4 DAYS FROM $1,099
4 DAYS FROM $1,099
The subtleties of the perfect French baguette, all at once light, airy, and crusty … the sweet crunch of the macaron, its rainbow of textures, flavors, and colors filling confectioners’ windows … the pop and effervescent waterfall of Champagne, as it’s poured for celebration. These are the culinary arts, and these are what you’ll experience with Vantage on a deluxe riverboat cruise: France Culinary Delights: Paris to Normandy.
Travel with us from the glittering capital to the iconic countryside, where most of the products for these delights are sourced, and you’ll experience so much more than just taste of French culture. Fully savor the history of a proud region, and immerse yourself in history at a touching visit to the American Cemetery during a full-day Normandy landing tour, on an exclusive itinerary sailing directly to Honfleur that most cruise lines don’t offer.
Don’t miss your chance to honor the heroes who changed the tide of war and retrace their steps when you step ashore at Omaha Beach — especially poignant in 2019, the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Marvel at the muse of Impressionist painter Claude Monet as you stroll through his gardens at Giverny. And gaze in awe among some of Europe’s greatest treasures in Paris. Visits to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites await, and more if you add on one of our enriching optional extensions to lavish Versailles or the Champagne Region and Lost Battlefields of WWI to this unforgettable European tour.
Traveling solo? Vantage is the only travel company whose river ships include cabins built specifically for solo travelers, with free Single Supplements. We’ve also designed this itinerary to give you more time for independent exploring, so you can browse Rouen’s antique stores, shop in Paris, or cycle along the Seine. You’ll find numerous active touring opportunities, including daily yoga aboard ship, bike rides, canoeing on the Seine, and longer walks and mini-hikes.
Depart home and fly overnight to Paris, France (or depart earlier for optional extension)
You also have the option of leaving earlier to enjoy our pre-trip extension in Versailles, Chartres & the Châteaux of the Loire Valley.
Welcome to Paris! Arrive, embark ship, and set sail as we enjoy a Welcome Dinner
Arrive in Paris where our ship, the Deluxe ms River Venture, will be waiting on the banks of the Seine. You’ll have the afternoon free, then gather with your fellow travelers this evening for a Welcome Drink and briefing by your Vantage Cruise Director and the ship’s staff, followed by a Welcome Dinner in the ship’s restaurant. We’ll cast off as we’re dining, but no worries — we’ll be back in Paris at the end of our voyage!
Note that if you purchase your airfare from Vantage, you’ll be met outside the customs area and the transfer to the ship will be included. (If you plan to purchase your own airfare, ask when you reserve about arranging your transfer with Vantage.)
Walking tour of Conflans, optional Footsteps of Van Gogh tour, French drinking culture presentation, Crêpes Suzette cooking demonstration
Located at the juncture of the Oise River and the Seine, Conflans was once a center for barge traffic. Many antique wooden barges have been converted into charming houseboats. Active Feature: Join an active walking tour of Conflans. Alternatively, choose our optional "Auvers-sur-Oise: Footsteps of Van Gogh" tour, which takes you to scenes painted by the artist during the final months of his life, as well as to the churchyard where he rests in a humble grave next to his beloved brother, Theo.
Cultural Connections: During the afternoon’s cruising, join your Cruise Director in the lounge for a lively French language lesson — pick up a few key words and phrases, then use them on your trip to interact with locals! Later, the restaurant’s maitre’d will introduce you to the nuances of French drinking culture. Then, after dinner, you're in for taste of old Paris, when a talented troupe comes aboard to perform a high-energy cabaret show, featuring, of course, the cancan.
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 works 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.
Please note: On select departures when the Van Gogh house is closed, you’ll instead experience Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise, an impressive 17th century financier's house with impressive gardens and an even more impressive history.
Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, aperitifs in the village, Navarin of lamb cooking class
You don’t have to be a gardener or art lover to be enraptured by the beloved Giverny home, studio, and gardens of the legendary French Impressionist Claude Monet.* The profusely colorful gardens are one of the artist’s greatest creations, which he depicted in his Water Lilies series and other well-known paintings. During our visit to Giverny, we’ll also stop in the village for an informal apertif with locals. This afternoon, tap into your inner Monet by participating in a painting lesson aboard ship. Active Feature: Take a self-guided bike ride to Monet’s garden, following a mostly flat circuit that takes you through Bonnieres-sur-Seine and La Roche Guyon. Cultural Connections: Before dinner, enjoy an informative lecture about French Impressionism. After dinner, head for the lounge for onboard dancing demos — learn different steps as they are demonstrated during the evening.
* Please Note: Monet's home and gardens are open from late March until late October. As a result, the site will not be available on a few early- and late-season departures. Instead, all travelers on those departures will visit the Château de La Roche–Guyon — an imposing castle built into a limestone cliff. The chateau served as the secret headquarters of German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel during the Normandy invasion. The historic walled garden features fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants laid out in a neat diamond pattern.
