Grand France - Northbound
This fantastic cruise vacation showcases France’s breathtaking scenery, amazing history, and exciting variety.
Book select 2017 European rail & river cruise departures and save $500 per couple. Qualifying vacations include:
This fantastic cruise vacation showcases France’s breathtaking scenery, amazing history, and exciting variety. Your adventure begins on the stunning Côte d’Azur, then travel to Arles to board your ship and sail into the peaceful Camargue area during dinner (daylight permitting), before returning to Arles. Then, sail north up the scenic Rhône and Saône Rivers. Along the way, explore Arles, Avignon, delightful Viviers, medieval Tournon, charming Vienne, France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon, as well as St. Jean de Losne, and fascinating Beaune. Take the TGV train from Dijon to Paris, embark your second cruise ship, and begin your journey along the Seine River into the picturesque Normandy region. In Vernon, choose between a guided visit of Claude Monet’s stunning gardens at Giverny or magnificent Bizy Castle. Continue to Les Andelys, home of dramatic Château Gaillard, then on to Caudebec, where you choose between an included excursion to Normandy’s historic landing beaches or an interesting “Taste of Normandy.” Next up: Joan of Arc’s historic Rouen. In Conflans, it’s your choice of excursions to either Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s elegant Château de Malmaison. Return to Paris for guided sightseeing, taking in the most famous sights of this magnificent city—a fitting conclusion of your magnificent cruise vacation.
Highlights and Inclusions
Day 1 - International flight for the USA to In Cote D'Azur, France
Day 2 - Arrive In Côte D'Azur, France
Welcome to France! Located between the mountains and the deep-blue Mediterranean Sea, the Côte d'Azur is synonymous with prestige and beauty with its enchanting yachts, glamorous villas, and famous events. Time at leisure lets you get acquainted with this amazing place.
Day 3 - Côte D'Azur-Transfer To Arles (Embarkation)-Camargue Region
This morning, enjoy free time to explore further or join an optional excursion to Nice, the “Queen of the Riviera.” In the early afternoon, transfer by motorcoach to Arles in the Provence region, where you'll board your river cruise vessel. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception, then sail toward the mouth of the Rhône for a taste of the tranquil vistas of Camargue National Park. (B, D)
Day 4 - Arles
In Arles, capital of the Provence, join your local guide for a tour of the city. See the church of St. Trophime, dating from the 12th century, and visit the Roman Amphitheater. Still used today, the amphitheater dates to the 1st century, and was constructed to hold over 20,000 spectators. Vincent Van Gogh was inspired by the special light of the Provence and spent a very productive year in Arles. (B, L, D)
Day 5 - Avignon
During the night, set sail for Avignon, where you arrive during breakfast. During your guided tour you may choose to join an included visit of the Palace of the Popes, built in the 14th century as the sovereign popes' residence. With a living space equivalent to four gothic cathedrals, it is the largest gothic fortress in the world. Alternatively, you may opt for only city sightseeing and more free time to explore on your own, or to join an optional outing to Pont du Gard or to the famed wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - Cruising-Viviers
A leisurely morning on board to relax and enjoy the passing scenery. After lunch, join your local guide for a walk around the charming town of Viviers, which developed around its Romanesque Cathedral. The old town has an appealing mix of Christian, Roman, and medieval influences. (B, L, D)
Day 7 - Tournon/Tain L'Hermitage-Vienne
The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l'Hermitage lie nestled among vineyards between the Rhône River and the granite slopes of the Hermitage. Enjoy a guided walk of Tournon, one of France's oldest medieval cities, with its imposing 16th-century castle and Roman ruins. Arriving in Vienne in the late afternoon, a guided walk shows you the charming little town surrounded by steep hills. Explore the town center to see the Roman Theater, which once held 13,000 spectators, and the Augustus and Livia Temple, built around 20 BC and converted into a church in the Middle Ages. (B, L, D)
Day 8 - Lyon
