4 DAYS FROM $1,499
4 DAYS FROM $649
From the glittering Eiffel Tower to the UNESCO-listed banks of the Seine, the treasures of the Louvre to the cathedral of Rouen, and pastries calling your name in countless windows, France’s landscapes, cultural, and culinary treasures beckon at every turn. Now, travel with us on these value-priced itineraries that includes the best of your dream destination minus the crowds of high season. Plus, solos enjoy exclusive opportunities to save even more than the competition with the deluxe ms River Venture, which features special supplement-free single cabins. And everyone enjoys Vantage’s enhanced 2018 itinerary featuring a full two days in Paris!
Depart home and fly overnight to Paris, France (or depart earlier for optional extension)
Depart home today, or, add on a pre-trip extension to Versailles, Chartres Cathedral, and the Loire Valley and follow in the lavish footsteps of Louis XVI.
Welcome to Paris! Arrive, embark ship, and set sail as we enjoy a Welcome Dinner
Following your overnight flight to Paris, arrive on Day 2 to begin your Europe river cruise (or arrive earlier for your pre-trip extension to Versailles, Chartres Cathedral, and the Loire Valley). The Deluxe ms River Venture will be waiting on the banks of the Seine in Paris. 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 "Auvers-sur-Oise" tour. Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise was built by an Italian financier in 1635 with an impressive terraced roof, acres of woods, and harmonious gardens with ponds and fountains and magnificent village views. Sold later to Jean de Léry, an advisor to the king, he converted the Italian castle into a chateau made of a large central building and fiefdom with a courtyard, farmyard and a bridge. Enjoy a cultural bridge of your own and step back in time into the land of the these influential businessmen and trusted advisors at this grand estate.
Cultural Connections: During the afternoon's cruising, enjoy a lecture on France's lively drinking culture, then enjoy a French language lesson, picking up a few key words and phrases to interact with locals. 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 can-can.
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, apertifs in the village, Navarin of lamb cooking class
This morning, visit 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.
You’ll enjoy free time in Vernon this afternoon. Cultural Connections: Tap into your inner Monet by grabbing a brush onboard during a painting lesson, and be enraptured by an insightful lecture on French Impressionist artists. Later, enjoy a calvados apple brandy tasting and a movie night.
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, concluding in Le Havre. 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’.
Exploring Honfleur, D-Day lecture, learn to cook Normandy mussels, evening jazz performance
Unforgettable Moment / Active Feature: 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. Enjoy the afternoon free, perhaps taking the opportunity to explore the area on two wheels on a self-guided biking excursion along the coast to Deauville. Cultural Connection: Later this afternoon, prepare for the next day’s tour of Normandy when you attend an insightful lecture about the D-Day Landing. 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. 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 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 US Rangers who scaled the sea cliff in a daring attack. Finally, continue to Omaha Beach, where US Army infantry prevailed in the face of fierce resistance. For lunch, enjoy a French le goûter, a traditional French snacktime.
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 traditional blend of 27 spices and herbs, is produced. After, follow Normandy’s limestone sea cliffs to a working goat 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. Rouen also witnessed the birth of a more earthly career, that of The French Chef, Julia Child. Unforgettable Moment: You’ll enjoy a real culinary 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. 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 da Vinci to the present day. You’ll have another afternoon to enjoy the city. If you find yourself back aboard ship by 4:00 p.m., 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 p.m.
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 you're 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.
Or, consider our optional tours to the Louvre or Château de Malmaison, Napoleon Bonapart’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 and the Champagne Region.
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.