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Grand France

Operated by: Uniworld River Cruises

15 Days from $5,799 per person
SS Catherine

Countries Visited

France ...more France

Locations Visited

Etretat, Honfleur, Caudebec-en-Caux, Rouen, Les Andelys, Giverny, Vernon, Mantes-la-Jolie, Versailles, Paris, Avignon, Tarascon, Lyon, Macon, Beaune ...more Etretat, Honfleur, Caudebec-en-Caux, Rouen, Les Andelys, Giverny, Vernon, Mantes-la-Jolie, Versailles, Paris, Avignon, Tarascon, Lyon, Macon, Beaune
  1. Day 1 Paris (Embark)

    Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.

    meals Dinner
  2. Day 2 La Roche-Guyon, Vernon Giverny

    Today is a celebration of Northern France’s natural beauty, with an excursion to a splendid chateau and gardens situated in an equally grand setting, plus a chance to immerse yourself in the very landscapes that inspired Impressionist master Claude Monet. Visit the hilltop Chateau La Roche-Guyon, surrounded by beautiful gardens and offering sweeping views over the Seine. Later, you can visit the home and gardens of Impressionist master Claude Monet—the inspiration for many of his most beloved works. Or, take in the beautiful French countryside in a more invigorating way, with a guided bike ride from Vernon to Giverny.

    This evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

    Choice of Château La Roche-Guyon or "Let's Go" hike on the Crests trail or Monet’s gardens at Giverny or “Let's Go” bike ride to Giverny

    Monet’s gardens at Giverny
    Monet often painted the little riverside town of Vernon, so you are likely to recognize scenes the master rendered in oils on your way to his home in the village of Giverny, where he lived and worked for more than 40 years. When Monet bought the property, most of it was an orchard; he transformed it over the years into the enchanting visions immortalized in his paintings, essentially creating each work of art twice: once as a living garden and again as a painting. As you stroll through the grounds, you’ll see the famed Japanese bridge and water garden shaded by weeping willows. Monet’s house, which you will also visit, remains furnished as it was when the leader of the impressionist school lived here, complete with his precious collection of Japanese engravings.

    Note: Giverny will be closed during the March and November cruise departure dates.

    “Let's Go” bicycle ride to Giverny
    The country roads between Vernon and Giverny offer easy—and pretty—biking. Hop aboard your bike and pedal about three miles to the village where the artist lived for decades. You’ll pass the church and cemetery where Monet is buried and the Hotel Baudy, where his painter friends often stayed, and arrive at the artist’s home and garden for a tour.

    Château La Roche-Guyon
    From cave dwelling to fortress to castle to palace: This is the history of Château La Roche-Guyon (the Rock of Guy), which takes its name from its medieval lords (traditionally named Guy) and its location, a limestone outcropping—a rock—above the Seine. Medieval knights kept watch for marauding Vikings from the tower high atop the hill and later defended the double wall around a 13th-century manor house; successive lords added to the buildings over the centuries, so you can see not just troglodyte chapels but Renaissance rooms where kings Francis I and Henry II were entertained (and, legend says, Henry IV pursued a lovely chatelaine without success) and handsome 18th-century state apartments. Enlightenment thinkers met with the Duchess d’Enville, who owned the château before the revolution and who had the huge kitchen garden laid out according to Enlightenment principles. You might think, as you walk through the elegantly designed garden and beautifully paneled rooms (mostly without furniture these days, so you can appreciate the Gobelins tapestries without distraction) that the residence’s military function was in the far distant past, but Rommel made his headquarters here during WWII, precisely because the ancient fortifications and caves were so secure.

    Generations Excursion: Bike tour to Giverny
    Hop on a bike for a spin beside the Seine: The bike path is flat, so you can look at the scenery instead of pedaling hard—and the scenery is great. Your ride begins in Vernon, a little town with a big church and a peculiar mill house that stands on what’s left of an old bridge. You can still see the stone piers of the bridge stepping across the river, but the span itself is gone and only the battered mill house remains. It has stood here for hundreds of years; Claude Monet painted a picture of it (the canvas is in the New Orleans Museum of Art). Of course Monet painted many sights in this region, since he lived in neighboring Giverny. You’ll park your bike once you reach the artist’s beloved home and explore the house and famous gardens. You’ll recognize the water lily pond and Japanese bridge immediately from his paintings.
    This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Generations program.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch & Captain's Welcome Reception & Gala Dinner
  3. Day 3 Rouen (Normandy Beaches)

    The Normandy coast will forever be associated with the Allies’ D-Day invasion, a day that comes vividly to life today on an excursion to the beaches of 1944. Immerse yourself in the tactics, desperate courage and horrendous human cost of the 1944 Allied invasion of France, the first step in the ultimately victorious land campaign against the Third Reich. It began here, on these Norman beaches.

    Choice of Full-day Normandy beaches with Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, Airborne museum, Pointe du Hoc, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach or Full-day Normandy beaches with Arromanches and Bayeux, Tapestry Museum, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach or Full-day Normandy beaches with Juno Beach, Centre Juno Beach, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach

    Full-day Normandy beaches with Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, Airborne museum, Pointe du Hoc, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach
    Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes visits to Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, the Airborne museum, and Pointe du Hoc.
    Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.

    Full-day Normandy beaches with Arromanches and Bayeux, Tapestry Museum, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach
    Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes visits to Arromanches, Bayeux and the Tapestry Museum.
    Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.

    Full-day Normandy beaches with Juno Beach, Centre Juno Beach, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach
    Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes visits to Juno Beach and the Centre Juno Beach museum.
    Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.

    meals Breakfast, Dinner
  4. Day 4 Caudebec-en-Caux (Honfleur or Étretat)

    Golfing? On a river cruise? This delightfully unexpected excursion—a Uniworld exclusive—features a dramatic links course set atop Normandy’s Alabaster Coast. In a word, magnifique. Not into golf? Stroll through seaside Honfleur, captured on canvas by generations of artists.

    Choice of Honfleur walking tour or “Let's Go” golfing in Étretat or “Let’s Go” bike ride to Villequiers Village

    Honfleur walking tour
    A walking tour of the fishing village begins at the former smugglers’ harbor of Vieux Bassin—the most frequently painted scene in Honfleur—which looks much as it did a century ago, though now the boats in the harbor are more likely to be pleasure craft than fishing vessels. Your local guide will take you down tiny lanes, where houses stand shoulder to shoulder in a jumble of styles: narrow 19th-century slate-roofed townhouses, 15th-century fishermen’s cottages, and tall and elegant mansions— many adorned with figures of chimeras or saints. You’ll also see St. Catherine’s Church, built in the 15th century by shipwrights who gave it an oak ceiling that looks like the hull of a boat.

    “Let's Go” golfing in Étretat
    It would be hard to find a more spectacular location than Étretat’s clifftop course, which is ranked as one of the best in France. Originally laid out in 1908 and substantially redesigned in the 1990s, it offers a multitude of challenges: Two nine-hole loops take players right to the cliff’s edge, the wind can be a serious challenge in and of itself, and the 10th through 14th holes offer formidable tests of a golfer’s skill. Spend the morning on the course, lunch on your own in charming Étretat and explore the seaside village that so many artists, including Monet, rendered in paint, or return to the ship for lunch and a leisurely afternoon on board. Note: Golf excursion is open to a limited number of golfers.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  5. Day 5 Rouen

    Walk in the footsteps of greatness in Normandy’s medieval capital, a city with a historic quarter that remains amazingly intact. From the cathedral Monet painted dozens of times to the cross marking to spot where Joan of Arc was martyred, Rouen is a treasure trove for the culturally curious. The medieval capital of Normandy, Rouen has managed to preserve much of its historic core, despite being turned into a battlefield numerous times. The roll call of famous people who lived or died in Rouen is long and varied—Richard the Lionheart, Joan of Arc, Gustave Flaubert and Claude Monet are among them.

