River Cruises: Germany, Austria & France
In our June Newsletter I wrote about the peace and quietude you can experience on a river cruise.
To take you deeper into the experience of what it is like to slowly sail down one of the worlds beautiful rivers, I have chosen 2 itineraries to give you an idea what each day on a river cruise can look like and show you all the beautiful sights and sounds you will experience. River Cruises are also a wonderful way to spend time together with your best friends, your favorite club or create an unforgettable family reunion.
Whether it’s a journey for just yourself or a group of friends, I would love to chat with you about all the amazing options that are available and create a truly memorable experience for you.
Since I was born and grew up in Europe, this is a part of the world that is close to my heart and I would like to begin by introducing 2 itineraries; one in Germany and Austria and the other in France.
Christmastime in Germany & Austria
Day 1 Vienna, Austria (Embarkation)
Welcome to Vienna, Austria’s romantic capital! This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at a WELCOME RECEPTION.
Day 2 Vienna
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s capital has much to offer: the lavish Hofburg Palace, the impressive Vienna Opera House, majestic Ring Boulevard, and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral, to name just a few of the sights you will enjoy on your city tour. You do not rush through Vienna—you waltz, taking your time to savor each classic sight and sound. Shop in the Kärntnerstrasse and enjoy Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a neighborhood café. Soak up the atmosphere of the Adventszeit (Advent season) and spend some time in the beautiful Christmas markets located throughout the city.
Day 3 Dürnstein–Melk
This morning, enjoy a guided walk around Dürnstein, known for the magnificent baroque STIFTSKIRCHE with its blue façade. After lunch, visit the magnificent BENEDICTINE ABBEY that dominates the town of Melk from its commanding hill site and is one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The view from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! This evening you’ll sample some of the region’s FAMOUS WINES.
Day 4 Linz–Passau, Germany
Linz, Austria’s third-largest town, lies on both banks of the Danube and is an important industrial town and busy river port. An optional full-day excursion to Salzburg takes in the popular Sound of Music sights as well as more Christmas cheer—the traditional carols, the sparkling lights, and the smell of candles and gingerbread. Passau, ideally located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube, is a city of graceful arcades and cobblestone streets. St. Stephen’s Cathedral houses the world’s largest church organ with more than 17,000 pipes.
Day 5 Regensburg
Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Architectural highlights on your guided tour include the Old Town Hall, the beautiful white and gold OLD CHAPEL, and the Porta Pretoria—gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. The Christmas market is located on the historic market square. Germany is famous for its sausages, and Regensburg is home to the country’s oldest restaurant—Historische Wurstküche (the Historical Sausage Kitchen), dating back to the 12th century.
Day 6 Nuremberg
Although Nuremberg suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it was restored to its original style. Marvel at this historic city with its fabulous gothic churches and elegant patrician houses, all explained by a local expert. Nuremberg hosts Germany’s most famous Christmas market, which dates back to 1628. The Old Town is illuminated with festive lights and decorations. The city’s traditions include famous Lebkuchen, toy making, and metal working. After dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS.
Day 7 Nuremberg–Excursion to Munich
After breakfast, drive to Munich, where a Local Expert will proudly show you the sights of the Bavarian capital. An inspiring mix of historic buildings and impressive architecture, you’ll see the Olympic Stadium, 1,000-foot-high Television Tower, Nymphenburg Palace, MARIENPLATZ in the historic heart of the city with the Old and New Town Halls, and the gothic Frauenkirche. Later, there’s free time to explore on your own. The traditional Christmas market is located on the Marienplatz, with aromas of toasted almonds, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread filling the air and the strains of alpine Christmas music coming from the town hall. At the nearby Rindermarkt, you’ll find the Kripperlmarkt, one of the largest markets in Germany specializing in mangers and other nativity accessories. And don’t leave Munich without paying a visit to the famous Hofbräuhaus for a stein of beer! Return to your ship in the late afternoon.
Day 8 Nuremberg
A day to relax and enjoy Nuremberg at your own pace. Stroll through the festively lit streets, write those last-minute postcards, or ask your Cruise Director for suggestions of things to do.
