Tour begins: 6:00 PM, InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel. A transfer is included from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Gare de Lyon Station, Charles de Gaulle Station or Gare du Nord to InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel in the heart of the city. Join us this evening for our special
welcome cocktail reception and dinner at le Fouquet’s on the
Champs-Elysées, an iconic landmark for celebrity dining for over a
Parisian gourmet pleasures
Enjoy a moveable feast and an introduction to the delights of Parisian cuisine today as you take a pastry class at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, where you'll learn firsthand the tips of the pâtisserie trade – including how to make an original pastry followed by a food walking tour. A Paris orientation tour by coach familiarizes you with many of the cities iconic landmarks before you embark on a walking and tasting tour that inspires with the fragrances and flavors of French food. The French capital is home to the masters of the pastry universe, dating back to Marie-Antoine Carême, who in the early 1800's popularized elaborate confections including the millefeuille, the croquembouche, strawberries Romanov and many more. Sample a variety of pastries at a local shop and learn more about their history before you head to a crêperie where you'll have the opportunity to try a savory crêpe (or Galette) popular in the northwest region of Brittany. Your final stop is a champagne bar where you'll gain an understanding of a wine that is intertwined with history and at least the last 300 years of civilization... samples included! Tonight you'll have free time to explore the delights of Paris on your own including the many dining possibilities in and around your hotel.
Le Cordon Bleu, to Lyon by TGV & embark
Enjoy a morning at leisure before catching the TGV high-speed train and enjoying the views en route to Lyon, set at the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône. In Lyon, you'll board ms Emerald for your Rhône River cruise and settle into your cabin before joining us for a briefing and welcome reception followed by a welcome dinner in The Compass Rose.
Lyon, Les Halles, a Beaujolais tasting & more
Lyon is considered the "culinary capital of France," which is quite a compliment in a country famed for its cuisine and fine vintages. You’ll discover why during a tasting at the famous Les Halles de Lyon, the celebrated indoor food market that's been a fixture in Lyon since 1850 and offers an unbelievable array of breads, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, sausages, wines, chocolates... the list goes on. Everything is fresh and delicious, and it's said that the best chefs in Lyon shop here! But Lyon is also a city with a venerable history and considerable charm, as you’ll discover when you also visit Vieux Lyon, the old Renaissance part of the city that is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the first protected historic district in France, and the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière, built atop the ruins of an ancient Roman forum. This afternoon, it’s off to the celebrated wine-growing region of Beaujolais for a tasting in the countryside before continuing your Rhône River cruise to Viviers. Enjoy dinner in the Compass Rose tonight followed by entertainment in the lounge.
Medieval Viviers & wine tastings along the Rhône
ms Emerald cruises this morning to Viviers, a walled city with origins in the 5th century on the right bank of the Rhône. If medieval history and authentic period architecture are your thing, Viviers is your kind of place... because it’s one of the best-preserved medieval towns that you’re likely to see in all of France. Its narrow streets and lanes reveal what life might have been like here in the Middle Ages. Your choices today include a walking tour of Viviers with your local guide including views of the 12th-century Cathedral of Notre Dame de Rhône and the richly detailed façade of the Maison des Chevaliers, followed by a lively game of petanque with the locals; or a drive to Grignan for a walking tour of town and a truffle farm tour and tasting. Back aboard the riverboat, enjoy an onboard wine tasting presentation where you'll learn about (and sample) some of the region's excellent local wines; join us for a gala dinner in The Compass Rose this evening as we sail for Arles in Provence.
Historic Arles & Provençal pleasures in La Camargue
It may seem that the Romans were everywhere along the Rhône, and Arles is no exception, as is witnessed by the triumphal arch, circus and baths they left behind – and an arena in which gladiators fought and is still a venue for performances and bullfights today – as you explore the city on a walking tour and time on your own. Do take time to look beyond the city walls at the incredible quality of the light here that so enraptured Vincent van Gogh – and the landscapes of yellow rocks, red soil and lilac mountains that inspired in the Dutch artist a newfound creativity, and led to his creating hundreds of paintings while a patient at a nearby asylum, one of the most productive periods of his short life. Lunch today is a real treat, as you visit a private ranch in La Camargue for a private banquet of farm-grown Provençal specialties, a musical serenade, and a chance to see the region’s iconic white horses, fleet-footed gardians (cowboys) and famous black bulls. As you continue your Rhône River cruise to Avignon this evening, try your hand at painting a chocolate art piece during an onboard demonstration before dinner aboard the riverboat.
Avignon, Palais des Papes & Uzès evening
Although the fortified city of Avignon was undoubtedly a pleasant place before they arrived, the 14th-century popes, who spent less than a century here when Rome became "tedious" for them, really put it on the map, and cultivated the local wine industry (Châteauneuf-du-Pape) and an appreciation for good food. This morning, choose a bicycle excursion in Avignon or a visit to the fortress-like home that the pontiffs built for themselves, the Palais des Papes. Later, visit the Pont du Gard – a famous Roman aqueduct over the River Gardon. Join us this evening ashore for a sparkling Tauck Exclusive event – a special evening including a tour, reception and dinner at the restored château and grounds of the medieval Duchy of Uzès.
Roussillon & Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Venture deeper into Provence today on a visit to the yellow-and-brown town of Roussillon, in the Luberon region. This place is all about color, from the ochre cliffs surrounding the town to the purple of the lavender during its blooming season and the lush, green pine forests, as you'll discover for yourself on a walking tour. Have lunch on the riverboat as you cruise to Châteauneuf-du-Pape; over 200 days of sunshine per year and rain-bearing mistral winds enable the soil to store water for the long summer, meaning that vineyards thrive here. Since medieval times, the life of this hillside village has centered around growing and producing wine of the same appellation; its residents have benefitted from the proceeds of flourishing vineyards as early as the 13th century, when the village was adjacent to a summer palace for the popes of Avignon. You will get an opportunity this afternoon to taste some of the area's acclaimed wines before returning to the riverboat for dinner and onboard relaxation as your cruise continues.
Savory secrets of the Rhône Valley in Tain l'Hermitage & Valence
The riverboat docks in Tain l'Hermitage for the final day of your Rhône River cruise. From here you’ll head to Valence, a town known for its markets offering produce from the surrounding countryside – including delicacies like truffles and asparagus – and as home to the gourmet cooking school of award-winning chef Anne-Sophie Pic, where you’ll be privy to a chef’s demonstration and a wine and cheese pairing class and tasting that features the superb products crafted in the area. Your day also includes a visit to a chocolate shop in Tain l'Hermitage and a mini-train ride through the renowned Heritage vineyards before you reboard the ship for tonight's farewell reception followed by dinner as ms Emerald begins her return to Lyon.
Tour ends: Lyon. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the ms Emerald to Lyon Airport or Perrache or Part Dieu train stations. Please allow 3 hours for flight check-in. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.