A Rhone River cruise delivers you to the epicenter of a fascinating destination. I’m Ralph Grizzle of River Cruise Advisor, and I experienced the Rhone on AmaWaterways during a weeklong voyage from Lyon to Arles. Join me for adventure on one of France’s most famed rivers.
The perfect gateway to a Rhone discovery is the city of Lyon. It’s France’s third-largest city and richly historic. During a walking tour, I explored this beautiful city crossing bridges and strolling along old Roman streets past gorgeous buildings and expansive squares. I discovered remnants of Lyon’s ancient Roman past as well as the city’s contemporary beauty.
After a day in Lyon, we cruised the next morning through Lyon and up the Saone River, where we docked for an excursion to the beautiful hilltop village of Oignt. I found Oignt to be a golden opportunity to appreciate France’s medieval architecture.
Within sight of the village, I discovered the earth’s jewel-toned wines at a gorgeous vineyard where the owners told us about wine production and then invited us for a wine-tasting.
The glasses were brimming with goodness fresh-from-the-vine, one of the true pleasures for those who cruise the Rhone.
Our next stop was Vienne, which served as an urban center of the Roman empire during the reign of Julius Caesar. A hike to the summit of Mont Pipet provided the perfect panorama over the famed Roman Amphitheater.
Later, I pedaled with a small group for 16 miles into the surrounding countryside to Condrieu. The guided bike tour along the Rhone was gorgeous and invigorating.
In Tournon, I walked across the pedestrian bridge leading to the town of Tain L’Hermitage to hike among hills. Here, vines are sunkissed by southern rays and graced by the beauty of the Rhone Valley.
Here, it’s all about tastes and the wonderful aroma of wine. On another excursion, a local expert took my palate on a decadent journey, balancing this wine’s notes of berries and cloves with the sweetness of chocolate.
Train lovers could not to better than to chug along on a steam locomotive through a gorge and up to a mountaintop to a small village. It was a beautiful journey. I enjoyed watching the engineers shovel coal into the boiler to turn the train around before beginning a beautiful journey back down the mountain.
In Avignon, the highlights are a walking tour of the famed medieval bridge that stretches only halfway across the river and a stroll through the Pope’s Palace … but for those who want to continue epicurean exploration, look no further than to join a cooking class where you will learn to prepare dishes using local ingredients. If you enjoy furthering your culinary talents, it’s hard to beat this cooking lesson that will teach you to conjure up some tasty Provençal fare.
Another must for the Francophile food lover: a visit to Grignan Village, with its beautiful castle, and then onto a local truffle farm to uncover how cute tuber-sniffing canines help harvest these tasty morsels.
It’s no wonder that artists were so enamored by this region of Provence.
From Arles, we visited an old quarry where masterpieces are projected on a cave-like quarry façade in an unforgettable exhibition of sight and sound.
Perhaps no artist conveys the beauty and emotion of Provence like Vincent Van Gogh. During an artist’s tour, I visited the the Saint-Paul Asylum where the self-admitted patient painted some of his famous works.
Another excursion from Arles is to Les Baux, an ancient fortress carved into the side of imposing rock cliffs. The fortress survived a turbulent past until it was destroyed in 1483. Now in ruins, Les Baux has been brought to life by archers, blacksmiths and siege weapons designed to defend this [once] mighty castle.
For those who appreciate world-class wine, there’s no place like the Rhone. Yet the charms of this region stem far beyond vineyards, with Provençal traditions revealed in its cuisine and crafts, art and architecture.
A journey along the Rhone indulges the senses with a variety of experiences … undoubtedly underscoring the river’s singular appeal. I’m Ralph Grizzle. Thanks for watching.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com.