Add an extension to your Rhone River cruise by visiting Paris. After all, a Rhone river cruise trip primarily covers French ports, so adding Paris to your itinerary makes perfect sense. Most trips to Paris include stayovers of about two days. As soon as you check into your Paris hotel, you can explore this city of treasures, one that features the renowned Eiffel Tower, the grand boulevard, Champs-Elysees, and the Jardins des Tuileries.
Best Time To Visit According to U.S. News Travel, the best time to see Paris is typically from June to August or September and October. Average highs in the summer are in the high 70s with long days of sun, making a trip at that time both pleasant and comfortable.
You Should Know Named for Gustave Eiffel, who contributed to the tower's design, the Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument worldwide. Almost 7 million people ascended the tower in 2015. The tower, which is the tallest structure in Paris, is a little taller than an 80-story building. Standing on the west end of the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile was built to honor the people who fought and died for France during the Napoleonic Wars and French Revolution. The Palace of Versailles was the main royal residence of French royalty, and was the home of Louis XIV, in 1682. It had this distinction until 1789, which marked the beginning of the French Revolution.
This charming town in Burgundy is located north on the Saone River and is often added to Rhone River cruise adventures originating out of Paris. You can choose from a variety of interesting experiences on this stop, from learning the craft of Tonnellerie (barrel-making) or taking a cooking class.
Best Time To Visit The best time to see Tournus is during the spring and summer months, although it rains more frequently during the spring.
You Should Know A must-see – the Abbey of St. Philibert represents Romanesque art and design, and plays a central role in the heart of Tournus. Visit the gilded rooms of the Chateau de Cormatin, a castle built during the 17th century. During the summer, you can stroll through the castle's lovely gardens. Truffle hunting expeditions are featured near Tournus as well. See if you can participate in one of the adventures in a nearby village.
Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage
You will return down the Rhone River when you stop off at Tournon. Schedule a walking tour of the town's "twin city" of Tain-l'Hermitage, which sits on the other side of the Rhone. Valrhona, a gourmet chocolate maker, is based in Tain-l'Hermitage, thereby making this destination a must-see for anyone who loves chocolate.
Best Time To Visit The best time to see Tournon-sur-Rhone is from April to October, according to data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
You Should Know Hermitage Hill provides a place for hiking as well as sampling wines. At the end of your hike, sample some of the local wines, especially the red varieties for which the area is famous. Biking is a popular activity in spring and summer, so you may want to plan the activity during your visit.
Emerging at a bend of the River Rhone, Avignon reveals its fairy tale charm and welcoming atmosphere immediately. While it is primarily known for being the papal capital in the 1300s, the Provencal town also attracts a youthful vibe, allowing river cruise-goers to enjoy people-watching in its squares and savor its charming sights and sounds.
Best Time To Visit Located close to the Mediterranean coast of France, Avignon features hospitable temperatures year-round. However, the best time for Avignon is in the summer when the lavender blooms appear.
You Should Know The seat of the Catholic Church in the 1300s, Avignon's Pope Palace is the largest Gothic medieval palace worldwide. To enjoy a panoramic view of Avignon, the Rhone River valley, and Avignon's St Benezet Bridge, hike up to Parc de Rochers des Doms. The St. Benezet Bridge was one of three major bridges used to cross the Rhone and was made popular in a French nursery rhyme.
Located in central Provence, Arles displays a distinctive and historic character along with a treasure trove of cultural sites. Steeped in history, Arles was one of the most important cities of ancient Gaul, founded in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar.
Best Time To Visit The best time to see Arles is usually the spring and summer months, especially when the town holds its popular festivals.
You Should Know The major attraction to see in Arles is the Roman Amphitheater, also referred to as the Amphitheatre d'Arenes. The stone structure, which can hold 21,000 spectators, dates back to the first century A.D. It still is used today for bullfights and other events. Alyscamps or the Elysian Fields is a large ancient necropolis in Arles that was mentioned in Dante's work, Inferno.
A walled city in southern France, Viviers is the ideal Rhone River destination, as the medieval port provides plenty of attractions to keep travelers busy during their river cruise holiday. Just make sure you wear comfortable footwear, as you will need to navigate over cobblestones while strolling through the alleyways and town squares.
Best Time To Visit The best time to sightsee in Viviers is in the summer months, or June to August. The driest month is July while the dampest month is October. If you don't like rainy weather, cancel any travel plans in October.
You Should Know If you can find an English tour guide, have them take you on a walking tour of Old Town, especially to see St. Vincent's Cathedral, the smallest cathedral still in use in France. The cathedral features Handel organ recitals and displays a marble altar. A stroll through Old Town, when on a walking tour or on your own, will reveal a number of interesting discoveries, including St. Michael's Clock Tower.
A Burgundy wine town, Macon is a popular port-of-call for lovers of beautiful scenery and fine varietals. If you love wine and want to see the wine country of France, you will love visiting Macon on a Rhone River holiday. Anyone who savors gourmet offerings will want to add this port on their Rhone river cruise trip.
Best Time To Visit Choose June to August to visit Macon, as the weather may be warm, but is tolerable, and you are less likely to experience the mistral wind or heavy rains.
You Should Know Surrounding vineyards are lush and green in summer, which makes a trip to vineyards most pleasant, especially for sampling local vintages. Many of the best chardonnays come from this part of the Burgundy region of France.
