We invite you to join us aboard the M/S Bizet on May 27, 2018, for a proud Grand Circle Cruise Line tradition. Our annual President's Cruise includes an enhanced itinerary of one-departure-only exclusive events that will paint a richer, deeper picture of life along the Seine river. Raise a glass to discovery during our special President's Gala Dinner ... see the final resting place of Vincent van Gogh in the artist community of Auvers-sur-Oise ... pay tribute to “the good old days” with evening entertainment at a French Guinguette... and visit Omaha Beach on June 5, one day before the 74rd anniversary of the World War II D-Day invasion. Embark on a unforgettable—and once-in-a-lifetime—journey through the heart of France.
3 nights from only $695
Enjoy the opportunity to explore Paris in depth. Often referred to as the "City of Light," the French capital is one of Europe's most stunning and influential metropolitan centers, featuring renowned landmarks and world-famous art museums—combined with romance, style, and a certain je ne sais quoi that make it one of the world's leading travel destinations.View Extension Itinerary
Depart today on your flight to Paris, France. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.
Arrive this morning or afternoon in Paris where you will be 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, you will join your main group today.
Unpack, settle in, and explore your ship, or just rest up in your cabin. You have the balance of the day to do as you wish after your overseas flight.
This evening gather with your fellow travelers and Program Director for our first Port Talk: During your Seine River Cruise, you'll receive daily briefings about the next day's discoveries, so that you can make the best use of your free time there. Dinner is included onboard tonight.
After breakfast, spend the morning exploring Paris, being introduced to both the city's classic highlights and more intimate neighborhoods. First, set off on a panoramic tour, witnessing the Eiffel Tower from different perspectives and Notre Dame. Then, get a sense of daily life in Paris during a walking tour of one of the city’s residential neighborhoods. Finally, cap your tour with a drive along the famed Champs-Elysees, and witness 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.
Explore on your own this afternoon. After your Port Talk this evening, celebrate the beginning of your trip together with a Captain's Welcome Drink and the chance to mingle with fellow travelers. Meet your ship crew and enjoy an open bar, plus canapés. The Captain's Welcome Dinner will follow in the dining room.
After breakfast, this morning, explore Montmartre, one of the most famous and lively of the city's 20 arrondissements (districts) on a walking tour. Spend some free time following your included walking tour strolling the charming streets of this romantic neighborhood, and witness the famed Sacre Coeur Basilica, with its dramatic perch on the top of the Montmartre hill. Delight in the views of Paris below, and watch the street artists at work or browse the local shops for a special keepsake to bring home.
Lunch is onboard with the remainder of the afternoon to make your own discoveries in Paris.
Early this evening, board your ship and begin The Seine: President’s River Cruise which will carry you some 230 miles from Paris to Honfleur, on the Normandy coast.
After breakfast, you'll join an included group walking tour of Conflans. Then, head to Auvers-sur-Oise for a visit to an artist community that was the home and workplace of many painters in the 19th century, most notably Vincent van Gogh. See his final resting place in a town that has changed very little since his death in 1890.
Then, following lunch onboard, you'll begin your travels through the landscapes that inspired Impressionist painter Claude Monet on your way to Vernon. The Seine, the Epte, and the Oise—three French waterways referred to as the "Rivers of Light"—neighbor each other in this region, and it was here that the artist and other Impressionists gathered to paint natural scenes that have become recognizable worldwide.
Along the way, you may also choose to take part in an exclusive Discovery Series event, an onboard discussion about Monet, providing historical context for tomorrow's tour of Giverny. Shortly afterward, enjoy the opportunity for a second exclusive Discovery Series event, where you may choose to join your Program Director for a French language lesson, and pick up a few key phrases to use throughout your trip.
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.
Later, enjoy time on your own in Vernon. In the evening, indulge in our President’s Gala Dinner, a time-honored President’s Cruise tradition beloved by travelers and ship staff alike. Raise a glass to discovery, lifelong learning, and the power of unforgettable journeys.
This morning, take part in a walking tour of the sleepy village of Les Andelys, where you can relish views of Chateau Gaillard, an imposing fortress from the era of Richard the Lionheart.
Later, put brush to canvas during an onboard exclusive Discovery Series watercolor painting lesson—perhaps channeling the scenery along the Seine as inspiration.
Arrive in Rouen this evening, and enjoy music entertainment at a French guinguette, a nostalgic establishment tripling as cafés, dance halls, and restaurants. Pay tribute to the simpler times of days gone by, and celebrate with some drinks and dancing.
Please note: The walk to the top of Chateau Gaillard is 1.2 miles along a sloping path.
