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Day by Day Itinerary

Join us on our Bordeaux: Vineyards, Vintages, and Châteaux River Cruise Tour and experience the timeless beauty of southwestern France, where the hills are draped with fragrant vineyards and the valleys are dotted with châteaux. Set forth from Paris on a journey through the peaceful, verdant hills of the Loire Valley. Along the way, you’ll encounter a number of remarkable landmarks, including the Gothic cathedral in Chartres and the Renaissance château in Chenonceaux. We’re the only company to spend two nights in Amboise—a picturesque town nestled up against the Loire River—and two nights in La Rochelle—a historic seaport rife with maritime history—before embarking on a seven-night cruise through the culture-rich region of Bordeaux. After spending two nights docked in Bordeaux—giving you ample time to explore this pedestrian-friendly city—you’ll relax as our privately owned, 90-passenger river ship sets sail along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and the Gironde Estuary. Aboard our intimate vessel, you’ll savor varietals and culinary specialties, discover medieval history while exploring several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and enjoy the landscapes, villages, and estates that have inspired wine-lovers and artists for centuries. You can also enhance your French River Cruise Tour with our optional extensions to Paris and Toulouse & Carcassonne.

Bordeaux Libourne Expand All
  • hidden

    Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Paris.

  • hidden

    Arrive today in Paris. You are greeted at the airport by a Grand Circle representative who assists you with your transfer to the hotel. After settling in, meet your Program Director and enjoy a short orientation walk to discover the neighborhood surrounding the hotel.

    This evening, gather with you fellow travelers during a Welcome Briefing at your hotel. Get better acquainted with your traveling companions as you toast to the journey ahead with a Welcome Drink. After, enjoy dinner on your own, followed by free time to further explore Paris.

  • hidden

    After breakfast, depart Paris for the Loire Valley—the idyllic stretch of western France renowned for its majestic Renaissance châteaux, white wines, and royal past. En route to Amboise, you'll visit Chartres, home to Europe’s greatest Gothic cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chartres has been a Christian pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages and construction on its cathedral began in 1020. Destroyed by a fire in 1194, the Gothic cathedral was rebuilt, with a few additional alterations after the mid-13th century. Today, stained glass covers more than 32,000 square feet and features the largest crypt in France.

    Enjoy lunch on your own and time to explore Chartres independently before transferring to Amboise this afternoon. Along the way, learn a few bon mots during an onboard French language lesson with your Program Director, an exclusive Discovery Series event.

    You'll spend two nights in Amboise, a breathtaking city nestled up against the Loire River, replete with opulent landscapes, medieval architecture, half-timbered homes, and fanciful châteaux.

    This evening, enjoy an included dinner at a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    Today, discover more of the Loire Valley. Revel in the serene, easygoing atmosphere of the Val de Loire as you explore chateaux, local markets, and lush landscapes. Discover how the Renaissance imbued the region with an Italian flair during your stop at the chateau in the village of Chenonceaux, just outside of Amboise. Built in 1513, this unique castle spans the River Cher, suspended above the crystal waters by a series of stone arches. The chateau was built and has since been maintained by a series of powerful women—including Catherine de Medici of Florence, Italy—giving the fairytale castle its famous moniker, the “Ladies’ Chateau.” The estate is just as beautiful inside as it it outside. Surrounding the castle are acres of symmetrical, impeccably maintained jardins à la française—a medley of flowers, shrubs, lawns, fountains, and reflecting pools.

    This afternoon, enjoy lunch on your own, followed by a walking tour of Amboise. As you explore, stop to behold such beauties as the Château d’Amboise, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Dinner is on your own tonight.

  • hidden

    After an early breakfast this morning, depart Amboise for La Rochelle, continuing your journey through the chivalric splendor of the Loire Valley. During your transfer, marvel at the panoramic vistas surrounding you, stopping for an included lunch along the way.

    Arrive in La Rochelle late in the afternoon. The rest of the day is yours to spend at leisure—relax back at your hotel or take some time to explore the city with your fellow travelers. Dinner is on your own tonight. Perhaps you'll dine at a romantic locale in La Rochelle's Old Town, where the city's bustling market spills out onto the narrow streets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Feast upon succulent langoustines or savor a bit of squid atop a mound of pasta.

