From the magic of Paris to the romance of Barcelona, this itinerary is truly captivating. Begin with three nights in Paris, then travel in style aboard the high-speed TGV train to Lyon, France’s gastronomical capital. From there, cruise through France’s legendary wine growing regions, home to such famous vintages as Beaujolais and Rhone.
Enjoy wine tastings at local vintners, marvel at ancient Roman ruins, stroll through medieval villages and shop for Provencal crafts. Your itinerary includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avignon as well as Arles, the city where Vincent Van Gogh spent much of his life. Conclude your journey with three nights in magnificent Barcelona or opt for a 2 night stay in Marseille, one of France’s most vibrant cities.
Day 1 DEPART USA/CANADA
Board your overnight flight to Paris, France.
Day 2 ARRIVE IN PARIS, FRANCE
Arrive in Paris and check-in to your hotel. The balance of the day is yours to start exploring this beautiful city.
Day 3 PARIS
Enjoy some of Paris’ most famous sights during your guided tour this morning, such as the Champs elysees, Place de la Concorde, Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame Cathedral. The afternoon is free for you to explore the City of Light., Or, you may decide to join the optional Seine Cruise & Eiffel Tower, tour this morning and/or the optional Montmartre & Illuminations, tour this evening. (B)
Day 4 PARIS
Your last day in Paris is free for you to enjoy at your leisure. This evening, an optional Parisian Cabaret at Paradis Latin, dinner show is available for you to enjoy. (B)
Day 5 PARIS – LYON – EMBARKATION
After checking out of your hotel, you will board the TGV high-speed train that will whisk you through the French countryside to Lyon. Nestled between the Saone and Rhone rivers, Lyon is one of France’s most important cities its gastronomic capital. Upon arrival, enjoy some free time for lunch on your own before a private cooking demonstration. Later, transfer to your luxurious ship, where you will gather this evening for a Welcome Dinner. (B,D)
Day 6 LYON
Today your panoramic tour of Lyon will take you to Place Bellecour with its equestrian statue of Louis XIV, Place des Terreaux with Bartholdi’s Fountain, and the Town Hall. Afterwards, visit Fourviere, part of the historic region designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known as the Hill of Prayers,, Fourviere is famous for its iconic white Basilica of Notre-Dame, ruins of an ancient Roman theater, and majestic views of the city below. The ship departs for Belville this evening. (B,L,D)
Day 7 BELVILLE ,“ VIENNE
This morning’s tour will take you through the Beaujolais wine region, also known as the Pays d’ Or (land of the golden stones,, named for the ochre limestone used to build local homes and castles). You will visit the medieval hilltop village of Oingt as well as the home of a local vintner, where you will enjoy a wine tasting, vineyard tour and explanation of the history of the region’s wine production. Return to the ship in the afternoon and continue cruising towards Vienne, where you’ll have a free evening to explore on your own. (B,L,D)
Day 8 VIENNE – TOURNON
Situated between the wine regions of Burgundy and Beaujolais, Vienne’s Roman past can be seen in its marvelously preserved ruins. This morning, you will take a mini train tour and see the 1st-century Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia, the ruins of a Roman theater, and the medieval churches of St. Andre-Le-Bas and Abbey St. Pierre. Your ship will depart at midday for Tournon. This evening, explore the town on your own. (B,L,D)
Day 9 TOURNON – VIVIERS
This morning, visit Cornas, the premier producer of Rhone wines. Enjoy a wine tasting and free time this afternoon to visit the 16th-century castle that is now a town hall. Return to the ship for lunch as we cruise to Viviers. After arriving this evening, you may take a Ghost Walk, through this medieval town with colorful stories brought to life by local residents. (B,L,D)
Day 10 VIVIERS – AVIGNON
After breakfast, enjoy an excursion to Grignan, a hilltop village surrounded by lavender fields. The village’s Renaissance castle provides a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. Return to the ship and cruise to Avignon, site of the bridge made famous by the French children’s song Sur le pont d Avignon, (On the Bridge of Avignon,). Seven popes once resided in the magnificent Papal Palace, which you will visit during your walking tour. You will also see the well-preserved medieval walls surrounding the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As an alternative, take an excursion to the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct that is a masterpiece of engineering and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour will also visit Uzes, a lovely town known for its castle (still occupied by the Duke of Uzes and his family), medieval streets and picturesque town square. Enjoy free time for shopping before returning to your ship. (B,L,D)
Day 11 AVIGNON – LES BAUX – ARLES
This morning, you will arrive in Arles and board a motor coach for an excursion to the village of Les Baux de Provence. The village’s castle has a fascinating exhibit of medieval weapons. Later, visit an olive farm to learn about this age-old Provenenal farming tradition. As an alternative, take the Impressionist Experience, tour to the Saint Paul de Mausole Asylum, where Van Gogh once lived and painted such well-known works as The Irises and Starry Night. You will also visit the Carrieres de Lumieres, a stone quarry that projects European artwork on its walls, including many of Van Gogh’s famous paintings. Late this afternoon, a city tour of Arles takes you to the Romanesque cathedral and the Roman Amphitheater. Another option is a guided bike tour to a Roman museum (capacity controlled).The ship moors overnight in Arles. (B,L,D)
Day 12 ARLES – DISEMBARKATION – BARCELONA, SPAIN
Disembark your ship in Arles and transfer to Barcelona. Along the way, you will pass through the eerie Camargue marshland and stop in the medieval town of Perpignan in France, where you will have free time for lunch and some exploring on your own. (B)
Day 13 BARCELONA
Your full day in Barcelona begins with a driving tour to the top of Montjuic Hill where you will enjoy glorious views of the city below. Continue along the waterfront to Las Ramblas, an iconic tree-lined boulevard, and explore the Gothic Quarter in the medieval center of the city. Your tour also includes the unique architectural works of Antoni GaudÃ, including Casa Mila, Casa Batlle and La Sagrada Familia, the basilica and UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been under construction for over a century. As an alternative, choose the Tapas & Boqueria, tour of local tapas bars, where you will sample local favorites and take a guided tour of the Market of la Boqueria. (B)
Day 14 BARCELONA
Enjoy a full day at your leisure, or take part in an optional excursion to Montserrat to visit the famous Benedictine Abbey atop Montserrat Mountain. (B)
Day 15 DEPART BARCELONA
Bid farewell to Barcelona and prepare for your homeward flight. (B)