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Normandy, Loire Valley & France River Cruise

(23 days, Paris - Nice, 2014)
This 23 day tour includes ten nights journeying from Paris through Normandy and the Loire Valley plus a 12 night river cruise from Chalon-sur-Saône to Arles via Lyon.

Paris to Loire Valley
From medieval Rouen to the Normandy coastline including Saint-Malo, Mont Saint-Michel and the beaches of the D-Day landing; and the unforgettable magic of Paris, the grandeur of the Palace of Versailles and the enchanting vineyards, chateaux and rolling green hills of Loire Valley, to the moving reminders of wars past at Amiens, Somme and Fromelles; Northern and Central France is a quintessential showcase of French beauty and incredible history.

Paris
On the River Seine at the heart of the Île-de-France is the enchanting French capital, Paris. Romanticised as the ‘city of love’ and the most visited city in the world, Paris guarantees the crème de la crème in gastronomy, shopping, the arts, museums and monuments.

Chalon-sur-Saône to Arles
Experience the exquisite waterways of Southern France on a stunning luxury southbound river cruise from Chalon-sur-Saône to Arles encountering picturesque places like Beaune, Mâcon, Lyon, Ardèche National Park, La Camargue, Avignon, Uzés and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Day 1: Paris
You will be met at Paris airport by your Scenic Tours Representative before being transferred* to your glamorous and centrally located hotel. Enjoy a welcome drink this evening with your fellow travellers and Tour Director.
Two Night Special Stay: Paris
Day 2: Paris (FB,HD)
The capital of France, Paris is situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region. Today join your Tour Director on an Included sightseeing tour of all the major sights of Paris, see the Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Concorde Square and the famous Champs Elysées. SCENIC ENRICH: Ascend the Eiffel Tower this evening for unforgettable views from your spectacular dinner venue, 58 Tour Eiffel, where you will dine overlooking the Paris skyline.
Day 3: Paris - Amiens (FB,D)
Today rejoin history as you travel through the Somme, home of the Battle of the Somme which claimed the lives of more than 150,000 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth in WWI. Visit the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux, a memorial commemorating 10,773 Australian soldiers killed with no known grave on the Western Front during WWI. We then continue to nearby Le Hamel where we'll spend time at the Australian Corps Memorial Park dedicated to honouring the role of the Australian Corps during the battles of 1918. This afternoon in Peronne, we'll visit the impeccable Museum of the Great War which is located within a very imposing fortification which, like most of the town, was damaged during the fighting. Before our return to Amiens we'll stop at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, a major war memorial to the 72,191 missing British and South African men who died in the Battles of the Somme during WWI with no known grave.
Two Night Stay: Amiens
Day 4: Amiens - Fromelles - Amiens (FB)
Our first stop for the day is the Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux. The museum tells the story of the Australian Imperial Force during WWI, and particularly on the Western Front which ultimately lead to the armistice on 11 November 1918. The remainder of our day will allow us the time to visit both Bullecourt and Fromelles. Bullecourt has several memorials dedicated to the Australian Imperial Forces, the largest of which is the Australian Memorial Park which was inaugurated on ANZAC Day in 1992 and overlooks what was once the battlefield. We'll visit the emotive bronze ‘Bullecourt Digger’ statue which is adorned with a commemorative plaque dedicated to the Australians who will lie forever in the soil of France . We then continue to nearby Fromelles, where we'll visit the VC Corner Cemetery, containing the graves of 410 Australian soldiers killed during the Battle of Fromelles and the only uniquely Australian cemetery on the Western Front. Also, the moving “cobber” memorial, dedicated to a Victorian farmer turned soldier who rescued many men from the battlefield. This evening, enjoy time at leisure in Amiens.
Day 5: Amiens - Deauville (FB,D)
