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Day by Day Itinerary

See the lovely landscapes and charming villages that inspired the great impressionist artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Begin your trip in romantic Paris, the City of Lights, where you’ll explore the monuments, churches, and buildings that are familiar to you from film and photographs. Continue your odyssey with a cruise through the heartland of France aboard the award-winning M/S Bizet. Admire the beautiful landscapes covered with dense forests, fertile pastures, and the orchards where the apples in the region’s famed calvados originates. Explore the villages and landscapes that so enchanted Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Cezanne—and visit the town where Joan of Arc was imprisoned and burned at the stake. You also travel to the famous beaches of Normandy, visit the World War II Peace Memorial Museum, and pause at the somber field that is the American Military Cemetery. This is an in-depth exploration of one of the richest regions of France.

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    Depart today on your flight to Paris, France. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.

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    Discover new friendships aboard MS Bizet

    Arrive this morning or afternoon in Paris. You are met at the airport and transferred to your river ship. If you began your discoveries early with our optional pre-trip extension to Paris, France, or Loire Valley, France, you will join your main group today.

    Unpack, settle in, and explore your ship, or just rest up in your cabin. A light lunch will be available for those who arrive early. You have the balance of the day to do as you wish after your overseas flight.

    Celebrate your arrival in France with a Welcome Drink and a Welcome Briefing with your fellow travelers and Program Director. Then join your new companions for a Welcome Dinner tonight in the dining room.

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    After breakfast this morning, enjoy a half-day panoramic tour introducing you to the city's classic highlights. You'll see the Eiffel Tower 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) which stands at the end of the Champs Elysees at a large central roundabout where twelve elegant, tree-lined avenues converge. Back onboard, enjoy a lunch buffet.

    Explore on your own this afternoon.

    View the Eiffel Tower in Paris while cruising France

    Or, join us for an optional tour to the renowned Louvre Museum. Your first glimpse of the Louvre will be the I.M. Pei-designed entrance, which created a great deal of controversy when it was built in 1989. Called the Pyramide du Louvre, the steel-rod, cable, and glass pyramids at the three main Louvre entrances are today considered a fine example of the blending of modern with classic architecture. The treasures inside the museum are world-famous, and the collection of sculptures and paintings by the Great Masters unrivaled. Stroll through gallery after gallery, marveling at works by the likes of Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Rubens, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Matisse.

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    • Accommodations:
    View the Palace of Versailles

    Enjoy the morning at leisure to continue exploring Paris.

    Or, embark on a half-day optional excursion to the Palace of Versailles—the former home of 3,000 princes, ministers, and servants. Your guided tour will take you through the palace's Grand Chambers, the renowned Hall of Mirrors (where the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, was signed in 1919), and the Royal Chapel. You'll view the luminous decor in marble, chased bronze, and gold leaf, as well as Rococo-style woodwork and Italian-style painted ceilings. You'll also have time to visit the expansive French gardens at your leisure. Please note: Due to limited space, this optional tour must be reserved at least 10 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.

    The afternoon will be yours to make your own discoveries in Paris. Then, early this evening, you'll board your river ship and begin your Seine River Cruise, which will carry you some 230 miles from Paris to Honfleur, on the Normandy coast. As you sail toward Conflans, you'll enjoy dinner, and you'll have the opportunity to learn key French words and phrases during a language lesson.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    Explore the street in Auvers sur Oise where Vincent Van Gogh lived

    This morning, disembark for an excursion through Van Gogh Country. The Seine, the Epte, and the Oise—three French rivers referred to as the "Rivers of Light"—neighbor each other in this area, and it was here that the Impressionist artists flocked to paint landscapes and scenes that have become so recognizable around the world.

    You'll have a guided walking tour of Auvers-sur-Oise, the village where Vincent van Gogh came to live after his release from the asylum in nearby Saint-Remy. Vincent and his brother, Theo, agreed it would be best for him to remain close to his physician, Dr. Gachet, who also served as the subject of several of his portraits during this time. Van Gogh remained here for three months, until his suicide in 1890, and during this time he created some of his most brilliant pieces. Remarkably, he produced almost 80 paintings in this short time, including the turbulent Wheat Field With Crows—one of his last works. During this tour, you will see the house where he lived and visit his grave. This picturesque village also welcomed Corot, Pissarro, and Cezanne, among others.

    Later, as you cruise towards Vernon, you can join a Discovery Series cooking demonstration onboard, as our chef prepares a classic French treat.

