A password will be e-mailed to you.

The Rhone and Saone Rivers meander through the idyllic South of France, famed for its wine and cuisine as well as heritage treasures.

Cruise on the popular Avignon to Lyon route to experience the lands that inspired Van Gogh, Cezanne and Gauguin. Destination highlights on the route include Arles, Tournon, Viviers, Tarascon and many more.

Major cruise lines all offer this itinerary and River Cruise Passenger compare five lines to find out how they differ and what are included in their fare. We picked eight-day itineraries departing around May from Uniworld, Riviera Travel, Scenic, Viking and Avalon Waterways to see how they stack up.

Some lines also sail slightly beyond Avignon in the eight-days, with Uniworld and Scenic sailing to Tarascon and Avalon Waterways to Port Saint Louis.

If strolling down the very streets of Arles that are made famous by Van Gogh is top priority, go with lines like Riviera and Avalon Waterways. Uniworld and Scenic also stop at Tarascon, which is only a short 15 to 30 minute journey to Arles. Viking River Cruises also spends three days in Lyon, for an extended experience of the gastronomic capital.

Some lines offer an all-inclusive experience. All visit different towns and offer unique shore experiences, so think about what suits your tastes.

Uniworld

Uniworld S.S. CatheineWhat’s included

All inclusive

Meals: All meals on board

Beverages: Unlimited beverages, including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water

Shore excursions: Most shore excursions

Internet and Wi-Fi: Free Internet and Wi-Fi access

Airport Transfers: Transfers on arrival and departure days

Gratuities: All gratuities both on board and on shore

Extra perks

  • One Signature lecture
  • 2020 air offer: Choose free economy air, business class air from $3,999pp, or $1,000pp savings with 2020 Europe voyages.
  • Save 5% on all Suite category staterooms; Save 10% on all other stateroom categories. Book by 30 June 2019 and pay in full at time of booking to be eligible for this offer.

The details

8-days ‘Burgundy & Provence

Ship: S.S. Catherine

Date: May 10, 2020

Price: from $7,999 in a Classic stateroom

The itinerary

Day One:

Embark in Avignon.

Day Two: Tarascon

Tarascon is a short distance from Arles which known for its remarkable Roman ruins and for being the city that inspired Van Gogh so much that he painted some 200 paintings there. Go on a walking tour to see medieval houses, churches and a Roman amphitheatre, Venus of Arles, which is still used for sporting events currently. You’ll also get to see Café de Nuit, still painted in the same shade of cheery yellow in Van Gogh’s painting and the local farmers’ market across Forum Square.

Day Three: Avignon

The walled city of Avignon was once the seat of the rebellious Catholic popes. Join the Avignon walking tour with visits to the impregnable fortress of the Palace of the Popes. Other excursions include a visit to the Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct that was built in first century AD to carry water over 50 kilometres as well as a “Let’s Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River.

Day Four: Viviers

Uniworld is bringing the local experience to their guests with an ‘Intimate Viviers Village Day’. Your guide will give you a tour of the town and provide opportunities to meet the local artisans like the organist, potter and dance teacher.

Day Five: Tournon

The twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage will be a treat to fine wine lovers. Visit the local wine cellars to taste the region’s famous Cotes du Rhone, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage wines, produced from Syrah grapes that grow on the slopes lining the river. Finish off the tour of the town with a stop at the Valrhona chocolate factory. Uniworld also offers a “Let’s Go” hiking excursion through the vineyards before indulging in a wine tasting to conclude.

Day Six: Lyon

Go on a gastronomic tour of in France’s culinary centre and let the guide show you the local gourmet scene. Taste the city’s bouchons (unpretentious restaurants serving hearty dishes), and perhaps one of the 20 Michelin starred restaurants. Join the silk weavers walking tour to get an in depth look of the secret passageways of the city that were used during the boom of silk production. There is also a “Let’s Go” option, where you do a peninsula bike tour, passing the new Raymond Barre Bridge ad the Museum of Confluences which sit at the confluence of the Rhone and Saone Rivers.

Day Seven: Macon (Beaune)

There are two tour options in Macon, one focusing on the history and architecture of the town and the other will show you the Hospices de Beaune and the open-air market. The Hospices de Beaune is a symbol of Burgundy and its multi-coloured tile roof which makes it hard to miss.

Day Eight:

Disembark in Lyon.

Riviera Travel

Image result for MS william shakespeareWhat’s included

Meals: All meals on board

Beverages: n/a

Shore excursions: Guided tour at each port

Internet and Wi-Fi: Complimentary

Airport Transfers: n/a

Gratuities: n/a

The details

8-days ‘Burgundy, The River Rhone & Provence

Ship: MS William Shakespeare

Date: May 12, 2020

Price: from $3,319 for a lower deck cabin

The itinerary

Day One:

Embark in Lyon.

