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Paris to Provence: Cruising the Rhône River Aboard Amadeus Symphony
September 8-16, 2014
Experience firsthand Town & Country Life® in France, from world-class Parisian city life to the traditional wine regions and countryside living, with the Paris to Provence: Cruising the Rhône River Aboard Amadeus Symphony program, operated by National Trust Tours.
M.S. Amadeus Symphony
The elegance and romance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music was inspiration in the meticulous crafting of the deluxe M.S. Amadeus Symphony, which set new standards in design and technology and features the comforts of a floating luxury hotel.
Accommodations: Exclusively chartered, the ship offers 73 river-view, air-conditioned, stylishly appointed Suites (236 square feet) and Staterooms (161 square feet), among the most spacious of any European river ship. All accommodations feature two twin beds (convertible to one queen-size bed), a private bathroom with shower (Suites have bathtub with shower), individual climate control, satellite telephone and television, writing desk, safe, and hair dryer. Suites and Staterooms on the Mozart Deck have a French balcony (floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door with iron railing).
Dining: Freshly prepared continental meals featuring local ingredients are served in single, unassigned seatings in the delightfully scenic Panorama Restaurant and include early-risers’ coffee, buffet breakfast and lunch, afternoon tea, and a four-course dinner. Live piano music is played during afternoon tea, and complimentary wine is served with lunch and dinner.
Service and Facilities: Public facilities are spacious and include the Panorama Bar, Lido Bar, Amadeus-Club with Internet station, beauty salon, fitness studio with massage services and early morning exercise classes, and sun deck with outdoor dipping pool, chess board, and walking track. Guests will also appreciate the complimentary Quietvox audio system available to all passengers for listening enhancement during shore excursions. Laundry service is available. The English-speaking, international crew provides warm hospitality. The M.S. Amadeus Symphony meets the highest safety standards and is one of the only European river ships to have been awarded the “Green Certificate” of environmental preservation.
Ideally located in the heart of Paris’ first arrondissement, the deluxe Westin Paris – Vendôme hotel is located across the Rue de Rivoli from the Tuileries Garden, near Place Vendôme, Place de la Concorde, and a short walk to the Louvre. Guestrooms are attractively appointed in a contemporary style with a Parisian influence. Inventive French cuisine is offered in Le First restaurant and on La Terrasse outdoor patio.
- Five-night cruise from Arles to Lyon with port calls at Avignon; Châteauneuf-du-Pape for Orange and Pont du Gard; Trévoux for Beaujolais; and Chalon-sur-Saône for Beaune
- Half-day panoramic tour of Paris highlighting the grand architecture on both the left and right banks of the River Seine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Guided tour of the Louvre Museum. Local expert-guided excursions and cultural enrichment
- Walking tour of Arles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighted by visits to the Cathedral of St. Trophime and the Roman Amphitheater
- Walking tour of Avignon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring the Papal Palace and Pont d’Avignon
- Visit to the Roman City of Orange featuring the ancient Roman theater and the famous Pont du Gard aqueduct, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Excursion to the vineyards of Beaujolais for a private tour, exclusive forte piano concert and wine tasting in the Château de Montmelas, hosted by châtelaine, Madame d’Harcourt
- Excursion to historic Beaune to visit the 15th century Hôtel-Dieu
- Visit to the medieval Château de Rully hosted by Count Raoul de Ternay
- Half-day in Lyon with walking tour of Old Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including lunch
- Specially arranged Town & Country Life® Forum with local residents who will discuss life in France
- Introduction to French language basic phrases
Study Leader Information
Providing insightful lectures throughout the program are Smithsonian study leader Arthur Kaplan, an ardent Francophile and frequent lecturer, writer and tour director in the field of opera; Harvard study leader Robert Darnton, a Harvard professor and an expert on 18th-century France; and Washington University-St. Louis study leader Elizabeth C. Childs, an art history professor with a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries.
September 8 - Monday - U.S.
Depart from the U.S.
September 9 - Tuesday - Marseilles/Arles, France
Arrive in Marseilles, meet the Program Director and transfer to Arles. Embark the M.S. Amadeus Symphony and enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board before dinner.
September 10 - Wednesday - Arles/Avignon
Few places on Earth can match the distinctive joie de vivre of Arles, the archetypal Provençal city home to one of the most majestic Roman Amphitheater, built in the first century B.C. and could hold up to 20,000 spectators. Visit Arles’ 12th century Cathedral of St. Trophime with its fascinating Last Judgement-themed portal, one of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture. Between 1888 and 1889, Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles and the subject of his famous Night Café painting is still open for business on the lively Boulevard des Lices.
Following lunch on board the ship, transfer to Avignon, where during the 14th century the city became the center of western Christendom when Pope Clement V arrived here after fleeing the turmoil of Rome in 1309. The next six pontiffs enlarged the city into one of the richest and most powerful in Europe, until the Great Schism with Rome (1378) led to the eventual end of the Avignon Papacy (1405).
On the walking tour, visit the grandiose Palais des Papes (Papal Palace), one of the largest châteaux-forts built in Europe during the Gothic era, the primary reflection of Avignon’s golden age and one of the most famous landmarks in France. Walk to the nearby splendid Garden of the Popes and the Rocher des Domes, which offers panoramic views of the River Rhône Valley. At the river’s edge, see the remaining four arches of the famous Pont d’Avignon one of the most beautiful bridges constructed during the Middle Ages. The afternoon and evening are at leisure in Avignon.