  • hidden

    This morning, discover the charms of La Rochelle, located on the Bay of Biscay, during an included tour. As you explore, bathe in the sunlight as it reflects off the cityscape's limestone façades. This maritime city is a pastiche of vaulted walkways and homes shingled in slate tiles, with grinning gargoyles waiting for you at every turn.

    This ancient seaport dates back to the time of the Romans, who produced salt and wine here for their expanding empire. La Rochelle was just a small fishing village when it was founded in the tenth century but expanded and flourished into a major harbor during the twelfth century.

    A dark cloud fell over La Rochelle in 1941 when the Germans established a U-boat bunker at La Pallice—the city’s main port—during World War II. Despite serving as a strategic port for the Germans during the war (and being the last French city to be liberated at the end of World War II), the salt-stained, limestone walls of La Rochelle largely escaped damage from Allied attacks. Still standing today, the moss-covered walls of the bunker loom above the waters of the harbor, a silent reminder of a darker past. During your tour, you’ll have the chance to wander through the hollow, ghostly tunnels of the now-vacant submarine pens.

    Lunch is on your own today, with the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Perhaps you'll explore one of the city's three towers—Tour Saint NicolasTour de la Chaîne, and Tour de la Lantern—each standing guard over the Atlantic coast.

    Tonight, you'll share a Home-Hosted Dinner with a local family, an exclusive Discovery Series event.

  • hidden

    After an early breakfast, you’ll travel south to Bordeaux. Along the way, you’ll visit a local oyster farm for an exclusive Discovery Series event. Savor a fresh huitre or two—and discover why the southwest of France is famous for its wines and its shellfish. After, enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to Bordeaux to embark your private river ship, the M/S River Chanson. Relax onboard this afternoon, or use the time to introduce yourself to Bordeaux.

    During your cruise, whenever you have leisure time at a port along your route, you’ll receive a "port talk" about the pier area and town prior to arrival, so you can make the best use of your free time. Tonight, you’ll gather for your first port talk. Then get better acquainted with your ship's captain and crew during a Welcome Dinner.

    This evening, marvel at the glittering city lights on both sides of the Garonne River, and which line the 17 arches of the Pont de Pierre, or Stone Bridge. You’ll also witness the four 262-foot tall pylons of the Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge, which switch from blue to green lights during the tide changes.

  • hidden

    After breakfast onboard, set off for Bordeauxwhose historic center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—during an included city tour.

    Originally established as a trading center by the Romans, Bordeaux lies on the western side of the Garonne River and includes lovely walking paths wending through its elegant 18th and 19th century buildings laced with wrought-iron and stone figures in Old Town. Bordeaux is home to more protected buildings than any other city in France besides Paris, blending both classical and neoclassical architecture. As you explore, you'll admire the beautiful façades along its waterfront, and visit the renowned classical Grande Théâtre, one of the country’s most acclaimed theaters. Also of note is the Place de la Bourse—Bordeaux's royal palace—designed by famed architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who also designed Paris's Place de la Concorde and parts of the Palace of Versailles.

    Return to the ship for lunch onboard. The rest of the afternoon is yours to continue your discoveries. Or, join us on an optional tour, Flavors of France, where you may learn more about Bordeaux's delicacies, and savor samples of these vivid local flavors.

    This evening, enjoy dinner onboard.

  • hidden

    Following breakfast this morning, learn a few tips during a cooking demonstration of French cuisine, an exclusive Discovery Series event.

    Later in the morning, you'll explore the medieval fortress town of Cadillac. Built in the 13th century as a walled city, this town was intended to protect Bordeaux’s trade routes. While your here, you'll explore Cadillac’s most impressive site—Château de Cadillac, a 17th century complex featuring a paved courtyard, wine-tasting rooms, and a restored Neo-Gothic chapel, With its beautiful setting overlooking the Garonne River, the property’s history as a women’s prison is made all the more intriguing. You’ll learn about that and more before returning to your ship for lunch.

    This afternoon you’ll meet a local vintner and immerse yourself in Bordeaux's most famous export: wine. Your discussion includes a tasting of Sauternes, a distinctly sweet wine made from partially raisined grapes and one of the region's most challenging varietals to grow.

