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Day by Day Itinerary

Come marvel at the lights of Paris, the capital of romance ... then explore France by River Cruise Tour, where you'll sail throughout the French countryside aboard one of Grand Circle’s private French river cruisers—which offer a more intimate cruising experience, with a maximum of just 46 American travelers. Along the way, you'll discover the lovely landscapes and enchanting villages that inspired the great artists of the 19th and 20th centuries ... revel in picturesque scenery, like gently sloping hills and vineyards that sustain one of the greatest wine industries in the world ... visit ornate papal palaces, Gothic cathedrals, medieval fortifications, and ancient Roman ruins ... and cap off your explorations in the elegant Cote d’Azur, with its golden sands and opulent casinos.

  • Depart today on your overnight flight to Paris, France.

  • Arrive today in Paris. You are met at the airport by a Grand Circle representative and transferred to your hotel. During the afternoon, you may want to participate in a leisurely orientation walk with your Program Director to get acquainted with the area around your hotel.

    Gather in the early evening with your Program Director and traveling companions for a Welcome Drink and briefing. (If you began your discoveries early with our pre-trip extension to Paris, France, you will join the main group today.) You dine on your own this evening; you can choose to relax over dinner at your hotel or ask your Program Director for restaurant suggestions in the area.

  • Discover the many famed sights of Paris

    This morning, join us for a half-day panoramic tour of Paris that introduces the city’s classic highlights. You’ll see the metropolis from different perspectives as you travel along the famed Champs Elysees. View the Arc de Triomphe (commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, and completed in 1836) standing at the end of the Champs Elysees at the large central roundabout where twelve elegant tree-lined avenues converge. You’ll also drive by the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame. Afterwards, enjoy time at leisure to explore Paris on your own.

    Or, join us on an optional afternoon tour to the Palace of Versailles. Your excursion includes a guided tour through the palace’s Grand Chambers, the Hall of Mirrors (where the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, was signed in 1919), and the Royal Chapel. You'll also enjoy time to visit the expansive French gardens at your leisure. Please note: Due to limited space, this optional tour must be reserved at least ten days prior to departure and cannot be booked on-site. Versailles is the most-visited attraction in France. To ensure that all guests are able to view the exhibits, the time you spend in each room is limited by palace staff. Expect lines at the entrance in peak season, even for groups with reservations. Versailles is not wheelchair accessible.

    This evening, gather at a local restaurant for a savory Welcome Dinner.

  • Today is free for independent exploration. If you like, you can go to the Louvre using public transportation. Stroll around on your own through gallery after gallery of works by the likes of Michelangelo. Linger in front of your favorites as long as you wish.

    Or, join us on a half-day optional tour into the countryside to see the lovely landscapes that inspired Monet.

    The unique light of the area’s Seine Valley in Normandy kept Monet in residence for 43 years after he “discovered” the village of Giverny while looking out a train window in 1883. He stayed here until his death in 1926, and his grave is in the family vault at the town’s Romanesque church. You'll travel to Monet’s beloved village of Giverny, and explore the artist’s home and gardens, now a museum dedicated to the great painter. The house is furnished as it was when the leader of the Impressionist School lived here, including his precious collection of Japanese engravings. The gardens have been replanted, and as you stroll through them, you’ll see with your own eyes the landscapes that have graced countless Monet paintings. Here are the familiar Japanese bridge and water garden shaded by weeping willows, with its pond still full of the water lilies that so inspired his work. Please note: This optional tour is available on April through October departures only; all other departures feature an optional Louvre tour.

    Later this afternoon, enjoy free time on your own.

  • View Burgundy's Cathedral in Beaune

    After breakfast, depart Paris for the renowned province of Burgundy, one of France’s eleven major wine-producing regions. Perhaps more than anything else, France is known for its legendary wine, which is part of the country’s heritage and a great source of national pride. Wine has been produced in France for centuries, and in Burgundy there are vineyards nearly everywhere.

