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The Best of the Seine River From Normandy to Paris

Program No. 21265RJ
Revel in vibrant culture, historic landmarks, picturesque villages and world-renowned vineyards along the Seine River as you explore the treasures of France by modern riverboat.

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At a Glance

Experience the life and the lands along France’s legendary Seine River, from the artistic and cultural treasures of Paris, to the history of Normandy. Embark on a riverboat voyage back to Paris, absorbing the natural beauty that surrounds the Seine and learning about its importance to the French Impressionists.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • View museum masterpieces, then see Paris illuminated on an after-dark cruise.
  • Discover the splendor of Monet’s gardens including the famous water lily pond.
  • Explore the 7th-century Abbey of Saint Wandrille with a resident monk.

General Notes

Departures operate on different ships, so please see the daily schedule for specific details. Please note that during these programs, Road Scholar will operate smaller groups each with their own Group Leader for shore excursions. The small groups may occasionally come together for lectures. Please note that during these programs, Road Scholar will operate smaller groups each with their own Group Leader for shore excursions. The small groups may occasionally come together for lectures. Current Events in Paris: Due to the fire at Notre Dame, the cathedral is closed to visitors. Road Scholar programs that visit Île de la Cité will be able to see the outside of the cathedral, but we will not be able to go inside.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944
by Joseph Balkoski
In this unforgettable narrative of D-Day, Joseph Balkoski describes the minute-by-minute combat as it unfolded on Omaha Beach, allowing soldiers to speak for themselves as they recall their attempts to maneuver bombers through heavy cloud cover, the claustrophobic terror aboard transports, and the relentless fire that greeted them on the beach
The Hotel Majestic
by Georges Simenon
The most famous fictional detective in France, Maigret, tackles a case in the heart of Paris.
A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway
A treasure for anyone interested in Parisian cafe society and its luminaries circa 1925. Hemingway includes sharp portraits of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford and others who idled on their way to greatness.
The Secret Life of the Seine
by Mort Rosenblum
After losing his Paris apartment, Rosenblum, a born storyteller, takes to a houseboat moored on the Seine. The result is this entertaining tour of the places and people he encounters during his explorations along the river.
How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City
by Joan DeJean
A captivating history of the growth, design, and planning of Paris, telling the story of how the modern city came to be.
From Beachhead to Brittany: The 29th Infantry Division at Brest, August-September 1944
by Joseph Balkoski
Historian Joseph Balkoski follows the U.S. 29th Infantry Division out of Normandy and into Brittany in the northwest corner of France, where the division was tasked with seizing the port of Brest.
Paris Pratique Par Arrondissement
by Atlas Indispensable
This pocket atlas contains detailed maps of every neighborhood in Paris, as well as details about bus and metro stops.
The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris
by Edmund White
A 'flaneur' is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles through city streets in search of adventure and fulfillment. Edmund White, who lived in Paris for sixteen years, wanders through the streets and avenues and along the quays, into parts of Paris virtually unknown to visitors and indeed to many Parisians.
The New Paris
by Lindsey Tramuta
Move past the clichés and learn about what makes up Paris today. Explore the open-minded sensibility, diverse populations, and hidden corners of The New Paris.
F is for France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders
by Piu Eatwell
An alphabetized catalogue of quirky French culture and history tidbits.
A Traveller's History of Paris
by Robert Coles
A fast-moving, short survey of French history with a focus on Paris from its foundation, through the heady days of revolution and up to modern times.
1066, The Year of the Conquest
by David Howarth
A crack medievalist and storyteller, Howarth brings to life the momentous events of 1066 in rich, anecdotal history -- a classic portrait of the Norman invasion and conquest of England.
My Life in France
by Julia Child
The touching and famous story of Julia Child in France, where she learned to cook and fell in love with French cuisine, all in her own words.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris
by John Baxter
Australian critic and writer Baxter draws on his second career as a literary tour guide in his adopted city for this witty memoir, laced with terrific tales.
Markets of Paris
by Dixon Long & Marjorie Williams
An in-depth guide to the best markets in Paris. Dive into the heart of French culture and navigate the markets like a local with maps, tips, and handy phrases.
Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light
by Tyler Stovall
A history of black Americans who settled in Paris, France, from 1900 to the present.
The Food & Wine of France: Eating & Drinking from Champagne to Provence
by Edward Behr
Behr seeks out the best of French food, in encounters from Champagne to Provence, to tell the stories of French artisans and chefs who work at the highest level. He shares what he learns from these experts on French traditions and how to best enjoy this food.
Murder in the Marais
by Cara Black
Literate and thrilling, with a strong sense of the geography and flavor of Paris, the first in a series of mysteries starring Aimee Ledoc shows off the French-American detective's wit and wile. The series continues with Murder in Belleville (FRN562), Murder in the Sentier (FRN563) and many more.
Monet at Giverny
by Caroline Holmes
Claude Monet spent the last 43 years of his long life at Giverny, creating the paintings and gardens for which he is now revered. From the standpoint of his garden this book considers the controlling intelligence behind both landscape and art, and the influences that shaped Monet’s life and vision.
Lonely Planet French Phrasebook
by Marie-Helene Girard, Anny Monet
This handy phrasebook focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.
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11 days
10 nights
25 meals
9 B 8 L 8 D
In Transit to Program
In Flight
Arrive Paris, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Hotel Relais Monceau