    Dinner is onboard this evening.

  • hidden

    This morning, depart Cadillac and relax as your river ship heads up the Gironde Estuary toward France’s premiere wine-growing region, home to the country's most famous reds, including Médoc, Moulis, Margaux, among others.

    Next, you'll stop in Pauillac, a small town overlooking the Gironde Estuary. Along the waterfront, you'll find a collection of cafés and small shops. As you explore Pauillac, you pass by the 19th-century Church of Saint Martin, a memorial dedicated to those who fell in the bombardment during World War II, and numerous homes built in the charentais style—two-story, rectangular houses built of stone, with gently-sloping roofs made of red tile.

    While in Pauillac, you’ll tour a local château and hear about its history. Enjoy a stroll of the property and through the vineyards—learning all about how grapes are grown and picked. After, put your new-found knowledge to use as you sample the locally-made wine.

    Enjoy an included lunch, followed by free time to further explore on your own.

    You may also continue your discoveries this afternoon by learning more about one of the esteemed vineyards of this area on an optional Vineyards, Vintages & Viticulture.

  • hidden

    Relax on deck this morning as your ship sails through the Gironde Estuary, the longest in Europe. Along the way, you'll pass by islands that serve as nature preserves and a popular spot for adventurers, perhaps spotting seafaring birds or local flora and fauna before arriving in Blaye.

    Join a local guide for a walking tour of the town’s citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1685, Louis XIV appointed famed military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban to upgrade the citadel’s aged and outdated fortifications. The fortress was strengthened in order to protect the city of Bordeaux, 30 miles south of Blaye. Many of Vauban’s designs are still standing today, including the Porte Royale, the citadel’s main gate. Walk along the top of the fortified walls during your tour and enjoy a panoramic of the Gironde Estuary and the surrounding town, including Fort Pâté and Fort Médoc, both designed by Vauban. The two forts, together with the Blaye citadel, are collectively known as Le Verrou Vauban, or “Vauban’s Lock.”

    Enjoy lunch onboard this afternoon, followed by time to continue your discoveries in Blaye on your own or with your fellow traveling companions.

    This evening, slip past beautifully preserved châteaux, ancient caves, and carrelets—stilted fishermen's huts—en route to Libourne.

  • hidden

    This morning you’ll enjoy breakfast before transferring to Saint Émilion, a delightful medieval village nestled in the heart of Bordeaux’s rolling vineyards. Saint Émilion is the first landscape to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region’s unique limestone soil not only helps in producing superior grapes for Merlot, but since the ninth century has helped contribute materials for the construction of many elegant châteaux. The extraction of limestone blocks also accounts for fascinating underground monuments and a monolithic church—named for the town’s patron saint—which you’ll discover on an included tour with a local guide this morning.

    Following your tour, you'll visit an underground wine cellar where you'll have the chance to sample some of the region's best wines.

    After lunch, the rest of the afternoon is yours to spend at leisure. Perhaps you’ll visit another wine cellar to pick up last-minute souvenirs, or explore one of the town’s many boutiques. Besides its wines, Saint Émilion also prides itself on its macarons and lays claim to the almond variety, which were first made in 1620 by Ursuline nuns who lived in the village. The secret recipe was handed down for generations until 1930, when the sisterhood shared the recipe with a local bakery—which still bakes them by hand today.

    This evening, gather for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

  • hidden

    Upon arriving in Bordeaux this morning, continue your explorations with your Program Director on a guided walk. This pedestrian-friendly city offers a plethora of museums and cultural activities, including one of the largest national galleries outside of Paris—the Musée des Beaux-Arts or The Museum of Fine Art, established by Napoleon Bonaparte; and the Museé d’Aquitaine, featuring thousands of relics reflecting the city’s Roman past.

    Enjoy lunch onboard, or discover Bordeaux’s rich culinary culture independently. Local specialties include cèpes à la bordelaisemushrooms sauteed in butter with garlic and parsley—and steak topped with sauce bordelaise, meaning "the sauce from Bordeaux." Your Program Director can help guide you to some of the top places to savor the city’s best.

    Enjoy an afternoon at leisure and dinner onboard before bidding Bordeaux—and your fellow travelers—adieu.

