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The clifftop town of Bonifacio, Corsica

Southern France and the Italian Riviera by Sea – with Smithsonian Journeys

Barcelona - Civitavecchia - Example 9 Day Cruise aboard Le Champlain
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Experience this 9-day exploration cruise along the French and Italian Riveras with Smithsonian Journeys. Discover the history and culture of the Mediterranean Sea's northern coastlines. Your voyage begins in Barcelona and continues to Sete, where your exploration of southern France begins. Enjoy panoramic views of the Côte d'Azur on a visit to the medieval hilltop village of Eze. Visit the villages of Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the Italian Riviera. A full-day tour from Livorno to Florence brings you to the heart of the Italian Renaissance. Your adventure concludes in the port of Civitavecchia in Italy.
Beautiful PortofinoExplore the sunny ruins of Porto VenereThe city of Bonifacio is built on stunning seaside cliffs along the rivieraRelax by the sea in sunny NiceExplore colorful NiceVisit charming MarseilleEvening lights of MarseilleThe clifftop town of Bonifacio, Corsica
Highlights
  • Discover Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italian Riviera
  • Explore Avignon, where Palace of the Popes is located
  • Spend an evening in the resort town of Portofino
  • Enjoy your discovery of the Pisa's Leaning Tower and the Duomo of Florence
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Barcelona | Embarkation

Located on the seashore between the mountains of Montjuïc and Tibidabo, Barcelona offers its many visitors a perfect blend of tradition and modernism. Truly an open-air museum, the “prodigious town” reveals an astonishing range of artistic treasures and museums, combining Roman ruins, medieval districts, and a number of avant-garde elements from the 20th Century. Over the years, it has been marked by some of the greatest artists, such as Picasso, Miró, and Gaudí, most of whose work has been listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Take the time to stroll along the Ramblas and enjoy the gentle, typically Mediterranean lifestyle of the capital of Catalonia.

Day 2: Sete

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The port of Sète, referred to by locals as the "Venice of Languedoc" because of its many canals, is a resort town known for its beaches and a thriving center of art. It’s also the gateway to nearby treasures of the Occitanie, including Nîmes, home to an exquisitely preserved Roman Amphitheater and the beautiful 18th-century Jardins de la Fontaine. The cities of Narbonne and Carcassonne are also within easy reach and serve as an introduction to the history and culture of this region. In Narbonne, you will want to visit the Palais des Archevêques and its Archaeological Museum, and in Carcassonne, you will be awed by the medieval citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Day 3: Marseille 

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The oldest harbor in France, Marseille is the city where PONANT has chosen to set up its company headquarters. Heart vibrating in its setting of Mediterranean Calanques, it reveals its raw and authentic beauty, made up of a thousand influences and cultures which, over the centuries, have made up its wealth. A stroll through the Old Port will allow you to discover the places corresponding to the city founded by the Greeks as well as Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica, with its astonishing neo-Byzantine architecture, which overlooks it. Close to the quays, the Place de Leche, which covers the ancient agora, will be perfect for a break in one of its lively cafés before melting into the maze of narrow streets with colorful houses in the Panier district, just a stone's throw away.

Day 4: Nice

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Capital of the Cote d’Azur, Nice is surrounded by an amphitheater of hills and mountains that protects it from the wind. You will probably want to explore the Promenade des Anglais, where you can sit on one of the famous blue chairs laid out opposite the Baie des Anges. Château hill is also a very pleasant place to walk. This is the entrance to the old city, with its bustling markets and regional products along the main street, the Cours Saleya.

Day 5: Portofino 

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Close to the Cinque Terre, Portofino is the jewel of the Ligurian Riviera. This "small village that stretches like a half-moon around a silent basin", described by Guy de Maupassant, is today a pretty, lively little port that has managed to preserve the authenticity of its maritime traditions, which have been recognized since ancient times. Built-in the hollow of a small natural cove sheltered by the pine forest, the village is at the heart of a protected maritime reserve. The shimmering colors of its house fronts and the exceptional location of this village have inspired many authors and artists. You will also see the Portofino lighthouse, immaculate in its green setting. Perched on the Punta del Capo, it watches over the peninsula and its postcard setting.

