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France & Bordeaux Region River Cruise Tour

Tour departs: 22 June 2017
Tour length: 32 Days

Overview

Tour Departs – 22 June 2017.

Tour Length – 32 Days.

In this new tour for 2017, we devote the entire tour to exploring La Belle France. Starting with a 4 night stay in Paris, perhaps the most romantic and alluring city on earth, our journey encompasses the Loire Valley with its magnificent chateaux; Lyon, the gastronomic capital; the Cote d’Azur and French Riviera; and Provence with its lavender fields, perfumeries and vineyards.

We conclude our travels with 7 nights aboard our river ship cruising the rivers of the Bordeaux Region including the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers and the Gironde Estuary. The area showcases Mother Nature at her best with varied waterways and estuaries, the city of Bordeaux itself and the surrounding towns and villages with their rich heritage and history, and not least, the endless expanse of vineyards. A wonderful conclusion to a great tour.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Romantic Paris for a 4-night stay
  • Loire Valley and Chateau Country
  • Lyon, Grenoble and Grasse
  • Nice including Monte Carlo
  • Aix-en-Provence and Avignon
  • Carcassonne and Lourdes

 

BORDEAUX REGION RIVER CRUISE:

Our home for the 7 nights is the Croisi River Ship “MS Cyrano de Bergerac”. Launched in 2013, the ship accommodates 170 people over 3 decks with our en-suite cabins located on the Upper and Middle Deck.  Enjoy French cuisine in the elegant dining room with complimentary local wines served at dinner. A full programme of on-shore sightseeing is included and when cruising, enjoy the passing scenery from the large sundeck. A lovely way to explore this very special region of France.

 

Itinerary

Thursday 22 June        

Home – Hong Kong

We commence the tour with the daylight flight to Hong Kong.  On arrival into Hong Kong early this evening, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 2-night stay.


Friday 23 June                        

Hong Kong (B,D)

This morning, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Hong Kong Island. We take the tram to Victoria Peak for Panoramic views over Hong Kong Island and then visit Repulse Bay and the fishing village of Aberdeen for a short cruise around the harbour by sampan. There is some free time this afternoon and this evening, we conclude the day with our first dinner together, a Chinese banquet.


Saturday 24 June                  

Hong Kong – Paris (B)

Early this morning, we return to Hong Kong Airport in time to report for our daylight flight to Paris. Our arrival is late afternoon (local time) and we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 4 night stay. The remainder of the day and evening is left free to rest up after the journey


Sunday 25 June                    

  Paris (B,D)

The famous sights of Paris are a living history.  Our full day city sightseeing tour shows us magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral, the unique Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Opera Madeleine, Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower, a structural miracle of its age.  We follow this up with a cruise on the River Seine were you can appreciate the beauty of Paris from the water.  Later in the day we visit the Montmartre area and the wonderful Sacré Coeur Basilica which offers panoramic views over Paris. This evening, we enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant.


Monday 26 June                    

Paris (B)

A free day – your chance to visit or re-visit the places that are important to you. Maybe to spend time in the Louvre, browse the shops at Galleries Lafayette, visit the magnificent Palace at Versailles or just stroll the banks of the River Seine and soak up the atmosphere.


Tuesday 27 June                    

Paris – Rheims, Epernay (B,L)

Today, we leave the city and travel through the Eastern Districts and on to the ancient city of Reims. First founded by the Gauls, the city became very significant as it was where all the kings of France were crowned in the cathedral. We enjoy a guided tour of the city including a visit to the cathedral before continuing to one of the famous champagne houses for lunch and accompanying tastings. Finally, no visit to the region would be complete without a visit to the village of Hautvilliers where Dom Perignon lived and is buried. We return to Paris late in the afternoon.


Wednesday 28 June              

Paris – Chartres – Loire Valley (B,D)

This morning, we leave the French capital and head south to the beautiful Loire Valley region. Our first stop is the medieval city of Chartres where we visit its magnificent twin-towered cathedral. Most of the stained glass windows are original and date back to its 13th century construction. Our next stop is Chateau Chambord, one of the most recognisable chateaux because of its French Renaissance architecture. It was built by Francois I in the 16th century as a hunting lodge and contains over 400 rooms. The sumptuous hunting grounds are surrounded by an uninterrupted wall of 32kms. We enjoy a 2 night stay in the region.


