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Day by Day Itinerary

Brightly hued harbors, winding medieval paths, and inviting fishing villages beckon you to The Rivieras: France, Italy, & the Isles. On this Small Ship Cruise Tour—newly enhanced for 2015 with walking tours of Porto Venere and Portofino, and a minature-train tour in Cannes—you'll also enjoy additional free time for independent discoveries in several ports including Nice, Florence, and Bastia, Corsica. Begin your enriching land discoveries during three days in picturesque Cannes before joining us aboard our award-winning M/V Arethusa—ranked #2 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 20 Small Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll—to cruise the region’s azure waters. You’ll also enjoy exclusive Discovery Series events, including a new pesto-making lesson—and feel the warmth of an Italian welcome during a Home-Hosted Visit in Elba. Enjoy guided tours and ample time to make your own discoveries in Santa Margherita Ligure, Florence, and more.

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    Depart today on your flight to Nice, France. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times. Or begin your discoveries early with our pre-trip extensions to Aix-en-Provence, France or Torino & Lake Maggiore, Italy.

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    Arrive in Nice, France where a Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your transfer to your hotel in Cannes.

    This evening, you'll meet your fellow travelers over a Welcome Drink and enjoy an orientation walk.

  • hidden

    This morning you’ll set off for a tour of Cannes aboard a miniature train powered by car engine. This site is the world-renowned host of the annual Cannes Film Festival since 1946, and each May when new films are previewed on an invite-only basis, starlets and filmmakers descend upon this city en masse.

    Your train ride will include a visit to the Promenade de la Croisette. A little over a mile long, this palm-fringed avenue lines the waterfront with a surplus of cafes, boutiques, and picturesque, sandy beaches. It's also where you can find the Palais des Festivals et des Congres, where the Cannes Film Festival is held.

    You'll also explore Le Suquet, the Old Town of Cannes, where you'll discover narrow cobbled streets. Roman tombs from the eleventh century have been excavated here, and a well-preserved tower from that era rises over the bay. Rue St. Antoine houses a cluster of restaurants, which you may choose to explore when you enjoy lunch on your own after a short discovery walk.

    You'll have the afternoon and evening to explore independently, before enjoying an included Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

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    OAT

    Enjoy the day exploring Cannes at your own pace.

    Or, you may choose to join an optional tour of Monaco and Monte Carlo. You’ll take a panoramic drive to Monaco, a self-governing, independent state full of glamour, style, and wealth, where, according to legend, Hercules opened its roads.

    You'll stop by Old Monaco’s Grimaldi Palace, where ruler Prince Albert II now lives, and where, every day, the changing of the guard takes place. You’ll also pass through the Saint Nicholas Cathedral where Albert's famous parents are buried: Prince Rainer III and Grace Kelly, America’s darling movie star. Then after lunch on your own in Monaco, you'll visit lively Monte Carlo—home of the famed Monte Carlo Casino.

    Tonight, dinner will be on your own.

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    This morning you’ll venture to St. Paul de Vence, one of the oldest towns on the French Riviera. Medieval walls still encase its narrow streets, and museums, artisanal shops, and art galleries abound.

    The town was once the residence of Russian-born Marc Chagall, one of 20th-century Europe’s most prolific artists. He worked in a range of mediums ranging from stained glass, ceramics, and stage sets to fine art paintings, and he is laid to rest in the town’s cemetery. According to Francoise Gilot, Picasso’s mistress, Picasso once expressed, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color is,” and he went on to compliment Chagall’s expert interpretations of light.

    Later, you’ll board your ship in Nice, where the crew will greet you with a Captain's Welcome Drink and Dinner.

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    This morning you’ll set off for a guided tour of Nice. Once referred to by the Greeks as Nike for their goddess of Victory, Nice's soft light has captured the hearts of artists for centuries. You'll witness highlights of the city, like the Promenade des Anglais, or “The Walkway of the English.”

    The afternoon is yours to explore the city on your own. Perhaps you’ll visit the National Musée Marc Chagall, created during his lifetime and featuring a series of works based on religious motifs.

    Tonight, you’ll enjoy a Port Talk and dinner onboard, and your ship will sail to Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy.

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    This morning, you'll dock in Santa Margherita Ligure. Brightly colored houses line its small harbor—some featuring frescoes and trompe-l’oeil paintings—which you can admire during a short stroll here.

