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!
EMBARKATION - ARLES, FRANCE. Board your cruise in Arles. This evening, meet your fellow passengers for a Welcome Dinner.
ARLES. Considered one of the most beautiful cities in France, Arles enchants. Join a walking tour of Arles highlighting top sights, including the Romanesque cathedral and Roman amphitheater. For art lovers, you’ll wish to visit Saint Paul de Mausole Asylum, where Vincent van Gogh once lived and painted. 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. Or 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. In the evening, cruise to Avignon for a romantic illuminations cruise through the city.
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 choices 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 wine, and tapenades. During the afternoon, you can enjoy free time in Avignon, go on a bike tour through the city.
VIVIERS. Take in the quaint surroundings of Viviers, a charming commune that sidles up to the right bank of the Rhone. From Viviers, travel to 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.
TOURNON. Admire the hilltop village of Tournon with its imposing castle. You have a choice of four excursions. 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. 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, cycle through the French countryside or 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.
VIENNE – LYON. 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. 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 bike tour along a portion of the ViaRhôna bike route or a guided hike from the ship to the Monastery at Mount Pipet. Later in the day travel to Lyon, considered the “Food Capital of France.” Take a walking tour that starts 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.” You can also visit the famous indoor market hall Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse, named after the late chef renowned for his Michelin-starred l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges restaurant. There you’ll have a chance to sample of the delicacies offered by butchers, bakers, chocolatiers and cheesemongers while taking in the colorful sights and enticing aromas around you.
LYON. Visit a traditional Beaujolais winery and learn the history and techniques of their vineyard. Plus, enjoy a tasting of their specialty.
LYON - DISEMBARKATION. Disembark the ship and bid farewell to Lyon as you prepare for your flight home.