- The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and France
Learn about Europe’s history including visits to Cologne, Speyer and Avignon; cruise aboard two luxurious APT river ships; enjoy an enthralling lecture from popular television presenter, Monty Don; travel through the Swiss and French Alps; visit Speyer Technik Museum; see landscapes with olives and lavender; enjoy French cooking demonstrations, truffle hunting and wine tasting; explore the Black Forest or Insel Mainau Flower Island and discover the Rhine Gorge and Moselle River.
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Day 1. Arrive Amsterdam and Embark Ship.
Arrive in Amsterdam and transfer to your luxury river ship, moored close to the city centre. Tonight meet your fellow travellers at a Welcome Reception.
Seven Nights: Aboard a luxurious APT river ship (D)
Day 2. Gardens or Art, Freedom of Choice Touring
This morning, choose from either our gardens or art excursions. Flower lovers will rise early to be at the Aalsmeer Flower market for the excitement of seeing acres of flowers being auctioned to all parts of the world. Followed by a visit to the famous Keukenhof garden display with more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths filling over 32 hectares with spring colour and fragrance. Art lovers can choose to visit the newly renovated Rijksmuseum, home to some of the world’s most famous paintings including Rembrandt’s Night Watch. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy a relaxing afternoon on the Rhine River. (BLD)
Day 3. Cologne Garden, Andernach and Burg Namedy
Take a tour through the historic old town of Cologne, or perhaps visit a beautiful private garden in the heart of Cologne. Afterwards continue along the Rhine to the 2,000 year old town of Andernach where we disembark for an exclusive visit to Burg Namedy for a decadent evening as the private guests of Princess Heide von Hohenzollern. Enjoy the opulent castle’s rooms, hidden nooks and manicured gardens before we enjoy a private lavish banquet in the ballroom. (BLD)
Day 4. Moselle River and Cochem
Today we visit the German town of Cochem, possibly the prettiest town in the Moselle Valley. You may wish to explore the town on a walking tour, then visit the Cochem Castle, perched on a hill overlooking the river. Alternatively, enjoy a guided bicycle ride. Afterwards, return to the ship and cruise along the magical Moselle River, a winding and picturesque waterway surrounded by magnificent landscapes. (BLD)
Day 5. Rhine Gorge, Rudesheim and Darmstadt Gardens, Freedom of Choice Touring
This morning we cruise the Rhine Gorge known as the most beautiful stretch of the Rhine River with hilltop castles around every bend. After lunch we arrive in Rudesheim where you have a choice to tour Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, home to one of Germany’s most beautiful collections of automated musical instruments or explore the Rhine Valley wine region with a tour and wine tasting at a local winery. For a horticultural experience you can choose to travel to the University of Darmstadt Botanical Gardens laid out in 1874 with amazing conifers and well labelled and unusual plants. Afterwards, visit the formal parterre gardens of Prinz-Georgs Garden in Darmstadt. (BLD)
Day 6. Speyer, Schwetzingen Gardens, Freedom of Choice Touring.
This morning you can choose a visit to the Technik Museum with its amazing collection of aircraft, classic cars, locomotives, fire engines and even a space shuttle, or join a garden excursion to visit the magnificent and expansive Castle Gardens in Schwetzingen created in the 18th-century in the French formal style but then transcending into the English landscape style. (BLD)
Day 7. Bresach, Black Forest, Insel Mainau Flower Island, Freedom of Choice Touring
Arrive today in Breisach and choose to take a tour of the wonderful Black Forest with its beautiful trees, lakes and cuckoo clocks or a visit to the beautiful Insel Mainau ‘Flower Island’ garden, a floral paradise on the shores of picturesque Lake Constance. This is a horticultural delight with thousands of flowers and plants immaculately planted. There is something to delight everyone around every corner. (BD)
Day 8. Swiss Alps, Yvoire, Le Labyrinthe Garden and Lyon
After breakfast disembark the ship and farewell the Rhine River before travelling along the shores of Lake Geneva to the beautiful village of Yvoire set on a promontory overlooking the lake. Here is the poetic and award winning medicinal garden of Le Labyrinthe, considered one of the finest gardens of its type in Europe. Continue to Lyon and board your second luxurious river ship, which will be home for the next seven nights. We embark on our French chapter of this magnificent river cruise, travelling through the French countryside by the Saône and Rhône Rivers.
