7 Nights | Parisian Royal Holiday
Paris is a dazzling package just waiting to be unwrapped.
The “City of Light” glows with extra magic during the holidays. Every town in France boasts a marché de Noël in December, but Paris—naturally—boasts many, each one emblematic of its neighborhood. Stroll down the Champs Élysées for your Christmas shopping this year, or visit one of the boutiques on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Walk through the Tuileries Gardens and marvel at the spectacular holiday décor of the great department stores in the city where they were invented.
Experience winter in the majestic countryside, too, with a visit to Rouen, where you can experience a “Taste of Christmas,” Normandy style. Sample the seasonal delights with a visit to a historic café for tarte tatin and then peruse the artisan ceramics on display at the Rouen marché de Noël, which takes place directly in front of the famous cathedral. Medieval cobblestoned squares, the Sun King’s Versailles, sacred music sung in a legendary cathedral—it all adds up to a special gift that’s just for you.
And those sailing over New Year’s will be in for an extra- special treat with a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration. Plan now to welcome in 2017 in Parisian style as the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower brighten up the sky.
Who will enjoy this cruise
Romantics will relish this chance to see Paris dressed up in all her holiday splendor. Art lovers, history buffs, and shoppers will all find special gifts on this winter holiday.
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.
Day 1: Paris
Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
Day 2: La Roche-Guyon, Vernon
Your journey begins in regal fashion today with visits to two châteaux. At Château La Roche-Guyon, you may venture inside for a peek at the sumptuous rooms where French kings were once entertained (and royal hijinks no doubt ensured). Or climb to the top of the fortress tower for marvelous views of the gardens, village and valley below. Spend the evening at another beautiful château, an ideal setting for a concert of classical music.
Kings, dukes, duchesses, cardinals, counts—France’s nobility created splendid palaces and intriguing castles. Today the Seine and your luxurious ship carry you to châteaux with close links to the history of French royalty, in a region that was once the borderland between French and English royal power.Featured Excursions:
Château La Roche-GuyonFrom cave dwelling to fortress to castle to palace: This is the history of Château La Roche- Guyon (the Rock of Guy), which takes its name from its medieval lords (traditionally named Guy) and its location, a limestone outcropping—a rock—above the Seine. Medieval knights kept watch for marauding Vikings from the tower high atop the hill and later defended the double wall around a 13th-century manor house; successive lords added to the buildings over the centuries, so you can see not just troglodyte chapels but Renaissance rooms where kings Francis I and Henry II were entertained (and, legend says, Henry IV pursued a lovely chatelaine without success) and handsome 18th-century state apartments. Enlightenment thinkers met with the Duchess d’Enville, who owned the château before the revolution and who had the huge kitchen garden laid out according to Enlightenment principles. You might think, as you walk through the elegantly designed garden and beautifully paneled rooms (mostly without furniture these days, so you can appreciate the Gobelins tapestries without distraction) that the residence’s military function was in the far distant past, but Rommel made his headquarters here during WWII, precisely because the ancient fortifications and caves were so secure.
Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” Château La Roche-Guyon fortress tower climbThe donjon—the keep—guarding the hilltop is the oldest part of the château. Erected in the 12th-century, it was linked to the 13th-century castle by a passageway carved into the limestone cliff. Climb the 279 steps chipped by hand into the stone so many centuries ago: The stairway is steep and the steps irregular, worn down in some places by the many feet that have clambered up and down them over the past 800 years. When you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the village— considered one of the most beautiful in France—far below and the lovely, now-peaceful valley spreading out into the distance. You also get a clear picture of the formal 17th-century layout of the kitchen garden, its squares divided into triangles and crossed with diagonal paths.
Château de Bizy concertThe Seine-side gates of an estate long linked to kings open for you this evening. A fairyland of lights illuminate a tree-lined lane through grounds dotted with trees planted by Louis-Philippe, the last king of France, at Château de Bizy, which once belonged to the duke of Penthièvre (the son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan). As you reach the house, light streams from the tall windows of the neoclassical façade, welcoming you indoors. Though France has no king now, the house still belongs to descendants of Napoleon’s brothers, who maintain its opulent rooms and regal heritage. Take your seat in the marble-columned drawing room hung with tapestries for a delightful concert. Following the concert, you’ll catch a glimpse of the floodlit stable yard (modeled on Versailles’ stables and all that remains of the original 17th-century palace).
