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A Portrait of Majestic France

15 days with Uniworld  Rating: Deluxe

River Cruise Itinerary

Day 1: Paris (embark)
Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. If your cruise/tour 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. (D)

Day 2: Vernon (Giverny), Les Andelys
Featured Excursion: Monet’s Giverny and hike to Château Gaillard

Today, as you dock at the small town of Vernon, you have the opportunity to explore one of the most famous gardens in art, Claude Monet’s Giverny. 

The Seine River Valley’s unique light kept Monet in residence here, in the village of Giverny, for more than 40 years, until his death in 1926. The village and gardens surrounding his home frequently provided the subject matter of his paintings. It was after the move to Giverny that Monet began his famous series paintings of haystacks, cathedrals, and water lilies. You’ll explore Monet’s house, furnished as it was when the leader of the Impressionist school lived here, complete with his precious collection of Japanese engravings. Monet designed the gardens himself, and as you stroll through them, you’ll see the famed Japanese bridge and water garden shaded by weeping willows that he painted so often.

Note: Giverny will be closed during the March 15, March 22, and October 25 cruise/tour departure dates. Instead of Giverny, guests will visit Versailles Palace.

Your ship will arrive today in beautiful Les Andelys, a charming Medieval village of half-timbered houses nestled on the banks of the Seine. Perched high above the white cliffs of the river are the ruins of the late-12th-century Château Gaillard.

Join a guide on an invigorating hike up the picturesque hillside to the remains of this massive castle. (Guests who prefer a more relaxing journey may ride up on a motorcoach.)

Les Andelys was of considerable strategic importance during the Middle Ages, a fact that prompted Richard the Lionheart to build a fortified castle here to protect the Duchy of Normandy from the French king, Philip II. While the construction of large stone castles in this period often took the better part of a decade, Château Gaillard was completed in less than two years through the combined labor of 6,000 workers.

You’ll see how the stronghold was carved out of the natural rock, making this one of the best designed castles of its age. Your guide will explain Château Gaillard’s long and storied history, including the frequent transfer of ownership between the English and the French, and its use as both a prison and a place of refuge for troubled European rulers. After you tour the ruined fortress, you’ll return to the ship for lunch.

In the afternoon, take in the enchanting beauty of the Seine’s lovely countryside as you sail to Rouen.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Gala will be prepared for you. (BB, L, Captain's Welcome Gala)

Day 3: Rouen (Normandy Beaches)
Featured excursions: A visit to Normandy Beaches, "Choice Is Yours" optional excursions, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer

Normandy’s proximity to the sea has made it the site of many important battles. It was here that William the Conqueror launched his invasion of England more than a millennium ago, and it was here that the famous D-Day Invasion began in 1944. Begin your day at Arromanches, where you can view one of the two Mulberry Harbors deployed in the D-Day Invasion. These were artificial harbors constructed to ease and speed the process of unloading Allied troops, vehicles, and equipment onto the Normandy beaches. From here, you may choose to learn more about Operation Overlord at the nearby D-Day Museum, explore Juno Beach and the sacrifices made by Canadian troops there, or view a depiction of a much older military conflict—the 11th-century Battle of Hastings—at the Tapestry Museum in Bayeux.

Choice Is Yours Excursion Options:

A. Normandy beaches with D-Day Museum at Arromanches
B. Normandy beaches with Juno Beach and the Canadian Center
C. Normandy beaches with Tapestry Museum in Bayeux

A. Normandy beaches with D-Day Museum at Arromanches
The D-Day Museum offers a multimedia experience that brings history to life for visitors of all ages. In addition to the site of the invasion itself, you’ll see a special diorama, the Hall of Allied Nations, and a film that details the design, transport, and deployment of Mulberry Harbor B (the one still on display at Arromanches, which the Allies called Gold Beach). You’ll have time to enjoy lunch on your own in Arromanches and stroll its main avenue before heading off to Omaha Beach.