    Before dinner onboard tonight, you'll have the chance to learn about artists of the Impressionist period during an Exclusive Discovery Series presentation.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    After breakfast, disembark for an excursion into the countryside to see the lovely landscapes that inspired Claude Monet. He first witnessed the village of Giverny while looking out a train window in 1883, and the unique light of the Seine Valley  kept him in residence for 43 years. He stayed here until his death in 1926, and you’ll find his grave in the family vault at the town’s Romanesque church.

    Explore the artist’s home and gardens, left by his son Michel to the Academie des Beaux-Arts in 1966 and 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. You'll spot the familiar Japanese bridge and water garden shaded by weeping willows, its pond still full of the water lilies that so permeated his work. "I want to paint like the birds sing,” Monet said. Perhaps you’ll agree that the idyllic setting in Giverny would lend itself to his dream. Please note: This tour is available on April through October departures only. On March and November departures, we offer a walking tour of Vernon instead.

    Later in the afternoon, you'll spend time at a local family orchard in Vernon and enjoy a cider, liquor, and juice tasting, along with homemade apple cake. You'll also explore more of Vernon on a walking tour.

    Dinner is onboard ship this evening.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    Explore France aboard the MS Bizet

    This morning, enjoy some time to explore the sleepy village of Les Andelys on your own. You'll enjoy views of Chateau Gaillard, an imposing fortress from the era of Richard the Lionhearted. Then you might decide to join a gourmet tasting of classic French delicacies onboard the ship.

    After lunch, enjoy an Exclusive Discovery Series event as you put brush to canvas during an onboard watercolor painting class. Perhaps the scenery along the Seine will be your inspiration.

    Savor dinner onboard as you cruise toward Rouen, where you'll arrive this evening.

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    • Accommodations:
    View Rouen's Gros Horloge clock

    After breakfast, disembark for a walking tour of Rouen. The capital of Normandy, Rouen is an important French commercial city with a distinguished history dating to pre-Roman times. But it is more infamous as the city where Joan of Arc was imprisoned, tried for heresy, and burned at the stake in 1431. Here you'll see the 14th-century abbey where she was sentenced to death, and visit the Market Square where her execution took place. You'll have free time to explore after your tour, and you might visit the Joan of Arc Museum, containing a fascinating history of the French heroine of the Hundred Years' War.

    After lunch onboard, return to the city for time at leisure. Perhaps you'll visit Rouen's wonderful Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, whose facade has graced more than 30 Monet paintings. The great painter rented rooms across from the cathedral in 1892, and he painted several canvases simultaneously, capturing nuances of light and weather that played across its Gothic facade.

    Or, join an optional tour to Normandy’s Abbey St. Wandrille in the quaint village of the same name. The Romanesque abbey, named after the monk who founded it in AD 649, began as a missionary and spiritual center and has stayed true to that cause over its 13 centuries of history. Learn about the bishops and saints who spent time at the famous abbey, as well as the fascinating background of its founder.

    Savor dinner onboard this evening.

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    • Accommodations:
    Encounter new flavors during a cheese tasting aboard MS Bizet

    Spend time relaxing on the ship this morning.

    This afternoon, you may join a half-day optional excursion to Fecamp and the beautiful cliffs on the Normandy coast at Etretat. Enjoy a scenic drive along the coast to take in the cliffs that, with their needles and natural arches, moved the brushes of Courbet and Monet, and continue to attract visitors today. You’ll also visit the Benedictine Order Castle at Fecamp and savor a taste of the famous Benedictine liqueur—made from 27 different herbs and spices. Finally, enjoy free time in town for your own explorations.

    Spend your afternoon at leisure. Early this evening, you’ll begin your cruise to Honfleur, your final port-of-call. En route, you’ll pass under Honfleur’s 90-foot tall Tancarville Bridge. You’ll also sample some local cheeses during an onboard tasting. Dinner tonight will coincide approximately with your arrival in Honfleur.

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    View the site of the D-Day landings in Normandy

    2014 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, so the sequence of today's events is sure to provide a moving experience.

    The D-Day landings, code-named “Operation Overlord,” were the largest military operation in recorded history. The beaches of Normandy bore the brunt of the invasion. Beginning at 6:30am on June 6, 1944, nearly 7,000 boats hit the beaches along the coast of Normandy. Those vessels carried tens of thousands of soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and many other Allied nations, all of whom arrived determined to carry out General Eisenhower’s order, “Full victory—nothing else.”