    Along the way, you'll stop for a visit in Beaune, which is one of the main towns of the Cote d'Or region. The rich soil of Beaune produces many of the world's finest wines. Here you'll enjoy a walking tour through the old town, with its winding cobbled streets dotted with outdoor cafes and open-air markets. The tour includes one of Beaune’s most notable landmarks, the 15th-century charity hospital Hotel Dieu (also called les Hospices de Beaune). This is now a museum housing the original sickbeds and art treasures accumulated over the centuries. Afterwards, you are free to discover more of the treasures of Beaune on your own. Perhaps you'll explore the Musee du Vin, a wine museum that was a former private residence of the Dukes of Burgundy.

    From Beaune, enjoy a scenic ride along Burgundy’s Route des Vins ("Wine Road") as you proceed to Macon, arriving in the late afternoon. Here, your France River Cruise Tour begins as you embark your ship.

    This evening, you'll gather with your fellow passengers and meet your ship’s crew. After savoring your first dinner aboard the ship, enjoy an onboard activity or a walking tour of Macon with your Program Director.

  • View Macon while cruising the Saone River

    Your ship will start cruising the Saone River this morning. Perhaps you'll settle into a comfortable deck chair and view the passing riverside scenery. Or, find a favorite spot onboard to sip coffee and unwind with a book before docking in Lyon in the early afternoon after an onboard lunch.

    You'll tour historic Lyon by motorcoach, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once the capital of Gaul under the Romans, Lyon flourished as a Renaissance trading center based on its extensive silk industry. In a country known for its fine cuisine, Lyon is also known as a gastronomic capital. Your tour features Old Lyon, once hidden behind medieval ramparts. Among other important landmarks, you'll see the Basilica of Fourviere, which towers above the city.

    Then, during an Exclusive Discovery Series event, you'll visit a local workshop to learn the secrets of creating delicately painted silk scarves. It was in Lyon that the Jacquard loom (named for its French inventor), the first automatic loom able to weave complex patterns, was invented.

    This evening features the Captain’s Welcome Reception and a port talk, followed by the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.

  • Explore local French markets while touring Lyon

    This morning, explore a local market in Lyon with your Program Director, and discover myriad sweet and savory items for sale. You'll experience the delectable goodness of the many kinds of French breads, from the long, thin baguettes to the plumper loaves of pain (bread) during an exclusive Discovery Series event.

    In the afternoon, you'll embark on an included tour to explore the beautiful Beaujolais region north of Lyon, home to 13 French wine appellations. You’ll see historic highlights including the Pierres Dorees—villages built of golden stone—and the 11th-century church of St. Matthews. Then you’ll meet a local vintner at the Domaine des Averlys and taste a sampling of his wines accompanied by local cheeses and sausages for a truly French degustation.

    Tonight you'll delight in an onboard theme dinner paying tribute to France. Following dinner, enjoy some scenic night cruising, to reveal the illuminating charms of Lyon from your view upon the water. After your cruise, you'll remain docked in Lyon overnight.

  • Discover the local French culture during a Home Hosted Visit in Vernon

    After breakfast, join an Exclusive Discovery Series discussion about the activities of the French Resistance in the Rhone Valley during World War II.

    Mid-morning, you'll come aboard and your France River Cruise continues along the Rhone, passing vineyards, farmhouses, sleepy villages, and emerald-green wooded hillsides. You'll experience two Discovery Series Events en route: First, you'll learn about—and sample—some of France's culinary delights during a Gourmet Tasting; next, enjoy a language lesson and brush up on your conversational French in preparation for your Home-Hosted Dinner this evening.

    After docking in Tournon, proceed to the home of a local family. Here, you’ll be treated to a home-cooked meal and learn firsthand about life in this region of France. You’ll then return to the ship, which will begin its overnight cruise to Viviers.

  • Explore the charming town of Viviers during a walking tour

    This morning you'll arrive in Viviers—the gateway to Provence—where you’ll enjoy a closer look at this charming town on an included walking tour. Then you'll have free time to explore on your own.

