Burgundy, the River Rhône & Provence River Cruise - Travel Agency in York
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Burgundy, the River Rhône & Provence River Cruise

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Your Itinerary Burgundy, the River Rhône & Provence River Cruise


Arrive for your flight to Lyon, Marseille or Montpellier, or take the
Eurostar from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord,
where you will be met by a guide and escorted on a coach transfer to
Gare de Lyon to board a high-speed TGV to Lyon. On arrival we transfer
by coach to our ship moored in Lyon’s historic centre. The dedicated
English-speaking crew will welcome you on board and help you to your
cabin. After settling in to your spacious and tastefully furnished
accommodation, there’s time to familiarise yourself with this five-star
floating hotel.


After our first splendid breakfast, we’ve a leisurely start enjoying a
guided tour of Lyon, one of France’s most fascinating cities. The Rhône
Valley had been the route of choice for marauding armies and peaceful
traders for centuries, and Lyon’s current site, at the confluence of the
Rhône and Saône Rivers, cried out to be fortified. In 43 BC the Romans
founded the city, which subsequently grew in importance; the Emperor
Claudius, conqueror of Britain, was born here. There are many Roman
remains to see, but it was the production of silk that brought Lyon to
prominence during the Middle Ages, and throughout the city you can
see signs of the wealth that poured in – Renaissance buildings, imposing
churches and Europe’s largest pedestrian square, Place Bellecour, with a
statue of
Louis XIV as its focus. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is
crammed with antique shops and intriguing traboules – narrow covered
passageways enabling silk merchants to transport their wares to the
river without getting wet – that today are a joy to amble through. As well
as its glorious architecture, Lyon is generally acknowledged as France’s
(and to locals the world’s) gastronomic capital. In fairness it has much to
commend it: nouvelle cuisine was invented near here and the city boasts
a huge array of speciality food shops and eateries, including 20
restaurants with one or more Michelin stars and countless little places
to eat.
While you enjoy your first lunch the ship quietly slips its mooring.
Cruising upstream, we catch the first glimpses of the vine-clad slopes of
the hazy green Beaujolais hills as we approach one of the world’s most
revered red-wine-producing regions. On our left we see the picturesque
villages of Morgon, Fleury, Juliénas, Chénas and many more, while on
the right you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of snow-capped
Mont Blanc – Western Europe’s highest mountain. As the afternoon
drifts into evening and we cruise past the town that gives them their
name, the white wines of Mâcon hold sway – and what could be better
than a cool, crisp glass in the lounge before enjoying this evening’s
culinary delights in the restaurant, prepared by our outstanding chef.


Rising this morning we’re berthed in Chalon, gateway to Burgundy and
home of Nicéphore Niépce, the inventor of photography. On this
morning’s tour we see some of the pretty yet surprisingly small villages
that produce some of the world’s most sublime wines – Meursault,
Volnay, Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertin and many more. Nearby is
medieval Beaune, Burgundy’s wine capital, which is wonderful to
wander around. At its centre is the Hospices de Beaune, also known as
the Hôtel-Dieu. Originally built in the 15th century as a hospital for the
disadvantaged, it’s a jewel of High Gothic architecture, instantly
recognisable for its colourful glazed roof tiles arranged in dazzling
geometric patterns. A prestigious annual wine auction takes place here
each November, with proceeds going to benefit the Hospices and its
charity work. Of course you can’t visit Burgundy without sampling its
amazing wines, so we visit the cellars of a leading traditional winemaker
for a tour and tasting before returning to the ship for lunch.


Overnight the ship has cruised almost imperceptibly downstream and
we enjoy breakfast in Vienne before our guided tour. Strikingly located
in a narrow section of the Rhône where the river meanders dramatically
around a steep bluff, Vienne is a treasure trove of historic remains,
including the stunning Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia, one of only
two edifices of this type in the whole of the country. From the ship, a
little train will take you to the top of the city, the Mont Pipet hill, where
the view onto the Rhône will inspire keen photographers. It’s also where
the Romans chose to build the spectacular amphitheatre in the 1st
Century AD, which could accommodate 13.500 spectators. As the train
weaves through the charming, narrow streets of the old town, soak up
the history of this fascinating place.
We wander back to the ship for another superb lunch, during which we
enter perhaps the most picturesque section of the Rhône as the river
squeezes and twists past Condrieu, Saint-Rambert-d’Albon and SaintVallier, with wooded cliffs rising high on both sides. Later we moor in
the pretty provincial town of Tournon, with its imposing castle and tree-
lined avenues on one side of the river, while on the other are the steep
vine-covered hillsides of Hermitage, where another of the world’s most
revered wines is produced – a fitting view as we enjoy another exquisite


This morning we cruise effortlessly downstream. In the distance you’ll
catch glimpses of the Alps and, as we approach Valence, the landscape
gradually becomes less green with more ochres and magentas, the
houses have sloping terracotta roofs typical of the Mediterranean and
the air carries heady aromas of pine and cypress. You can only be in the
Midi or – as we call it – the south of France. It’s so relaxing to catch up
on some reading or just laze in the sun.
After lunch we explore one of France’s most outstanding landscapes –
the Ardèche Gorges, whose scale is a fitting reminder of Mother
Nature’s awesome power. Sheer limestone cliffs plunge almost 1,000
feet to the river’s blue waters, which elegantly snake their way through
stupendous rock formations, culminating in a huge natural arch, the
Pont d’Arc. Caves, grottoes and natural sculptures create marvellous
views at every turn before we return to the gentler slopes of the Rhône
Valley, where our ship is moored in charming Viviers, a medieval town
clustered around its 12th-century cathedral. We slip our mooring and
proceed through the famous lock at Bollène, one of the deepest in
France, as you relax over dinner.