    Begin your D-Day beach tour with a visit to the Battery at Longues Sur Mer. One of the most formidable gun emplacements the Allies faced, the four guns here could fire on either Gold or Omaha beaches and, at 215 feet above sea level, were ideally placed to confront the D-Day forces. Heavily bombed before the invasion began, these guns were only silenced by the combined firepower of the attacking ships.

    After a box lunch at the village of Arromanche, continue to the American Military Cemetery. You’ll see the monument that honors the fallen, and visit the cemetery of Colleville sur Mer, where 9,386 American soldiers rest.

    When they arrived on the beaches on D-day, the Allies were met with a deafening barrage of German gunfire. As the Nazis fired from secure pillboxes dug in high above the open beach, Allied soldiers were mowed down while exiting the boats and wading to shore. In time, some doggedly made it to the ridge overlooking the beach, finding shelter from the hail of enemy bullets. More than a thousand Allied troops died on Omaha Beach alone. You’ll have the opportunity to stand on the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach and see the sand and breakers where the first Allied footing was achieved in German-occupied France.

    Then continue on to Pointe du Hoc—a place all Normandy veterans know well—where Allied forces scaled 328-foot cliffs as they sought to silence German artillery.

    After returning to the ship, your evening is at leisure after dinner onboard.

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    Explore the French port town of Honfleur

    After breakfast, you’ll enjoy a walking tour of this well-preserved port town of Honfleur, founded in the eleventh century. Situated on a Seine estuary opposite Le Havre, the town was once one of the most important ports in France. It was from here that many voyages of discovery were launched, including the journey of native son Samuel de Champlain—who went on to found Port Royal in Nova Scotia and the settlement of Quebec in Canada.

    The port changed hands frequently between France and England during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) and was finally won back by France in 1450. In the 1800s, Le Havre displaced Honfleur as a major port.

    Following your included tour, you'll have time to continue exploring Honfleur on your own.

    Or, join an optional visit to the Tapestry Museum of Bayeux, which showcases a remarkable piece of embroidered fabric—230 feet in length—depicting events of the 1066 Normandy invasion of England. Study elaborate scenes created with wool yarn of russet and gold, and learn the history that inspired this fascinating work of art.

    Gather with your new friends to share memories and toast to your enriching Seine River Cruise at the Captain’s Farewell Dinner. The ship remains in port tonight.

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    View the Peace Memorial Museum in Caen

    This morning, disembark your ship and transfer to the Peace Memorial Museum in Caen, a state-of-the-art facility that does an outstanding job of presenting the events of World War II, including D-Day, very vividly. It’s an excellent way to put into context what you saw at the Normandy beaches.

    After time for lunch on your own here, transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport, located 18 miles from the Paris city center, for a final night in France before your return flight. Or, if you've chosen our post-trip extension to Brittany & St. Michel, France, transfer by motorcoach to St. Malo.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, begin you post-trip extension in London, England.

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    Depart today on your flight to Paris, France.

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    Arrive this morning or afternoon in Paris. You are met at the airport and transferred to your airport hotel, located 18 miles from the Paris city center. If you began your European explorations early with our pre-trip extension in London, England, or Brittany & Mont St. Michel, France, you will join the main group today.

    You have the balance of the day to relax after your overseas flight. Later, celebrate your arrival in France with a Welcome Drink and briefing with your fellow travelers and Program Director.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    View the Peace Memorial Museum in Caen

    From Paris, you will transfer to the well-preserved port town of Honfleur, founded in the eleventh century.

    En route, visit the Peace Memorial Museum in Caen, a state-of-the-art facility that does an outstanding job of presenting the events of World War II, including D-Day, very vividly. Since 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, this is sure to be a moving experience, and it’s an excellent way to put into context what you’re going to see when you visit Normandy's beaches. You’ll have time here for lunch on your own.

    You’ll arrive at and embark your ship in the mid-afternoon, with time to settle into your outside cabin, your private retreat for the next ten nights of your Seine River Cruise.

    Gather with your shipmates to toast the new friendships and enriching journey to come over a Welcome Drink and Captain’s Welcome Dinner. The ship remains in port tonight.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    Explore the French port town of Honfleur

    After breakfast, enjoy a walking tour of Honfleur. Situated on a Seine estuary opposite Le Havre, the town was once one of the most important ports in France. It was from here that many voyages of discovery were launched, including the journey of native son Samuel de Champlain—who would go on to found Port Royal in Nova Scotia and the settlement of Quebec in Canada.

