval cathedrals... 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 for lunch, and continue your cruise to Mâcon. There is an opportunity to follow the ship to Mâcon by bicycle for a 20-mile ride along the Saône River.
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 La Maison des Canuts, a silk factory where you'll discover the secrets behind the creation of these exceptional silks. Enjoy dinner onboard while continuing your France river cruise to Vienne this evening.
Roman 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. Alternatively, you may instead choose to join a guided bicycle tour following part of the ViaRhona cycling path system along the River Rhone. Return to the riverboat this afternoon to continue your cruise.
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. You have a choice today of exploring Arles' medieval streets and city walls on a walking tour or embarking on a challenging, 2-hour bicycling excursion across the countryside surrounding Arles (which van Gogh found so enchanting). After lunch, it’s off to La Camargue, France’s "wild west." Visit a working farm to see an exciting demonstration by gardians (local cowboys) and the black bulls they raise here – not something usually experienced on a France river cruise; you'll also enjoy lunch and traditional Provençal entertainment. Join us this evening for the ship’s farewell reception followed by dinner.
Disembark in Arles then on to Aix-en-Provence and Cannes
The France river cruise portion of your journey ends as you disembark ms Emerald in Arles, and bid farewell to the Captain and crew. Travel to lovely Aix-en-Provence; it's not hard to imagine great artists like Vincent van Gogh or Paul Cézanne at work amidst the spectrum of colors found in Provence as you view Mont Ste-Victoire and join your local guide for a walking tour among the fountains, squares and medieval center. After free time for lunch in Aix, continue on to Cannes for a two-night stay.
A day in the magic of Monte-Carlo
Explore the south of France on a choice of sightseeing excursions today. Your first choice is an excursion that includes walking tours of Nice and Monte-Carlo plus a famed drive... mega-yachts from around the world bobbing in the bay… the rich, the famous, the jet setters… a casino world-renowned for its glamour… a real-life royal fairy-tale romance… it’s all part of Nice and Monte-Carlo’s magic spell... Alternatively, journey to the hills above Cannes for a visit to Grasse, one of the world's premiere centers for the perfume industry, and a visit to the picturesque walled town of Saint Paul de Vence, a Provençal hilltop town that was built in the 13th century, for a walking tour – you'll be taken with its medieval look and easily understand why it became an artists' enclave. Return to Cannes for a farewell reception and dinner at the hotel.
Tour ends: Cannes. A transfer from Hotel Martinez to the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, Nice Ville Train Station and Nice Riquier Train Station is included. Fly home anytime, but be sure to allow 3 hours for flight check-in at the airport.