Want to stay in a French castle on your next cruise?

France-Loire Valley - Chenonceau Castle

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Two new cruise tours to Europe next April offer Australians the chance to stay in three fairytale French castles and honour our war heroes on the historic Western Front battlefields on Anzac Day.

Cruise Express has released two Connoisseur France packages: a 19-night itinerary including a Seine River cruise to the English Channel and a 25-night tour featuring a river cruise through the heart of Europe from Luxembourg to Hungary. Bookings for either tour made before 15 September 2016, will receive discounts of up to $1000 per person.

Both tours depart Australia on 22 April 2017, and begin from Paris with an eight-night, guided land tour of France escorted by Cruise Express. The tour will showcase the wine, cuisine, culture, history and architecture of France. Features include the chance to sip authentic champagne in the Champagne region and visit some of the Loire Valley’s most spectacular châteaux such as Chambord, Chenonceau, Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau with their moats, turrets and ornamental gardens. A palace near Amboise where Leonardo da Vinci once lived can also be explored.

Highlights include a moving dawn service on Anzac Day at Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme region and a total of five nights spent at three luxurious chateaux – Le Château de Rilly near Reims, Le Château d’Esclimont near Chartres and Château de la Bourdaisière in the Loire Valley.

Back in Paris, guests can choose from two, all-inclusive river cruises: a journey on France’s Seine River to the beaches of Normandy or a longer cruise along the Moselle, Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers to Budapest.

The first cruise aboard Scenic Gem is a 10-night sojourn to Honfleur on the English Channel, including two nights with sightseeing in Paris. Guests will float through landscapes painted by famous French artists like Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh, whose homes and gardens are included in the complimentary shore tour programme. An elegant dinner and classical concert in the grand Benedictine Palace in Fécamp is also a highlight.

The second cruise option begins with two nights’ accommodation with sightseeing in Paris, followed by a 14-night cruise aboard Avalon Visionary from Luxembourg to Budapest past vineyard-cloaked hills, cliff-hanging castles, sprawling abbeys and cobblestoned villages.

Each cruise includes shore tours and onboard beverages and ends with a flight home to Australia.

The 19-night cruise tour, including the Seine cruise, is available from $12,990 per person, twin-share, while the 25-night itinerary ending in Budapest is priced from $13,990 per person, twin-share. Fares include return flights from Australia and savings of up to $1000 if booked by 15 September 2016.

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