    The port changed hands frequently between France and England during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) and was finally won back by France in 1450. In the 1800s, Le Havre displaced Honfleur as a major port.

    After lunch on the ship, you are at leisure to explore Honfleur on your own.

    Or, join an optional visit to the Tapestry Museum of nearby Bayeux, which showcases a remarkable piece of embroidered fabric—230 feet in length—depicting events of the 1066 Normandy invasion of England. Study elaborate scenes created with wool yarn of russet and gold, and learn the history that inspired this fascinating work of art.

    The ship remains in port tonight.

  • hidden

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    View the site of the D-Day landings in Normandy

    2014 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, so the sequence of today's events is sure to provide a moving experience.

    The D-Day landings, code-named “Operation Overlord,” were the largest military operation in recorded history. The beaches of Normandy bore the brunt of the invasion. Beginning at 6:30am on June 6, 1944, nearly 7,000 boats hit the beaches along the coast of Normandy. Those vessels carried tens of thousands of soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and many other Allied nations, all of whom arrived determined to carry out General Eisenhower’s order, “Full victory—nothing else.”

    Begin your D-Day beach tour with a visit to the Battery at Longues Sur Mer. One of the most formidable gun emplacements the Allies faced, the four guns here could fire on either Gold or Omaha beaches and, at 215 feet above sea level, were ideally placed to confront the D-Day forces. Heavily bombed before the invasion began, these guns were only silenced by the combined firepower of the attacking ships.

    After a box lunch at the village of Arromanche, continue to the American Military Cemetery. You’ll see the monument that honors the fallen, and visit the cemetery of Colleville sur Mer, where 9,386 American soldiers rest.

    When they arrived on the beaches on D-day, the Allies were met with a deafening barrage of German gunfire. As the Nazis fired from secure pillboxes dug in high above the open beach, Allied soldiers were mowed down while exiting the boats and wading to shore. In time, some doggedly made it to the ridge overlooking the beach, finding shelter from the hail of enemy bullets. More than a thousand Allied troops died on Omaha Beach alone. You’ll have the opportunity to stand on the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach and see the sand and breakers where the first Allied footing was achieved in German-occupied France.

    Then continue on to Pointe du Hoc—a place all Normandy veterans know well—where Allied forces scaled 328-foot cliffs as they sought to silence German artillery.

    Your evening is at leisure onboard the ship.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    View a cathedral while touring Caudebec en Caux

    Early this morning (depending on the tide), depart Honfleur and cruise to Caudebec, passing under the Honfleur’s 90-foot tall Tancarville Bridge en route. You’ll enjoy a cheese tasting as you cruise.

    After lunch onboard, arrive in Caudebec. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure fully discovering this charming town and its historic main square.

    Or, join a half-day optional excursion this afternoon to Fecamp and the beautiful cliffs on the Normandy coast at Etretat. Enjoy a scenic drive along the coast to take in the cliffs that, with their needles and natural arches, moved the brushes of Courbet and Monet, and continue to attract visitors today. You’ll also visit the Benedictine Order Castle at Fecamp and savor a taste of the famous Benedictine liqueur—made from 27 different herbs and spices. Return to the ship for dinner onboard this evening.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    View Rouen's Gros Horloge clock

    After breakfast, disembark for a walking tour of Rouen. The capital of Normandy, Rouen is an important French commercial city with a distinguished history dating to pre-Roman times. But it is more infamous as the city where Joan of Arc was imprisoned, tried for heresy, and burned at the stake in 1431. Here you'll see the 14th-century abbey where she was sentenced to death, and visit the Market Square where her execution took place. You'll have free time to explore after your tour, and you might visit the Joan of Arc Museum, containing a fascinating history of the French heroine of the Hundred Years' War.

    After lunch onboard, return to the city for time at leisure. Perhaps you'll visit Rouen's wonderful Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, whose facade has graced more than 30 Monet paintings. The great painter rented rooms across from the cathedral in 1892, and he painted several canvases simultaneously, capturing nuances of light and weather that played across its Gothic facade.