Seven Nights: Aboard a luxurious APT river ship B(D)
Day 9. Lyon Gardens, Freedom of Choice Touring
In Lyon, considered the gastronomic capital of France, we are joined by our Gourmet Guide, Jane Webster who will share her love and knowledge of French food with those of you who would like a more in-depth cultural immersion into French cooking. Your choices today are to enjoy a morning of leisure on your own in Lyon where you might like to explore the shops or visit the Art Gallery, or join Jane to explore some hidden gourmet treasures of Lyon or visit a private garden. Later, cruise north onto the beautiful Saône River, past the medieval village of Trevoux. Hear about the different French wine regions with a lecture from our wine expert on board. This evening, enjoy a meal at Paul Bocuse’s Michelin Star Restaurant, right on the river. (BLD)
Day 10. Belleville and Beaujolais Wine Region
From Belleville we traverse the picturesque landscapes of the Beaujolais wine region, the Pays d’Or or ‘Land of the Golden Stones’, named for the distinctive ochre limestone of its homes and castles. After exploring the medieval hilltop village of Oingt, we visit a family owned winery for a tour and wine tasting before cruising south to the charming town of Vienne with its strong Roman history, for an evening tour. (BLD)
Day 11. Tournon and Ardeche Mountains, Freedom of Choice Touring
Explore the town of Tournon and visit the Eden Parc Garden etched steeply into the mountainside, or travel through the majestic landscapes of the Ardeche Mountains to the pretty village of Boucieu-le-Roi to visit its local market of handmade crafts and enjoy local entertainment. Later, we cruise to Viviers and enjoy an after dinner stroll around the largely abandoned medieval town. (BLD)
Day 12. Provence, Grignan and Truffles
Today we visit the beautiful village of Grignan, perched upon a hill surrounded by lavender fields. We also visit a truffle farm for an insight into this unique industry as we join the truffle dogs on their hunt for truffles to dig, then sample some truffle delicacies. This afternoon, as we cruise through the Provence countryside dotted with fields of lavender and olive groves, our Gourmet Guide will do some French cooking demonstrations. (BLD)
Day 13. Avignon and Monty Don, Freedom of Choice Touring
In Avignon, the ‘City of Popes’, we have the option of a guided tour of the narrow streets and elegant squares to the Papal Palace. Alternatively, visit the gardens of Saint Andre Abbey and Brantes Castle or explore the markets with our gourmet guide and enjoy a French cooking class. This evening, we will have a very special lecture and cocktail party hosted by Monty Don. (BLD)
Day 14. Arles, Les Baux, Olive Oil or Bamboo, Freedom of Choice Touring
Arrive in Arles this morning, whose most famous resident was the painter, Van Gough. You can choose to take an excursion to the hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence for a tour of the castle, then visit Moulin du Calanquet, an olive mill and farm in Saint-Remy de Provence, where you can discover the tradition of olive growing. Alternatively, visit the biggest bamboo garden in Europe, which also has an amazing Japanese garden. Enjoy free time to explore Arles before a special Farewell Dinner. (BLD)
Day 15. Disembark Ship and Depart Nice
This morning, disembark the ship and be transferred to Nice airport for your onward flight, or you can choose to continue with Botanica for a 4 day Gardens of the Côte d’Azur tour, staying three nights in Nice on the French Riviera. (B)
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Trip Code: BTRR15
Departure: 23 April 2015
Twin Share: $8,995 per person
Solo Traveller: $13,045
Prices shown are based on a Category E (Piano Deck). See deck plans for more information.
To upgrade, add per person:
Category Deck Twin Share Solo Trav.
D Piano $595 $895
C Cello/Violin $2,095 $3,145
B Cello/Violin $2,395 $3,595
A Violin $2,595 $3,895
Owner’s Violin $3,695 $7,390
Single Cello - $2,395
• Services of a Cruise Director, Botanical Guide and Gourmet Guide
• Transfers on first and last day, tipping, port taxes and porterage
• Wine, beer and soft drink included with lunch and dinner on board
• 39 Meals – 14 Breakfasts, 11 lunches, 14 Dinners