From romantic cities to foodie havens and artistic epicenters, this itinerary enlivens all your senses. Starting from Lyon, France’s culinary capital, savor the beauty of legendary vineyards and imbibe in local vintages like Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. Enjoy hunting for truffles, refining your Provençal cooking skills, and learning how to pair chocolate with wine. Trace the steps of famous artists in Arles and Avignon and be inspired!
LYON - EMBARKATION. Board your cruise in Lyon. Tonight, meet your fellow passengers as the ship moors overnight.
LYON. 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.” During the afternoon, enjoy leisure time or join a guided bike tour through the city designed with cyclists in mind.
COLLONGES – VIENNE. 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. Later set sail for Vienne, where you'll enjoy free time to explore the town.
VIENNE - TOURNON. Situated between the wine regions of Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône lies Vienne with a Roman past that can be seen in its marvelously preserved ruins. Take 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 bike tour along a portion of the ViaRhôna bike route or a guided hike from the ship to the Monastery at Mount Pipet. During the evening, be treated to a delicious pairing of red wine and chocolate at the 15th-century Le Château de Tournon, located on the banks of the Rhône, in the heart of town.
TOURNON. Walk through the steep vineyards as you learn about the history and techniques of winemaking in this area. Following the guided tour, join your host for a tasting of the Hermitage wines for which this region is celebrated. Alternatively, take a 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. For a more active adventure, enjoy hike through the vineyards of Tain-l’Hermitage, followed by a visit to a local winery where you’ll sample some of the wines.
AVIGNON. 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. Depending on your interests, you have three options of excursions. 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. Alternatively, you can go to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the impressive Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct that is a masterpiece of ancient engineering. Or if you prefer, visit three venues around Avignon to taste regional specialties, including macarons, cheese and wines, and tapenades. During the afternoon, you can visit the magnificent hilltop village, Grignan. After visiting this enchanting Provençal town, go in search of the highly prized “Black Diamond” truffles with a farmer and his trustworthy canine companion. Alternatively, visit a winery in the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region, where viticulture has been promoted since the 14th century. The unique soil composition here has earned the area a reputation for producing distinctive wines that are now popular the world over. Join a specialist from the winery on a private tour of the wine cellars and vineyards, an exclusive opportunity to learn about centuries-old winemaking methods. Following your tour, enjoy a tasting of the vineyard’s specialty wines.
AVIGNON - ARLES. Considered one of the most beautiful cities in France, Arles enchants. For art lovers, you’ll wish to visit Saint Paul de Mausole Asylum, where Vincent van Gogh once lived and painted such well-known works as “The Irises” and “Starry Night.” Many people consider Van Gogh’s Arles period to be the most creative of his career. Afterwards, go to the Carrières de Lumières, where you’ll be treated to a spectacular presentation of art, sound and history projected on the walls of caves. Alternatively, venture to the medieval hilltop village, Les Baux de Provence, followed by a visit to an olive farm where you’ll learn about age-old Provençal traditions from a master olive miller as well as sample the olive oil. During the afternoon, you can join a walking tour of Arles highlighting top sights, including the Romanesque cathedral and Roman amphitheater; or take a guided bike tour to the Roman ruins. 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.
ARLES - DISEMBARKATION. Disembark your ship in Arles.