Travel to the medieval city of Rouen, where we'll enjoy a walking tour and see the location where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. Continuing onto Ranville where we'll visit the Pegasus Bridge and Airborne Museum, dedicated to the most famous mission of the British airborne division. Following the Normandy coastline, will see us arrive into Deauville this afternoon.
Overnight Stay: Deauville
Day 6: Normandy Beaches - Saint Malo (FB,D)
This morning visit Bayeux to see Queen Matilda’s Tapestry depicting the Norman invasions of Britain. There are poignant reminders of WWII as you drive along the beaches of the D-Day landing. Stop in Omaha Beach before following the route of the Rangers depicted in the movie Saving Private Ryan and visit the bunkers and Rangers Memorial at Pointe du Hoc. Continue this evening to the coastal town of Saint Malo.
Two Night Stay: St. Malo
Day 7: Saint Malo (FB)
Visit nearby Mont St Michel, perched on a rocky tidal island 247 acres in size and approximately one kilometre off France's north-western coast this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site ensures a truly spectacular day including a visit to the amazing hilltop abbey surrounded by sea. This afternoon enjoy time at leisure in the quaint seaside village of Saint Malo, with an ancient walled Old Town and beaches lapped by the waters of the English Channel, this pretty city exudes an atmospheric charm in a truly stunning setting.
Day 8: Saint Malo - Loire Valley (FB,HD)
Enter into the enchanted land of vineyards and rolling green hills that is the Loire Valley. On arrival in Tours visit Azay-le-Rideau, one of the earliest French Renaissance châteaux and built on an island in the Indre River. SCENIC ENRICH: This evening we celebrate our visit to the Loire Valley with a highlight dinner in a nearby Château.
Two Night Special Stay: Loire Valley
Day 9: Loire Valley (FB,D)
The first stop today is at the stunning Château de Chenonceau, the history alone of the château is amazing. Then on to the delightful market town of Amboise where, as part of our guided visit, we will see Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb in the gardens of the imposing castle. We will also visit Clos Lucé, the manor house in which the great artist lived, and wander the narrow streets which contain many medieval timbered houses.
Day 10: Loire Valley - Paris (FB,D)
We continue our scenic journey to the plain of La Beauce before taking a guided visit of the famous Palace of Versailles, the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 until the French Revolution.
Overnight Special Stay: Paris
Day 11: Paris - Chalon-sur-Saône (FB,D)
Today we board the ultra-fast TGV train to Dijon. On arrival transfer to Chalon-sur-Saône where a warm welcome awaits you from your crew as you board your luxury Scenic Tours ‘Space-Ship’ and settle into your cabin. Tonight enjoy a Welcome Reception with your fellow travellers.
Day 12: Chalon-sur-Saône - Tournus (FB,L,D)
This morning visit Beaune for an Included sightseeing tour including Les Hospices de Beaune. Choose from these Included SCENIC FREE CHOICE tours: (1) visit Burgundy’s renowned Patriarche Cellars; or (2) visit one of the regions famous mustard factories.
Day 13: Tournus (FB,L,D)
This morning we travel to the magnificent Château de Cormatin where we'll enjoy an Included tour. Sample French truffles in nearby villages before the drive back to Tournus. This afternoon we’ll sail the stunning Rhône River onto Mâcon. Perhaps after dinner this evening take a stroll through this charming town.
Day 14: Mâcon (FB,L,D)
Choose from these Included SCENIC FREE CHOICE tours: (1) visit the fabulous Bresse Museum; or (2) wine tasting in the Beaujolais region; or (3) visit Cluny, a village built around the great Benedictine Abbey.
Day 15: Lyon (FB,L,D)
The gastronomic heart of France! Enjoy your Included tour then choose an Included SCENIC FREE CHOICE tour: (1) explore Lyon by bike; or (2) visit a traditional silk factory; or (3) visit the medieval village of Pérouges; or (4) tour the exclusive culinary school, the Paul Bocuse Institute. Take advantage of our central docking location and perhaps enjoy an evening walk through Lyon this evening.
Day 16: Vienne - Tournon (FB,L,D)
Discover the Roman city of Vienne with your choice of these Included SCENIC FREE CHOICE tours: (1) board your mini-train ride to Vienne’s Roman arena; or (2) join a walking tour; or (3) enjoy a hike through Vienne and the surrounding area. A leisurely afternoon of sailing will see us arrive into Tournon.
Day 17: Tournon - Viviers (FB,L,D)
