by Rose Forbes
In May I was able to cruise the Rhone River in France’s Burgundy and Provence regions on AMA Waterways. My travel passion is enjoying fabulous food and wonderful wines and this trip did not disappoint!
We began our adventure in Paris, where we spend 4 great days. Some of the highlights of our Paris stop was the Eiffel Tower, a sunset Seine River cruise, a 10 course 5 star meal and the Perre Lechaise Cemetery where famous celebs like Jim Morrison, Chopin and Oscar Wilde are buried.
We took a high speed train from Paris to Lyon, where out river ship was waiting for us. Stepping on to a river boat is a lot different than an ocean liner. There are only 150 passengers on board with 3 decks. The intimate setting makes it easy to get to know your fellow cruisers and you learn way around the ship pretty quick.
After spending the night docked in Lyon and touring it’s sights, we began our journey downstream towards the Mediterranean Sea. We experienced 16 locks on our trip, as the river continually decreased and we needed to bring the ship down to sea level on the other side of the locks. The tallest deepest lock we traversed was 40 feet down.
On our next ports of Viviers, Tournon, Avignon and Arles, we toured dozens of churches and architectural marvels- some dating back to the 12th century. It was interesting to learn about the Popes of Avignon perfecting the wine industry in the region, which is how the red wine varietal region of Chateneuf du Pape gets it’s name.
River cruising is a great way to leave the planning to the tour director and explore the local culture up close and personal. We docked right in the heart of the city allowing an easy walk to the most popular destinations. But the best part is that Shore Excursions are Included in the price! There were 3-5 excursions each day to choose from, each with a different level of effort- easy, moderate and active. We chose most of the active excursions and got to see the cities on foot with hikes up and down steep mountains, fast paced city walking tours and bicycle tours. There are also bus tours for an easy view of the sights as well as for farther destinations that take you to Truffle Hunting with Dogs, Olive Oil Farms, Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours and so much more.
I’d recommend this Rhone River Cruise itinerary for adults who love good wine, great food, appreciate renaissance, gothic and roman architecture and enjoy a bit of world history mixed with catholic and christian religious history. You should be mobile and in fairly good physical health, as wheelchairs,canes and walkers would not do well on the ancient cobblestone streets and navigating the ramp to and from the ship . I would choose a different itinerary if you’re definitely not a wine drinker or if you are planning to travel with kids or teens, as they may be easily bored. There are no kids programs on most river cruise ships which means they have mostly adults onboard.
I have done river cruises in Egypt on the Nile and in Germany on the Rhine. After this Rhone River Adventure in France, I am ready to take on the Danube for a visit to Prague and Budapest next.
If you’re planning a river cruise, I’d be happy to share my experiences with you and help guide you to a great ship and itinerary that matches your travel personality.