    Return to the ship later for an onboard lunch before setting off for Avignon. You might want to find a comfortable deck chair and relax as you pass through a lovely stretch of the Ardeche region. It is an area of ancient villages and spa towns set against the backdrop of a rugged, natural landscape.

    During your cruise, you'll participate in two exclusive Discovery Series events: First, learn about the herbs of Provence, and their use in the legendary foods associated with this region. Later, your ship's chef will demonstrate some French cooking techniques. You'll also get the chance to sample the resulting fare.

    Later this evening you’ll enjoy dinner onboard, and your ship will dock in Avignon, where it will remain docked overnight.

  • Explore the Papal Palace and the streets of Avignon

    When you awaken this morning, you'll find yourself in Avignon. Set off on a walking tour to discover the City of Popes. For most of the 14th century, the popes left the turmoil of Rome and installed themselves in this calm possession of the Catholic Church. In Avignon, beginning with Clement V (who was born here), they built residences, chateaux, a number of fortified palaces, and churches. Your tour includes a guided exploration of the impressive Papal Palace.

    Then you'll return to the ship for lunch onboard, and you'll have the afternoon to make your own discoveries in Avignon. Perhaps you'll explore the winding streets of some of the city's ancient neighborhoods, or relax at an outdoor cafe.

    Or, join an optional tour, An Afternoon in Provence. You'll discover the Provencal village of Les Baux de Provence during a walking tour, then visit the “Carrieres de Lumieres,” where artwork is displayed on the walls of carved limestone chambers.

    Tonight, celebrate your journey with your travel companions at the Captain's Farewell Dinner.

  • Your ship cruises through the early morning hours to Arles, where you'll disembark for a tour of the town which was so beloved by Vincent van Gogh. As you explore, you'll encounter signs indicating places rendered in Van Gogh's works. Here you'll find still standing the Cafe l’Alcazar, the establishment where the artist stayed and used the manager, Madame Ginoux, as his model for his painting l’Arlesienne.

    View ancient Roman ruins in Arles

    Visiting Arles, one of the most distinctive towns in enchanting Provence, is like journeying back to ancient Rome. The town is filled with landmarks and ruins dating from its periods of Roman domination that began in 30 BC. Here, you'll view the outside of the colossal hilltop Roman amphitheater, where 21,000 spectators thrilled to gladiator fights in the first century and where bullfights are held today—20 centuries later. You'll also view the 7,000-seat Antique Theater during your tour of this ancient, cobbled city.

    After lunch onboard, you have the afternoon free to relax onboard or explore Arles in more depth on your own. The town is home to wonderful churches, museums, and Roman ruins.

    Or, embark on an optional half-day excursion into the Camargue. Lined with sandbars and reed-covered marshes, the Camargue is Europe’s largest delta, a dramatic landscape caught between land and sea. The keepers of this land are its gardians, akin to our cowboys. They live here with their families, often several generations together, carving out lifestyles in sync with the land, following the rhythms of nature and the needs of the livestock they tend. You’ll visit a gardian’s bull farm, where you’ll revel in the friendliness of their down-to-earth hospitality, and experience traditional daily life. You’ll witness the local version of bullfighting, in which bulls are considered heroic and never killed. You’ll also climb aboard a farm truck to visit the bulls in their natural environment, and then return to the farmhouse to enjoy traditional Camargue fare and local wine.

    Enjoy a Provencal-themed dinner onboard the ship this evening.

  • After breakfast, disembark and transfer through a scenic part of Provence to the French Riviera’s Cote d’Azur. En route you’ll stop in Draguignan for a visit to the Rhone American Cemetery. Established just days after Allied troops landed and began an offensive against the German Army in southern France and the Rhone Valley, the cemetery commemorates one of the important battles that followed the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy. Today, 861 American soldiers are buried at the memorial site, comprising twelve acres near the city of Draguignan.

