Grand France with Barcelona - Southbound 2018

19 Day River Cruise from Paris to Barcelona

2018 Information. Switch to 2019 »

This splendid river cruise vacation showcases France’s exciting scenery, history, and culture as you sail along its beautiful rivers.

Embark in Paris and head northwest along the Seine River up to the picturesque Normandy region. Dock at Vernon and choose between a guided visit of Claude Monet’s stunning gardens at Giverny or remarkable Bizy Castle. Continue to Les Andelys—home of Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart in 1196. Then, on to Caudebec, where you choose between an included excursion to the poignant Normandy landing beaches or a fascinating “Taste of Normandy” tour. Visit Joan of Arc’s historic Rouen; and in Conflans, choose between a guided excursion to Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s elegant Château de Malmaison. Then, head back to Paris for sightseeing that visits Notre Dame Cathedral. Disembark and travel south to fascinating Beaune for a visit of the Hôtel-Dieu. In St. Jean de Losne, board your second cruise ship and sail on to Macon, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage, Viviers, Avignon, and Arles, as well as France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon, where you have time to explore this fascinating city. Daylight permitting, sail into the peaceful Camargue area.

Disembark your cruise ship and arrive in the French Riviera, the splendid Côte d’Azur, for a final night in France. Then, transfer to Nice airport for the start to your Monograms extension. We’ve arranged your flight to Barcelona, Spain, along with hotel reservations, daily breakfasts, sightseeing with a local expert, transfers to and from your hotels and the airport, and more. Plus, we know you may not be familiar with the city, so we've arranged the services of a friendly and knowledgeable Local Host® to answer questions, share inside information, help arrange your activities and excursions, and make you feel right at home. Guided sightseeing with an expert Local Guide features a drive along the elegant Passeig de Gracia and visits to Gaudi’s extraordinary Casa Batlló and Sagrada Familia Basilica. In your free time, you could explore the Picasso Museum, catch some rays on the beach, or have fun at Tibidabo Amusement Park. Your Local Host can help you make the most of this amazing river cruise and land vacation!

Combine Cruise with a Monograms Vacation

Monograms is independent travel without the hassles that typically come with "ordinary" independent travel. With Monograms, you never have to worry about whether or not your hotel will have your reservation, how to get from here to there, or where to go once you get to your destination—it's the perfect addition to your Avalon river cruise! Avalon makes it easy to add a Monograms London, Paris & London, Aix-en-Provence & Nice, Barcelona or Zürich with Mount Pilatus & Lake Como package to your river cruise.

Learn More

Dates & Prices Get A Quote Book Online

Highlights & Sightseeing

Day 1 Paris (Embarkation): welcome reception

Day 2 Vernon–Les Andelys: choice of excursions to Giverny or Bizy Castle; guided walk in Les Andelys, visit the parish church of Le Petit Andely

Day 3-4 Caudebec: excursion along the “Normandy Abbeys Route”; choice of excursions to Normandy landing beaches or “A Taste of Normandy”

Day 5 Rouen: guided sightseeing, see the Astronomical Clock and visit the cathedral

Day 6 Conflans: choice of excursions: visit Auvers-sur-Oise or Château de Malmaison

Day 7 Paris: “Heart of Paris” walk, visit Notre Dame Cathedral

Day 8 Paris (Disembarkation)–Dijon–Beaune–St. Jean de Losne (Embarkation)–Seurre: TGV train from Paris to Dijon. Motorcoach transfer to Beaune, visit the Hôtel-Dieu; onboard welcome reception

Day 9 Seurre–Mâcon: leisurely cruising; free time in Mâcon; onboard cheese tasting

Day 10 Lyon: guided sightseeing; picture stop on Fourvière Hill

Day 11 Lyon: a day to explore this fascinating city at leisure

Day 12 Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Viviers: guided walk in Tournon; guided walk in Viviers, visit the Old Town and the cathedral

Day 13 Avignon: guided sightseeing, visit Palace of the Popes

Day 14 Arles: cruise into the Camargue region (daylight permitting); guided sightseeing in Arles, visit the Roman Amphitheater

Day 15 Arles (Disembarkation)–Côte d’Azur: travel by motorcoach to Côte d’Azur

Barcelona: 3 nights hotel accommodation with buffet breakfast (B); Monograms Local Host Service & Destination Guide with city map; guided sightseeing, inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE; flight Nice-Barcelona with transfers.