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Day 3: Rouen
Normandy’s medieval capital has a historic quarter that remains amazingly intact. See Rouen’s top sights as well as its splendid Christmas market, held on the square in front of the cathedral Monet painted dozens of times. Inside, you can listen to ethereal liturgical music enhanced by the cathedral’s wonderful acoustics. Another treat awaits at La Couronne—tea and cake at the restaurant where Julia Child had a life-changing first meal in France.
The medieval capital of Normandy, Rouen has managed to preserve much of its historic core, despite being turned into a battlefield numerous times.Featured Excursions:
Rouen walking discovery tour with Christmas Market and cathedral choir recitalVictor Hugo called Rouen the city with 100 bell towers— and easily the most famous of those towers is the one rising above Notre Dame Cathedral, which, at one point, was the tallest building in the world. Begun some 800 years ago, the cathedral acquired a multitude of spires and styles as it was renovated in different eras. When you leave the cathedral square, you’ll walk under the arch housing an ornate Renaissance clock and begin your exploration of the Old Town. The cobblestone alleyways are lined with tall half-timbered houses, characteristic of the region, often with shops on the ground floor and apartments above—it may be a historic district, but it is also a living one. As you enter the Old Market Square, you’ll spot a bronze cross marking the spot where the English burned Joan of Arc at the stake. You may explore the Christmas market, which fills the square outside the cathedral, on your own. The scent of cider, crepes and roasting chestnuts drifts through the crisp air as you wander among the stalls, where you’ll find the classic Nativity figures of Provence (called santons) and hundreds of specialty arts and crafts from all over France. Step inside the magnificent cathedral, where soaring columns will lead your eye upward to the graceful arches overhead. Lining one side are statues of the Apostles; you can identify them by the symbols they hold—St. Peter, for instance, carries the keys to heaven—and the 13th-century stained-glass windows, which survived Allied bombing in 1944, gild the interior with a soft glow. Richard the Lionheart’s heart is entombed here, a reminder of how closely Normandy and England’s political fates were entwined for many centuries. Pause to admire the charming Christmas crèche before taking a seat in a pew. You are in for a treat: The cathedral’s St. Evode choir school is extraordinary, and the church’s marvelous acoustics will let you hear this ethereal liturgical music as it is meant to be heard.
Teatime at La CouronneFollow in Julia Child’s footsteps to La Couronne—which calls itself the oldest auberge in France—on Rouen’s old market square, and experience one of the joys of Norman cooking: the classic tarte Tatin. La Couronne is the place where the renowned chef had her very first meal in France, an epicurean experience that changed the course of her life by inspiring a great passion for French cuisine and culinary traditions.
Day 4: Mantes-la-Jolie (Versailles)
The magnificently flamboyant Palace of Versailles was built during a time of absolute power, setting new standards for over-the-top excess with its elaborate gardens, grand state apartments and glittering Hall of Mirrors. All this plus an exclusive “secret” tour that takes you were others cannot go? Priceless.Featured Excursions:
Exclusive “Secret Versailles” palace tourIt was the official residence of the country’s kings and queens from 1682 until the revolution, and although the monarchy possessed other palaces, Versailles stood alone in magnificence. Your local expert, a historian, will take you into the private apartments of the courtiers, each room beautifully restored to look as it did in 1788. In these chambers and antechambers, parlors and boudoirs, you’ll find lush silk draperies, exquisite marquetry tables, gilded beds, Aubusson carpets and porcelain ornaments that reveal the elegance of the 18th-century nobility’s lifestyle, as well as the extravagance that helped fuel the rage leading to the revolution. Climb the great staircase and enter the jaw-dropping Hall of Mirrors, where the absolute ruler of France held court for the ambassadors of Siam, Persia and the Ottoman Empire, as well as all the great seigneurs of France. Ladies intrigued behind their fans, plots were hatched and careers were made and destroyed beneath the sparkling chandeliers here. Following lunch, visit Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon, the charming house and garden—originally built for Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour—where the queen escaped the formality of court life and relaxed with her closest friends. Take some time to admire the vast formal gardens, which the Sun King loved and on which he lavished fortunes. With its Grand Canal, hundreds of fountains, manicured parterres and thousands of trees, it remains one of the world’s great gardens.