Day 9 Bamberg
Bamberg is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage medieval site. Your walking tour takes in its breathtaking cathedral, the OLD TOWN HALL straddling the River Regnitz, and serpentine streets with charming houses and 18th-century mansions. At this time of year the town is decked out for Christmas and especially interesting are the many nativity scenes that are built by local citizens and exhibited throughout the town.
Day 10 Würzburg. Excursion to Rothenburg
Known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” Würzburg is surrounded by sloping hills covered with vineyards. The magnificent BISHOP’S RESIDENZ is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch, set off on the most scenic section of the Romantic Road to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This ancient walled city, with its ramparts, fountains and cobbled lanes, is steeped in history. Although known for its year-round Christmas market, the real one at this time of the year is an experience not to be missed. Try a Schneeball (snowball), a local specialty that is not at all suitable for a diet!
Day 11 Wertheim–Miltenberg
This morning, stop in Wertheim, whose overlapping half-timbered houses are grouped along winding streets. Glassblowers have a long tradition in this town and, especially in winter, they produce decorations that hang on Christmas trees all over the world. Marvel at the tasteful Christmas decorations in the shop windows and stroll through the charming Christmas market. Miltenberg is a picturesque Bavarian village that thrived on income from river traffic. Its cultural wealth and affluence are reflected in the beautiful medieval and renaissance houses and the gothic splendor of the Merchant Hall shown to you during your guided walk. The town center is within walking distance of the ship, as is the Christmas market. Before lunch, learn how to bake a local SOFT COOKIE specialty.
Day 12 Frankfurt (Disembarkation)
Today you will board your homebound flight or enjoy a few extra days in Europe.
Paris & the Heart of Normandy
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 Paris
Arrive in Paris, romance capital of the world. We meet you at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and transfer you to your ship.* After boarding, take free time to explore Paris—or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and start getting oriented.
Day 2 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 iconic Eiffel Tower. Continue past the École Militaire, Orsay Museum and Latin Quarter. See the Cathedral of Notre Dame, then drive past the Louvre and Opera House and along the famous Champs Elysées. Return aboard for lunch. Afternoon is free to visit the Louvre, shop the many boutiques, visit the artists’ district of Montmartre or enjoy a cruise along the Seine. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Dinner is served aboard.
Day 3 Giverny & Vernon
This morning, take a short ride into the town of Giverny, where Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. Visit 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 his masterpieces.
After lunch, we spend some time in the provincial town of Vernon. Take a stroll to see the Maison du Temps Jadis (House of Past Times), Vernon’s oldest house, and the 11th-century Church of Notre Dame. Dinner is served aboard.
Day 4 Rouen
Indulge in a leisurely morning cruising along the Seine. The afternoon is spent in the medieval city of Rouen, historic capital of Normandy. Begin with a walking tour through the old town center, where you see the spectacular Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral so often painted by Claude Monet and the famous Gros Horloge, a 16th-century astronomical clock. As you walk among the half-timbered buildings you feel yourself transported back through time. Finally, we visit the 14th-century courthouse where Joan of Arc was sentenced to death and the nearby Market Square where she was martyred. Take free time to discover more of Rouen or visit one of its museums of art or antiquities. Dine aboard, or visit a sidewalk café—your ship remains docked overnight.
Day 5 Normandy Beaches
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. On the way back to the ship, pass Gold Beach, Courseulles sur Mer and Juno Beach. Have dinner and relax on board or take an evening stroll; we depart late tonight.
Day 6 Les Andelys & Conflans
Arrive this morning in the small town of Les Andelys, known for its imposing castle, Château Gaillard, built in 1196 by Richard Lionheart. Join a guided walk to this fatally flawed masterpiece of Middle Ages architecture. Return to your ship for lunch and afternoon cruising. This evening we dock in Conflans, a riverside town whose unique culture reflects its status as a local hub for barge transportation along the Seine and its tributaries.
Day 7 Conflans & Paris
After breakfast, take a walking tour through the charming neighborhoods of Conflans and visit its museum. Or, join an optional tour to the luxurious Palace of Versailles, former home of Louis XIV. Lunch aboard as you sail back to Paris this afternoon. Dine aboard and then enjoy some free time in the City of Light.
Day 8 Paris
After breakfast, disembark and we will take you to the Paris airport for your return flight or spend a few more days discovering Paris or take a trip down to Nice and explore!