Thursday 29 June                  

Loire Valley (B)

We start our day with a tour of the city of Amboise on the banks of the River Loire. We visit the Royal Palace where Francois I was raised as a child and later held court there. Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked nearby at Clos Luce and was a regular visitor to the palace. He is buried in the adjoining Chapel of St Hubert. Our next visit is to the magnificent Chateau Chenonceau, perhaps the most visited of all the Loire Valley chateaux. Often referred to as the “ladies chateau”, it is they who have most influenced it design and destiny. Diane de Poitiers, mistress to Henri II, added the bridge over the River Cher and gardens while Catherine de Medici, queen to Henri II, added the gallery and grand ballroom on to the bridge which has given Chenonceau its iconic look. The chateau boasts a wonderful collection of Renaissance furniture, tapestries and a number of masterpieces by Rubens, Rigaud and others.


Friday 30 June                        

Loire Valley – Lyon (B,D)

Leaving the Loire Valley, we travel east across the heart of France. Almost at the geographical centre of France is the city of Bourge, once the capital of the Province of Aquitaine in the Roman Empire and also the capital of the Kingdom of France under Charles VII in the time of Joan of Arc. Next up is Clermont-Ferrand, located between the Puys Mountain Range and its volcanoes, majestically overlooked by the famous Puy de Dome. Its history again dates back to pre-Roman times but today, its recognised as the home to the giant Michelin Tyre Company. We finally reach our destination of Lyon where we stay for 2 nights.


Saturday 01 July                    

Lyon  (B)

Lyon is France’s second largest city and is said to surpass Paris in terms of lifestyle. Situated at the confluence of the Rhone and Soane Rivers, this 2000-year-old city is second only to Rome in terms of archaeological sites and to Venice for its preserved Renaissance sector. On this morning’s tour, we visit the Basilica of Fourvière, situated on top of the hill where the Romans first set up camp. It dominates the city and is visible from almost any point in the city centre. Our local guide will take us on a walking tour of the Old Town and we finish the tour with a visit to Les Halls de Lyon Paul Bocuse, a covered market which offers some of the most beautiful and exotic food products in the world. You will see why Lyon is regarded as the gastronomical capital of France. The remainder of the day is at leisure.


Sunday 02 July                      

Lyon – Annecy – Grenoble (B,D)

From Lyon, we drive into the region of the French Alps to the beautiful lakeside town of Annecy. The old town centre with its colourful geranium-bedecked houses is built around a 14th century chateau and dissected by small canals running out of the lake. The lake itself with its azure colour is rated as one of the cleanest and purest lakes in Europe. We enjoy some free time in the town before continuing our journey south to our overnight stop in the city of Grenoble, the ancient capital of the Dauphine region, home to the 1968 Winter Olympics and today a major centre for scientific research and high-tech industry.


Monday 03 July                     

Grenoble – Grasse – Nice (B,D)

Glorious mountain scenery awaits us today as we drive the spectacular route used by Emperor Napoleon when he returned from exile to try and retake the throne from Louis XVIII. As if the scenery wasn’t enough, the sense of history brings another dimension to the drive. At the end of the road lies Grasse, the perfume capital of the world. We visit one of the manufacturers, Fragonard, where we learn about the process of producing the world famous fragrances. The last leg of our journey takes us through to Nice on the French Riviera for a 3-night stay.


Tuesday 04 July                     

Nice – Monte Carlo Excursion (B)

This morning we join our coach for the drive to nearby Monte Carlo and the Principality of Monaco ruled by the Grimaldi family since the 13th   century.  We see the Royal Palace – home to Prince Albert – and the Cathedral where Princess Grace is buried, and admire the yacht-filled harbour and the famous Monte Carlo Casino. We then travel along the coast to fashionable Cannes, famous for its film festival,  stopping in the medieval hill town of St. Paul de Vence, a photographer’s paradise. Later in the day, we return to Nice.


Wednesday 05 July               

Nice – Free Day (B)

Known as the “Queen of the Riviera”, Nice attracts the rich and famous from all over the world. The day is free for you to do as you wish – maybe join the “beautiful people” for a stroll along the Promenade d’Anglais, explore the narrow winding streets of the Old Town, see the flower and food markets on Cours Saleya, visit one of the many museums and galleries or maybe just sit on the beach and enjoy the view of the Baie des Anges.