Day 5: Paris
Join a local expert for a guided walk through two of our favorite neighborhoods in the “City of Light,” the Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter. Admire the Gothic grandeur and grimacing gargoyles of Notre Dame, then wander the streets with stones worn by countless notable artists, writers and philosophers, including Matisse and Picasso, Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
The cultural, political, artistic and financial heart of France, Paris is entrancing, magical and exhilarating. Every view is postcard worthy, and for the next few days it is yours to enjoy.Featured Excursions:
Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour of the Île de la Cité and Latin QuarterTake the Metro, just as the locals do, to the Île de la Cité and the great cathedral, Notre Dame. Henry IV said that Paris was worth a Mass when he converted to Catholicism—and he made that conversion of official here, in the center of Paris. In fact, Notre Dame is of officially the center of France; facing its main entrance is Kilometer Zero, the location from which distances in France (including those of the French national highways) are traditionally measured. A local expert in the history and architecture of this magnificent cathedral is your guide as you explore both the inside and outside. Begun in the 12th-century and finished about 200 years later, Notre Dame is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in Europe. After you’ve admired Notre Dame’s stained glass, flying buttresses and idiosyncratic gargoyles—not to mention the huge Christmas tree and beautiful Nativity scene—you’ll cross the Seine to the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter. Wander through the narrow streets where for centuries artists, writers, philosophers and the Sorbonne’s students have lived and worked, argued politics, painted, sipped absinthe and lived the bohemian lifestyle for which the district is famous. Matisse, Picasso, Rimbaud and Sartre, as well as American writers Hemingway and Fitzgerald, are just a few of the notables who made this district home. Climb the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève to the Panthéon, a mausoleum containing the remains of numerous distinguished French citizens. Nearby is the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, which is often full of students from La Sorbonne and other nearby universities. Take some time to meander through the area’s little squares, perusing the shop windows and perhaps warming up with a drink at a typical café.
Day 6: Paris
After visiting Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, Louis XIV was so green with envy that he gave his modest hunting lodge a total makeover. See the inspiration for Versailles on an excursion to this elaborately decorated winter wonderland, where the owner will host an exclusive reception for Uniworld guests. Tonight, we’ll treat you to a Paris illuminations tour.Featured Excursions:
Exclusive reception at Château de Vaux-le-VicomteLouis XIV first encountered the work of Louis Le Vau, Charles Le Brun and Andre Le Notre at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palatial estate created by his finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet. He admired it greatly—so greatly that after he had Fouquet imprisoned, he took what he liked from the estate and recruited the architect, the painter and the landscape designer to turn Versailles, his modest hunting lodge, into the spectacular palace it is now. Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte has been exquisitely restored, and, at this time of year, it is transformed into a fairyland: Roaring fires blaze in marble replaces; lavishly decorated Christmas trees add festive color to the stately rooms—every salon looks fit to receive the Sun King once again. Tour the splendid rooms and then gather in the grand salon, with its magnificent Christmas tree, for an exclusive reception.
Paris “Illuminations” tourParis calls upon her most talented lighting designers to create spectacular holiday illuminations throughout the city in an event called “Paris Lights up Paris.” This evening, you’ll take a scenic drive past some of the capital’s most festive displays. Traveling along the Right Bank, you will pass a number of the 37 bridges that dress up the Seine in a dazzling array, from the oldest, the Pont Neuf, decorated with grotesque figures, to the most stunning, the single-arched Pont Alexandre III, with its elegantly sculpted art nouveau nymphs, winged horses and lamps. After turning around the pink granite obelisk and the gilded fountains at Place de la Concorde, the famously fashionable Rue de Rivoli will come into view. Then you’ll see the two most famous theaters in Paris at each end of the majestic Boulevard de l’Opéra: the Comédie-Française (French National Theater), where the French classical repertoire is performed, at the south end, and, at the north, the Palais Garnier, which hosts the National Opera and Ballet companies. The sophisticated Place Vendôme is distinguished by the bronze-wrapped Vendôme Column, topped by a statue of Napoleon as a Roman emperor, and by posh designer salons, five-star hotels and fine jewelers. Tonight the enchanted square will unveil illuminations of shimmering crystal effects that match the precious bejeweled ornaments displayed in the shop windows. Your illumination tour will come to an end at the Place du Trocadéro, where you’ll have a view of the city’s signature landmark, the Eiffel Tower, and its delightful, dynamic light show.
