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14 Days | French Escapade


Day 1 | Paris, France. Your France river cruise vacation begins at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe Paris at 6:00 PM. A transfer from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to this wonderfully situated hotel is included. After your arrival just relax or head out to do some exploring on your own before joining us to meet your Tauck Directors and fellow voyagers at a welcome cocktail reception and dinner to remember this evening at the exclusively chic Fouquet’s on the Champs-Élysées. (D)

Day 2 | Paris. Your day begins with an orientation tour to help you get your bearings and consider all the ways that you can enjoy the "City of Light" at your leisure and as you please for the rest of the day. Choose from a selection of the city’s finest museums, including Musée du Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay (subject to availability), to visit with admission included… or set off to discover all the pleasures of Paris in whatever you way you choose. Did you know that, in Paris, you’re never more than 400 meters from a subway station? How convenient! (B)

Day 3 | Beaune. Embark. This charming walled city in the Burgundy region calls itself the "Capital of Burgundy Wines," and the many prestigious vineyards surrounding it whose very names make wine lovers salivate make that seem to be a very credible claim. Do sample of the area’s fine wines along with lunch on your own. Later, when you visit the Hospice de Beaune, the city’s best-known landmark, you’ll see that this place is about far more than just wine. Receiving its first patient in January of 1452, the Hôtel-Dieu provided free care, comfort and refuge to orphans, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the indigent for centuries. Continue on to Lyon to embark ms Swiss Emerald as your France river cruise begins. (B,D)

Day 4 | Burgundy Region. Chalon-sur-Saone. Chalon-sur-Sâone on the River Saône lies in the heart of southern Burgundy. Although its history dates back to the time of Charlemagne, it has another significant claim to fame – this is considered the birthplace of photography. You have local inventor Nicéphore Niépce, who produced several photographic firsts right here in the 1820s, to thank for the great photos of the town’s Romanesque churches and other monuments you’ll take during a walking tour. Then get your taste buds ready for a workout – first, to savor local culinary offerings on a guided tasting tour of some of Chalon-Sur-Saône’s noted food shops; then to sip some wonderful wines as we head off to Mercurey, the largest wine-growing area in the Côte Chalonnaise, to sample some of the notable reds produced here in a tasting at one of the 30 local premier cru vineyards. (B,L,D)

Day 5 | Macon. Lyon. While docked in Mâcon, see what lies along the town's Heritage Trail on a walking tour plus some time to explore on your own, and tour the great Benedictine Abbey of Cluny; founded in 910, it was once at the center of a major monastic reform movement and also the largest Christian building in the world until the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Its neighbor, the Haras Nationale – France's national equestrian center – is all about horses and has an interesting history of its own, which you'll discover on your visit to its age-old stables and other buildings. Later, ms Swiss Emerald continues your France river cruise to Lyon. (B,L,D)

Day 6 | Lyon. If you’re a serious foodie, Lyon is the place for you! Regarded as the culinary capital of France, there are more restaurants here per capita than anywhere else in the country. Savor a bit of this gastronomic largess for lunch today on a tasting tour at the historic Les Halles de Lyon indoor food market, where you'll sample the freshest breads, cheeses, meats, produce and more paired with local wines – they say the best chefs in Lyon shop here! Your day also includes the stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière, built in the 1870s and featuring exquisite marble work, stained glass windows, colorful mosaics and gilt galore; and a tour of medieval Vieux Lyon. Continue cruising to Vienne this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 7 | Vienne. Cruise the Rhône. Tournon. It seems that the Romans were everywhere along the Rhône, and Vienne (which they called "Vienna" in their day) was no exception. During your time here this morning, look for the theatre and temple they left behind, as well as other sights straight out of history. Then it’s a languid, lazy and perfectly wonderful afternoon spent cruising on the river as ms Swiss Emerald charts a course for Tournon-sur-Rhône. Take advantage of all that your riverboat offers, or perhaps just settle into a deck chair on the Sun Deck and watch the picturesque wine-growing world along the river go by. (B,L,D)

