From Cannes on the Mediterranean, travel to Arles... cruise the Rhône and then the Saône rivers through Provence and into rich wine lands... and on to Lyon... and then overland to the magical city of Paris. Enjoy a true taste of all things Français on one of our most popular river cruises in France!
On one of the most enjoyable river cruises in France, journey from the jet-setting capital of Cannes on the Riviera into Provence to Arles to board ms Emerald for a cruise along the Rhône River to Lyon and then along the Saône. 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, Hôtel Martinez. A transfer is included from the Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport, and Cannes Train Station to Hôtel Martinez. Join us for a cocktail reception and dinner in the Mediterranean playground of Cannes.
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 late afternoon for the evening.
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. Early afternoon, travel to Arles, where you'll board ms Emerald and begin one of Tauck's most popular river cruises in France along the Rhône and the Saône. The crew welcomes you aboard with a reception followed by dinner this evening.
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.
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.
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 Chalon-sur-Saône.
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.
After cruising the Saône overnight, ms Emerald calls on Tournus this morning, from which you'll 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 view the most amazing landscape that surrounds you for miles and miles. Vineyards, gently rolling hills, orchards, red-tiled farmhouses, medieval cathedrals, the occasional village to stop in... 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 in Tournus for lunch, and continue your cruise this afternoon and evening to France's culinary capital, Lyon.
Ahh, Lyon. If you’re a serious foodie, Lyon is the place for you! But of course there is more to this 2,000 year-old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, than food. Your day includes getting a panoramic view of Lyon from the hilltop district of Fouvière; a visit to the stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière – built in the 1870s on “the hill that prays," it features exquisite marble work, stained glass windows, colorful mosaics and gilt galore; a tour of medieval Vieux Lyon; and a free afternoon to explore more of the city as you please. As ms Emerald spends the night docked in Lyon, join us aboard ship for our farewell reception followed by dinner this evening.
As all river cruises in France must, the cruise portion of your vacation ends today as you disembark in Lyon and bid a fond farewell to ms Emerald. Board the TGV (a high-speed train) for two nights in the capital city of Paris. Whether you explore on- or off-the-beaten-path, you'll find yourself navigating the city's arrondissements (districts), beginning with the geographical center and spiraling outwards in a clockwise direction. A panoramic city tour upon arrival shows you landmark icons and the grand boulevards. The remainder of the day and evening are free to spend as you please in one of the world's favorite cities; there are boulevards to stroll, pastries to sample, sidewalk cafés to enjoy, wines to savor and French fare to try that tempts every palate.
Ernest Hemingway called Paris a “moveable feast" – and even if you’ve been here many times, today might be the day that you discover something about the city that you didn’t know before. The day is free to explore and enjoy as you please. 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. Tonight, we'll all gather for a memorable farewell dinner at chic Fouquet’s, the quintessential Paris brasserie on the Champs-Élysées; elegance and classic cuisine have made it a celebrity favorite for more than a century!
Note: The departures of May 7 and August 1 will have a private pre-opening visit to the Louvre on Day 13. For tours that do not have a private pre-opening, alternate museum options will be available.
Tour ends: 8:00 AM Paris. Fly home anytime. A transfer from InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Gare de Lyon Station, Charles de Gaulle Station and Gare du Nord is included. Please allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
Tauck has been a family run business since its first tour through New England in 1925. Spanning three generations and currently run by six family members, their 90 years of experience is clearly seen in more than 140 unique travel experiences.
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