B. Normandy beaches with Juno Beach and the Canadian Center
When the Allies prepared to invade Normandy, they assigned a six-mile stretch of beach to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division under the command of Major-General Rodney Keller. The Canadians trained for their assault in Scotland and were generally regarded as the best-prepared of any of the invading forces. Unfortunately, preliminary bombing had failed to eliminate German battlements, so Canadian troops encountered stiff resistance and several companies suffered very heavy casualties. Walk the shoreline where so many died and visit Juno Beach Center, dedicated to the Canadian war effort. One million Canadians served during WWII, and 14,000 participated in the landing. Exhibits describe both life at home during the war and the service and sacrifice made by the men and women who fought. You will then have time for lunch on your own before heading off to Omaha Beach.

C. Normandy beaches with Tapestry Museum in Bayeux
From Arromanches, you will go to Bayeux, the first French town to be liberated in 1944, and home to the Bayeux Tapestry, which is listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register and was probably embroidered by monks in the south of England in October of 1066. The tapestry tells the story of the Norman conquest of England. You’ll watch a short film about and take a guided audio tour of this remarkable textile, which is over 220 feet (68 m) long and features 58 distinct scenes with Latin annotations. You will then have time for lunch on your own in this pleasant city, cradle of the dynasty of the dukes of Normandy, before heading off to Omaha Beach.

Note: The Tapestry Museum is a popular attraction in summer; therefore, the order of events may change to accommodate scheduling issues.

All groups will reconvene at Omaha Beach, where soldiers of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division landed under withering fire; half of these men were killed as they struggled to shore. You’ll see the battery of Longues-sur-Mer, part of Germany’s coastal “Atlantic Wall” fortifications, which fired on the troops landing at Gold and Omaha beaches. Then you’ll head to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, where 9,387 American soldiers are buried; their average age was 22. The wall of the missing lists the names of 1,557 American soldiers who lost their lives and could not be located. Beyond the reflecting pool, the mall displays rows of marble headstones facing west, toward the United States, as far as the eye can see. You’ll have time to walk in the memorial park and visit the visitor center, which features an educational film and exhibits about Operation Overlord. (BB,D)

Day 4: Rouen
Featured excursions: "Choice Is Yours" Optional Excursions: Walking Tour of Rouen or “In the Steps of the Impressionist Painters” Walking Tour

The roll call of famous people who lived or died in Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy, is long and varied—Richard the Lionheart, Joan of Arc, Gustave Flaubert, and Claude Monet are among them.

Today, you have your choice of two different ways to explore this beautiful city and discover just what drew these illustrious individuals.

Choice Is Yours Excursion Options:

A. Walking tour of Rouen
B. Exclusive “In the Steps of the Impressionist Painters” walking tour

A. Walking tour of Rouen
As you stroll into the well-preserved city with your guide, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into the Middle Ages. The first majestic edifice to attract your eye will be the Cathédrale Notre Dame (Notre Dame Cathedral), which was begun more than 800 years ago and, for a brief period in the late 19th century, was the tallest building in the world. The cathedral houses the tomb of Richard the Lionheart, though only his heart is interred here. Over the years, famed artists, including Claude Monet, John Ruskin, and Roy Lichtenstein, have produced celebrated works depicting the cathedral’s extraordinary façade, with its multitude of towers and spires built in different eras and styles. From here, your local expert will take you through the old quarter, telling you about the astrological symbols that adorn the Gros Horloge, the Renaissance clock built into an arch that you’ll walk beneath as you leave the cathedral square, and down cobblestone lanes lined with half-timbered, slate-roofed houses. You’ll then reach the Vieux Marché (Old Market Square), which bears a bronze cross to mark the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. You may enter the modern Church of Saint Joan of Arc and admire the Renaissance-era stained-glass window that was rescued from the ruins of Saint-Sauveur church, which was destroyed in WWII. Spend the afternoon exploring the town on your own. Antique shops, galleries, and shops featuring craftsmen painting Rouen’s signature blue earthenware open their doors to art lovers around St. Maclou Church. To understand the role Rouen—the town Picasso found “as beautiful as Venice”—has played in art history, visit the Fine Arts Museum, which displays masterworks by Caravaggio, Eugène Delacroix, Amedeo Modigliani, and Claude Monet.

