RIVER CRUISES / THE LOIRE, A ROYAL RIVER
DAY 1 | NANTES
Board in Nantes between 6 pm and 7 pm. Check into cabins. Welcome cocktail in the lounge bar and introduction to the crew. Dinner this evening is followed by a welcome party on board. Optional cruise excursion along the Erdre , “the prettiest river in France” according to Francis I. Discover the history of this river and its many castles as you cruise along.
DAY 2 | NANTES – ST NAZAIRE
After buffet breakfast on board, set off on an optional guided visit of Nantes (must be pre-booked in advance through your travel agent). You will walk along the little streets in Bouffay (the medieval quarter), through to the beautiful and flamboyant Gothic Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. Next you will visit Feydeau Island , a former island now joined to the rest of the town, and a superb example of 18th century architecture, before heading for the quays in Nantes . Then you will have a discovery tour of the new shopping areas which began to appear in the 19th century around the Graslin Theatre and the famous “Passage Pommeraye” shopping mall. The tour then continues to the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany . The last castle along the banks of the Loire before the river reaches the ocean, this Breton monument, with its remarkable buildings from the 15th and 17th centuries, is a magical and compelling part of Nantes’ history and heritage. Built by Francis II, the last Duke of Brittany, and his daughter, Anne de Bretagne , twice the Queen of France, the castle houses a residential palace with elegant facades and loggias dating from the Renaissance period. Return on board for lunch. The afternoon is spent cruising to St Nazaire , where we arrive during the evening. Dinner on board is followed by an evening of music and dancing. Overnight stop.
DAY 3 | SAINT NAZAIRE – ANCENIS
After buffet breakfast on board, set off by coach from Nantes for an optional tour of Saint Nazaire , a town on the sea. We begin with a visit of Escal’Atlantic , which retraces the story of the two great liners (the Normandie and the France) in a quite ingenious way, using real film footage and actual artefacts , mixed with some special effects. This is a wonderful natural representation commemorating these two great “monsters of the sea”. Continue on to the Saint Nazaire shipyard, one of the largest shipyards in Europe. It is recognised the world over for its shipbuilding know-how, both in the past with the construction of the great ocean liners (France and Normandie ) and nowadays with the giant ocean-going cruise liners. Thanks to a specially arranged tour, you will be able to see the vastness of the industrial site (covering some 108 hectares), the astonishing logistics and how present day high tech ships are assembled. The tour gives you an understanding on the various stages of construction of these modern floating palaces – very impressive! (This excursion must be pre-booked in advance through your travel agent. Each passenger will be asked to produce a valid passport or identity card in order to gain access to the shipyard).
Or an optional guided visit of Guérande
, surrounded by walls and overlooking the salt marshes, you will discover this medieval city and its history which has long captivated illustrious writers such as Flaubert
and especially Balzac
. Continue with a visit of the salt marshes, undisputed symbol of the region. Accompanied by your guide, you will discover how the Guérande
salt is formed as well as visit the salt marshes. Return on board for lunch. The afternoon is spent cruising to Ancenis
. Entertainment on board. Overnight stop in Ancenis
DAY 4 | ANCENIS - ANGERS
After buffet breakfast on board, set off on an optional excursion along the Muscadet Wine Route , passing through several villages where there is much evidence of the importance of wine production in this region. Continue the tour to La Chapelle Heulin and stop at the Chateau Cassemichère (or similar). In this exceptional location, you will have the opportunity to learn about its historic vineyard, visit the cellars and taste the lovely white wine: dry, light, fruity and floral. Next, head for Clisson , a charming medieval town where there are fine relics from the 15th century and a real flavour of Italy. Return on board for lunch and the cruise continues to Angers where we arrive during the evening. After dinner on board, there is an evening of entertainment provided by the crew. Overnight stop.
