Portraits of Southern France – Avignon to Chalon

Destination: Europe
Ship: Viking Delling
Sail along France’s scenic Saone and Rhone Rivers past some of the most beautiful vistas the French countryside has to offer.

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Sail along France’s scenic Saone and Rhone Rivers past some of the most beautiful vistas the French countryside has to offer. During your 8-day journey, explore the famed region of Burgundy and the colorful fields of Provence. Visit Gallo-Roman ruins in both Vienne and Arles, walk the cobbled streets of Arles to see how it inspired Vincent van Gogh, and visit the historic Papal Palace in Avignon, “City of Popes.” Learn about the region’s time-honored winemaking traditions, sample Burgundy varietals and try the world-famous regional cuisine in Lyon. C’est magnifique!


Day 1 – Avignon, France

Fly to Marseille. Transfer from the airport to your ship, docked in Avignon.* After boarding, take free time to explore this quaint town on the scenic Rhone River, or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and get oriented. (D)

Day 2 – Arles, France

Arrive during breakfast and take a walking tour of Arles with its diverse architectural highlights. Experience the city’s vibrant colors and striking quality of light that have inspired artists. Arles is also the site of some impressive Roman ruins, including Les Arenes, an arena that seats 20,000 and is still in use, as well as Romanesque monuments such as the Church of Saint-Trophime, completed in the 15th century. Return aboard for lunch followed by an afternoon on your own to explore or shop for handcrafted gifts. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Dinner is served as you depart. (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Avignon & Viviers, France

This morning, set out on a guided walk of Avignon, nicknamed “City of Popes” because it was home to seven popes from 1309 to 1377. Stroll through the historic center, stop at the picturesque Pont d’Avignon and walk the Place de l’Horloge. Continue to the renowned Palace of the Popes for a guided tour through this rambling maze of Gothic architecture that served as papal residence, fortress, church and palace. After the tour, enjoy an afternoon at leisure exploring Avignon. You can join the optional tour to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, visiting the vineyards and tasting the famous wine. Lunch and dinner are served aboard your ship. After dinner, arrive in Viviers, a quaint town in a mountainous setting. You may wish to go for a stroll through the Old Town with its medieval and Renaissance buildings. We remain docked here this evening. (B, L, D)

Day 4 – Tournon, France

After a scenic morning cruise and lunch aboard, take a tour through Tournon to Tain l’Hermitage, a region known for its wine and gourmet chocolate. During a guided tour of the area, learn about the region’s wine-making traditions and taste some well-known regional red wines. Then visit the Musee de Tain l’Hermitage, located in the oldest house in the region. Dine aboard as we cruise through the evening. (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Vienne & Lyon, France

This morning, take a walking tour of Vienne, a beautiful town with an ancient Roman past. Visit the Temple of Augustus & Livia, the Roman amphitheater and the Gothic Cathedral of St. Maurice; then spend some time discovering more of this engaging riverside town on your own. Return to your ship for lunch and an afternoon departure. Later this afternoon, arrive in Lyon and embark on a walking tour. Stroll through the street and admire lovely old Renaissance buildings, see art galleries and visit Saint Jean Cathedral. Enjoy free time to explore this remarkable 2,000-year-old city in the heart of France. Dinner is served aboard and your ship remains docked overnight, so you may choose to take an evening stroll. (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Lyon, France

After breakfast, tour Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin with a drive to the top of Fourviere Hill for amazing views of the city. Continue with a guided visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame and drive through town past the magnificent St. Jean Cathedral and the Palace of Justice. Then take a walking tour through the cobbled streets of Vieux Lyon (Old Town), with free time to shop for souvenirs or sample some of the fine French cuisine for which Lyon is world famous. Return to your ship for an afternoon departure. (B, L, D)

Day 7 – Burgundy Wine Tour & Beaune, France

Early this morning, you sail toward Tournus, arriving over breakfast. Take a short walk through this quaint medieval town before sailing on to Chalon, or take an optional excursion to the picturesque Burgundy town of Cluny. Rejoin your ship in Chalon for lunch, then ride along France’s Burgundy wine route through Pommard, Volnay and Meursault. Arrive in Beaune, wine capital of Burgundy, for a guided tour of beautiful Hotel Dieu, founded as a hospice in 1443. Learn about local viticulture and indulge in a wine tasting at one of Beaune’s famous cellars. Dine aboard your ship; this evening, relax or take a walk by the scenic Saone River. (B, L, D)

Day 8 – Chalon-sur-Saone, France

After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the Lyon airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your time in France with 3 exciting nights in Paris, one of the world’s most romantic cities. (B)

The following meals are included: B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner

* Airport meet & greet transfers included when air is purchased from Viking River Cruises