Provence never fails to enliven the senses with warm sunshine, lavender-perfumed breezes, and art and architecture galore. But whenever travelers visit the south of France, their taste buds are rewarded more than anything else. Guests aboard AmaKristina on the seven-night “Colors of Provence” cruise curated by AmaWaterways are no exception.
This award-winning river ship sets sail from the dynamic city of Lyon, widely considered the culinary capital of France. As you travel southbound along the Rhône towards Avignon, you’ll imbibe local vintages like Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. During once-in-a-lifetime excursions, you can also learn to pair chocolate with wine, peruse vibrant food markets overflowing with France’s famous cheese, and search for highly prized “black diamond” truffles.
The culinary delights continue onboard, where expert chefs prepare exquisite cuisine with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Dinner includes multiple courses paired with complimentary drinks, and the AmaWaterways crew always serves reds and whites of the highest quality from local wineries and vineyards. So you’ll have ample opportunity to try different wines on each day of your cruise, making this voyage an authentic way to savor Provence.
ItineraryPLAN YOUR TRIP
Day 1Arrival in France and Embarkation
Upon landing, you’ll be transferred to the ship and settle into your accommodations aboard the award-winning AmaKristina. Most of the ship’s spacious staterooms have AmaWaterways’ signature twin balconies to enjoy the scenery along the Rhône. You’ll also find multi-jet shower heads, soothing bath and body products, and cozy robes inside the marble bathrooms. Suites feature even more expansive bathrooms with a bathtub and separate shower. And throughout the ship, you can take advantage of amenities like a massage and hair salon, a heated pool with a swim-up bar, a fitness center, and a fleet of onboard bikes.
Day 2Embarkation in France
In the afternoon, stop at a traditional winery in the famous Beaujolais region—known as the Pays d’Or or “land of the golden stones"—to learn about the history and techniques used at the vineyard. You’ll also get to taste the wines, of course.
Or you could join a city tour that begins at historic Fourvière Hill, home to the 19th-century basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière. From there, you’ll head to the Old Town and the St. Jean district, passing through an example of Lyon’s unique covered walkways called “traboules.” A guided cycling tour of this very bike-friendly city is also an option.
Another stop on the walking tour is the Saint Maurice Cathedral, a Gothic-Romanesque church that took more than 500 years to build. As a result, the structure is a blend of many styles. Its most notable features are the stained glass windows, a collection of Flanders tapestries, and the remarkable façade with stones carved to represent biblical characters.
Those looking for a more active excursion can join a heart-thumping hike from the ship to the Monastery at Mount Pipet. You’ll get panoramic views of the Old Town, the entire Rhône Valley, and the surrounding countryside. You may even see Mont Pilat in the Alps on a clear day. For something active but a bit less strenuous, join a guided bike tour along a portion of the famous ViaRhôna bike route that stretches more than 500 miles from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean.
It’s fitting, then, that food enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice regarding the day’s activities. You may visit the splendid 16th-century castle for a presentation on pairing red wine with chocolate. A local expert will also guide you through a tasting that will surely be unforgettable.
Those looking to pair exercise with a gastronomic experience can join a hike through the vineyards of Tain l’Hermitage, across the river from Tournon. See how grapes for Hermitage wine are grown atop the hill of the same name in the space of only about 320 acres. This full-bodied and rich Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) is made from both red and white grapes. After the hike, you’ll have a chance to sample this exceptional wine at a local winery.
Guests who instead join the steam train ride will marvel at the jaw-dropping scenery along the Gorge du Doux.
During the afternoon, you’ll go to the Castle of Tarascon, a medieval fortress with a surprisingly elegant interior. Others can elect to visit the hilltop village of Les Baux de Provence for a special presentation of art, sound, and history at the Carrières des Lumières, a spectacular art center in a former quarry.
In the evening, a short cruise will take you past the medieval Pont d’Avignon bridge, with its arches bathed in golden light and contrasting with the night sky.
Then, you’ll head to a beautiful truffle farm in the afternoon. But the first stop on the excursion will be the hilltop village of Grignan, a Provençal town with red-tiled roofs, winding streets, open-air cafes, and colorful markets. You’ll also have free time to wander through the town’s art galleries and shops.
After visiting Grignan, you’ll search for the highly prized “black diamond” truffles with a farmer and his canine companion. The elusive truffle lives underground, so specially trained dogs with a keen sense of smell are needed to root out the fungus. Fortunately, the walk tends to be quite lovely since truffles usually grow near oak trees and fragrant lavender fields. Alternatively, you could spend the afternoon admiring the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct and wonder of ancient engineering.