Day 1 – Paris (embark)
Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle 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.
Day 2 – La Roche Guyon, Vernon
Your journey begins in regal fashion today with visits to two châteaux. At Château La Roche-Guyon, you may venture inside for a peek at the sumptuous rooms where French kings were once entertained (and royal hijinks no doubt ensured). Or climb to the top of the fortress tower for marvelous views of the gardens, village and valley below. Spend the evening at another beautiful château, an ideal setting for a concert of classical music. Kings, dukes, duchesses, cardinals, counts—France’s nobility created splendid palaces and intriguing castles. Today the Seine and your luxurious ship carry you to châteaux with close links to the history of French royalty, in a region that was once the borderland between French and English royal power.
Featured Excursion: Château de Bizy concert and choice of Château La Roche-Guyon or Exclusive guided “Let's Go” Château La Roche-Guyon fortress tower climb
Generations Excursion: A day chock full of art and history. The ship docks right at the gates of Chateau la Roche-Guyon, a castle with a history spanning more than a thousand years. Your first look at the castle might not be too different from Monet’s when he painted a view of it in 1881. But the great impressionist isn’t the only artist to find inspiration there. It has inspired artists of all kinds for centuries, starting with a 17th-century garden designer who laid out a huge and elegant vegetable garden that stretches from the banks of the Seine to the palace. Would you believe that a garden can be beautiful even without green leaves and flowers? Because not much grows here in winter, you can see how artfully it is designed: four great squares are divided diagonally, creating an amazing pattern of triangles. Explore the paths and angles of the garden, then check out the stables, the thousand-year-old dovecotes dug into the chalky stone behind the castle, and look at the colorful, beautifully stitched Gobelins tapestries in the reception halls. Back on the ship, a painting class lets you apply some of the sights you saw at the castle as you learn the rules of drawing and perspective.
Day 3 – Rouen
Normandy’s medieval capital has a historic quarter that remains amazingly intact. See Rouen’s top sights as well as its splendid Christmas market, held on the square in front of the cathedral Monet painted dozens of times. Inside, you can listen to ethereal liturgical music enhanced by the cathedral’s wonderful acoustics. Another treat awaits at La Couronne—tea and cake at the restaurant where Julia Child had a life-changing first meal in France. The medieval capital of Normandy, Rouen has managed to preserve much of its historic core, despite being turned into a battlefield numerous times.
Featured Excursion: Choice of Rouen walking discovery tour with Christmas Market and cathedral choir recital or Teatime at La Couronne
Generations Excursion: Venture inside a giant clock. Rouen’s Great Clock was set into an arch over the street around 1520. On one side you can see the single hand that shows the hours (there is no minute hand); on the other side the works are designed to show phases of the moon and other astronomical phenomenon. This clock face is 500 years old but the original clock is actually a century older than the Renaissance archway.
Day 4 – Mantes la Jolie (Versailles)
The magnificently flamboyant Palace of Versailles was built during a time of absolute power, setting new standards for over-the-top excess with its elaborate gardens, grand state apartments and glittering Hall of Mirrors. All this plus an exclusive “secret” tour that takes you were others cannot go? Priceless.
Featured Excursion: Exclusive “Secret Versailles” palace tour
Generations Excursion: Play in Versailles’ royal gardens. Louis XV was just five years old when he became the king of France. He lived here in Versailles, playing in the splendid gardens his great-grandfather, Louis XIV, created. What was it like, being a little boy and the absolute ruler of a great nation at the same time? Everything in these lavish grounds was designed to emphasize the grandeur and importance of the king. The sculptures, fountains, pools and hedges all have symbolic importance. You might have more fun here as you explore the gardens and learn about the rigid rules that governed court life than the princes and princesses who once lived here. Louis XIV’s favorite garden designer, Andre Le Notre, spent 11 years creating the Grand Canal, a mile-long sheet of water where naval battles were reenacted in miniature. You can dip an oar into the canal with a rented rowboat or bicycle around the grounds—there are miles and miles of tree-lined paths to ride along.
