Viking River Cruises – Paris & Normandy

CruiseBuzz departs today for the fun and exciting Viking River Cruise that I have been tweeting about for a couple of months.  Interested readers can follow along.  With a little luck, and an Internet connection, I will update during the progress.  In the meantime, here is my schedule.

Paris & the Heart of Normandy 2009 Itinerary

Combine the magic of Paris with the beauty of France’s Norman countryside and voilà!Experience history firsthand at the Normandy beaches, site of the famous Allied invasion on D-Day in 1944. Delight in the Gothic architecture of Rouen, and see where Joan of Arc was tried and executed. Lose yourself in the exquisite gardens of Giverny, whose rich palette inspired Impressionist Claude Monet for many years. Walk the cobblestone streets of provincial Vernon and share the splendor of Paris, the world’s most romantic city, with your companion. This fascinating 8-day journey has something for everyone.

Day 1 Le Havre

Welcome to Paris. We will meet you at Charles de Gaulle airport and transfer you to your ship in Le Havre.* After boarding, take free time to explore—or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and start getting oriented. (D)

Day 2 Le Havre

After breakfast, begin your full-day tour to the historic beaches of Normandy. See World War II landmarks such as Pointe du Hoc monument, Omaha Beach, the American Military Cemetery and Arromanches Debarkment Museum. Enjoy lunch in a local Normandy restaurant. On the way back to the ship, pass Gold Beach, Courseulles sur Mer and Juno Beach. Enjoy dinner aboard.
(B, L, D)

Day 3 Honfleur & Caudebec

This morning, take a short drive to Honfleur, one of Normandy’s best-preserved ports on the left bank at the Seine’s mouth. Take a guided walking tour through the town’s narrow streets to see a number of waterfront houses, the old harbor and timbered Church of St. Catherine’s, one of Monet’s favorite subjects. Take free time to shop or try a sample of local Calvados. Lunch aboard is followed by an afternoon departure. This evening, arrive in the quaint town of Caudebec and join your Program Director for a guided walk to see the Church of Notre Dame Caudebec. Or take free time to visit a waterfront café. Depart Caudebec this evening and cruise through the night. (B, L, D)

Day 4 Rouen

Following breakfast, start the day with a walking tour through the historic center of Rouen, capital of Normandy. This is the city where Joan of Arc was imprisoned, tried for heresy and burned at the stake in 1431. See the 14th-century courthouse where she was sentenced to death and visit Market Square where she was martyred. See the old city center, Cathedral of Notre Dame and famous Gros Horloge. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore on your own or shop for souvenirs—as always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. (B, L, D)

Day 5 Les Andelys, Giverny & Vernon

Arrive this morning in the small town of Les Andelys, known for its imposing castle, Château Gaillard, built in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart. Join a guided walk to this fatally flawed masterpiece of Middle Ages architecture. Return to your ship for lunch and afternoon cruising. This afternoon, arrive in the provincial town of Vernon and take a short ride into the town of Giverny, where Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. A guided tour visits the beautiful gardens and charming stone farmhouse where he lived and worked. See the water garden with its Japanese bridge, water lilies, wisteria and azaleas that inspired many of Monet’s masterpieces. Tour the museum amidst the picture-perfect gardens. Back in Vernon, explore on your own. See the Maison du Temps Jadis(House of Past Times), Vernon’s oldest house, and the 11th-century Church of Notre Dame. Return aboard for dinner and an evening departure. (B, L, D)

Day 6 Conflans & Paris

After breakfast, take a walking tour along the cobbled streets of Conflans. Or, join an optional tour to the luxurious Palace of Versailles, former home of Louis XIV. Lunch aboard is followed by an afternoon departure. Later today, arrive in Paris and enjoy an evening at leisure in the romantic capital of France. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)

Day 7 Paris

Wake up to a full day in Paris. After breakfast, embark on a half-day tour of this beautiful city and take in its most remarkable sights, including the famous Eiffel Tower. Continue past the École Militaire, Orsay Museum and Latin Quarter. See the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and then drive past the Louvre and Opera House and along the famous Champs Elysées. Return aboard for lunch. During your afternoon free time, shop the many boutiques or visit the artists’ district of Montmartre. Later, enjoy a cruise along the Seine through the heart of the city. Dinner is served aboard. (B, L, D)

Day 8 Paris

After breakfast, disembark and we will take you to the Paris airport for your return flight.* (B)

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