    Featured Excursion: Rouen walking tour, the Dukes of Normandy’s capital

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  6. Day 6 Mantes-la-Jolie (Versailles)

    How did France’s rulers live over the centuries? Step into the private rooms of either the Palace of Versailles, the lavish palace built by the Sun King, or Château de Malmaison, home to Napoleon Bonaparte’s Empress Josephine, to find out.

    A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

    Choice of Versailles Palace secret apartments or “Versailles Gardens and Queens Hamlet” or “Let’s Go” scenic bike ride along the Seine River to La Butte Verte Parc

    Versailles Palace secret apartments
    It was the official residence of the country’s kings and queens from 1682 until the revolution, and though the monarchy possessed other palaces, Versailles stood alone in magnificence. Tour the royal apartments, which still look much as they did when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled in 1789. In these rooms, you’ll find lush silk draperies, exquisite marquetry tables, gilded beds, Aubusson carpets and porcelain ornaments that reveal the elegance of the 18th-century royalty’s lifestyle, as well as the extravagance that helped fuel the rage leading to the revolution. Climb the great staircase and enter the jaw-dropping Hall of Mirrors, where the absolute ruler of France held court for the ambassadors of Siam, Persia and the Ottoman Empire, along with all the great seigneurs of France. Ladies intrigued behind their fans, plots were hatched, and careers were made and destroyed beneath the sparkling chandeliers here.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Captain's Farewell Reception & Gala Dinner
  7. Day 7 Paris

    Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the “City of Light” or you’ve been here many times before, there’s something for everyone today in Paris. Enjoy a panoramic overview of the city, join a local expert for a walk through two much-loved neighborhoods.

    Choice of Paris city tour or “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter walking tour or “Heart of Paris” Seine River cruise or “Let's Go” Seine riverbanks bike ride

    Paris city tour
    Hemingway called Paris a moveable feast: Once you’ve experienced it, you will take it with you wherever you go. If you are experiencing Paris for the first time, this tour will introduce you to the City of Light’s most cherished landmarks. You’ll head via motorcoach from the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate his Grand Army’s 128 victories, down the Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde. These broad 19th-century avenues and stately buildings were created by Baron Haussmann in a great urban development that eliminated the cramped, crazy-quilt medieval city and gave Paris its modern form. You’ll pass the magnificent Opéra Garnier, the Place Vendôme (home to designer salons), the legendary Louvre and, on the Left Bank, the Sorbonne University and the Panthéon. Stretch your legs at the Luxembourg Gardens, then take in the École Militaire before arriving at the manicured grounds of the Champs de Mars, the perfect vantage point from which to see Paris’s most iconic structure—the Eiffel Tower. Cross the Seine via the most stunning single-arch bridge in Paris, Pont Alexandre III; it displays elegantly sculpted nymphs, winged horses and graceful art nouveau lamps. Once on the other side of the river, you’ll be sure to spot the largest glass ceilings in France, which shelter the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. As you continue along the Seine’s banks you’ll see many striking contemporary bridges too. Your city tour will finish at your ship’s dock.

    “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter walking tour
    As a true Parisian would, take the Métro to the Île de la Cité and the great cathedral of Notre Dame. Henry IV said that Paris was worth a Mass when he converted to Catholicism—and he made that conversion official here, in the center of Paris. In fact, Notre Dame is officially the center of France; facing its main entrance is Kilometer Zero, the location from which distances in France (including those of the French national highways) are traditionally measured. An expert in the history and architecture of this magnificent cathedral is your guide as you explore both inside and out. Begun in the 12th century and finished about 200 years later, Notre Dame is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in Europe.

    After you’ve admired Notre Dame’s stained glass, flying buttresses and idiosyncratic gargoyles, cross the Archbishop’s Bridge to the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter. Wander through the narrow streets where for centuries artists, writers, philosophers and the Sorbonne’s students have lived and worked, argued politics, painted, sipped absinthe and lived the bohemian lifestyle for which the district is famous. Matisse, Picasso, Rimbaud and Sartre, as well as American expatriate writers Hemingway and Fitzgerald, are just a few of the notables who made this district home. Take some time to meander through the area’s little squares, perusing the shop windows and perhaps relaxing with a drink at a classic café.

    “Let's Go” Seine riverbanks bike ride
    The Seine’s quays may be protected by UNESCO for their cultural importance and significance in the development of Paris, but they are also the scene of a host of fun outdoor activities: games for kids and grown-ups, a climbing wall, a running track, yoga classes, even a beach in August—and an inviting bike path. Join a guide to pedal along the Left Bank, crossing the bridges that link historic Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis and getting a close look at the heart of the city’s origins. Bike to the Esplanade des Invalides (Napoleon’s tomb is one of the monuments here) and along the Quay d’Orsay to the Champs de Mars, one of Paris’s largest green spaces...which just happens to have one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower in the city. It’s a fun way to take part in the life of the city while also getting some exercise.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  8. Day 8 Paris (Disembark), Transfer to Lyon via High-Speed TGV Train (Embark)

    You’ll transfer from the magical S.S. Joie de Vivre cruise ship in Paris to the striking S.S. Catherine in Lyon via high-speed, first-class TGV train for the second half of this fabulous grand tour. Once you’ve settled into your new home, you’ll have some time to explore delightful Lyon, which is nestled alongside the Saône River.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  9. Day 9 Mâcon (Beaune)

    The pace of life is decidedly more relaxed in Burgundy, where endless rows of grapes hang heavy on the vine. The capital of the region’s wine trade, Beaune, is renowned for its history, beauty and highly prized wine, as well as its medieval-era hospital—the Hospices de Beaune. Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Mâcon, a Saône River port, is your gateway to Beaune.

    A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

    Choice of Burgundy landscapes, Beaune and the hospices or Mâcon walking tour

    Connoisseur Collection Excursion: Wine tasting at a Burgundy Estate
    This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Connoisseur Collection program.

    Burgundy landscapes, Beaune and the hospices
    Beaune may not be a large town, but it brims with history, a wealth of splendid regional architecture and incredible food. Nestled inside medieval ramparts, Beaune was the seat of the warlike dukes of Burgundy until the 16th century.

    You’ll recognize the Hospices de Beaune (also known as Hôtel-Dieu) immediately by its fabulous multicolored-tile roof—it’s a symbol of Burgundy. Founded as a charitable institution by the duke’s chancellor in 1443, the hospital became a model for charitable giving in southern France, one with a unique fundraising tradition that continues to this day. Over the centuries, the hospice monks were given wine and vineyards, and they began selling the wine at auction in order to support their charitable work. The wine auction is now world-famous, and the institution remains a working hospital for the poor, with modern facilities standing alongside the historic Hôtel-Dieu.

    Mâcon walking tour
    The man whose impassioned defense of France’s famous tricolor flag guaranteed its continuance as the national flag was born in Mâcon, your destination today. Alphonse de Lamartine, born a year after the French revolution began, became the country’s first Romantic poet and a celebrated man of letters—and, in 1848, a founder of the Second Republic. You’ll spot his statue opposite Mâcon’s city hall as you stroll from the ship with your guide through this historic riverport city, which has been an important trading center since the Celts founded it 2,200 years ago. The Romans built a bridge across the Saone here, and you’ll have a great view of its 16th-century successor, the graceful multi-arched St. Laurent bridge, from the square. Ramble down Rue Monrevel for a look at the twin towers of St. Peter’s, the church that replaced Mâcon’s medieval—and irreparable—cathedral and then along bustling Rue Carnot, lined with shops and cafes, to a curious wooden house that predates the bridge: Maison de Bois’s facade is decorated with carved figures of men and monkeys—standing, sitting, holding onto mythical beasts. It’s the oldest house in Mâcon, built around the year 1500, and one of just a few remaining examples of this rustic medieval style of architecture.