DAY 5 | ANGERS
After buffet breakfast on board, set off for an optional tour of the town of Angers . Capital of the Anjou region, Angers has many artistic and historic treasures and has become famous as much for its rich heritage as for its modernity and excellent quality of life. Former home of the House of Plantagenet and a thriving Renaissance city, Angers also contains the famous medieval fortress of King René , with its enormous walls, where the world renowned Apocalypse tapestry hangs. You will visit the fortress from the 13th century and see the Apocalypse tapestry, which is the most important set of medieval tapestries still in existence in the world today. You will then cross the city of canons, remnants of Roman and Plantagenet Gothic style art before finally arriving in la Doutre , a village in the very heart of Angers. Return on board for lunch. The afternoon will be spent on an optional visit to the Cadre Noir (2) and the town of Saumur (must be pre-booked in advance through your travel agent). In 2011, the French tradition of horsemanship and the Cadre Noir de Saumur were listed by UNESCO as part of the Cultural Heritage of Humanity and this horse-riding school is quite unique in France. Traditional French horsemanship is the art of riding, built on a harmonious relationship between man and horse, excluding the use of any physical force. You will begin a voyage of discovery of the Cadre Noir School, established in 1825, with a visit to the Grand Manège , the stables and the Prestige tack room. The visit continues with a walk around the fortified town of Saumur , dominated by its castle on high (exteriors only). Dinner on board is followed by an evening of music and dancing. Overnight stop.
DAY 6 | ANGERS – CASTLES OF THE LOIRE
After buffet breakfast on board, the entire day is spent on an excursion to visit the Castles of the Loire Valley . Set off by coach and head for the castle at Azay-le-Rideau . Built on an island in the middle of the Indre , the building that you can see today was created by a wealthy financier of Francis I, Gilles de Berthelot , who wanted to reconcile innovative ideas from Italy with the French style of construction. Listed as a historic monument by UNESCO, the castle at Azay-le-Rideau has preserved, with the passing years, all the refinement, elegance and grace of an exceptional Renaissance chateau. Continue on to Villandry , for lunch. After lunch, there’s time to enjoy a stroll through the famous gardens of the castle at Villandry : laid out on three levels in a happy marriage of beauty, diversity and harmony. Continue on to Rigny-Ussé to visit Ussé Castle . Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, this quite magnificent castle looks just like a fairy tale castle with its fortified towers, turrets and steeples. Nowadays, the castle is still inhabited and offers the visitor a trip back in time to the land of fairy tales and legends. Moreover, it is believed that the castle inspired Charles Perrault to write “The Sleeping Beauty”. Return on board for dinner. Entertainment on board. Overnight stop.
DAY 7 | ANGERS – BOUCHEMAINE – ANCENIS – NANTES
Buffet breakfast on board. The vessel sets sail early this morning and heads for Bouchemaine , the departure point for the optional excursion along the Angevine Corniche . Set off by coach towards the Loire Angevine levee road. Along this route there are many wonderful views of the great river and it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There will be a stop at Vaults Castle (or similar) which is a wonderful natural setting in the middle of landscaped gardens. A tasting of Anjou wines follows. Continue along the Angevine corniche road, passing pretty little villages and many viewing points along the Loire. We rejoin the ship at Ancenis in time for lunch. This afternoon is spent cruising the Loire : along its banks you can see a wonderful natural garden which has been shaped by the river over the centuries. During the cruise, you will have time to appreciate the most beautiful sights along the last untamed river in France. Arrival in Nantes during the evening. Gala dinner on board followed by an evening of music and dancing. Overnight stop.
DAY 8 | NANTES
Buffet breakfast on board. Disembark at 10.00 am. End of our journey.
The cruise itinerary can be affected by the tide so the order of excursions may have to be changed in order to ensure the optimal organisation of our time.
NB: The ship’s captain reserve the right to modify the cruising itinerary to ensure the safe navigation of the vessel. This cruise can be affected by the tide and the arrival times at ports of call may be subject to change.
(1) Optional excursions.
(2) Guided visits do not guarantee that you will see the riders and horses at work during the visit, particularly if the Cadre Noir de Saumur is away, or during competitions.
2014 ADVANCE PROGRAMME which may be subject to change.
The excessive consumption of alcohol is dangerous and life-threatening – please consume in moderation.