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in to the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. This is a Chartered Exclusively for Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. Port stops and field trips are subject to change as weather and river conditions could affect the progress of the vessel, making it run late and possibly miss ports if it is not safe to dock. The cruise itinerary should therefore be regarded as provisional. The time available in each port is set by the cruise line, which may mean free time in port is limited. The cruise line reserves the right change the itinerary without prior notice. When possible, the Road Scholar daily schedule indicates port arrival and departure times. There will be long motorcoach transfers during this program. Due to ecological regulations in France, new motorcoaches do not have restrooms on board. Older models have restrooms that are not available for use. A rest stop will be made along the way for rides longer than 90 minutes. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: We will walk to a restaurant near the hotel. French restaurants take pride in creating a relaxed atmosphere where patrons expect to take their time, savor every bite, and set the pace of the meal, requesting “l’addition” — the check — only when they are ready. Meals are accompanied by complimentary “pain” (bread) and “eau” or “l’eau” (water), so you need not ask for them. When wine is offered, it is customary to fill your glass only half way so the wine can breathe and to be sure everyone has a share. Servers wait until everyone at the table has finished their dish before clearing and bringing the next course. To indicate that you have finished your meal, place your utensils together on the right hand side of your plate.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Latin Quarter, Île de la Cité & Notre-Dame, Musée D'Orsay
Hotel Relais Monceau

Activity note: Use of Paris Métro rapid transit system; unavoidable stairs, crowded conditions. Walking up to 3 miles, standing up to 2 hours at a time; cobblestones, paved streets.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will take the Métro to the Île de la Cité. On arrival, we’ll set out with our Group Leader on a walking field trip to learn about medieval history, art and architecture on the Île de la Cité — the historic heart of Paris — focusing on the Sainte-Chapelle and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. We will meet a local expert who will provide expert commentary during the field trip. L’Ile de la Cité was originally occupied by the Iron Age Parisii tribe. Legend says they claimed their name from Prince Paris of Troy. It became a prominent settlement in Roman Gaul as Lutetia and later capital of the Merovingian dynasty. Today, it is home to some of Paris’s most iconic sites including the Sainte-Chapelle. The Sainte-Chapelle, one of the glories of Gothic architecture, was begun in 1239 and completed less than a decade later, an achievement in itself almost miraculous given its structure and decoration. Originally part of the royal palace of Capetian monarchs, it was built by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house religious relics he acquired from the Holy Land — including the Crown of Thorns! The sense of other-worldliness in the upper church comes from amazing stained glass, held within slender columns in the flamboyant Rayonnant style of architecture, creating the sensation of being inside a jewel box. Notre-Dame Cathedral was conceived in 1160 by the Bishop of Paris who wanted a much grander edifice than the existing Merovingian building. Construction began in 1163 and was not finally completed until 1345. Damaged and restored a number of times — including the disastrous fire of April 2019 — it remains one of the largest and finest examples of Gothic architecture anywhere. We will be able to admire the exterior. Next, we will take the Métro to the Musée d’Orsay.

Lunch: At the Musée d'Orsay restaurant.

Afternoon: We will explore the Musée D’Orsay with audioguides. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist art. We will learn about French Art dating from 1848 to 1915. The first work of art is the building itself, the former Gare d’Orsay railway station, built in Beaux-Arts style for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, that was refurbished, repurposed, and reopened as the Musée d’Orsay in 1986. The collections of painting, sculpture, and decorative objects show the tremendous diversity of artistic creation in the western world, showcasing many of the most remarkable works of the early modern era including the Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and Art Nouveau movements.

