Colors of Provence
7- Night Cruise on the Rhone River
CRUISE FROM: LYON TO ARLES
From romantic cities to foodie havens and artistic epicenters, this itinerary enlivens all your senses. Embark in Lyon, France’s culinary capital and savor the beauty of legendary vineyards and imbibe in local vintages like Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. You can even become an expert in all things culinary: go in search of the highly prized “Black Diamond” truffles and learn how to pair chocolate with wine. Trace the steps of famous artists in Arles and Carrières des Lumières. Lower the drawbridge of your fantasies in Avignon, a sprawling commune with an overwhelming array of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, intriguing art museums and historic charm, before your return flight home.
Days 1 - 2 | France
Discover dynamic Lyon, starting in Fourvière Hill, part of the city’s historic region that is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the 19th-century basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière. Continue on to the old town of Lyon, followed by a guided walk through the St. Jean district, where you will be introduced to the city’s unique covered walkways, known as “traboules.” Alternately, indulge in rich cheeses, fresh breads and charcuterie in Les Halles Market or join a guided bike tour through the city designed with cyclists in mind.
Days 3 | France
Travel to the Beaujolais wine region—known as the Pays d’Or or “land of the golden stones.” Indulge in a wine tasting at a traditional winery and learn about the history and techniques of their vineyard. Once back on board, take in the views during a scenic cruise to Vienne, where you will have time to explore on your own.
Day 4 | France
Follow the footsteps of the ancient Romans on a walking tour to see the amazingly well-preserved Augustus and Livia Temple, the Saint Maurice Cathedral, a Gothic church that took more than 500 years to build, and St. Pierre Abbey—one of the oldest surviving churches in France, and now an Archaeological Museum. For those wishing to be more active, you can either take a guided hike from the ship to the Monastery at Mount Pipet or a guided bike tour along a portion of the ViaRhôna bike route.
Day 5 | France
Take a steam train ride past magnificent landscape carved along the Gorge du Doux, stopping at the charming little station of Colombier le Vieux-Saint Barthélemy le Plain, where the train maneuvers in preparation for its return journey. Alternatively, lovers of wine and chocolate will want to visit Le Château de Tournon for a presentation and tasting on the pairing of red wine and chocolate. For a more active adventure, take a hike through the vineyards of Tain l’Hermitage, followed by a visit to a local winery where you’ll sample some of the wines.
Day 6 | France
Depending on your interests, you have three choices of excursions for the morning. Avignon, aptly named the “City of Popes,” was the center of the Catholic Church in the 14th century when its “Palais des Papes” was the equivalent of today’s Vatican. Discover the history of Avignon on a guided walking tour that includes the Papal Palace and the well-preserved medieval walls surrounding the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit three venues around Avignon to taste regional specialties including macarons, cheese and wine, and tapenades or you can enjoy a bike tour. During the afternoon, you can go to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the impressive Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct that is a masterpiece of ancient engineering. Alternately, you can go to the magnificent hilltop village, Grignan, where you will go in search of the highly prized “Black Diamond” truffles with a farmer and his trustworthy canine companion.
Days 7 - 8 | France
Considered one of the most beautiful cities in France, Arles enchants all with its tantalizing history, formerly a Roman center of trade. Experience the Carrières de Lumières, where you will be treated to a spectacular presentation of art, sound and history projected on the walls of a former limestone quarry set to music. You can also visit an olive farm to learn about this age-old Provençal tradition and enjoy a tasting. The master olive miller will lead you on a walk through the grove and explain how olives are cultivated, harvested and pressed to produce the Mediterranean’s nectar, olive oil.
Alternatively, explore Saint Rémy de Provence, the location where Van Gogh painted some of his most famous paintings, including Starry Night. Later in the day, join a guided walking tour where you’ll visit the Roman ruins of Arles such as its Roman Amphitheater and the Church of Saint Trophime, famous for its Romanesque architecture. Alternatively, you can enjoy a bike ride along the Rhône, through town to the Langlois Bridge, a famous subject from several Vincent Van Gogh paintings. And for those who wish to delve further into Van Gogh’s Arles, join a special walking tour along with a visit to the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, showcasing his legacy.