Day 8 | Tournon. Tain-l’Hermitage. Once upon a time, feudal rulers looked down on the town of Tournon-sur-Rhône from the castle you’ll see perched on a rock high above the city; its pre-Renaissance roots are evident during a walking tour and time at leisure to poke around as you please. Following lunch aboard the riverboat, we’ll be off to Tain-l’Hermitage, known for its excellent Côtes du Rhône wines; you'll understand why after you sample some of what the town produces at a wine tasting. ms Swiss Emerald sails to Viviers this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 9 | Viviers. The walled city of Viviers, which retains much of its medieval character, is a delightful stop on this France river cruise. A walking tour reveals ancient homes and its unusual cathedral, which looks more like a castle than a church in the opinion of some, high up on the riverbank. After some free time to soak up the character of this lovely town on your own, reboard ms Swiss Emerald for lunch, followed by an afternoon and evening cruising along the Rhône to Avignon. As you glide past the scenic shoreline, enjoy a demonstration of the French game of pétanque on deck (weather permitting). (B,L,D)

Day 10 | Avignon. The fortified medieval city of Avignon was probably a much more peaceful place before Rome became "inconvenient" for the popes who moved the papacy here about 700 years ago. Although they stayed for less than a century, they kept busy during those years... as you’ll see at the impressive Palais des Papes that they built for themselves during this morning’s sightseeing. As well versed in Latin as they all were, they surely understood what "in vino veritas" means, and they all shared a fondness for wine – and the "truth" it brings – which was very convenient, because wine has been grown in the area for over 2,600 years. Taste locally produced wine named for the "new castle of the popes," the world-renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape, on a wine-tasting excursion this afternoon. (B,L,D)

Day 11 | Arles. Camargue Region. It may seem strange to encounter Roman ruins in Provence but Arles was, after all, once a Roman city; while the gladiators are gone, the arena they left behind – just one of the town's many Roman remnants – still hosts performances and bullfights today. Explore Arles' medieval streets and city walls and be sure to look out across the surrounding countryside to what van Gogh found so enchanting. After lunch, it’s off to La Camargue, France’s "wild west," where cowboys tend to herds of bulls destined for bullfighting rings in Spain. Visit a working farm to see what these cowhands and their charges do during a demonstration – not something usually experienced on a France river cruise – followed by lunch and traditional Provençal entertainment. Join us this evening for the Captain’s farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 12 | Arles. Monte Carlo. The France river cruise portion of your journey ends as you disembark ms Swiss Emerald in Arles, and bid farewell to the Captain and crew. As much as you may find yourself missing the friends you made among them during your time aboard the riverboat, you still have Nice and Monte-Carlo to look forward to! It won’t be hard to understand why Nice is a popular playground for jet setters from around the world as you explore this lovely city on a walking tour, followed by some free time to discover what’s so nice about Nice as you please. Travel on to marvelous Monaco and the Fairmont Monte Carlo, your home for the next two nights. Guests who occupied suites in category 6 during the France river cruise will enjoy sea-view accommodations at this world-famous hotel. (B)

Day 13 | Monte-Carlo. Mega-yachts from around the world bobbing in the bay… the rich, the famous, the jet setters… a casino world-renowned for its glamour… a real-life royal fairy-tale romance… it’s all part of Monte-Carlo’s magic spell. Get the lay of the land during an orientation tour this morning and then spend the rest of the day exploring as you please. What a wonderful place it is to conclude your France river cruise vacation with a farewell dinner tonight at your premium hotel in the heart of it all. (B,D)

Day 14 | Monte Carlo. Nice. Your France river cruise adventure ends in Monte-Carlo. A transfer from Fairmont Monte Carlo to the Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is included. Fly home anytime, but be sure to allow 3 hours for flight check-in at the airport. (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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