    Then you'll take a boat ride to Portofino for a walking tour, new for 2015. Its waters used to host large groups of dolphins—so many that, according to the records of Pliny the Elder, it was once referred to as Portus Delphini, or “Port of the Dolphin.” And upon stepping ashore, one of the first things you may notice is color: Houses in the harbor are splashed with it, along with small fishing boats with hulls from across a rainbow’s spectrum.

    After lunch onboard, you may continue exploring Santa Margherita Ligure on your own this afternoon. Tonight, enjoy a Port Talk and dinner onboard as your ship cruises to Porto Venere.

    Please note: In case of adverse sea conditions we may dock in Genova instead of Santa Margherita and transfer to Santa Margherita by bus. It may also be necessary to replace the local boat to Portofino with a local public bus ride.

  • hidden

    OAT

    During an all-day tour today, discover Monterosso and Vernazza, two of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre. Both feature centuries-old architecture, including charming churches, and are famous for wine and olive-oil production.

    Vernazza has no car traffic and remains one of the Rivieras’ true fishing villages. You’ll also see little car traffic in Monterosso, where a single tunnel separates Old Town and New Town. The beach at Monterosso runs along most of the coast line, and paths formerly used by mules are now protected by the government and used by hikers who enjoy the sweeping views.

    You’ll enjoy discovery walks here and free time before transferring back to Porto Venere late this afternoon.

    This evening, enjoy an exclusive Discovery Series event led by the Arethusa chef featuring one of the most famous of all Ligurian dishes: pesto. The basil- and pine-nut sauce originated here and is the classic accompaniment with pasta—not red sauce—in this region of Italy. Then enjoy dinner and a port talk.

    Disclaimer: In case of adverse sea conditions, boat transportation will be replaced with bus and train transportation to Cinque Terre. Depending on season, you may visit different villages of the Cinque Terre than Monterosso or Vernazza.

  • hidden

    This morning after breakfast, enjoy a walking tour of Porto Venere, newly added for 2015. You'll stroll the city's tunnel-like narrow streets and enjoy the medieval character of its centuries-old walls, learning about its Roman history and Doria Castle, which sits high atop the village. You'll have free time here before lunch onboard.

    This afternoon, you'll enjoy an exclusive Discovery Series event as you explore the Carrara marble quarries.

    Carrara has been home to cavatori, or quarry workers, for centuries as it has long been rich in marble deposits. The naming of the city is still up for debate, but one of the more poetic hypotheses can be pulled from the records of Saint Girolamo. He referred to Carrara as the “City of the Moon on the Wagons”—its landscape a white and gray moonscape of marble, slabs were regularly excavated and wheeled out by Romans who shipped the stone to Rome. (Today, Carrara marble can be seen in Trajan’s Column and Michelangelo's world-renowned masterpiece, David.)

    You’ll set off for the Fantiscritti marble quarry, where Michelangelo spent long periods of time carefully analyzing the stone, later using his selections to carve out his sculptures. You’ll stop to seize breathtaking views from above the walls of marble, and then you’ll venture underground to see the quarries from within.

    Tonight, you’ll enjoy a Port Talk and dinner onboard, and your ship will set sail for Corsica, France.

  • hidden

    OAT

    Today you'll discover Bastia, one of the highlights of Corsica. Formed through volcanic explosions, two-thirds of the island is comprised of mountains, and during World War II it was nicknamed “USS Corsica,” as the U.S. military established several airfields there. (Pilot Joseph Heller later weaved his war experiences here into his novel, Catch-22.) And the majority of its acreage is protected through the Parc Naturel Regional de Corse nature reserve, which has allowed its natural beauty to thrive, undisturbed.

    You’ll enjoy a guided tour of Bastia, the island's bustling cardinal port. While crossing through St. Nicholas Square, keep an eye out for its marble statue of Napoleon. Then you'll move on to the Vieux Port (Old Port), which is tucked into a narrow cove. It is host to the impressive St. John Cathedral and the city’s 15th-century citadel, “Terra-Nova,” which overlooks the bay from a rocky incline. You'll have free time to make your own discoveries here.

    This evening, enjoy dinner onboard the Arethusa.

  • hidden

    OAT

    After breakfast onboard, you'll disembark the ship to explore Elba Island.

    At 14 miles long and six miles wide, Elba was once part of a larger stretch of land that connected Italy to Corsica. It is now the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, and it has long been rich in iron deposits, which explains why the port we'll dock in, Portoferraio, translates to “Iron Port." You'll enjoy an included tour here this morning featuring the former home, garden and library of French Revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte, along with Teatro dei Vigilanti, the theater commissioned to be built in a former church by the famous general.

