Join two popular itineraries to create a 15-day river cruise that offers the ultimate journey through France. Drink in the colors, cuisine and wines of France’s glorious southern regions of Burgundy and Provence as you visit places like Avignon, Arles and Lyon. Explore the legendary French capital, Paris, and travel along the Seine through the Norman countryside to the historic Normandy beaches. Vive la France!
Day 1 - Avignon
Fly to Marseille. Transfer from the airport to your ship, docked in Avignon.* After boarding, take free time to explore this quaint town on the scenic Rhône River, or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and get oriented. (D)
* Ground transfers are included with Viking Air purchase.
Day 2 - Arles
Disembark after breakfast and take a walking tour of Arles with its diverse architectural highlights. Experience the city’s vibrant colors and striking quality of light that have inspired artists. Arles is also the site of some impressive Roman ruins, including Les Arènes, an arena that seats 20,000 and is still in use, as well as Romanesque monuments such as the Church of Saint-Trôphime, completed in the 15th century. Your afternoon is free to explore Arles on your own. Dinner is served as you depart for Avignon this evening. (B, L, D)
Day 3 - Avignon
This morning, set out on a guided walk of Avignon, nicknamed the “City of Popes” because it was home to seven popes from 1309 to 1377. Stroll through the historic center, stop at the picturesque Pont d’Avignon and walk the Place de l’Horloge. Continue to the renowned Palace of the Popes for a guided tour through this rambling maze of Gothic architecture that served as papal residence, fortress, church and palace. After the tour, enjoy an afternoon at leisure exploring Avignon. You can join the optional tour to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, visiting the vineyards and tasting the famous wine. This evening, enjoy dinner on board your ship as we depart for Viviers. (B, L, D)
Day 4 - Viviers
This morning join a walking tour of Viviers’ Old Town with its medieval and Renaissance buildings. Once a 5th-century Roman settlement, today the cobblestone streets are dominated by the 12th-century St. Vincent Cathedral. This afternoon, we set sail to Tournon. (B, L, D)
Day 5 - Vienne
Board the Train de l’Ardèche this morning for a locomotive ride through the deep gorges of the Ardèche plateau, cut by the Doux River. Return to your ship and enjoy lunch on board as we cruise past dramatic landscapes. Arrive in Vienne this afternoon, a beautiful town with an ancient Roman past. Visit the Temple of Augustus and Livia, the Roman amphitheater and the Gothic Cathedral of St. Maurice on a walking tour before dinner on board the ship. We remain docked in Vienne this evening. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - Lyon
After breakfast, disembark in Lyon for a tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin with a drive to the top of Fourvière Hill for amazing views of the city. Continue with a guided visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame and drive through town past the magnificent St. Jean Cathedral and the Palace of Justice. Then take a walking tour through the cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon (Old Town), with free time to shop for souvenirs or sample some of the fine French cuisine for which Lyon is world-famous. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)
Day 7 - Lyon
After breakfast, take a scenic drive through the rolling hills of Beaujolais, where viticultural tradition runs deep. See the legendary Moulin-à-Vent, the windmill that gives its name to one of the most prestigious wines of the region, learn about the art of winemaking in a small museum and enjoy a tasting in one of Beaujolais’s famous cellars. Return to your ship for lunch and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. (B, L, D)
Day 8 - Lyon
After breakfast, disembark and enjoy a leisurely train ride from Lyon through the countryside of east central France to Paris to board your second ship, where a Welcome Dinner is served. (B, D)
Day 9 - Paris (Le Pecq)
After breakfast, embark on a tour of this dazzling city and marvel at its most remarkable sights, including the iconic Eiffel Tower. Take in the École Militaire, Orsay Museum and Latin Quarter, and magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral. Then drive past the Louvre and Opera House and along the famed Champs-Élysées. Return on board for dinner and start your cruise on the Seine this evening. (B, D)
Day 10 - Vernon
Arrive in the provincial town of Vernon before breakfast; take a stroll with your local guide to see the Maison du Temps Jadis (House of Past Times), Vernon’s oldest house, and the 11th-century Church of Notre Dame.
After lunch, take a short ride into the town of Giverny, where Claude Monet resided from 1883 until his death in 1926. Visit the beautiful gardens and charming stone farmhouse where he lived and worked; see the water garden with the recognizable Japanese bridge, water lilies, wisteria and azaleas that inspired many of his masterpieces.† Dinner is served on board. (B, L, D)
† Monet garden not available before March 24 or after November 1; a visit to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, favored by van Gogh and other artists, will be substituted.
Day 11 - Rouen
Indulge in leisurely morning cruising along the Seine. Spend the afternoon in the medieval city of Rouen, preeminent capital of Normandy. Begin with a walking tour through the center of Old Town, where you see the spectacular Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, often painted by Claude Monet, and the famous Gros Horloge, a 16th-century astronomical clock. As you walk among the half-timbered storybook buildings, allow yourself to be transported back through time; see the 14th-century courthouse where Joan of Arc was sentenced to death and the nearby Market Square where she was martyred.
Use your free time to discover more of Rouen or visit one of its museums of art or antiquities. Dine on board or at a sidewalk café. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)
Day 12 - Normandy Beaches
After breakfast, begin your full-day tour to the historic beaches of Normandy. Drive past Gold Beach, Courseulles sur Mer and Juno Beach on your way to visit such World War II landmarks as Omaha Beach, the American Military Cemetery and Arromanches Debarkment D-Day Museum. Alternatively, you may take a tour of Bayeaux, where you can admire the magnificent tapestry that chronicles the pre–Battle of Hastings events. Afterward, continue to Normandy’s coast and enjoy some free time at Juno Beach after your visit to the museum; then visit the Pegasus Museum. Return to your ship for dinner and relax on board, or take an evening stroll through Rouen. (B, L, D)
Day 13 - Les Andelys
Enjoy a leisurely morning cruise to the small town of Les Andelys, known for its imposing castle, Château Gaillard, built in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart. After lunch, join a guided walk to this fatally flawed masterpiece of Middle Ages architecture before returning to your ship. (B, L, D)
Day 14 - Mantes-la-Jolie
After breakfast, disembark for a visit to Château de Malmaison, where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his final days in France. Along with the Tuileries, this elegant manor house, purchased by the emperor’s wife Josephine in 1799, served as the seat of Napoleon’s French government from 1800 to 1802. Or, join an optional tour to the luxurious Palace of Versailles, former home of Louis XIV. (B, L, D)
Day 15 - Paris
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the Paris airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your time in France’s romantic capital with a 3-night Paris extension. (B)
* Ground transfers are included with Viking Air purchase.