Cruising the Rhone

Sarah Freeman on 22 June 2023
Just back from a marvellous cruise on the Rhone River in the South of France where for 7 days we enjoyed fabulous sights in Burgundy and Provence. We flew into Nice and then had a two hour transfer to Avignon where we boarded the MS Shakespeare. Multiple operators offer the Rhone but I wanted to try Riviera given its staterooms offered full sized sliding windows and all the excursions were included, plus my mum wanted a hairdresser onboard!

River cruises are the perfect introduction for clients not sure if they’d like to cruise. Great for multi-generational families, you unpack once and get to visit lots of interesting places 15 minutes from where you dock, all while enjoying gourmet cuisine and making new friends along the way.

Our cruise started in Avignon, a medieval city anchored by the imposing Popes Palaces, the largest Gothic palace in the world and the Pont d'Avignon immortalised in the French song. Next was Arles, home to the magnificent Roman Colosseum and multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites, plus the inspiration for Van Gogh's Sunflowers and The Night Café. The next day we took a coach ride to the beautiful Ardeche Gorge featuring sheer 1,000 ft limestone cliffs, expansive forest and a snaking blue water river with the infamous Pont d'Arc natural arch.

The Rhone River offered views of chateaus, red roofed villages and vineyards aplenty before we arrived into Tournon, home of the first suspension bridge over the Rhone and then Vienne, another Roman stronghold with well-preserved amphitheatre and temple dating back to 10 BC. From here we continued upriver to the very cute Chalon-Sur-Saone with its cobbled streets and half timbered houses and birthplace of the inventor of photography. Our final stop was Lyon, the 3rd largest city in France built on the back of the silk industry, has a lovely Old Town with antique shops and traboules (narrow passageways enabling merchants to transport goods to the river without getting wet), it's also the gastronomic capital with over 20 Michelin starred restaurants.