Day Two: Lyon

The line offers a guided tour of Lyon, showing you the city’s history as being the route of choice for marauding armies and peaceful traders. Spot the remaining Roman fortifications as well as the lavish Renaissance buildings showing the wealth brought into the city with silk production.

Day Three: Chalon & Beaune

The tour in Chalon and Beaune highlights the small wine producing villages in Burgundy’s wine capital. Sample the wines the town has to offer but don’t forget to see the High Gothic architecture of the Hospices de Beaune in the city’s centre.

Day Four: Vienne & Tournon

The exploration of Vienne and Tournon is self-guided. Vienne was a Roman stronghold under Julius Caesar and Tournon features steep vine-covered slopes of Hermitage, producing world renowned wines.

Day Five: Ardeche Gorges

You will get to explore the sheer limestone cliffs of the Ardeche Gorges at your own pace. Seek out the huge natural arch, Pont d’Arc, caves, grottoes and natural sculptures along the way.

Day Six: Arles & Pont du Gard

A guided tour will highlight to you Arles’ magnificent Roman remains, including one of the best preserved amphitheatres in the world as well as walk the streets that inspired many works of Vincent van Gogh. Continue to the Pont du Gard after lunch, a medieval aqueduct bridge built in first century AD, an architectural feat by the Romans.

Day Seven: Avignon

The morning features a guided tour of the Pope’s Palace, the seat of the rebellious popes during the 14th century. You are then free to explore the rest of the city as you wish after lunch. Perhaps, stroll on the iconic Pont d’Avignon, whose ruins end halfway across the river.

Day Eight:

Disembark in Avignon.

Avalon Waterways

Related imageWhat’s included

Meals: All meals on board, with healthy cuisine options at every meal

Beverages: Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast, wine, beer, or soft drinks with every lunch and dinner. 24-hour self-serve beverage station

Shore excursions: One complimentary shore excursion in every port, choose among their active, discover and classic excursions

Internet and Wi-Fi: Complimentary Wi-Fi

Airport Transfers: n/a

Gratuities: n/a

The details

8-days ‘Active & Discovery on the Rhone

Ship: Poetry II

Date: May 5, 2020

Price: from $3,049 for a Cat D, E cabin

The itinerary

Day One:

Embark in Lyon

Day Two: Lyon

The line offers a range of included and optional tours in Lyon. Included tours feature a guided urban hike through the Traboules of Lyon, the secret passageways used in 19th century silk trade. Else you can take a guided culinary walk to architecture and local specialities or join a cooking class to make your own Lyonnaise specialty. Optional tours include access to private and public terraces for panoramic views of Lyon or a guided mountain bike excursion through the Beaujolais wine country.

Day Three: Tain L’Hermitage & Tournon

Take a guided sightseeing tour of one of France’s oldest medieval cities or immerse in a full chocolate experience with a tour of the Valrhona Chocolate Factory. There are also two active excursion options such as getting on the rail-bike along the descent of the Gorges du Doux or take a guided hike in the picturesque vineyards.

Day Four: Viviers

The excursions at Viviers range from a guided kayak trip in the Gorges de l’Ardeche, a guided hike through the natural reserve of Cirque d’Estre to guided underground wine tasting in the caves or a visit to the local crocodile farm.

Day Five: Avignon

Join the guided e-bike tour through the Gard and enjoy a wine tasting in a local cellar after. Else you can engage your senses in a guided tour of the Musée des Arômes et du Parfum and create your own unique scent with aromatic herbs and essential oils. There is also a classic guided sightseeing to visit the world’s largest gothic fortress, the Palace of the Popes.

Day Six: Arles

Take a guided hike through the unique white limestone rock formations of Val d’Enfer or spend a day indoors, attending a painting workshop to learn the style and techniques of Vincent van Gogh in the city that inspired many of his works. The guided sightseeing tour also shows you the town’s history along with a visit to a local bullfighter to learn the secrets and traditions handed down the generations.

Day Seven: Port Saint Louis

The Camargue Regional Nature Park, one of France’s most protected natural reserves, sits in this town and you can either take a guided walk or bike ride through the landscape to spot more than 400 bird species, including pink flamingos. Within the nature park is also an oyster farm where you can enjoy a tasting and learn about the farming process.

