15 Nights | A Portrait of Majestic France
This picture-perfect journey blends your passion for the good life—art, culture and gastronomy—with a broad sweep of lovely French landscapes. Experience the romance of Paris and then sail the Seine to Normandy, discovering the gems of the region. Marvel at magnificent Rouen Cathedral, and tour the former smugglers’ harbor in Honfleur and follow in the footsteps of Monet at his beloved Giverny.
Travel to beautiful Bordeaux and delight in the countryside of southwest France. Explore Roman Saint-Émilion, with its astonishing Monolithic Church, and ancient Blaye, with its famous citadel. Journey through a land of noble wines, tasting the flavors of the regions as you go.
Enjoy the best France has to offer with Uniworld’s plethora of exclusive excursions (including an exclusive wine tasting of famous Médoc and Sauternes wines and an extraordinary evening tour of Bordeaux) as you cruise four rivers, visit bustling cities and charming towns and sample myriad culinary delights.
Who will enjoy this cruise? Gourmets, oenophiles and lovers of life’s finer things will savor this quintessential French voyage.
A Portrait of Majestic France is a combination of Paris & Normandy and Bordeaux, Vineyards & Châteaux.
You will visit the following 11 places:
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region. The city of Paris, within its administrative limits largely unchanged since 1860, has an estimated population of 2,193,031, but the Paris metropolitan area has a population of 11,836,970, and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. In 2009 and 2010, the city has been ranked among the three most important and influential cities in the world, among the first three "European cities of the future" according to a research published by Financial Times and among the top ten cities in the world in which to live according to the British review Monocle. The city is the home of the most visited art museum in the world; ''the Louvre'' as well as the ''Musée d'Orsay'' noted for its collection of French Impressionist art, and the ''Musée National d'Art Moderne'' a museum of modern and contemporary art. The notable architectural landmarks of Paris include Notre Dame Cathedral (12th century); the Sainte-Chapelle (13th century); the Eiffel Tower (1889); and the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre (1914). In 2014 Paris received 22.4 million visitors, making it one of the world's top tourist destinations. It is also known for its fashion, particularly the twice-yearly Paris Fashion Week, and for its haute cuisine, and three-star restaurants. Most of France's major universities and grandes écoles are located in Paris, as are France's major newspapers, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération.
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in southwest France, with an estimated (2008) population of 250,082. The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture of the Gironde department. Its inhabitants are called Bordelais. Bordeaux is the world's major wine industry capital. It is home to the world's main wine fair, Vinexpo, while the wine economy in the metro area moves 14.5 billion euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the eighth century. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century.
Known for it's historically acclaimed architectural and horticultural structures, Normandy is a popular destination when visiting France. Normandy's museums, memorials, concert halls, chateaux and manors, national parks and culinary culture are designed to pay homage to Norman architecture of England after the Normand Conquest of 1066. The culture and structure of this beautiful French region are sure to appeal to all tastes.
Honfleur is a commune in the Calvados department in northwestern France. It is located on the southern bank of the estuary of the Seine across from le Havre and very close to the exit of the Pont de Normandie. The most picturesque of the Côte Fleurie's seaside towns, its inhabitants are called Honfleurais. It is especially known for its old, beautiful picturesque port, characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet and Johan Jongkind, forming theécole de Honfleur (Honfleur school) which contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement. The Sainte-Catherine church, which has a bell tower separate from the principal building, is the largest church made out of wood in France.
Rouen is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries. An important city in the Roman era and Middle Ages, it has Gothic churches and a cobblestoned pedestrian center with hundreds of medieval half-timbered houses.
Libourne is a commune in the Gironde department in Aquitaine in southwestern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. It is the wine-making capital of northern Gironde and lies near Saint-Émilion and Pomerol. The Gothic church, restored in the 19th century, has a stone spire 232 ft (71 m) high. On the quay there is a machicolated clock-tower which is a survival of the defensive walls of the 14th century; and the town-house, containing a small museum and a library, is a quaint relic of the 16th century. It is located by the main square, the Place Abel Surchamp, which hosts every week end one of the largest fresh food market in the region.
Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, where you will be transferred to the ship.
Vernon (Giverny), Les Andelys
Featured Excursions: Choice of Monet’s Giverny and hike to Château Gaillard or exclusive guided “Go Active” Nordic walking tour
Visit Monet’s home in his beloved village of Giverny, where he lived and worked for more than 40 years. When Monet bought the property, most of it was an orchard; he transformed it over the years into the enchanted vision that he painted, essentially creating each work of art twice: once as a living garden and again as a painting. Stroll through the gardens and admire the familiar Japanese bridge and water garden that inspired him. Though the town suffered bomb damage during WWII, you’ll still be able to recognize many scenes from the master’s iconic paintings. Step even further into the past with a hike to Château Gaillard. Your adventure takes you to the dramatic white-stone remains of the English king’s stronghold. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the river and surrounding countryside. Or take a guided Nordic walking tour along the popular trail to Château Gaillard and the cliffs above St. Jaques hospital. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner.
