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: $5,860 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 $5,860

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

2023 Pre-Cruise Program — 3 Days, 2 Nights

Catalonia enjoys one of the richest cultural heritages in Spain. This specially designed program introduces you to two very different elements of that heritage: the 12th-century Benedictine monastery on Montserrat and the modernist city of Barcelona.

Day 1 – Barcelona, Spain

Arrive in Barcelona, where you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Almanac Barcelona. Check-in time is 3:00 PM. A local representative will be present at the hospitality desk in the afternoon to welcome you and to offer suggestions for dining and independent exploration. Join fellow travelers this evening for a welcome reception at the hotel. Dinner is on your own. 

Hotel Almanac Barcelona

Day 2 – Barcelona / Montserrat

After breakfast, meet your guide for an excursion to the astonishing Monastery of Montserrat. A scenic drive through the countryside north of Barcelona brings you to a chain of serrated limestone mountains, where you board a cog railway for the steep climb up the mountain to the Benedictine monastery on a terrace near the summit. Your guided tour includes the ornate basilica, whose highlight is a wooden statue of the Virgin that has attracted pilgrims since the 12th century. You will also visit the museum, displaying pieces of art collected in the last century and containing important works of Monet, Rusiñol, Casas, and Picasso. Lunch will be served in the restaurant located in what were once the monastery's stables before you return to the hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure with time for independent exploration. Dinner is on your own. 

Hotel Almanac Barcelona

Day 3 – Barcelona, Spain / Embark

After breakfast at the hotel, join an excursion to the monuments and neighborhoods that define the extraordinary personality and vitality of Barcelona. Begin in the heart of the city with a visit to Antoni Gaudí's iconic Sagrada Familia. Begun in 1884 and still unfinished, this monument of spirituality awes and inspires visitors from around the world. Your guided tour will introduce you to Gaudí's vision and to the ongoing effort to achieve it. A short drive brings you to the Block of Discord to view Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Amatller, icons of modernist Barcelona. After enjoying lunch, a leisurely stroll along elegant Passeig de Gràcia brings you to Barrio Gótico, the oldest part of the city. Explore this enchanting neighborhood of narrow streets, home to Barcelona's great 14th-century Cathedral and Plaça Sant Jaume. End at the pier to embark your ship in the late afternoon. 

Your hotel:

Hotel Almanac Barcelona, located on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, is a new (opened in 2018) boutique hotel in Barcelona’s city center, featuring 91 rooms and suites. It is only a few steps from Passeig de Gràcia, where you can find stylish shopping, restaurants, bars, and museums. The hotel itself houses a restaurant and a rooftop bar, a wellness and fitness center, and a rooftop pool. 

Your program includes:

  • 2 nights at the Hotel Almanac Barcelona (or similar)
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the airport to the hotel on the scheduled program arrival  day
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the hotel to the ship on Day 3
  • Welcome cocktail reception on Day 1
  • Breakfast on Days 2 and 3
  • Lunch on Days 2 and 3
  • Sightseeing and programming as noted in the itinerary
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Gratuities for the drivers and local guides

Your program does not include:

  • Transfer from the airport to the hotel on any day other than the scheduled program arrival day
  • Personal expenses and other services and meals not mentioned as included in the program

Please note:

  • It is imperative that your flight arrival details are communicated at least 30 days prior to the beginning of your cruise in order to secure your transfer from the airport to the hotel.
  • Early check-in and/or late check-out are available depending on availability and at a supplement. An additional night is possible, upon request and depending on hotel availability. Please, contact reservations or your travel agent for further details.
  • The official currency is the Euro. Credit cards are largely accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants.
  • This pre-cruise program is offered as a package. There will be no refunds for unused accommodations, meals, or excursions. 
  • Program is offered on a space available basis and is subject to change without notice. 

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)

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