B. Exclusive “In the Steps of the Impressionist Painters” walking tour

Light, sky, and water entranced the Impressionists, and they found the light of Rouen especially enchanting. Walk with an expert guide to see the views the painters immortalized: Boildieu Bridge, which Camille Pissarro rendered in a misty sunset, the historic streets, the Seine, the park, the cathedral—you will feel that you are walking through living art. Monet’s series of paintings of the Rouen cathedral, produced between 1892 and 1894, show the façade in varying light and weather and won instant admiration when he exhibited them. Caillebotte, Sisley, and Gauguin all produced outstanding work here, as did a group of young, less well-known painters who founded the Rouen school. Following your walking tour, visit the museum with its fine collection of Impressionist works, begun with a generous donation from François Depeaux, who was a patron of the Impressionists and gave many paintings to the museum in 1906. (BB,L,D)

Day 5: Caudebec-en-Caux (Honfleur)
Featured Excursion: Honfleur walking tour

After crossing the Pont de Tancarville (Tancarville Bridge), you’ll drive through the beautiful Calvados countryside on your way to Honfleur, a major defensive port in the 17th century and the starting point of many expeditions to the New World. Birthplace of the unconventional French composer Erik Satie, the town has blossomed into a delightful seaside harbor and city of painters; over the years, it has been favored by artists such as Gustave Courbet, Eugene Boudin, and Claude Monet.

Your 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 these days the boats in the harbor are likely to be pleasure craft rather than fishing vessels. From the pedestrian streets lined with artists’ workshops to the Medieval town center, Honfleur is a delight to ramble through. Your local guide will take you through the tiny lanes, where houses stand shoulder to shoulder in a jumble of styles: narrow 19th-century slate-roofed townhouses, 15th-century fishermen’s homes, tall and elegant mansions, many adorned with figures of chimeras or saints. You’ll 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.

Enjoy some free time amid a myriad of shops known for their paintings and handicrafts. The quaint houses converted into cafés and brasseries serving wine and seafood make for a special treat. Sample some fresh oysters and fruits de mer from local fishermen before you board the motorcoach to return to the ship in Caudebec-en-Caux via the majestic Pont de Normandie (Normandy Bridge). (BB,L,D)

Day 6: Mantes-la-Jolie (Auvers-sur-Oise or Conflans-Sainte- Honorine)
Take a trip to Van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise, or discover the charm of the barge port of Conflans Ste Honorine.

Choice is yours Excursion Options : Van Gogh Auvers sur Oise, or walking tour in Conflans Ste Honorine

Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life in Auvers-sur-Oise; he lived here to be closer to his beloved brother, Theo, who lived a short distance away in Paris.

During this short time, he painted 70 pictures of the town and its surroundings. You will follow in his footsteps as you walk along the village streets and pause before the town hall, the church, and the houses that he immortalized. The home and garden of Dr. Gachet, who tended the Post-Impressionist master, is now a museum and has been restored to look as it did when Van Gogh painted it. You’ll visit the cemetery where both Vincent and Theo are buried side-by-side.

A special Farewell Dinner will be prepared for you this evening. (BB,L, Captain's Farewell Dinner)

Day 7: Paris
Today, you return to incomparable Paris and spend the morning exploring either the artists’ haven of Montmartre , or the heart and soul of the city on a walk from Notre Dame to the Latin Quarter.

Choice Is Yours Excursion Options:

A. Paris city tour
B. Exclusive “Discover Paris as the Parisians Do: Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter” walking tour

A. Paris city tour
For those who have never been to Paris, this panoramic tour will introduce you to the city’s most beloved attractions. Your first sight is the magnificent Palais Garnier, also known as Opéra Garnier. From here,  you’ll move on to the sophisticated square of Place Vendôme, which is distinguished by designer salons, hotels, and the Vendôme Column, topped by a statue of Napoleon. You’ll then come upon the world’s largest museum and palace, the Louvre. The modern glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei marks the entrance to the nearly half-mile-long classical edifice. Just to the west of the Louvre stands the Arc du Carrousel, recognizable from the final scene of The Da Vinci Code.

You’ll cross the Île de la Cité at Pont Notre Dame and arrive at the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter), the intellectual heart of Paris. The local expert onboard your motorcoach will share insights about the district’s famous Sorbonne University and the Panthéon, the Neoclassical structure that is the burial place of luminaries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire.