    View the Rhone American Cemetery near Draguignan

    After visiting the cemetery and commemorating the battles that liberated France, continue on and arrive around mid-day in Nice. Drop your luggage off at your hotel close to the Old Town and get lunch on your own. Nice is the Cote d’Azur’s premier Riviera resort—a city of art and theater known for its lush gardens and superb setting on the Mediterranean’s Bay of Angels. This afternoon join your Program Director for a relaxing walk around the environs of your hotel.

    Enjoy a Farewell Drink with your fellow travelers, after which dinner is on your own and your evening is at leisure.

    • Meals included:

    This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or take advantage of our extension to Nice, France and explore the French Riviera, or our extension to the Italian Rivieria & the Cinque Terre.

  • Depart today on your flight to Nice, France. 

  • View the Mediterranean while touring Nice

    Arrive today in Nice, known for its superb setting on the Mediterranean’s Bay of Angels. You are met at the airport by a Grand Circle representative and transferred to your hotel.

    This evening, meet up with your Program Director and those travelers who took the pre-trip extension to Nice, France, or Italian Riviera & the Cinque Terre, Italy for a Welcome Drink and briefing. Your Program Director can provide suggestions for dinner on your own tonight.

  • View the Rhone American Cemetery near Draguignan

    After breakfast, check out of your hotel and join a discovery visit of a local flower market with your Program Director. You have the remainder of the morning at leisure to further explore Nice and enjoy lunch on your own.

    This afternoon, we transfer to Arles to embark our ship, which will mark the start of your French River Cruise Tour. Along the way, we'll stop in Draguignan for a visit to the Rhone American Cemetery. Established just days after Allied troops landed and began an offensive against the German Army in southern France and the Rhone Valley, the cemetery commemorates one of the important battles that followed the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy. Today, 861 American soldiers are buried at the memorial site, comprising twelve acres near the city of Draguignan.

    The crew will welcome you aboard before you enjoy your Provencal-themed dinner onboard this evening. The ship remains in Arles overnight.

  • Arles will be forever associated with the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. Disembark for a tour of the town so beloved by the artist. As you explore, you’ll encounter signs indicating places rendered in Van Gogh’s works. Here you’ll find still standing the Cafe l’Alcazar, the establishment where the artist stayed and used the manager, Madame Ginoux, as his model for his painting “l’Arlesienne.”

    View ancient Roman ruins in Arles

    Visiting Arles, one of the most distinctive towns in enchanting Provence, is like journeying back to ancient Rome. The town is filled with landmarks and ruins dating from its periods of Roman domination that began in 30 BC. Here, you’ll view the outside of the colossal hilltop Roman amphitheater, where 21,000 spectators thrilled to gladiator fights in the first century and where bullfights are held today—20 centuries later. You’ll also view the 7,000-seat Antique Theater during your tour of this ancient, cobbled city. Then you'll have some free time to explore on your own.

    After lunch onboard, you have the afternoon free to relax or continue discovering Arles in more depth on your own. The town is home to wonderful churches, museums, and Roman ruins.

    Or, embark on an optional half-day excursion into the Camargue. Lined with sandbars and reed-covered marshes, the Camargue is Europe’s largest delta, a dramatic landscape caught between land and sea. The keepers of this land are its gardians, akin to our cowboys. They live here with their families, often several generations together, carving out lifestyles in sync with the land, following the rhythms of nature and the needs of the livestock they tend. You’ll visit a gardian’s bull farm, where you’ll revel in the friendliness of their down-to-earth hospitality, and experience traditional daily life. You’ll witness the local version of bullfighting, in which bulls are considered heroic and never killed. You’ll also climb aboard a farm truck to visit the bulls in their natural environment, and then return to the farmhouse to enjoy traditional Camargue fare and local wine.

    Return to the ship this evening to begin your cruise to Avignon. You'll join your fellow travelers onboard for a Captain’s Welcome Reception and port talk, followed by the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.