Choose from these Included SCENIC FREE CHOICE tours: (1) discover Tournon by foot on your walking tour through the wide tree-lined avenues of this pretty historical town; or (2) visit the spectacular wine cave within the impressive Tournon Castle perched on a hill in this beautiful region and overlooking the magnificent Rhône river; or (3) crossing the river, walk to the renowned wine growing centre of Tain l'Hermitage for your walking tour and a tasting at Valrhona Chocolates. This afternoon relax on board as you sail through some of the vineyards that make this region’s long standing tradition of wine-making famous. This evening arrive in Viviers. Perhaps take a stroll through buildings dating back to the Middle Ages and some fine examples of Renaissance architecture.
Day 18: Viviers - Châteauneuf-du-Pape (FB,L,D)
Enjoy an Included walking tour of Viviers including a special recital for Scenic Tours guests. This afternoon venture off the river and into the spectacular playground of the French with your choice of these Included SCENIC FREE CHOICE tours: (1) travel into the Ardèche Mountains and unveil the natural wonders of one of the largest natural canyons in Europe by canoe; or (2) take in the magic of the mountainous Ardèche National Park on your scenic journey to gorgeous villages and the impressive canyon; or (3) enjoy a master class in French cuisine on board the opulent Scenic Emerald.
Day 19: Châteauneuf-du-Pape - Avignon (FB,L,HD)
Today explore Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the largest and most important wine region in the southern Rhône. Enjoy sampling the local wine at a charming Côtes du Rhône vineyard on your Included tour. This afternoon relax on board as you sail into Avignon. Although the papacy was located in Avignon for less than a century they kept very busy during these years as you will see by the impressive architecture of this medieval city. SCENIC ENRICH: Be treated to a truly unforgettable experience at the prestigious Palais-des-Papes, among the most visited places in France. Be invited for a guided tour before entering a private room in the palace for an Exclusive Gala Dinner and Classical Concert.
Day 20: Avignon (FB,L,D)
Choose from one of these Included SCENIC FREE CHOICE tours: (1) visit the villages of the Luberon region including the hilltop village of Gordes and Fontaine de Vaucluse the home of the largest natural spring in France; or (2) take an excursion to Uzès, a town with a skyline that marks the region from afar, including a visit to Pont du Gard. This evening perhaps take advantage of being docked in the centre of town for the night and take a stroll along the river after dinner.
Day 21: La Camargue - Arles (FB,L,D)
Relax on board this morning as we sail onto the Provençal town of Tarascon, an ancient fortified town on the banks of the beautiful Rhône River. SCENIC ENRICH: Today discover the spectacular La Camargue National Park. Keep your camera at the ready as the beauty and wonder of this region unfolds, encounter wild flamingos in their natural environment at the 60 hectare Parc Ornithologique wetlands. Be bewitched by the wild beauty of the gypsy pilgrimage town of Saintes Marie de la Mer, whose sandy beaches and reed marshlands are abound with wild horses and bulls. Traverse the desolate landscape of the Camargue wetlands to arrive at the renowned Manade Jacques Bon ranch, a real working bull farm where we will enjoy lunch. This afternoon be charmed by the Provençal traditions and rich historical heritage of Arles, where you will enjoy time at leisure.
Day 22: Tarascon (FB,L,D)
Enjoy one of your Included SCENIC FREE CHOICE tours: (1) the site of some impressive Roman ruins, including Las Arenas, an arena that seats 20,000 and is still in use today, experience the vibrant colours and striking quality of light on your tour of Arles, a city that has inspired many artists (2) visit the hilltop village of Les Baux, one of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’ including a visit to an Olive farm; or (3) visit the charming Provençal village of Saint-Rémy made famous by Vincent van Gogh, including a visit to Saint Paul de Mausole Monastery where Van Gogh was held for a year.
Day 23: Tarascon - Nice (FB)

After breakfast this morning, disembark your Scenic ‘Space-Ship’ and transfer* to Nice Airport for your onward or homebound flight. (Please book flights to depart after 3pm).

*Check transfer entitlements with your travel agent. For guests who have already received documentation - refer to your booking summary

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Duration
23 Days
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