From romantic cities to foodie havens and artistic epicenters, this 14-day itinerary enlivens all your senses. Spend three nights in Geneva before going to Lyon, France’s culinary capital. Savor the beauty of legendary vineyards and imbibe in local vintages like Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. Enjoy hunting for truffles, refining your Provençal cooking skills, and learning how to pair chocolate with wine. Trace the steps of famous artists in Arles and Avignon, and then let Barcelona, cast its magical spell on you.
Get acquainted with Geneva, the “Peace City,” and gateway to the Swiss Alps, on your guided walking tour. With traditions in both watchmaking and chocolate making, this beautiful city has a rich history, which you will glimpse during your excursion.
Day 3: Geneva
Venture south to the “Pearl of the French Alps,” Annecy, on your morning excursion. Home to beautiful castles, including the Château d’Annecy, home to the Counts of Geneva, and natural green spaces with bike trails winding through along the lake. Later in the day, visit Chillon Castle, a pictureperfect medieval island fortress with three formal great halls, a chapel and beautifully arched underground rooms that once served as a prison.
Before transferring to your ship, visit stunning Dijon, France, the wonderfully picturesque capital of the historical Burgundy region. Renowned for its traditional mustard, Dijon also boasts one of France's best-preserved medieval centers, with postcardperfect architecture, including its cathedral of SaintBenigne de Dijon. You’ll also stop in the lovely commune of BourgenBresse, famous for its Gothic Brou Royal monastery, centuriesold timberframed houses, and its Renaissancestyle Cathedral of Our Lady. Later, board your ship in preparation for your 7night cruise.
Located in southern Burgundy at the heart of the Côte Chalonnaise wine region, ChalonSurSaône whispers the secrets of its medieval past which you will discover on your historic city tour. Alternatively, choose an excursion in Beaune, a walled town nestled in the heart of Cote d’Or vineyards where you’ll stroll the cobblestone streets and take in such sights as the mosaictiled roof of the HôtelDieu de Beaune, founded in the 15th century as a hospital for the less fortunate. Or, visit the storybook Château de Couches, a medieval fortress enveloped in idyllic hills and greenery that once served the Dukes of Burgundy. Later in the day, enjoy scenic sailing to Tournus or pedal from ChalonSur Saône to Tournus on an exhilarating guided bike tour. Alternatively, once in Tournus, sample the region’s famous white Mâconnais wines.
Today you have a choice of several excursions as you explore the cities of Tournus and Macon. Let your knowledgeable guide lead you through Tournus and to its magnificent Benedictine Abbey of Saint Philibert. Or choose instead to visit the moated Château de Cormatin, which dates back to the early 17th century and features ornate apartments as well as a beautifully manicured garden. As an alternative, venture to the medieval village of Brancion with its preserved gateway, church, and market hall, or pedal through the charming town. In the afternoon, you have the choice of returning to the ship and enjoying a scenic cruise to Mâcon, joining a guided bike tour from Tournus to Mâcon, or enjoying a tasting of Chalonnaise wines.
Join a guided tour through the “South Burgundy City” of Mâcon, learning about its local vineyards, museums, historical sites, and perhaps its famous son, the poet, and minister Alphonse de Lamartine. Or venture somewhat off the beaten path to Cluny, known for its large abbey, and the nearby castle BerzeleChatel, a wellpreserved fortress perched on a rocky hill offering stunning views below. Alternately, you can enjoy a guided bike tour to BerzeleChatel. Should architecture or religion be one of your main interests, perhaps choose the excursion to the Royal Monastery of Brou, built in the 16th century and boasting a glorious white façade as well as a beautifully tiled roof. Return to the ship and head to the Sun Deck to enjoy a light lunch and the passing landscapes on the way to VillefranchesurSaône, later choosing between scenic cruising or a tasting of Beaujolais wines. During the evening, enjoy a special Illuminations cruise – a highlight of your river cruise – as you enter the city of Lyon.
Discover dynamic Lyon, starting in Fourvière Hill, part of the city’s historic region that is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the 19thcentury basilica NotreDame de Fourvière. Continue to the old town of Lyon, followed by a guided walk through the St. Jean district, where you will be introduced to the city’s unique covered walkways, known as “traboules.” Or get active a guided bike tour through the city designed with cyclists in mind. If you’re a selfdescribed foodie, our Lyon tasting tour is for you, during which you’ll have a chance to taste some of Lyon’s local delights. Later in the day, sail to Vienne, which boasts a Roman past that can be seen in its marvelously preserved ruins. There you can ride the charming mini train around the city. For those wishing to be more active, you can either take a guided bike tour along a portion of the ViaRhôna bike route or a guided hike from the ship to the Monastery at Mount Pipet.
Take your coffee on your balcony or the Sun Deck as you cruise to Valence, a designated “City of Art and History,” where you can see such sites as its 11thcentury Cathedral of St. Apollinaris or perhaps its House of Heads (named for the carved heads of its façade and courtyard) on your city tour. For a more active adventure, pedal through this bicyclefriendly city. If you prefer a more relaxing excursion, taste the Northern Rhône’s red Cornas wines.
Avignon, aptly named the “City of Popes,” was the center of the Catholic Church in the 14th century when its “Palais des Papes” was the equivalent of today’s Vatican. Discover the history of Avignon on a guided walking tour that includes the Papal Palace and the wellpreserved medieval walls surrounding the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternately, you can visit three venues around Avignon to taste regional specialties, including macarons, cheese and wine, and tapenades. Or, you can enjoy a bike tour along the Rhône from Avignon to the provençal town of Tarascon. Later in the day, the cruise to Arles is considered one of the most beautiful cities in France. Let your experienced guide lead you to the top sights, including the Romanesque cathedral and Roman amphitheater;, or take a guided bike tour to the Roman ruins. If you wish to delve further into Van Gogh’s Arles, join a special walking tour along with a visit to the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, showcasing his legacy. Or take some time to focus on wellness with a guided bike tour through town.
Day 11: Arles | Barcelona | Disembark
Disembark the ship in Arles and head to Nimes. See the highlights of this delightful town with one of the finest collections of Roman buildings in France before
boarding the highspeed train to Barcelona and checking into your hotel.
Day 12: Barcelona
Barcelona, the bustling capital of Catalonia, is an artist’s, architect’s, foodie’s, historian’s and culturist’s dream. Tour the cobblestoned lanes of the Gothic Quarter in the medieval city center and Las Ramblas. Visit Montjuïc Hill and see some imaginative architectural creations, highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage Site
“Works of Antoni Gaudi,” including La Sagrada Familia.
Day 13: Barcelona
Join an excursion to the mountain Montserrat, home to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, located about 30 miles from Barcelona. Once there, you’ll ride a scenic funicular to the top of the mountain and experience an indescribable view of the Catalonia landscape. The monastery, officially founded in 1025, soon began to receive pilgrims and visitors who contributed to spreading stories of miracles and wonders performed by the Virgin Mary. The whole of Montserrat is built around facilitating the worship of the Black Madonna in the Basilica. While here, see the famous Black Madonna sculpture, which sits at the back of the church, above the altar area. The stairway leading to the statue, plus the room and altar in which the statue sits, are ornate, golden, and pay tribute to the wonder that is the Virgin herself.
Day 14: Barcelona
Bid farewell to Barcelona and prepare for your homeward flight.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!