September 11 - Thursday - Châteauneuf-du-Pape for Orange
Experience the stunning beauty of the French countryside and the aged stucco houses painted Provençal peach, raspberry, rose, or green—and accented by shutters in every hue of blue—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 Roman Triumphal Arch, built in the late first century as a tribute to Augustus and a symbol of Roman imperial glory.
Continue to Pont du Gard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit the exquisitely built 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct that once supplied over nine million gallons of water daily to the city of Nîmes. This magnificent structure was constructed of stones made to fit together seamlessly without mortar and makes clever use of arches to support the weight.
September 12 - Friday - Trévoux for Beaujolais
From the lovely vineyards of the province of Beaujolais des Pierres Dorées, 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 over verdant rolling hills into the heart of the church-spired Beaujolais region to enjoy a private tour of the historic Château de Montmelas that has remained in the same family since 1566. Châtelaine Madame d’Harcourt will share the château’s storied past during a guided tour. An international recording artist will perform a specially-arranged, private forte piano concert in this splendid setting, followed by a sampling of the château’s wines and a tasting of local cheese and charcuterie.
September 13 - Saturday - Chalon-sur-Saône for Beaune
In the morning, transfer through the idyllic Burgundy countryside to the enchanting Château de Rully, a picturesque medieval fortress surrounded by vineyards. Count Raoul de Ternay will take guide visitors on private tour of the estate, his family’s ancestral home since the 12th century.
Continue to Beaune, a bustling community founded in the fifth century B.C. in the famous Côte d’Or département and the longtime capital of Burgundy wines. A stroll through this city of art reveals historic mansions and medieval half-timbered houses. Tour the legendary 15th-century Hôtel-Dieu, a quintessential example of Burgundian Renaissance architecture, distinguished by the geometric patterns created by its multicolored glazed roof tiles. The meticulously restored chambers provide a fascinating glimpse into hospital life during the 15th century and houses 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. Peruse the collections in the quayside art gallery or the museum dedicated to the inventor of the photograph, Joseph Nicéphore-Niépce. Or stroll across the picturesque Saint-Laurent bridge. The Captain’s Farewell Reception and dinner are on board the ship this evening.
September 14- Sunday - Lyon/Paris
Disembark the ship and transfer to Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located at the confluence of the River Rhône and River Saône. From lofty Fourvière Hill (Praying Hill), see the ornate 19th-century Basilica of Notre Dame and the restored Vieux (old) Lyon, where well-preserved elegant 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, charming, often hidden traboules—narrow, covered pedestrian passageways.
After lunch in one of Lyon’s oldest brasseries, transfer to the Lyon train station and board one of France’s greatest technological achievements, the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) high-speed train to Paris; it can reach speeds up to 200 miles per hour. Arrive in magnificent Paris, an artful mélange of rich history and contemporary treasures. Transfer to the deluxe Westin Paris – Vendôme hotel, ideally located in the heart of Paris’ stylish first arrondissement, a short walk from Place Vendôme and the Louvre. The evening is at leisure.
September 15 - Monday - Paris
What began as a small, isolated Celtic farming settlement on an island in the River Seine developed over the centuries into one of the great cities of the world. And yet, the French capital retains its classical, purely Parisian atmosphere. After breakfast, see Paris’ most legendary monuments and sites. Admire the soaring grace of the Eiffel Tower’s black iron lace, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889; imposing Notre Dame, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on Île de la Cité, a small natural island in the historic River Seine; and the lovely, bustling Place de la Concorde. Enjoy a guided tour of the priceless art of the legendary Louvre Museum, home to an unrivaled collection of masterpieces tracing the arc of humankind’s artistic achievements from Ancient Egypt to the 19th century.
Have lunch independently 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 visit Montmartre, the bohemian hilltop neighborhood that for more than 200 years has been a favorite haunt of artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the village and lively Place du Tertre; admire the stunning Romano-Byzantine white stone Sacré Coeur Basilica; and view the Espace Dalí, a permanent exhibition dedicated to the surrealist painter.
Alternatively, immerse in Parisian daily life at a leisurely pace. Explore the nearby pedestrian-only Rue Montorgueil, that has the ambiance of an ancient village hidden away in the city center. Stop in the legendary mid-19th-century Café de la Paix, adjacent to L’Opera Garnier, to sip a creamy café au lait and observer les gens (people-watch). For a sweet ending to the afternoon, nibble on a French macaroon at the pâtisserie Ladurée or sample the chocolat at Pierre Hermé. In the evening, enjoy a Farewell Reception in the hotel.
September 16 - Tuesday - Paris/U.S.
Check out of the hotel and continue on the London Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport for the flight home.
Mention Historic Hotels of America when booking your tour and receive three $100 gift certificates, each good toward a $100 refund when you book through HistoricHotels.org and stay for at least two-nights at a Historic Hotels of America hotel.*
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*Maximum of one $100 certificate may be claimed for a refund with a minimum two night stay booked through HistoricHotels.org following the return of your tour and completion of your hotel stay. The refund will be issued within 45 days of the completion of your stay upon submitting a Great Experiences & Tours $100 refund application. Refund application must be submitted with a copy of your hotel folio receipt, the original confirmation number from your booking on HistoricHotels.org, and the Certificate number issued to you for booking your tour through Historic Hotels of America. Certificates issued are a promotion only valid toward future reservations made through HistoricHotels.org and do not have any cash value. One certificate may be used per room per two night or longer stay at the same hotel. Eligible rates include rates publicly available at time of booking. Reduced rates, rooms included in another travel or tour package, employee rates, advance purchase rates, and certain last minute sale rates are not eligible for this promotion.