Imagine the pleasure of navigating through centuries old waterways on a luxurious slow moving barge with no more than twenty people in the heart of France, the beautiful and unspoiled Loire Valley. Villages mellowed by time, elegant chateaus, lush landscapes of vineyards, orchards and forests have inspired visitors for centuries and will spoil you too on this timeless journey fit for royalty.
Day 1 - Home - Paris, France
Transfer to the airport for your overnight flight across the Atlantic to the capital of France - Paris! One of the most fascinating and visited cities in the world, Paris will not disappoint.
Day 2 - Paris
Upon arrival, embark on a guided city tour of Paris. Sights will include: the Eiffel Tour, l’Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, Champs-Élysées and more. After, check-in to our hotel and have the afternoon at leisure. Later, get together for our Welcome Dinner at a local Parisienne bistro.
Day 3 - Paris
After breakfast this morning, we enjoy another tour of Paris - from a different perspective. Your local guide will unveil ‘hidden Paris’ on this insider’s look at seldom visited sites. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore this exciting city.
Day 4 - Paris - Nevers
Leaving the wonderful metropolis of Paris behind, we head into rural France for embarkation and welcome dinner on the M/S Deborah. After nightfall, we’ll leave on a walking tour of Nevers with lanterns. We’ll remain in port overnight.
Day 5 - Nevers – Marseilles-Les-Aubigny
Our visit of Nevers this morning will begin with the Espace Bernadette Soubirous; the final resting place of the simple country girl from Lourdes who claimed to have seen the Virgin 18 times. Then, continue to the city center to see the Ducal Palace, which is considered the first of the Loire’s castles. We will see: the Old Town, The Republic Square and a large park. Enjoy a stroll through the preserved old quarter, (with its half-timbered houses and picturesque streets) before reaching Nevers Cathedral which is a national monument. There will be a brief visit to the pottery quarter before ending our tour with a tasting of local products.
Day 6 - Marseilles-Les-Aubigny – Chapelle Montlinard
We’ll leave by coach for the visit to Fontmorigny Abbey, a privately owned French historical monument. This is now one of the main cultural sites in the area and is testimony to over 8 centuries of French religious heritage. The contemporary stained-glass windows are not to be missed. We’ll continue on to visit Apremont-sur-Allier and its floral garden. Classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France, this small medieval jewel on the bank of the Allier is an absolute must-see. The village offers a stunning point of view of the castle that overlooks it as well as a nice stroll along the Allier river. During our journey, discover the unique abundance of nature, culture and heritage. You’ll have an outstanding view of the Val de Loire Natural Reserve. The evening is free to do as you please.
Day 7 - Chapelle Montlinard – Menetreol-Sous-Sancerre
We’ll leave by coach for our tour of La Charit-sur-Loire and an authentic farm. Our visit will begin with the top priory, one of the most important restoration sites in Burgundy for the past 15 years. Then, visit a farm deep in the countryside, where we’ll experience the rustic calm and authenticity that can be found only in France. This is a nice stop-over and a perfect way to get to know the animals (sheep, pigs, goats, donkeys, African or Highland cattle, llamas, ostriches, and of course, ducks)! After we return on board, we’ll cruise toward Menetreol-sous-Sancerre.
Day 8 - Menetreol-Sous-Sancerre – Lere
Today, we visit Pouilly-sur-Loire, where we’ll visit the Tour De Pouilly-Fume, a wine-tourism center located in a beautiful setting. We’ll visit the vineyards, see the wine cellar, and enjoy a tasting. Once we return on board, we’ll continue toward Lere. Take advantage of this moment to ride along a portion of the EuroVelo 6 (the bike route travelling from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea). The evening is free to do as you please.
Day 9 - Lere – Briare
Excursion to Sancerre and a goat farm. Set in the historic Berry region, Sancerre overlooks the gorgeous Loire Valley. You’ll discover this beautiful medieval city by following the Fil d’Ariane; a red line painted on the streets taking you past the old wine-making neighborhoods, bakeries, fascinating buildings, and lovely art galleries. The Fief Tower (significant stairs to climb) is the only remaining tower of the 14th -century medieval castle. Afterwards, we’ll visit a goat farm and have a tasting of its trademark cheeses and the local Sancerre wine. The family on the farm will be happy to share their cheese making secrets with you. We’ll spend the afternoon cruising to Briare and cruising through the Briare Aqueduct whose 14 masonry supports were built by the Eiffel Company. Until recently, it was the longest navigable aqueduct in the world. Tonight is our festive gala evening.
Day 10 - Briare – Home
Enjoy one last buffet breakfast onboard before disembarking. Depart by coach from Briare to Paris for flight home. Upon arrival in the USA, transfer home.