  • hidden

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home, or continue on our Toulouse & Carcassonne post-trip extension.

Bordeaux Cadillac Expand All
  • hidden

    Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Paris.

  • hidden

    Arrive today in Paris. You are greeted at the airport by a Grand Circle representative who assists you with your transfer to the hotel. After settling in, meet your Program Director and enjoy a short orientation walk to discover the neighborhood surrounding the hotel.

    This evening, gather with you fellow travelers during a Welcome Briefing at your hotel. Get better acquainted with your traveling companions as you toast to the journey ahead with a Welcome Drink. After, enjoy dinner on your own, followed by free time to further explore Paris.

  • hidden

    After breakfast, depart Paris for the Loire Valley—the idyllic stretch of western France renowned for its majestic Renaissance châteaux, white wines, and royal past. En route to Amboise, you'll visit Chartres, home to Europe’s greatest Gothic cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chartres has been a Christian pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages and construction on its cathedral began in 1020. Destroyed by a fire in 1194, the Gothic cathedral was rebuilt, with a few additional alterations after the mid-13th century. Today, stained glass covers more than 32,000 square feet and features the largest crypt in France.

    Enjoy lunch on your own and time to explore Chartres independently before transferring to Amboise this afternoon. Along the way, learn a few bon mots during an onboard French language lesson with your Program Director, an exclusive Discovery Series event.

    You'll spend two nights in Amboise, a breathtaking city nestled up against the Loire River, replete with opulent landscapes, medieval architecture, half-timbered homes, and fanciful châteaux.

    This evening, enjoy an included dinner at a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    Today, discover more of the Loire Valley. Revel in the serene, easygoing atmosphere of the Val de Loire as you explore chateaux, local markets, and lush landscapes. Discover how the Renaissance imbued the region with an Italian flair during your stop at the chateau in the village of Chenonceaux, just outside of Amboise. Built in 1513, this unique castle spans the River Cher, suspended above the crystal waters by a series of stone arches. The chateau was built and has since been maintained by a series of powerful women—including Catherine de Medici of Florence, Italy—giving the fairytale castle its famous moniker, the “Ladies’ Chateau.” The estate is just as beautiful inside as it it outside. Surrounding the castle are acres of symmetrical, impeccably maintained jardins à la française—a medley of flowers, shrubs, lawns, fountains, and reflecting pools.

    This afternoon, enjoy lunch on your own, followed by a walking tour of Amboise. As you explore, stop to behold such beauties as the Château d’Amboise, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Dinner is on your own tonight.

  • hidden

    After an early breakfast this morning, depart Amboise for La Rochelle, continuing your journey through the chivalric splendor of the Loire Valley. During your transfer, marvel at the panoramic vistas surrounding you, stopping for an included lunch along the way.

    Arrive in La Rochelle late in the afternoon. The rest of the day is yours to spend at leisure—relax back at your hotel or take some time to explore the city with your fellow travelers. Dinner is on your own tonight. Perhaps you'll dine at a romantic locale in La Rochelle's Old Town, where the city's bustling market spills out onto the narrow streets on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Feast upon succulent langoustines or savor a bit of squid atop a mound of pasta.

  • hidden

    This morning, discover the charms of La Rochelle, located on the Bay of Biscay, during an included tour. As you explore, bathe in the sunlight as it reflects off the cityscape's limestone façades. This maritime city is a pastiche of vaulted walkways and homes shingled in slate tiles, with grinning gargoyles waiting for you at every turn.

    This ancient seaport dates back to the time of the Romans, who produced salt and wine here for their expanding empire. La Rochelle was just a small fishing village when it was founded in the tenth century but expanded and flourished into a major harbor during the twelfth century.

    A dark cloud fell over La Rochelle in 1941 when the Germans established a U-boat bunker at La Pallice—the city’s main port—during World War II. Despite serving as a strategic port for the Germans during the war (and being the last French city to be liberated at the end of World War II), the salt-stained, limestone walls of La Rochelle largely escaped damage from Allied attacks. Still standing today, the moss-covered walls of the bunker loom above the waters of the harbor, a silent reminder of a darker past. During your tour, you’ll have the chance to wander through the hollow, ghostly tunnels of the now-vacant submarine pens.

