Feel inspired... as you and your family stand on the top deck of ms Emerald with Provençal landscapes before you… in Paris, where the streets are paved in history… on a scavenger hunt through Musée du Louvre… along the cobblestone streets of medieval Viviers… together.
The best way to experience French joie de vivre is to do what the locals do... pedal past landmark Parisian sites on a bicycle ride... take a fast train to Lyon... board a boat for a River Rhône cruise... learn to cook like a gourmet chef at a culinary school... discover the art of making chocolat... have lunch at a private ranch in Provence with French cowboys... paint like van Gogh in Arles (using chocolate instead of oils!)... walk on a triple-decker Roman bridge in Avignon... play pétanque in Viviers...
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Sofitel Le Scribe Paris Opéra. A transfer is included from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport or Gare de Lyon, Charles de Gaulle Station or Gare du Nord train stations to Sofitel Le Scribe Paris Opéra. Your family's France river cruise gets off to a fabulous start from the moment you check into your your luxury hotel, a historic treasure in the heart of the city that for centuries has been at the heart of Parisian society. Meet the families you'll be traveling with at a welcome reception and dinner at the hotel, featuring entertainment by a mentalist that's fun for the whole family.
A scavenger hunt in the Louvre & a choice of sightseeing
The day begins with a choice of sightseeing – a city tour that includes views of iconic sights such as the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Élysées and Notre Dame Cathedral – or a bicycle tour along the River Seine that begins in the Champ du Mars vicinity and passes in front of Museé D’Orsay, Tuileries Gardens, the Eiffel Tower and more. Following lunch, enjoy some free time to pursue what interests you most. This evening, enjoy a private tour of one the most famous museums in the world, Museé du Louve, where you’re invited to take part in a treasure hunt like no other. Right under your nose – or maybe not – you’ll team up to follow clues that lead to works of art that are among the most prized art treasures of the world (like the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory or Liberty Leading the People).
A day well spent in Paris...
Your morning includes a visit to probably the most iconic sight in Paris, the Eiffel Tower. Early afternoon, travel aboard a high-speed train called the TGV and head south to Lyon, where you’ll board ms Emerald, your floating hotel for the next five nights. The crew makes sure that you know your way around before our welcome reception, which is followed by dinner aboard ship... with some rather magical entertainment.
Tournon, cooking & chocolat
This morning your riverboat takes you to the town of Tournon-sur-Rhône for fun family discoveries ashore including an orientation tour of this ancient town on the River Rhône; a cooking class at Scook, the cooking school of Anne Sophie Pic, located next door to the Michelin-awarded restaurant Maison Pic; and a demonstration in the art of making chocolat at Valrhona Cité du Chocolat. The rest of the afternoon and evening are spent cruising the Rhône, bound for Arles in Provence.
Arles, Camargue cowboys, van Gogh & chocolate art
After arriving in Arles this morning, get a change of scenery on a drive into the Camargue for a taste of France’s "Wild West." This vast marshy delta has been home to free-roaming black bulls since Roman times; today the bulls are looked after by French gardians (cowboys), saddled up on white Camargue horses. You’ll see them up close at a private ranch, called a manade, and a hayride into the fields to see bulls, mares and foals. Enjoy a Provençal lunch, gypsy music and a daring show in which players attempt to retrieve paper tokens from a bull’s horns. Later today you'll return to medieval Arles for a walking tour that brings alive many of the places captured in brilliant strokes of color by one of its most famous residents, artist Vincent van Gogh – then create some tasty art of your own based on lovely French landscapes with a hands-on chocolate painting experience, This evening, an onboard performance by an accordionist precedes dinner.
An Avignon palace & a 1st-century marvel
Everyone dreams at one time or another of living in a palace... and today's France family river cruise does just that when your family visits an extravagant grand palace with four mighty towers... On a guided tour of 12th-century Palais des Papes in Avignon, once a “renegade” papal palace (built in opposition to Rome), your imagination takes flight as you explore one of Europe's largest medieval Gothic buildings. Or, if you wish, instead of visiting Palais des Papes you can join us for a bicycle ride in Avignon this morning. You'll have some time this afternoon to discover Avignon as you please. Then everyone meets up to walk across the famed Pont du Gard, and enjoy some refreshments; this three-level, 164-ft.-high “bridge” was built by the Romans to carry fresh water over the Gardon River nearly 2,000 years ago!
Medieval Viviers, pétanque and more
This morning brings adventure to your France family river cruise with a walking tour of medieval Viviers, where you’ll wind your way up through narrow, cobbled streets, curious passageways and doorways in shades of blue and green... leading up to the petite 12th-century Cathédrale Saint-Vincent. Next, try your hand at a game of pétanque, played by tossing a small metal boule about the size of an orange. Return to the riverboat for lunch (a barbecue on the Sun Deck, weather permitting) and an afternoon and evening spent cruising. Join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner.
Tour Ends: Lyon. Our family France river cruise concludes in Lyon today as your family disembarks ms Emerald; fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the riverboat to either the Lyon Airport or Lyon's Perrache or Part Dieu train stations; you should allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in at the airport.