Thursday 06 July                   

Nice  – Aix–en-Provence – Avignon (B,D)

From Nice, we travel first to Aix-En-Provence, birthplace of the impressionist painter Paul Cezanne and one of France’s most elegant cities with its leafy boulevards and public squares lined with beautiful houses. We take a stroll through the maze of small streets and along the famous Cours Mirabeau with its planted side-walks, elaborate fountains and many cafes. Then it’s a short ride up to Avignon where we stay for 3 nights.


Friday 07 July                        

Avignon  (B)

The walled city of Avignon France was for some 67 years in the 14th century, Vatican City. Today, it is one of France’s top tourist destinations and home to some great and beautiful architecture. On our morning tour, we visit the Palais Des Popes and see the famous bridge remembered in the song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon”. The afternoon is at leisure.


Saturday 08 July                                   

Provence  (B)

Sit back and enjoy the sights of Provence on a day’s excursion. Enjoy the countryside blanketed in vineyards and lavender fields. We visit the town of Roussillon, one of the most impressive villages of France with its magnificent cliffs and ochre quarries. Then to the village of Gordes standing on the edge of the Plateau Vaucleuse. Due to its privileged position, its exceptional charm and its typical architecture, Gordes has been listed as “one of the most beautiful villages of France”. Lavender is often referred to as the “soul of Provence” so it is fitting that we visit a lavender Museum. Our final visit for the day is to the UNESCO listed Pont du Gard, the ancient Roman aqueduct with its three levels of arches dating back to the 1st century. Something to behold.


Sunday 09 July                      

Avignon – Arles – Carcassonne (B.D)

From Avignon, we travel south to the ancient Roman city of Arles where the River Rhone splits in two before it spills into the Mediterranean. We enjoy a guided walk through the narrow streets which were home to Vincent Van Gogh during one of his most prolific painting periods. The city is also the gateway to the Camargue, the huge alluvial plain covered with meadows, ponds, swamps, rivers and salt marshes. The area includes many immense bull and horse breeding ranches called “manades”. From Arles, we continue our journey through Nimes and Montpellier to our overnight stay at Carcassone the fortified medieval walled city perched on a rocky hilltop and bristling with zigzag battlements, stout walls and spiky turrets. There will be time for a walk by the ancient battlements and narrow streets



Monday 10 July     

Carcassonne – Lourdes (B,D)

Our destination today is Lourdes, once a small market town sitting in the shadow of the Pyrenees. That all changed in 1858 with the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous. Today, the town is one of the most important places of religious pilgrimage in the world and second only to Rome and the Holy land for Christian pilgrimage. Many miraculous cures have been said to occur as a result of bathing in the healing waters which flow from the original spring in the grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette and each day many pilgrims immerse themselves in the waters. We have the night in Lourdes with the opportunity to see or participate in the Torchlight Procession.


Tuesday 11 July                     

Lourdes – Biarritz – Bordeaux (B,D)

Join Bordeaux Region 7 Night River Cruise

From Lourdes, we travel across to the coastal resort of Biarritz. The resort came to prominence during the reign of Napoleon III as a summer retreat for royalty and the wealthy. Today, that feeling still persists with many grand houses dominating the coast but it is tempered by the easy-going surf culture that has a long history here. From Biarritz we travel north crossing the Landes et Gascogne National Park to the city of Bordeaux where we arrive in time to embark on our home for the next 7 nights, the river ship “MS Cyrano de Bergerac”. This evening we are introduced to our crew and enjoy dinner aboard.


Wednesday 12 July               

Cruising: Bordeaux – Pauillac (B,L,D)

This morning we cruise down the Garonne River into the Gironde Estuary to the town of Pauillac where we board a coach to tour the Medoc wine-growing region, a corner of the world wedged between the ocean and an estuary that produces some of the most prestigious wines on the planet. We go through most of the Medoc appellations and on the famous Chateaux Road we stop for a tasting of some of the famous wines of the region. On the way, we will see famous names such as Laffite-Rothschild, Latour and Mouton Rothschild. We return to our ship later this afternoon.


Thursday 13 July                   

Cruising: Pauillac – Gironde Estuary – Blaye (B,L,D)

The morning is spent cruising the estuary and this afternoon, our tour from Blaye takes us on the narrow and picturesque Corniche road that runs alongside the Dordogne. We see the old fishermen’s houses nestling in the Cliffside and the famous “carrelets”, the fishermen’s cabins perched above the water. The scenery includes vineyards, river and stone and we have a stop at the village of Bourg, a delightful village built on a rocky outcrop and surrounded by medieval ramparts. Back at Blaye, we visit the imposing and UNESCO World Heritage listed Citadel that offers a splendid panorama of the river.


