September of this year saw me fulfilling a long-standing dream of taking a European River Cruise. From Provence in the south to Lyon in the northern Rhone region of France, I spent seven days on board the Viking longship Buri.
During the week long cruise, we stopped at six ports along the Rhone River. Each port was a mini history and culture lesson. Often the food and wine of a particular area was a special treat at dinner, as when we arrived in Tournon Sur Rhone, where just across the river are the famous Hermitage AOC Vineyards. That evening, we drank a local Syrah. Food, wine, art, and architecture – all the things I love about Europe – were part of the cruise experience, which Viking does so well.
This was my first time in France, and I was not disappointed. Many of my readers know that I’m a big Italophile, but this year I went to France instead of Italy. Who knew that France has almost as many Roman ruins as Italy? Everywhere we went, we saw magnificent monuments and remains of what was once the mighty Roman Empire.
One of the nicest features of taking a river cruise is that at each port you have the option to take a guided walking tour. The guides are always local and extremely knowledgeable. I went on every walking tour offered, trying to soak in as much as I could…and take photos along the way.
There were also additional day tours at most ports that allowed travelers the opportunity to dig deeper into the culture. I’ll write more about the tours I took and what you can see and do in each port in future articles.
After most trips, I like to begin sharing my experiences with photographic stories that I hope will stimulate your curiosity and inspire you to come back and learn more – and take a journey yourself!
Are you ready to Roll on the Rhone River with Viking River Cruises ?
Embarkation port: Avignon
The cruise began in Avignon with a tour of the Palace of the Popes or Palais des Papes. It is the largest gothic building in Europe and was the home of the Popes during the 14th century. Once both a palace and a fortress, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the historical center of Avignon.
Arles is a dream of a town, with much architectural and historical interest. Though it was once the capital of the Kingdom of Arles and an important river port, it is perhaps best known for the outstanding Roman amphitheater, seen in this photo and as the home of the painter Vincent Van Gogh. Arles has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I’ll be writing more about Arles and the Roman ruins.
Tournon Sur Rhone
We arrived in Tournon after dinner, but early enough for a walk. The bridge in the photo connects Tournon with the famous Tain L’ Hermitage AOC vineyards.
Vienne, a stunning city with wonderful Roman ruins, founded under the administration of Pontius Pilate. Our group arrived in Vienne after disembarking in Tournon, boarding a bus, and meeting the boat in Vienne. But first we had a tour of the city and got the lay of the land. That night we went back out after dinner to wander through the ruins in the dark. A special experience we shall always remember.
Last port of call: Lyon
Lyon is France’s second largest city, yet the pace does not feel frantic or big city at all. Lyon is known first and foremost as a food city, so be sure to try some local dishes like Salad Lyonnaise, and glass of rosé. My favorite part of the city was the Vieux Lyon, or the old town. I spent all my free time in Lyon there, walking the cobblestone streets or sitting at a cafe enjoying a local wine. There is much to see and do in Lyon so I will be writing about it in detail in future articles.
If you have any questions for me about any of the ports or what it’s like to take a river cruise you can email me, leave a comment, or stay tuned!
Sadly, Lyon was the last stop on our Rhone odyssey. My appreciation to Viking Cruises for sponsorship of the river cruise portion of this trip.