    Afterward, you’ll experience the warmth of an Italian welcome during an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Visit with a local island family. After an included lunch, you'll then have time to make your own discoveries.

    Tonight, you'll gather for a special Farewell Dinner with your Captain and crew, and your ship will cruise to Livorno.

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    OAT

    This morning after breakfast, you’ll disembark your ship and set off for Florence, stopping in Lucca for a guided tour. Nestled in a verdant valley, this gem of Tuscany features ancient architecture and customs that have withstood the tests of time. This can be seen most readily in the well-preserved city walls which have surrounded the city since the 17th century—they encompass a wide expanse of red terra-cotta roofed homes, and the eye-catching Case-Torri or “Tower Houses” of wealthy families.

    As you stroll along winding, narrow streets, you may see locals leisurely sipping cappuccinos outside of cafes, smell cornetto (croissants) or Buccellato (a sweet local bread) wafting in the air, and feel a sense of things moving spectacularly slower. And you'll pass through the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, where a ring of medieval buildings outlines the site of the city’s former amphitheater, which was used to hold thousands of spectators for gladiator games. You'll also have time to explore more of Lucca on your own, and see for yourself why its name means “illuminated glade.”

    Continue to Florence this evening, where you'll enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    After breakfast and an orientation briefing at your hotel, you’ll set off for a guided walking tour of Florence—capital of Tuscany, and birthplace of the Renaissance. For centuries, it has been a hub of art, fashion, business, and politics, and its history is as inspiring as the grand Tuscan landscape surrounding it. In fact, its well-preserved, historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s where you can find the iconic Il Duomo, more formally known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Although constructed more than 600 years ago, it still has the world’s largest brick-and-mortar dome, and this impressive building also includes a Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile, or bell tower.

    Tonight, dinner will be on your own.

  • hidden

    After breakfast at your hotel, explore more of Florence at your own pace. Perhaps you will stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, or “Old Bridge” which spans the Arno River—it’s the only bridge in Florence that wasn’t destroyed by the retreat of Hitler’s forces in 1944.

    Or, you may choose to join an optional tour of Chianti, world-renowned for its floral red wine. Several villages span its seven subdivisions, including Greve in Chianti—“in Chianti” being a 20th-century affixation to many village names as the region’s boundaries were defined.  As you discover Greve in Chianti this morning you’ll visit a ghiacciaia, Italian for “ice box,” an underground cellar where you’ll witness how cheese and salamis are kept cool.

    You’ll then continue on to a local winery, where you'll enjoy a wine tasting. Per the DOC (an Italian wine regulation group), Chianti must contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes—a red, thinly skinned grape named for "the blood of Jove.” The wine appears today in several incarnations like Chianti Classico, Riserva, and the innovative Super Tuscan, made by producers who have contested the DOC’s regulations—to much acclaim. As you taste the wine, you’ll also sample some charcuterie (sliced meats). Lunch in a countryside villa will follow, and then you’ll depart for Florence.

    The rest of the afternoon will be yours to enjoy, and tonight, dinner will be on your own.

  • hidden

    After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy a day at leisure, perhaps visiting Santa Croce Square in the center of Florence, or the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, where Michelangelo’s famous statue David is on display.

    Or, join us for an optional Fiesole tour, exploring one of the first settlements in Florence. The town's strong ties to its history are apparent when admiring its ancient walls and Roman amphitheater. You’ll enjoy these sights and more on our optional tour, where a local guide will also tell you about Villa I Tatti, Harvard University’s center for Italian Renaissance Studies, a lovely estate featuring olive groves, vineyards, and well-manicured gardens typical of this region of Florence. In fact, Fiesole is credited for bringing the Renaissance garden back into favor; early proponents believed a villa garden should both be looked at and a place to look from, that the house should be placed above the garden, so its owners could enjoy the views. You’ll learn about this and more during a tour of Villa Peyron, which houses the Garden and Landscape Design School of Florence; and discover the 15th century Badia Fiesolana monastery.

    We enjoy a Farewell Dinner in a local restaurant together this evening.

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    • Meals included:

    Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Or, extend your stay in the region with a post-trip extension to Bologna, Italy.

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    Depart today on your flight to Florence, Italy. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times. Or begin your discoveries early with our pre-trip extension to Bologna, Italy.

  • hidden

    Arrive in Florence, Italy where a Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your transfer to your hotel.

    This evening, you’ll meet your fellow travelers during a Welcome Briefing. You’ll also get acquainted with your surroundings when you venture out for an orientation walk.