Meals

  • Welcome & farewell cocktails with sparkling wine and canapés
  • Welcome dinner
  • Farewell dinner
  • Daily full buffet breakfast with made-to-order egg station, hot and cold menu items
  • Early and Late Riser breakfast
  • Daily lunch buffet with pasta or carving stations
  • Alternative light lunch or (weather permitting) grill fare at the Sky Bistro on the Sky Deck
  • Daily four-course à la carte dinner in the main dining room
  • Alternative dinner of petite portions or regional specialties with wines, in the Panorama Bistro
  • Daily Afternoon Tea
  • Daily Night Fare
  • Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; wine, beer, or soft drinks with lunch and dinner are included daily on board your vessel

Day-By-Day Itinerary

(B) = Breakfast   (L) = Lunch   (D) = Dinner

Day 1

(D)

Arrive in Paris, France (Embarkation)

Welcome to Paris, France’s capital on the River Seine, the “City of Light,” where romance fills the air. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. Before dinner, your ship glides smoothly out of Paris.

NOTE:
Flights into Paris must arrive by 2:30 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.

Day 2

(B, L, D)

Vernon–Les Andelys

This morning in Vernon, choose between a guided visit of Giverny and a visit to Bizy Castle. Claude Monet lived at GIVERNY from 1883-1926, and viewed his gardens as works of art—just like his paintings. See his collection of Japanese prints, his charming house, and his biggest sources of inspiration. Or, visit BIZY CASTLE, built in 1740 and nicknamed “Normandy’s Versailles.” It is known for its famous stables—inspired by those at Versailles—and its magnificent courtyard and water garden. This afternoon, your ship arrives in Les Andelys, situated on a bend of the Seine and one of the most beautiful places in France. Join a Local Guide for a GUIDED WALK of the town, visiting the PARISH CHURCH OF LE PETIT ANDELY. Alternatively, you may wish to join your guide on a hike up to the ruins of imposing Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart as a fortress in 1196. Constructed in only a year, it is a masterpiece of medieval military architecture.

Day 3

(B, L, D)

Caudebec

Today, join a guided excursion along the “NORMANDY ABBEYS ROUTE,” a short drive from Caudebec. More than 100 abbeys once covered this region, which has a microclimate particularly suited to the production of fruit such as apples, pears, plums, and cherries. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or to join an optional excursion to the pretty coastal town of Honfleur.

Day 4

(B, L, D)

Caudebec

Make your choice today between an included full-day excursion to the historic NORMANDY LANDING BEACHES—with poignant sites such as Omaha Beach, the Pointe du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery—or a “TASTE OF NORMANDY” for a more in-depth look at this picturesque, mainly agricultural region. The most important products are dairy, apples, and grain. Camembert cheese is a specialty, as is CALVADOS, a strong apple brandy that you’ll have the chance to taste at a local distillery. And for a touch of history, visit the famous BAYEUX TAPESTRY.

Day 5

(B, L, D)

Rouen

Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is an important commercial city perhaps best known for its connection to Joan of Arc, who lived, was imprisoned, and burned at the stake in the marketplace of this town in 1431. Enjoy the included GUIDED WALK through the medieval quarter with its half-timbered, glazed-tile houses, and take your pictures of the intricate Gros Horloge astronomical clock, dating back to the 16th century. Visit the gothic CATHEDRAL, which was once the tallest building in the world and the subject of a series of paintings by Claude Monet. The afternoon is free to explore on your own.

Day 6

(B, L, D)

Conflans

After breakfast you may either join our guided excursion to AUVERS-SUR-OISE, the quaint town where Vincent Van Gogh lived and died, or to Napoleon and Josephine’s CHÂTEAU DE MALMAISON just outside Paris. Requiring extensive renovations, this large country estate was purchased by Josephine Bonaparte in 1799 while Napoleon was fighting in Egypt. It was her aim to make it “the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation.”

Day 7

(B, L, D)

Paris

One of the world’s most romantic and lively cities, Paris delights the senses. Join a GUIDED WALK through historic Île St. Louis with its narrow one-way streets and Île de la Cité, the center of Paris where the medieval city was founded and home to NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL. In your free time, stroll down the Champs-Elysées with its lavish cafés, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre or Montmartre with its Sacré Coeur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre.

Day 8

(B, D)

Paris (Disembarkation)–Dijon–Beaune–St. Jean de Losne (Embarkation)–Seurre

This morning, say goodbye to your crew, board the TGV train to Dijon and from there, drive to Beaune, the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Or area. Beaune owes its wealth to the production, aging, and selling of fine wines. Although life here centers around wine, Beaune offers much more. Visit the HÔTEL-DIEU charity hospital, built in 1443 and paid for by the chancellor of Burgundy after the Hundred Years’ War left many of the town’s population destitute. Today, it houses Van der Weyden’s painting of The Last Judgment and is one of France’s architectural highlights. Continue to St. Jean de Losne, where your ship awaits. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception as you depart for Seurre.

