Grand France with Aix-en-Provence & Nice – Southbound
This splendid vacation showcases France’s exciting scenery, history, and culture as you sail along its beautiful rivers. Embark in Paris and head northwest along the Seine River up to the picturesque Normandy region. Dock at Vernon and choose between a guided visit of Claude Monet’s stunning gardens at Giverny or remarkable Bizy Castle. Continue to Les Andelys—home of Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart in 1196. Then, on to Caudebec, where you choose between an included excursion to the poignant Normandy landing beaches or a fascinating “Taste of Normandy.” Visit Joan of Arc’s historic Rouen, and in Conflans, choose between a guided excursion to Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s elegant Château de Malmaison before heading back to Paris for sightseeing that includes the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. Disembark and travel south to fascinating Beaune for a visit of the Hôtel-Dieu. In St. Jean de Losne, board your second cruise ship and sail on to Macon, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage, Viviers, Avignon, and Arles, as well as France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon, where you have time to explore this fascinating city. Disembark your cruise ship and transfer to Aix en Provence for two nights for the start of your Monograms extension. Enjoy guided sightseeing with an expert Local Guide, walking along the 17th-century Cours Mirabeau, a lively area with fountains, elegant homes, and famous cafés, and visit the Cathedral of the Holy Savior, known for its mishmash of architectural styles. This was Cézanne’s hometown, and in your free time, you may want to take a tour following in his footsteps. Perhaps take an excursion to Cassis with an included cruise, soak in Aix-en-Provence’s healing thermal baths, or shop for lavender and other local specialties. Finally, we’ll whisk you via high-speed TGV train to Nice for your final two nights in France. Here, guided sightseeing with a local expert includes a walk through the Old Town and the Promenade des Anglais, Nice’s most famous boulevard. In your free time, you may want to take an excursion to Monaco, to St. Tropez, or to Cannes, known for its famous film festival. In both cities we provide the services of Local Hosts®—a “friend in the city” to answer questions, share inside information, help you arrange your activities and excursions, and provide you with suggestions for the best places to sample the local specialties, as well as be there to help you feel comfortable in each city. Transfers from/to your hotels to/from the train stations, and hotel reservations with daily breakfast, are included.
Cruise: deluxe 14-night cruise in an outside stateroom with Avalon’s exclusive Comfort Collection BedsSMDay 1 Paris (Embarkation): welcome receptionDay 2 Vernon–Les Andelys: choice of excursions to Giverny or Bizy Castle; guided walk in Les Andelys, visit the parish church of Le Petit AndelyDay 3-4 Caudebec: choice of excursion along either the “Normandy Villages Route” or the “Normandy Abbeys Route”; choice of excursions to Normandy landing beaches or “A Taste of Normandy”Day 5 Rouen: guided sightseeing, see the Astronomical Clock and visit the cathedralDay 6 Conflans: choice of excursions: visit Auvers-sur-Oise or Château de MalmaisonDay 7 Paris: choice of guided sightseeing or “Heart of Paris” walkDay 8 Paris (Disembarkation)–Dijon–Beaune–St. Jean de Losne (Embarkation)–Seurre: transfer from Paris to Beaune, visit the Hôtel-Dieu; onboard welcome receptionDay 9 Seurre–Macon: leisurely cruising; onboard cheese tasting; free time in MaconDay 10 Lyon: guided sightseeing; picture stop on Fourvière HillDay 11 Lyon: a day to explore this fascinating city at leisureDay 12 Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Viviers: guided walk in Tournon; guided walk in Viviers, visit the Old Town and the cathedralDay 13 Avignon: guided sightseeing, visit Palace of the PopesDay 14 Arles: sail into the Camargue region (daylight permitting); guided sightseeing in Arles, visit the Roman Amphitheater Day 15 Arles (Disembarkation)–Aix-en-Provence: travel by motorcoach to Aix-en-ProvenceAix-en-Provence & Provence: 4 nights hotel accommodation with buffet breakfast (B); Monograms Local Host Service & Destination Guides with city maps; guided sightseeing, inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE; high-speed TGV train (first-class) from Aix-en-Provence to Nice; transfers from ship to Aix-en-Provence hotel and to/from train stations.
Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapésWelcome dinnerDaily Afternoon TeaDaily Night FareFarewell dinnerComplimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; soft drinks with lunch; and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner are included daily on board your vesselBuffet breakfast daily while in Provence
NOTES:The Seine section of departure July 11 is offered as an exclusive WWII History Cruise, including special lectures and features at no additional cost. Take a cruise through history! These fascinating cruises give you an even richer experience as you learn the stories behind Europe’s famous sites.The Seine section of departure August 8 is offered as an exclusive Art & Impressionist Cruise, including special lectures and features at no additional cost. Experience scenic northern France with a focus on art as you explore Paris’ Musee d’Orsay, Chateau d’Auvers in Auvers-sur-Oise, and Rouen’s cathedral, and attend onboard art lectures by a local art expert.The Saône/Rhône section of departures October 17 & 21 are offered as exclusive Wine Appreciation Cruises, including special lectures and tastings at no additional cost. Your palate will applaud as you learn what to look for in a good wine. A distinguished wine authority will teach you the ropes as you visit a wine village and attend tastings to test your newfound talent.In the event of water level problems or any problems of a technical nature, it may be necessary to operate the itinerary by motorcoach or to alter the program.Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change becomes necessary, a substitute will be offered.Whenever available, the TGV train will be used between Paris and Dijon.