  • hidden

    After breakfast at your hotel, your vacation to Italy begins as you set off for a guided walking tour of Florence—capital of Tuscany, and birthplace of the Renaissance. For centuries, it has been a hub of art, fashion, business, and politics, and its history is as inspiring as the grand Tuscan landscape surrounding it. In fact, its well-preserved, historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s where you can find the iconic Il Duomo, more formally known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Although constructed more than 600 years ago, it still has the world’s largest brick-and-mortar dome, and this impressive building also includes a Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile, or bell tower.

    Tonight, enjoy an included Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers at a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    After breakfast at your hotel, explore more of Florence at your own pace. Perhaps you will stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, or “Old Bridge” which spans the Arno River—it’s the only bridge in Florence that wasn’t destroyed by the retreat of Hitler’s forces in 1944.

    Or, you may choose to join an optional tour of Chianti, world-renowned for its floral red wine. Several villages span its seven subdivisions, including Greve in Chianti—“in Chianti” being a 20th-century affixation to many village names as the region’s boundaries were defined.  As you discover Greve in Chianti this morning you’ll visit a ghiacciaia, Italian for “ice box,” an underground cellar where you’ll witness how cheese and salamis are kept cool.

    You’ll then continue on to a local winery, where you'll enjoy a wine tasting. Per the DOC (an Italian wine regulation group), Chianti must contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes—a red, thinly skinned grape named for "the blood of Jove.” The wine appears today in several incarnations like Chianti Classico, Riserva, and the innovative Super Tuscan, made by producers who have contested the DOC’s regulations—to much acclaim. As you taste the wine, you’ll also sample some charcuterie (sliced meats).

    Lunch in a countryside villa will follow, and then you’ll depart for Florence where the rest of the afternoon will be yours to enjoy.

    Tonight, dinner will be on your own.

  • hidden

    After breakfast at your hotel,enjoy a day at leisure, perhaps visiting Santa Croce Square in the center of Florence, or the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, where Michelangelo’s famous statue David is on display.

    Or, join us for an optional Fiesole tour, exploring one of the first settlements in Florence. The town's strong ties ties to its history are apparent when admiring its ancient walls and Roman amphitheater. You’ll enjoy these sights and more on our optional tour, where a local guide will also tell you about Villa I Tatti, Harvard University’s center for Italian Renaissance Studies, a lovely estate featuring olive groves, vineyards, and well-manicured gardens typical of this region of Florence. In fact, Fiesole is credited for bringing the Renaissance garden back into favor; early proponents believed a villa garden should both be looked at and a place to look from, that the house should be placed above the garden, so its owners could enjoy the views. You’ll learn about this and more during a tour of Villa Peyron, which houses the Garden and Landscape Design School of Florence; and discover the 15th century Badia Fiesolana monastery.

    A light lunch at a local restaurant will follow, and then the afternoon will be yours to make your own discoveries. Tonight, dinner will be on your own.

  • hidden

    This morning after breakfast, you’ll set off for a guided tour of Lucca. Nestled in a verdant valley, this gem of Tuscany features ancient architecture and customs that have withstood the tests of time. This can be seen most readily in the well-preserved city walls which have surrounded the city since the 17th century—they encompass a wide expanse of red terra-cotta roofed homes, and the eye-catching Case-Torri or “Tower Houses” of wealthy families.

    As you stroll along winding, narrow streets, you may see locals leisurely sipping cappuccinos outside of cafes, smell cornetto (croissants) or Buccellato (a sweet local bread) wafting in the air, and feel a sense of things moving spectacularly slower. And you'll pass through the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, where a ring of medieval buildings outline the site of the city’s former amphitheater, which was used to hold thousands of spectators for gladiator games. You'll also have time to explore more of Lucca on your own, and see for yourself why its name means “illuminated glade.”

    This afternoon, transfer to Livorno, where you’ll embark the Arethusa. The crew will greet you with a Captain’s Welcome Drink and Dinner, and tonight, your ship sails to Elba Island.

  • hidden

    OAT

    After breakfast onboard, you'll disembark the ship to explore Elba Island.

    At 14 miles long and six miles wide, Elba was once part of a larger stretch of land that connected Italy to Corsica. It is now the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, and it has long been rich in iron deposits, which explains why the port we'll dock in, Portoferraio, translates to “Iron Port." You'll enjoy an included tour here this morning featuring the former home, garden and library of French Revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte, along with Teatro dei Vigilanti, the theater commissioned to be built in a former church by the famous general.