Day 9

(B, L, D)

Seurre–Mâcon

Enjoy some leisurely cruising this morning. In the afternoon, you might choose to participate in one of the optional excursions on offer, such as to a Chardonnay wine cellar, before your ship arrives in Mâcon. In the late afternoon, enjoy an ONBOARD CHEESE TASTING.

Day 10

(B, L, D)

Lyon

Lyon, France’s third-largest city and its gastronomic capital, was founded by the Romans in 43 BC. The city’s prosperity dates back to the 16th century and is due to commercial, industrial, and banking activities. Roman remains, excellent museums, and renaissance architecture delight visitors. A LOCAL GUIDE joins you as you survey the city from Fourvière Hill and explore the Old Town with its maze of medieval alleyways and Place des Terreaux, a popular area with lively cafés, monuments, and the famous fountain often depicted on postcards.

Day 11

(B, L, D)

Lyon

Enjoy a free day to explore at leisure. Early risers might like to visit the local produce market. Perhaps wander through one of Lyon’s parks, discover some of the murals (there are over 100 of them), or select one of the available optional excursions. Be sure to taste the gastronomic delights and sample Beaujolais, the wine of the region; wine connoisseurs know the grapes must be hand picked. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for things to do.

Day 12

(B, L, D)

Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Viviers

The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage lie nestled among vineyards between the Rhône River and the granite slopes of the Hermitage. A LOCAL GUIDE will show you Tournon, one of France’s oldest medieval cities, with its imposing 16th-century castle and Roman ruins. Arriving in Viviers in the late afternoon, an included GUIDED WALK shows you this charming town that developed around its ROMANESQUE CATHEDRAL. The OLD TOWN has an appealing mix of Christian, Roman, and medieval influences.

Day 13

(B, L, D)

Avignon

The fortified city of Avignon is the capital of the Vaucluse region—the most picturesque part of Provence with its intact ramparts encircling the entire city, cobblestone streets and squares, and private mansions built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Known as the “City of Popes,” it was the center of the Catholic Church in the 14th century. Your GUIDED TOUR includes a visit of the PALACE OF THE POPES, built in the 14th century as the sovereign popes’ residency. A photo of the famous Pont Saint Bénezet (Saint Bénezet Bridge), of the popular song Sur le Pont d’Avignon, is a must. Optional outings to Pont du Gard or to the famed wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are available.

Day 14

(B, L, D)

Arles

This morning, wake up early to the tranquil vistas of Camargue National Park (daylight permitting) before arriving in Arles after breakfast. Located on the northern tip of the Camargue, Arles is capital of the Provence region. Your LOCAL GUIDE will show you highlights of the city and you’ll visit the ROMAN AMPHITHEATER. Still used today, it dates to the 1st century and was constructed to hold over 20,000 spectators.

Day 15

(B)

Arles (Disembarkation)–Côte d’Azur

After breakfast, a comfortable motorcoach ride takes you to the Côte d’Azur for a last night in France. Also known as the French Riviera, the Côte d’Azur stretches along France’s Mediterranean coast from Toulon to the Italian border and is synonymous with prestige and beauty.

Day 16

(B)

Côte d’Azur–Barcelona, Spain

After breakfast at your Avalon hotel, an included transfer takes you to Nice airport for your FLIGHT to Barcelona, where you will join your Monograms vacation.

Day 17

(B)

Barcelona

Starting from Plaza Catalunya, morning guided sightseeing includes a drive along elegant Passeig de Gràcia to see the captivating façade of La Pedrera and to visit Gaudi’s CASA BATLLÓ. Passing through the central Eixample district, reach the extraordinary but still unfinished SAGRADA FAMILIA BASILICA. Your included entrance fees contribute to its completion.

Day 18

(B)

Barcelona

Your Local Host has many recommendations for your day at leisure, including an excursion to Montserrat, a trip to the Aquarium, a guided tour of the Picasso Museum, or a visit to whimsical Tibidabo Amusement Park.

Day 19

(B)

Barcelona

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.

Notes

  • The Seine section of departure July 28 is offered as an exclusive Art & Impressionist Cruise, including special lectures and features at no additional cost. Experience scenic northern France with a focus on art as you explore art museums, attend an art lecture and visit places that inspired some of the world’s famous artists: Giverny, Honfleur, Rouen’s cathedral, Auvers-sur-Oise and Paris.
  • The Seine section of departure August 11 is offered as an exclusive Culinary Cruise, including special lectures and tastings at no additional cost. Enter the food-lover’s paradise of Europe. At a special dinner, your chef will dazzle you with regional specialties and food preparation tips. During lectures and cooking demonstrations, you will learn more about European culinary traditions!
  • The Saône/Rhône section of departures October 20 are offered as exclusive Wine Appreciation Cruises, including special lectures and tastings at no additional cost. Your palate will applaud as you learn what to look for in a good wine. A distinguished wine authority will teach you the ropes as you visit a wine village and attend tastings to test your newfound talent.
  • In the event of water level problems or any problems of a technical nature, it may be necessary to operate the itinerary by motorcoach or to alter the program.
  • Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change becomes necessary, a substitute will be offered.
  • In the event that a high-speed train is unavailable due to strikes or technical reasons, the route will be operated by motorcoach.

