Be treated to some of France’s most idyllic towns, including Lyons-la-Forêt, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France; the seaside resort town of Honfleur, a favorite among the Impressionists; and Le Bec-Hellouin, a village with an exceptionally profound religious past that can still be sensed as well as seen. Visit Normandy’s historical hubs, Caen and Bayeux, home to the Medieval depiction of the Battle of Hastings on a tapestry from the 11th century; as well as walk the beaches of Normandy where Allied forces landed during WWII’s D-Day Invasion. Conclude your journey in Brittany, discovering all of its splendid treasures—the high-wall city of St. Malo, charming medieval Dinan, the seaside village of Dinard and the magical island monastery of Mont St. Michel.
Meander through Monet’s gardens in Giverny
Discover the Italian Renaissance garden of Château d’Ambleville
Visit Château de Harcourt Arboretum, one of the richest gardens in Europe
Check into your Paris hotel and prepare for your pre-cruise land extension.
Day 2: Paris tour and Montmartre
Discover some of the lesser-known treasures of Paris on your guided tour. A world stage for art, fashion, gastronomy, culture and much more, the “City of Light” has a story to tell at every corner. Legendary Montmartre – the Bohemian heart and soul of Parisian chic – has long been a siren call to artists and revolutionary thinkers. Enjoy learning more about the premier artists’ enclave that once was home to Pissarro and Jongkind.
Today, explore the Atelier-Lumieres, Paris’s “Workshop of Lights,” a uniquely immersive digital art experience. Utilizing 140 video projectors and a state-of-the-art sound system, guests are treated to an unforgettable colorful multimedia exhibition of famed artists’ works that will give you a new appreciation for their talent. Past exhibitions have celebrated the art of Klimt and Van Gogh. Afterward, board your ship in Paris for your Impressions of the Seine & Paris cruise.
Enjoy some of Paris’ most famous sights during your panoramic tour. Be guided through the charming Latin Quarter, home to the world-famous Sorbonne University, and through the stunning 400-year-old Luxembourg Gardens, created by King Henry IV’s widow, Marie de’ Medici. Afterward, travel through Paris and see such sights as the Champs-Élysées with its cinemas, sidewalk cafes, and luxury specialty shops; the Arc de Triomphe; and the Eiffel Tower. (B,L,D)
The French commune of Mantes-La-Jolie was founded in the early Middle Ages and served as a port between Paris and Rouen. You have three different ways to explore this port, each with a knowledgeable local guide. The first is a city tour during which you may see some of Mantes-La-Jolie’s beautiful religious structures, like the Gothic Notre Dame de Mantes, followed by a tasting of regional delights at a local market. Alternatively, enhance your best self with a bike tour and venture further through the city to take in more of its history and charm. Or, visit the distinctive Château d’Anet, an elegant Renaissance chateau built in the 16th century by King Henri II for his mistress, Diane de Poiters.
Experience the colorful splendor of Claude Monet’s magnificent gardens at his former home in Giverny, taking in the water lilies, Japanese bridges, and graceful willow trees immortalized in his paintings. For a more active adventure, pedal through Vernon on a guided bike tour. Or journey to Château de Gaillon, a picturesque Renaissance-style castle, as well as the beautiful Gardens d’Acquigny, boasting waterfalls, bridges, canals, and a wide variety of trees and plant life. If you prefer experiencing the world through your taste buds, join a tasting tour during which you’ll get a chance to try the region’s famous apple-based calvados, cider, and cheese.
Spend the morning enjoying medieval Rouen with a choice of several excursions. Join a walking tour past the imposing Notre Dame Cathedral, painted numerous times by Monet, and see the square where Joan of Arc was martyred, as well as the Medieval Quarter and Great Clock. You also have the choice to explore Lyons-la-Forêt, built on the site of a former fortress and featuring remarkable centuries-old architecture; or go on the “Tastes of Normandy” tour, where you’ll be treated to the delicious flavors of the region, including chocolate, macaron, Norman cheese, and cider. Later in the day, visit the idyllic castle Vascoeuil with its octagonal tower, art exhibitions, and sculpture park, then enjoy a scenic cruise before biking through Rouen or experiencing another local château, the Gothic Château d’Etelan, where you may see the medieval cellar, castle wall, and guardhouse dating back to 1350.
Caudebec-en-Caux is your gateway to several excursions. Visit Bayeux, with a medieval city center and the world-renowned Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the 1066 Norman invasion of England, followed by a visit to Caen, where one of the top sites is the Château de Caen, an 11th-century castle built by William the Conqueror. Or instead, admire the 30-acre Harcourt Arboretum, with its nearly 3,000 trees, as well as the palatial Château du Champ de Bataille and the commune of Le Bec-Hellouin, known for its 11th-century abbey. Or, choose instead to enjoy a scenic cruise from Caudebec-en-Caux to Le Havre, where you can enjoy free time to explore or take an afternoon bike tour.
There are several different choices of excursions, both during the morning and afternoon, depending on your interests. You can choose between an excursion to the seaside town of Honfleur, renowned for its picturesque harbor, and for being an inspirational site for Impressionist painters; or join a city tour of the UNESCO-designated Le Havre followed by a tasting at Les Halles Market. Alternatively, you have the choice of a bike tour through Le Havre. You can also choose a full-day excursion to see the historic Normandy Beaches, where you may visit such sites as the cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, Omaha Beach, the artillery battery at Longues-sur-Mer and the village of Arromanches, where the remains of the floating harbor used during the WWII landings can be seen.
Day 10: Le Havre | Disembark
Disembark your ship in Le Havre and, en route to your St. Malo hotel, visit Fourgères in Brittany, known for its medieval fortress, which boasts 13 towers. Continue on to St. Malo, where you will check into your hotel.
Day 11: St. Malo
Explore the walled city of St. Malo, the history of which is steeped in piracy. Gaze at turquoise waters and such sites like the castle and its towers, the Fort National, partially built by famed military architect Vauban, and the cathedral of Saint-Vincent. Also, venture to Dinard, with its Belle Èpoque villas and beaches, as well as to Dinan, one of Brittany’s most beautiful and best-preserved towns, known for its art galleries and crafts.
Day 12: St. Malo
Discover the magical island monastery of Mont St. Michel, built by the same Italian architect who designed Fècamp Abbey in Normandy. Appearing as though out of a fairytale, Mont St. Michel served as the artistic inspiration for the Disney movie about Rapunzel, Tangled.
Day 13: St. MaloTransfer to Paris
Depart St. Malo and transfer to Paris. Check into the Paris Airport Hotel. En route, visit Chartres Cathedral, an elaborate and beautifully-designed Roman Catholic church that serves as the seat of the Diocese of Chartres.
Day 14: Paris
Bid farewell to Paris as you prepare for your return flight home.
Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!