• CONTACT US if you have any problems registering for the forums.

Burgundy, the River Rhône and Provence - A river cruise with Riviera Travel

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
I had done my first river cruise last summer on the River Rhine and had enjoyed it so much that I decided to repeat the experience on the River Rhône this summer. Checking out dates to coincide when the family were away and I had no grandparenting responsibilities, Riviera Travel were the best match. A bonus was that I could fly from Manchester, as Riviera make a point of using local airports. It was another good trip starting from Lyons at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône. We began by and sailing north on the River Saône as far as Chalon-sur-Saône before retracing our steps back to Lyons and then south along the Rhone to Arles ending up in Avignon.

Both are large rivers flowing through some lovely scenery with vineyards, small villages, châteaux and distant views across to the Alpes Maritimes. There was less traffic with fewer cruise ships or barges than on the Rhine. The Rhône is larger and more fast flowing than the Saône and had some very deep locks to negotiate.

We were on MS Lord Byron which is jointly owned by Scylla, a shipping company based in Basel and Riviera Travel. Only a few years old, it is a very stylish and comfortable ship setting extremely high standards. I had a very comfortable standard cabin on the Emerald deck, the lowest deck. The only difference between more expensive cabins on the upper decks was a long narrow window just above the water level rather than panoramic windows that opened. As I was intending to spend all my time on the sun deck this didn’t worry me.

full


The information pack provided in the cabin contained a map of the Rhône and Saône marking all the bridges and locks so we could follow our progress. There were also detailed maps for all the port of call which meant I could wander by myself without fear of getting lost. There were guided tours with a local guide but unless we were using a coach, I tended to give these a miss and explore by myself. The Riviera tour manager gave a short briefing each night about the following days itinerary and was a wealth of information and ideas if you did want to explore independently.

The ship can carry up to 140 passengers but there were just over one hundred on our trip. All the staff were excellent, as was the food. Link this in with interesting stops and some very good scenery and this made a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday

DAY 1
There were twenty other passengers flying from Manchester. It was an early evening flight which got us to Lyon airport just before 10pm. We were met by a Riviera rep and taken by coach to the ship, a journey taking around 30 minutes. A cold supper had been left in our rooms for us.

DAY 2
We had a guided tour of Lyon in the morning. It was a dull and damp day and not conducive to photographs.

full


We were picked up by coach and taken to the C19th Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, sitting on top of the hill above Lyons. The inside is jaw dropping with walls and ceiling covered with glowing mosaics.

full


From there the coach took us down to the old town where we had a guided tour through some of the network of passageways that provided quick access in Medieval times for goods and workers to the river. We had some free time to explore by ourselves and I headed to the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist. This has a wonderful Gothic west front although the inside is Romanesque architecture and much plainer. It has an interesting small museum.

full


In the afternoon, the ship cruised north along the Saône past the vineyards of Beaujolais.

full


DAY 3
The ship had moored at Chalon-sur-Saône overnight.

full


I just had time for a quick scamper round the town before joining the guided tour of the Burgundy wine villages on the way to Beaune.

full


Here we had a wine tasting and free time to explore the Saturday market. This was extensive with a wonderful food market selling everything imaginable.

full


I also visited Notre Dame de Beaune, which is one of the largest Romanesque buildings in Burgundy.

full


We returned to the ship for a late lunch and then sailed back down the Saône to rejoin the Rhône.

DAY 4
The ship had moored at Vienne in the early hours and we had a free morning to explore Vienne with its superb Roman remains, especially the theatre and the Temple of Augustus and Livia.

full


full


The Church of St Peter is one of the oldest in France. Now deconsecrated it is an archaeology museum with a wonderful display of Roman masonry.

full


The Cathedral of St Maurice has a wonderful Gothic west front and the remains of wall paintings inside.

full


After Vienne, the ship continued to sail south along the Rhône with slopes cover4ed with vineyards.

full


We moored at Tournon in the early evening. The town is dominated by the C16th château which is now a museum.

full


There was just time for a quick walk around the town, into St Julien’s Collegial Church with its chapel with C14th frescoes.

full


Across the footbridge is the even smaller settlement of Tain l’Hermitage.

full


DAY 5
We spent the morning cruising south along the Rhône past wooded slope and vineyards with glimpses of the mountains of the Ardeche to the west.

full


We moored at the tiny settlement of Le Pouzin where coaches picked us up for a visit to a Lavender Farm before driving down the Ardèche Gorges.

full


The road down the Ardèche Gorges is stunning with the road running along the side of the mountain with a steep drop down to the river. In August it was very busy with traffic and all the parking places were full.

full


In the meantime, the ship had sailed south to Vivier where we rejoined it.
 
Last edited:

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
DAY 6
The ship had sailed south to Arles and moored overnight. There was a guided tour of Arles in the morning. I was into breakfast early and skipped the guided tour, exploring by myself. This is another wonderful Roman city with a splendid amphitheatre and theatre. Both have been restored for events.

full


I also visited the underground passageways, all that is left of the Roman forum.

full


The Church of St Trophime has a wonderful carved west front and equally impressive cloisters.

full


full


After lunch we had a coach excursion to Pont du Gard.

full


DAY 7
The ship had sailed to Avignon overnight. We began the morning with a guided tour of Pont St-Bénezet, the popular Pont d’Avignon of French lessons
full


This was followed by a visit to the Papal Palace. Avignon was the seat of the Popes in the C14th and the Papal Palace was the largest medieval fortress and the biggest Gothic palace in Europe. Along with the Cathedral tower, it still dominates the Avignon skyline.

full


I then left the group to explore by myself, missing lunch and spending the afternoon in Avignon. The interior of Cathedral of Notre-Dame des Doms has recently undergone a multi-million pound facelift and looks stunning.

full


The Jardin des Doms are on the highest point of Avignon with good views. It is an attractive area with ornamental grottos, trees and shrubs around a small pond.

full


I finished off in the church of St Peter, which really has the WOW factor with a splendid Baroque chancel.

full


DAY 8
All our fellow passengers departed after breakfast. The Manchester flight was a late evening departure from Lyon and we had the run of the lounge, bar and sun deck until being picked up by coach mid afternoon for the nearly four hour drive to Lyon Airport. I took the chance to head back into Avignon to visit Les Halles. This is a large modern building beneath a car park. Mid morning on a Thursday it was remarkably quiet.

full


Beyond this is Rue des Teinturies which figures in all the guide books. This was the centre of the C19th textile industry and four of the waterwheels still survive along the River Sorgue, although they no longer work.

full


full


I had a quick look at the Church of St Agricol on the way back to the ship. It’s main claim to fame seems to be the very modern and striking Stations of the Cross.

full


It had been getting progressively warmer during the week and by now the temperatures were hitting 36˚. I decided it was too hot to explore further and headed back to the ship.

It was a good flight back to Manchester getting us in just turned 11pm. I’d booked overnight accommodation in the Radisson Blu hotel in the terminal before catching the train home the next day.

Full details with lots more pictures are here.
 

How to Find Information

Search using the search button in the upper right. Search all forums or current forum by keyword or member. Advanced search gives you more options.

Filter forum threads using the filter pulldown above the threads. Filter by prefix, member, date. Or click on a thread title prefix to see all threads with that prefix.

Sponsors

Booking.com Hotels in Europe
AutoEurope.com Car Rentals

Recommended Travel Guides

52 Things to See and Do in Basilicata by Valerie Fortney
Italian Food & Life Rules by Ann Reavis
Italian Food Decoder App by Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls
How to Be an American in Italy by Jessica Scott Romano

Share this page

Top