Having spent years either touring the length and breadth of Britain in a caravan or experiencing the hustle and bustle of a package holiday with the kids when young, I thought it was high time that me and the hubby should enjoy something a little more slower paced and relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, our holidays were a joy at the time and did provide my family with some wonderful experiences and magical memories. However, kids grow up and want different things and don’t necessarily want to share it with their parents. So, having planted the seeds of a possible Contiki 18-35′s holiday in the kids minds, my own thoughts could be left to find that certain ‘something’ for me and the hubby.
I eventually found that certain ‘something’ in the form of a fabulous river cruise called Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence . This 8 day river cruise begins in Lyon and ends in Avignon and is organised by the leading river cruise tour operator Riviera Travel and can be booked through River Cruise Tours to avoid any credit card charges.
You start your journey by first flying to Lyon before being transferred from the airport to your ship, MS Swiss Corona which is docked in Lyon’s picturesque historic centre (return flight from London and transfers are included in your cruise price).
The following day is spent taking a leisurely guided tour of Lyon, one of France’s most interesting and marvelous cities! As you enjoy your first lunch, the ship quietly slips its moorings, cruising upstream so you may catch the first glimpses of the vine-clad slopes of the hazy green Beaujolais hills, one of the world’s most famous wine producing regions. On your left you see the picturesque villages – Morgon, Fleury, Juliénas, Chénas and many more, whilst on the right, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of snowy Mont Blanc – Western Europe’s highest mountain.
The itinerary only gets better as you get to explore the medieval Beaune, Burgundy’s wine capital. Of course you cannot visit Burgundy without sampling its amazing wine, so you get to visit the cellars of one of the most traditional of winemakers for a tour and tasting.
Overnight, the ship has cruised almost imperceptibly south with breakfast in the ancient Roman stronghold of Vienne, established under Julius Caesar.
During another superb lunch, you enter perhaps the most picturesque section of the Rhône Valley as the river squeezes and twists through narrow defiles like Condrieu, St Rambert d’Albon and St Vallier, lined with wooded river cliffs, rising high to both sides.
During the following day, you get to see the amazing Ardèche gorges, the scale of which is a fitting reminder of Mother Nature’s awesome power. With caves, grottoes and natural sculptures, there are amazing views at every turn.
The next morning you wake under the azure-blue skies of deepest Provence, amidst the rich warm stone of historic Arles. You soon get to witness the amazing Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, one of the wonders of the ancient world. No amount of fame can diminish the first sight of this 2,000 year old structure which the Romans considered to be the most important testimony to their greatness and indeed it was the highest bridge they ever built.
The Pont du Gard
By day 7 you will be waking up to the morning light catching the red roofs of Avignon’s majestic medieval skyline. In the evening the Captain’s dinner takes place, serving specialities of the regions you have visited during your voyage of discovery through this fascinating country.
On day 8 the tour ends and you are transferred to the airport for your return flight home. This tour has certainly got that ‘something’ and I’m in no hesitation to book this river cruise now and have the time of my life.