Day 5 – Paris
Join a local expert for a guided walk through two of our favorite neighborhoods in the “City of Light,” the Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter. Admire the Gothic grandeur and grimacing gargoyles of Notre Dame, then wander the streets with stones worn by countless notable artists, writers and philosophers, including Matisse and Picasso, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. The cultural, political, artistic and financial heart of France, Paris is entrancing, magical and exhilarating. Every view is postcard worthy, and for the next few days it is yours to enjoy.
Featured Excursion: Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour of the Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter
Generations Excursion: Ride the great Ferris wheel. Here’s a day of seasonal treats! The Grande Roue—the great wheel—is only erected at Christmastime in Paris. It stands on the Champs Elysées, a huge circular punctuation mark for the Christmas market there, and it offers fantastic views of the city’s landmarks. The Christmas market takes its cues from the oldest markets in France—those in Alsace—so you have a chance to taste some of the traditional treats of that region: yummy cookies known as bredele, and perhaps a crepe or waffle.
Day 6 – Paris
After visiting Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, Louis XIV was so green with envy that he gave his modest hunting lodge a total makeover. See the inspiration for Versailles on an excursion to this elaborately decorated winter wonderland, where the owner will host an exclusive reception for Uniworld guests. Tonight, we’ll treat you to a Paris illuminations tour.
Featured Excursion: Exclusive reception at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte and Paris "Illuminations" tour
Generations Excursion: Etiquette for princesses and princes and visit to Eiffel tower. Now that you’ve visited palaces where kings and queens lived or stayed, can you imagine what it would have been like to live in those great houses? Every aspect of their lives was determined by strict rules of court etiquette, and everybody had to follow the rules. Did you know that only the king and queen could sit in armchairs? Princes and princesses were allowed to sit in chairs without arms—and if you were a grand duke or duchess, you got to sit on a stool—but almost everyone else had to stand at a formal reception. Even the way you unfolded your napkin at the dining table had specific rules. This fun workshop will teach you the art of behaving properly at royal court; you’ll know exactly how to curtsey properly if you happen to meet a king or queen one day.
Day 7 – Paris
The shop windows of Paris are truly an art form, particularly during the holidays when they attract throngs of delighted onlookers. See these enchanting displays for yourself today on one of the city’s chicest streets. We’ll also take you inside the Paris Opera, described by its architect as a “Versailles for everyone.” For something completely different, take a guided bike ride along the Left Bank.
This evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner will be prepared for you.
Featured Excursion: Choice of Walking discovery tour to the Paris Opera and Boulevard Haussmann or Exclusive guided “Let's Go” Left Bank bicycle ride
Generations Excursion: Hunt for treasures at the Louvre. You’ll need a camera for today’s adventure, which starts under the Louvre Museum’s glass pyramid. There you’ll join up with a team and receive your map of the museum (it’s huge) highlighted with a list of treasures—artworks that fit the theme of beauty and the beast—to find. You’re going to have just two hours to locate as many as possible and snap photos of your team in front of the designated beauty or beast. The clues can be sneaky, so you’ll need skill, strategy, teamwork and maybe a little luck to win. Ready, set, go!
Day 8 – Paris (disembark), transfer to the airport
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.
The “City of Light” glows with extra magic during the holidays. Every town in France boasts a marché de Noël in December, but Paris—naturally—boasts many, each one emblematic of its neighborhood. Stroll down the Champs Élysées for your Christmas shopping this year, or visit one of the boutiques on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Walk through the Tuileries Gardens and marvel at the spectacular holiday décor of the great department stores in the city where they were invented.
Uniworld's Generations Program features exclusive activities for kids from 4 to 17 years old and includes dedicated Family Hosts. Enjoy the same industry-leading service and accommodations that you always expect from Uniworld, with additional programs, events and excursions for your travelers in training.
All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water
6 days of excursions all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
Guided "Taste of Christmas," "Let's Go" and "Do as the Locals Do" programs
State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
Use of Nordic walking sticks
7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the magical S.S. Joie de Vivre
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
2 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
All transfers on arrival and departure days
Captivating onboard local entertainment
Cultural enrichment, including a Signature Lecture: “The Mona Lisa and 10 Legendary Paris Works of Art”
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.