Dinner: We’ll take the Métro to a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

The Louvre, Tuileries Gardens, Concord Square, Rue Royale
Hotel Relais Monceau

Activity note: Use of Paris Métro; unavoidable stairs, crowded conditions. Walking up to 3 miles, standing up to 2 hours at a time; cobblestones, paved streets. Expect crowds at popular sites.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will take the Paris Métro to the Louvre. We’ll set out with a local expert to explore the exhibits and learn about some of the masterpieces housed in this old palace. Some of the works we may observe include Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, the Mona Lisa, and the Vénus de Milo statue, named after the island where it was discovered in 1820. Note: Crowds may make it difficult to get a good look at some of the most popular works. The Louvre has been the dominant architectural presence in Paris since 1190, when King Philippe II had it built as a fortress. It expanded as new fortifications developed and was transformed into a royal palace in 1364. King François I began turning the medieval Louvre into a Renaissance palace in 1546. Renovations continued through the reign of Louis XIV, who was born there, after the “Sun King” abandoned Paris for Versailles, the Louvre became a royal art gallery. During the French Revolution, the Louvre was turned into a public museum. The glass Pyramide, then considered controversial, was inaugurated in 1989.

Lunch: We’ll walk to a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Our Group Leader will provide expert commentary via listening devices as we explore Paris on foot. We will leisurely stroll through the Tuileries Gardens to Place de la Concord and learn about the importance of these places. We will also have a chance to sample a sweet specialty, macaroons, at a famous pastry shop on the Rue Royale. The Group Leader will accompany those who wish to return to the hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Historic Honfleur, Eugène Boudin Museum
MS Renoir II

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 115 miles, approximately 3 hours riding time with stops. Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 1 hour at a time; uneven terrain; even and uneven ground. Expect large crowds.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel in the early morning, board a motorcoach, and ride to Normandy. We will set out with our Group Leader on a walking field trip to explore Honfleur, a gem of a harbor village situated where the Seine meets the English Channel. Honfleur has preserved the traces of a rich historical past with its picturesque streets and timber-framed houses. The changing light on the Seine estuary inspired Courbet, Monet, Boudin, and many other painters of the Impressionist movement. We will stroll through the picturesque Vieux Bassin (Old Port), admire the unique architecture of historic Honfleur and learn why this city has one of the few remaining all-wooden churches. We will also learn about the important role this city played in the settlement of New France, as well as the establishment of a new art movement: Impressionism.

Lunch: AT a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will continue exploring Honfleur. Next, we will set out on a self-directed field trip to the Musée Eugène Boudin. Located in a 19th century chapel and two modern extensions, with views over Honfleur and the sea, the Eugène Boudin Museum houses some 1,200 square meters of permanent exhibitions in nine rooms. Named after Honfleur’s most famous painter, the museum displays works not only by Eugène Boudin, but also other great impressionists such as Dobourg, Monet, and Jongkind. Following our field trips, we will ride to Honfleur and board our riverboat. After getting your cabin, take some time to begin becoming familiar with our floating home for the next five days.

Dinner: Aboard the riverboat.

Evening: At leisure.

Omaha Beach & D-Day, Pointe du Hoc, Military Cemetery
MS Renoir II

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 1 hour at a time; uneven terrain; even and uneven ground. Expect large crowds.

Breakfast: Aboard the riverboat.

Morning: board a motorcoach, and ride to the D-Day Beaches. With our Group Leader, we will explore Omaha Beach in Normandy and retrace the movements of the World War II invasion on D-Day, 6 June 1944. We’ll learn about the Allied landing on that fateful day, the largest amphibious invasion in history. We will learn about the ferocity of the battle and observe the landing site from a number of perspectives.

Lunch: Picnic Lunch

Afternoon: We will continue exploring the Omaha landing beach and learn how the beachhead was taken with great sacrifices. We’ll see and discuss many of the remaining gun positions that survive still today. Then we will explore Pointe du Hoc with a local expert who will explain how American Army Rangers took the heights under a hail of enemy fire. We will then set out on a self-directed field trip to explore the U.S. Normandy American Military Cemetery and reflect upon the sacrifices of fallen heroes. Following our field trips, we will ride back to Honfleur.

Dinner: Aboard the riverboat.

Evening: At leisure.

Abbey of Saint Wandrille, To Rouen
MS Renoir II

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 1 hour at a time; cobblestones, paved streets.

Breakfast: Aboard the riverboat.