The perfect place to think about these great philosophers is the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxemburg Gardens). Feel free to meander around the 59-acre (24-hectare) public gardens and admire the beautiful sculptures on display. The building that currently houses the French senate was originally a palace built for Marie de Medici in 1615. You’ll see children sailing toy boats on the garden’s little pond, as well a puppet theater and merry-go-round. Re-board your motorcoach and head to the École Militaire, an impressive complex of buildings that houses military higher-education facilities and a museum. You’ll have a chance to photograph Paris’s most iconic structure—the 1,000-foot-tall (304-meter-tall) Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower)—from the manicured promenade of the Champs de Mars. Once an important site of activities related to the French Revolution, today it adds more than 2.5 million square feet (240,000 square meters) of beautiful greenery to the cityscape.

From here, you’ll cross the lovely Seine via one of the most stunning bridges in Paris, Pont Alexandre III. From the Left Bank to the Right Bank, the single-arch bridge displays elegantly sculpted nymphs and winged horses and graceful Art Nouveau lamps. Once across, you’ll be sure to spot the largest glass ceiling in France, which shelters the Grand Palais, a major exhibition hall. Next door is the Grand’s demure sister, the Petit Palais, which hosts the city’s Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts). The best of Paris is unveiled in the eighth district, starting with the Arc de Triomphe. Commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate the 128 victories of his Grande Armée, the world’s most famous triumphal arch is humbled by the tomb of the unknown soldier that rests beneath its span. You’ll head down the grand avenue of Paris, the Champs Élysées, dazzled by the finest the city has to offer. The famed boulevard comes to its eastern end at the Place de la Concorde. Known as a city “square,” the area is actually an octagon, with statues dedicated to French cities at each corner. You can then take the motorcoach back to the hotel or explore more of the city on your own.

B. Exclusive “Discover Paris as the Parisians Do: Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter” Walking Tour
Notre Dame is the official center of the city of Paris; facing the main entrance of the cathedral is Kilometer Zero, the location from which distances in France (including those of the French national highways) are traditionally measured.

You’ll have time to explore both the interior and exterior of this remarkable church, which is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in Europe. Your guide will point out the structure’s most noteworthy details and explain the craftsmanship that went into fashioning them. After you’ve admired Notre Dame’s stained glass, flying buttresses, and grotesque gargoyles, you’ll cross the Pont de l’Archeveche (Archbishop’s Bridge) and work your way to the Boulevard Saint-Germain. You’ve reached the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter), the intellectual heart of Paris, perched on the famed Rive Gauche (Left Bank). Through the years, many famous artists, poets, and philosophers have made the Rive Gauche their home, including Matisse, Picasso, Rimbaud, and Sartre, as well as American ex-patriots writers Hemingway and Fitzgerald. You’ll have time to meander through the area’s little squares, perusing its shop windows and perhaps taking a seat at one of its classic café terraces. Afterward, meet up with the motorcoach and ride back to the ship for lunch.

After lunch onboard you can spend the afternoon at leisure in Paris, or you may join us on our expertly guided optional excursion to the Orsay Museum. (BB,L,D)

Note: The Paris city tour is also offered for cruise-only passengers.

Day 8: Paris (disembark), transfer to Bordeaux via high speed TGV train (embark)
Today, you’ll disembark the ship and be transferred to the railway station for your TGV transfer to Bordeaux, where you’ll join your next ship and begin the second part of this exciting journey. A host of charming towns and many epicurean delights await you in this ancient and beautiful corner of France. This is one of the world’s most celebrated wine regions, and you can look forward to exclusive tastings of its finest offerings—á votre santé! (BB,L,D)

Day 9: Cruising the Garonne River and Gironde Estuary, Pauillac
Featured Excursion: Médoc panoramic tour

Set sail on the Garonne for the pretty town of Pauillac, gateway to the Médoc wine route. Not far out of Bordeaux, the Garonne merges with the Dordogne, forming the Gironde estuary. At almost 50 miles (80 km), the Gironde is the largest estuary in Europe. Aside from being an important artery for the entire Bordeaux region, the Gironde is a rich source of shellfish, sturgeon (the source of “Aquitaine caviar”) and eels—all of which you’ll find on local menus.

