April 18, 2016

Cruising the Rhone River

River cruising continues to grow in popularity and the Rhone is one of Europe’s major waterways, originating high in the Swiss Alps and flowing southward through France to the Mediterranean Sea. Along the way it passes through the rugged Ardeche and the scenic landscapes of Provence. Cruise itineraries operate in both directions and usually offer pre- or post-cruise stays in Paris. Here are some of the historic towns and cities you may visit on a Rhone River cruise.

River Cruise Vessels Docked in Lyon

Most Rhone cruises begin on the Saône River in the wine region of Burgundy. Ships share the busy waterway with local swans.

Docking in Chalon-sur-Saône

Swan on the Saône River

Beaune, Wine Capital of Burgundy

The town of Tournus dates from Roman times. It's the site of the Abbey Church of St. Philibert, the Romanesque church founded by monks in 875. Side trips into the Mâconnais wine region offer glimpses of the pastoral French countryside. 

Abbey of St. Philibert, Tournus

The Macônnais Countryside

Tournus and the Mâconnais

The Saône finally meets up with the Rhone River in Lyon, the third largest city in France after Paris and Marseilles. Considered the capital of French gastronomy, Lyon is also known for its 16th century silk industry and trompe l’oeil wall frescoes.

Lyon - Capital of French Gastronomy

Lyon's Trompe l'Oeil Wall Frescoes

Lyon - Frescoes and Traboules
Lyon - Silk and Gastronomy

In the Ardeche you’ll find the village of Tournon with its 10th century castle and open-air food market. Across the river is Tain-l’Hermitage, famous for Côtes du Rhône wine production and gourmet Valrhona chocolate.

Tournon Market Day

Vineyards of Tain l'Hermitage

French Wine, Chocolate and Music

Many river cruises stop in the medieval village of Viviers for an organ concert at St. Vincent Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in France still in use.

Cathedral of St. Vincent, Viviers

Vivier's Historic Buildings

French Wine, Chocolate and Music

The ‘City of the Popes’ is home to a 14th century papal palace and the famous St. Benezet Bridge. Avignon is also the stop for shore excursions into the Luberon during lavender season or the Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct.

Palace of the Popes, Avignon

Pont du Gard

Avignon and the Pont du Gard

The city of Arles has a Roman amphitheatre where concerts and bull races are held today, plus several sites associated with Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh. Shore excursions take passengers to a Provençal olive farm or the marshy Camargue delta.

Van Gogh in Arles

Tapenade Tasting at an Olive Farm in Provence

Afternoon in Arles
An Olive Farm & Les Baux de Provence

The Camargue
Most cruises end in Arles but the river continues on to the sea. The delta of the Rhone is home to white Camargue horses, black bulls and flocks of pink flamingos. Salt is harvested from the Mediterranean in large salt pans.

Camargue Horses

Camargue Salt Production

The Camargue, Delta of the Rhone

1 comment:

  1. A river cruise is on my docket for the days when my regular tours are too much to handle. I think I would love to go back and see the places I've already been to from the river.


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