A journey of exquisite pleasures.
Follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin on this exquisite journey through southern France; the same beautiful countryside and culture that inspired the masters will now inspire you.
Cruise the Rhône and Saône rivers, enjoying the region’s incomparable wine and cuisine and discovering its many treasures—from the medieval wonders of UNESCO-designated Avignon to Lyon’s lively river banks. Stroll the very streets of Arles made famous by Van Gogh. Visit Avignon’s majestic Palace of the Popes. Experience “Village Day” in enchanting Viviers, including a recital of music composed by Bach and Handel. And for those who wish for a more active exploration of the area, you can kayak on the tranquil Gardon River under the UNESCO-designated Pont du Gard; hike the steepest vineyards on the Rhône; and pedal through the city designed with bike riders in mind while in Lyon. Explore unforgettable “Burgundy & Provence” where tradition is as deeply rooted as the historic grapevines on the hills.
Who will enjoy this cruise? Travelers wishing to walk through the lands that inspired Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin. History buffs, gastronomes and wine connoisseurs.
Arrive at Marseille International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship docked in Avignon.
Explore one of two sun-drenched Provençal towns today, each with an allure all its own. Known for its remarkable Roman ruins, Arles so inspired Van Gogh that he painted some 200 paintings there; Tarascon boasts an ancient castle, as well as a local legend about a ferocious dragon. Arles has existed since the sixth century BC, when the ancient Greeks founded it and named it Theline. It was here that the Romans built their first bridge across the Rhône River, creating a vital overland route between Italy and Spain and facilitating the expansion of their empire. Long renowned as one of the region’s most attractive cities, it lured artist Vincent van Gogh, who painted hundreds of works here (including Sunflowers and The Yellow House) in just 15 months. A short distance from Arles is the ancient and charming town of Tarascon. Its many medieval sites include a 12th-century church and a 15th-century castle that is rich with tales of a beloved ruler. Bask in the warmth of the Provençal sunlight in either of these friendly Mediterranean towns.
The walled city of Avignon is one of the most fascinating towns in southern France, with a host of historic gems to explore—including the fortress residence of rebellious popes who broke from Rome and once lived and ruled here. You’ll see the Palace of the Popes and much more today, and also have a chance to kayak under a 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct.
Meet some new friends today in the village of Viviers; encounters that really get at the heart and soul of the French people and their culture and traditions. No matter whom you get to know—a pottery maker, a dance teacher or a local homeowner—you’ll have an enjoyable and truly authentic experience, something you’ll remember for years to come. An enchanting village where time seems to have stopped centuries ago, Viviers has a long and storied past that goes back more than 1,600 years—and a splendid architectural heritage to match. At one time, Viviers was divided along religious lines—the clergy lived in the upper part of the town, the laity in the lower part. Your exploration of the town will take you through both parts, as you begin at the crest and make your way to the riverbank.
Tournon (Tain-l’Hermitage), Lyon
If you love fine wine, you’ll love the twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage. Whether you opt for a guided walk or a more vigorous vineyard hike, you’ll also have a chance to taste the local specialty—wonderful wines made primarily from Syrah grapes.
As the epicenter of French gastronomy, Lyon is a city of tantalizing contrasts. There’s much to explore here, from the work of culinary visionaries to silk weavers’ secret passageways. After your choice of excursions, embrace the locals’ favorite mode of transportation with a patisserie-fueled bike ride—a great way to see the sights. Two rivers: one tranquil, one torrential. Two hills: one for labor, where the sound of the silk weavers’ looms used to echo; the other for prayers, crowned by a spectacular basilica. Two cities, as different as night and day: one boasting colorful Old World façades, medieval mansions and hidden passageways; one with a sophisticated urbanity reminiscent of Paris. Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and with roots stretching back over 2,000 years to the days of Julius Caesar, Lyon is a place of fascinating dualities. Today you have your choice of ways to explore this city of contrasts: Sample its culinary riches with a visit to its peerless market hall or follow the footsteps of the silk weavers in the old quarter. For a more active option, see the city from its extensive—and lovely—bike paths.
The pace of life is decidedly more relaxed in Burgundy, where endless rows of grapes hang heavy on the vine. The capital of the region’s wine trade, Beaune, is renowned for its history, beauty and highly prized wine, as well as its medieval-era hospital—the Hospices de Beaune. Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Mâcon, a Saône River port, is your gateway to Beaune.
Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport for your flight home. Alternatively, you can continue your adventure with an extension to sparkling Paris.
Uniworld is committed to building a fleet of ships that represents the absolute best in luxury river cruising, combining quality craftsmanship with high-tech innovations and custom-designed interiors. Our second Super Ship, S.S. Catherine, continues this proud tradition of excellence with sumptuous materials and meticulous attention to detail. The vessel’s opulent interiors include a two-story lobby with a specially commissioned Murano glass chandelier and whimsical life-size glass horse.