    Connoisseur Collection Excursion: Wine tasting at a Burgundy Estate
    Kick off your wine country adventure by delving into the luscious wine culture surrounding Beaune. The motorcoach carries you past legendary vineyards to your destination, a fine wine estate where the winemaker will introduce you to the estate and the vintages crafted here. Will the chardonnays you sample with delectable gougéres be crisp or rich or both? And why? Draw on the winemaker’s expertise to learn about the white wines of the area—and discover why Burgundy’s wines are the most terroir-oriented in France. It’s a delicious way to begin your epicurean exploration of Burgundy and Provence.
    This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Connoisseur Collection program.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Captain's Welcome Reception and Dinner
  10. Day 10 Lyon

    As the epicenter of French gastronomy, Lyon is a city of tantalizing contrasts. There’s much to explore here, from the work of culinary visionaries to silk weavers’ secret passageways. After your choice of excursions, embrace the locals’ favorite mode of transportation with a patisserie-fueled bike ride—a great way to see the sights. Two rivers: one tranquil, one torrential. Two hills: one for labor, where the sound of the silk weavers’ looms used to echo; the other for prayers, crowned by a spectacular basilica. Two cities, as different as night and day: one boasting colorful Old World façades, medieval mansions and hidden passageways; one with a sophisticated urbanity reminiscent of Paris. Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and with roots stretching back over 2,000 years to the days of Julius Caesar, Lyon is a place of fascinating dualities. Today you have your choice of ways to explore this city of contrasts: Sample its culinary riches with a visit to its peerless market hall or follow the footsteps of the silk weavers in the old quarter. For a more active option, see the city from its extensive—and lovely—bike paths.

    Choice of Lyon Capital of Gastronomy tour or Silk weavers walking tour or “Let's Go” Lyon peninsula bike tour

    Lyon Capital of Gastronomy tour
    No one eats better than the citizens of Lyon, a tradition that harks back more than a century, when women opened unpretentious restaurants, called bouchons, to feed hungry workers. The traditional bouchon serves hearty meat-based dishes, but quenelles—luscious dumplings—and a seasoned cream cheese called cervelle de canut are longtime local favorites too.

    While explaining Lyon’s important gastronomic history, your guide will show you the city’s bouchons and specialty food shops and take you into the legendary local gourmet scene—and you’ll have a chance to taste some delectable offerings. Don’t miss the macarons! On the way to these fabulous culinary destinations, you’ll see some of Lyon’s historic old quarter, with its many spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture, and les traboules, the city’s old passageways.

    Silk weavers walking tour
    Lyon’s history is entwined with silk, which dominated the city’s economy for centuries—at one time, almost a third of the city’s population were silk weavers. Jump on a tram and head for Lyon-Perrache station with your guide, who will take you into the historic Saint-Jean Quarter, part of the UNESCO-honored Old Town. The Gothic cathedral is probably the most striking heirloom of the Middle Ages, but the tall rose and ocher buildings dating to the Renaissance pay tribute to the importance of the silk trade with Italy in that era. Enter the courtyard of the Gadagne Museum, which is housed in an early16th- century building, and stroll along Rue Juiverie, which has been occupied since Roman times and was once home to Nostradamus. You’ll see some of the traboules, the old passageways that snake between and through buildings, secret shortcuts that silk weavers took to keep their delicate fabrics out of the rain. You’ll pass cozy bouchons, which serve traditional local dishes, and you’ll have a chance to see a Jacquard loom in use.

    “Let's Go” Lyon peninsula bike tour
    Get out and about with a bike ride along the river. Lyon boasts a thriving bike-rental scene, which tells you just how popular this mode of transportation is—you will definitely have two-wheeled company as you pedal along the banks of the Rhône on a sunny day. Your route takes you over the new Raymond Barre Bridge, past the spectacular new Museum of Confluences (so named because it sits at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône) and along the peninsula, a strip of land with the Saône on one side and the Rhône on the other. Here, houseboats tie up along the banks, swans float on the water and locals take advantage of the lovely park-like setting. You’ll also have a great view of the Old Town on the other side of the river. This outing gives you a little taste of what it is like to live in Lyon, as well as a little exercise.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  11. Day 11 Tournon (Tain l'Hermitage)

    If you love fine wine, you’ll love the twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage. Whether you opt for a guided walk or a more vigorous vineyard hike, you’ll also have a chance to taste the local specialty—wonderful wines made primarily from Syrah grapes.

    Choice of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage twin villages stroll with wine tasting or “Let's Go” Hermitage Terrace vineyards hike with wine tasting

    Connoisseur Collection Excursion: Wine Brotherhood Ceremony at Château de Seigneurs de Tournon
    This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Connoisseur Collection program.

    Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage twin villages stroll with wine tasting
    Nestled on opposite sides of the river in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage are an ideal destination for connoisseurs of fine wine. Tournon may be a small town, but stirring events took place here: A castle was raised on the hilltop in the 10th century to protect the region, and new fortifications were added over the centuries, including two “new” towers built to defend against Protestant attacks in the 16th century. You’ll see the handsome houses constructed by wealthy merchants and garrison officers when you walk through the Rue de Doux area, and you’ll pass the 14th-century church—unusual for the number of houses incorporated in its walls—and the oldest secondary school in France. Cross the pretty flower-decked Marc Seguin suspension bridge to Tain-l’Hermitage to visit local wine cellars, where you’ll taste the region’s famous Côtes du Rhône, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage wines. These wines are produced from the Syrah grapes that grow on the steep slopes lining the river. After your wine tasting, you’ll have time to browse through the shops; the Valrhona chocolate factory is always a popular stop.

    “Let's Go” Hermitage Terrace vineyards hike with wine tasting
    Are you ready to explore the steepest vineyards on the Rhône? The vines producing the world-famous Hermitage wines grow on precipitous slopes above the river, so steep that terracing is essential. Hike along the paths that parallel the rough courses of stone through the vineyards, each one situated to catch the afternoon sun. After you’ve seen how the grapes—primarily Syrah—are grown, taste the fruit that has been transformed by the vintners’ craft into legendary wine.

    Connoisseur Collection Excursion: Wine Brotherhood Ceremony at Château de Seigneurs de Tournon
    Tournon’s castle, commanding a key spot above the Rhône, was home to the counts of Tournon for centuries; these great feudal lords used it to reinforce their control of the river below. In these more peaceful days, it houses a small museum devoted to the history of the region (as well as paintings by local modern-day artists). Climb the stairs of the rugged stone towers to take in the wonderful views, then cross the bridge to participate in a very special wine event. Join the velvet-cloaked members of the St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage winemaker brotherhoods for an induction ceremony—you or a fellow passenger will be the lucky honoree chosen to become a member of the brotherhood. It shouldn’t be too hard to vow to advocate the marvelous wines grown in this region, and that, after all, is the chief duty of the membership. It will probably be even easier after you sample some of the great wines produced in these two appellations.
    This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Connoisseur Collection program.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  12. Day 12 Viviers

    Meet some new friends today in the village of Viviers; encounters that really get at the heart and soul of the French people and their culture and traditions. No matter whom you get to know—a pottery maker, a dance teacher or a local homeowner—you’ll have an enjoyable and truly authentic experience, something you’ll remember for years to come. An enchanting village where time seems to have stopped centuries ago, Viviers has a long and storied past that goes back more than 1,600 years—and a splendid architectural heritage to match. At one time, Viviers was divided along religious lines—the clergy lived in the upper part of the town, the laity in the lower part. Your exploration of the town will take you through both parts, as you begin at the crest and make your way to the riverbank.

    Featured Excursion: Intimate Viviers “Village Day”

    Connoisseur Collection Excursions:
    Valrhona Chocolate and Wine pairing
    Truffle Hunting & Village of Grignan
    These excursions are only available on sailings that belong to the Connoisseur Collection program.