Lyon is France's third-largest city and its gastronomic capital. Founded by the Romans in 43 BC, the city's prosperity dates back to the 16th century and is due to commercial, industrial, and banking activities. Roman remains, many excellent museums, and much renaissance architecture delight visitors. You are joined by a local guide as you survey the city from Fourvière Hill—with its splendid views over the city—and explore the Old Town, a Unesco World Heritage Site with its maze of medieval alleyways and Place des Terreaux, a popular area with lively cafés, monuments, and the famous fountain often depicted on postcards. Be sure to sample Beaujolais, the wine of the region. Before dinner tonight, attend an onboard lecture and learn more about the French. (B, L, D)
Day 9 - Cruising-St. Jean De Losne
A leisurely day today as your final day on board. If you prefer to stay busy, a choice of optional excursions is available, including a visit to a wine cellar. While sailing to St. Jean de Losne, enjoy an onboard cheese tasting. (B, L, D)
Day 10 - Chalon-Sur-Saône (Disembarkation)-Beaune-Dijon-Paris (Embarkation)
After breakfast, disembark and head by motorcoach to Beaune, the unofficial capital of the Côte d'Or area and Burgundy's wine capital. Although life here centers around wine, Beaune offers much more with its ramparts, medieval houses, cobblestone streets, and historical monuments. Visit the HÔTEL-DIEU charity hospital, built in 1443 and paid for by the chancellor of Burgundy after the Hundred Years' War left many of the town's population destitute. Today, it houses Van der Weyden's painting of The Last Judgment and is one of France's architectural highlights. After lunch, continue to Dijon and board the TGV train to Paris, the “City of Light,” where your ship is docked on the River Seine. Meet your crew at a welcome reception; before dinner, your ship glides smoothly out of Paris. (B, D)
Day 11 - Vernon-Les Andelys
This morning in Vernon, choose between a guided visit of Giverny and a visit to Bizy Castle. Claude Monet lived at Giverny for almost 43 years (1883-1926) and viewed his flower and water gardens as works of art—just like his paintings. See his collection of Japanese prints, his charming house, and his biggest sources of inspiration. Or, visit Bizy Castle, built in 1740 and nicknamed “Normandy's Versailles.” It is known for its famous stables—inspired by those at Versailles—and its magnificent courtyard and water garden. After lunch, join an onboard pastry demonstration before your ship arrives in Les Andelys, situated on a bend of the Seine and one of the most beautiful places in France. Join a Local Guide for a guided walk of the town, visiting the Parish Church of Le Grand Andely. Imposing Château Gaillard, built by England's King Richard the Lionheart as a fortress in 1196, is seen above the town. Constructed in only a year, it is a masterpiece of medieval military architecture. (B, L, D)
Day 12 - Caudebec
Today, either join an excursion along the Route des Chaumières to see some of Normandy's charming and traditional half-timbered houses with their long, sloping thatched roofs, often sporting blue wooden door and window shutters, or visit Jumieges Abbey, a former Benedictine Abbey church considered one of the most ancient and important monasteries in the western world. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or to join an optional excursion to the pretty coastal town of Honfleur. Before dinner, you may wish to attend an onboard lecture about D-Day. (B, L, D)
Day 13 - Caudebec
Today, choose between an included full-day excursion to the historic Normandy Landing Beaches—with poignant sites such as Omaha Beach, the Pointe du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery—or a “Taste of Normandy” for a more in-depth look at this picturesque, mainly agricultural region. The most important products are dairy, apples, and grain. Camembert cheese is a specialty, as is Calvados, a strong apple brandy that you'll have the chance to taste at a local distillery. And for a touch of history, visit the famous Bayeux Tapestry. (B,L,D )
Day 14 - Rouen
Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is an important commercial city perhaps best known for its connection to Joan of Arc, who lived, was imprisoned, and burned at the stake in the marketplace of this town in 1431. Enjoy the guided walk through the medieval quarter with its half-timbered, glazed-tile houses, and take your pictures of the Gros Horloge, an intricate astronomical clock dating back to the 16th century. Visit the splendid gothic cathedral, which was once the tallest building in the world and the subject of a series of Claude Monet's paintings. The afternoon is free for you to explore on your own. (B, L, D)