You’ll arrive in Pauillac in the afternoon. Explore the town on your own, perhaps take a complimentary bicycle to nearby Saint-Estèphe, or join us for a tour of the Médoc.

The Médoc wine route takes you through the heart of the Haut-Médoc AOC (appellation d'origine controlee), which includes six of France’s most prestigious appellations: Margaux, Moulis, Listrac, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, and Saint-Julien. One after the other, beautiful châteaux rise up from the verdant hillsides, creating one of the most scenic vineyards landscapes in the world.

For much of its history, the Haut-Médoc (much of the region, in fact) was salt marshes used for grazing cattle and sheep. It wasn’t until the 17th century that Dutch merchants began a drainage project with the hope of developing an area that would support a wine production significant enough to challenge Portugal’s dominance of the British market. The sandy terroir, sunshine, and cool Atlantic breezes provided the perfect climate, and by the 19th century the Haut-Médoc was one of France’s most prosperous wine regions.

As you travel through this idyllic landscape, you’ll see such world-renowned wineries as Margaux, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, and Cos d'Estournel. A highlight of the tour will be visiting a château, where you’ll meet the winemaker and enjoy vineyard and cellar tours, as well as a tasting.

Tonight, your captain will host a special welcome dinner in your honor. (BB,L, Captain's Welcome Gala)

Day 10: Cruising the Gironde Estuary, Blaye, Libourne
Featured excursions: Scenic drive along the Route de la Corniche fleurie, or hike through the Blaye fortress

You’ll depart Pauillac in the morning and sail a short distance across the estuary to Blaye, where the ship will dock for the morning. The scenic journey through the estuary offers a unique look at the delta. Not only will you see vineyard-covered hillsides, but high limestone cliffs and grassy marshlands dotted with fishing huts built on stilts.

Running along the cliffs of the Gironde, between the towns of Blaye and Bourg, is a little road known as the Route de la Corniche fleurie. The road winds through the tiny, picturesque hamlets of Pain de Sucre, Marmisson and Roque de Thau, where you’ll find charming stone houses built by 19th-century ship captains. Many of the captains traveled to far-off locations and returned with exotic plants, which they planted in their gardens and along the road.

You’ll see a variety of tropical and Mediterranean plants, including palms, bananas, laurels and wallflowers. And, if you look up to the cliffs above the road, you’ll spy prehistoric cave dwellings. Aquitaine offers a profusion of prehistoric sites (it boasts more than any other region in France). It seems people have been enjoying the pleasures of the area for some 400,000 years.

For those who looking for something more physically active, consider Uniworld’s “Go Active” option where you can hike the walls and ruins of the Blaye citadel, which was built by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, a military engineer of King Louis XIV, in the1680s. The site has been under the watchful eye of UNESCO since 2008.

This evening, you’ll dock in the English bastide town of Libourne. (BB,L,D)

Day 11: Libourne (Bergerac and Périgord)
Featured Excursion: Bergerac and the Périgord

Throughout the year, but particularly from June to November, the Gironde estuary is home to a spectacular natural phenomenon, le mascaret (tidal bore). As the Atlantic tide flows inland, it is higher than rivers it seeks. The Garonne mascaret breaks quickly over the shallow mud banks, but the Dordogne mascaret surges forth as a well-formed wave that can continue upriver for some 20 miles (32 km). Though it sounds concerning at first, it’s not at all. In fact, it’s something to see—even something to celebrate. Your captain will steer the ship directly into the wave to lessen the rocking, and you’ll be invited up to the sun deck for a glass of champagne. Don’t be surprised if you see crowds gathering on the banks to watch surfers riding the wave!

