Set sail on Europe’s most romantic river, the Seine after a panoramic tour of Paris and a visit to Château de Versailles. The Seine meanders past Rouen, “City of 100 Spires,” and Jumieges’s medieval abbey with stops at Honfleur “the cradle of impressionism,” and the unforgettable D Day landing beaches of Normandy. From culinary delights to the magnificent countryside that glides past, this river cruise is the perfect way to experience the heart of France.
Day 1 - Depart for Paris, France
Transfer to the airport and check-in for the overnight flight to Paris.
Day 2 - Arrival in Paris, France – Embarkation on the MS Renior
Upon arrival in Paris, transfer to the MS Renoir and check-in. After some time getting settled, there is free time to explore Paris before meeting our ship’s crew at a welcome Cocktail Reception. After, we enjoy our first meal of locally prepared French Cuisine.
Day 3 - Paris
This morning, we discover Paris with a panoramic tour of this famous city and explore the mythical sites of the capital. Since its foundation as Lutèce on the Ile de la Cité, two thousand years of history have seen ecclesiastics, sovereigns and heads of state leave their mark on the city, building churches, erecting monuments and palaces, creating prestigious museums and outlining sumptuous perspectives. Its distinguished couturiers, perfumers and jewelers have strongly built up Paris’ reputation for taste and elegance. A city of festivities, theaters and famous cabarets, Paris also glows from the sparkle and shine of its well-known revues. Our coach will take you past Bercy, the F. Mitterrand National Library, the Bastille, the Marais, the Latin Quarter, St. Germain, the Louvre, the Pyramid, the Opéra Garnier, Place Vendôme, the Concorde, the Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Invalides, the Trocadéro and of course, the famous Eiffel Tower.
Later, we return to the MS Renoir for an afternoon of leisure. After dinner, we sail the Seine for a night cruise of Paris. We remain moored in Paris tonight.
Day 4 - Paris – Poissy - La Roche-Guyon
We spend a relaxing morning sailing the Seine. After, we depart for our visit to the Château de Versailles guided by the MS Renoir Hostess.
Listed as a World Heritage Site for thirty years, the Château de Versailles is considered to be one of the finest achievements of French art from the 17th century. Louis XIII’s former hunting lodge was transformed and enlarged by his son Louis XIV, who fixed the Court and government of France here in 1682. Until the French Revolution, one king followed another, each embellishing the Château in his turn. When you arrive, your guide will take you through the King’s Grand Apartment. These seven successive rooms were intended to serve as a Parade Apartment, that is to say for the sovereign’s official business. This is why it was decorated with the most splendid riches and based on the model of Italian palaces of the time. During daytime, it was open to all, French and foreigners, who came to see the king, and it was reserved for the Court three evenings a week. Afterwards, you’ll go through the Hall of Mirrors, known in the 17th century as the “Great Gallery” and which was where courtesans would wait, meet or just pass through every day. This 75m-long, 10m-wide and 12m-high hall was designed by Mansart in. The principal feature of this hall is the seventeen mirror-clad arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows that overlook the gardens. You tour will end with a visit to the Queen’s Apartments, where the Queen would host the ladies of the Court when she rose in the morning and granted private audiences. After visiting the Château, you will still have a little free time to discover the fabulous formal French gardens created by André Le Notre for Louis XIV.
We then return to the MS Renoir and cruise to La Roche-Guyon where we remain moored for the night.
Day 5 - La Roche-Guyon – Rouen
After a morning of sailing, we leave on foot for a guided tour of Rouen. The historic center of the city and its famous cathedral are only a 5-minute walk from the ship. Stretched along the Seine, Rouen is Normandy’s cultural, historical, and gastronomical capital. The exceptionally complex Notre-Dame Cathedral is renowned for the juxtaposition of all the Gothic periods - especially on the facade, which Monet painted time and again, reflecting its glory in different lights. Destroyed during the Viking invasions in 841 and, partially, in 1944, by allied bombardments, the cathedral continues to be a perpetually evolving structure. We’ll then head to the market place where Joan of Arc was burned alive for heresy in 1431. The Gros-Horloge, or Great Clock, is one of the most emblematic monuments in the city. The Gothic belfry has housed the communal bells and clock of the city since its construction at the end of the 14th century. Finally, we’ll visit the Saint Joan of Arc Church. Located on the Old Market Place, this large monument’s construction ended in 1979 and was built both in honor of the Saint as well as the heroine celebrated by the French on the second Sunday in May.
The evening is free to explore Rouen after a delicious dinner.
Day 6 - Rouen – Duclair – Caudebec-en-Caux
We’ll set off by coach from Duclair in the company of our local guide. The excursion begins with a visit of the Jumièges Abbey. Built in 654 when Christianity arrived in the region, and subsequently destroyed by the Vikings, the abbey was restored in the 11th century by their descendants. With the arrival of the Romantic period, the abbey became extremely well-known thanks to Victor Hugo who described it as the “most beautiful ruins in all of France”. During our visit, we’ll also discover the cloisters and the ruins of the Church of Saint Peter before visiting the Abbey of Saint Wandrille or Wandregisel (exterior only), a highly spiritual monument founded in the same century.
The wonderful classical architecture of this abbey blends with the magnificence of its medieval heritage in perfect harmony. Unlike Jumièges, a congregation of Benedictine monks settled in this abbey in 1931 and has remained to this day bringing the community to a substantial number. We’ll return to the boat and have our gala evening and dinner as we cruise toward Honfluer tonight.
Day 7 - Honfleur
Today, we go with our guide and set off on a walking tour. Honfleur, the cradle of Impressionism, is located at the mouth of the Seine as it flows into the English Channel. Untouched by the passage of time, this small port has kept the landmarks of its rich past making it one of the most visited towns in France. We’ll begin our tour at the Vieux Bassin, one of the most charming sites in the city. The narrow houses squeezed against each other are quite a unique sight. Next, we’ll see Saint Catherine’s Church, the largest wooden church in France. It was listed as a historical monument in 1879 and has been the subject of scrupulous research by many archaeologists and historians. We’ll then head for the original 17th-century Salt Halls (Greniers à Sel), now used for exhibitions, conferences and concerts. Our tour will finish with a visit to Saint Léonard Church. Destroyed during the Hundred Years War, it was rebuilt at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries-only to be partially burned down again during the Wars of Religion.
In the afternoon, we set-off on our second excursion with our local guide. The first stop is Deauville, the most glamourous coastal French city, symbolic of elegance, prestige and sophistication. Enjoy a stroll along the famous floorboards that were built in 1923 along the beach, allowing women to enjoy the seaside without spoiling their dresses. Discover the casino (exterior view). Continuation by coach for the delightful setting of the Breuil castle. Located in a lush green setting at the center of the Pays d’Auge, this castle is one of the most beautiful examples of the architectural heritage of this region. Today, the Breuil castle is also home to a prestigious distillery where you will get the chance to discover the various steps to making Calvados before tasting it.
The evening is at leisure to enjoy Honfleur.
Day 8 - Honfleur – Normandy - Paris
We have one last breakfast on the MS Renoir before disembarking. After, we board our coach for a tour of the Normandy Beaches focusing on the WWII history of this region. Later, we continue to Paris.
Upon arrival, we check in and have some free time for shopping or exploration before our farewell dinner (optional).
Day 9 - Depart Paris
We transfer to the airport and check-in for our flight. Upon arrival in the USA, transfer home.