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.
DAY 2: Tarascon (Arles or 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.
Choice of Tarascon walking discovery tour or Arles walking discovery tour
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. Avignon is home to the medieval bridge immortalized in the folk song “Sur le Pont d ’Avignon,” as well as the mighty Palace of the Popes. From a distance, the picture-perfect city center looks as though it has been lifted straight from the pages of a history book, but all you need to do is step inside its medieval walls to discover the prosperous heart of contemporary Avignon. Choose between two different ways to explore this intriguing and ancient city.
Exclusive guided “Let's Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River
Choice of Avignon walking discovery tour with Palace of the Popes or Avignon walking discovery tour with Pont du Gard
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.
Exclusive intimate Viviers Village Day
DAY 5: 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 Exclusive Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage twin villages stroll with wine tasting or Exclusive guided “Let's Go” Hermitage vineyards hike with wine tasting
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.
Exclusive guided “Let's Go” Lyon peninsula bicycle tour
Choice of Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Lyon walking tour or Exclusive silk weavers walking tour
DAY 7: Mâcon
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.
Choice of Burgundy wine landscapes, Beaune, Hospices de Beaune with open-air farmers’ market visit or Ma^con walking discovery tour
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.
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.
Château La Roche-Guyon
Choice of Monet’s gardens at Giverny or Exclusive guided “Let's Go” bicycle ride to Giverny
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 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.
Rouen gourmet walking discovery tour
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 atop Normandy’s Alabaster Coast. In a word, magnifique. Not into golf? Stroll through seaside Honfleur, captured on canvas by generations of artists. Caudebec, a lovely little town on a serene loop of the Seine, 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 discovery tour or Exclusive guided “Let's Go” golfing in Étretat
DAY 12: Rouen (Normandy Beaches)
The Normandy coast will forever be associated with the Allies’ D-Day invasion, a day that comes vividly to life on today’s excursion to the beaches of 1944. Or travel even further into the past with an up-close look at the thousand-year-old Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the Norman conquest. 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, each of which was assigned a code name by the Allies as they planned their attack.
Arromanches and the American Cemetery
Choice of Utah and Omaha beaches with Sainte-Mère-Église or Juno Beach or Bayeux
DAY 13: Mantes-la-Jolie (Versailles)
If you’ve ever wondered what life was really like for the French rulers of yesteryear, find out today with a visit to one of two over-the-top residences—the Palace of Versailles or the private rooms of Château de Malmaison, once home to Napoleon’s beloved Empress Josephine. How did France’s rulers live over the centuries? Step into the private rooms of either Versailles, the lavish palace built by the Sun King, or Malmaison, home to Napoleon Bonaparte’s empress Josephine, to find out.
Choice of Palace of Versailles or Château de Malmaison
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. You have a host of options for exploring incomparable Paris: See all the important sights via boat and motorcoach, explore the heart and soul of the city on a walk from Notre Dame to the Latin Quarter, or bike along the quays with a knowledgeable guide.
Choice of “Heart of Paris” cruise and city tour or Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter walking tour or Exclusive guided “Let's Go” Left Bank bicycle ride
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.
A meticulously planned itinerary tailor-made for culturally curious travelers.
For Francophiles in love with the culture, history, cuisine and romance of France, this grand voyage is a dream come true. Soak up the joie de vivre
that makes France one of the most adored countries in the world.
Experience France from north to south, sailing three rivers and embarking upon in-depth shore excursions. Walk through Monet’s beloved Giverny, seeing the enchanting grounds that he made famous; kayak under the arches of the 2,000-year-old Pont du Gard outside of Avignon; enjoy a recital of baroque favorites in a 12th-century cathedral in charming Viviers; visit Lyon’s famous Les Halles food market; and have a chance to golf at two historic French golf courses.
From the beaches of Normandy and the verve and romance of Paris to the sun-drenched vistas of Burgundy and Provence, this itinerary in France is truly sans pareil!
Who will enjoy this cruise:
Those who desire a taste of everything—art, architecture, history, culture, fine wine and tantalizing cuisine—all in one grand adventure.
Grand France is a combination of Paris & Normandy and Burgundy & Provence.
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, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water
12 days of excursions, including “Choice Is Yours” options, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
Guided "Go Active," "Do as the Locals Do," "Village Day" and "Gentle Walking" options
State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
Use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks
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
1 country: France
4 UNESCO World Heritage sites
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
Captivating onboard local entertainment
Cultural enrichment, including 2 Signature Lectures
Exclusive Connoisseur Collection and Generations Family Program on select summer departure