    Next, you’ll get the chance to experience the warmth of an Italian welcome during an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Visit with a local island family.

    This afternoon, enjoy time at leisure. Tonight, your ship sails to Bastia, Corsica. 

  • hidden

    Today you'll discover Bastia, one of the highlights of Corsica. Formed through volcanic explosions, two-thirds of the island is comprised of mountains, and during World War II it was nicknamed “USS Corsica,” as the U.S. military established several airfields there. (Pilot Joseph Heller later weaved his war experiences here into his novel, Catch-22.) And the majority of its acreage is protected through the Parc Naturel Regional de Corse nature reserve, which has allowed its natural beauty to thrive, undisturbed.

    You’ll enjoy a guided tour of Bastia, the island's bustling cardinal port. While crossing through St. Nicholas Square, keep an eye out for its marble statue of Napoleon. Then you'll move on to the Vieux Port (Old Port), which is tucked into a narrow cove. It is host to the impressive St. John Cathedral and the city’s 15th-century citadel, “Terra-Nova,” which overlooks the bay from a rocky incline. You'll have free time to make your own discoveries here.

    This evening, enjoy dinner onboard the Arethusa.

  • hidden

    This morning after breakfast, enjoy an exclusive Discovery Series event as you explore the Carrara marble quarries.

    Carrara has been home to cavatori, or quarry workers, for centuries as it has long been rich in marble deposits. The naming of the city is still up for debate, but one of the more poetic hypotheses can be pulled from the records of Saint Girolamo. He referred to Carrara as the “City of the Moon on the Wagons”—its landscape a white and gray moonscape of marble, slabs were regularly excavated and wheeled out by Romans who shipped the stone to Rome. (Today, Carrara marble can be seen in Trajan’s Column and Michelangelo's world-renowned masterpiece, David.)

    You’ll set off for the Fantiscritti marble quarry, where Michelangelo spent long periods of time carefully analyzing the stone, later using his selections to carve out his sculptures. You’ll stop to seize breathtaking views from above the walls of marble, and then you’ll venture underground to see the quarries from within.

    This afternoon, you’ll discover Porto Venere on a walking tour, newly added for 2015. You'll stroll the city's tunnel-like narrow streets and enjoy the medieval character of its centuries-old walls, learning about its Roman history and Doria Castle, which sits high atop the village.

  • hidden

    OAT

    During all-day tours today, discover Monterosso and Vernazza, two of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre. Both feature centuries-old architecture, including charming churches, and are famous for wine and olive-oil production.

    Vernazza has no car traffic and remains one of the Rivieras’ true fishing villages. You’ll also see little car traffic in Monterosso, where a single tunnel separates Old Town and New Town. The beach at Monterosso runs along most of the coast line, and paths formerly used by mules are now protected by the government and used by hikers who enjoy the sweeping views.

    You’ll enjoy discovery walks here and free time before transferring back to Porto Venere late this afternoon.

    This evening, enjoy an exclusive Discovery Series event led by the Arethusa chef featuring one of the most famous of all Ligurian dishes: pesto. The basil- and pine-nut sauce originated here and is the classic accompaniment with pasta—not red sauce—in this region of Italy. Then enjoy dinner and a port talk.

    Disclaimer: In case of adverse sea conditions, boat transportation will be replaced with bus and train transportation to Cinque Terre. Depending on season, you may visit different villages of the Cinque Terre than Monterosso or Vernazza.

  • hidden

    OAT

    This morning, you'll dock in Santa Margherita Ligure. Brightly colored houses line its small harbor—some featuring frescoes and trompe-l’oeil paintings—which you can admire during a short stroll here.

    Then you'll take a boat ride to Portofino for a walking tour, new for 2015. Its waters used to host large groups of dolphins—so many that, according to the records of Pliny the Elder, it was once referred to as Portus Delphini, or “Port of the Dolphin.” And upon stepping ashore, one of the first things you may notice is color: Houses in the harbor are splashed with it, along with small fishing boats with hulls from across a rainbow’s spectrum.

    Return to Santa Margherita Ligure for a discovery walk, then enjoy lunch onboard. You’ll have free time this afternoon before returning to your ship for a Farewell Dinner as you cruise toward Nice.

    Please note: In case of adverse sea conditions we may dock in Genova instead of Santa Margherita and transfer to Santa Margherita by bus. It may also be necessary to replace the local boat to Portofino with a local public bus ride.

