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We also head to the American Cemetery during a full-day Normandy landing tour, on an exclusive itinerary sailing directly into Honfleur's harbor. Immerse yourself in the artistic treasures of the region when you walk in the footsteps of Impressionist genius Claude Monet at the gardens of Giverny. And enjoy the splendid experience on board the 5-star m/s River Venture, where you can reserve supplement-free solo cabins (we are the only deluxe tour operator offering this value), or travel with friends and loved ones in convenient, affordable triple-accommodation suites.
Discover the elegant village of Chantilly, named for one of the grandest of French châteaux, and spend a day exploring the heart of the Champagne region. During your excursion to the rolling vineyards where Champagne originated, you’ll visit an estate where the legendary sparkling wine is produced and stored in cool limestone caverns beneath acres of vineyards. You’ll also tour Reims, home of the imposing cathedral where French monarchs once received their crowns. Warm up your taste buds before joining your base tour, thanks to added features like an included Welcome Dinner, chocolaterie visit, and Champagne tasting.
Depart home and fly overnight to Paris, France (or depart earlier for optional extension)
Depart home tonight bound for Paris. Or, you also have the option of leaving earlier to enjoy our pre-trip extension in Chantilly & the Champagne Region.
Welcome to Paris! Embark ship and enjoy a Welcome Dinner in the City of Lights
Following your overnight flight to Paris, arrive on Day 2. The Deluxe m/s River Venture will be waiting on the banks of the Seine in Paris and, after settling in, you’ll have the afternoon to relax or do some early exploring on the town. This evening, you’ll gather with your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink and Briefing by your Vantage Cruise Director and ship staff, followed by a Welcome Dinner in the ship’s restaurant.
Vantage Onboard Enrichment:
Exploring the iconic sites of Paris
Is there anything better than waking up in Paris? Likely not, but today’s explorations will certainly rank high on your list! On a morning panoramic tour, you’ll discover the highlights of this vibrant cultural capital, including the iconic Eiffel Tower alongside its sprawling Champ de Mars.
Should you choose, today your tour can be completed by bike. Your exciting discoveries on two wheels will help you make innumerable discoveries here, all thanks to the expertise of your local guide. You can also take one of your ship’s bikes out for a spin in your free time here.
We’ll return to the ship for lunch, where you’ll take in a different vantage point of the city from the UNESCO-listed banks of the Seine. The afternoon will be at your leisure, so use this time to explore further, shop, or simply stroll around — there’s no shortage of beauty in this city, where a stunning monument awaits on almost every corner. But don’t worry about trying to accomplish it all — we’ll be back in Paris at the end of this journey!
Later, your onboard staff will guide your culinary discoveries, leading a session on French specialties like bread, dairy from Normandy, delicate pastries, along with teaching you about with the nuances of French drinking culture. The (night) cap on your fabulous discoveries? A wine hour with your maître d', featuring regional vintages.
Today you’ll have the opportunity learn a few key words and phrases during a French language lesson.
Venturing into Vernon
You’ve seen the city life, but this morning’s walking tour will introduce you to French provincialism at its finest in picturesque Vernon. Admire the town’s centuries-old, half-timbered homes, and the imposing Gothic cathedral, a centerpiece of local life that Monet painted six times, during an included tour. You can also opt for 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. Spend the afternoon at leisure — perhaps spending more time on two wheels, trailing the Seine on one of the ship’s complimentary bicycles, or, tap into your inner Monet during a painting lesson.
This is the land of the Impressionists, so why not pick up a paintbrush and learn a few of their techniques? An engaging lecture on the Impressionists will further inspire you as you discover their colorful history in the area.
This evening, toast your discoveries with an enriching conversation and tasting featuring local vintages with your maître d’ during a wine hour preceding dinner. You can also try your hand at navarin (stew) of lamb with an interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club.
A concert in Caudebex-en-Caux, the monks of Abbey Saint-Wandrille, and a D-Day lecture
After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of Caudebec-en-Caux, before following the Abbey Trail to ancient monastery complexes dotting Upper Normandy. Our explorations include the Abbey of Saint-Wandrille, where a small community of monks maintains a tradition dating to the year 649.
You can opt for a biking excursion today with one of the Venture’s deluxe onboard cycles. Take it for a spin to Jumièges Abbey, then the Abbey of Saint-Wandrille.
Back in Caudebec-en-Caux, take a seat for a stirring concert inside the town’s Notre Dame Cathedral, home to a 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.* As you edge closer to this town, a highlight will be the yacht-filled harbor and Honfleur’s famously narrow buildings housing restaurants and cafés.
During scenic afternoon sailing, sample Calvados apple brandy and local cheeses and also hear about Normandy’s fascinating and dramatic history with a lecture on the historic D-Day landings of World War II. For dinner this evening, sit down to a special menu that pairs select wines with your courses, presented by the ship’s maître d’.
Later this evening, onboard entertainment includes movie night, featuring The Longest Day.
