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Home » Destinations » Europe » France » Riviera Travel Gardens and Natural Beauty of the Rhône
Embark on a captivating cruise through the enchanting landscapes of France, from the vine-covered hills of Burgundy to the vibrant floral scenes and aromatic lavender fields of Provence. The journey along the Rhône River, bathed in sunlight, takes you from Lyon to Avignon. Explore meticulously restored historic gardens, revel in the inspiring landscapes that fuelled Van Gogh’s creativity, and traverse the charming cities of Lyon, Vienne, and Beaune with a knowledgeable local guide.
As you sail past terraced vineyards, savor the Provencal lavender fragrance, marvel at the Ardèche Gorge and its suspended gardens, all while indulging in the finest wines of Burgundy.
Day 1 – Arrival in Lyon
Fly to Lyon or take the Eurostar. On arrival, transfer to the cruise ship
Day 2 – Lyon
Enjoy breakfast on board, followed by a guided tour of Lyon, strategically located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers. Explore the vast Parc de la Tête d’Or, known for its extensive rose gardens and botanical treasures.
After lunch on board, cruise towards Chalon-sur-Saône, passing the picturesque Beaujolais hills and glimpses of charming villages. As evening approaches, relax with a refreshing drink in the lounge before savoring a delightful dinner prepared by our exceptional chef.
Day 3 – Beaune
After a night of steady travel, we wake up in Chalon, the gateway to Burgundy and the birthplace of photography by Nicéphore Niépce. En route to our destination, Beaune, we pass through charming wine-producing villages like Meursault, Volnay, Pommard, and Gevrey-Chambertin. In medieval Beaune, surrounded by centuries-old vineyards, embark on a short walking tour and a wine tasting at a local cellar. The region, known for its well-drained soils and hot summers, produces some of the world’s finest wines. After a tour and tasting at a traditional winemaker’s cellars, return to the ship for lunch, followed by a leisurely afternoon and evening cruise toward Vienne, taking advantage of the ship’s five-star facilities.
Day 4 – Vienne and Tournon
As the ship gently cruises downstream overnight, enjoy breakfast in Vienne and explore the picturesque town, including the vibrant Jardin de Ville central park. Admire colorful flower beds, manicured lawns, and serene pools with Roman remnants. The ship will dock then dock in Tournon providing a view of the imposing castle and vine-covered hillsides of Hermitage. Visit the Garden of Eden for a guided tour, exploring botanical spaces and terraces with panoramic valley views. Conclude the day with an exquisite dinner overlooking the scenic surroundings.
Day 5 – Ardèche Gorges
This morning, effortlessly cruise downstream, witnessing the transition from the lush greenery to the ochres and magentas of the Mediterranean-style landscape near Valence. After a relaxing afternoon of reading or sunbathing, explore the impressive Ardèche Gorges, marveling at the sheer limestone cliffs, the Pont d’Arc, and captivating natural formations.
A visit to a local lavender museum offers insights into the plant’s history and production of essential oils. Returning to the Rhône Valley, moor in the medieval town of Viviers, near the famous Bollène lock, and enjoy dinner onboard, concluding the day with a ballroom dancing performance.
Day 6 – Arles & Pont du Gard
Wake up under Provence’s azure skies in Arles, a city with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a rich Roman history. Explore its well-preserved amphitheatre, Augustus-era theatre, and the ancient necropolis Alyscamps during our guided tour. Delve into the artistic legacy of Van Gogh, who found inspiration in Arles, as seen in his famous painting “Hospital in Arles.”
The L’Escape Van Gogh courtyard reflects the same timeless beauty with its lush flowers. After lunch, witness the awe-inspiring Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct, a 2,000-year-old marvel that spans over 900 feet and stands almost 160 feet high without using mortar in its construction. Cruising along the Rhône during dinner, pass the Tarascon castle, a 15th-century sentinel on the riverbank. Conclude the day with the sumptuous Captain’s Dinner, featuring specialties from the regions visited, as the ship sails towards Avignon.
Day 7 – Avignon
Today, explore the captivating city of Avignon on a guided tour, where the 14th-century relocation of the Pope’s court led to a century of prosperity and ambitious building projects. Immaculately preserved within its 14th-century walls, Avignon boasts remarkable monuments, churches, and the imposing Pope’s Palace, the world’s largest Gothic palace. Adorned with priceless frescoes and sculptures, its interior offers a medieval architectural masterpiece. Imagine the grandeur of papal Avignon during the Middle Ages as you stroll through its halls and corridors.
After the tour, ascend the Rocher De Doms for panoramic views of the French countryside and explore the 19th-century landscaped gardens. Return to the ship’s luxurious surroundings to reflect on the day’s wonders. Enjoy dinner on board and unwind with the sounds of a local pianist performing French songs.
Day 8 – Return home
Transfer back to the airport or train station for your journey home
MS Lord Byron
MS Thomas Hardy
*All transfer times listed here are approximate and dependent on traffic
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