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10 Days | French Waterways and Vineyards
Southbound Only


Day 1 | Paris, France. Tauck's most memorable of France cruises begins at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe Paris at 6:00 PM. After our included transfer from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to your centrally located hotel, you may want to relax a while before joining us for our special welcome cocktail reception and dinner at le Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysées, an iconic landmark for celebrity dining for over a century, followed by an Illuminations tour of the city’s glittering lights! (D)

Day 2 | Paris. From the grand boulevards and manicured gardens of the Right Bank to the artsy Left Bank, favorite haunt of writers, dreamers and musicians, Parisian neighborhoods reflect the true essence of the city. Explore one of them with Tauck on a guided tour of le Marais, with its stately mansions, half-timbered houses, covered passageways, and narrow cobbled streets, visiting the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church, Victor Hugo’s home, Hotel de Sully, Village Saint-Paul and la rue des Roisers, Paris' medieval Jewish quarter. Then, Paris is yours to experience in whatever way pleases you for the rest of the day and evening. Perhaps you’ll visit one of the city’s lesser-known museums… a little jewel of a church tucked away on a quiet side street… or an agreeable sidewalk café for some Parisian-watching… and remember: in Paris, you’re never more than 400 meters from a subway station. (B)

Day 3 | Lyon. Embark. Enjoy the views from the TGV high-speed train en route to Lyon, set at the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône. There, board the ms Swiss Emerald and settle into your cabin before joining the Captain for his welcome reception and dinner as your cruise gets underway. (B,D)

Day 4 | Lyon. Considered the "culinary capital of France," that is quite a compliment for Lyon in a country famed for its cuisine and fine vintages. You’ll discover why during a city tour today, including a tasting lunch at the famous Les Halles de Lyon, the celebrated indoor food market that's been a fixture in Lyon since 1850 and offers an unbelievable array of breads, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, sausages, wines, chocolates... the list goes on. Everything is fresh and delicious, and it's said that the best chefs in Lyon shop here; you’ll enjoy tastings of various goodies paired with appropriate wines! But Lyon is also a city with a venerable history and considerable charm, as you’ll discover when you visit Vieux Lyon, the old Renaissance part of the city that is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the first protected historic district in France. Sightseeing also includes the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière, built atop the ruins of an ancient Roman forum. Then it’s off to the celebrated wine-growing region of Beaujolais for a tasting in the countryside before continuing your cruise to Vienne. (B,L,D)

Day 5 | Vienne. In the great course of human events, the Romans were somewhat latecomers in Vienne – it was founded by the Gauls – but the town still abounds with ruins they left revealing its life as a Roman colony along the Rhône, which you can explore on a walking tour and during time at leisure. There's a temple erected by the Emperor Claudius; the remains of roads, ramparts, aqueducts and a theatre; and the pyramid-like Plan de l’Aiguille, which one legend says was Pontius Pilate’s tomb! And you'll have hilltop castle ruins, two intact Romanesque churches and a Gothic cathedral to check out as well. ms Swiss Emerald cruises on to Avignon this afternoon. (B,L,D)

Day 6 | Avignon. Although the fortified city of Avignon was undoubtedly a pleasant place before they arrived, the 13th-century popes, who spent less than a century here when Rome became "tedious" for them, really put it on the map, and cultivated the local wine industry (Châteauneuf-du-Pape). Sightseeing today includes the Palais du Papes, the vast, fortress-like palace that they built for themselves during that time. After discovering more of Avignon on your own during leisure time this afternoon, visit the Pont du Gard – a famous Roman aqueduct over the River Gardon. This evening, this engineering marvel becomes the amazing backdrop for a special treat for Tauck guests only... an extraordinary Provençal-style dinner accompanied by fine local wines. (B,L,D)

Day 7 | Arles. It may seem that the Romans were everywhere along the Rhône, and Arles in no exception. Some impressive Roman monuments attest to that; the gladiators who once did battle here are gone, but structures like the arena in which they fought remains and is still a venue for performances and bull fights today. Later, the city successfully made the transition from ancient to medieval life, as you’ll see during today’s sightseeing and free time to look around on your own in Arles. Do take time to look beyond the city walls at the incredible quality of the light here that so enraptured van Gogh. You'll also venture deeper into Provence today on a visit to the yellow-and-brown town of Roussillon, in the Luberon region. This is a place that is all about color, from the ochre cliffs surrounding the town to the purple of the lavender during its blooming season and the lush, green pine forests. Since the 12th century, the peaceful Romanesque Abbey de Senanque has stood watching over the countryside. You’ll have views of the abbey and – depending on the time of year – the lavender fields surrounding it, tended by the monks who still live in this ancient retreat. The riverboat heads for Viviers tonight. (B,L,D)

Day 8 | Viviers. Cruise the Rhône. Tournon. If medieval history and authentic period architecture are your thing, Viviers is your kind of place... because it’s one of the best-preserved medieval towns that you’re likely to see on France cruises. Its winding streets and lanes reveal what life might have been like here in the Middle Ages during a walking tour, including the town's 12th-century cathedral. A leisurely afternoon cruise along the Rhône bound for Tournon-sur-Rhône and Tain l’Hermitage is the perfect opportunity to just kick back and let the rhythm of the river soothe you as you glide between its banks, enjoying a lecture by your Tauck Director and (weather permitting) a demonstration of the popular Provençal game of pétanque on the sun deck. (B,L,D)

Day 9 | Tournon. Valence. Tournon-sur-Rhône is a perfect spot to start the final day of your Rhône cruise with a guided walking tour. Wind your way up to a vantage point in this medieval town and admire the views of lush Côtes du Rhône vineyards and dramatic river vistas. After lunch, journey to Valence for an education in epicurean delights; the town is a major hub for fresh Rhône Valley produce and home to some of the finest culinary artists in the country. At an award-winning restaurant and cooking school in town, attend a multi-course tasting presentation illustrating how seasonal ingredients, contrasting flavors and time-tested techniques are combined to create mouth-watering local specialties. You’ll also have time for a wine tasting in Tain-l’Hermitage, known for its chocolate and excellent Côtes du Rhône wines. Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of an extraordinary cruise at the Captain’s farewell reception and dinner aboard the riverboat. (B,L,D)

Day 10 | Lyon. Disembark. Cruise ends in Lyon. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the ms Swiss Emerald to Lyon Airport. Please allow 3 hours for flight check-in. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey home. (B)

NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the itinerary schedule you receive with your final documents.

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