Day Eight:

Disembark in Arles

Scenic

Image result for scenic sapphireWhat’s included

All inclusive

Meals: All meals on board

Beverages: Unlimited beverages, full mini-bar restocked daily, bottled water for all onshore excursions, still and sparkling water in-suite

Shore excursions: All shore excursions, including active discovery, exclusive Scenic Enrich, Scenic Freechoice

Internet and Wi-Fi: Complimentary

Airport Transfers: Return airport transfers

Gratuities: All gratuities on board and on shore

Extra perks

Butler service for every guest

The details

8-days ‘Idyllic Rhone

Ship: Scenic Sapphire

Date: Apr 30, 2020

Price: $5,595 for a standard suite

The itinerary

Day One:

Embark in Lyon

Day Two: Lyon

Walk Lyon’s hidden Traboules, then continue to Notre Dame Basilica, which offers fabulous views across the city or join a guided bike ride to Lyon’s Botanical Gardens and Zoo. Alternatively, walk the cobblestone paths in the medieval hilltop town of Pérouges.

Day Three: Macon

Enjoy a tasting of the famed wines of the Beaujolais region or explore the Cluny built around the great Benedictine Abbey. For beautiful gardens and 17th century architecture, tour the Chateau de Cormatin.

Day Four: Vienne

Take a walking tour of Vienne to explore the quaint riverside town once conquered by Julius Caesar, featuring a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre. Guests can also choose to see the landscapes of Vienne on a bicycle.

Day Five: Viviers & Avignon

This morning, enjoy a walking tour of the ancient town of Viviers, nestled between hill and river, and visit its imposing cathedral or visit the beautiful provincial town of Grignan. A lesson in French cuisine will also be hosted by Scenic Culinaire in the afternoon.

Day Six: Avignon

You will get to shop with a chef in the local markets and bring it back on board to cook up a storm in Scenic Culinaire. A classic excursion will let you explore Avignon’s Palais des Papes or Uzès and Pont du Gard or sample the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape at a Côtes du Rhône vineyard. You will get the afternoon to explore on your own so you don’t have to worry about skipping the attractions.

In the evening, you’ll be invited for an exclusive concert inside the Palace of the Popes after doors close to the general public.

Day Seven: Tarascon

Visit Les Baux, and drop into a local olive farm, or explore Saint-Rémy and Saint-Paul de Mausole Monastery. Alternatively, visit Arles Arena on your tour of this once thriving Roman city.

This afternoon is at your leisure. Perhaps explore the medieval charm of Tarascon on board an e-bike or stay on board for a Provençal Soap Making workshop.

Day Eight:

Disembark in Marseille.

Viking River Cruises

Image result for viking heimdalWhat is included

Meals: All meals on board

Beverages: Beer, wine and soft drinks with meals and 24 hour specialty coffees, teas and bottled water

Shore excursions: One complimentary shore excursion in every port of call

Internet and Wi-Fi: Free Wi-Fi

Airport Transfers: n/a

Gratuities: Gratuities for shipboard personnel

Extra perks

Fly to Europe for $995 per person when you book by 31 August 2019

The details

8-days ‘Lyon & Provence

Ship: Viking Heimdal

Date: May 19, 2020

Price: from $4,995 for a standard cabin

The itinerary

Day One:

Embark in Avignon

Day Two: Arles

Take a guided walking tour of Arles to take in the Roman architecture of the city. Visit the amphitheatre that seats 20,000 to the bustling square that once hosted the ancient Roman Circus, the Church of St Trophime and even the local hospital that treated Vincent van Gogh, Espance van Gogh.

Day Three: Avignon

Tour the UNESCO World Heritage Palace of the Popes with a guide. The palace was the seat of the papacy when they relocated here from Rome in 1309. Continue to the Market Hall to taste olives and pickled garlic.

Day Four: Viviers

Follow the local guide through the sleepy small town, set among the mountains , to see the Knights’ House from the Renaissance period and also the smallest cathedral in France the St Vincent cathedral.

Day Five: Tournon

The line features a special steam train excursion in Tournon. Board the Train de l’Ardeche to ride through the deep gorges of the Ardeche plateau. Return to your ship after to cruise to Vienne where the guide will show you the city’s history on a walking tour with highlights like the massive Gothic Cathedral of St Maurice and the Roman remains in the Garden of Cybele.

Day Six: Lyon

Begin with a drive to Basilica of Notre Dame, at the top of Fourvière Hill and enjoy sweeping views of Old Lyon. Continue to flamboyant Gothic St. Jean Cathedral and the Palace of Justice, stopping at the city’s famed Painted Houses to view a collection of outdoor murals depicting some 30 of the city’s famous figures. Conclude the day with a walking tour of the hidden passageways of the city, made for silk merchants in the past.

Day Seven: Lyon

On you second day in Lyon, you will discover Beaujolais, one of Frnace’s most beloved wine regions. Drive through the hills with your guide learn the art of wine making and taste them with a wine expert. Other optional tours include a visit to a truffle farm or a walking culinary tour of the city, tasting French sweet treats, cheese and also enjoy a platter of savoury local delicacies at a traditional bistro.

Day Eight:

Disembark in Lyon.