Note: Giverny will be closed during the March 16, March 23 and March 30 cruise departure dates. Instead of Giverny, guests will visit Versailles Palace.
Rouen (Normandy Beaches)
Featured Excursions: Full day Normandy Beaches with choice of D-Day Museum at Arromanches or Juno Beach and Canadian Center or Tapestry Museum in Bayeux
Normandy’s proximity to the sea has made it the site of many battles, including the famous D-Day Invasion by Allied forces during WWII. Before visiting the beaches of Normandy, you’ll go to Mulberry Harbor at Arromanches and explore the D-Day Museum. Or choose to visit Juno Beach where the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division landed, and take in the exhibits at the Canadian Center. Or, after spending time in Arromanches, drive to Bayeux to see the famous 11th-century tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings. Continue to the Allied landing sites at Omaha Beach before visiting a haunting reminder of the Allied forces’ hard fight for freedom—the American Cemetery. Located in Colleville-sur-Mer, near the section of coastline designated “Omaha Beach,” the cemetery and memorial honor American soldiers who lost their lives while fighting in Europe. Uniworld guests can participate in a special ceremony during their visit that involves a wreath laying, the American national anthem, and a moment of silence.
Featured Excursions: Choice of Rouen walking tour or exclusive guided “Go Active” bike ride along the Seine River
Rouen, founded in pre-Roman times and the Medieval capital of the region, has managed to preserve many notable buildings despite being invaded, conquered, and bombed countless times over the years. Your visit will take you to the stunning Gothic cathedrals, the haunting Medieval quarter and the Gros Horloge, a Renaissance clock tower. The walk ends at Vieux Marché, where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by the English in 1431. Or enjoy a bike ride along the Seine with an expert guide. The Seine River banks are popular with locals, and cycling on the docks is part of the art of enjoying Rouen.
FEATURED EXCURSION: Honfleur walking tour
After crossing the river delta via the majestic Normandy Bridge, travel through the Calvados countryside to Honfleur, a charming French harbor town re-created in paintings by such artists as Monet, Courbet, and the painter who inspired so many others to come to Honfleur: Eugene Boudin. Charles Baudelaire, the French poet, called Boudin’s stormy pictures of the harbor “meteorological beauties.” Tour the former smugglers’ harbor of Vieux Bassin—the most frequently painted scene in Honfleur—whose streets reveal the rich history of the port, and St. Catherine’s Church, which was built by shipwrights.
Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Auvers sur Oise)
Paris (disembark), transfer to Bordeaux via high speed TGV train (embark)
Cruising the Garone River and Gironde Estuary, Pauillac
Blaye, cruising the Gironde Estuary and Dordogne River, Libourne
FEATURED EXCURSION: Saint-Émilion walking tour with wine tasting
Saint-Émilion offers exceptional historic architecture, and historic vineyards, too. The Romans were the first to plant grapes here, and this was the first vineyard region to be protected by UNESCO. The town, built atop limestone hills, offers many interesting shops, but what makes it extraordinary is what exists below the cobbled streets—Saint- Émilion’s Monolithic Church, which dates back to the 12th century. After touring Saint-Émilion, you’ll visit the cellars of a Premier Grand Cru estate where you’ll taste some of the world’s most highly rated wines.
Libourne, cruising the Garonne River, Bordeaux
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Bordeaux walking tour or exclusive guided “Go Active” bicycle ride through the city
See Bordeaux à pied on a fascinating walking tour of the Golden Triangle, where you’ll encounter the very best the city has to offer. Explore luxury food halls, sample Bordeaux’s famous canelés and chocolates, discover marvelous 18th-century architecture, and visit an elegant wine bar popular with locals. If you’re looking for something more active, enjoy the “Pearl of Aquitaine” from the seat of a bike on a guided ride. You’ll have plenty of free time to further enjoy Bordeaux on your own. Revisit some of the places you saw on your tour, explore new sights, or indulge in a little shopping. The choice is yours!
Bordeaux (disembark), transfer to the airport
Disembark the ship and transfer to Bordeaux– Mérignac International Airport for your flight home.
Note: Order of sightseeing may change throughout the itinerary. Substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to water levels or other uncontrollable factors.