Romantic settings, quaint country villages, stunning scenery and rolling vineyards are yours to discover on your river cruise through Lyon, to Chalon-Sur-Saône, Avignon and Arles. The region’s wines and gastronomic delights are waiting to be tasted, and France’s impressive architecture including castles and palaces – there to be explored. Romanesque influences rise from cities’ ruins while castles built by French nobility tell tales of the past lives of the country’s wealthy, providing you with an all-encompassing experience of France’s past and present.
Day 1 | Highlights:
Welcome to Lyon. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the ship where you will be welcomed by your Captain and crew. Tonight enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board.
Day 2 | Lyon Highlights:
Lyon is France’s third largest city, a former Roman capital positioned at the conference of the Rhone and Saone rivers, which is steeped in history. Your tour starts with a drive to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere, Lyon’s hilltop church, with stunning views over the town. Then pass by the recently re–discovered Roman amphitheatre and walk through the cobbled streets of the gastronomic old town including the secret laneways. This evening sail north through the beautiful Beaujolais region.
Discover More: Excursion to the medieval town of Perouges (extra expense)
Day 3 | Chalon-Sur-Saone – Beaune Highlights:
Chalon–Sur–Saone is best known as the birthplace of photography and the centre of Burgundy’s wine region. Travel by road to the quaint village of Beaune, where we visit the Hospices de Beaune, one of the finest examples of French fifteenth–century architecture. Marvel at the multi–coloured roofs of this former hospital, now a museum, which has become one of the symbols of Burgundy. Return to the ship for lunch, and then depart this afternoon for Macon arriving in the evening. Tonight, enjoy local entertainment on board. Emerald Active: Join your guide for a bike excursion from Tournus to Macon while the ship sails (active fitness level).
Day 4 | Macon Highlights:
Arrive in Macon, another important wine region and gateway to the Beaujolais vineyards. Walk the Heritage Trail from Old Saint Vincent to the General Hospital buildings, half–timbered house and Soufflot Chapel, maybe trying some local wines at the many tasting displays in the town. Enjoy time at leisure in the afternoon.
Discover More: Visit to Benedictine Abbey of Cluny (extra expense)
Day 5 | Tournon Highlights:
Join your local guide for a walking tour of Tournon, which is dominated by the 16th century castle and roman ruins, and is nestled in the valley near the steep slopes of le Massif Central, France's 3rd largest mountain range. The area has a long tradition in wine making, including the renowned wine growing centre of Tain l'Hermitage across the river. Emerald Active: Guided biking tour to Glun. This afternoon EmeraldPLUS: Cheese and olive oil tasting on board.
Discover More: Regional Wine Tasting in Tournon Castle (extra expense).
Day 6 | Avignon Highlights:
Avignon has a rich history from Celtic beginnings to being the residence of the Popes and later central to the French Revolution. Although a fortified town, it is the Papal Palace which stands more secure on a hill in the centre of town; its walls are 17–18 feet thick. Your guided walk with a local guide takes you through this historic centre strolling the cobbled laneways and browsing the shops, overlooking the famous 'Pont d'Avignon'. The rest of the day is at leisure. EmeraldPLUS: Provencal dinner on board hosted by a popular local chef as well as traditional local style concert known as Chanson music.
Discover More: Secrets of the Pope’s Palace (extra expense) or Excursion to Pont du Gard (extra expense).
Day 7 | Avignon - Arles Highlights:
Sail into the Camargue wilderness region to the capital of Provence, Arles where you will join your local guide for a walking tour showcasing the highlights of the city in particular the exterior of the 2000 year old Roman Amphitheatre still in use today, which was originally built to hold 20,000 spectators in the style of the Colosseum in Rome. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax on board and explore Arles further.
Discover More: Excursion to Les Baux de Provence (extra expense) or Tastes of Provence (extra expense)
Day 8 | Arles - Disembarkation Highlights:
After breakfast disembark your river cruise ship in Arles and transfer to Nice (or Marseilles) Airport for your onward or homebound flight. (Please book your flight to depart Nice after 1pm).