What better way to spend a day in this part of Aquitaine than by taking full advantage of what it knows best: how to eat. The Périgord is a magical area that melds Medieval architecture, sunflower fields, and the dense oak forests that cloak the famed Périgord truffle. (It’s known as the “black diamond” for the high prices it fetches.) Bergerac, in the southernmost part of the Périgord, boasts twelve AOCs—it’s an oenophile’s paradise—and such local delicacies as foie gras and duck confit. Sample your way through an open-air farmers’ market, which is as much a treat for the eye as for the taste buds. Hear the fateful love story of Cyrano de Bergerac and his Roxane. Board a traditional flat-bottomed boat, known as a gabarre, and glide along this beautiful stretch of the Dordogne. (river condition permitting)

As if the day hasn’t yielded enough delectable treats, tonight you’re invited to an epicurean dinner. The “gastronomic meal of the French” is so indelibly linked to the country’s identity that it was added to UNESCO’s list of “intangible cultural heritage” in 2010. (BB,L,D)

Day 12: Libourne (Saint- Emilion), cruising the Dordogne River, Bordeaux
Featured excursion: Saint-Émilion walking tour with wine tasting

Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers an exceptional landscape of historic architecture and even more historic vineyards—first planted by the Romans, and virtually untouched since, they were the first vineyards to be protected by UNESCO.

The town, built atop the limestone hills, offers a charming array of interesting shops along its cobblestone streets. But what makes this town particularly special is what exists below the town.

In the 8th century, a Breton monk named Émilion fled to southern France to escape persecution by the Benedictine order, and he made a home out of a small cave with an underground spring. Dedicating his life to God, Émilion, a hermit, performed numerous miracles and developed a following of monks. Upon his death in 767 and with so many good works done, the area became known as Saint-Émilion. In the 12th century, near the site of Émilion’s cave, work began on a subterranean cathedral. Workers carved into the limestone, creating a massive monolithic church with three naves, a high altar, and catacombs. Its 175-foot (53 m) bell tower heralds its location. It took just forty years to complete and is a marvel of engineering.

After touring much of Saint-Émilion’s history, it’s time to taste its world-class wines. The microclimate and exceptional amount of sunshine this region receives, combined with the richness of the soils (clay, limestone and sand) virtually ensure an excellent result. You’ll see vineyards in every direction, but what you won’t see is another secret to the area’s celebrated production: 125 miles (200 km) of underground caves and tunnels. They maintain a temperature of about 56° F (13° C) year-round, making them an ideal place for aging wines.

This evening, you’ll set sail westward on the Dordogne, returning to Bordeaux. (BB,L,D)

Day 13: Bordeaux, Cadillac
Featured excursions: Cadillac and the vineyards of Sauternes, exclusive nighttime tour of Bordeaux

Today join a tour to the nearby town of Cadillac (you’ll have plenty of time to explore Bordeaux tomorrow) to indulge in an exploration of Sauternes, the sweet wine which is named for the region.

Sauternes is made from grapes that have been affected by Botrytis, or noble rot, a fungus that causes a raisin-like decay. The result is a concentrated and distinctly flavored wine, characterized by a balance of sweetness with acidity, and with particular notes of apricots, honey and peaches.

You’ll  travel to one of Cadillac’s finest estates to meet the winemaker and share a country lunch paired with Sauternes, before traveling to Château d'Yquem for a chance to view the beautiful grounds. Of all the makers of Sauternes, this is perhaps the most exclusive. In 2011, famed sommelier Christian Vanneque paid a staggering $123,000 (97,000€) for a single bottle of a 200-year-old vintage. 

Bordeaux under the stars—what could be more magical? Take an evening tour through the heart of this city and you’ll understand why Queen Elizabeth deemed it “the essence of elegance” on a state visit in 1992. Bordeaux’s development is the result of continuous expansion since Roman times, and its planning and architectural heritage (particularly from the 18th century) make it an outstanding example of urban coherence. After Paris, Bordeaux has more protected buildings than any other French city. From the narrow alleyways of the Saint-Pierre district to the broad avenues of the Place des Quinconces, you’ll get a sense of the city’s development, and see many key monuments: the Grand Théâtre, which opened in 1780; La Place de la Bourse, an open square dedicated to Louis XV; La Grosse Cloche, the city’s bell tower; Bordeaux Cathedral, where Eleanor of Aquitaine married the future Louis VII in 1137, and the Great Synagogue of Bordeaux, built in the 1880s. (BB, L, Captain's Farewell Dinner)

Day 14: Bordeaux
Featured Excursion: Exclusive “Experience Bordeaux as the Bordelais Do”

Though Aquitaine is profoundly French, its history and spirit owe a great deal to the Romans, who colonized the region in 56 BC, and to Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose second marriage to England’s Henry II initiated a period of tremendous British influence.