  • Explore the Papal Palace and the streets of Avignon

    This morning you’ll set off on a walking tour to discover Avignon, the City of Popes. For most of the 14th century, the Popes left the turmoil of Rome and installed themselves in this calm possession of the Catholic Church. In Avignon, beginning with Clement V (who was born here), they built residences, chateaux, a number of fortified palaces, and churches. Your tour includes a guided exploration of the impressive Papal Palace, followed by some free time in Avignon before returning to the ship for lunch.

    You have the afternoon free to make your own discoveries in Avignon. Perhaps you'll explore the winding streets of some of the city's ancient neighborhoods, or relax at an outdoor cafe.

    Or, join an optional tour, An Afternoon in Provence. You'll discover the Provencal village of Les Baux de Provence during a walking tour, then visit the “Carrieres de Lumieres,” where artwork is displayed on the walls of carved limestone chambers.

    Enjoy dinner onboard with your fellow travelers tonight.

  • Explore the charming town of Viviers during a walking tour

    This morning you take a walking tour of the small medieval village of Viviers.

    This afternoon, you might want to find a comfortable deck chair and enjoy the passing scenery as you cruise a lovely stretch of the Ardeche region. It is an area of ancient villages and spa towns set against the backdrop of a rugged natural landscape. Enjoy two Discovery Series events onboard: First, learn about the herbs of Provence, and their use in the legendary foods associated with this region. Later, enjoy a language lesson and brush up on your conversational French in preparation for your Home-Hosted Dinner this evening.

    The ship reaches Tournon by dinnertime, and you proceed to the home of a local family. Here, you’ll be treated to a home-cooked meal and learn firsthand about life in this region of France.

    You’ll then return to the ship, which will depart from Tournon late tonight.

  • Explore the historic town of Lyon

    After breakfast, join a motorcoach tour of historic Lyon, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once the capital of Gaul under the Romans, Lyon flourished as a Renaissance trading center based on its extensive silk industry. In a country known for its fine cuisine, Lyon is also known as a gastronomic capital. Your tour features Old Lyon, once hidden behind medieval ramparts. Among other important landmarks, you'll see the Basilica of Fourviere, which towers above the city. 

    Then, during an Exclusive Discovery Series event, you'll visit a local workshop to learn the secrets of creating delicately painted silk scarves. It was here that the Jacquard loom (named for its French inventor), the first automatic loom able to weave complex patterns, was invented.

    After lunch onboard, you'll have some free time to explore more of Lyon on your own.

    You'll return to the ship in the late afternoon, and you'll enjoy an informative Discovery Series discussion about World War II and the French Resistance movement in the Rhone Valley.

    Enjoy dinner onboard this evening.

  • Explore local French markets while touring Lyon

    This morning, you’ll explore Lyon’s local markets, where flowers and fresh produce are for sale. You’ll also experience the delectable goodness of the many kinds of French breads, from the long, thin baguettes to the plumper loaves of pain (bread).

    Then you'll return to the ship, where you'll savor some of France's culinary delights during a Gourmet Tasting.

    You'll then embark on an included tour to explore the beautiful Beaujolais region north of Lyon, home to 13 French wine appellations. You’ll see historic highlights including the Pierres Dorees—villages built of golden stone—and the 11th-century church of St. Matthews. Then you’ll meet a local vintner at the Domaine des Averlys and taste a sampling of his wines accompanied by local cheeses and sausages for a truly French degustation (tasting).

    Tonight, during a scenic evening cruise in the waters near Lyon, enjoy a Farewell Party and special Farewell Dinner onboard celebrating the conclusion of your cruise.

  • View Macon while cruising the Saone River

    This morning, your France River Cruise Tour continues along the Saone as your ship sails toward Macon. You’ll have a briefing to prepare you for your upcoming stay in Paris followed by lunch onboard. And during a Discovery Series event, learn how your ship's chef prepares a classic French treat during an onboard cooking demonstration.

    Afterwards, go ashore for a walking tour of Macon—considered the entryway to the Burgundy region and the end of the Beaujolais region. Macon’s Old Town has been renovated with pedestrian streets and newly designed gardens that brighten public areas.