  • hidden

    This morning you’ll set off for a guided tour of Nice. Once referred to by the Greeks as Nike for their goddess of Victory, Nice's soft light has captured the hearts of artists for centuries. You'll witness highlights of the city, like the Promenade des Anglais, or “The Walkway of the English.”

    Afterward, you'll take a walking tour through the city's Old Town. After you rejoin the ship for lunch, the afternoon will be yours to enjoy. Perhaps you’ll visit the National Musée Marc Chagall, created during his lifetime and featuring a series of works based on religious motifs.

    Tonight, you’ll enjoy a Port Talk and dinner onboard.

  • hidden

    OAT

    This morning you’ll disembark your ship and set off for a walking tour of St. Paul de Vence, one of the oldest towns on the French Riviera. Medieval walls still encase its narrow streets, and museums, artisanal shops, and art galleries abound.

    The town was once the residence of Russian-born Marc Chagall, one of 20th-century Europe’s most prolific artists. He worked in a range of mediums ranging from stained glass, ceramics, and stage sets to fine art paintings, and he is laid to rest in the town’s cemetery. According to Francoise Gilot, Picasso’s mistress, Picasso once expressed, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color is,” and he went on to compliment Chagall’s expert interpretations of light.

    You’ll arrive in Cannes this afternoon, enjoying an orientation walk this evening before an independent dinner.

  • hidden

    This morning you’ll set off for a tour of Cannes aboard a miniature train powered by car engine. This site is the world-renowned host of the annual Cannes Film Festival since 1946, and each May when new films are previewed on an invite-only basis, starlets and filmmakers descend upon this city en masse.

    Your train ride will include a visit to the Promenade de la Croisette. A little over a mile long, this palm-fringed avenue lines the waterfront with a surplus of cafes, boutiques, and picturesque, sandy beaches. It's also where you can find the Palais des Festivals et des Congres, where the Cannes Film Festival is held.

    You'll also explore Le Suquet, the Old Town of Cannes, where you'll discover narrow cobbled streets. Roman tombs from the eleventh century have been excavated here, and a well-preserved tower from that era rises over the bay. Rue St. Antoine houses a cluster of restaurants, which you may choose to explore when you enjoy lunch on your own after a short discovery walk.

    You'll have the afternoon and evening to explore independently.

  • hidden

    Enjoy the day exploring Cannes at your own pace.

    Or, you may choose to join an optional tour of Monaco and Monte Carlo. You’ll take a panoramic drive to Monaco, a self-governing, independent state full of glamour, style, and wealth, where, according to legend, Hercules opened its roads.

    You'll stop by Old Monaco’s Grimaldi Palace, where ruler Prince Albert II now lives, and where, every day, the changing of the guard takes place. You’ll also pass through the Saint Nicholas Cathedral where Albert's famous parents are buried: Prince Rainer III and Grace Kelly, America’s darling movie star. Then after lunch on your own in Monaco, you'll visit lively Monte Carlo—home of the famed Monte Carlo Casino.

    Tonight, enjoy a Farewell Dinner in a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    • Meals included:

    Following breakfast, you will transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, extend your stay in the region with a post-trip extension to Aix-en-Provence, France or Torino & Lake Maggiore, Italy.

Extensions

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

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90%
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82%
Overall Trip Excellence
76%
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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

  • 15 days, with 7 nights aboard the M/V Arethusa, and 2 hotel stays

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 3-5 miles unassisted and participate in 3-5 hours of physical activities each day, including stairs
  • Balance and agility are required for boarding tender and 4x4 vehicle

Climate

  • Daytime temperatures range from 55-90°F during cruising season
  • June-August are the warmest months, with high temperatures and direct sunshine

Terrain

  • Travel over uneven walking surfaces, including ruins and archaeological sites, unpaved paths, hills, stairs, and cobblestones

Transportation

  • Travel by 45-seat coach, train, 50- to 200-passenger public boat, 12- to 18-passenger ship tender, elevator, 4x4 vehicle, and 50-passenger small ship

Small Ship Cruising

  • Throughout the cruising season, weather conditions and swells may affect your docking schedule

Accommodation

  • The M/V Arethusa does not have elevators onboard

Cuisine

  • Meals will be a mix of regional 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/V Arethusa

    The M/V Arethusa ranked #2 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 20 Small Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll.

    Owned, operated, and staffed by Grand Circle Cruise Line, this ship was designed exclusively for two small groups of just 25 Grand Circle travelers, each with its own Program Director. For relaxation, the lounge/bar features inviting leather couches and soft chairs. Topside, a Sun Deck has classic wooden deck chairs for admiring the scenery.

