Normandy & the D-Day Beaches - 2017

Vernon • Giverny • Rouen • Honfleur • D-Day Beaches of Normandy • Les Andelys
Moderate Deluxe
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Itinerary at a Glance

Come aboard the ms River Venture to follow the winding Seine River through Normandy, the picturesque region that witnessed the clash of medieval armies, the birth of French Impressionism, and the heroic D-Day Invasion that saved Europe. During the course of this special voyage, you’ll visit Monet’s gardens at Giverny, explore Normandy’s rich culinary heritage, and enjoy numerous guided sightseeing tours and Cultural Connections. Perhaps most important, you’ll honor the 73rd anniversary of D-Day and the American heroes who fought there, as you take part in a moving full-day excursion that includes the landing sites of Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery.
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DAYS 1-2:

Depart home / Overnight flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport / Transfer to Conflans / Embark ship

Following your overnight flight to France, you’ll arrive on Day 2 to begin your Europe river cruise. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will greet you on your arrival and arrange transfer to the Deluxe ms River Venture, your floating hotel for the next seven nights of river cruising and exploration. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers for a briefing by the Captain and staff, followed by dinner in the ship’s restaurant.

Included Meals:


DAY 3:


Your first stop along the river is at the pleasant riverside town of Vernon, site of a key bridge across the Seine that was held by the Germans prior to the Normandy invasion. From here we'll visit the Giverny home, studio, and gardens of the beloved French Impressionist Claude Monet.* Monet designed the lush gardens, which he later depicted in his Water Lilies series and other well-known paintings. Following lunch back on board, you'll have free time to explore Vernon on your own.

Biking Opportunity: Sign up for one of the ship's bikes and go on a self-guided ride, following a mostly flat circuit that takes you through Bonnieres-sur-Seine, La Roche Guyon, and to Giverny, where you can stop to visit Monet's garden. Distance: Approximately 20 miles.
Click here for details.

Cultural Connections: Back aboard ship, hear a fascinating lecture about the French Impressionist painters, including Monet, who drew their inspiration from the regional scenery along the Seine River. Today you'll also enjoy a lively French language lesson. After dinner, enjoy a high-energy Parisian dance show in the lounge, featuring the can-can and other authentic cabaret numbers.

 *Please Note: Because Monet's home and gardens are open seasonally from late March through late October, the Giverny tour may not be available on early- and late-season departures.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4:

Les Andelys

This morning finds us in Les Andelys, an ancient village of half-timbered buildings tucked into a bend where the Seine winds past white limestone cliffs. High above, you’ll see the ruins of Château Gaillard, a fortress built by Richard the Lionheart in the 12th century to protect his Normandy holdings from the French. Active Feature: Join a local expert for a walking tour through the towns and on a short hike up the hill to the ruins of the great fortress and spectacular views of the river valley. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure as we continue sailing down the Seine. Cultural Connections: Before lunch, stop into a local establishment for a typical apéro, which is when the French meet for a glass of wine or an apertif before lunch or dinner to unwind a bit and enjoy a moment to connect with those around them.* As we enjoy scenic cruising this afternoon, enjoy a tasting of creamy Normandy cheeses and calvados apple brandy. Tonight is movie night in the lounge, featuring The Longest Day

* Because sailing schedules from Les Andelys to the Honfleur are dictated by tides and other meteorological conditions, some features of the tour may happen at times other than as advertised.  

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5:


Early this morning, our river cruise ship passes through massive locks into the tidal Seine River Estuary*, and sails onward to the picturesque port of Honfleur, the birthplace of the painter Eugene Boudin and a popular gathering place for other artists of the early Impressionist movement. Active Feature: On your guided walking tour, see the charming harbor-front area and the Church of Saint-Catherine, the largest wooden church in France. You’ll also have free time to explore on your own. Cultural Connections: Following lunch on board, an insightful lecture by historian Nigel Stewart will prepare us for the next day’s tour of the D-Day landing sites with a discussion of the events of World Wars I and II that ultimately led to the D-Day invasion. 

