France Culinary Delights: Paris to Normandy - 2019

Conflans • Vernon • Caudebec-en-Caux • Honfleur • D-Day Beaches of Normandy • Le Havre • Rouen • Les Andelys • Paris
  • POIGNANT LECTURES, PRIVATE WREATH LAYING CEREMONY, AND MORE
  • GAIN HISTORICAL INSIGHTS THANKS TO WWII LECTURER NIGEL STEWART
  • EXPERIENCE FRANCE’S ICONS AND HIDDEN GEMS
  • ANNOUNCING ART & HARVEST THEMED DEPARTURES
  • WANDER THE GARDENS OF GIVERNY
  • SAIL DIRECTLY TO HONFLEUR ON MOST DEPARTURES
DATES & PRICES
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  • $307
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  • 13
    DAYS
  • 12
    TOURS
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COMMEMORATING D-DAY
2019 marks the 75th anniversary of WWII’s most important battle — exclusive Vantage events planned
 

France Culinary Delights: D-Day Exclusive Cruise (May 25)

Back in the days when the U.S. was first finding its footing as its own country, there was a revolutionary bond formed with France that helped establish and solidify an irrevocable relationship. That assistance was repaid in World War II, when almost 9,000 U.S. troops lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy as part of the D-Day battles, turning the tide of history forever. Honor their sacrifice by cruising during the 75th anniversary commemoration of this conflict and those who triumphed over evil — on one departure only, May 25, 2019.

Besides a fascinating Vantage-exclusive talk with a Normandy local who lived through the conflict and will describe what it was like before, during, and after the Allied victory, your enrichment includes an exclusive and enlightening lecture from noted WWII historian Nigel Stewart. Your flexible itinerary includes an option to visit the Caen war memorial and museum, one of Europe’s most comprehensive sites dedicated to both the European and Pacific theaters of WWII. Plus, independently explore Château La Roche-Guyon, the cliff-fortress that served as Rommel’s headquarters during the D-Day Invasion. Your onboard entertainment on the five-star ms River Venture will include some of the most fascinating and well-respected films documenting the historical events you’ll experience on the ground.

Besides all of this, you’ll sail directly into Honfleur — offered by few cruise companies — so you have the most time to enjoy the magnificent landscapes that have been the muse of artists for centuries, and get a true taste of Gallic culture with wines, cheeses, calvados, and apple brandy. You'll also enjoy enrichment for the ages thanks to two full days in Paris. Solo travelers can take advantage of free Single Supplements with the only river cruise company whose ships include cabins built specifically for solo travelers. Plus, couples can save an extra $200 if they are retired or active-duty military veterans — just a way for Vantage to thank those who serve.
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DAY 1:

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.

DAY 2:

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.)

Included Meals:

Dinner

DAY 3:

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.

Culinary Features:

  • Introduction to French drinking culture by the ship’s maître d’
  • Cocktail of the Day demonstration by the bartender
  • Cooking lesson in the Captains’ Club: Crêpes Suzette

Active Features:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge
  • Walking tour of Conflans

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Auvers-sur-Oise

Auvers-sur-Oise

  • Approximate Cost: $75 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 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.


DAY 4:

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. 

Culinary Features:

  • Enjoy a French aperitif with locals in Giverny village
  • Cocktail of the Day demonstration by the bartender
  • Cooking lesson in the Captains’ Club: Navarin of Lamb

Active Features:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge
  • Bike to Giverny
  • Onboard painting lesson
  • Dancing lessons in the lounge

* 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.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 5:

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’.

Culinary Features:

  • Demonstration on making a traditional Normandy apple tart
  • Cocktail of the Day demonstration by the bartender
  • Wine pairing dinner, presented in the ship’s restaurant by the maître d’

Active Feature:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge

* 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.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 6:

Insightful D-Day lecture, Honfleur exploration, Normandy mussel-cooking lesson

Cultural Connection: Today, enjoy what’s sure to be some of your cruise’s most unforgettable experiences — a Vantage-exclusive World War II lecture with noted D-Day historian Nigel Stewart, in addition to an insightful conversation with a Normandy local who will tell you what it was like to grow up during, before, and after D-Day. Stewart will 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 also be able to ask your WWII survivor about day-to-day life in the region, and be 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.

Culinary Features:

  • Cocktail of the Day demonstration by the bartender
  • Cooking lesson in the Captains’ Club: Normandy mussels in apple cider sauce

Active Features:
  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge
  • Walking tour of Honfleur
  • Bike to Deauville

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

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.

Culinary Features:

  • Cocktail of the Day demonstration by the bartender
  • French le gouter experience

Active Feature:
  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 8:

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.

Culinary Features:

  • Taste of Normandy tour, with Benedictine tasting and visit to a local farm
  • Cocktail of the Day demonstration by the bartender
  • Cooking lesson in the Captains’ Club: Joue du Boeuf

Active Features:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 9:

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.

Culinary Features:

  • Lunch at La Couronne restaurant in Rouen, where Julia Child had what she called “the most exciting meal of my life.”
  • Cocktail of the Day demonstration by the bartender
  • Cooking lesson in the Captains' Club: Poulet Breton

Active Features:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge
  • Walking tour of Rouen
  • Bike along the Seine
  • Canoeing on the Seine (fee)

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 10:

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.

Culinary Features:

  • Cocktail of the Day demonstration by the bartender
  • Cooking lesson in the Captains’ Club: Matelote (fish cooked in cider)
  • Learn about the French apero experience, a convivial drink with snacks

Active Features:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge
  • Walking tour of Rouen
  • Bike along the Seine
  • Canoeing on the Seine (fee)

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 11:

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.

Culinary Features:

  • Captain’s Gala Dinner

Active Features:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge
  • Climb to Château Gaillard

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 12:

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.

Active Feature:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Le Marais & the Jewish Quarter

Le Marais & the Jewish Quarter

  • Approximate Cost:
  • Approximate Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Paris, France
  • When: Half-day tour (limited availability)

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!


DAY 13:

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.

Active Feature:

  • Sunrise yoga on the sun deck (weather permitting) or in the lounge

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Louvre Museum Guided Visit (limited availability),

Louvre Museum Guided Visit (limited availability)

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Paris, France
  • When: Half-day tour (limited availability)

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.



Château de Malmaison

Château de Malmaison

  • Approximate Cost: $75 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Rueil-Malmaison, France
  • When: Afternoon tour

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.


DAY 14:

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.

Included Meals:

Breakfast

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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France Culinary Delights: Paris to Normandy - 2019

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