    Lunch is on your own today, with the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Perhaps you'll explore one of the city's three towers—Tour Saint NicolasTour de la Chaîne, and Tour de la Lantern—each standing guard over the Atlantic coast.

    Tonight, you'll share a Home-Hosted Dinner with a local family, an exclusive Discovery Series event.

  • hidden

    After an early breakfast, you’ll travel south to Bordeaux. Along the way, you’ll visit a local oyster farm for an exclusive Discovery Series event. Savor a fresh huitre or two—and discover why the southwest of France is famous for its wines and its shellfish. After, enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to Bordeaux to embark your private river ship, the M/S River Chanson. Relax onboard this afternoon, or use the time to introduce yourself to Bordeaux.

    During your cruise, whenever you have leisure time at a port along your route, you’ll receive a "port talk" about the pier area and town prior to arrival, so you can make the best use of your free time. Tonight, you’ll gather for your first port talk. Then get better acquainted with your ship's captain and crew during a Welcome Dinner.

    This evening, marvel at the glittering city lights on both sides of the Garonne River, and which line the 17 arches of the Pont de Pierre, or Stone Bridge. You’ll also witness the four 262-foot tall pylons of the Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge, which switch from blue to green lights during the tide changes.

  • hidden

    After breakfast onboard, set off for Bordeauxwhose historic center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—during an included city tour.

    Originally established as a trading center by the Romans, Bordeaux lies on the western side of the Garonne River and includes lovely walking paths wending through its elegant 18th and 19th century buildings laced with wrought-iron and stone figures in Old Town. Bordeaux is home to more protected buildings than any other city in France besides Paris, blending both classical and neoclassical architecture. As you explore, you'll admire the beautiful façades along its waterfront, and visit the renowned classical Grande Théâtre, one of the country’s most acclaimed theaters. Also of note is the Place de la Bourse—Bordeaux's royal palace—designed by famed architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who also designed Paris's Place de la Concorde and parts of the Palace of Versailles.

    Return to the ship for lunch onboard. The rest of the afternoon is yours to continue your discoveries. Or, join us on an optional tour, Flavors of France, where you may learn more about Bordeaux's delicacies, and savor samples of these vivid local flavors.

    This evening, enjoy dinner onboard.

  • hidden

    Following breakfast this morning, learn a few tips during a cooking demonstration of French cuisine, an exclusive Discovery Series event.

    Next, relax as your river ship heads up the Gironde Estuary toward France’s premiere wine-growing region, home to the country's most famous reds, including MédocMoulisMargaux, among others. You'll stop in Pauillac, a small town overlooking the Gironde Estuary. Along the waterfront, you'll find a collection of cafés and small shops. As you explore Pauillac, you pass by the 19th-century Church of Saint Martin, a memorial dedicated to those who fell in the bombardment during World War II, and numerous homes built in the charentais style—two-story, rectangular houses built of stone, with gently-sloping roofs made of red tile.


    While in Pauillac, you’ll tour a local château and hear about its history. Enjoy a stroll of the property and through the vineyards—learning all about how grapes are grown and picked. After, put your new-found knowledge to use as you sample the locally-made wine.

    Enjoy an included lunch, followed by free time to further explore on your own.

    You may also continue your discoveries this afternoon by learning more about one of the esteemed vineyards of this area on an optional Vineyards, Vintages & Viticulture.

    Dinner is onboard this evening.  After, learn a few tips during a cooking demonstration of French cuisine, an exclusive Discovery Series event.

  • hidden

    Relax on deck this morning as your ship sails through the Gironde Estuary, the largest in Europe. Along the way, you'll pass by islands that serve as nature preserves and a popular spot for adventurers, perhaps spotting seafaring birds or local flora and fauna before arriving in Blaye.

    Join a local guide for a walking tour of the town’s citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1685, Louis XIV appointed famed military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban to upgrade the citadel’s aged and outdated fortifications. The fortress was strengthened in order to protect the city of Bordeaux, 30 miles south of Blaye. Many of Vauban’s designs are still standing today, including the Porte Royale, the citadel’s main gate. Walk along the top of the fortified walls during your tour and enjoy a panoramic of the Gironde Estuary and the surrounding town, including Fort Pâté and Fort Médoc, both designed by Vauban. The two forts, together with the Blaye citadel, are collectively known as Le Verrou Vauban, or “Vauban’s Lock.”