    Or, join an optional tour to Normandy’s Abbey St. Wandrille in the quaint village of the same name. The Romanesque abbey, named after the monk who founded it in AD 649, began as a missionary and spiritual center and has stayed true to that cause over its 13 centuries of history. Learn about the bishops and saints who spent time at the famous abbey, as well as the fascinating background of its founder.

    Savor dinner onboard this evening.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    Explore France aboard the MS Bizet

    This morning as you cruise toward Les Andelys, enjoy an onboard cooking demonstration during an exclusive Discovery Series event.

    You'll reach the village of Les Andelys early this afternoon. After lunch onboard, perhaps you'll join us for a watercolor painting class. Or you can spend some time exploring Les Andelys on your own. You'll enjoy views of Chateau Gaillard, an imposing fortress from the era of Richard the Lionhearted. As you cruise toward Vernon, enjoy the opportunity to learn a few essential French phrases during a language lesson.

    After dinner onboard this evening, enjoy a presentation about the Impressionist period during another exclusive Discovery Series event. Your ship arrives in Vernon where it remains docked overnight.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    After breakfast, disembark for an excursion into the countryside to see the lovely landscapes that inspired Claude Monet. He first witnessed the village of Giverny while looking out a train window in 1883, and the unique light of the Seine Valley  kept him in residence for 43 years. He stayed here until his death in 1926, and you’ll find his grave in the family vault at the town’s Romanesque church.

    Explore the artist’s home and gardens, left by his son Michel to the Academie des Beaux-Arts in 1966 and 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. You'll spot the familiar Japanese bridge and water garden shaded by weeping willows, its pond still full of the water lilies that so permeated his work. "I want to paint like the birds sing,” Monet said. Perhaps you’ll agree that the idyllic setting in Giverny would lend itself to his dream. Please note: This tour is available on April through October departures only. On March and November departures, we offer a walking tour of Vernon instead.

    Later in the afternoon, you'll spend time at a local family orchard in Vernon and enjoy a cider, liquor, and juice tasting, along with homemade apple cake. You'll also explore more of Vernon on a walking tour.

    Dinner is onboard ship this evening.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    Explore the street in Auvers sur Oise where Vincent Van Gogh lived

    As your Seine River Cruise continues to Conflans this morning, sample French delicacies during a gourmet tasting.

    Then, alight from your ship for an excursion through Van Gogh Country. The Seine, the Epte, and the Oise—three French rivers referred to as the "Rivers of Light"—neighbor each other in this area, and it was here that the Impressionist artists flocked to paint landscapes and scenes that have become so recognizable around the world.

    You'll have a guided walking tour of Auvers-sur-Oise, the village where Vincent van Gogh came to live after his release from the asylum in nearby Saint-Remy. Vincent and his brother, Theo, agreed it would be best for him to remain close to his physician, Dr. Gachet, who also served as the subject of several of his portraits during this time. Van Gogh remained here for three months, until his suicide in 1890, and during this time he created some of his most brilliant pieces. Remarkably, he produced almost 80 paintings in this short time, including the turbulent Wheat Field With Crows—one of his last works. During this tour, you will see the house where he lived and visit his grave. This picturesque village also welcomed Corot, Pissarro, and Cezanne, among others.

    Dinner tonight is onboard.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    View the Palace of Versailles

    Early this morning, we sail to Paris from Conflans. Upon arrival, enjoy a half-day panoramic tour introducing you to the city’s classic highlights. You’ll see the Eiffel Tower 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 and the Place de la Concorde.

    Then you'll have the afternoon free to make your own discoveries.

    Or, you may embark on an optional half-day excursion to the Palace of Versailles—the former home of 3,000 princes, ministers, and servants. Your guided tour will take you through the palace’s Grand Chambers, the renowned Hall of Mirrors (where the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, was signed in 1919), and the Royal Chapel. You’ll marvel at the luminous decor in marble, chased bronze, and gold leaf, as well as Rococo-style woodwork and Italian-style painted ceilings. You'll also enjoy time to visit the magnificent French gardens at your leisure. Please note: Due to limited space, this optional tour must be reserved at least 10 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.

    You may well find yourself surrounded by the magic of the city over dinner on board.

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    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:
    View the Eiffel Tower while touring Paris

    After breakfast this morning, enjoy time at leisure in Paris.