Bordeaux prospered under the English, who bolstered its wine production by shipping countless bottles of claret, as it was known, across the channel. (The area still retains a certain British accent, and is one of the few regions in France where le golf has gained a following.) The city has long been known as La Belle Au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty)—she’s definitely beautiful, but does seem to be waking. Over the last decade, her charming boulevards have been made pedestrian zones, a modern transportation system was installed and her exquisite neoclassical architecture has been restored. There’s also been an influx of university students, giving the city a youthful, revitalized spirit.

See Bordeaux à pied on this fascinating walking tour, which will include stops to at some of the city’s most mouth-watering merchants. Not only will you see the sights of Bordeaux (like the Grand Théâtre, a 15th-century bell tower, and Bordeaux Cathedral) but you’ll taste its many delicacies too, including foie gras, freshwater and seafood specialties, wine and canelés, the pastry whose curious 18th-century origins are still shrouded in mystery.

This afternoon, you’ll have free time to enjoy the city on your own. Revisit some of the places you saw on your tour or explore new areas. It’s a great time to do a little shopping, either for yourself or for loved ones at home.

It is said that ten bottles of Bordeaux are opened around the world every second. Each should offer a toast to this glorious region and its bewitching capital city! (BB,L,D)

Day 15: Bordeaux (disembark), transfer to the airport
You’ve sampled culinary delights, touched history and experienced the best of life along the three rivers of Aquitaine. Now the journey comes to a close and it’s time to 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 Bordeaux–Mérignac International Airport for your flight home. Your Uniworld adventure may be over, but we know you’ll enjoy the memories you’ve made for years to come. (CB,BB)

Tour Map
All This Included
Blend, like a fabulous wine, your passion for the good life with the art, culture and scenery of France for a picture-perfect journey. 

Arrive in Paris, the world’s most dazzling capital city, and let it captivate you with its legendary gastronomy, breathtaking monument-lined boulevards, and glimmering lights. Sail the Seine through the bucolic French countryside. Travel to the beaches of Normandy. Visit charming artists’ towns like Auvers-sur-Oise, Honfleur and Giverny, where you’ll see Claude Monet’s beloved home and garden. Then embark on the second part of this once-in-a-lifetime trip with a high-speed train journey from Paris to Bordeaux, the glowing star of southwest France.

Once in Bordeaux, capital of the Aquitaine region, you’ll sail three idyllic rivers: the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde. This is the land of chivalry and chateaux, of noble wines and gourmet delicacies. In fact, this has been the very heart of French wine making for centuries, and you’ll taste why. From lovely little towns like St Émilion, Pauillac, and Bergerac to lively Bordeaux, each excursion will delight your senses. If you’re lucky, you may even get to experience le mascaret, an exciting natural wave phenomena unique to the Gironde estuary. As the locals will tell you, Bordeaux offers a douceur de vivre—or sweetness of life—that just can’t be found elsewhere. Come and enjoy!
  • 14-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the alluring River Baroness and the breathtaking River Royale
  • All transfers on arrival and departure days 
  • All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
  • 16 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 14 dinners
  • 2 Captain’s Welcome Galas and 2 Farewell Dinners
  • Complimentary fine wine, beer, and soft drinks onboard; bottled water replenished daily in your stateroom; and 24-hour specialty coffee and tea station
  • 20 excursions fully hosted by English-speaking local expert
  • 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
  • State-of-the-art portable audio headset system on all shore excursions
  • Use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks throughout your cruise
  • 2 Signature Lectures
  • Exclusive Epicurean Adventurer Program™
  • Free Internet and Wi-Fi
Accommodations on this Tour
Cruising: Outside cabin on River Baroness and River Royale
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Prices exclude additional port charges of $280 per person.
  • A limited number of singles are available for an additional supplement.
  • 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.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.

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