SEE THE ENTIRE GRAND CIRCLE FLEET

Main Trip

  • Montaigne Hotel & Spa

    Cannes, France | Rating: Superior First Class

    Located just steps from the Palais des Festivals (where the annual Cannes Film Festival is held), this Superior First-Class hotel provides guests with convenient access to shops and restaurants. Enjoy a drink at the Bar Montaigne, or unwind in the pool, hot tub, or on-site spa. Each air-conditioned room features a private bath, coffee- and tea-making facilities, hair dryer, and flat-screen TV.

  • Hotel Albani Firenze

    Florence, Italy | Rating: Superior First Class

    Conveniently located just steps from Florence's historical city center, this Superior First-Class hotel presents modern and Florentine furnishings. Each of the 102 air-conditioned rooms contains satellite TV, a telephone, refrigerator, and private bath. You'll be provided with on-site access to a fitness center and sauna, while refreshments will be on offer at the American Bar, wine cellar, and their Italian restaurant, Bernini.

Extensions

  • Hotel Aquabella

    Aix-en-Provence, France | Rating: First Class

    Conveniently located in the historic center of Aix-en-Provence's Old Town, this First-Class hotel is just a stroll away from ancient and modern wonders. Enjoy a drink in the Lounge Bar, dine in the L'Orangerie restaurant, or visit the well-equipped fitness center. Each of the 110 rooms are air-conditioned and feature a private bath, telephone, cable TV, and minibar.

  • Grand Hotel Sitea

    Torino, Italy | Rating: Superior First Class

    Built in the early 20th century, this 120-room hotel is a short distance from Torino highlights like the Royal Palace and Egyptian Museum. All air-conditioned rooms are equipped with satellite TV, private bath, and mini-bar. The hotel also features a restaurant (Carignano) and American bar.

  • Hotel Milan Speranza au Lac

    Stresa, Italy | Rating: Superior Tourist Class

    Centrally located in Stresa, this Superior Tourist-Class hotel faces the waterfront and provides a comfortable place to relax during your time here. Enjoy amenities such as air-conditioning, a telephone, safe, and satellite TV in your room, and on-site laundry and room service should you require it.

  • Dei Commercianti Hotel

    Bologna, Italy | Rating: Limited Service First Class

    Conveniently located in Bologna's City Center, this intimate 34-room hotel features a bar and business center in the lobby. Your air-conditioned room includes minibar, satellite TV, safe, and private bath.

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 $3695
w/ standard air $4695

Pay Early & Save up to 10% with our Good Buy Plan

It’s simple: The earlier you reserve and pay in full by check or electronic funds transfer, the more you’ll save on any 2015 departure of The Rivieras: France, Italy & the Isles. You’ll maximize your value—saving up to a full 10% off your total trip price—when you pay in full twelve months or more prior to departure. Even if you don’t reserve a full year in advance, you’ll still save, as seen in the example below. Plus, there’s no risk in reserving early with our Lowest Price Guarantee. You’ll receive our lowest cruise-only price if we reduce your main trip price more than 60 days from departure.

This example demonstrates how you can save, based on a 9/16/2015 departure:

  ORIGINAL PRICE
per person
SAVE 10%
when you reserve and pay in full by 9/16/14
SAVE 7%
when you reserve and pay in full by 10/16/14
SAVE 5%
when you reserve
and pay in full by 12/16/14
Small Ship Cruise Tour-only price: $5595 $4856 $5203 $5315
Add a 5-night Torino & Lake Maggiore, Italy extension: $1245 $1121 $1158 $1183
Add international airfare out of New York: $1100 $990 $1023 $1045
Total price per person $7940 $6967 $7384 $7543
Total savings per couple   $1946 $1112 $794

Maximize your value by using the money you save for a cabin upgrade or optional trip extension

Call Now 1-800-221-2610

France Meets Italy in the Ligurian Sea

Corsica: curious mix of language, cuisine, and culture

by John Bregoli, Grand Circle Boston associate

Not quite French, not quite Italian, Corsica is difficult to categorize—as are its people.

Corsica is a rugged island 100 miles long, formed by a chain of mountains rising out of a northern arm of the Mediterranean in the Ligurian Sea. It boasts an ancient history, and is blessed with a wealth of natural beauty, dramatic coastlines, white-sand beaches, a lush mountainous interior, and charming hilltop hamlets—enough treasures fit for an emperor, you could say.