    Intimate Viviers “Village Day”
    Sycamores line some of Viviers’ stone-paved streets (planted, so they say, to provide shade for Napoleon’s soldiers), and houses here bear the watermarks of floods over the years. A local expert will show you the fountain squares in the Old Town, which combines Roman and medieval influences, and cobblestone lanes so narrow you can stand in the middle and touch the medieval houses on either side. Viviers climbs a hill crowned by 12th-century St. Vincent’s Cathedral. It happens to be the smallest cathedral in France, but it contains a marvelous organ. Take a seat under the soaring vaults and listen while a local organist demonstrates just how fine an instrument it is before you meet some of the local residents. You might choose to learn how a local potter makes the attractive wares sold at Poterie; step into one of two homes—one a mansion, the other more modest; take a dance class; or sample the wares at a popular bar. Don’t feel that you must opt for the bar if you’d like a little refreshment; all visits include an aperitif. On your way back to the ship, stop to try your hand at a game of petanque, which is akin to horseshoes, only it’s played with steel balls.

    Connoisseur Collection Excursion: Truffle Hunting & Village of Grignan
    Beautiful Renaissance châteaux dot the hillsides in the distance (including the splendid Château de Grignan, where Madame de Sévigné’s daughter lived and received the letters her famous mother wrote to her) as you travel today through the lush rolling hills of the Drôme Provençale to a truffle farm. The owner will welcome you and explain how just the right conditions are required for the truffles to flourish under the oak trees; you’ll see his well-trained dog sniff out these “black diamonds,” and then you can taste the delectable fungus in a variety of housemade patés and canapés, along with local wine.
    This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Connoisseur Collection program.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  13. Day 13 Avignon

    The walled city of Avignon is one of the most fascinating towns in southern France, with a host of historic gems to explore—including the fortress residence of rebellious popes who broke from Rome and once lived and ruled here. You’ll see the Palace of the Popes and much more today, and also have a chance to kayak under a 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct.

    Choice of Avignon walking tour with Palace of the Popes or Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct visit or “Let's Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River

    Avignon walking tour with Palace of the Popes
    It’s hard to believe, looking at the charming cafés and entertaining street performers in the Clock Tower Square, that this lively scene owes its existence to a 15th-century siege. This area was the heart of medieval Avignon (and the site of the original Roman town), crowded with cottages and narrow streets—until a pope had it all demolished in order to give his troops a clearer field of fire. That is Avignon in a nutshell: It was the city of the popes. The Avignon popes built the ramparts that still surround the Old Town and the huge, nearly impregnable fortress that dominates the UNESCO-designated district; in fact, the city did not officially become part of France until 1791. Stand below the high, thick walls to get a sense of just how daunting these fortifications were, then prepare to climb many steps as you tour the Palace of the Popes itself—it’s worth it!

    Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct visit
    In the middle of the first century, Roman engineers responded to Nîmes’s need for water to fill its baths, fountains and pools by building a 30-mile-long aqueduct from Uzès to Nîmes—which required transporting Uzès springwater over the River Gardon. A thousand workers quarried 50,000 tons of soft golden limestone and used it to construct—without mortar—the magnificent tri-level bridge that still spans the river. An expert guide will explain the techniques used to build this engineering marvel, which has withstood 2,000 years of floods and storms that swept away much newer bridges. You can see notations those ancient Romans made in the stones as they cut and fitted them into place when you view the bridge itself, and you can learn about the entire project at the museum. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is as beautiful as it is fascinating.

    “Let's Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River
    Note: The kayak ride on the Gardon River is only available for May through September departure dates.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  14. Day 14 Tarascon

    Explore one of two sun-drenched Provençal towns today, each with an allure all its own. Known for its remarkable Roman ruins, Arles so inspired Van Gogh that he painted some 200 paintings there; Tarascon boasts an ancient castle, as well as a local legend about a ferocious dragon. Arles has existed since the sixth century BC, when the ancient Greeks founded it and named it Theline. It was here that the Romans built their first bridge across the Rhône River, creating a vital overland route between Italy and Spain and facilitating the expansion of their empire. Long renowned as one of the region’s most attractive cities, it lured artist Vincent van Gogh, who painted hundreds of works here (including Sunflowers and The Yellow House) in just 15 months. A short distance from Arles is the ancient and charming town of Tarascon. Its many medieval sites include a 12th-century church and a 15th-century castle that is rich with tales of a beloved ruler. Bask in the warmth of the Provençal sunlight in either of these friendly Mediterranean towns.

    A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

    Featured Excursion: Arles walking tour

    Arles walking tour
    Van Gogh paid tribute to Arles’s atmospheric beauty in some 200 paintings, including Starry Night Over the Rhône. It’s an ancient city boasting a remarkable collection of Roman ruins; among them are a theater where the famous—on display in the Louvre—was discovered in 1651 and an amphitheater that is still used for sporting events. Join a local expert for a stroll through this district, where medieval houses crowd in among the ancient structures and the city gates date to the 13th century. Pause before the town hall, built with stone quarried from the Roman theater, and the Romanesque St. Trophime Church, which was erected in the 12th century. It replaced the church where St. Augustine, the man who converted the inhabitants of England to Christianity, was consecrated by the first archbishop of Canterbury. Walk in Van Gogh’s footsteps past the cheery yellow Café de Nuit—still open and still the same shade of yellow it was when he painted it.

    During your free time after the tour, you can peruse the local shops, go olive tasting or delve further into Arles’s stunning collection of architectural treasures.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Captain's Farewell Reception and Dinner
  15. Day 15 Avignon (Disembark)

    Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Marseille International Airport for your flight home.

    meals Breakfast
  1. Day 1 Avignon (Embark)

    Arrive at Marseille International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship docked in Avignon.

    meals Dinner
  2. Day 2 Tarascon

    Explore one of two sun-drenched Provençal towns today, each with an allure all its own. Known for its remarkable Roman ruins, Arles so inspired Van Gogh that he painted some 200 paintings there; Tarascon boasts an ancient castle, as well as a local legend about a ferocious dragon. Arles has existed since the sixth century BC, when the ancient Greeks founded it and named it Theline. It was here that the Romans built their first bridge across the Rhône River, creating a vital overland route between Italy and Spain and facilitating the expansion of their empire. Long renowned as one of the region’s most attractive cities, it lured artist Vincent van Gogh, who painted hundreds of works here (including Sunflowers and The Yellow House) in just 15 months. A short distance from Arles is the ancient and charming town of Tarascon. Its many medieval sites include a 12th-century church and a 15th-century castle that is rich with tales of a beloved ruler. Bask in the warmth of the Provençal sunlight in either of these friendly Mediterranean towns.

    A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

    Featured Excursion: Arles walking tour

    Arles walking tour
    Van Gogh paid tribute to Arles’s atmospheric beauty in some 200 paintings, including Starry Night Over the Rhône. It’s an ancient city boasting a remarkable collection of Roman ruins; among them are a theater where the famous—on display in the Louvre—was discovered in 1651 and an amphitheater that is still used for sporting events. Join a local expert for a stroll through this district, where medieval houses crowd in among the ancient structures and the city gates date to the 13th century. Pause before the town hall, built with stone quarried from the Roman theater, and the Romanesque St. Trophime Church, which was erected in the 12th century. It replaced the church where St. Augustine, the man who converted the inhabitants of England to Christianity, was consecrated by the first archbishop of Canterbury. Walk in Van Gogh’s footsteps past the cheery yellow Café de Nuit—still open and still the same shade of yellow it was when he painted it.