    Or, join us for an optional tour to the renowned Louvre Museum. Your first glimpse of the Louvre will be the I.M. Pei-designed entrance, which created a great deal of controversy when it was built in 1989. Called the Pyramide du Louvre, the steel-rod, cable, and glass pyramids at the three main Louvre entrances are today considered a fine example of the blending of modern with classic architecture. The treasures inside the museum are world-famous, and the collection of sculptures and paintings by the Great Masters unrivaled. Stroll through gallery after gallery, marveling at works by the likes of Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Rubens, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Matisse.

    This evening, enjoy a Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers.

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    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or further your discoveries with our Loire Valley, France or Paris, France post-trip extensions.

Extensions

Traveler Reviews

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

Ship Excellence
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Overall Trip Excellence
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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 Seine River Cruise 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 and tides affect European river depths, and water levels may require adjustments to your itinerary, including the Paris scenic river cruise.
  • If you travel in spring or fall, 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 Bizet

    Our M/S Bizet ranked #17 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll. Custom-built with our travelers’ needs in mind, your private river ship has a passenger capacity of just 120 with all outside cabins and an English-speaking staff. You’ll savor freshly prepared meals from the upper-level dining room. Plus, enjoy leisure time in the bar and lounge, library, and Sun Deck. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in select common areas. Wireless Internet access is not available in cabins and connectivity is limited in certain locations on River Cruise itineraries. Your cabin features a flat-screen TV with CNN and movies, radio, direct-dial telephone, individual heating and air-conditioning controls, twin beds that convert to sofas, and private bath with shower and hair dryer.

SEE THE ENTIRE GRAND CIRCLE FLEET

Main Trip

  • Novotel Convention & Wellness Roissy CDG

    Roissy, France

    The modern Novotel Convention & Wellness Roissy CDG is within close proximity to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Each of its 289 air-conditioned rooms features a satellite TV, Internet access, and a minibar. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s indoor heated pool, sauna, and fitness center.

    Select departures feature similar accommodations.

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.

  • Hotel Mercure Blois Centre

    Blois, France | Rating: First Class

    This First-Class hotel faces the Loire river, and is located in the center of Blois. Each air-conditioned room contains coffee- and tea-making facilities, a minibar, TV, and refrigerator. A free newspaper is delivered daily, and you may choose to relax in the on-site indoor pool or hot tub.

  • Novotel Roissy Charles de Gaulle

    Roissy, France

    This contemporary 201-room hotel is located within the Charles de Gaulle Airport with convenient access to its terminals. Each of the air-conditioned rooms features direct-dial telephone, complimentary Internet access, satellite TV, minibar, and private bath with hair dryer. On-site amenities include a restaurant, café, and bar.

  • Grand Hotel de Courtoisville

    St. Malo, France

    Located in the heart of charming St. Malo, the Grand Hotel de Courtoisville sits within walking distance of both the waterfront and the city center. You’ll find modern amenities and a private bath in your air-conditioned room, and on the grounds of the hotel, enjoy a relaxing pool and spa, as well as manicured gardens.

    Select departures feature similar accommodations.

  • Novotel Convention & Wellness Roissy CDG

    Roissy, France

    The modern Novotel Convention & Wellness Roissy CDG is within close proximity to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Each of its 289 air-conditioned rooms features a satellite TV, Internet access, and a minibar. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s indoor heated pool, sauna, and fitness center.

    Select departures feature similar accommodations.

  • London Lancaster Hotel

    London, England | Rating: Superior First Class

    The Superior First-Class London Lancaster Hotel is centrally located, just a short walk from the shops of Oxford Street and the Lancaster Gate Tube stop. In addition to floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Hyde Park, the hotel has two restaurants and a cocktail lounge. Your air-conditioned room includes a telephone, TV, safe, and private bath with shower and hair dryer.

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.

Photos From Our Travelers

On location in France

Here’s how Grand Circle travelers have captured moments of discovery, beauty, friendship, and fun on previous departures of our The Seine: Paris to Normandy vacation. We hope these will evoke special travel memories and inspire you to submit your own favorite Grand Circle Travel trip photos.

  Encounter new friendships on the France river cruise  

C’est la vie ... Ginny and Bill Rowe (right), 11-time travelers from Tappan, New Jersey, celebrated their 31st anniversary while cruising the Seine. Toasting with them in the lounge on the M/S Bizet are Connie and Bob Yaw, 11-time travelers from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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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.

