JOURNEYS

A Food Fan’s Delight Along the Rhône River

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Toast to new friends as you make your way down the Rhône River.

Sailing along the Rhône River through stunning southern France—a place where wine and food blend seamlessly for the gastronomical journey of a lifetime—you’re in for a charming French feast for your senses and your soul. Avalon Waterways’ customizable cruises take you deeper into the heart of every location they traverse, with off-the-beaten-path excursions and attractions tailored to your desires and passions. Gourmands, and anyone who just relishes savoring local cuisines and wines from around the world, this trip is for you! Treat yourself to the lands of local patisseries, palate-tempting cuisine, and celebrated wines that flourish beside the wondrous waters of the Rhône.

Flowing from the glacial waters of the Swiss Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, the Rhône River winds its way through the legendary landscapes of sun-washed lavender fields and fabled French vineyards that inspired Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Gauguin. Marvel at medieval hilltop villages that are home to centuries-old Provençal kitchens featuring the epicurean delights of your dreams on this cruise where wanderlust flows around every bend.

All along the way, you’ll experience an elevated journey with only up to 150 guests. That means Avalon Waterways can deliver the personalized attention that the bigger cruise operators can’t. You’ll also find modern amenities and a ship that prioritizes sustainability and hospitality. For Avalon Waterways sustainability means minimizing energy and water use and cutting down on waste so that you can be rest assured that your trip’s footprint is small.

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TRIP HIGHLIGHT

Avignon, The Heart of Provence

Enjoy a leisurely stroll or a bike ride through the tree-lined streets and leafy squares within Avignon’s medieval walls and bask in the beauty of Provence.
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TRIP DESIGNER

Avalon Waterways

Delivering unparalleled experiences and boundless exploration, Avalon Waterways puts you in the captain’s seat to navigate your journey, fuel your passions and steer clear of the unexpected as you cruise down the world’s most memorable and mesmerizing waterways
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Lyon at night

Days 1-2Lyon

Welcome to the gastronomic capital of France. Centrally located on the eastern edge of the country, Lyon boasts a rich culinary history and upwards of 2,000 restaurants, ranging from Michelin-starred eateries (20 of them!) to more down-to-earth bouchons Lyonnais (a traditional Lyon restaurant). You’ll find culinary treats wherever you look in Lyon, not to mention incredible architecture, historic landmarks, and boundless charm. Wind your way through buildings, courtyards, and up and down staircases on a hike to discover the secret passageways (the Traboules) of Lyon, which date to the 4th century.

Enjoy a welcome reception on board and then get an entirely different perspective of Lyon on a relaxing evening drive around the illuminated city. You’ll experience the heart of the city in the magical Presqu’île district, admire the grand architecture of the historic buildings lining Place des Terreaux, and see the monumental Bartholdi Fountain, among other delights.

Wake up and prepare to feast! Take a guided culinary walk through Lyon to discover architecture and local specialties in a festival of colors, aromas, and taste. Or join a cooking class to make your own Lyonnaise specialty—and delight your friends and family with your new skills when you’re back home.
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A stroll through Tournon

Day 3Tain l'Hermitage/Tournon-Viviers

Today brings some truly delicious options. Wine lovers, join an intoxicating guided hike through the terraced hilltop vineyards that surround the twin cities of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage, one of France’s celebrated wine regions, most famous for its reds made from Syrah grapes. Those with a sweet tooth will want to indulge in a tour of the Valrhona Chocolate Factory and Museum, La Cité Du Chocolat, where you’ll see how the world’s most famous chocolate goes from bean to bar.

Back on board, join a cooking demonstration and learn how to prepare a Lyonnaise treat while sailing to Viviers. This evening, you’ll discover the haunting history of Viviers—a tiny village lost to the Middle Ages—under the yellow hues of moonlight. Legends, tales, and ghost stories abound on a walk through this small town and its steep, narrow alleyways, lined with centuries-old stone houses. You’ll encounter many architectural treasures from its medieval heyday, including one of France’s oldest cathedrals, which incorporates Romanesque, Gothic, and later elements and houses a collection of Gobelin tapestries.
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The majestic views of Viviers

Day 4Viviers-Avignon

Get ready for a once-in-a-lifetime excursion today with a wine tasting in a most unusual place, 180 feet below ground, deep within the 40-mile network of caves of the region that’s been in use by the area’s inhabitants for tens of thousands of years. During this “Spelunk & Sip” outing, you’ll be guided by expert speleologist (cave guide) and oenologist (wine-making authority) for some sips and spelunking beneath the surface of Southern France. Can you tell the difference in the taste of cave-aged wines from those aged above ground? Afterward, you’ll cruise through the soaring walls of the Lock Bollène on your way to Avignon this afternoon.
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A taste of quintessential Provence in Avignon

Day 5 Avignon

Today you’ll fully activate your olfactory senses with a special visit to a Provençal farmhouse in the heart of Provence, the picturesque town of Avignon. Here you’ll swoon over the scents of essential oils while learning how they’re created and curated. This afternoon, oenophiles won’t want to miss the guided optional tour of the famed wine cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape for a fabulous wine tasting.

Or spend your free time exploring Avignon with a leisurely stroll or a bike ride through the tree-lined streets and leafy squares within its medieval walls. Be sure to visit the Palace of the Popes, Europe’s largest Gothic palace that covers more than 160,000 square feet and boasts many chapels, cloisters, and libraries. And make time to admire the Pont d’Avignon, a landmark medieval bridge that once spanned the Rhône—only four arches of the original 22 still stand today.
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Sightseeing in Arles

Day 6 Arles

Get to know the charming town of Arles on a guided sightseeing tour that includes a visit with a local bullfighter to learn about the secrets and traditions handed down through the generations. You’ll also see Arles’ most famous landmark, a well-preserved enormous Roman amphitheater from 90 C.E. that seated 20,000 spectators. Other Roman ruins include a theater, baths, and a cemetery.

In the afternoon, you’ll have free time to shop, stroll, or just relax in a beautiful park along Arles’ Boulevard des Lice.Arles is perhaps most famous for inspiring Vincent Van Gogh, who painted the Café de la Nuit in Café in the Evening—a place that’s still operating today. Another subject of his, the garden of the former Arles Hospital, is preserved to look as it did in Van Gogh’s day. For those who want to try their hand at painting their own Starry Night in the very place that inspired this impressionist master, you can opt for a painting class that will instruct you how to mimic the brushstrokes of Van Gogh and take your own masterpiece home with you.
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Swoon over sweeping views from a Panorama suite

Day 7Port-Saint-Louis

For your last full day on board, you’ll savor a morning cruise from the Sky Deck of the ship to picturesque Port-Saint-Louis, the kingdom of fishing and shellfish farming—a result of the Rhône delta’s richness in plankton. Here, you’ll dig into a taste of local life with a visit to an oyster farm in the Camargue Natural Park, located at the mouth of the Rhône River. Your tastebuds will delight in an oyster tasting as you learn how this delicacy is farmed. All the while, you’ll be immersed in an area of vast nature that’s unique in Europe, rife with rice fields, salt marshes, lakes, and reed marshes dotted with pink flamingos. You might even see white horses galloping along glasswort-covered moors, and all manner of fauna and flora, including a diverse and impressive range of birds. A perfect send-off.