Day 1 Arrive in Arles, France (Embarkation).
Welcome to France! This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel which is docked in Arles, in the Provence region. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception, then sail toward the mouth of the Rhône for a taste of the tranquil vistas of Camargue National Park (daylight permitting). (D)
Day 2 Arles.
In Arles, capital of the Provence, join your Local Guide for a GUIDED CITY TOUR. See the church of St. Trophime, dating from the 12th century, and visit the ROMAN AMPHITHEATER. Still used today, the amphitheater dates to the 1st century, and was constructed to hold over 20,000 spectators. Vincent Van Gogh was inspired by the special light of the Provence and spent a very productive year in Arles. This evening a jazz band comes on board to entertain you. (B,L,D)
Day 3 Avignon.
On your GUIDED TOUR, you may choose to join an included visit of the PALACE OF THE POPES, built in the 14th century as the sovereign popes’ residence. With a living space equivalent to four gothic cathedrals, it is the largest gothic fortress in the world. Alternatively, you may opt for only city sightseeing and more free time to explore on your own, or to join an optional outing to Pont du Gard or to the famed wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. (B,L,D)
Day 4 Cruising–Viviers.
A leisurely morning on board to relax and enjoy the passing scenery. After lunch, join your LOCAL GUIDE for a walk around the charming town of Viviers, which developed around its ROMANESQUE CATHEDRAL. The OLD TOWN has an appealing mix of Christian, Roman, and medieval influences. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Vienne.
The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage lie nestled among vineyards between the Rhône River and the granite slopes of the Hermitage. Enjoy a GUIDED WALK of Tournon, one of France’s oldest medieval cities, with its imposing 16th-century castle and Roman ruins. A light Jazz Duo will play on board this afternoon, offering relaxing background music as you cruise to Vienne. Arriving in Vienne in the late afternoon, a GUIDED WALK shows you the charming little town surrounded by steep hills—one of the oldest towns in the region. Explore the town center to see the Roman Theater, which once held 13,000 spectators, and the Augustus and Livia Temple, built around 20 BC and converted into a church in the Middle Ages. Every year, for two weeks, the town hosts an international jazz festival with a very unique atmosphere: “Jazz à Vienne." There are four festival stages located in the very heart of the town and tonight enjoy free time to visit this lively Jazz Festival, on your own. (B,L,D)
Day 6 Lyon.
Lyon is France’s third-largest city and its gastronomic capital. Founded by the Romans in 43 BC, the city’s prosperity dates back to the 16th century and is due to commercial, industrial, and banking activities. Roman remains, many excellent museums, and much renaissance architecture delight visitors. You are joined by a LOCAL GUIDE as you survey the city from Fourvière Hill and explore the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its maze of medieval alleyways and Place des Terreaux, a popular area with lively cafés, monuments, and the famous fountain often depicted on postcards. Be sure to sample Beaujolais, the wine of the region. (B,L,D)
Day 7 Cruising–St. Jean de Losne.
A leisurely day today as your final day on board. If you prefer to stay busy, a choice of optional excursions, including a visit to a wine cellar, is available. While cruising to St. Jean de Losne, enjoy an onboard CHEESE TASTING. On this final night on board, enjoy the strains of Gypsy Jazz, a style of jazz often said to have been started by guitarist Jean “Django” Reinhardt in the 1930s. Because its origins are largely in France, it is often called by the French name “Jazz Manouche.” (B,L,D)
Day 8 St. Jean de Losne (Disembarkation).
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)