You awake under the azure skies of deepest Provence and amid the
warm stone colours of Arles, many of whose historic monuments are
UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Although small in size, it was the key
stronghold on the Roman road to Spain, one of the empire’s richest
possessions. Seagoing ships could reach here and the city became a
regional capital, briefly ruling over Gaul, Spain and Britain. Our guided
tour will help you appreciate the finer points of Arles’s magnificent
Roman remains, including the splendid amphitheatre, one of the best
preserved in the world, the earlier theatre built during the reign of
Augustus and the Alyscamps, the ancient necropolis with its
extraordinary atmosphere. The disturbed but great genius of an artist
Van Gogh lived in Arles for just over a year, from February 1888. It was
his most prolific period and, inspired by Arles and the light and beauty
of the Provençal countryside, he produced around 300 works, including
The Night Café, The Sower and, of course, Sunflowers.
After lunch we visit the amazing Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct, one of
the wonders of the ancient world. No amount of fame can diminish the
first sight of this 2,000-year-old structure, which was the highest bridge
built in the Empire –the Romans themselves considered it the most
important testimony to their greatness. Its statistics are staggering: over
900 feet long and almost 160 feet high, with its stones each weighing up
to six tons. To put this in perspective, the span of the Pont du Gard is
greater than the width of the River Thames at London Bridge – and no
mortar was used in its construction! The situation is lovely too, with
pine- and cypress-covered hills adding to the harmonious setting.
Rejoining the ship, we cruise along the Rhône and, during dinner, pass
the imposing 15th-century castle at Tarascon standing guard on the
river bank.


The light catching the red roofs of Avignon’s majestic skyline is a sight to
behold over breakfast, after which we embark on a guided tour of one
of the most extraordinary and intriguing cities in France. Avignon’s
destiny changed during the 14th century, when the Pope’s court moved
here to avoid strife in Rome. Igniting a century of prosperity, the Pontiff
commissioned a host of ambitious building projects, and today the city
is immaculately preserved, nestling behind its almost-intact 14thcentury walls and boasting more remarkable monuments, superbly
decorated buildings, churches, chapels and convents than you can
possibly count. Most important is the stunning Popes’ Palace, made up
of two buildings that together form the largest Gothic palace in the
world. With turrets, towers, parapets and other fortifications, its exterior
resembles a mighty fortress, while the interior is a tour de force of
medieval architecture and ornamentation, adorned with priceless
frescoes, Gobelin tapestries and graceful sculptures. The ceremonial
hall, chapels, cloisters and private apartments are all unmissable. But to
truly embrace the feel of papal Avignon, imagine yourself here during
the Middle Ages amid the Palace’s rich furnishings and extravagant
decoration, with cardinals, princes and ambassadors milling about its
candle-lit halls and corridors, while in the streets below countless
pilgrims eagerly anticipate benediction. This was Avignon’s brief golden
age, when it was truly the centre of Christendom.
After lunch you’re free to explore as you wish, perhaps visiting the
nearby Petit Palais, the former home of the archbishops of Avignon, to
cast a critical eye over the remarkable collection of over 300 paintings
and sculptures from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including works
by Botticelli and Carpaccio. Or take a stroll on the iconic Pont d’Avignon,
which, dramatically, ends halfway across the river, made famous by the
melody we all recall from our first French lessons. It’s our final
afternoon so you may wish to do some shopping, or just find a quiet
café in a shady Provençal square to watch the world go by. Perhaps
though, return to the luxurious surroundings of our ship, finding a quiet
spot to contemplate the many wondrous places you’ve seen and
experienced over a quiet cup of tea!
This evening we enjoy the sumptuous Captain’s Dinner, with the chef
serving specialities of the regions you’ve visited during your voyage of


After breakfast you bid farewell to the ship and her dedicated crew,
before transferring to the airport for your return flight or to Avignon for
your high-speed rail journey home.
Please note: This document has been compiled based on the information available to us at the time it
was created for you, we reserve the right to alter or cancel itineraries, accommodation or other
arrangements at any time. Prices and accommodation are subject to change as they are based on
availability at the time of booking.

  • Per Person Based on 2 Sharing
  • April-October 2020
  • 7 nights
  • Full Board
    • 7 nights on board a 5-star ship
    • Return flights & transfers
    • 7 visits & tours
    • Full Board
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