Parisian Holiday 2017

Parisian Royal Holiday

8 Days from Paris to Paris

A celebration of French festivities and royalty.

Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

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.
Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit For Port Location details, please visit

Day 2: Vernon

Today the Seine and your luxurious ship carry you to a château with close links to the history of French royalty, in a region that was once the borderland between French and English royal power. You will visit Château de Bizy, an ideal setting for a concert of classical music. For those seeking a more active approach to today's excursion, you may choose to travel to the château by bicycle.

Château de Bizy concert

The Seine-side gates of an estate long linked to kings open for you today. 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).

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 3: Rouen

The medieval capital of Normandy, Rouen has managed to preserve much of its historic core, despite being turned into a battlefield numerous times. 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.

Rouen walking tour with Christmas market

Victor 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.

Tea time at La Couronne

Follow 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.

Private cathedral choir recital

Step inside a 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.

Le Gros-Horloge - Clocktower tour in Rouen

Rouen’s Great Clock was set into an arch over the street around 1520. On one side you can see the single hand that shows the hours (there is no minute hand); on the other side the works are designed to show phases of the moon and other astronomical phenomena. This clock face is 500 years old, but the original clock is actually a century older than the Renaissance archway. Climb the tower—four floors of it—to see the original clock mechanism (it ran without stopping, through war after war, from the 14th century until 1928, when it finally needed to be repaired): It’s a floor above the clock face. The bell tower contains the first city bells allowed to ring the hours (before that, only churches were allowed to have bells in Rouen) and the rooms where the clock “governor,” who was responsible for making sure the clock stayed in good working order, lived. At the top of the tower, you can get a good look at the cathedral’s spectacular spires.

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 a private “secret” tour that takes you where others cannot go? Priceless.

Versailles Palace secret apartments

It 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.

Day 5: 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.” Tonight, we’ll treat you to a Paris illuminations tour.

Opéra Garnier and Parisian Christmas displays

Step 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.

Day 6: 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. 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.

Paris “Illuminations” tour

Paris 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.

“Taste of Christmas” with tasting and Ferris wheel

Here’s a day of seasonal treats! The Grande Roue—the great wheel—is only erected at Christmastime in Paris. It stands on the Champs Elysées, a huge circular punctuation mark for the Christmas market there, and it offers fantastic views of the city’s landmarks. The Christmas market takes its cues from the oldest markets in France—those in Alsace—so you have a chance to taste some of the traditional treats of that region: yummy cookies known as bredele, and perhaps a crepe or waffle.

Day 7: 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 a private reception for Uniworld guests.

Private reception at Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Louis 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.

Scavenger hunt at Musée du Louvre

You’ll need a camera for today’s adventure, which starts under the Louvre Museum’s glass pyramid. There you’ll join up with a team and receive your map of the museum (it’s huge) highlighted with a list of treasures—artworks that fit the theme of beauty and the beast—to find. You’re going to have just two hours to locate as many as possible and snap photos of your team in front of the designated beauty or beast. The clues can be sneaky, so you’ll need skill, strategy, teamwork and maybe a little luck to win. Ready, set, go!

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.

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