Day 15 - Conflans-Paris
After breakfast you may either join our included guided excursion to Auvers-sur-oise, the quaint little town where Vincent Van Gogh lived and died, or to Napoleon and Josephine's Chateau de Malmaison just outside Paris. Requiring extensive renovations, this large country estate was purchased by Josephine Bonaparte in 1799 while Napoleon was fighting in Egypt. It was her aim to make it “the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation.” This evening, arrive in Paris. (B, L, D)
Day 16 - Paris
Known as one of the world's most romantic and lively cities, Paris is a delight for all your senses. Your included city sightseeing shows you magnificent must-see sights, such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the unique Louvre Museum with its glass pyramid as a contrast to its ancient architecture, the commemorative Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. Alternatively, you may wish to join a guided walk through historic IÎe St. Louis with its narrow one-way streets and IÎe de la Cité, the center of Paris where the medieval city was founded and home to Notre Dame Cathedral. In your free time, stroll down the Champs-Elysées with its lavish cafes, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre or Montmartre with its gleaming white Sacré Coeur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre. Paris is also well known for its colorful nightlife and an optional outing to one of the world's most famous cabaret shows, the Moulin Rouge, might make the perfect finale to your vacation. (B, L, D)
Day 17 - Paris (Disembarkation)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
New to the legendary waters of Europe in 2014, the Avalon Poetry II offers a delightfully intimate cruise setting. Like its sister Suite Ships, the Avalon Artistry II, Avalon Visionary, Avalon Tapestry II, and Avalon Tranquility II, the Poetry II features two full decks of suites featuring Wall-to-Wall Panoramic Windows that transform the living space into a unique Open-Air Balcony®. With 200 square feet, Panorama Suites are more than 30% larger than the industry standard, giving you the rare opportunity to wake each morning to the enchanting scenery and fresh breezes. Onboard amenities include an alternative dining option in the Panorama Bistro, complimentary computer use in public areas and Wi-Fi access, an expanded Fitness Center, and a spacious Sky Deck with premium lounge chairs, whirlpool, and light al-fresco lunches at the Sky Bistro.
2015 brings with it another extraordinary Suite Ship® to the Avalon fleet. The Avalon Tapestry II is a true haven on the river - two full decks of Panorama Suites with Wall-to-Wall Panoramic Windows that transform the living space into a unique Open-Air Balcony®. With 200 square feet, Panorama Suites are more than 30% larger than the industry standard, giving you the rare opportunity to wake each morning to enchanting scenery and fresh breezes. Onboard amenities and services include complimentary computer use in public areas and free Wi-Fi access, a Fitness Center with state-of-the-art equipment, a hair salon, elevator, and a spacious Sky Deck with shade system, whirlpool, deck games, and the delightful Sky Bistro for al-fresco lunches of light grill fare.
Dates & Prices
Select from the packages below to view prices for this tour.
|5th October 2017||$6,409||Book Now|
|5th October 2017||$10,207||Book Now|
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Grand France - Category D/E (Indigo Deck): Departs 5th October 2017 ($6,409)
Grand France - Category B (Sapphire Deck Aft): Departs 5th October 2017 ($8,707)
Grand France - Categoy A (Sapphire Deck Forward): Departs 5th October 2017 ($8,707)
Grand France - Category P (Royal Deck): Departs 5th October 2017 ($8,707)
Grand France - Suite/Royal Suite (Royal Deck): Departs 5th October 2017 ($10,207)
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Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change becomes necessary, a substitute will be offered.
In the event that the TGV is unavailable due to strikes or technical reasons, the transfer from Dijon to Paris will be operated by motorcoach.