A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Trace the Mediterranean coasts of France and Italy, exploring Provence, the Côte d’Azur, the Italian Riviera, and Cinque Terre. Venture to the medieval walled towns of Carcassonne and Lucca, and trace the legacies of great artists from Cézanne and Van Gogh in Provence to Michelangelo in Florence.

Starting at: $5,630 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The village of Portofino  Palais des Papes, Avignon, France  Panorama of Florence at dusk  Duomo at the historic center of Florence  The Tuscan hill town of Volterra  The village of Vernazza, along the Cinque Terre  The cathedral at Lucca  The legendary tower of Pisa  The village of Portofino on the Italian Riviera  Market square in Old Town, Aix-en-Provence  Medieval Carcassonne, France  The medieval city and castle of Carcassonne  The medieval fortifications of Carcassonne  The Rock of Monte Carlo with the Prince's Palace

Southern France and the Italian Riviera by Sea

From Barcelona to Civitavecchia on the 184-guest Le Champlain

9 days from $5,630

A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Trace the Mediterranean coasts of France and Italy, exploring Provence, the Côte d’Azur, the Italian Riviera, and Cinque Terre. Venture to the medieval walled towns of Carcassonne and Lucca, and trace the legacies of great artists from Cézanne and Van Gogh in Provence to Michelangelo in Florence.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Climb aboard in Barcelona and sail the length of France’s southern coast, dropping anchor to explore medieval villages, ancient Roman sites, and charming Provençal towns. Continue along the Italian Riviera to the picturesque villages of Cinque Terre, and explore gems of art and history in Tuscany on excursions to Pisa, Lucca, Florence, or Volterra. Make a final stop in the captivating cliff-top village of Bonifacio, Corsica before ending your voyage near Rome.  

The Smithsonian Journeys / PONANTExperience: Each cruise will be accompanied by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts. An excursion or activity is included in each port of call. You may have a choice of excursions in many ports, so that you can delve more deeply into subjects that interest you.

Highlights Include

  • Carcassonne, France: Spend a day discovering turrets and ramparts of the medieval walled city of Carcassonne, a World Heritage site that seems straight out of a fairy tale.
  • Provence and the Côte d’Azur: Explore Aix-en-Provence, once home to Paul Cezanne; or take an excursion to Arles or to Avignon. In Nice, visit the museum dedicated to Marc Chagall. Alternatively, tour Monte Carlo and the hilltop medieval village of Eze or visit St. Paul de Vence and the Maeght Foundation.
  • Italian Riviera: Sail along the Italian Riviera to the picturesque fishing village of Portofino, and take a walking tour.
  • Cinque Terre and Tuscany: View the dramatic landscape of Cinque Terre from the sea. Then cruise in local boats to Monterosso and Vernazza and enjoy time to explore these Cinque Terre villages. Or visit the historic Tuscan towns of Lucca and Pisa. Then encounter revered Renaissance art in fabled Florence or visit Roman ruins and the Etruscan Museum in Volterra.
  • Bonifacio, Corsica: In cliff-top fortress town of Bonifacio, venture into the labyrinthine streets of the medieval Citadel, or ride a local boat along coastal cliffs to impressive grottos.

  

Itinerary

Day 1 — Barcelona, Spain

Arrive in Barcelona and transfer to the port. Embark our ship and begin your voyage north toward France. (D) 

Day 2 — Carcassonne, France

Dock in Sète and travel inland to the fortified medieval city of Carcassonne. Spend the day discovering the ramparts, turrets, and towers of this World Heritage site and learn about its restoration at the hands of 19th-century architect Viollet-le-Duc, said to have invented modern restoration techniques. (B,L,D) 

Day 3 — Marseille and Provence

Anchor in Marseille, France’s oldest city, and travel into Provence on your choice of excursions. Tour the boulevards and squares of Aix-en-Provence, an elegant university town known for its baroque architecture and for its native sons Émile Zola and Paul Cézanne. Or visit Arles, once a bustling Roman city founded by Julius Caesar. See its impressive Roman amphitheater, and trace the steps of Vincent Van Gogh, who spent one of the most prolific periods of his career in the city. Or drive along the Rhône to Avignon, seat of the papacy for much of the 14th century. Visit the extraordinary Papal Palace and enjoy time to explore the charming old town. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Nice, St. Paul de Vence / Eze and Monte Carlo, Monaco

Sail along the Côte d’Azur to Nice, named a World Heritage site in 2021. Explore this cosmopolitan seaside city, long considered a winter resort for Europeans, and visit a museum dedicated to one of its most famous residents: Marc Chagall. Alternatively, head to Monaco for a tour of chic Monte Carlo, then journey to the picturesque hilltop town of Eze for a stroll along its medieval streets. Or travel to St. Paul de Vence and view the modern art at the Maeght Foundation. (B,L,D) 

Day 5 — Portofino, Italy and the Italian Rivier

Cruise past the elegant resort towns that dot the rugged shores of the Italian Riviera. Anchor in the picturesque fishing village of Portofino, and take a walking tour of its winding lanes, lined with houses painted in warm hues. Then enjoy time at leisure to explore this magical spot on your own. (B,L,D) 

Day 6 — Cinque Terre or Lucca and Pisa

Take in stunning views of the five tiny villages known as the Cinque Terre during an early morning sail. Then set off in private boats from Porto Venere to visit two of the villages - Monterosso and Vernazza - on foot. Or travel into Tuscany to discover the historic walled town of Lucca and visit Pisa, once an important Roman port now known best for its famously leaning tower. (B,L,D) 

Day 7 — Florence or Volterra

Immerse yourself in the spectacular Renaissance city of Florence, encountering some of its most iconic artistic treasures, from Brunelleschi’s dome to Michelangelo’s David. Tour the city’s piazzas and churches, and learn how the city of the de Medicis shaped art history. Alternatively, ascend to hilltop Volterra and visit Roman ruins and the Etruscan Museum, where an impressive collection of artifacts traces the rich legacy of this ancient civilization. (B,L,D) 

Day 8 — Bonifacio, Corsica, France

Follow the coast of Corsica to the fortress town of Bonifacio, perched on cliffs high above the sea. Set off into the labyrinthine streets of the medieval Citadel, visiting churches and historic monuments. Or choose to ride a local boat along the coast, exploring grottos tucked within the dramatically eroded limestone cliffs. (B,L,D) 

Day 9 — Civitavecchia, Italy

After breakfast, disembark in Civitavecchia, northwest of Rome, and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)