Paris•Dijon•Beaune•Chalon-sur-Saône•Tournus•Lyon•Tournon•Tain l'Hermitage•Viviers•Avignon•Arles•Côte d'Azur
The south of france has long been a holiday haven for the British tourist. Words really cannot do justice to this idyllic spot. The beauty of the light, which has inspired artists for centuries. The Romanesque architectural remains and ruins. The medieval churches and cobbled streets, infamous sites, the smell of lavender and of course the world renowned wines. There truly is no better place to take a river cruise.
Sit back and let the pace of the south of France envelope you. Each cruise has plenty of leisure time for strolling and people watching. The sites drift past whilst you sample the local cuisine and the produce from the multitude of appellations that lie within reach.
An itinerary can take in an 8 day cruise between Lyon and Arles. Or you can add the chic of the Rivera and Provence by including a stay in Nice and a day in Aix. The choice is yours. We guarantee that whatever you decide, you will not be disappointed.
From Burgundy to the north down to the wines of the Côtes du Rhône in the south this region produces some of the most highly regarded wines in the world. Burgundy's most prized wines such as Mersault, Gervrey-Chambertin and Montrachet adorn the slopes of the Côte d'Or escarpment from Dijon in the north down to Beaune in the south.
The journey between Lyon and Arles covers a number of appellations and derivatives of the northern and southern Rhône. Here you will discover such names as Crozes-Hermitage, Côtes du Rhône, or perhaps the Beaujolais Nouveau or a silky smooth Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Located at the meeting of the Rhône and Saône rivers Lyon is perhaps one of France's best kept secrets. It boasts no less than 1500 restaurants and countless Michelin stars and is widely recognised as the gastronic capital of France - if not the world.
Many cruises start and finish in Lyon and we would strongly recommend extending your stay in one of the many hotels and sampling the food on offer in its astonishing restaurants around the stunning cobbled streets of Vieux Lyon.
It also has the most stunningly lit city facade at night, including the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, which stands out from its hillside location overlooking the city.
Beaune, reached from Chalon-sur-Saône, has been crowned the Capital of Burgundy and you will be most welcome to sample any number of local wines which are available. The town dates back more than 2,000 years and you may well be able to visit Hôtel Dieu, a former charitable almshouse built in 1443. A fine example of French gothic architecture as well as one of the best cellars in the region.
Nestled at the bottom of the Hermitage hill these twin towns face each other across the Rhône river, linked by a 19th century suspension bridge. Hermitage is one of the most prized wine producing areas of the Rhône valley.
The City of the Popes, Avignon is the 14th century seat of the exciled Papacy and home the Papal Palace, a UNESCO site which was started in 1335 and took less than 20 years to complete what is Europe's largest gothic palace. A rambling maze which is there to explore including the private papal apartments and stunning frescoes painted by Italian artists Matteo Giovannetti. Your river cruise ship maybe able to dock right beside the most famous landmark of Avignon, St Bénézet's bridge, better known as the Pont d'Avignon.
Arles was settled by the Romans with ruins clear to see this heritage today, perhaps the most impressive being the 20,000 seat Les Arenes which is still used today. Arles is also the city which inspired many painters, including Van Gogh, who arrived in 1888 and painted both the Sunflowers and Chair paintings here in the same year, part of the 300 paintings he completed in his time in the city. Espace Van Gogh can be enjoyed in the city as well as its unique Provencal light.
Set at the heart of the Beaujolais region, a pretty town surrounded by vineyards.
Located between the Burgundy and Beujolais regions, Vienne has a Roman heritage. You may like to take a mini-land train tours around the town to view the Roman Temple of Augustus and the medieval churches of St Andre-Le-Bas and Abbey St Pierre.
Into the Ardeche mountains by coach, a tour of the valley's beauty and a stop at the vibrant local market and taste the flavours of the local wine.
After afternoon cruising you will arrive in viviers, a small walled city on the right bank of the Rhone. After dinner there is the chance to participate in a guided 'ghost walk' through the largely abandoned medieval city that once housed more than 30,000 inhabitants.
Ships tend to offer an on board enrichment programme which can include cookery demonstrations, wine tasting, epicurean adventurer programme, French language lesson, wine making demonstration and lectures about the painters inspired by the region.
Why not add a few extra days in Lyon or Marseille to truly explore what these hidden French gems have to offer. Sitting at the beginning and end of the most common cruise itineraries a stay in these cities can be added to the either end of your holiday dependent on direction of travel.
Rhône cruises may also be combined with a stay in Nice on the Riviera, or the romantic beauty of Paris, for a truly unforgettable holiday.
Please call 0800 471 4754 for further information and assistance.
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