After breakfast, disembark for a walking tour of Rouen, the capital of Normandy. This important French commercial center brimming with half-timbered houses has a distinguished history dating to pre-Roman times. But it is more infamously known 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. During your free time after your tour, you may want to delve deeper into the tragic life of France's sainted martyr and heroine of the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) with a visit to the Joan of Arc Museum.
Savor regional dishes during lunch at a local restaurant. Afterward, perhaps you'll choose to visit Rouen's wonderful Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, whose facade has graced more than 30 Monet paintings. The renowned artist rented rooms across from the cathedral in 1892, where he painted several canvases simultaneously, capturing the nuances of light and weather that played across its intricately adorned exterior.
This afternoon, join a local family for an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Visit for the opportunity to learn more about life in rural France as you share a sweet treat.
Dinner is onboard this evening. After dinner, you'll head to the Rouen Cathedral to hear a French choir and organ player during a private concert just for Grand Circle travelers—and exclusive to The Seine: President's River Cruise. See if you can notice which parts of the Gothic church were restored after World War II damage.
Enjoy a relaxing morning of river cruising during which you can partake in two onboard exclusive Discovery Series events. First, learn how to prepare a few of France's culinary delights as your ship's chef demonstrates cooking techniques. Then, partake in a French cheese tasting.
Following lunch onboard, you'll explore picturesque views during an included half-day excursion to the beautiful cliffs on the Normandy coast at Etretat—a feature added exclusively for our President’s Cruise. Discover the 19th-century Chapel Notre Dame de la Garde, which sits atop the cliff and has a short but fascinating history. Then, dive into its legendary origin story, and learn about how the church was rebuilt after it was destroyed during World War II. Descend the cliffs on foot or by train to explore the white-sand beaches, and take in the views of Amont from a different perspective. Later this afternoon, sample local specialties before setting off to Allouville to visit this enchanting site of two chapels built into a France's oldest tree.
Early this evening, you'll begin your cruise to Honfleur, your final port of call. En route, you'll pass under the town's 90-foot-tall Tancarville Bridge. Dinner tonight will coincide approximately with your arrival.
Your visit to Normandy will be extra special because you will be there on June 5, one day before the 74th anniversary of the World War II invasion. The D-Day landings, code-named “Operation Overlord,” were the largest military campaigns in recorded history with the beaches of Normandy bearing the brunt of the invasion. Beginning at 6:30 am on June 6, 1944, nearly 7,000 landing craft hit the highly-fortified coastline. 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.”
After an included lunch in the village of Arromanches, you'll watch unpublished archive footage that brings the Battle of Normandy to life—across nine HD screens that wrap around the room—at the 360 Circular Cinema. This memorable experience is exclusive to The Seine: President's River Cruise. Then, continue to the American Military Cemetery. You'll see a monument honoring the fallen, and visit the cemetery of Colleville sur Mer, where 9,386 American soldiers were laid to rest.
Walk down to Omaha Beach for an up-close look at where the first Allied footing was achieved in German-occupied France. When they arrived on shore, the Allies were met with a deafening barrage of German gunfire. As Nazis soldiers shot from secure concrete pillboxes built high above the open sand, Allied fighters were mowed down while exiting the Higgins 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.
Continue delving into D-Day's unprecedented history as you make your way to Pointe du Hoc—a site 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.
Please note: This is a full, intensive day that involves multiple drop-offs throughout your time from 8am - 6:30pm.
After breakfast, set off on a walking tour of the 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. Many voyages of discovery were launched from here, 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 and was finally won back by France in 1450. In the 1800s, Le Havre displaced Honfleur as a major port.
Following your included tour, hear from a historian about the resistance to and impact of the Marshall Plan, an initiative that supplied economic support to European allies of the United States following World War II. Learn about the French perspective of the plan and discuss amongst your fellow travelers during this exclusive President's Cruise feature.
In the afternoon, 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 Norman 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 The Seine: President's River Cruise at the Captain's Farewell Drink—an open bar is available, along with appetizers—followed by your Captain's Farewell Dinner. The river ship remains in port tonight.
This morning, disembark your ship and transfer to the Peace Memorial Museum in Caen, a state-of-the-art facility that vividly presents the events of World War II, including D-Day. 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.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, begin your post-trip extension in Brittany, France.
4 nights from only $795
Off the coast of France, surrounded by swirling seas, a magnificent cathedral rises from the rock: Mont St. Michel. Discover this ancient abbey—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—as well as the idyllic village of the same name, plus Brittany’s verdant landscapes and unique blend of Celtic and French cultures.View Extension Itinerary