France's Finest 2022 Viking River Cruise
Pay your respects at Normandy’s World War II beaches. Walk in Joan of Arc’s footsteps at Rouen. Luxuriate in Paris’s sophistication. Savour Lyon’s culinary heritage. Toast the Beaujolais vineyards. Explore Avignon’s Palace of the Popes. Celebrate the Provençal lifestyle. Art, cuisine, style, joie de vivre—if you love everything Français, this is for you: a 15-day journey that combines our popular Paris & the Heart of Normandy and Lyon & Provence cruises into one tour de force.
Arrive in Paris, romance capital of the world. Transfer from the airport in Paris to your ship. After boarding, take free time to explore Paris, or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and get oriented.
After breakfast, embark on a tour of this dazzling city and marvel at its most remarkable sights, including the iconic Eiffel Tower. Take in the École Militaire (Military Museum), Orsay Museum and Latin Quarter, and resilient Notre Dame Cathedral. Then drive past the Louvre and Opera House and along the famed Champs-Élysées. Alternatively, you may join an optional tour to explore one of the world’s most celebrated collections of art at the Louvre. Return on board for dinner and begin your cruise on the Seine this evening.
Arrive in La Roche Guyon before breakfast and enjoy a morning at your leisure to explore. The village is officially classified as one of France’s most beautiful; you will see why as you stroll through the town’s narrow streets lined with picturesque houses with wood-paneled facades. After lunch, join an included tour to the town of Giverny, where Claude Monet resided from 1883 until his death in 1926. Visit the beautiful gardens and charming stone farmhouse where he lived and worked; see the water garden with the recognisable Japanese bridge, water lilies, wisteria and azaleas that inspired many of his masterpieces.† Dinner is served on board.
† Monet gardens are not available before April 1 or after November 1; a visit to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, favoured by van Gogh and other artists, will be substituted.
Indulge in leisurely morning cruising along the Seine. Spend the afternoon in the medieval city of Rouen, pre-eminent capital of Normandy. Begin with a walking tour through the centre of Old Town, where you see the spectacular Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, often painted by Claude Monet, and the famous Gros Horloge, a 16th-century astronomical clock. As you walk among the half-timbered storybook buildings, allow yourself to be transported back through time; see the 14th-century courthouse where Joan of Arc was sentenced to death and the nearby Market Square where she was martyred.
Use your free time to discover more of Rouen or visit one of its museums of art or antiquities. Dine on board or at a sidewalk café. Your ship remains docked overnight.
After breakfast, begin your full-day tour to the historic beaches of Normandy. Drive past Gold Beach, Courseulles sur Mer and Juno Beach on your way to visit such World War II landmarks as Omaha Beach, the American Military Cemetery and Arromanches Debarkment D-Day Museum. Alternatively, you may take a tour of Bayeaux, where you can admire the magnificent tapestry that chronicles the pre–Battle of Hastings events. Afterward, continue to Normandy’s coast and enjoy some free time at Juno Beach after your visit to the museum; then visit the Pegasus Museum. Return to your ship for dinner and relax on board, or take an evening stroll through Rouen.
Arrive this morning in the small town of Les Andelys, known for its imposing castle, Château Gaillard, built in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart. Join a guided walk to this fatally flawed masterpiece of Middle Ages architecture before returning to your ship. Enjoy scenic sailing this afternoon as you cruise toward Paris.
After breakfast, disembark for a visit to Château de Malmaison, where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his final days in France. Along with the Tuileries, this elegant manor house, purchased by the emperor’s wife Josephine in 1799, served as the seat of Napoleon’s French government from 1800 to 1802. This afternoon, join an optional tour to the luxurious Palace of Versailles, former home of Louis XIV. This evening, you can take in the illuminated sights of Paris during a panoramic drive and cruise. Your ship remains docked in Paris overnight.
After breakfast, disembark and enjoy a leisurely train ride from Paris through the countryside of east central France to Lyon to board your second ship, where a Welcome Dinner is served.
After breakfast, tour the city of Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin with a drive to the top of Fourvière Hill for amazing views of the city. Continue with a guided visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame and drive through town past the magnificent St. Jean Cathedral and the Palace of Justice. Then take a walking tour through the cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon (Old Town), and use your free time to shop for souvenirs or sample some of the fine French cuisine for which Lyon is world-famous.
After breakfast, take a scenic drive through the rolling hills of Beaujolais, where viticultural tradition runs deep and enjoy a tasting in one of Beaujolais’s famous cellars. Return to your ship for lunch and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time.
This morning take a walking tour of Vienne, a beautiful town with an ancient Roman past. Visit the Temple of Augustus and Livia, the Roman amphitheater and the Gothic Cathedral of St. Maurice; then spend some time discovering more of this engaging riverside town on your own. In the afternoon, enjoy the rolling vine-clad banks of the river as you sail through its wide meanders to Tournon. After dinner, enjoy a stroll along the riverbanks under the plane trees.
Board the Train de l’Ardèche this morning for a locomotive ride through the deep gorges of the Ardèche plateau, cut by the Doux River. Return to your ship and enjoy lunch on board as we cruise to Viviers, an engaging little town in a mountainous setting. After dinner, enjoy an evening stroll through Old Town with its medieval and Renaissance buildings.
This morning, set out on a guided walk of Avignon, nicknamed “City of Popes” because it was home to seven popes from 1309 to 1377. Stroll through the historic center, see the picturesque Pont d’Avignon and walk the Place de l’Horloge. Continue to the renowned Palace of the Popes for a guided tour through this rambling maze of Gothic architecture that served as papal residence, fortress, church and palace. You can join the optional tour to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, visiting the vineyards and tasting the famous wine. Lunch and dinner are served on board. Your ship remains docked overnight.
Disembark after breakfast and take a walking tour of Arles with its diverse architectural highlights. Experience the city’s vibrant colors and striking quality of light that have inspired artists. Arles is also the site of some impressive Roman ruins, including Les Arènes, an arena that seats 20,000 and is still in use, as well as Romanesque monuments such as the Church of Saint-Trôphime, completed in the 15th century. Return on board for lunch followed by an afternoon on your own to explore or shop for handcrafted gifts. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Dinner is served as you depart.
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the Marseille airport for your return flight.*
Please note all departure dates are listed in the enquiry form.
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Extend Your Cruise
Extend your stay, pre or post cruise, with these great value cruise extensions! Simply give our award winning team a call for full details on 0800 810 8220
- 2 Nights pre cruise stay in Amsterdam from only £449pp
- 2 Nights post cruise stay in Budapest from only £299pp
- 3 Nights post cruise stay in Prague from only £549pp
- Savings of £1,000pp - book by 30th June 2021
- Onboard gratuities
- Return scheduled flights from the UK from a choice of up to 14 regional airports at no extra cost. Please call for details
- 15-days on board in a river-view stateroom
- Guided tours with audio headsets
- All meals: 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches & 14 dinners, featuring regional specialties and including Welcome Cocktail Reception & Dinner
- Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with on board dinner and lunch service
- Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Culture Curriculum: Enjoy concerts aboard and ashore, ranging from Austrian classics to baroque organ music; attend lectures on current affairs in Germany, Holland & the European Union; learn how to make your own Rüdesheimer coffee; experience the wonderful scents of a Viennese market
- All port charges
- Free Wi-Fi, connection speed may vary
- PRICE GUARANTEE: Once you have paid in full for your trip, you are safe from any additional charges. Airfare increases, currency fluctuations, increased fuel surcharges, new government taxes—none of these will apply to you.