This was the best holiday we have ever had and we hope to do it again in a couple of years time.
R & J Whittle, Gourmet Italy
Today, we leave Australia on a landmark journey to honour our servicemen on ANZAC Day.
Our flight arrives in Paris and we travel to Lille, where we will base ourselves for five nights at 18th century Clarance Hotel in the centre of Old Lille.
While Lille is close to First World War sites, it is also near the Champagne region. Choose from these Your World experiences today.
Today is the 103rd anniversary of ANZAC Day. We commemorate the sombre day with a choice of Your World experiences.
As on Day Three, we offer two Your World experiences, one for the historical enthusiasts and one for the gourmands.
Today, we continue to pay our respects to our fallen soldiers in the fields around Ypres, visiting the Tyne Cot Cemetery, Polygon Wood Cemetery, the site of the Battle of Hill 60 and the famously preserved crater left by a Caterpillar mine. We also spend time at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, which is devoted to the Third Battle of Ypres, where 500,000 men lost their lives to gain eight kilometres of ground. Those who do not wish to visit Ypres may spend the day at their own leisure.
The vineyards of Côtes des Blancs and Grand Cru beckon. At Moët & Chandon, toast the day. Then walk the Avenue de Champagne, said to be the most expensive road in the world, where millions of bottles of bubbles are stored in chalk cellars. Next stop, visit a family-owned champagne maker to see how age-old skills are being passed down before stepping aboard your barge.
This morning, we leave our barge behind to visit Verdun, where the longest battle of the First World War was fought – a gruelling and deadly 300 days from 21 February to 18 December 1916. We explore Fort Douaumont, which fell to the Germans in just three shocking days after the Battle of Verdun began, and the Douaumont Ossuary containing the remains of 130,000 unidentified soldiers. Our last stop today is the tragic Tranchée des Baïonnettes, honouring the French soldiers who were buried alive in their trench after a shell exploded. We return to our river boat for the onward journey to Dormans.
In contrast to yesterday, today is spent leisurely on the famous Champagne Route. We tour Hautvillers, where the monk Dom Pérignon once lived and worked, paying homage at his tomb. After visiting a leading champagne house and stopping for a taste, as one must do, we return to the barge to travel to Château-Thierry, where we dock for the evening.
After a restful sleep, we step off our barge to see the Remembrance Museum of Belleau, which honours American servicemen killed in Belleau Wood from 6 to 25 June 1918. At the foot of the hill where the battle was fought, the Aisne-Marne Cemetery is the final resting place of many of these brave men. We return to our ship where we relax, watching the vineyards pass as we travel on to Drachy, Champigny and our destination for the day, Saint-Jean-les-Deux-Jumeaux. Our barge docks for the night.
This is our last full day of cruising and we spend the morning enjoying the journey as we continue on the canal towards Meaux. It is afternoon when we leave our barge to tour the battlefields of the Marne and the Museum of the Great War. While we are on shore, our ship will continue on to Lagny-sur-Marne, where we will rejoin it. The evening will be a festive one, to celebrate our great river journey.
We approach Paris on the Seine. It is afternoon when we arrive. We take a walk through the city, stopping at Les Invalides in the 7th arrondissement. It is a museum that traces France’s military history from 1871 to 1945. We then head to Gare de Paris-Est to begin our iconic train journey on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Your private cabin is the epitome of 1920s splendour. Reminiscent of an era resplendent in decadence, dress for a delectable four-course gourmet meal inspired by Chef Christian Bodiguel.
The Austrian Alps greets us when we wake. Breakfast is served in your cabin, after which you can meet your fellow travellers in the bar car. We continue on through green valleys to the Brenner Pass. As the train crosses into Italy, we savour a three-course lunch in another of its beautiful restaurant cars. Vineyards and orchards form the pretty landscape outside. As afternoon tea finishes, we cross the Venetian lagoon and arrive at Santa Lucia station. Our home for the next three nights is the renowned Villa Danieli, steps away from the Bridge of Sighs.
Venice has so much to offer, and today, we have carefully curated two Your World experiences for you to select from.
Peggy Guggenheim was a wealthy socialite, radical hedonist and art collector. She moved to Venice with her vast collection of modern art in the second half of her life and began to exhibit pieces in her palazzo. Today, we explore the works of Picasso, Miró and Dalí, among others. Those who wish for a more relaxing day may opt out of this visit. This is the last night of our journey, and in true Captain’s Choice style, we celebrate with a private gala at the Venissa Winery, located on its own island of Mazzorbo.
Late morning, we head back to the mainland and the airport to catch our flight home to Australia. Because of the time difference, we arrive on Tuesday 8th of May.
Sometimes travelling can be a chore, distracting you from the fascinating places you are in. That’s why everything mundane has been moved behind the scenes. You will never have to carry a map, luggage, small change for tips or bargain for a taxi fare.
There are no hidden costs. Everything is included – flights and other travel arrangements, luxurious accommodation, travel insurance, all dining and drinks, and sightseeing trips. Even the Your World experiences within your itinerary and internet access when available.
Fares are based on a Standard Suite aboard the MS Raymonde per person, twin share.
Fares include Emirates flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Prices from other cities available on request.
Includes supplements for single hotel rooms. Solo suites at above prices are limited. Contact our Tour Sales Consultants for details on other suite upgrades.
Land Only Guests join the tour in Lille for dinner on Day 2 and depart Venice after breakfast on Day 16.
Note: This journey is exclusively reserved for a group of just 20 travellers.