Exploring Honfleur and set off on a "Taste of Normandy" tour
This morning after breakfast, 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. Here, you’ll be treated to a delightful oyster tasting session, immersing yourself in local culture and commerce.
Pack an appetite this afternoon when you set off on a "Taste of Normandy" tour to the Fécamp Benedictine monastery. Here, you’ll see how the famous Benedictine liqueur, with its traditional blend of 27 spices and herbs, is produced. A scenic drive will next bring us to Étretat, another iconic site on France’s coast. This evening’s culinary demonstration in the Captain’s Club is a fun taste and share session featuring Normandy mussels. Cap off a day of culture, cuisine, and breathtaking vistas with a jazz night 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. We’ll drive to the coastal village of Colleville-sur-Mer and the Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial, burial site of nearly 10,000 soldiers. 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.
This evening, toast your discoveries with an enriching conversation and tasting featuring local vintages with your maître d’ during a wine hour preceding dinner.
Celebrate Joan (of Arc) and Julia (Child!), Rouen medieval quarter tour, La Couronne auberge lunch
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. We’ll embark on a walking tour that includes a visit to Rouen’s unforgettable Gothic cathedral, which boasts the highest spire in France. Once the subject of Monet’s famous series that depicted the ornate façade at different seasons and times of day, today the cathedral is vying to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Rouen, the choice of options is yours. If you wanted to get a real taste of France’s amazing culinary heritage, you can opt in for a fun cooking class in a local school. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy a true cruise highlight for lunch when we dine at La Couronne, the oldest auberge (inn) in France and site of the meal that inspired Child’s culinary adventures. It’s here where Child had what she called “the most exciting meal of my life.” Perhaps you’ll put those culinary chops to the test tonight during a joue de boeuf cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club.
During your free time this afternoon in Rouen, you’ll have another opportunity to go biking. Alternatively, your Concierge can arrange for canoeing on the Seine with a local outfitter (for a 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. Rouen is an antiquing capital, and a favorite pastime here is wandering among the many antique shops.
Enjoy more food for thought when a member of the ship’s culinary staff will demonstrate how to make a scrumptious Normandy apple tart, and attend the cocktail-of-the-day demonstration by the bartender. After dinner, retire to the lounge, where you can lose yourself to some American standards performed by Vantage’s favorite crooner, Roberto.
Exploring Les Andelys and Château Gaillard
Our focus today is Les Andelys, a scenic medieval village tucked into a river bend. Visit 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 more active 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. Active travelers can also enjoy free biking today, during an excursion to Aubevoye. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure aboard ship as we continue sailing.
Enjoy some scenic sailing this afternoon. As you leave Les Andelys, enjoy views of Château Gaillard (which you visited earlier today!) and villages lining the riverbanks.
In no time you’ll arrive in Paris, where a macaron and chocolates lecture is sure to be one of your favorite foodie features! Later this evening, learn how to make delicious cocktails during an intimate onboard demonstration; you can also opt for another interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club, learning how to make matelote. After dinner, relax with another onboard movie night featuring Midnight in Paris, a spirited Woody Allen fantasy flick transporting its protagonist back in time to interact with some of the city’s most notable artists.
Explore Paris as you like it, optional Louvre and Château de Malmaison tours
Say oui to Paris once more, as we wake up with a full day to enjoy the city. 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 it’s a pastry and a coffee in a street side café 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. Take one of the ship’s complimentary bicycles out for another joyride in Paris, if you wish.
Enjoy local vintages tonight during a taste-and-learn wine of the day session with your maître d’. After a festive Captain's Dinner on board, you’ll feel like you’ve entered the Moulin Rouge when a high-energy troupe performs a cabaret show — the star of which is, naturally, the cancan.
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 to 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.
Note: Only available on selected departures.
Exploring Le Marais
Your day begins with a fresh perspective — with fresh bread from a local boulangerie! You’ll also enjoy fresh-baked pastries, too, selected and brought on board to start your morning right by your ship staff.
This morning, you might choose to embark on an optional tour to Le Marais, where centuries of religious and art history await in Paris' oldest district. Maximize your time in Paris with an afternoon at leisure. In the afternoon, delight your senses with a fascinating wine tasting and lecture from an experienced sommelier.
This evening, raise a glass to your amazing trip with the last of your wine hours led by your maître d’.
Spend your final day in Paris exploring on two wheels with one of your ship’s complimentary bicycles!
Explore centuries of history and spirituality on a walking tour of fashionable Le Marais. 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, all while savoring delectable pastries. This is Paris, after all!
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 in Versailles!
Go back in time to discover some of the crowning achievements of French civilization, including the Palace of Versailles and Gardens. On this special extension, you’ll stay just outside Paris in the charming village of Versailles, in a lovely hotel that’s steps away from the spectacular royal château and its acres of perfectly manicured gardens. In addition, round out your journey with plenty of opportunities for cultural and culinary immersion during your free time.
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.