Day 7: Paris
The shop windows of Paris are truly an art form, particularly during the holidays when they attract throngs of delighted onlookers. See these enchanting displays for yourself today on one of the city’s chicest streets. We’ll also take you inside the Paris Opera, described by its architect as a “Versailles for everyone.” For something completely different, take a guided bike ride along the Left Bank.Featured Excursions:
Walking discovery tour to the Paris Opera and Boulevard HaussmannStep inside one of the city’s most lavish institutions, the Opéra de Paris Garnier, also known as Palais Garnier. And indeed it is a palace, a palace dedicated to the performing arts. Work on this extravagant opera house began in 1865 and continued for 15 trouble-filled years, which included the discovery of an underground lake beneath the construction site. (It’s still there, incidentally—connected to an enormous cistern where carp swim and rescue divers train.) Despite the many difficulties, the result is dazzling: With chandeliers hanging from the mosaic ceiling, red-velvet wall coverings and draperies, gold leaf, cherubs and marble friezes, it is a glorious tribute to Second Empire sumptuousness. It is named, fittingly, for the man who designed this “Versailles for everyone,” Charles Garnier, an unknown architect who won a competition to build a new opera house. Your next stops are equally colorful. Le Printemps and Les Galeries Lafayette, two splendid department stores on Boulevard Haussmann, not far from the opera house, celebrate the season with spectacular window displays. Often created by top fashion designers, the displays—charming, over-the-top, whimsical and amazing—attract large, appreciative crowds. Drift from window to window, admiring them, and then spend some time shopping in the area.
Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” Left Bank bicycle rideThe Seine’s quays may be protected by UNESCO for their cultural importance and significance in the development of Paris, but they are also the scene of a host of fun outdoor activities: games for kids and grown-ups, a climbing wall, a running track, yoga classes—and an inviting bike path. Join a local guide to pedal along the Left Bank, crossing the bridges that link historic Île de la Cite and Île Saint-Louis and getting a close look at the heart of the city’s origins. Bike to the Esplanade des Invalides (Napoleon’s tomb is one of the monuments here) and along the Quay d’Orsay to the Champs de Mars, one of Paris’s largest green spaces . . . which just happens to have one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower in the city. It’s a fun way to take part in the life of the city while also getting some exercise.
This evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner will be prepared for you.
Day 8: Paris (Disembark)
Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for your flight home.
You will visit the following 4 places:
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region. The city of Paris, within its administrative limits largely unchanged since 1860, has an estimated population of 2,193,031, but the Paris metropolitan area has a population of 11,836,970, and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. In 2009 and 2010, the city has been ranked among the three most important and influential cities in the world, among the first three "European cities of the future" according to a research published by Financial Times and among the top ten cities in the world in which to live according to the British review Monocle. The city is the home of the most visited art museum in the world; ''the Louvre'' as well as the ''Musée d'Orsay'' noted for its collection of French Impressionist art, and the ''Musée National d'Art Moderne'' a museum of modern and contemporary art. The notable architectural landmarks of Paris include Notre Dame Cathedral (12th century); the Sainte-Chapelle (13th century); the Eiffel Tower (1889); and the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre (1914). In 2014 Paris received 22.4 million visitors, making it one of the world's top tourist destinations. It is also known for its fashion, particularly the twice-yearly Paris Fashion Week, and for its haute cuisine, and three-star restaurants. Most of France's major universities and grandes écoles are located in Paris, as are France's major newspapers, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération.
Rouen is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries. An important city in the Roman era and Middle Ages, it has Gothic churches and a cobblestoned pedestrian center with hundreds of medieval half-timbered houses.