- Immerse yourself in World War I and II history during guided tours at the Somme battlefields and the Normandy beaches—site of the momentous D-Day events.
- Explore the quaint fishing villages and delightful seaside towns of the Alabaster Coast, including historic Fécamp and the resort town of Étretat.
- Discover incomparable Paris, walking through the historic Marais district and wandering the halls of Les Invalides, which contains the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.
- Experience the Viking heritage of Rouen from the perspective of the Viking ruler Rollo, who founded the Duchy of Normandy in the 10th century.
Few rivers in the world conjure up historical drama and idyllic natural beauty like the Seine. Explore the northern reaches of this fabled French waterway as it swirls from the heart of Paris through the fairy-tale hamlets and rolling green farms of Normandy. Discover the legacy of Normandy’s Viking rulers; remember Allied soldiers who perished on this soil during two world wars; and refresh your spirit as you enjoy regional delicacies, private musical performances, and vistas of the landscapes that inspired some of the world’s greatest artists.
As we sail these storied waterways, enjoy the freedom and flexibility to tailor the itinerary to your interests, choosing from a variety of available excursions at each port of call—and benefit from the insights provided by the National Geographic Expert and the National Geographic photographer who accompany us on the journey.
Arrive in Paris and enjoy a welcome dinner onboard our luxurious riverboat. Cruise out of the City of Light on the fabled Seine tonight.
Scenic Gem for the entire voyage
Our ship winds through Île-de-France to Les Andelys in the Normandy region. Step ashore and set out on a walking tour of this charming riverside village with a local guide, or opt to explore the village by bike. Alternatively, hike to Château Gaillard, an imposing stone castle built on a hill above Les Andelys by King Richard the Lionheart in the early 12th century, and take in delightful views of the Seine meandering past chalky limestone cliffs. Or, journey to Lyons-la-Forêt, the former place of residence of dukes of Normandy and kings of France and one of the most picturesque villages in the country, and visit a local farm to sample the region’s special cider.
Glide north to Rouen, the capital of Normandy, and explore this historic port city on foot. Discover the life of Joan of Arc—one of the patron saints of France—on visits to Rouen’s main square, where Joan was burned for heresy in 1431; the Church of St. Joan of Arc; and the ancient Rouen Notre-Dame Cathedral, which houses a chapel dedicated to the young peasant girl-turned-military leader. Alternatively, browse the collection of Impressionist paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, which includes masterpieces by Renoir and Monet. Back onboard this evening, enjoy a tasting of fine pastries with a local pâtissier, and hear a talk about the significance of Rouen during World War I.
Delve into the history of World War I on a full-day excursion to the Somme battlefields. Gain insights into the Battle of the Somme, which claimed the lives of more than one million Allied soldiers, on visits to memorials dedicated to the servicemen and women who perished during the battle. Opt to explore the massive Lochnagar Crater, the site of a large mine placed by British forces beneath the German front lines. Alternatively, explore the Hortillonnages of Amiens, a marshland of floating market gardens, and learn about efforts to maintain their ecological heritage. Or choose to remain in Rouen and immerse yourself in the city’s Viking heritage on a walking tour with a local guide dressed as Rollo—the legendary founder of the Duchy of Normandy.
Relax onboard as we cruise toward the open waters of the English Channel. Dock at Honfleur, once a hub of maritime trade, and take a tour of the cheerful city, admiring the quaint timber-frame architecture and colorful harbor. Or, opt to explore the sandy beaches and elegant villas of the Côte Fleurie—Flowery Coast—spending time in the fashionable seaside resort of Deauville. Tonight, kick up your heels on the dance floor as a local swing band delights us with a private performance.
Retrace the momentous events of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history, on a tour of the Normandy beaches. There is the option to focus on specific landing zones, including the American landing zones at Utah Beach and Sainte-Mère-Église, or the Canadian and British landing areas at Juno Beach. In the afternoon, visit the D-Day Landing Museum in Arromanches-les-Bains, built on the site of an artificial harbor created to provide supplies to Allied troops; and pay your respects to fallen soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Alternatively, visit the nearby town of Bayeux to view the exquisite Bayeux Tapestry, a hand-embroidered artifact dating to the 11th century that depicts the Norman conquest of England.
Today, explore some of the sights along the dramatic Côte d’Albâtre, or Alabaster Coast. In the seaside town of Fécamp, discover the magnificent Benedictine Palace and its historic distillery, and enjoy a guided tour of Étretat, a stunning resort town perched beside steep limestone cliffs. Alternatively, travel to the hilltop village of Bolbec to see beautiful printed fabrics being created at the working textile museum—the only museum of its kind in France—before visiting a traditional Normandy farm nearby. You may also opt to bike to the riverside village of Villequier and visit the Victor Hugo Museum-Maison Vacquerie, dedicated to the famed author’s career and family.
Enjoy a leisurely morning onboard as we cruise down the Seine through storybook villages and lush, sheep-dotted fields. Dock at Vernon and visit the home of Claude Monet—renowned Impressionist painter—in nearby Giverny. Stroll through the tranquil gardens, which Monet cultivated himself, and admire the water lilies that inspired some of the painter’s most celebrated works. Tonight, step back in time in La Roche-Guyon, an enchanting village built into a sheer rock face overlooking the Seine. At the impressive Château de La Roche-Guyon, the town’s 12th-century castle, enjoy a classical concert performed by some of the region’s finest musicians.
This morning, we wind our way to the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, situated at the meeting point of the Seine and Oise rivers. Choose between the past and the present today: learn about the state of French immigration policy and how locals are investing in their communities, or venture to the town of Chantilly, known for its historic horse racetrack. Take a guided tour of the opulent Château de Chantilly and visit its grand stables, where race horses are still cared for and trained. Alternatively, explore the carefully restored Château de Malmaison, Napoleon Bonaparte’s last place of residence in France. Return to Paris this evening, where we’re greeted by the city’s stunning illuminated skyline.
Spend the day exploring the captivating French capital. Walk through the Marais district with a local expert as they help you experience its hidden gems and daily life. Opt to visit the extravagant Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera, marveling at its ornate chandelier and the vivid ceiling frescoes painted by Russia-born modernist painter Marc Chagall. Or, walk the halls of the inspiring Les Invalides complex and visit Napoleon’s tomb on a guided tour. Alternatively, venture beyond the city limits for a tour of the 17th-century Château Vaux-le-Vicomte, which served as Louis XIV’s inspiration for Versailles.
After breakfast, disembark our ship and transfer to the airport for your flight home.