Biking Opportunity: If you’d like to discover more of the Normandy coast, sign up for a bike and ride along the coast Deauville, a former fishing town that became an elegant vacation destination. In addition to the large beach, Deauville has two horse-racing tracks and handsome weekend houses. The bike route is not entirely flat and wind needs to be taken into consideration. There are many small venues for refreshments in the Deauville before the return trip. Distance: Approximately 25 miles, roundtrip.
Click here for details.

*Please Note: The ms River Venture is one of the few passenger river vessels able to navigate the lower Seine to Honfleur. However, cruising the lower portion of the Seine River is dictated by tidal flow and weather, requiring that the itinerary be adapted on a week-by-week basis to ensure safe navigation according to local conditions. We do our utmost to ensure that all trip features are delivered as described. In the event of adverse conditions the ship will dock in Le Havre, which will become the base for the day's explorations.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Honfleur / D-Day Landing Beaches

The events of D-Day take center stage today, with a full-day tour of Normandy, including the beaches that took their place in history on June 6, 1944. We’ll drive* to the coastal village of Colleville-sur-Mer, site of the Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial, where nearly 10,000 soldiers who died invading France are buried beneath white headstones. Cultural Connection: Here, take part in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony in remembrance of American lives lost. Afterward, enjoy lunch in a local seafood restaurant on the coast. Then, it's on to the coastal promontory of Pointe du Hoc, where US Rangers famously scaled the cliffs to destroy a German battery that threatened the Omaha Beach landings. Finally, continue on to iconic Omaha Beach, where US Army infantry prevailed in the face of fierce resistance, for a photo stop.

*Please Note: Le Havre is the closest Seine River port to the Normandy sites. You'll want to be aware, however, that this important full-day excursion, which follows the coast to the key D-Day sites, includes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours (total) of travel time by private motorcoach. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:


Active Feature: This morning, we’ll disembark for a walking tour of historic Rouen, an ancient city that has played a large role in the region’s history. Our tour includes entrance to the ornate Gothic cathedral, which boasts the highest spire in France. It was also the subject of Monet's famous series of paintings depicting the light falling on the  façade at different times of the day and year. You'll have free time to stroll Rouen on your own this afternoon, or take advantage of one of the following: 

Canoeing Opportunity: During your free time this afternoon, sign up for canoeing on the placid waters of the Eure River, a tributary of the Seine. (Limited to 32 participants.) 

Biking Opportunity: This self-guided route from Rouen follows a scenic path along the Seine through the village of La Bouille and the historic Roumare forest. Distance: 25 -mile loop. 
Click here for details.

You may also sign up for our optional Abbey Trail optional tour, which takes you on a scenic drive into the Normandy countryside to visit to historic monasteries. You'll take a guided walk among the dramatic ruins of Jumieges Abbey, which was a major religious center during the Middle Ages. You'll also stop at the the 7th-century Abbey of Saint Wandrille, which still operates today with a small community of monks. 

You’re also invited to join the chef this afternoon for a tour of the ship's galley. It's a fascinating glimpse of how the culinary staff produces excellent meals and serves them with such precision. This, evening, enjoy the Captain's Dinner, with entertainment by Roberto, a great favorite of Vantage passengers, who delivers classics of swing, rhythm & blues, and other genres with a flair.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Abbey Trail

Abbey Trail

  • Approximate Cost: $59 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Saint-Wandrille-Rancon
  • When: Half-day tour

Join us for an optional tour that combines views of the pastoral Normandy countryside with a fascinating look at the great monasteries that once dotted this ancient province. Departing from Rouen, you’ll drive along the Seine and into serene country of farms and half-timbered villages. We’ll make a stop at the Abbey of St. Wandrille, where monks reside to this day, maintaining a nearly unbroken line of succession since the 7th century. If we’re fortunate, we’ll be able to meet one of the monks who has permission to speak to visitors, so we can learn about daily life at the abbey. You’ll also visit the ruins of Jumieges Abbey, also founded more than a thousand years ago. Once one of the grandest and most influential monasteries in France, it attracted notable visitors from throughout Europe. During your visit, you’ll be able to walk through the haunted remains of the massive stone buildings, including the ruins of the great twin-towered abbey church. 