    During your free time after the tour, you can peruse the local shops, go olive tasting or delve further into Arles’s stunning collection of architectural treasures.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Captain's Welcome Reception and Dinner
  3. Day 3 Avignon

    The walled city of Avignon is one of the most fascinating towns in southern France, with a host of historic gems to explore—including the fortress residence of rebellious popes who broke from Rome and once lived and ruled here. You’ll see the Palace of the Popes and much more today, and also have a chance to kayak under a 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct.

    Choice of Avignon walking tour with Palace of the Popes or Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct visit or “Let's Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River

    Avignon walking tour with Palace of the Popes
    It’s hard to believe, looking at the charming cafés and entertaining street performers in the Clock Tower Square, that this lively scene owes its existence to a 15th-century siege. This area was the heart of medieval Avignon (and the site of the original Roman town), crowded with cottages and narrow streets—until a pope had it all demolished in order to give his troops a clearer field of fire. That is Avignon in a nutshell: It was the city of the popes. The Avignon popes built the ramparts that still surround the Old Town and the huge, nearly impregnable fortress that dominates the UNESCO-designated district; in fact, the city did not officially become part of France until 1791. Stand below the high, thick walls to get a sense of just how daunting these fortifications were, then prepare to climb many steps as you tour the Palace of the Popes itself—it’s worth it!

    Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct visit
    In the middle of the first century, Roman engineers responded to Nîmes’s need for water to fill its baths, fountains and pools by building a 30-mile-long aqueduct from Uzès to Nîmes—which required transporting Uzès springwater over the River Gardon. A thousand workers quarried 50,000 tons of soft golden limestone and used it to construct—without mortar—the magnificent tri-level bridge that still spans the river. An expert guide will explain the techniques used to build this engineering marvel, which has withstood 2,000 years of floods and storms that swept away much newer bridges. You can see notations those ancient Romans made in the stones as they cut and fitted them into place when you view the bridge itself, and you can learn about the entire project at the museum. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is as beautiful as it is fascinating.

    “Let's Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River
    Note: The kayak ride on the Gardon River is only available for May through September departure dates.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  4. Day 4 Viviers

    Meet some new friends today in the village of Viviers; encounters that really get at the heart and soul of the French people and their culture and traditions. No matter whom you get to know—a pottery maker, a dance teacher or a local homeowner—you’ll have an enjoyable and truly authentic experience, something you’ll remember for years to come. An enchanting village where time seems to have stopped centuries ago, Viviers has a long and storied past that goes back more than 1,600 years—and a splendid architectural heritage to match. At one time, Viviers was divided along religious lines—the clergy lived in the upper part of the town, the laity in the lower part. Your exploration of the town will take you through both parts, as you begin at the crest and make your way to the riverbank.

    Featured Excursion: Intimate Viviers “Village Day”

    Intimate Viviers “Village Day”
    Sycamores line some of Viviers’ stone-paved streets (planted, so they say, to provide shade for Napoleon’s soldiers), and houses here bear the watermarks of floods over the years. A local expert will show you the fountain squares in the Old Town, which combines Roman and medieval influences, and cobblestone lanes so narrow you can stand in the middle and touch the medieval houses on either side. Viviers climbs a hill crowned by 12th-century St. Vincent’s Cathedral. It happens to be the smallest cathedral in France, but it contains a marvelous organ. Take a seat under the soaring vaults and listen while a local organist demonstrates just how fine an instrument it is before you meet some of the local residents. You might choose to learn how a local potter makes the attractive wares sold at Poterie; step into one of two homes—one a mansion, the other more modest; take a dance class; or sample the wares at a popular bar. Don’t feel that you must opt for the bar if you’d like a little refreshment; all visits include an aperitif. On your way back to the ship, stop to try your hand at a game of petanque, which is akin to horseshoes, only it’s played with steel balls.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  5. Day 5 Tournon (Tain l'Hermitage), Lyon

    If you love fine wine, you’ll love the twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage. Whether you opt for a guided walk or a more vigorous vineyard hike, you’ll also have a chance to taste the local specialty—wonderful wines made primarily from Syrah grapes.

    Featured Excursion: Lyon – Musée des Confluences

    Choice of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage twin villages stroll with wine tasting or “Let's Go” Hermitage Terrace vineyards hike with wine tasting

    Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage twin villages stroll with wine tasting
    Nestled on opposite sides of the river in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage are an ideal destination for connoisseurs of fine wine. Tournon may be a small town, but stirring events took place here: A castle was raised on the hilltop in the 10th century to protect the region, and new fortifications were added over the centuries, including two “new” towers built to defend against Protestant attacks in the 16th century. You’ll see the handsome houses constructed by wealthy merchants and garrison officers when you walk through the Rue de Doux area, and you’ll pass the 14th-century church—unusual for the number of houses incorporated in its walls—and the oldest secondary school in France. Cross the pretty flower-decked Marc Seguin suspension bridge to Tain-l’Hermitage to visit local wine cellars, where you’ll taste the region’s famous Côtes du Rhône, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage wines. These wines are produced from the Syrah grapes that grow on the steep slopes lining the river. After your wine tasting, you’ll have time to browse through the shops; the Valrhona chocolate factory is always a popular stop.

    “Let's Go” Hermitage Terrace vineyards hike with wine tasting
    Are you ready to explore the steepest vineyards on the Rhône? The vines producing the world-famous Hermitage wines grow on precipitous slopes above the river, so steep that terracing is essential. Hike along the paths that parallel the rough courses of stone through the vineyards, each one situated to catch the afternoon sun. After you’ve seen how the grapes—primarily Syrah—are grown, taste the fruit that has been transformed by the vintners’ craft into legendary wine.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  6. Day 6 Lyon

    As the epicenter of French gastronomy, Lyon is a city of tantalizing contrasts. There’s much to explore here, from the work of culinary visionaries to silk weavers’ secret passageways. After your choice of excursions, embrace the locals’ favorite mode of transportation with a patisserie-fueled bike ride—a great way to see the sights. Two rivers: one tranquil, one torrential. Two hills: one for labor, where the sound of the silk weavers’ looms used to echo; the other for prayers, crowned by a spectacular basilica. Two cities, as different as night and day: one boasting colorful Old World façades, medieval mansions and hidden passageways; one with a sophisticated urbanity reminiscent of Paris. Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and with roots stretching back over 2,000 years to the days of Julius Caesar, Lyon is a place of fascinating dualities. Today you have your choice of ways to explore this city of contrasts: Sample its culinary riches with a visit to its peerless market hall or follow the footsteps of the silk weavers in the old quarter. For a more active option, see the city from its extensive—and lovely—bike paths.

    Choice of Lyon Capital of Gastronomy tour or Silk weavers walking tour or “Let's Go” Lyon peninsula bike tour

    Lyon Capital of Gastronomy tour
    No one eats better than the citizens of Lyon, a tradition that harks back more than a century, when women opened unpretentious restaurants, called bouchons, to feed hungry workers. The traditional bouchon serves hearty meat-based dishes, but quenelles—luscious dumplings—and a seasoned cream cheese called cervelle de canut are longtime local favorites too.

    While explaining Lyon’s important gastronomic history, your guide will show you the city’s bouchons and specialty food shops and take you into the legendary local gourmet scene—and you’ll have a chance to taste some delectable offerings. Don’t miss the macarons! On the way to these fabulous culinary destinations, you’ll see some of Lyon’s historic old quarter, with its many spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture, and les traboules, the city’s old passageways.

    Silk weavers walking tour
    Lyon’s history is entwined with silk, which dominated the city’s economy for centuries—at one time, almost a third of the city’s population were silk weavers. Jump on a tram and head for Lyon-Perrache station with your guide, who will take you into the historic Saint-Jean Quarter, part of the UNESCO-honored Old Town. The Gothic cathedral is probably the most striking heirloom of the Middle Ages, but the tall rose and ocher buildings dating to the Renaissance pay tribute to the importance of the silk trade with Italy in that era. Enter the courtyard of the Gadagne Museum, which is housed in an early16th- century building, and stroll along Rue Juiverie, which has been occupied since Roman times and was once home to Nostradamus. You’ll see some of the traboules, the old passageways that snake between and through buildings, secret shortcuts that silk weavers took to keep their delicate fabrics out of the rain. You’ll pass cozy bouchons, which serve traditional local dishes, and you’ll have a chance to see a Jacquard loom in use.

