Cruise Provence & Burgundy
Experience the scenic wonders and historic villages of Burgundy and Provence!
Depart gateway city for Lyon, France.
Lyon, France | Chalon-sur-Saône
Transfer to the pier. Embark the MS Van Gogh. Meet your fellow travelers tonight at a Welcome Reception, followed by a Welcome Dinner.
Journey by motor coach through the Côte de Beaune, a region known for producing delicious and complex white wines. Arrive in the handsome city of Beaune and visit the Hôtel-Dieu, or the Hospices de Beaune, a medieval hospital for the indigent that was founded in 1443 by Chancellor Nicolas Rolin.
Today, care is provided in modern buildings while the 15th-century, half-timbered building serves as a museum and architectural wonder. The historic building features an intricately designed tiled roof. Inside, the halls brim with tapestries, statues, furniture and paintings. The hospital also owns nearly 150 acres of vineyards that produce excellent wine, and it holds an annual wine auction each November to support its charitable mission and to maintain the medieval structure. We’ll cap off our tour with a tasting of excellent, locally produced wines.
Mâcon | Cluny
Travel to the walled town of Cluny, a quintessential Burgundian town known for its Benedictine abbey. Delight in its storybook atmosphere as you continue to Cluny Abbey, founded in 910 by the Guillaume d’Aquitaine, also known as Duke of Aquitaine and William the Pious. This abbey was home to more than 10,000 monks and it also was the mother abbey for more than 1,200 priories across Europe, wielding tremendous influence over the church and government not only in France but also in Italy and Spain.
Back on board, savor regional favorites for lunch, and revel in riverside panoramas on your journey to Lyon. En route, pause briefly in Trévoux for a stroll through this pretty town. Then encounter Lyon for the first time as your ship cruises through the city at night.
Choose one of these excursions:
Panoramic Lyon. Discover a plethora of Renaissance buildings, churches and famous sites, including the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. Explore Vieux Lyon and see Lyon’s traboules, the iconic covered walkways.
Guided Bike Tour of Lyon. Cycle leisurely through Lyon while your guide regales you with legends and historical anecdotes. Then relax while resting over refreshments at a café. (Active)
Free Time: Lyon has many treasures to share during leisure time. Take a walk through the atmospheric town squares or relax on the banks by the rivers’ confluence. Lyon also is known for its splendid gastronomy. If you’d like to try coq au vin, charcuterie or other local specialties, step into a bouchon, a restaurant that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. Perhaps amble through the unique traboules, hidden passageways once used by silk merchants to transport their goods.
Lyon | Viviers
Choose one of these excursions:
Côtes du Rhône. Journey through sun-kissed hills to France’s second-largest appellation and learn about the region’s viniculture.
Gorges de l’Ardèche. Delight in a panoramic tour to this spectacular deep canyon, a wonder of unspoiled beauty with a natural arch gateway.
Join a local expert to discuss the 68-year period during the 14th century when Roman Catholic popes abandoned Rome for Avignon. Gain insight into the political and religious tensions of the time that led to this remarkable event.
Choose one of these excursions:
Orange. Rich with Roman heritage, pretty Orange offers two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Triumphal Arch and the imposing Roman Theatre with an impressive exterior façade and stage featuring a statue of Augustus.
Pont du Gard. Witness this magnificent three-tiered Roman aqueduct, one of the wonders of the ancient world and a testament to Roman engineering expertise. Marvel at the 160-foot-high structure nestled in a scenic setting.
Avignon Walking Tour. Encounter this immaculately preserved walled city nestled on the banks of the Rhône River. Avignon boasts an astounding trove of churches, chapels, convents and monuments. The façade of the Chapelle de l’Oratoire, a church built in the 17th century by a community of Oratorians, is especially lovely and a sight to remember. Stroll through the Place de l’Horloge, the central square. Just east of the square sits the imposing Palais des Papes. Two distinct buildings compose the palace: the austere Old Palace, built by Pope Benedict XII, and the ornate New Palace, built by Pope Clement VI. The palace is an outstanding example of Gothic architecture. Explore the staterooms and the private papal apartments. Then step outside onto the terrace for a dazzling view of Avignon and the Rhône River.
Rejoin the ship and relax on deck as your ship glides deeper into Provence toward Arles.
Arles | Camargue Nature Park
Enrichment: Provence and the Rhône River. A local speaker reviews the Rhône River’s influence on the development of Provence.
Discovery: Arles Walking Tour. Thrill to the extraordinary Roman and Romanesque monuments and warm colors of Arles. Les Arènes, the ancient amphitheater, testifies to the city’s status within the Roman Empire. Audiences still gather there today, but they enjoy plays and concerts instead of gladiator battles. Other highlights include the ruins of the Baths of Constantine and the Place du Forum, which was the center of Roman Arles and the subject of van Gogh’s “Café Terrace at Night.” The genius artist lived in Arles for over a year, a time when he painted many masterpieces, including “Sunflowers.” The pretty Cathedral of St. Trôphime is a true gem of Romanesque style. The church is one of the stops along the route of the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrimage route to Spain.
Discovery: Camargue Nature Park. Explore Camargue Regional Nature Park, one of Provence’s most beautiful spots and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Encompassing the Rhône River delta, these wetlands are a protected habitat for more than 270 species of birds, including flamingos, egrets and herons. The Camargue also is famous for its gorgeous white horses that have lived in this region for thousands of years. Tonight, raise a toast to your journey through Provence and Burgundy at a Farewell Reception, followed by a Farewell Dinner.
Following breakfast, disembark the ship in Arles. Transfer to the airport for the return flight to your gateway city.
Group Transfer passengers depart for Marseille Airport for your return flights home.