Grand France (Arles to Paris, Cruise-Only)
15-day River Cruise with Avalon Waterways
Day 1 Arrive in Arles, France (Embarkation)
Welcome to France! This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel docked in Arles in the Provence region. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception, then sail toward the mouth of the Rhône for a taste of the tranquil vistas of Camargue National Park (daylight permitting).
Day 2 Arles
In Arles, capital of the Provence, join your LOCAL GUIDE for a tour of the city. See the church of St. Trophime, dating from the 12th century, and visit the ROMAN AMPHITHEATER. Still used today, the amphitheater dates to the 1st century, and was constructed to hold over 20,000 spectators. Vincent Van Gogh was inspired by the special light of the Provence and spent a very productive year in Arles.
Day 3 Avignon
During the night, set sail for Avignon, where you arrive during breakfast. During your GUIDED TOUR you may choose to join an included visit of the PALACE OF THE POPES, built in the 14th century as the sovereign popes’ residence. With a living space equivalent to four gothic cathedrals, it is the largest gothic fortress in the world. Alternatively, you may opt for only city sightseeing and more free time to explore on your own, or to join an optional outing to Pont du Gard or to the famed wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Day 4 Cruising–Viviers
A leisurely morning on board to relax and enjoy the passing scenery. After lunch, join your LOCAL GUIDE for a walk around the charming town of Viviers, which developed around its ROMANESQUE CATHEDRAL. The OLD TOWN has an appealing mix of Christian, Roman, and medieval influences.
Day 5 Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Vienne
The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage lie nestled among vineyards between the Rhône River and the granite slopes of the Hermitage. Enjoy a GUIDED WALK of Tournon, one of France’s oldest medieval cities, with its imposing 16th-century castle and Roman ruins. Arriving in Vienne in the late afternoon, a GUIDED WALK shows you the charming little town surrounded by steep hills. Explore the town center to see the Roman Theater, which once held 13,000 spectators, and the Augustus and Livia Temple, built around 20 BC and converted into a church in the Middle Ages.
Day 6 Lyon
Lyon is France’s third-largest city and its gastronomic capital. Founded by the Romans in 43 BC, the city’s prosperity dates back to the 16th century and is due to commercial, industrial, and banking activities. Roman remains, many excellent museums, and much renaissance architecture delight visitors. You are joined by a LOCAL GUIDE as you survey the city from Fourvière Hill—with its splendid views over the city—and explore the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its maze of medieval alleyways and Place des Terreaux, a popular area with lively cafés, monuments, and the famous fountain often depicted on postcards. Be sure to sample Beaujolais, the wine of the region.
Day 7 Cruising–St. Jean de Losne
A leisurely day today to enjoy your final day on board. If you prefer to stay busy, a choice of optional excursions is available, including a visit to a wine cellar. While sailing to Chalon-sur-Saône, enjoy an onboard CHEESE TASTING.
Day 8 St. Jean de Losne. (Disembarkation)–Beaune–Dijon–Paris (Embarkation)
After breakfast, disembark and head by motorcoach to Beaune, the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Or area and Burgundy’s wine capital. Although life here centers around wine, Beaune offers much more with its ramparts, medieval houses, cobblestone streets, and historical monuments. Visit the HÔTEL-DIEU charity hospital, built in 1443 and paid for by the chancellor of Burgundy after the Hundred Years’ War left many of the town’s population destitute. Today, it houses Van der Weyden’s painting of The Last Judgment and is one of France’s architectural highlights. After lunch, continue to Dijon and board the TGV train to Paris, the “City of Light,” where your ship is docked on the River Seine. Meet your crew at a welcome reception; before dinner, your ship glides smoothly out of Paris.
Day 9 Vernon–Les Andelys
This morning in Vernon, choose between a guided visit of Giverny and a visit to Bizy Castle. Claude Monet lived at GIVERNY for almost 43 years (1883-1926) and viewed his flower and water gardens as works of art—just like his paintings. See his collection of Japanese prints, his charming house, and his biggest sources of inspiration. Or, visit BIZY CASTLE, built in 1740 and nicknamed “Normandy’s Versailles.” It is known for its famous stables—inspired by those at Versailles—and its magnificent courtyard and water garden. This afternoon, your ship arrives in Les Andelys, situated on a bend of the Seine and one of the most beautiful places in France. Join a Local Guide for a GUIDED WALK of the town, visiting the PARISH CHURCH OF LE PETIT ANDELY. Imposing Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart as a fortress in 1196, is seen above the town. Constructed in only a year, it is a masterpiece of medieval military architecture.
Day 10 Caudebec
Today, join either a guided excursion along the Route des Chaumières, “NORMANDY VILLAGES ROUTE,” to see some of Normandy’s charming and traditional half-timbered houses with their long, sloping thatched roofs, often sporting blue wooden doors and window shutters, or along the “NORMANDY ABBEYS ROUTE,” a short drive from Caudebec. More than 100 abbeys once covered this region, which has a microclimate particularly suited to the production of fruit such as apples, pears, plums and cherries. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or to join an optional excursion to the pretty coastal town of Honfleur.
Day 11 Caudebec
Today, choose between an included full-day excursion to the historic NORMANDY LANDING BEACHES—with poignant sites such as Omaha Beach, the Pointe du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery—or a “TASTE OF NORMANDY” for a more in-depth look at this picturesque, mainly agricultural region. The most important products are dairy, apples, and grain. Camembert cheese is a specialty, as is CALVADOS, a strong apple brandy that you’ll have the chance to taste at a local distillery. And for a touch of history, visit the famous BAYEUX TAPESTRY.