That emperor, of course, would be Napoleon Bonaparte. The future emperor of France was born in 1769 in the Corsican capital of Ajaccio (pronounced Ajaxxio) in 1769, and by 1810 much of Europe was under his rule. After his forced abdication in 1814, Napoleon was sent into exile—his first of two. He could have gone to Corsica, but he chose the neighboring island of Elba instead. It didn’t matter all that much to Napoleon, for he knew that on clear days he could easily see the beautiful mountains of his homeland, jutting up from the deep blue waters just a few short miles away.

The course of history would send Napoleon’s birthplace on a very unique path—resulting in a curious mix of language, cuisine, and culture.

Italian influences and the French connection

While Corsica is much closer to Italy than the French mainland, it is not an Italian island at all—it is French, and has been for 200 years. But the cultural influence of some five centuries of Genoese rule has left an indelible imprint throughout the island, from its Italianate fortresses and Tuscan-style hilltop villages to hot pizza sliding out of wood-fired ovens. Many people still choose to speak the Italian-influenced Corsican language (Corsu) rather than the official language of French. And in an apparent shun to the haute cuisine typical of mainland France, Corsicans favor heartier fare than their French counterparts. Known as cucina corsa, the food of Corsica evolved from a peasant diet begun when Corsicans fled to the island’s mountainous interior from 18th-century colonizers. In addition to the deliciously ubiquitous white cheese known as brocciu and world-renowned charcuterie, Italian classics like polenta (made from chestnut flour, rather than the usual cornmeal), lasagna, and cannelloni aren’t strangers in a Corsican kitchen.

On a darker note, Italian-style vendettas—honor killings that often lasted for generations—once took place deep in the chestnut forests of the island’s mountainous interior. And it was secretive Corsican gangs who controlled heroin trafficking between France and the U.S. from the 1950s to the early ’70s—a trade American authorities dubbed the French Connection. Even today, the imagination can catch a lingering scent of banditry mixing with the fragrant wild herbs and flowers that cover the island and waft out to sea.

But the French and Genoese are just two of the influences in Corsica’s long and tumultuous history. Corsica has been inhabited since Neolithic times—as evidenced by mystical granite menhirs (large, upright standing stones) that remain scattered in various parts of the island. With the growth of European and Mediterranean powers, Corsica’s strategic location became too tempting to resist. Armies from Carthage, Greece, Rome, Moors from North Africa, Genoa, Pisa (Genoa’s historic rival), France, Spain, and Britain would all fight on Corsican soil. This history greatly shaped the culture and identity—and fiery independent spirit—of contemporary Corsicans, as they have been battling to be free from invaders for more than 2,000 years. Corsica did enjoy one brief period of true independence, however. 

By the 1750s, the island had already been controlled by the Italian Republic of Genoa for centuries. But in 1755, the Corsican patriot Pasquale Paoli succeeded in routing most of the Genoese from the island. For the first time in history, he proclaimed Corsica a sovereign nation, independent at last from the Republic of Genoa. But the Genoese, realizing they were about to lose control of the island, “sold” it to the French in a secret treaty in 1764. After Genoa began to surreptitiously replace their own soldiers for French troops, Paoli was forced to wage a guerilla war from mountain hideouts (establishing one of his bases in Corte), and in 1769 he was defeated in the Battle of Ponte Novu by vastly superior French forces—and Corsica officially became a French province in 1770. To this day, Corsicans consider Paoli the “father of the nation,” and he is held in far greater esteem than Napoleon (“He did everything for France, nothing for Corsica,” is a popular sentiment regarding Napoleon from contemporary Corsicans).

Speaking of Napoleon, if the year of Corsica’s Gallic defeat sounds familiar, it is because Bonaparte was born the 15th of August, 1769, just three months after the island succumbed to the French—and he grew up hating the nation he would one day rule. At the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Napoleon would write to Paoli, who was exiled in England following his loss at Ponte Novu, to tell him of his vivid memories of Corsica’s defeat. “As the nation was perishing I was born. Thirty thousand Frenchmen were vomited on to our shores, drowning the throne of liberty in waves of blood. Such was the odious sight which was the first to strike me.” With childhood memories like that, you almost knew Bonaparte was destined for something special.

Not quite French, not quite Italian, Corsica is difficult to categorize—as are its people. Beautiful, wild, rugged, and unspoiled are all accurate, but somehow inadequate, descriptions of a place that Balzac called “a French island basking in the Italian sun.”