    Enjoy lunch onboard this afternoon, followed by time to continue your discoveries in Blaye on your own or with your fellow traveling companions.

    This evening, reminisce about today's discoveries during an included dinner on your ship.

  • hidden

    This morning, slip past beautifully preserved châteaux, ancient caves, and carrelets—stilted fishermen's huts—en route to Libourne. You’ll enjoy breakfast before transferring to Saint Émilion, a delightful medieval village nestled in the heart of Bordeaux’s rolling vineyards. Saint Émilion is the first landscape to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region’s unique limestone soil not only helps in producing superior grapes for Merlot, but since the ninth century has helped contribute materials for the construction of many elegant châteaux. The extraction of limestone blocks also accounts for fascinating underground monuments and a monolithic church—named for the town’s patron saint—which you’ll discover on an included tour with a local guide this morning.

    Following your tour, you'll visit an underground wine cellar where you'll have the chance to sample some of the region's best wines.

    After lunch, the rest of the afternoon is yours to spend at leisure. Perhaps you’ll visit another wine cellar to pick up last-minute souvenirs, or explore one of the town’s many boutiques. Besides its wines, Saint Émilion also prides itself on its macarons and lays claim to almond variety, which were first made in 1620 by Ursuline nuns who lived in the village. The secret recipe was handed down for generations until 1930, when the sisterhood shared the recipe with a local bakery—which still bakes them by hand today.

    Perhaps you’ll enjoy a glass of wine over dinner this evening onboard your ship before setting sail for Cadillac.

  • hidden

    This morning, depart Libourne and enjoy a leisurely morning onboard and breakfast as you glide toward Cadillac. Built in the 13th century as a walled city, this medieval fortress town was intended to protect Bordeaux’s trade routes. While your here, you'll explore Cadillac’s most impressive site—Château de Cadillac, a 17th century complex featuring a paved courtyard, wine-tasting rooms, and a restored Neo-Gothic chapel, With its beautiful setting overlooking the Garonne River, the property’s history as a women’s prison is made all the more intriguing. You’ll learn about that and more before returning to your ship for lunch.

    This afternoon you’ll meet a local vintner and immerse yourself in Bordeaux's most famous export: wine. Your discussion includes a tasting of Sauternes, a distinctly sweet wine made from partially raisined grapes and one of the region's most challenging varietals to grow.

    This evening, enjoy dinner onboard. After, gather for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

  • hidden

    Upon arriving in Bordeaux this morning, continue your explorations with your Program Director on a guided walk. This pedestrian-friendly city offers a plethora of museums and cultural activities, including one of the largest national galleries outside of Paris—the Musée des Beaux-Arts or The Museum of Fine Art, established by Napoleon Bonaparte; and the Museé d’Aquitaine, featuring thousands of relics reflecting the city’s Roman past.

    Enjoy lunch onboard, or discover Bordeaux’s rich culinary culture independently. Local specialties include cèpes à la bordelaisemushrooms sauteed in butter with garlic and parsley—and steak topped with sauce bordelaise, meaning "the sauce from Bordeaux." Your Program Director can help guide you to some of the top places to savor the city’s best.

    Enjoy an afternoon at leisure and dinner onboard before bidding Bordeaux—and your fellow travelers—adieu.

  • hidden

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home, or continue on our Toulouse & Carcassonne post-trip extension.

Extensions

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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

Pacing

  • 14 days, with 7 nights aboard the M/S River Chanson, and 3 hotel stays, including a single 1-night stay

Physical requirements

  • Not accessible for travelers using wheelchairs or scooters
  • Travelers using walkers, crutches, or other mobility aids must travel with a companion who can assist them throughout the trip
  • You must be able to walk 3 miles unassisted and participate in 2-3 hours of physical activities each day, including stairs

Climate

  • Daytime temperatures range from 50-90°F during cruising season
  • June-September are the warmest months
  • March and November weather can be unpredictable and change quickly within a short period of time

Terrain

  • Travel over some bumpy unpaved roads and uneven walking surfaces, including hills, stairs, cobblestones, and riverbanks