    “Let's Go” Lyon peninsula bike tour
    Get out and about with a bike ride along the river. Lyon boasts a thriving bike-rental scene, which tells you just how popular this mode of transportation is—you will definitely have two-wheeled company as you pedal along the banks of the Rhône on a sunny day. Your route takes you over the new Raymond Barre Bridge, past the spectacular new Museum of Confluences (so named because it sits at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône) and along the peninsula, a strip of land with the Saône on one side and the Rhône on the other. Here, houseboats tie up along the banks, swans float on the water and locals take advantage of the lovely park-like setting. You’ll also have a great view of the Old Town on the other side of the river. This outing gives you a little taste of what it is like to live in Lyon, as well as a little exercise.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  7. Day 7 Mâcon (Beaune)

    The pace of life is decidedly more relaxed in Burgundy, where endless rows of grapes hang heavy on the vine. The capital of the region’s wine trade, Beaune, is renowned for its history, beauty and highly prized wine, as well as its medieval-era hospital—the Hospices de Beaune. Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Mâcon, a Saône River port, is your gateway to Beaune.

    A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

    Choice of Burgundy landscapes, Beaune and the hospices or Mâcon walking tour

    Burgundy landscapes, Beaune and the hospices
    Beaune may not be a large town, but it brims with history, a wealth of splendid regional architecture and incredible food. Nestled inside medieval ramparts, Beaune was the seat of the warlike dukes of Burgundy until the 16th century.

    You’ll recognize the Hospices de Beaune (also known as Hôtel-Dieu) immediately by its fabulous multicolored-tile roof—it’s a symbol of Burgundy. Founded as a charitable institution by the duke’s chancellor in 1443, the hospital became a model for charitable giving in southern France, one with a unique fundraising tradition that continues to this day. Over the centuries, the hospice monks were given wine and vineyards, and they began selling the wine at auction in order to support their charitable work. The wine auction is now world-famous, and the institution remains a working hospital for the poor, with modern facilities standing alongside the historic Hôtel-Dieu.

    Mâcon walking tour
    The man whose impassioned defense of France’s famous tricolor flag guaranteed its continuance as the national flag was born in Mâcon, your destination today. Alphonse de Lamartine, born a year after the French revolution began, became the country’s first Romantic poet and a celebrated man of letters—and, in 1848, a founder of the Second Republic. You’ll spot his statue opposite Mâcon’s city hall as you stroll from the ship with your guide through this historic riverport city, which has been an important trading center since the Celts founded it 2,200 years ago. The Romans built a bridge across the Saone here, and you’ll have a great view of its 16th-century successor, the graceful multi-arched St. Laurent bridge, from the square. Ramble down Rue Monrevel for a look at the twin towers of St. Peter’s, the church that replaced Mâcon’s medieval—and irreparable—cathedral and then along bustling Rue Carnot, lined with shops and cafes, to a curious wooden house that predates the bridge: Maison de Bois’s facade is decorated with carved figures of men and monkeys—standing, sitting, holding onto mythical beasts. It’s the oldest house in Mâcon, built around the year 1500, and one of just a few remaining examples of this rustic medieval style of architecture.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Captain's Farewell Reception and Dinner
  8. Day 8 Lyon (Disembark), Transfer to Paris via High-Speed TGV Train (Embark)

    Disembark the striking S.S. Catherine and transfer to Paris via high-speed, first-class TGV train. Your next ship, the magical S.S. Joie de Vivre, waits to carry you along the Seine on the next leg of your adventure.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  9. Day 9 La Roche-Guyon, Vernon Giverny

    Today is a celebration of Northern France’s natural beauty, with an excursion to a splendid chateau and gardens situated in an equally grand setting, plus a chance to immerse yourself in the very landscapes that inspired Impressionist master Claude Monet. Visit the hilltop Chateau La Roche-Guyon, surrounded by beautiful gardens and offering sweeping views over the Seine. Later, you can visit the home and gardens of Impressionist master Claude Monet—the inspiration for many of his most beloved works. Or, take in the beautiful French countryside in a more invigorating way, with a guided bike ride from Vernon to Giverny.

    This evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

    Choice of Château La Roche-Guyon or "Let's Go" hike on the Crests trail or Monet’s gardens at Giverny or “Let's Go” bike ride to Giverny

    Monet’s gardens at Giverny
    Monet often painted the little riverside town of Vernon, so you are likely to recognize scenes the master rendered in oils on your way to his home in the village of Giverny, where he lived and worked for more than 40 years. When Monet bought the property, most of it was an orchard; he transformed it over the years into the enchanting visions immortalized in his paintings, essentially creating each work of art twice: once as a living garden and again as a painting. As you stroll through the grounds, you’ll see the famed Japanese bridge and water garden shaded by weeping willows. Monet’s house, which you will also visit, remains furnished as it was when the leader of the impressionist school lived here, complete with his precious collection of Japanese engravings. Note: Giverny will be closed during the March and November cruise departure dates.

    “Let's Go” bicycle ride to Giverny
    The country roads between Vernon and Giverny offer easy—and pretty—biking. Hop aboard your bike and pedal about three miles to the village where the artist lived for decades. You’ll pass the church and cemetery where Monet is buried and the Hotel Baudy, where his painter friends often stayed, and arrive at the artist’s home and garden for a tour.

    Château La Roche-Guyon
    From cave dwelling to fortress to castle to palace: This is the history of Château La Roche-Guyon (the Rock of Guy), which takes its name from its medieval lords (traditionally named Guy) and its location, a limestone outcropping—a rock—above the Seine. Medieval knights kept watch for marauding Vikings from the tower high atop the hill and later defended the double wall around a 13th-century manor house; successive lords added to the buildings over the centuries, so you can see not just troglodyte chapels but Renaissance rooms where kings Francis I and Henry II were entertained (and, legend says, Henry IV pursued a lovely chatelaine without success) and handsome 18th-century state apartments. Enlightenment thinkers met with the Duchess d’Enville, who owned the château before the revolution and who had the huge kitchen garden laid out according to Enlightenment principles. You might think, as you walk through the elegantly designed garden and beautifully paneled rooms (mostly without furniture these days, so you can appreciate the Gobelins tapestries without distraction) that the residence’s military function was in the far distant past, but Rommel made his headquarters here during WWII, precisely because the ancient fortifications and caves were so secure.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Captain's Welcome Reception & Gala Dinner
  10. Day 10 Rouen (Normandy Beaches)

    The Normandy coast will forever be associated with the Allies’ D-Day invasion, a day that comes vividly to life today on an excursion to the beaches of 1944. Immerse yourself in the tactics, desperate courage and horrendous human cost of the 1944 Allied invasion of France, the first step in the ultimately victorious land campaign against the Third Reich. It began here, on these Norman beaches.

    Choice of Full-day Normandy beaches with Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, Airborne museum, Pointe du Hoc, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach or Full-day Normandy beaches with Arromanches and Bayeux, Tapestry Museum, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach or Full-day Normandy beaches with Juno Beach, Centre Juno Beach, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach

    Full-day Normandy beaches with Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, Airborne museum, Pointe du Hoc, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach
    Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes visits to Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, the Airborne museum, and Pointe du Hoc.
    Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.

    Full-day Normandy beaches with Arromanches and Bayeux, Tapestry Museum, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach
    Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes visits to Arromanches, Bayeux and the Tapestry Museum.
    Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.