Day 12 Rouen
Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is an important commercial city perhaps best known for its connection to Joan of Arc, who lived, was imprisoned, and burned at the stake in the marketplace of this town in 1431. Enjoy the GUIDED WALK through the medieval quarter with its half-timbered, glazed-tile houses, and take your pictures of the Gros Horloge, an intricate astronomical clock dating back to the 16th century. Visit the splendid gothic CATHEDRAL, which was once the tallest building in the world and the subject of a series of Claude Monet’s paintings. The afternoon is free for you to explore on your own.
Day 13 Conflans
After breakfast you may either join our included guided excursion to AUVERS-SUR-OISE, the quaint town where Vincent Van Gogh lived and died, or to Napoleon and Josephine’s CHÂTEAU DE MALMAISON outside Paris. Requiring extensive renovations, this large country estate was purchased by Josephine Bonaparte in 1799 while Napoleon was fighting in Egypt. It was her aim to make it “the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation.”
Day 14 Paris
Known as one of the world’s most romantic and lively cities, Paris is a delight for all your senses. Your included CITY SIGHTSEEING shows you magnificent must-see sights, such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the unique Louvre Museum with its glass pyramid as a contrast to its ancient architecture, the commemorative Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. Alternatively, you may wish to join a GUIDED WALK through historic Île St. Louis with its narrow one-way streets and Île de la Cité, the center of Paris where the medieval city was founded and home to NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL. In your free time, stroll down the Champs-Elysées with its lavish cafés, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre or Montmartre with its gleaming white Sacré Coeur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre. Paris is also well known for its colorful nightlife and an optional outing to one of the world’s most famous cabaret shows might make the perfect finale to your vacation.
Day 15 Paris (Disembarkation)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.
River Cruise Highlights
Cruise: deluxe 14-night cruise in an outside stateroom with Avalon’s exclusive Comfort Collection BedsSM
Arles: welcome to France! onboard welcome reception; sail into the Camargue region (daylight permitting); guided sightseeing, visit the Roman Amphitheater
Avignon: guided sightseeing, visit the Palace of the Popes
Cruising–Viviers: guided walk, visit Old Town and the cathedral
Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Vienne: guided walk in Tournon; guided walk in Vienne
Lyon: guided sightseeing, picture stop on Fourvière Hill
Cruising–St. Jean de Losne: day at leisure; cheese tasting
St. Jean de Losne (Disembarkation)–Beaune–Dijon–Paris (Embarkation): visit the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune; TGV train from Dijon to Paris; onboard welcome reception
Vernon–Les Andelys: choice of guided excursions to Giverny or Bizy Castle; guided walk in Les Andelys, visit the Parish Church of Le Petit Andelys
Caudebec: choice of excursion along either the “Normandy Villages Route” or the “Normandy Abbeys Route”; choice of excursions to Normandy landing beaches or “A Taste of Normandy”
Rouen: guided walk, see the Gros Horloge astronomical clock and visit the cathedral
Conflans: choice of guided excursions to Auvers-sur-Oise or Château de Malmaison
Paris: choice of guided sightseeing or “Heart of Paris” walk, visit Notre Dame Cathedral
Special onboard and onshore experiences presented by entertainers, artisans, and experts, designed to enrich your cruise.
Learn from a local expert about D-Day, and attend an onboard “les guitares de camargue” musical presentation.
All This Included
This fantastic cruise vacation showcases France’s breathtaking scenery, amazing history, and exciting variety. Your adventure begins in Arles where you board your ship and sail into the peaceful Camargue area during dinner (daylight permitting), before returning to Arles. Then, sail north up the scenic Rhône and Saône Rivers. Along the way, explore Arles, Avignon, delightful Viviers, medieval Tournon, charming Vienne, France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon, as well as St. Jean de Losne, and fascinating Beaune. Take the TGV train from Dijon to Paris, embark your second cruise ship, and begin your journey along the Seine River into the picturesque Normandy region. In Vernon, choose between a guided visit of Claude Monet’s stunning gardens at Giverny or magnificent Bizy Castle. Continue to Les Andelys, home of dramatic Château Gaillard, then on to Caudebec, where you choose between an included excursion to Normandy’s historic landing beaches or an interesting “Taste of Normandy.” Next up: Joan of Arc’s historic Rouen. In Conflans, it’s your choice of excursions to either Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s elegant Château de Malmaison. Return to Paris for guided sightseeing, taking in the most famous sights of this magnificent city—a fitting conclusion of your magnificent cruise vacation.
Superb dining with meals on board featuring full breakfast with complimentary sparkling wine, lunch with complimentary soft drinks, and dinner including complimentary wine, beer, or soft drinks; a welcome reception, Captain’s reception, and farewell dinner; one sitting with open seating arrangements
Deluxe cruise in an outside stateroom with hotel-style beds
Included excursions with Certified Local Guide; sightseeing as outlined in the day by-day itinerary; inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE.
Headsets for shore excursions
Complimentary Wi-Fi access
Personalized room options & excursions
Accommodations on this Tour
Cruising: Cabin onboard Avalon Affinity and Avalon Creativity or Avalon Poetry II and Avalon Tapestry II
Cabin upgrades are available.
Port charges: $336.
Gratuities to Local Guides & Excursion Drivers are included.
Please call for single accommodation price. Triples not available.
In the event that the TGV is unavailable due to strikes or technical reasons, the transfer from Dijon to Paris will be operated by motorcoach.
In the event of water level problems or any problems of a technical nature, it may be necessary to operate the itinerary by motorcoach or to alter the program.
Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change becomes necessary, a substitute will be offered.
Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.