    Enjoy dinner tonight onboard the ship.

  • View Burgundy's Cathedral in Beaune

    After breakfast, you disembark in the renowned province of Burgundy, one of France’s eleven major wine-producing regions. Perhaps more than anything else, France is known for its legendary wine, which is part of the country's heritage and a great source of national pride. Wine has been produced in France for centuries, and in Burgundy there are vineyards nearly everywhere.

    You’ll board a scenic ride hour-long through Burgundy’s Wine Road, the Route des Vins. You’ll stop in Beaune, one of the main towns of the Cote d’Or region, whose rich soil produces many of the world's finest wines. Here you'll enjoy a walking tour through the Old Town, with its winding cobbled streets dotted with outdoor cafes and open-air markets. The tour includes one of Beaune’s most notable landmarks, the 15th-century charity hospital Hotel Dieu (also called les Hospices de Beaune). This is now a museum housing the original sickbeds and artwork accumulated over the centuries.

    Afterwards, you are free to discover more of the treasures of Beaune and enjoy lunch on your own. Perhaps you'll choose to explore the Musee du Vin, a wine museum that was a former private residence of the Dukes of Burgundy.

    Then continue on to Paris, arriving in the early evening to check into your hotel. The rest of your evening is free, and you can enjoy dinner on your own in the city tonight.

  • This morning, join a half-day panoramic tour of Paris that introduces the city’s classic highlights. You’ll see the metropolis from different perspectives as you travel along the famed Champs Elysees. View the Arc de Triomphe (commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, and completed in 1836) standing at the end of the Champs Elysees at the large central roundabout where twelve elegant tree-lined avenues converge. You’ll also drive by the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame. Afterwards, enjoy time at leisure to explore Paris on your own.

    View Notre Dame while touring Paris

    Or, join an optional afternoon tour to the Palace of Versailles. Your excursion includes a guided tour through the palace’s Grand Chambers, the Hall of Mirrors (where the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, was signed in 1919), and the Royal Chapel. You'll also enjoy time to visit the expansive French gardens at your leisure.

    Please note: Due to limited space, this optional tour must be reserved at least ten days prior to departure and cannot be booked on-site. Versailles is the most-visited attraction in France. To ensure that all guests are able to view the exhibits, the time you spend in each room is limited by palace staff. Expect lines at the entrance in peak season, even for groups with reservations. Versailles is not wheelchair accessible.

    Dinner tonight is on your own, and your evening is at leisure.

  • Today is free for independent exploration. If you like, you can go to the Louvre using public transportation. Stroll around on your own through gallery after gallery of works by the likes of Michelangelo. Linger in front of your favorites as long as you wish.

    Discover the many famed sights of Paris

    Or, join us on a half-day optional tour into the countryside to see the lovely landscapes that inspired Monet. The unique light of the area’s Seine Valley in Normandy kept Monet in residence for 43 years after he “discovered” the village of Giverny while looking out a train window in 1883. He stayed here until his death in 1926, and his grave is in the family vault at the town’s Romanesque church. Travel to Monet’s beloved village of Giverny, and explore the artist’s home and gardens, now a museum dedicated to the great painter. The house is furnished as it was when the leader of the Impressionist School lived here, including his precious collection of Japanese engravings. The gardens have been replanted, and as you stroll through them, you’ll see with your own eyes the landscapes that have graced countless Monet paintings. Here are the familiar Japanese bridge and water garden shaded by weeping willows, with its pond still full of the water lilies that so inspired his work. Please note: This optional tour is available on April through October departures only; all other departures feature an optional Louvre tour.

    Later this afternoon, enjoy free time on your own.

    Gather tonight with your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.

    • Meals included:

    This morning, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or continue your explorations with our post-trip extension in Paris, France.