Transportation

  • Travel by 45-passenger coach and 90-passenger river ship

River Cruising

  • Throughout the River Cruise season, weather conditions and tides affect European river depths; water levels may require adjustments to your itinerary, including the order of ports-of-call

Cuisine

  • Meals will be a mix of local specialties and familiar American standards
  • Meals onboard feature a variety of entrée options, including vegetarian

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for this trip.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your vacation, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Program Directors and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • M/S River Chanson

    The M/S River Chanson—the latest ship added to our privately-owned fleet—provides an intimate cruising experience for just 90 passengers and features all outside cabins. Connect with your fellow travelers in the comfortable common areas, enjoy breathtaking panoramas from the teak-covered Sun Deck, and relax as you journey through the region of Bordeaux. All the while, our gracious, English-speaking ship staff will ensure that you enjoy a welcoming onboard experience.

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Main Trip

  • Pullman Paris Montparnasse

    Paris, France | Rating: Superior First Class

    Located on the Left Bank of Paris, the modern Pullman Paris Montparnasse is in the heart of the lively Montparnasse neighborhood, and within a short walk of the Latin Quarter. Each of the hotel’s 953 air-conditioned rooms features a hair dryer, minibar, and satellite TV. You may choose to dine at the on-site restaurant, or enjoy many other dining options in the surrounding area.

  • Novotel Amboise

    Amboise, France | Rating: Superior Tourist Class

    The Novotel Amboise is a contemporary, three-story hotel situated on a hillside overlooking the Loire Valley in Amboise. The hotel is only one mile from the city center and each of its 121 rooms offer air conditioning, a coffeemaker, a refrigerator, a telephone, a television, and a complimentary newspaper each morning. Wireless Internet is also available for an additional fee.

  • Best Western Masqhotel

    La Rochelle, France | Rating: First Class

    Situated between the Old Harbour and the city's railway station, this first-class hotel is located at the heart of La Rochelle. Best Western Masqhotel is a contemporary hotel in an ancient maritime seaport—with each of its 76 rooms offering air conditioning, a coffeemaker, a telephone, a television, Internet access, and a complimentary newspaper each morning.

Extensions

  • Pullman Paris Montparnasse

    Paris, France | Rating: Superior First Class

    Located on the Left Bank of Paris, the modern Pullman Paris Montparnasse is in the heart of the lively Montparnasse neighborhood, and within a short walk of the Latin Quarter. Each of the hotel’s 953 air-conditioned rooms features a hair dryer, minibar, and satellite TV. You may choose to dine at the on-site restaurant, or enjoy many other dining options in the surrounding area.

  • Best Western Hotel des Capitouls

    Toulouse, France | Rating: First Class

    Nestled in the heart of Toulouse, the First-Class Best Western Hotel des Capitouls is a short walk from some of the city’s major landmarks, including Capitole Square, the Basilica of St. Sernin, and the Musée des Augustins, a fine arts museum. House in what was once a private mansion, this hotel features 52 air-conditioned rooms, each one featuring a coffeemaker, a telephone, a refrigerator, a television, wireless Internet access, a safe, and a complimentary newspaper each morning.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two vacations to maximize your value.

  • Extend your vacation and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip excursions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your ship or hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your vacation
  • Choose to "break away" before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of Grand Circle Cruise Line vacations to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium class

The air options listed above may involve additional airfare costs based on your specific choices.

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $2595
w/ standard air $3595
Gateway Travel Time*
Detroit, Newark, New York (JFK), Philadelphia, Washington, DC (Dulles) 8hrs
Boston, Chicago 9hrs
Houston 10hrs
Los Angeles, San Francisco 11hrs
Dallas, Orlando, Tampa 12hrs
Phoenix, Seattle 13hrs
San Diego, Tucson 14hrs

*Estimated total time, including connection and layover. Actual travel time may vary.

The information above reflects approximate flight times from the gateway cities listed to Paris, France. Routing is based on availability and subject to change. You will receive your final air itinerary approximately 14 days prior to departure.

From the Valley to the Vineyards

The bays, rivers, and estuaries of Southwest France

by Bradley Keist

The southwest of France is a mosaic of tranquil waterways, bucolic panoramas, medieval villages, and majestic châteaux.