Abbey Trail, pipe organ concert in Caudebec-en-Caux cathedral, Normandy apple tart cooking lesson
On this morning's excursion, we’ll then follow the Abbey Trail to centuries-old monastery complexes dotting Upper Normandy. Our explorations include the impressive ruins of the once-magnificent Jumièges Abbey, and the Abbey of St. Wandrille, where a small community of monks maintains a monastic tradition on this spot that dates to the year 649. Cultural Connection: Afterwards, stroll into the ancient town of Caudebec-en-Caux to the town's Notre Dame Cathedral, constructed in the style known as Flamboyant Gothic. Inside, take a seat for a stirring concert on the church’s massive pipe organ.
We cast off in the afternoon for relaxing cruising down the Seine towards the river mouth on the English Channel. Notice the white limestone cliffs — they’re part of the same geologic feature as the famous White Cliffs of Dover, which lie just across the English Channel from Normandy. Our destination is the broad Seine Estuary and the historic fishing port of Honfleur.* During our sail, a member of the ship’s culinary staff will demonstrate how to make a scrumptious Normandy apple tart.
For dinner this evening, sit down to a special menu that pairs select wines with your courses, presented by the ship’s maître d’.
* Please Note: The ms River Venture is one of the few passenger river vessels able to navigate the tidal Seine Estuary 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. Additionally, all sailings in November and December will dock in Le Havre.
Insightful D-Day lecture, Honfleur exploration, Normandy mussel-cooking lesson
Cultural Connection: Today, enjoy what’s sure to be one of your cruise’s most unforgettable experiences — a Vantage-exclusive World War II lecture with noted D-Day historian Nigel Stewart. He’ll enlighten you with tales of the on-the-ground Allied victory, along with what led up to it, and enrich your afternoon by also telling you about the civilians who called Normandy home in the days leading up to, during, and after the Greatest Generation’s greatest conflict. You’ll be fully prepared for the following day’s journey to the Normandy beaches.
Unforgettable Moment / Active Feature: Earlier in the day, enjoy a guided walking tour of picturesque Honfleur — birthplace of the early Impressionist painter Eugene Boudin and a favorite of Monet, Courbet, and other artists, who maintained studios near the harbor. Your afternoon is free; perhaps you’ll take the opportunity to explore the area on two wheels on a self-guided biking excursion along the coast to Deauville. Cultural Connection: After dinner, enjoy a jazz ensemble in the ship’s lounge.
Normandy’s D-Day Beaches, American Cemetery, Bayeux or Caen tour choices, and afternoon le goûter snack experience
Some of the most dramatic moments of the 20th century are today’s focus, as we set out for a full-day tour of the beaches where Allied troops landed on D-Day — June 6, 1944. In 2019, France — and the world at large — commemorates the 75th anniversary of these brave troops’ sacrifice, and celebrates the victory that changed the world. We’ll drive to the coastal village of Colleville-sur-Mer and the Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial, burial site of nearly 10,000 soldiers. Cultural Connection: Take part in a solemn ceremony — exclusive to your Vantage group — among the rows of white gravestones in remembrance of American lives lost. Then, it's on to the coastal promontory of Pointe du Hoc, site of a German battery that was destroyed by U.S. Rangers who scaled the sea cliff in a daring attack. Finally, continue to Omaha Beach, where U.S. Army infantry prevailed in the face of fierce resistance. For lunch, enjoy le gouter, a traditional French snack time, in a local restaurant.
Afterwards, continue your explorations with your choice of tours. You may transfer to the town of Bayeux for an English-language audio tour of the remarkable Bayeux Tapestry, a 230-foot embroidered cloth depicting events leading up to the 1066 Norman conquest of England. Or, take an excursion to the thought-provoking Caen Peace Memorial — a site dedicated to lasting peace that has what many consider the best World War II museum in France.
Exploring Le Havre, Taste of Normandy tour, Joue de Boeuf cooking lesson
This morning, we’ll sail across the mouth of the Seine Estuary to the major seaport of Le Havre. Cultural Connection: En route, learn about Operation Astonia, the Allied battle to drive the Germans from Le Havre that began with a devastating bombing campaign known as “the storm of iron and fire.” From Le Havre, depart on a Taste of Normandy tour to the Fécamp Benedictine monastery. Here, you’ll see how the famous Benedictine liqueur, with its secret blend of 27 herbs and spice, is produced. Afterwards, follow Normandy’s limestone sea cliffs to a local farm. You’ll have the opportunity to see how the farm’s fine cheese is produced, and try a sample.
Celebrate Joan (of Arc) and Julia (Child!), Rouen medieval quarter tour, La Couronne auberge lunch, Poulet Bretonnne cooking class
Daylight finds us in ancient Rouen, a city with a charming medieval quarter that has witnessed countless historical dramas, including the fiery death of St. Joan of Arc. Unforgettable Moment: You’ll enjoy a real culinary highlight for lunch, when we dine at La Couronne, the oldest auberge (inn) in France. This is where Julia Child had the meal that inspired her adventures in French cuisine. Active Feature: After lunch, enjoy a walking tour that includes views of Rouen's unforgettable Gothic cathedral, which boasts the highest spire in France. It was the subject of Monet's famous series that depicted the ornate façade at different seasons and times of day.