Extensions

Traveler Reviews

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Striving for Excellence

Read about our goals >

Our #1 commitment is delivering the best travel experience at the best value, so we take feedback from our travelers seriously as we strive to improve what we do. And one of the best ways for us to measure how travelers have rated our trips—including their experiences and the value we offer—is from our post-trip surveys, sent in by travelers.

Ratings based on percentage of travelers who rated these features "Excellent".

Ship Excellence
90%
Program Director Excellence
90%
Overall Trip Excellence
72%
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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

  • This program features a fair amount of walking over uneven, unpaved or cobblestone surfaces. You must be able to walk 1-3 miles unassisted over the course of each day.
  • This is a fast-paced itinerary. For full enjoyment of this trip, you should be in relatively good health. If you have difficulty walking or are wheelchair-bound, please consult our Travel Counselors for guidance.
  • We reserve the right for our Program Directors to modify participation, or in some circumstances send travelers home if their limitations are impacting the group's experience.
  • Throughout the River Cruise season, weather conditions affect European river depths, and water levels may require adjustments to your itinerary.
  • If you travel in March or November, you can expect cooler temperatures or inclement weather.

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 Provence

    The M/S Provence was ranked #2 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll

    Because Grand Circle’s M/S Provence carries a maximum of just 46 passengers, at times you might feel as if you have the river cruiser all to yourself. In actuality, of course, you’ll enjoy the journey—and share the camaraderie—with like-minded fellow travelers. Along the way, relax on the ship’s sun deck and take in France’s grand sights—from charming villages to rolling vineyards, and from elegant Paris to the pristine Cote d’Azur.

  • M/S Chardonnay

    The M/S Chardonnay was ranked #23 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll

    Designed specifically for the smaller waterways of France, Grand Circle’s M/S Chardonnay provides a more intimate cruising experience. This river cruiser carries a maximum of just 46 Grand Circle travelers. That’s because we believe the picturesque villages and vineyards that make up the French countryside are best appreciated aboard a river ship that’s as relaxed as the region itself.

SEE THE ENTIRE GRAND CIRCLE FLEET

Main Trip

  • Novotel Paris Eiffel Tower

    Paris, France | Rating: First Class

    Overlooking the Seine River, the Novotel Paris Eiffel Tower is convenient to many sites in Paris, including the famed Eiffel Tower. After a day of sightseeing, you can enjoy the indoor heated pool, sauna, or fitness center. The hotel offers a bar as well as French and Japanese restaurants. Each of the 764 air-conditioned rooms offer a safe, hair dryer, and Internet access.

  • Grand Hotel Aston

    Nice, France | Rating: First Class

    The First-Class Grand Hotel Aston, located in the heart of Nice—just a block to the city’s main square and a short drive from the beach. Amenities include a restaurant, two bars, and an outdoor swimming pool. All rooms include a telephone, private safe, refrigerator, minibar, cable/satellite TV, and air-conditioning.

Extensions

  • Grand Hotel Aston

    Nice, France | Rating: First Class

    The First-Class Grand Hotel Aston, located in the heart of Nice—just a block to the city’s main square and a short drive from the beach. Amenities include a restaurant, two bars, and an outdoor swimming pool. All rooms include a telephone, private safe, refrigerator, minibar, cable/satellite TV, and air-conditioning.

  • Novotel Paris Eiffel Tower

    Paris, France | Rating: First Class

    Overlooking the Seine River, the Novotel Paris Eiffel Tower is convenient to many sites in Paris, including the famed Eiffel Tower. After a day of sightseeing, you can enjoy the indoor heated pool, sauna, or fitness center. The hotel offers a bar as well as French and Japanese restaurants. Each of the 764 air-conditioned rooms offer a safe, hair dryer, and Internet access.

  • Best Western Hotel Regina Elena

    Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy | Rating: First Class

    Conveniently located on the shoreline of the Ligurian Sea, this First Class hotel offers myriad recreational opportunities, from fishing to relaxing on its private beach. Each  air-conditioned room contains a telephone, refrigerator, minibar, and TV. On-site facilities include a pool, hot tub, and indoor tennis court.