DAY 8:


Cultural Connection: During this morning’s scenic cruising, join the ship’s pastry chef to learn how to make a traditional Normandy apple tart. Our destination is Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, once an the center for the region’s river barge traffic. Today, many old barges have been converted to charming houseboats moored along the river. You’ll have several choices for this afternoon: 

Walking tour of Conflans: Join an active walking tour that takes you through the Old Town and to the fascinating Marine Museum, which offers interesting exhibits on the area’s maritime history, including river barging. 

Biking Opportunity:
Follow a bike path to Villa Savoye, a 1927 masterpiece built by the architect Le Corbusier, one of the most important influences on modern architecture. Villa Savoye was one of the structures named in the 2016 UNESCO designation of Le Corbusier’s collective works. The mostly flat bike path follows the Seine. Distance: 16 miles. 
Click here for details.

Optional Tour:
Choose the optional "Auvers-sur-Oise: Footsteps of Van Gogh" tour, which takes you to some of the sites that the artist painted in his final months. You'll also visit the humble churchyard where Vincent is buried next to his devoted brother, Theo. 

Cultural Connection: This evening, your final night aboard ship, we’ll gather for a Farewell Drink. You'll be entertained during the cocktail hour and again after dinner by Alex Kolarski, a recording artist who translates his love for American music into French. Dance and sing along to French and American songs performed by Alex on vocals and bass with his sideman Nicolas Duc on guitar.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Auvers-sur-Oise: Footsteps of Van Gogh

Auvers-sur-Oise: Footsteps of Van Gogh

  • Approximate Cost: $69 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours, including transfers
  • Location: Auvers-sur-Oise, France
  • When: Afternoon tour

Located in the northwest outskirts of Paris, the scenic village of Auvers-Sur-Oise was a favorite destination for a number of notable 19th-century painters. However, it will forever be known as the town where Vincent Van Gogh spent the final months of his troubled life (while being treated by a local physician) and is buried alongside his beloved brother Theo. Here, he also experienced one of his most prolific periods — painting approximately 70 paintings (about one per day) in and around the village. You will enjoy a guided walking tour during which your regional expert will share anecdotes and information about the paintings, the scenes, and Van Gogh’s life at the time. Reproductions of various worls along your route will show that the buildings have not changed noticeably since the 1800s. In fact, as part of the Regional Natural Park of Vixen, Auvers-sur-Oise is considered “eternal” — and may not be altered or expanded. In the future, the village will look just as it appears in any photos you take during your tour.

DAY 9:

Conflans / Disembark ship / Return home

Following breakfast on board, disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, begin your optional post-trip extension in Paris.


Included Meals:


Important Notice:The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.

Please Note: Port Times & Itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.

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Normandy & the D-Day Beaches - 2017

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Journey Thanksgiving on the Seine: Paris & the Heart of Normandy Paris & Normandy Paris and the Heart of Normandy
Cruise-Only Prices $0 $3,349 $2,356 Save up to $2,698 per couple over our competitors!
Trip Length 0 days 8 days 8 days 2 More Days - the BEST pacing and MOST time exploring the Seine and Normandy!
Per Diem $0 per day $419 per day $294 per day Save up to $438 per couple per day vs. the competition.
Cabin sizes Reg Stateroom: 165 sq ft; Suites: 250 sq ft; Owners Suite: 330 sq ft Reg Cabin: 128 sq ft; Suites 256 sq ft Reg Cabin: 150 sq ft; Suites: 205-275 sq ft; Explorer Suite: 445 sq ft Larger staterooms & more amenities are included for suites on the ms River Venture
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Included Tours and Special Features 9 Included Tours plus Cultural Connections - a value of $1,170 per couple! Lectures on impressionist painters, WWII and Normandy French language lesson D-Day 72th Anniversary tour to the Normandy beaches and American Cemetery Apple tart demonstration Complimentary bicycles Pub Crawl in Honfleur Paris city tour 8 Included Tours Onboard Local Entertaiment One Lecture on impressionist paintings Complimentary use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks Visit museum in Rouen 6 Included Tours Lectures on Jeanne d'Arc & French Impressionists French Cheese tasting French Language Lesson and local market visit The MOST included tours — a value of up to $200 per person!
Meals 26 meals including special Thanksgiving Meal 19 meals 20 meals Best value — most meals per day — including 2 meals ashore
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