Ship Details

Please try again

Hotels

Paris
Cote d'Azur
Barcelona

 Optional Excursions

The following optional excursions are examples only for this vacation. These may or may not be offered, and availability is subject to days of operation and seasonality. Please select a departure date to view optional excursions and pricing for a specific date (due to currency fluctuation, pricing shown is subject to change until purchased). Optional excursions are available for purchase on our MyAvalon site 90 days prior to the tour start date.

Price Ranges

$ ($50 USD and under)
$$ ($51 - $100 USD)
$$$ ($101 - $150 USD)
$$$$ (Over $150)


Packages
Caudebec
Conflans
Paris
Tournus
Lyon
Avignon
Arles
Cote d'Azur
Barcelona

Packages

Celebration Packages

Celebration Packages

Celebrating a birthday or anniversary while you're cruising? Add an Avalon Celebration Package to your vacation. You can make your special day even more memorable with special touches ranging from flowers to a private cocktail reception.

Price Range: $$

Caudebec

Honfleur, Jewel of Normandy

Honfleur, Jewel of Normandy

Visit the place where the Seine River begins and where artists have flocked for centuries: Honfleur with its captivating old harbor, medieval Old Town, and coastal charm.

Price Range: $$

Conflans

Versailles, Palace of the Sun King

Versailles, Palace of the Sun King

Spend part of your day like a French aristocrat, strolling through the halls and gardens of Louis XIV's opulent Palace of Versailles.

Price Range: $$

Discover Paris at Night

Discover Paris at Night

Discover the magic behind Paris' nickname, the "City of Light", during this delightful evening drive. See the capital's most famous icons and monuments: the Opéra, Louvre's glass pyramid, Arch of Triumph, Eiffel Tower, and more - all lit up and dressed to impress!

Price Range: $

Paris

Discover Paris' Metro & Le Marais

Discover Paris' Metro & Le Marais

Feel like a true Parisian on this guided excursion as you ride the Metro to the chic Le Marais district to explore its ancient architecture, fascinating Jewish Quarter, and hub of cafés, galleries, and boutiques!

Price Range: $

Tournus

Fairytale Château de Cormatin

Fairytale Château de Cormatin

Step right onto the pages of a fairytale during this half-day guided excursion to Château de Cormatin with its drawbridge, moat, exquisite gardens, and extravagantly adorned interior.

Price Range: $$

Lyon

Beaujolais: A Discovery of the Region & Its Wine

Beaujolais: A Discovery of the Region & Its Wine

Explore the beauty of the Beaujolais wine region, learn the magic behind its wine, and enjoy an included wine tasting on this enriching half-day guided excursion.

Price Range: $$

Medieval Pérouges

Medieval Pérouges

Discover one of the most beautiful medieval walled towns in France on this half-day guided tour of Pérouges, idyllic movie set from the 1973 version of "The Three Musketeers"!

Price Range: $$

Avignon

Pont du Gard, Ancient Engineering Wonder

Pont du Gard, Ancient Engineering Wonder

Visit the masterpiece of ancient engineering that supplied water to Nîmes during the Roman Empire -- towering, triple-tiered Pont du Gard -- on this incredible half-day guided tour.

Price Range: $

Arles

Discover Provence

Discover Provence

Travel into the heart of Provence on this exciting half-day guided visit of an olive farm and olive mill with a tasting of locally produced olive oil!

Price Range: $$

Carrières de Lumières Sound & Light Show

Carrières de Lumières Sound & Light Show

Stimulate your senses on this unbelievable excursion to Carrières de Lumières, the world-famous Cathedral of Images in a former limestone quarry, past the fantastical rock formations of Hell Valley, and then to charming Saint-Rémy in the heart of Provence.

Price Range: $$

Cote d'Azur

Cannes & Saint-Paul de Vence

Cannes & Saint-Paul de Vence

Discover the wonders of the French Riviera on this exciting half-day guided excursion to Cannes and Saint-Paul de Vence.

Price Range: $$

Barcelona

Barcelona on Two Wheels: City Highlights

Barcelona on Two Wheels: City Highlights

Explore some of Barcelona's greatest wonders on this exhilarating guided bike tour.

Price Range: $

Similar Cruises