The Rhône valley of France is home to one of the most prolific wine-growing regions on earth with over 1,800 wineries of all sizes producing a variety of vintages. The region is also one of the most historic in Europe with a healthy collection of UNESCO World Heritage sites including ancient Roman monuments, theaters and structures as well as the distinctive towns of Avignon and Lyon. Whether you’re an art lover, a foodie, a history buff or an energetic adventurer, a Rhône River cruise offers world-class cuisine, challenging activities and cultural excursions to match your interests.
Since medieval times, towns like Avignon, Viviers and Lyon have used the Rhône River to reach ports on the Mediterranean Sea. Join a sightseeing tour led by an expert local guide, versed in the art, cuisine and culture of this territory. Stroll Avignon’s Papal Palace, a towering tribute to Christianity, pausing to admire the lovely views of the French countryside. Viviers is a well-preserved city with a wealth of architectural treasures, including the Cathedral of St. Vincent, which dates from the 12th century. The second largest city in France is the UNESCO site of Lyon, founded by the Romans in 43 BC. Lyon is considered by many to be the culinary capital of France, and a visit to a local market presents you with an abundance of delicious cheeses, baguettes, produce and pastries.
Travelers who are interested in engaging with their destination can find a multitude of host-guided or self-guided tours at every port. In Avignon, you might choose a guided kayak trip down the Gorges de l’Ardèche or a self-paced hike in the Natural Reserve of Cirque d’Estre. If you like biking, try out an ebike tour of the scenic Gard region for an experience you’ll never forget. Take advantage of hands-on opportunities like an en plein air painting class, a cheese tasting or sampling a flight of beers in the shadows of an ancient abbey. Many river cruises have onboard fitness classes and offer loaner bikes for your time in port.
You may have heard the term Lyonnaise in reference to the potato dish, but the cuisine of Lyon is represented in many other traditional French entrees like coq au vin, pot-au-feu and sausage Lyonnaise. Travel into the heart of Provence on a guided visit to an olive farm and spend some time learning their framing practices before tasting the finished product: olive oil. The Rhône region is renowned for its vineyards. Magnificent châteaux produce wines like Côtes du Rhône, Pouilly-Fuissé, Beaujolais and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Explore the unrivaled beauty of this wine region, attend a wine tasting in an underground cave and toast to your memorable day trip with your special someone.
Avalon Active & Discovery River Cruises
See the Old World in a whole new way with Avalon Waterways. With a 3-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio, you’ll be spoiled with attention throughout the trip. Cruise Critic named Avalon’s staterooms the best in the business thanks to the spacious, open-air balcony stateroom design and beds with big views. Avalon Active & Discovery cruises offer activities appropriate for all levels of energy and fitness so you can explore each destination according to your preference and pace. There’s no better time than now to book a European river cruise to France.
– By Amy Mutscher