Active Features: You’ll have free time this afternoon to explore Rouen on your own, as well as the opportunity to go bike riding along the Seine. Rouen is an antiquing capital, and a favorite pastime here is wandering among the many antique shops. Cultural Connection: After dinner, repair to the lounge to enjoy classic tunes by the singer Roberto, a favorite of Vantage travelers.
Rouen’s Musée des Beaux Arts, free afternoon, apero experience, Matelote cooking class
Enjoy a guided tour of Rouen’s excellent Musée des Beaux-Arts, a museum founded by Napoleon that houses a fascinating collection of paintings, furniture, sculptures, and drawings that date from the time of Leonardo to the present day. You’ll have another afternoon to enjoy the city. If you find yourself back aboard ship by 4:00 pm, enjoy tea and join the chef for a tour of the ship's galley.
Active Feature: During your free time, you’ll have another opportunity to go biking. Alternatively, your Concierge can arrange for canoeing on the Seine with a local outfitter (fee). The city is located within a loop in the river, and there are numerous islands and channels that are perfect for exploring by water.
This evening after dinner, try your fancy feet during an interactive ballroom dancing performance and lesson.
Exploring Les Andelys and Château Gaillard, Captain’s Gala Dinner
This morning finds us in Les Andelys, a picturesque village tucked into a river bend. Unforgettable Moment / Active Feature: Above, you’ll see the ruins of Château Gaillard, a fortress built by England’s Richard the Lionheart in the 12th century to guard his Normandy holdings. You have a choice of following the path up the hill to visit the ruins and take in the spectacular views. Alternatively, join the more leisurely walking tour of Les Andelys to view half-timbered houses and ancient churches. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure aboard ship as we continue sailing upstream. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare for the Captain’s Gala Dinner, which begins with the cocktail hour at 6 pm.
Panoramic Paris tour, free afternoon or optional Le Marais tour
This morning finds us back once again in the City of Light. A panoramic city tour takes you to such “must-see” sights as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, with entrance to Notre-Dame Cathedral. After lunch on board, enjoy the afternoon at leisure or take off on our optional tour to explore Le Marais, where centuries of religious and art history await in Paris' oldest district.
Explore centuries of history and spirituality on a walking tour of fashionable Le Marais and the storied Jewish Quarter. From the somber WWII deportation memorial to the bustle of the Pletzl neighborhood — lined with cafés and restaurants — you’ll discover the Quarter’s cobbled Rue de Rosiers, from its myriad libraries, bookshops, falafel stands, cheesecake-filled boulangeries, to Florence Kahn, Paris’ most famous Yiddish delicatessen. Then, in Le Marais, home of the most intact medieval and pre-Revolutionary buildings in Paris, as well as galleries galore and trendy cafés, you’ll see why this neighborhood is a hotbed for the who’s-who of the city’s creative and cultural circle. You’ll also learn more about Notre Dame Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Sainte-Anne Portal, which offers perspective on medieval Judaism, all while savoring delectable pastries. This is Paris, after all!
Explore Paris as you like it, optional Louvre and Château de Malmaison tours
You have a full day to enjoy the city, so let your imagination be your guide. There’s a Paris for everyone, whether you’re into haute couture shopping, poking around in flea markets, exploring the Latin Quarter, visiting museums, seeking out artistic treasures, or visiting some of the world’s most recognizable monuments, from the elegant ironwork of the Eiffel Tower to the “inside-out” architecture of the Centre Pompidou. And, of course, the food, whether your simply relaxing over a pastry and a coffee in a streetside cafê, or asking your Concierge to reserve a table at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Be sure to check our optional tours to the Louvre and Château de Malmaison, Napoleon Bonaparte’s country home — they’re a great way to make the most of your sightseeing time.
The Louvre has one of the world's most important art collections and averages 15,000 visitors per day. First constructed as a fortress in 1190 by King Philippe Auguste to protect Paris against Viking raids, it was then changed into a magnificent Renaissance style building. Throughout the centuries, French kings and emperors have improved and enlarged it, making it the impressive site you see today. With its 800 years of history, the Louvre is not only a museum but a palace with a centuries-old architectural evolution.
Get an intimate glimpse of the home life of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine on this visit to their private country house just outside of Paris. In contrast to grand showpieces like Fountainebleu and the Tuileries, the elegant Château de Malmaison was designed as private home, a place for France’s premier power couple to get away from the stuffy formality of official life and relax, entertain friends, and hold private meetings and receptions. The extensive grounds gave Josephine the canvas she needed for her love of gardening, and today they are largely restored to their former glory.
Please note: Not available on our Classic France Along the Seine 11/26, 12/08, & 12/20 departures.
Depart Paris and fly home (or stay on to enjoy our optional extension)
Following breakfast on board, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, begin your optional post-trip extension to Chantilly, the Champagne Region & Lost Battlefields of World War I France.
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.