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 will involve an additional fee of $100 per person for confirmed requests (as well as incremental airfare costs based on your specific choice).

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $2195
w/ standard air $3295
Approximate travel times

Photos From Our Travelers

On location in Europe

Here’s how Grand Circle travelers have captured moments of discovery, beauty, friendship, and fun on previous departures of our Cruising Burgundy & Provence to the Cote d’Azur vacation. We hope these will evoke special travel memories and inspire you to submit your own favorite Grand Circle Travel trip photos.

  See the Eiffel Tower while touring Paris  

As evening falls over Paris, the lights of the Eiffel Tower are visible from neighborhoods throughout the city. Photo by Barbara Hutchinson, 6-time traveler from Sea Girt, New Jersey.

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How to submit your photos:

Please submit individual photos in jpeg format to: GCTtravelerphotos@gct.com.

Please be sure to include the name of your OAT adventure, along with the travel dates. Tell us where you took the photo and, if you’d like, tell us why. And don’t forget to include your name and contact information.

Please note: By submitting a photo, you (i) represent and warrant that the photo is your original work created solely by yourself and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any party; (ii) grant to Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, in any and all related media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all commercial or other uses thereof, including without limitation, reproducing, editing, modifying, adapting, publishing, displaying publicly, creating derivative works from, incorporating into other works or modifying the photo and (iii) hereby release and discharge Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates, officers and employees from and against any and all claims, liabilities, costs, damages and expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to the use by Grand Circle LLC of any photo submitted.

The Rhone American Cemetery: Hidden History Revealed

The World War II operation overshadowed by D-Day

by Nadia Koehl, Program Services Manager, France

Today, when visitors stroll through the memorial, they are privileged to discover and pay homage to a passage of time that is not forgotten ...

Surrounded by the foliage of olive and cypress trees, a twelve-acre circular plot of land situated in a tranquil area near Draguignan, France, holds the lasting memory of a lesser-known—but monumental—period in World War II history, and of the Americans who gave their lives for the larger cause.

The Rhone American Cemetery—established just days after Allied troops landed and began an offensive against the German Army in southern France and the Rhone Valley on August 19, 1944—commemorates one of the important battles that followed the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy. The cemetery derives its name from the Rhone River, whose banks saw much of the combat. Headstones are split into four plots, which frame an oval pond in the middle, and a memorial chapel sits to the north with a vast Angel of Peace sculpture sprawling across its façade with the inscription, “We who lie here died that future generations might live in peace.” Today, 861 American soldiers are buried on-site. They represent every state in the union except North Dakota, but include the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Also represented are the 294 soldiers missing in action, their names inscribed upon the Wall of the Missing. For soldiers who were later recovered or identified, the names are now marked with rosettes.

Operation Dragoon: The liberation of southern France

Operation Dragoon was envisioned almost simultaneously with the Normandy Invasion (Operation Overlord), but the combat plans for southern France were tabled until the D-Day Invasion proved successful and the necessary ships and landing crafts were available. Once D-Day triumphed, Operation Dragoon was put into action. The battle began in the wee hours of August 15, 1944, when U.S. troops of the Seventh Army took position and moved in, along with army, air, and naval support from French, British, Greek, and Polish Allied troops. Immediate objectives included seizing the much needed ports of Toulon and Marseille, isolating the German forces (specifically Army Group G) in southern France, and eventually linking with other Allied forces in the north of France. By mid-September, just one month after breaking ground in Draguignan, U.S. forces had traveled some 400 miles and successfully connected with Allied forces from Normandy at Sombernon, and in turn, isolated the rest of the German troops remaining in southern France.

Today, when visitors stroll through the twelve-acre memorial, they are privileged to discover and pay homage to a passage of time that is not forgotten. The Rhone American Cemetery not only commemorates courage and history, but reminds the survivors and teaches new generations about a lesser-known battle that helped change the course of World War II. And as 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the liberation of France, your visit here is bound to be particularly moving.