From the Loire Valley to the Atlantic coast, the southwest of France is a region of timeless beauty: a mosaic of tranquil waterways, bucolic panoramas, medieval villages, and majestic châteaux. And, spread out amidst it all—draped over the landscape’s gently-rolling hills—are acres upon acres of ambrosial vineyards. And yet, while the region is renowned for its top-of-the-line vintages, the southwest of France offers so much more … so much to see, so much to do … and so much to taste.

The Ladies’ Château

Suspended above the crystal waters of the River Cher, the majestic Château de Chenonceau appears as if it were stolen straight from the pages of a child’s storybook. Surrounded by acres of jardins à la française, the Renaissance castle is cause for one of the greatest love triangles history has yet seen. King Henry II of France gave the château to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, in 1555 as a token of his love while excluding his wife, Catherine de Medici, from all political affairs. When the king died in 1559, Catherine banished Diane from Chenonceau and took it for her own.

The world is your oyster

The triangular Arcachon Bay is speckled with wind-worn cabanes tchanquées—their wooden stilts melting into the wet sand—flat-bottomed pinasses—fishing boats, each painted a different color of the rainbow—and row after row of moss-covered rope sacks peeking above the surface of the water—each filled with clicking, hungry oysters. Since Roman occupation over 2,000 years ago, oysters have played a pivotal role in the lives of those living around the Bassin d’Arcachon. But it wasn’t until the 19th century that the first, official “oyster park” was established—by none other than Napoleon III, in an effort to prevent the local oyster species from being wiped out.

Monks and monoliths

Captivated by the beauty of the region surrounding the Dordogne River—a union of beryl-colored foliage and rocky outcroppings of ochre and ecru—a young monk settled in a cave and lived out the remainder of his life as a hermit. After his death in 767, the monk was dubbed a saint, thus lending his name to the town that would follow. A century later, men began extracting limestone blocks from the earth to build their town. Construction of Saint Émilion’s eponymous monolithic cathedral also began at this time. While the church’s exterior may seem less-than-impressive, the cavernous interior—carved deep into the belly of the rocky earth—is an awe-inspiring collection of tunnels and grottos.

When one dreams of flying away to France, the thought of sipping a café au lait while nibbling on a pain au chocolat at a café en plein air is what typically comes to mind. But, outside the bustling streets of Paris, an entire world awaits—one filled with history, culture … and breathtaking views.

Choose your savings:

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Bordeaux: Vineyards, Vintages & Châteaux
13 days from $3895
River Cruise Tour only

FREE two-category cabin upgrade—Save up to $800 per couple

Code: TAAT 728

Pay for Cabin in this Category

Receive Cabin in this Category

APR 3

APR 10-24

MAY; JUN

Was

Now

Was

Now

Was

Now

C - Lower

A - Main

$4295

$3995

$4495

$4095

$4595

$4195

D - Lower

B - Lower

$4095

$3895

$4195

$3895

$4295

$3995

Or, airfare savings—Save $500 per couple

Code: TAAT 729

Departure Cities

APR; MAY 1-15

MAY 22, 29; JUN

Was

Now

Was

Now

Baltimore, New York, Newark, Philadelphia

$1100

$850

$1500

$1250

Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Washington, DC

$1200

$950

$1600

$1350

Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle

$1300

$1050

$1700

$1450

Portland

$1400

$1150

$1800

$1550

Additional departure cities available. Call for details.

Or, extension savings—Save $500 per couple

Code: TAAT 730

Paris, France
Was $995 NOW from $745

Toulouse & Carcassonne, France
Was $945 NOW from $695

Call toll-free TODAY 1-800-221-2610

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Prices are per person based on double occupancy, do not include Single Supplements, and reflect savings of up to $400 per person. Offer applies to new reservations only on April-June 2015 departures, and cannot be combined with our any other offer, or our Groups Program. This offer is only applicable for a 1-category cabin upgrade on Cruising Burgundy & Provence to the Cote d'Azur, and not available on our Holiday River Cruises. All other credits may be applied. You must reserve by 10/31/14 to receive these savings. Additional departure cities are available. Standard Terms & Conditions apply. Every effort has been made to publish this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.