Day 6: Sailing off Cinque Terre | Porto Venere

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Ligurian coast will reveal the splendor of its contours as you sail along its abrupt landscapes facing the Mediterranean Sea. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a national park since 1999, the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza et Monterosso distill their charm and their uniqueness.

Located on the magnificent chiseled coast of Liguria, to the northwest of the Italian peninsula, Portovenere is an unusual little fishing village. Clinging to the southernmost tip of the Cinque Terre National park, this charming town benefits from an exceptional location, at the mouth of the Gulf of La Spezia. As soon as you set foot on land, you will be mesmerized by the pastel shades of the buildings. Via Capellini is its lively and welcoming main street, brimming with shops and restaurants. At the end of a long promenade, a steep road leads to Doria castle. Below, on its rocky spur, the Church of Saint Peter offers a splendid view of Palmaria island.

Day 7: Livorno

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On the Ligurian coast, Livorno invites us to Tuscany, a charming region offering archaeological vestiges, Renaissance treasures, undulating landscapes and a pleasant way of life. When the Medicis arrived in the 16th century they developed the city, which became one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean. Cosmopolitan and multireligious, Livorno has welcomed many immigrants and is a wonderful example of cultural diversity. Built during that period, Fortezza Vecchia and Fortezza Nuova attest to the city’s power. At the foot of the new fort, Nuova Venezia is an enchanting district with small canals and streets to stroll along to discover a few architectural treasures, such as the magnificent Santa Caterina da Siena church in the Tuscan Baroque style.

Day 8: Bonifacio, Corsica

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The spectacular town of Bonifacio located on the very tip of southern Corsica clings to a narrow promontory of white rock overhanging the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. You can admire its limestone cliffs hewn out by the wind, before setting off on a cultural tour of its cultural treasures. From the little paved streets in the ancient Haute Ville to the promenade on the open-air medieval chemin de ronde, this stunning town will take you on a journey back in time. Frequented or secluded, there are numerous beaches to choose from, all in keeping with the high standards of the “Île de Beauté”.

Day 9: Civitavecchia | Disembarkation

  • 1 Breakfast
Built on an Etruscan site, between the Tyrrhenian sea and the Monti della Tolfa, Civitavecchia respires the dolce vita. This very modern and easy-going town combines art and history with panache. You can also visit superb historical sites like Fort Michelangelo or the Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi. Just 80 kilometers from Rome, the town is a beautiful first step to the Italian capital.

Ship/Hotel

Le Champlain

Le Champlain Pool
Le Champlain Observatory
Ponant Sauna

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$6,340
Cabin
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Deluxe Stateroom
Area: 19 m². 4m² private balcony with French window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
Cabin
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 4
Area: 19 m². 4m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
Cabin
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 5
Area: 19 m². 4m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
Cabin
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 6
Area: 19 m². 4m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
Cabin
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Deluxe Suite
Area: 27 m². 6m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower. Up to 3 passengers per cabin.
Cabin
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Prestige Suite Deck 5
Area: 38 m². 8m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
Cabin
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Prestige Suite Deck 6
Area: 38 m². 8m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower.
Cabin
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Privilege Suite
Area: 32 m². 8m² private balcony with sliding bay window. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower. Up to 4 passengers per cabin.
Cabin
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Grand Deluxe Suite
Area: 45 m². 30m² private balcony with sliding bay windows. King-size bed or twin beds, and shower + bathtub.
Cabin
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Owner's Suite
Area: 45 m². 30m² private balcony with hot tub and sliding bay windows. King-size or twin beds and shower + bathtub.
Included
  • 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 8 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
  • Gratuities to Onboard Crew
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • 24h Room Service (special selection)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
  • Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite. 
  • A program of onboard enrichment provided by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts
  • Luggage handling from the airport to the ship on the day of embarkation.
  • Transfer from the ship to the airport in Rome at the end of the cruise on the morning of disembarkation
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions 
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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