Morning: We will ride to the Abbey of St. Wandrille for a walking field trip where a local expert will lead our exploration of the abbey. We’ll learn about its historical significance and the monks’ way of life. Although much of it has been rebuilt, the original chapel of St. Saturnin remains standing on the hillside overlooking the abbey and is one of the oldest ecclesiastical structures in existence. We will also have an opportunity to attend mass with the Benedictine monks and experience the Gregorian chanting.

Lunch: Aboard the riverboat.

Afternoon: While the riverboat heads to Rouen, we will gather with our Group Leader for a lecture on World War 2 from a French perspective’ and how France reacted to the build up to war, the war itself, and the aftermath of war.

Dinner: Aboard the riverboat.

Evening: Arriving in Rouen, we will set out with our Group Leader for a walk to observe the illuminated monuments.

Historic Rouen, To Vernon, Robert Capa & D-Day Images
MS Renoir II

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 1 hour at a time; cobblestones, paved streets.

Breakfast: Aboard the riverboat.

Morning: We will set out on a walking field trip to explore Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy. We will see the Notre Dame de Rouen cathedral. This cathedral was painted numerous times by Monet as he studied the effects of changing light. We’ll also see the Flamboyant Gothic church of Saint Maclou as well as the old market square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1451. We’ll also have some time for independent exploration to see what interests each of us most.

Lunch: Aboard the riverboat.

Afternoon: While the riverboat heads to Vernon, we will gather with our Group Leader for a lecture about the Reconstruction and the search for a lasting peace in Europe since 1945’,the Marshall Plan, the occupation of Germany, and the emergence of European cooperation with the evolution of the European Union. Where is Europe heading now?

Dinner: Aboard the riverboat.

Evening: At leisure.

Giverny & Monet, To Poissy
MS Renoir II

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 46 miles, approximately 1.5 hours riding time. Walking up to 1.5 miles. standing up to 2 hours at a time; even and uneven ground. Expect large crowds.

Breakfast: Aboard the riverboat.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and ride to Giverny, where Claude Monet (1840-1926) created and painted his incredible gardens. Looking at the very gardens that inspired him, we’ll learn about his famous art and the Impressionist movement with commentary by our Group Leader. Walking through the water garden and Clos Normand, we may feel as if we have stepped right into one of Monet’s famous water lily paintings! We will also have some time for independent exploration. Monet drew pictures as a child, went to a school for the arts, and painted many outdoor scenes during his career. Monet and his artist friends rebelled against the kind of conservative art approved by critics and created their own style. It was called Impressionism because it was an “impression” of a scene, painted outdoors to capture the look of natural light. Today, Impressionism is one of the most popular art forms in the world. We will ride back to the riverboat after our field trip.

Lunch: Aboard the riverboat.

Afternoon: We will gather with our Group Leader for a lecture to learn more about Monet’s life in Giverny as the riverboard heads to Poissy.

Dinner: Aboard the riverboat.

Evening: At leisure.

Montparnasse, Montmartre
MS Renoir II

Activity note: Use of Paris Métro; unavoidable stairs, crowded conditions. Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to 2 hours at a time; cobblestones, paved streets. Expect crowds at popular sites.

Breakfast: Aboard the riverboat.

Morning: We will head out via the Métro to La Tour Montparnasse to experience the best view in all of Paris! With our Group Leader, we will take an elevator all the way up to the observation deck with an open-air panoramic terrace on the 56th floor in 38 seconds. There, we will be treated to an astonishing Parisian panorama (weather permitting). From afar, we will see the grandeur of the famous Tour Eiffel — Eiffel Tower — built from 1887-89 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, World’s Fair, marking the centennial of the French Revolution.

Lunch: Aboard the riverboat.

Afternoon: Next, we will take the Métro to Montmartre. With a local expert, we’ll set out on a walking field trip. We’ll gain insights into the lives of artists in Paris, and learn about the importance of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to this community. We will observe Place du Tertre — place of the hill — the popular center of Montmartre’s artists. It is situated next to the famous Basilique du Sacré-Coeur — Sacred Heart Basilica — built on the summit of Butte de Montmartre, the highest point in Paris. We’ll step inside the basilica, where the murals covering the walls and ceiling are made up of millions of tiny mosaic tiles. Sacré-Cœur, built as an expression of national penance for France’s 1870 defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, was consecrated in 1919. We will also walk the winding streets of this hilltop “village”, the center of Bohemian life that continues to inspire artists today.

Dinner: Aboard the riverboat. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for disembarkation and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
In Flight

Activity note: 9:00 a.m. disembarkation. See your program’s “Getting There” information regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Aboard the riverboat. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.