Depart home and fly overnight to Paris
Today you’ll board an overnight flight bound for the City of Lights.
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 ms 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.
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.)
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.
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. Active Feature: You may feel invigorated to take one of the ship’s bicycles out for a spin in true French fashion! 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!
Culinary Features: Learn how to make Crêpes Suzette, a French classic, with an interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club. Cultural Connections: This afternoon, join the maître d’ for an introduction to French drinking culture, then help your interactions with locals by learning 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. Spend the afternoon at leisure — perhaps trailing the Seine on one of the ship’s complimentary bicycles, or, tap into your inner Monet during a painting lesson.
Cultural Connections: 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. Culinary Feature: 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 St. 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 St. Wandrille, where a small community of monks maintains a tradition dating to the year 649. Cultural Connection: 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.
This afternoon, we’ll cast off for Honfleur. Cultural Connections: During our sail, you’ll 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.
Culinary Features: 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 and set off on a "Taste of Normandy" tour
Unforgettable Moment / Active Feature: Enjoy a guided walking tour of charming Honfleur — birthplace of the early Impressionist painter Eugene Boudin and a favorite of Monet, Courbet, and other artists who maintained studios near the harbor. Or, bicycle down the coast to nearby Deauville, which boasts a sprawling beach and promenade, horse racetrack, and quaint seaside villas.
Culinary Features: 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. Cap off a day of culture, cuisine, and breathtaking vistas with a jazz duo 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 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 a French le goûter, a traditional French snacktime.
You also have the choice of two morning tours. 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 Caen Peace Memorial — a site dedicated to lasting peace that has what many consider the best World War II museum in France.
Back on the ship tonight, you’ll delight to the music of Roberto — a traveler favorite.
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. Active Feature: 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.
Unforgettable Moment / Culinary Features: You’ll enjoy a true 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. 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.
After lunch, 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: Enjoy a lecture on Operation Astonia, the Allied attack on German-held La Havre, and attend the cocktail-of-the-day demonstration by the bartender. After dinner, retire to the lounge for a ballroom dance performance.
Exploring Les Andelys and Château Gaillard, Captain’s Gala Dinner
Our focus today is Les Andelys, a scenic medieval village tucked into a river bend. Unforgettable Moment / Active Feature: 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 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.
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 streetside 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 Bonapart’s country home — they’re a great way to make the most of your sightseeing time. Active Feature: Take one of the ship’s complimentary bicycles out for another joyride in Paris, if you wish. Culinary Feature: Learn how to make Matelote (or similar) with another interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club.
After a 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.
Please note: The Louvre will be closed on May 1 due to a national holiday.
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, a free day in Paris
This morning, you might choose to explore Le Marais & the Jewish Quarter, where centuries of religious and art history await in Paris’ oldest district. Maximize your time in Paris with an afternoon at leisure. Active Feature: 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!
Bid Paris au revoir
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, if you’ve chosen our trip extension, you will transfer by private coach to Brussels.
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.