Bon Voyage, Joie de Vivre & Catherine, Ultimate France ex Bordeaux to Avign
21 Night Cruise sailing from Bordeaux to Avignon aboard Bon Voyage, Joie de Vivre and Catherine.
Day 1: Bordeaux (Embark)
Day 2: Blaye, Bourg sur Gironde
The Route de la Corniche Fleurie…could this be the most beautiful road you’ve ever traveled? Find out today on the drive to Blaye Fortress, passing through one impossibly picturesque hamlet after another. Once you arrive, you’ll find your center with a unique and expertly led yoga session in the heart of this historic fortress, a UNESCO-designated citadel that once protected Bordeaux from attacks by sea.
Bourg sur Gironde walking tour
Choice of Panoramas of Route de la Corniche Fleurie with Blaye Fortress or “Let’s Go” yoga in the historic heart of Blaye Fortress
In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.
Day 3: Cussac Fort Médoc, Pauillac la Fayette
The legendary Médoc region abounds with prestigious wine châteaux in a dizzying array of architectural styles, as well as miles of grapevines stretching to infinity. Take a scenic drive through the storied Médoc wine route, followed by a wine tasting at a beautiful wine estate. Enjoy the waters of the Garonne River and the Gironde Estuary before heading to the pretty town of Pauillac, gateway to the storied Médoc wine route, the Atlantic coast and remnants of the Atlantic Wall erected during WWII.
Fresh Médoc oysters tasting
Choice of Médoc Châteaux route with private wine tasting or Bunker archaeology tour or “Let’s Go” bike in the Médoc vineyards
Day 4: Cadillac
The French phrase “la douceur de vivre” is an accurate description for your time in Cadillac, known for its deliciously flavored dessert wines. Visit Château Royal de Cazeneuve, site of Henry IV’s and Queen Margot’s tempestuous love. Meet the owner around a glass of Sauternes in the reception hall.
Choice of The colorful life of Toulouse Lautrec at Château de Malromé or Private owner's tour of Royal Château with Sauternes toast
Note: Sailing this stretch of the Garonne depends on the tides. If it is not possible to sail to Cadillac, you will be transferred to your destination via motorcoach.
Day 5: Libourne (Saint-Émilion)
The medieval town of Saint-Émilion is an ideal place to linger. Wander its cobblestone lanes lined with wine shops and bakeries, and stop to admire the amazing rock-hewn church that extends beneath the city’s streets. Another treasure awaiting you underground? A wine tasting in the cellars of a Grand Cru estate. With Libourne as your base, travel to nearby breathtaking Saint-Émilion and immerse yourself more deeply in the region’s history and wine culture.
Saint-Émilion walking tour with wine tasting
Day 6: Libourne, Bordeaux
France’s rich agricultural tradition is the heart and soul of the region’s exquisite cuisine—and what better way to get a taste for the freshest vegetables, cheeses, breads and fruits than with a visit to Libourne’s lively farmers’ market?
Libourne “Village Day” with farmer's market
Day 7: Bordeaux
Discover Bordeaux’s many charms today, either on foot with a local expert or on two wheels—the locals’ preferred way to navigate the city’s charming backstreets. You have a wonderful selection of active opportunities to see this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cité du Vin museum visit
Choice of “Do as the Locals Do” Bordeaux walking tour or ”Let’s Go” bike Bordeaux backstreets
In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.
Day 8: Bordeaux (Disembark), Transfer to Paris via High-Speed TGV Train (Embark)
Disembark the breathtaking S.S. Bon Voyage 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. Note: Ship schedule and order of sightseeing may change throughout the itinerary. Tour to port of destination by motorcoach and substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to the impact of water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors.
Day 9: La Roche-Guyon, Vernon (Giverny)
Today is a celebration of northern France’s natural beauty, with an excursion to a splendid château 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 Château de La Roche-Guyon, surrounded by beautiful gardens and offering sweeping views over the Seine. Later, you can visit the home and gardens of Claude Monet. Or take in the beautiful French countryside in a more invigorating way, with a guided bike ride from Vernon to Giverny.
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 from Vernon to Giverny
This evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.
Day 10: 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 the spot where Joan of Arc was martyred, Rouen is a treasure trove for the culturally curious. 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.
Rouen walking tour, the Dukes of Normandy’s capital
Day 11: Caudebec-en-Caux (Honfleur or Étretat)
Caudebec-en-Caux, a lovely little town on the right bank of the Seine Estuary, is your base for one of two very different excursions. You could drive through the beautiful Calvados countryside to Honfleur, a delightful seaside harbor and city of painters, or head to the windy cliffs of Étretat for a game of golf.
Choice of Honfleur walking tour or “Let's Go” golfing in Étretat
Day 12: Rouen (Normandy Beaches)
There are moments when we travel that move us on an otherworldly level—experiences that stir a profound emotional connection. The Normandy beaches certainly have that effect. On your full-day outing, you’ll visit Normandy’s beaches, including Utah Beach and Ste-Mère-Église, with a choice to venture to either the American, British and Australian or Canadian beaches. After, you’ll go to the American cemetery and partake in a private ceremony at the Omaha Beach Memorial—a sentimental remembrance of Operation Overlord.
Choice of Normandy Beaches: highlights of American sites or Normandy Beaches: highlights of British & Australian sites or Normandy Beaches: highlights of Canadian sites
Day 13: Mantes-la-Jolie (Versailles)
How did France’s rulers live over the centuries? Step into the private rooms of the Palace of Versailles, the lavish palace built by the Sun King, to find out.
Choice of Versailles Palace secret apartments or “Versailles Gardens and Queens Hamlet”
A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
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, or pedal your way along the Left Bank, a fresh and fun way to take in the sights.
“Heart of Paris” Seine River cruise
Choice of Paris city tour or “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter or “Let's Go” Seine riverbanks bike ride
Day 15: Paris (Disembark), Transfer to Lyon via High-Speed TGV Train (Embark)
You’ll transfer from the magical S.S. Joie de Vivre in Paris to the striking S.S. Catherine in Lyon via high-speed, first-class TGV train for the final leg 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.
Day 16: 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.
Choice of Mâcon walking tour or Burgundy landscapes, Beaune and the hospices
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Day 17: 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 bike ride—a great way to see the sights.
Choice of Lyon Capital of Gastronomy tour or Silk weavers walking tour or “Let's Go” Lyon peninsula bike tour
Day 18: Tournon (Tain-l’Hermitage)
If you love fine wine, you’ll love the twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage. 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 and the oldest secondary school in France.
Choice of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage twin villages stroll with wine tasting or “Let's Go” Hermitage terrace vineyards hike with wine tasting
Day 19: Viviers, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
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.
Intimate Viviers “Village Day”
Day 20: 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.
"Let’s Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River
Choice of Avignon walking tour with Palace of the Popes or Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct visit
Day 21: Tarascon (Arles or Tarascon)
Explore a sun-drenched Provençal town today with an allure all its own. Known for its remarkable Roman ruins, Arles so inspired Van Gogh that he painted some 200 paintings there. 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.
Arles walking tour
A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Day 22: Avignon (Disembark)