2014 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day

It is hard to imagine that the now-tranquil shores of Normandy’s beaches were once the site of the largest amphibious military invasion in history. It was here that the tide of war was turned, where so many gave the ultimate sacrifice in the name of liberty. Determined to carry out General Eisenhower’s order—“Full victory—nothing else”—soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and many other Allied nations fought fearlessly against the entrenched forces, decisively weakening the occupying armies and setting the Allies on a path towards victory.

STEP INTO HISTORY

On June 6, 1944, the World War II liberation of Europe began. An armada of 5,000 vessels crossed the English Channel, carrying more than 150,000 men and nearly 3,000 vehicles. The night before the invasion, more than 800 planes loaded with parachute regiments took off from British bases—and went on to drop more than 13,000 men behind enemy lines. In advance of the battle, more than 300 planes flew over the coast of Normandy, pounding its once-peaceful shores with more than 10,000 bombs. And the Allies landed on the five beaches that we now know by their code names: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

In all—throughout the next several weeks of Operation Overlord—three million troops arrived aboard 7,000 ships and 13,000 fighter planes, including the 23,000 men who descended from the skies by parachute.

DISCOVER NORMANDY DURING AN INCLUDED TOUR

On your full day excursion to the Normandy beaches, you’ll visit the infamous World War II sites that played such a crucial role toward the end of the war. See Omaha Beach, the western-most coastal stretch that served as a landing site and where the American forces suffered the greatest human losses … Point du Hoc, the 100-foot-high cliff from which the Germans gained an advantage … and the American Cemetery, where more than 9,000 U.S. troops—most of whom died during the Normandy invasion—were laid to rest.

French Impressionism: An Art Form is Born

A revolution in French aesthetics


Parisian artists presented paintings that relied on sunlight, motion, and color to express the fleeting nature of life’s everyday moments ...

Challenging the artistic standards established by Paris’ Academy of Fine Arts, a group of Paris-based artists organized an independent exhibition of their work in 1874. There, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, and several others, presented paintings that relied on sunlight, motion, and color to express the fleeting nature of life’s everyday moments … Describing Monet’s Impression, Sunrise in a satirical review, art critic Louis Leroy wrote: “Since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it … and what freedom, what ease of workmanship!” And with that, the revolutionary art movement found its name. Throughout your The Seine: Paris to Normandy River Cruise, you’ll visit a number of sites that inspired the Impressionists’ unique vision.

Monet’s Giverny

Contrary to Friedrich Nietzsche’s contention that “an artist has no home in Europe except in Paris,” the father of Impressionism actually found his artistic home—and heart—in the gardens of Giverny. Located at the gateway to Normandy, this ancient village and its scenic environs became Monet’s frequent plein-air (“outdoor”) studio and muse beginning 1883—inspiring his series of haystacks and water lilies, among others. While he often traveled and worked in other settings, Monet always returned to his beloved Giverny, and eventually died there in 1926.

Auvers-sur-Oise

Although Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist with a truly individual style, his groundbreaking work—particularly his bold use of color in later years—reflects the influence of French Impressionism. Like his slightly older contemporaries, Van Gogh found great inspiration and comfort in the beauty of the French countryside—spending one of his most prolific periods at Arles in Provence. In 1890, Vincent moved to bucolic Auvers-sur-Oise where, after several months of productivity, he ended his turbulent life. His devoted brother Theo, a Parisian art dealer, died soon after, and they now lay side-by-side in Auvers-sur-Oise.

Rouen

Nestled in a small city square, Rouen’s French Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral was originally constructed in the 13th century. Between the 15th and 17th centuries, its ornate Tour de Buerre (“Butter Tower”) was added—reputedly financed by a tax on wealthy citizens who consumed butter and milk during Lent. In the 1870s, a new 500-foot iron spire made it the tallest building in France. And in the 1890s, Monet immortalized the cathedral forever, painting its intricate façade some 30 times in different light and seasons of the year. Today, Rouen’s cathedral—and Monet’s impressions of it—are among France’s best-loved treasures.

Honfleur

For centuries, sailors enjoyed Honfleur’s idyllic location at the junction of the Seine River and English Channel. And with the advent of painter Eugene Boudin’s Saint-Simeon artists’ colony in the mid-1900s, this enchanting port town won favor among generations of artists as well. Just as Boudin did before him, Monet and his associates flocked to Honfleur, attracted by the brilliant play of light and shadows in the harbor. Today, work by Boudin and other locals who influenced the Parisian Impressionists can be found at Honfleur’s Boudin Museum.