DAY 1 | Aug. 31. Depart the U.S.
DAY 2 | Sep. 1. Paris, France
Arrive in Paris and transfer to the Five-Star Intercontinental Paris le Grand, ideally located in the heart of Paris’ stylish ninth arrondissement, a short walk from Place Vendôme and the Louvre and next to L’Opéra Garnier. The afternoon is at leisure. In the evening, enjoy a Welcome Reception in the hotel.
DAY 3 | Sep. 2. Paris
What began as a small, isolated Celtic farming settlement on an island in the River Seine grew into one of the great cosmopolitan cities of the world, becoming the French capital that today is distinguished by its classical, purely Parisian atmosphere. Admire Paris’ most legendary monuments and sites—the soaring grace of the Eiffel Tower, built for the Exhibition Universelle of 1889; imposing Notre Dame cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site; and the bustling Place de la Concorde. Enjoy a guided tour of the world-class Louvre Museum, home to an unrivaled collection of artistic masterpieces from ancient Egypt to the 19th century. Have lunch on your own and perhaps do as the Parisians do—browse the marché in search of the perfect fromage and jambon baguette. This afternoon, join the optional excursion to the bohemian hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre, a favorite haunt of artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Enjoy a guided walk through the village-like district and lively Place du Tertre; admire the stunning Romano-Byzantine white stone Sacré Coeur Basilica; and visit the Musee de Montmartre and Gardens, a former studio of Pierre Auguste Renoir and the oldest building in Montmartre. Alternatively, immerse yourself in Parisian daily life at your own pace. Explore the pedestrian-only Rue Montorgueil, a cobbled street with the ambiance of an ancient village hidden away in the city center. Stroll down the iconic, tree-lined Avenue de Champs-Elysees to the historic Arc de Triomphe. For a sweet ending to your afternoon at leisure, nibble on a French macaroon at the pâtisserie Ladurée or sample the chocolat at Pierre Hermé.
DAY 4 | Sep. 3. Paris/Lyon
Transfer to the Gare de Lyon and board one of France’s greatest technological achievements, the high-speed TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) to Lyon, which can reach speeds up to 200 miles per hour. Arrive in Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site located at the confluence of the Rivers Rhône and Saône, and enjoy lunch in one of Lyon’s oldest brasseries. From lofty Fourvière Hill (Praying Hill), see the ornate 19th century Basilica of Notre Dame and the restored Vieux (old) Lyon, where well-preserved Gothic and Renaissance mansions attest to the wealth of Lyon’s long-standing silk industry. Walk through the ancient quarter of St. Jean and see the unique, often hidden traboules—narrow, covered pedestrian passageways.
Embark the M.S. Amadeus Symphony and enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board before dinner.
DAY 5 | Sep. 4. Chalon-sur-Saône for Beaune
This morning, transfer through the idyllic Burgundy countryside to the picturesque Château de Rully, where Count Raoul de Ternay will guide your private tour of this medieval estate. Continue to Beaune, founded in the fifth century B.C. in the famous Côte d’Or département and the longtime capital of Burgundy wines. Tour the legendary 15th-century Hôtel-Dieu, a quintessential example of Burgundian Renaissance architecture and once a charitable hospital. The meticulously restored chambers provide a fascinating glimpse into medical science across six centuries and house an impressive collection of period art, including the brilliant Last Judgment by Rogier van der Weyden. Enjoy time at leisure in the historic, quintessential wine-producing town of Chalon-sur-Saône. Explore lively Place Saint-Vincent, dominated by the Romanesque cathedral and lined with quaint cafés, specialty shops and local wine cellars. Visit the museum dedicated to the inventor of the photograph, Joseph Nicéphore-Niépce, or stroll across the picturesque Saint-Laurent bridge.
DAY 6 | Sep. 5. Montmerle for Beaujolais
From the lovely vineyards of Beaujolais, the “land of the golden stones,” come France’s youngest and fruitiest wines. This internationally acclaimed wine region, located along the shores of the River Saône, has been known to produce more red wine than the Burgundy vineyards of Chablis, Côte d’Or, Côte Châlonnaise and Mâconnais combined. Travel into the verdant heart of Beaujolais to the 10th-century Château de Montmelas. Châtelaine Madame d’Harcourt will greet you upon arrival and guide your private tour through her home.
DAY 7 | Sep. 6. Saint-Étienne-des-Sorts for Orange/Avignon
Traverse the beautiful French countryside, passing flower-hued stucco houses accented by blue shutters, en route to the Roman city of Orange and its amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites. Visit the well-preserved ancient Roman Theater, still hosting performances today, and see the Triumphal Arch, built in the late fi rst century as a tribute to Augustus and a symbol of Roman imperial glory. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site Pont du Gard, an exquisitely built 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct that once supplied over nine million gallons of water daily to the city of Nîmes and was constructed of stones made to fi t together seamlessly without mortar, cleverly using arches to support the weight. Following lunch on board the ship, transfer to Avignon, the center of western Christendom from 1309, when Pope Clement V moved the papal capital here, until the Great Schism with Rome (1378). On the walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site, visit the grandiose Palais des Papes (Papal Palace), the largest châteaux-fort built in Europe during the Gothic era and the primary testament to Avignon’s golden age. At the river’s edge, see the remaining four arches of one of the finest surviving examples of medieval fortifi cations, the Pont St-Bénezet (Pont d’Avignon), the only bridge built across the Rhône during the Middle Ages. You can stroll along the city’s well-preserved, 14th-century ramparts, as the afternoon and evening are at leisure in historic Avignon.
DAY 8 | Sep. 7. Avignon/Arles
Few places on Earth can match the distinctive joie de vivre of Arles. This archetypal Provençal city is home to one of the world’s most majestic Roman monuments—the magnifi cently restored 20,000-spectator Amphitheater, built in the fi rst century B.C. Visit Arles’ 12th-century Cathedral of St. Trophime with its fascinating Last Judgment themed portal, a superb example of Romanesque sculpture. Nearby, the subject of Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 painting, The Café Terrace at Night, is still open for business on Place du Forum.
DAY 9 | Sep. 8. Arles/Marseilles/U.S.
Disembark and continue on the Aix-en-Provence Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport in Marseilles for your flight home.