Trans Europe six week cruise
Avignon to Amsterdam
13th November to 23rd December 2005
Back in February we introduced our six week Trans Europe Cruise. Since then we have had quite a few enquiries about this voyage and l'Impressionniste's cabins are gradually filling up with enthusiastic folk wishing to stay two, three or six week on board.
For those who want to know more about this voyage of a lifetime, let us give you a more flavoursome description of the whole journey.
L'Impressionniste begins her journey at the French Provencal town of Avignon on the river Rhone on 13th November. A Champagne welcome is followed by the Captain's introduction to the cruise and a delicious gastronomic dinner, setting the scene for the glories to come.
A memorable tour of the walled town of Avignon with its famous bridge and Popes' palace plus a visit to the wine-making town of Chateauneuf du Pape are a great introduction to the region. The journey continues into prime vineyard country - past the vineyards of the Cotes du Rhone, Beaujolais and Maconnais - before entering Burgundy.
On route, we visit the historic town of Lyon with its wealth of Roman monuments, medieval churches and renaissance houses. France's second largest city, Lyon is at the confluence of the Rhone and the Saone and it's here where we join the second river on our cruise.
In Burgundy we explore Chalon-sur-Saone, the birthplace of modern-day photography. The great Romanesque Abbey of Cluny is but a hop, skip and jump from here and the photographic museum at St Loup de Varenne is an interesting visit. We leave the Saone and join the waters of the Burgundy Canal. The administrative and gastronomic capital of the Burgundy region is Dijon. Its historic treasures and beautiful architecture are well worth seeing. More wine-tasting opportunities are available at the Nuits St Georges vineyards.
Life becomes more pastoral as we head off along the tree-lined Burgundy Canal for a couple of days. Farms and villages dot the route and it's a perfect opportunity to wind down properly, enjoying l'Impressionniste's Jacuzzi, comfortable lounge and bar and the chance to cycle between the locks.
We begin our approach towards Paris on arrival at Fontainebleau, location of a beautiful Renaissance chateau and favourite residence of Napoleon in the 19th century. Just outside Paris we join the Seine, which takes us into the thriving capital city where we moor for a couple of days to explore. There are ample opportunities for shopping, museum visits, socialising, watching shows and getting the full flavour of the capital.
Leaving Paris, we head out eastwards into the region of Champagne and onto another river, the Marne. A visit to the region's capital, Reims, is an absolute "must" with its Roman catacombs, its mediaeval cathedral, coronation place of French kings, and headquarters to numerous Champagne manufacturers. Reims was also the location where the German capitulation was signed at the end of the 2nd World War. A visit to one of the famous French Champagne makers is of course included in our trip!
Leaving Champagne, we enter the region of Lorraine, with its undulating hills. The impressive fortified town of Toul is quite breathtaking and we can get a real feel for it as we sail through the fortifications of Vauban, one of France's greatest historical military architects, on the canal. On arrival in the magical town of Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, we are wowed by this wrought-iron masterpiece, with gates, balconies and fountains bearing witness to the great craftsmen of the time.
From there we continue to the German-sounding Metz, where the French language mingles with "Elsesserdutsch" which is an amazing mixture of French and German. Half-timbered houses gradually pepper the route and we know we're not far from a different culture.
Our journey continues through Thionville, one of the powerhouses of France, before we cross the border into the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, one of the three headquarters of the EEC.
Joining the river Moselle we head towards the German border. The countryside changes quite dramatically - steep slate cliffs surround us and we find ourselves surrounded by vertical vineyards. A visit to the lively town of Bernkastel provides us with our first chance to taste the wines of Germany. Our cruise continues along the winding river, past castles perched on cliffs to Koblenz where we meet the broad waters of the Rhine. Koblenz is another former Roman base, its name meaning "castle at the confluence" and an animated and charming town.
We continue downstream along the Rhine to Cologne, whose most famous tourist souvenir is Eau de Cologne or 4711. The cathedral is a mediaeval jewel, housing remains of the Three Wise Men and miraculously saved from war damage when the rest of the town was destroyed. We continue north to the border with the Netherlands, heading to Arnhem, a pleasant riverside town, but also place of pilgrimage for veterans of the 2nd World War.
From Arnhem, we continue across the Dutch countryside, enjoying the sight of the wildlife on the numerous canals and maybe the sight of people ice-skating on the fields. Farm houses and water-towers dot the countryside and cheerfully decorated shops and fairy-lights remind us that Christmas is near. Soon we arrive in Rotterdam, industrial capital, major international shipping centre and location of some modern architectural surprises.
The last day of the cruise, two days before Christmas, is in Amsterdam, business and entertainment centre of the Netherlands and man-made wonder with its 17th century houses on a ring-work of canals.
Trans Europe 6 Week Cruise Rates for 2005
Per person: £6,000
Per person: US $12,000
Visit Impressionniste for more details or contact us today to find out more
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