Iberian Immersion: Cruising Portugal's Douro
The Rhône River wends through the heart of Lyon, meeting the Saône River there before heading south to Provence and the Mediterranean Sea. Along its banks lie towns and villages that tell the history of southern France, from the Roman Empire to the great artistic movements of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Experience this beautiful region of France on a river cruise from the vineyards of Burgundy to the Camargue wetlands aboard the MS Camargue, stopping to explore historic cities and Provençal towns.
Taste the flavors of Burgundy on a city tour of Mâcon and join a guide to discover the rich history of Arles and the medieval streets of Tournon. In every port of call, you’ll have your choice of optional excursions — including a guided tour of the Roman sites of Vienne and a jeep safari among the native white horses and flamingos of the Camargue. As you glide along the Saône and Rhône rivers from one picturesque place to the next, enjoy ever-changing views along the water’s edge from the comfort of an elegant riverboat.
Jul 3-10, 2020
Join a guide to explore Lyon’s enchanting traboules, ancient covered passageways that crisscross the city and are filled with architectural gems.
Visit some of the most treasured towns of Provence, including Avignon, Arles and Viviers.
Sample the specialties of the region on tasting tours in Mâcon and Tournon and on a visit to an olive oil estate near Arles.
Explore an enormous ancient amphitheater and temple in Vienne, France’s richest Roman-era site.
Arrive in Lyon and transfer to the quay in the early evening to board the MS Camargue. Settle into your cabin and join the crew for a welcome cocktail and dinner. (D)
France’s third largest city, Lyon is a hub of culture and cuisine poised at the junction of the Saône and Rhône rivers. Set out today to discover Lyon’s heritage, from its origins as the Roman city of Lugdunum to today. Your tour begins on the roof of the hilltop Fourvière Basilica, which commands a breathtaking view of Lyon. Step inside this ornate 19th-century church, adorned with mosaics and frescoes and built on the ruins of the ancient Roman forum. Descend to Lyon’s Old Town for a guided walking tour that includes the city’s, covered passageways built as far back as the 4th century to allow easier access to the river. The wind through buildings and courtyards, revealing vaulted ceilings, medieval staircases and Renaissance architecture. Enjoy free time to wander through the Saint-Jean district, part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed old city. Return to the riverboat for lunch and cruise north into Burgundy this afternoon. Dock in Mâcon and gather for a festive evening on board. (B, L, D)
Begin the day with a guided walking tour of Mâcon’s historic center. Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent, the town hall and the Musée des Ursulines, a fine arts museum set in a former convent. Along the way, stop to sample local products, including some of the vintages of southern Burgundy. After time to explore on your own, return to the ship for lunch. Alternatively, take an optional excursion to the Cluny Abbey, founded in 910 by William the Pious. This Benedictine abbey had enormous influence in its heyday and remained the largest Christian church until St. Peter’s Basilica was built in Rome. As you sail toward Vienne this evening, enjoy dinner and entertainment on board. (B, L, D)
The Rhône was an important conduit for the Romans, and while many of the towns along its banks boast vestiges of the Roman era, Vienne has the most impressive ruins in all of France — with more than 40 ancient sites discovered to date. Spend the day exploring this stunning town on your own, discovering medieval churches, a 1st-century temple and a large Roman amphitheater that still holds crowds for a renowned annual jazz festival. With a capacity of 13,000 spectators, the theater was one of the largest in the Roman Empire. If you wish, opt to take a guided walking tour of the city, its cathedral and its Roman sites. Return to the boat on foot and sail south this evening toward Arles. (B, L, D)
Stroll from the boat into the heart of beautiful Arles, a town famous for its art, architecture and archaeology. On a guided walking tour, visit the city’s important Roman sites, including an amphitheater set in the center of the old town, a theater and Roman baths, and see parts of the city immortalized by Van Gogh. Later, journey to nearby Tarascon for a visit to the 18th-century country estate of an olive oil producer. Take a hayride in the olive orchards, learn about the production process and sample the estate’s oils. Return to Arles in the late afternoon. You may choose to explore the Camargue, a protected wetland area south of Arles that is home to indigenous white horses, bred black bulls, flamingos and salt flats. Take a tour of these picturesque marshes and visit a bull-breeding farm, or hop into a jeep with local guides for a safari, watching for birdlife and wild horses in different regions of the park. Soak up the spirit of Provence tonight during a folkloric performance on board. (B, L, D)
Spend the morning in Avignon, the capital of the Christian world in the 14th century. Meander through the cobbled lanes of the walled old city on your own, discovering Gothic and Roman churches; the bustling Place de l’Horloge, built upon the ancient Roman forum; and the Papal Palace, home of the pope for nearly 70 years and later the center of a rival papacy during the Great Schism. If you wish, enjoy an optional guided walking tour of the old city that includes a visit to the Papal Palace. Walk back to the boat and sail north to Viviers in the Ardèche region in northern Provence. Step back in time in this charming medieval town, exploring its warren of narrow streets on your own or on an optional guided tour. See the striking Renaissance façade of the House of Knights, visit one of the oldest cathedrals in France, and take in the view of this age-old stone town from the Belvedere. (B, L, D)
Cruise north this morning, taking in lovely vistas of the Rhône Valley. After lunch, dock at Tournon, nestled amid terraced vineyards in the heart of the valley. Perched on a granite outcrop above the town, the town’s château dates to the 10th century and now houses a museum. On a guided walking tour, visit the museum’s permanent collection, which traces the history of navigation on the Rhône. Stroll the historic streets below the castle and cap off the tour with a sampling of regional products and wines. Return to the boat at your leisure. This evening, toast your Rhône adventure during a gala farewell dinner on board. The boat makes its way toward Lyon later tonight. (B, L, D)
After a final breakfast on board, disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)