    Full-day Normandy beaches with Juno Beach, Centre Juno Beach, American Cemetery and private ceremony at Omaha Beach
    Join your fellow passengers in a journey to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, where almost 10,000 US soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day invasion. Today's journey also includes visits to Juno Beach and the Centre Juno Beach museum.
    Note: Lunch on own if participating in this excursion.

    meals Breakfast, Dinner
  11. Day 11 Caudebec-en-Caux (Honfleur or Étretat)

    Golfing? On a river cruise? This delightfully unexpected excursion—a Uniworld exclusive—features a dramatic links course set atop Normandy’s Alabaster Coast. In a word, magnifique. Not into golf? Stroll through seaside Honfleur, captured on canvas by generations of artists.

    Choice of Honfleur walking tour or “Let's Go” golfing in Étretat or “Let’s Go” bike ride to Villequiers Village

    Honfleur walking tour
    A walking tour of the fishing village begins at the former smugglers’ harbor of Vieux Bassin—the most frequently painted scene in Honfleur—which looks much as it did a century ago, though now the boats in the harbor are more likely to be pleasure craft than fishing vessels. Your local guide will take you down tiny lanes, where houses stand shoulder to shoulder in a jumble of styles: narrow 19th-century slate-roofed townhouses, 15th-century fishermen’s cottages, and tall and elegant mansions— many adorned with figures of chimeras or saints. You’ll also see St. Catherine’s Church, built in the 15th century by shipwrights who gave it an oak ceiling that looks like the hull of a boat.

    “Let's Go” golfing in Étretat
    It would be hard to find a more spectacular location than Étretat’s clifftop course, which is ranked as one of the best in France. Originally laid out in 1908 and substantially redesigned in the 1990s, it offers a multitude of challenges: Two nine-hole loops take players right to the cliff’s edge, the wind can be a serious challenge in and of itself, and the 10th through 14th holes offer formidable tests of a golfer’s skill. Spend the morning on the course, lunch on your own in charming Étretat and explore the seaside village that so many artists, including Monet, rendered in paint, or return to the ship for lunch and a leisurely afternoon on board. Note: Golf excursion is open to a limited number of golfers.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  12. Day 12 Rouen

    Walk in the footsteps of greatness in Normandy’s medieval capital, a city with a historic quarter that remains amazingly intact. From the cathedral Monet painted dozens of times to the cross marking to spot where Joan of Arc was martyred, Rouen is a treasure trove for the culturally curious. The medieval capital of Normandy, Rouen has managed to preserve much of its historic core, despite being turned into a battlefield numerous times. The roll call of famous people who lived or died in Rouen is long and varied—Richard the Lionheart, Joan of Arc, Gustave Flaubert and Claude Monet are among them.

    Featured Excursion: Rouen walking tour, the Dukes of Normandy’s capital

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  13. Day 13 Mantes-la-Jolie (Versailles)

    How did France’s rulers live over the centuries? Step into the private rooms of either the Palace of Versailles, the lavish palace built by the Sun King, or Château de Malmaison, home to Napoleon Bonaparte’s Empress Josephine, to find out.

    A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

    Choice of Versailles Palace secret apartments or “Versailles Gardens and Queens Hamlet” or “Let’s Go” scenic bike ride along the Seine River to La Butte Verte Parc

    Versailles Palace secret apartments
    It was the official residence of the country’s kings and queens from 1682 until the revolution, and though the monarchy possessed other palaces, Versailles stood alone in magnificence. Tour the royal apartments, which still look much as they did when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled in 1789. In these rooms, you’ll find lush silk draperies, exquisite marquetry tables, gilded beds, Aubusson carpets and porcelain ornaments that reveal the elegance of the 18th-century royalty’s lifestyle, as well as the extravagance that helped fuel the rage leading to the revolution. Climb the great staircase and enter the jaw-dropping Hall of Mirrors, where the absolute ruler of France held court for the ambassadors of Siam, Persia and the Ottoman Empire, along with all the great seigneurs of France. Ladies intrigued behind their fans, plots were hatched, and careers were made and destroyed beneath the sparkling chandeliers here.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Captain's Farewell Reception & Gala Dinner
  14. Day 14 Paris

    Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the “City of Light” or you’ve been here many times before, there’s something for everyone today in Paris. Enjoy a panoramic overview of the city, join a local expert for a walk through two much-loved neighborhoods.

    Choice of Paris city tour or “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter walking tour or “Heart of Paris” Seine River cruise or “Let's Go” Seine riverbanks bike ride

    Paris city tour
    Hemingway called Paris a moveable feast: Once you’ve experienced it, you will take it with you wherever you go. If you are experiencing Paris for the first time, this tour will introduce you to the City of Light’s most cherished landmarks. You’ll head via motorcoach from the Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate his Grand Army’s 128 victories, down the Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde. These broad 19th-century avenues and stately buildings were created by Baron Haussmann in a great urban development that eliminated the cramped, crazy-quilt medieval city and gave Paris its modern form. You’ll pass the magnificent Opéra Garnier, the Place Vendôme (home to designer salons), the legendary Louvre and, on the Left Bank, the Sorbonne University and the Panthéon. Stretch your legs at the Luxembourg Gardens, then take in the École Militaire before arriving at the manicured grounds of the Champs de Mars, the perfect vantage point from which to see Paris’s most iconic structure—the Eiffel Tower. Cross the Seine via the most stunning single-arch bridge in Paris, Pont Alexandre III; it displays elegantly sculpted nymphs, winged horses and graceful art nouveau lamps. Once on the other side of the river, you’ll be sure to spot the largest glass ceilings in France, which shelter the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. As you continue along the Seine’s banks you’ll see many striking contemporary bridges too. Your city tour will finish at your ship’s dock.

    “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter walking tour
    As a true Parisian would, take the Métro to the Île de la Cité and the great cathedral of Notre Dame. Henry IV said that Paris was worth a Mass when he converted to Catholicism—and he made that conversion official here, in the center of Paris. In fact, Notre Dame is officially the center of France; facing its main entrance is Kilometer Zero, the location from which distances in France (including those of the French national highways) are traditionally measured. An expert in the history and architecture of this magnificent cathedral is your guide as you explore both inside and out. Begun in the 12th century and finished about 200 years later, Notre Dame is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in Europe.

    After you’ve admired Notre Dame’s stained glass, flying buttresses and idiosyncratic gargoyles, cross the Archbishop’s Bridge to the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter. Wander through the narrow streets where for centuries artists, writers, philosophers and the Sorbonne’s students have lived and worked, argued politics, painted, sipped absinthe and lived the bohemian lifestyle for which the district is famous. Matisse, Picasso, Rimbaud and Sartre, as well as American expatriate writers Hemingway and Fitzgerald, are just a few of the notables who made this district home. Take some time to meander through the area’s little squares, perusing the shop windows and perhaps relaxing with a drink at a classic café.

    “Let's Go” Seine riverbanks bike ride
    The Seine’s quays may be protected by UNESCO for their cultural importance and significance in the development of Paris, but they are also the scene of a host of fun outdoor activities: games for kids and grown-ups, a climbing wall, a running track, yoga classes, even a beach in August—and an inviting bike path. Join a guide to pedal along the Left Bank, crossing the bridges that link historic Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis and getting a close look at the heart of the city’s origins. Bike to the Esplanade des Invalides (Napoleon’s tomb is one of the monuments here) and along the Quay d’Orsay to the Champs de Mars, one of Paris’s largest green spaces...which just happens to have one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower in the city. It’s a fun way to take part in the life of the city while also getting some exercise.

    meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  15. Day 15 Paris (Disembark)

    Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for your flight home.

    meals Breakfast
GRFR Grand France Map Uw 2019
Price Includes

Dining

  • All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
  • 14 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 14 dinners
  • 2 Captain’s Welcome and 2 Captain's Farewell Receptions
  • 2 Welcome and 2 Farewell Gala Dinners
  • Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, specialty coffee and tea, soft drinks and mineral water

Accommodations

  • 14-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the alluring S.S. Joie de Vivre and the striking S.S. Catherine
  • Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites have handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, high-thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, and a menu of pillow options
  • Free Internet and Wi-Fi access

Excursions

  • 12 days of excursions, including “Choice Is Yours” options, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
  • Guided “Let's Go,” “Do as the Locals Do” and “Village Day” programs
  • State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
  • Use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks

Experiences

  • 1 country: France
  • 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Captivating onboard local entertainment
  • Cultural enrichment, including Signature Lectures
  • Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
  • All transfers on arrival and departure days
  • All gratuities, both onboard and onshore
  • First class TGV train between Paris and Lyon
  • Exclusive Connoisseur Collection on select summer departures

All fares are per guest in US Dollars based on double occupancy unless otherwise noted.