Friday 14 July                       

Cruising: Blaye – Libourne – Saint Emilion (B,L,D)

This morning we cruise the Dordogne to Libourne where we join an excursion to Saint-Emilion. A local guide joins us for a tour of the underground monuments. We see the exceptional cave of the monk, Emilion, founder of the town, and Trinity Chapel built in his honour, and the catacombs. Undoubtedly, the most original monument is the Monolithic Church hewn from the limestone cliff and is the largest of its kind in Europe. Our final stop is at family-owned vineyard where the owner will introduce us to his wine-making process and wines followed by tasting before returning to our ship at Libourne


Saturday 15 July                    

Cruising: Blaye – Roquetaillade Chateau & Cadilac

Todays excursion takes us to the magnificent medieval Roquetaillade Chateau. Highlights include its medieval keeps, its Renaissance chimneys dating from 1600, but above all, its unique 19th century interiors, a masterpiece by Viollet-le-Duc. After tasting some of the local sauterne wines, we enjoy a guided tour of the town of Cadillac where the Duke of Epernon built his sumptuous castle situated on the right bank of the River Garonne. We return to the ship by coach.


Sunday 16 July                      

Cruising: Cadillac – Bordeaux (B,L,D)

This morning we cruise back to Bordeaux and this afternoon we enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Half of the city from the boulevards to the banks of the River Garonne has been recognised for its architectural quality and heritage. From the wide avenues of the neo-classical Les Quinconces quarter and the Grand Theatre to the narrow lanes of the Saint Pierre quarter, you will experience the diversity of the city’s heritage. This evening, we enjoy a gala dinner aboard.


Monday 17 July                     

Cruising: Bordeaux – Arcachon Bay Excursion (B,L,D)

We travel by coach to Arcachon Bay and start with a visit to the oyster centre and museum at Larros Port where we learn about oyster farming and the history of the oyster beds. We lunch at a local restaurant before continuing to Arcachon and a boat trip to Bassin d’Arcachon where we see Bird Island and the famous “cabanes tchanquees” houses on stilts and the oyster beds. We also see the Great Dune of Pilat, at 107 metres high, the highest sand dune in Europe, before we return to our ship at Bordeaux .


Tuesday 18 July                     

Cruise Ends in Bordeaux (B,D)

 Bordeaux – Paris by Train

This morning, we disembark and are transferred to the railway station in time to join our fast TGV train back to Paris. Sit back in First Class comfort and watch the countryside flash by during the 3.5 hour journey. On arrival in Paris, we return to our hotel for an overnight stay and a final dinner together.


Wednesday 19 July               

Paris – Hong Kong (B)

Sadly, this morning, it’s time to say “au revoir” to France and commence the homeward journey as we are transferred to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport in time to join our overnight flight to Hong Kong.

 


Thursday 20 July                    

Hong Kong – Home

We arrive into Hong Kong early this morning and we have the day free before continuing the journey this evening. Hotel rooms at the airport are provided for the day to allow time for rest and relaxation. This evening, we join our aircraft for the overnight flight.


Friday 21 July                        

Arrive Home Mid-Morning

 

 

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Tour Costs

Sharing Twin or Double Accommodation – $17,750
Supplement for Single Accommodation – $ 3,150

Cost Include:
  • Economy class air travel from the tours international departure point
  • Prepaid government and airport taxes, security and fuel surcharges as at 01.09.16.
  • First Class/Superior grade accommodation throughout.
  • Deluxe Staterooms on River Cruise.
  • First Class air-conditioned coach transportation.
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L= lunch, D= dinner).
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary.
  • Services of European Tour Director and local guides for touring and sightseeing.
  • Baggage handling of 1 suitcase per person.
  • All tips and gratuities to coach drivers, guides and cruise staff.
  • Fully escorted by a Maher Tours leader.

Cost Exclude:
  • Any meals and sightseeing not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Travel insurance – advice and assistance offered
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, room service, laundry, telephone calls etc.

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Need Assistance?

By Phone: 0800 500 518 | By Email: info@mahertours.co.nz