No Fly Loire Valley & Seine Cruise 2021 Great Rail Journeys

Explore some of the most famous chateaux are scattered through the verdant Loire Valley, and relax in the charming French town of Blois before joining a scenic cruise along the Seine which includes explorations of Paris, Rouen and Honfleur.

Great Rail Journeys
Paris

Itinerary

We meet at our dedicated Departure Office at St Pancras then leave for Paris on the Eurostar. Next we change for the rail service to Blois, situated on the banks of the River Loire. Here we check into the Mercure Blois for a three-night stay.

Today begins with an excursion to Chateau de Chenonceau, arguably the most iconic of its kind in the Loire Valley. The Chateau elegantly spans the River Cher and is a fine example of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. After exploring the chateau and its picturesque fountain gardens, we travel by coach to the town of Amboise, former home of Leonardo da Vinci, who died here in 1519. We visit his former manor house, Clos Luce, which is filled with some of his fascinating inventions. You are free to explore this delightful manor house and walk in the footsteps of the master himself, who was so inspired by his scenic surroundings.

Enjoy another mountain railway journey today, venturing forth on the Gornergrat Mountain Railway. This cog rail trip covers 1,469m in its ascent of the Gornergrat, arriving at its summit where you can enjoy magical views of the surrounding mountains including the imposing, indomitable Matterhorn. Return later to Zermatt for a guided tour.

Following breakfast we check out of our hotel and transfer to the train station for the return rail journey to Paris. Then it's time to meet our floating hotel for the next six nights, the MS Renoir, and the rest of our cruise family.
On the morning of Day 5 we enjoy a guided tour of the splendid French capital. We see many of the major attractions such as Place de la Republique, the Grand Boulevards, Opera House, Place de la Madeleine, Place Vendome, and the Louvre. After lunch aboard you have some free time to sightsee independently. We set sail in the evening for a cruise along the Seine, admiring the illuminated attractions we see along the way (weather permitting).

We start the day cruising to Giverny, during which time we are treated to an expert talk on board; 'A Definition of Impressionism'. Now synonymous with Monet, Giverny very nearly missed out on getting its name on the map. It was during a train journey in 1883 when the artist saw the area and decided that this was the spot he wanted to live and work in. With its instantly recognisable lily ponds, the gardens are the image of how they were when Monet first painted them, almost like stepping into one of his artworks, and the house still has the atmosphere of a creative retreat.
Alternatively, you may prefer to visit the slightly more opulent Palace of Versailles. We rejoin the boat where tonight there's a traditional French 'guinguette' evening held on board.

Our destination today is Rouen, former capital of Normandy, where we enjoy a guided tour that follows in the footsteps of the Impressionists themselves. This medieval city is the proud home of The Museum of Fine Arts and its impressive collection of Impressionist compositions. We make a visit to the gallery as well as taking in Rouen Cathedral, which was depicted in oil paint by Claude Monet. His series of over 30 paintings show the building at all different times of day. Following an insightful few hours, we return to our ship for tonight's dinner.

We make our way to Duclair today, sailing through a landscape of steep cliffs and timeless villages, fleeting views of which helped inspire the Impressionist style itself. On arrival in Duclair we embark on an excursion along the Route des Abbayes, exploring the abbeys that line the route of the river by coach. Stretching between Rouen and Mont-Saint-Michel, this historic trail has seen religious orders being built here from the 5th century onwards, and at one point there were up to 120 sites of worship. Later we continue upriver to Honfleur, where we moor for the night.

The charming port town of Honfleur is located on the southern bank of the Seine Estuary in the Calvados region of France famous for its apple brandy. Centred on its adorable historic port and marina - the 'Vieux Bassin' - Honfleur boasts a number of preserved traditional buildings and today you can choose to take a tour of this quaint destination, famous as being an important influence in the work of many artists, including Monet, Courbet and Boudin, who set up the Ecole de Honfleur, an artists' colony and melting pot for the whole Impressionist movement.
Otherwise you might select our excursion to the nearby beaches of Gold and Juno, two of five landing sites utilised for the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, a pivotal event in the eventual Allied triumph over the Axis powers. Following some free time this afternoon, tonight we celebrate the end of our cruise at the captain's special gala dinner.

We transfer to Paris after a final breakfast together. From here we catch the return Eurostar service back to London.

Price Guide

Date Price (pp)
11 June 2021 £2,295
18 July 2021 £2,095
9 September 2021 £2,295

What's Included

  • Savings of up to £100pp - book by 31st October 2020
  • 3 nights' hotel accommodation
  • 6-night cruise on board the MS Renoir
  • The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from London to Blois and from Honfleur to London
  • 9 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 8 dinners
  • Dinner drinks included every night of your cruise