Fares are capacity controlled and are subject to change at any time without notice.

Availability of all stateroom categories cannot be guaranteed.

Single Supplement applies for single accommodation.

Itineraries, hotels, and vessels may change, and substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to water level fluctuations and other uncontrollable factors.

The order of sightseeing and docking ports are subject to change according to port authority assignments.

Prices exclude additional port charges of $380 per person

Dates & Prices
Airfare is not included, but can be added to quote upon request
  • Connoisseur Collection
Classic French Balcony Suite Grand Suite Availability Price
Start Date: Sun, Mar 29, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Apr 12, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$5,799 pp $7,499 pp $12,499 pp $16,699 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Mar 29, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Apr 12, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$5,799 pp $7,499 pp $12,499 pp $16,699 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Apr 12, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Apr 26, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$7,099 pp $8,799 pp $13,799 pp $17,999 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Apr 12, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Apr 26, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$7,099 pp $8,799 pp $13,799 pp $17,999 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Apr 26, 2020
Return Date: Sun, May 10, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Apr 26, 2020
Return Date: Sun, May 10, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, May 10, 2020
Return Date: Sun, May 24, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, May 10, 2020
Return Date: Sun, May 24, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, May 24, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Jun 7, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, May 24, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Jun 7, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Jun 7, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Jun 21, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Jun 7, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Jun 21, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Jun 21, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Jul 5, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Jun 21, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Jul 5, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Jul 5, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Jul 19, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Jul 5, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Jul 19, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Connoisseur Collection
Start Date: Sun, Aug 2, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Aug 16, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Connoisseur Collection
Start Date: Sun, Aug 2, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Aug 16, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Connoisseur Collection
Start Date: Sun, Aug 16, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Aug 30, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Connoisseur Collection
Start Date: Sun, Aug 16, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Aug 30, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Aug 30, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Sep 13, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,599 pp $10,299 pp $15,299 pp $19,499 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Aug 30, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Sep 13, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,599 pp $10,299 pp $15,299 pp $19,499 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Sep 13, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Sep 27, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,599 pp $10,299 pp $15,299 pp $19,499 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Sep 13, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Sep 27, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,599 pp $10,299 pp $15,299 pp $19,499 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Sep 27, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Oct 11, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,599 pp $10,299 pp $15,299 pp $19,499 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Sep 27, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Oct 11, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,599 pp $10,299 pp $15,299 pp $19,499 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Oct 11, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Oct 25, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Oct 11, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Oct 25, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$8,199 pp $9,899 pp $14,899 pp $19,099 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Oct 25, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Nov 8, 2020
S.S. Joie de Vivre, S.S. Catherine Paris to Avignon
$6,499 pp $8,199 pp $13,199 pp $17,399 pp Request Quote
Start Date: Sun, Oct 25, 2020
Return Date: Sun, Nov 8, 2020
S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre Avignon to Paris
$6,499 pp $8,199 pp $13,199 pp $17,399 pp Request Quote
Ship Information
ELEGANCE IS BLISS

The two-story lobby onboard, featuring a life-sized Murano glass horse, is just one of the many astounding design elements that will make you say “oh, wow,” “oh, my” or some combination thereof. Original art includes works by Georges Goursat, Wassily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso.

Click HERE to view a pdf of ship facts (and click HERE to download software to open a pdf file).

 

Inaugurated: 2014
Travels On: Rhone River, Saone River
Guests: 159
Staff: 57

Suites: 5 (305 sq ft)
Deluxe Balcony: 23 (194 sq ft)
French Balcony: 38 (194 sq ft)
Classic: 12 (162 sq ft)

Length: 443 ft
Width: 37.5 ft
Voltage: 110/220 volts

SUITES

Lavishly appointed riverview suite (305 sq ft - 28.3 sq m) with an open-air balcony

Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flatscreen TV with infotainment center, and safe

Triple accommodation option available. The sofa converts into a comfortable bed to accommodate a third person

Marble bathroom includes L’Occitane en Provence and Hermes bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers

Uniquely decorated and additional amenities and services, including: in-suite butler service; packing and unpacking assistance; in-room breakfast; daily fruit and cookie plate, and an elegant evening snack; Nespresso coffee machine and fine teas; fully stocked mini bar; bottle of wine upon arrival; shoe shine; free laundry service; and a special dinner in Bar du Leopard

DELUXE BALCONY

Lavishly appointed riverview stateroom (194 sq ft - 18 sq m) with open-air balcony

Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flatscreen TV with infotainment center, and safe

Marble bathroom includes: L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers

FRENCH BALCONY

Lavishly appointed riverview stateroom (194 sq ft - 18 sq m) with a French balcony

Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flatscreen TV with infotainment center, and safe

Marble bathroom includes: L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers

CLASSIC

Lavishly appointed riverview stateroom (162 sq ft - 15 sq m)

Handcrafted Savoir® of England beds, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, flatscreen TV with infotainment center, and safe

Marble bathroom includes: L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, special towel warmers, backlit magnifying mirror, heated mirrors, cozy bathrobes and slippers

Our meticulously designed ships feature enticing public areas and luxurious amenities, including a lounge with full-service bar, well-equipped fitness center, restaurant, Serenity River Spa, and a Sun Deck where you can relax and take in the ever-changing views.

Uniworld is committed to building a fleet of ships that represents the absolute best in luxury river cruising, combining quality craftsmanship with high-tech innovations and custom-designed interiors. Our second Super Ship, S.S. Catherine, continues this proud tradition of excellence with sumptuous materials and meticulous attention to detail. The vessel’s opulent interiors include a two-story lobby with a specially commissioned Murano glass chandelier and whimsical life-size glass horse.

LIVE JOYFULLY, TRAVEL ELEGANTLY

The S.S. Joie de Vivre brings the joy of living to northern France with a design reflecting 20th-century Paris. The ship’s innovative Club L’Esprit transforms from pool area to cinema to dining venue before your eyes.

Click HERE to view a pdf of ship facts (and click HERE to download software to open a pdf file).

 

Inaugurated: 2017
Travels on: Seine River
Guests: 128
Staff: 54

Suites: 8 (260 sq ft)
Deluxe French Balcony: 16 (194 sq ft)
French Balcony: 29 (194 sq ft)
Classic: 9 (180-162 sq ft)

Length: 410 ft
Width: 37.5 ft
Voltage: 110/220 volts

SUITES

Lavishly appointed riverview stateroom (260 sq ft - 24 sq m) with a French balcony

Handcrafted Savoir® of England bed, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, and bottled water

FRENCH BALCONY

Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms (194 sq ft - 18 sq m) with a French balconies

Handcrafted Savoir® of England bed, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, and bottled water

Marble bathroom with L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, towel warmer, cozy bathrobes and slippers

CLASSIC

Lavishly appointed riverview stateroom (162-180 sq ft - 15-17 sq m)

Handcrafted Savoir® of England bed, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, and bottled water

Marble bathroom with L’Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, towel warmer, cozy bathrobes and slippers

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