DAY ONE DEPART THE USA Depart your gateway city on an overnight flight to Paris, France.
DAY TWO PARIS, FRANCE Upon arrival, you'll be met by a representative of Mayflower Tours and transferred to your hotel in the central area of Paris, the 'City of Light.' Located in the heart of the Íle-de-France region, it's the perfect place to begin embracing the French culture. The remainder of the day is at leisure so you can begin exploring this amazing city. Your Mayflower Staff will be available at the hotel to offer sightseeing suggestions.
DAY THREE PARIS/TRANSFER TO NANTES Begin the day with an included panoramic tour of this capital city. You'll see such famous sites and landmarks as the Louvre, Opéra Garnier, Place Vendôme, Place de la Concorde, Champs Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadero and the pièce de rèsistance... the Eiffel Tower. This afternoon, transfer by coach to Nantes for the start of our river journey. Aboard the MS Loire Princesse, meet the crew and join the welcome party after dinner. Breakfast, plus Dinner onboard
DAY FOUR NANTES/SAINT-NAZAIRE Before setting sail, disembark the ship for an excursion of Nantes, known as the city of the Dukes of Brittany. Discover the small streets of the medieval Bouffay quarter and the beautiful flamboyant gothic-style Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. Visit the île Feydeau and its exceptional buildings dating back to the 18th century and then proceed on to the quays. Discover the shopping districts around the Théâtre Graslin and the Passage Pommeraye. The tour continues to the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. The last castle before the river reaches the ocean, this Breton monument, with its outstanding 15th- to 17th-century buildings, is sure to transport you back in time. Following lunch onboard, depart the ship by coach for an excursion beginning with a visit to Escal'Atlantic, which ingeniously retraces the history of two famous ocean liners, the Normandie and the France, through a unique experience. The next stop is the Saint-Nazaire shipyard, one of the largest and most renowned in Europe. Once the birthplace of the most outstanding French transatlantic ocean liners, today it is the construction site for elegant cruise ships. While touring the shipyard, learn about and gain a better understanding of the complexity of constructing these modern floating palaces and the high level of technology that is put in place to build these ships. We rejoin the ship in Saint-Nazaire after the excursion. Breakfast, lunch and dinner onboard
DAY FIVE SAINT-NAZAIRE/ANCENIS Enjoy a morning at leisure sailing along the river to Ancenis. After lunch, depart on an excursion along the Muscadet Wine Route. Travel through many quaint villages that are testimony to the strong winegrowing identity of the region. See Clisson, a charming medieval city with 15th century vestiges and a bit of an Italian feel to it. Continue toward La Chapelle Heulin and stop at the Cassemichère Château. Here you'll have the opportunity to discover its history-filled vineyards, visit its cellars and taste the dry, light, fruity and aromatic wine before returning to the ship for dinner and evening entertainment. Breakfast, lunch and dinner onboard
DAY SIX ANCENIS/ANGERS More relaxation is in store this morning as you watch the scenery pass by as the ship leisurely makes her way to Angers, the capital of the historical Anjou province and distinguished not only by its legacy but also by its modern nature. The town was a thriving city during the Renaissance and was home to the House of Plantagenet. During our visit to the famous 13th-century fortress of King René, Château d'Angers, we see the extraordinary Apocalypse Tapestry which is part of one of the most important collections of medieval tapestries in the world. A visit to La Doutre, a village-like neighborhood in the heart of the city, is made before returning to the ship. Breakfast, lunch and dinner onboard
DAY SEVEN " ANGERS/ANCENIS The day is filled with a full-day excursion to discover the amazing Châteaux of the Loire Valley. Departing the ship by coach, we arrive at the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, built on a small island in the middle of the Indre River. The chateau is a French national monument and possesses all the refinement found in the French Renaissance. Next is a visit to the Château de Villandry for an included lunch and stroll through the lovely gardens which bring together aestheticism, diversity and harmony. Our next site is the Château d'Ussé where we visit this castle that was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries. With fortified towers, turrets and steeples, it looks like something out of a fairytale! The castle is still inhabited today and takes visitors back to a time of legends. It is also thought to have inspired Charles Perrault when writing 'Sleeping Beauty.' After our day visiting the beautiful châteaux of the region, we re-board the ship in Ancenis. Our final night onboard is celebrated with a gala dinner and an evening of music and dancing. Breakfast and dinner onboard, plus Lunch
DAY EIGHT NANTES/NORMANDY After breakfast, it's time for our river cruise to come to an end as we disembark the ship in Nantes. However there is much more to come as we discover the Normandy region of France. Transfer by coach to the now peaceful province of Normandy which is so very different today than on June 6, 1944. Visit Ponte du Hoc, situated on the coast near Grandcamp-Maisy, with sweeping views of the English Channel from atop the cliffs. Drive to Omaha Beach and visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer where thousands of white crosses mark the graves of our military heroes. The excursion ends at our hotel in Caen. Breakfast
DAY NINE CAEN/BAYEUX Exploration of Normandy continues with an excursion to the Caen Memorial, a tribute to the city for the damage it suffered during WWII and the Battle for Caen. In addition to the museum's many collections, permanent exhibits trace the history of the Second World War, the D-Day Landings and Battle of Normandy. As a special treat, see the Bayeux Tapestry in its own museum. This amazing piece of handiwork is a woolen embroidery from the 11th century, detailing the conquest of England by William the Conqueror and his troops. It is approximately 230 feet long and is truly a unique piece of history. This afternoon, travel to the picturesque harbor town of Honfleur where a local guide leads us on a walk through the meandering lanes of this charming town. Postcard perfect, Honfleur is characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages which have appeared in many paintings, including those by Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet. After a day of touring, return to the hotel in Caen. Breakfast
DAY TEN CAEN/ROUEN/GIVERNY/PARIS This morning, depart Caen for our return to Paris, with sightseeing enroute. A stop is made in Rouen, the capital of the Upper Normandy region and historic capital of Normandy. Formerly one of the most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, it is noted for its surviving half-timbered buildings and cathedral. On an included walking tour, discover the historic districts including Place du Vieux-Marché, the historic town square and site where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake. Today it is dominated by the Church of Saint Joan of Arc. See the gothic Notre Dame Cathedral and walk along the Rue du Gros Horloge, the main street of Rouen, with an amazing astronomical clock. After some free time, continue on to the village of Giverny for a visit to Claude Monet's house and gardens. See the workshop where he painted the Nymphéas as well as the 'pink and green' house with Monet's personal collection of Japanese prints. The garden near the house is the Clos Normand, reconstituted after Monet's famous drawing. Continue on to Paris with an evening arrival at the hotel. Breakfast
DAY ELEVEN RETURN TO USA Bid "au revoir" to France and return home with memories of life enriching experiences from the river cruise and remarkable history and sites of Normandy.Breakfast
This itinerary is approximate. The exact times, days and destinations may vary due to unforeseen circumstances.