Noted as being the second-most visited city in France, just behind Paris, Lyon does not boast major tourist sites, such as grand cathedrals. However, it reputedly is known as the gourmet capital of France, which makes Lyon a favorite city among anyone who appreciates fine wine and cuisine. The city also makes rail travel accessible, which makes it easy to travel between Lyon and Paris.
Best Time To Visit According to U.S. News Travel, the best time to see Lyon is during September and October, when the summer travelers exit and leave the crisp fall air and vibrant foliage in their wake. If you are budget-conscious, the colder and darker months of November or April will enable you to find the best deals on river cruise travel.
You Should Know Traboules add to the atmosphere of the historic city – the narrow alleyways, from the Renaissance period, run perpendicular along the river. Cathedral St. Jean, a medieval Gothic-styled cathedral, is known for its astronomic clock.
To start your Rhone River cruise, you'll likely fly into a major city such as Lyon or Marseille, depending on your cruise route. Both cities have well-connected airports with flights from many international destinations. From there, getting to your cruise port is easy. You can hop on a quick bus or taxi ride or even take a tram in some cases. The ports along the Rhone are well-equipped, welcoming cruise passengers right into the heart of these historic cities. Whether you're beginning your journey in the culinary capital of Lyon or the sunny Mediterranean atmosphere of Marseille, the transition from land to your river cruise is seamless, designed to get your vacation off to a relaxing start.
The Perfect Time for a Rhone River Cruise
A Rhone River cruise in France provides an exquisite way to explore the region, with each season offering a unique charm. The ideal time for such a cruise is between April and October, capturing the essence of the region's diverse beauty. Springtime, particularly in April and May, welcomes the vibrant burst of colors in the landscapes, with mild temperatures that make sightseeing a pleasure. River cruising during this period allows you to witness the lush scenery and blooming flora in a comfortably cool climate.
The summer months, from June to August, bring warmth and sunshine, perfect for basking in the scenic splendor from the deck of a river cruise ship. However, this is also the time when tourist numbers peak, so expect to share the beauty of the Rhone with more fellow travelers. For those seeking a more serene river cruising experience, the months of late September and October are ideal. This period offers cooler weather and fewer tourists, enhancing the tranquility of the cruise. Additionally, it's a fantastic time to witness the grape harvest in the vineyards along the Rhone, adding an extra layer of interest to the journey.
While winter river cruises on the Rhone are less common, they can provide a unique and magical perspective, especially around Christmas. The region's cities, adorned with festive decorations, offer a quieter yet equally enchanting experience. Opting for a river cruise during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn often results in the best of both worlds: pleasant weather, reduced crowds, and the potential for better deals, making it an ideal choice for a Rhone River cruise.
Experience the Flavors of France
France's culinary scene is a feast for the taste buds, and a Rhone River cruise brings the country's famed cuisine right to your plate. In Lyon, the gastronomic heart of France, you can't miss trying 'quenelles,' dumplings made from creamed fish, and 'tarte aux pralines,' a sweet tart made with pink sugared almonds. Moving south through the Rhone Valley, you'll find that wine is a highlight, with the Côtes du Rhône vineyards offering some of the best vintages—don't pass up on a guided wine tasting.
As you reach Provence, the dishes are fragrant with herbs. 'Bouillabaisse,' a Provençal fish stew, and 'ratatouille,' a vegetable dish, both encapsulate the region's flavors. For something sweet, 'calissons' from Aix-en-Provence are almond candies that simply melt in your mouth.
For dining, Lyon's 'bouchons'—traditional local bistros—are the perfect spots to savor authentic Lyonnaise dishes. In Avignon or Arles, seek out restaurants that serve farm-to-table Provençal cuisine in charming, rustic settings. Every meal is a chance to explore France's regional flavors and traditions, making dining a highlight of your Rhone River cruise.
Immerse Yourself in French Culture
Cruising the Rhone, you'll be dipping into the heart of French culture. France is a place where life is often enjoyed at a leisurely pace, especially at the dining table. The French take pride in their 'joie de vivre,' and this is evident in their daily customs, like greeting each other with a light kiss on the cheek, even in more formal settings. Festivals are abundant: Lyon lights up during the 'Fête des Lumières,' while Provence is fragrant with lavender celebrations in summer. The wine harvest is marked by festivals in the autumn, celebrating the grape picking with tastings and parades. To truly embrace the French way of life, sit at a cafe, sip an espresso, and watch the world go by. Enjoy the local markets, take the time to appreciate the art, and don't rush—savor every moment as the French do.
Why Book a Rhone River Cruise?
Booking a Rhone River cruise is the perfect way to dive into the essence of Southern France with ease. It offers a unique blend of convenience and access to a variety of experiences. As you sail from one picturesque town to another, you're treated to views and sites that are often missed when traveling by road. From the comfort of your cabin, you can witness the changing landscapes, from lush vineyards to historic cities. A river cruise also provides great value as most expenses, including meals and accommodation, are included in the price. Plus, you get to enjoy various excursions that might be difficult to organize independently, such as private wine tastings in exclusive vineyards or after-hours visits to museums and galleries. The ease of docking right in the heart of towns like Avignon and Arles allows for more time exploring and less time traveling. So, a Rhone River cruise is not just a trip but an all-encompassing experience, bringing the cultural and culinary delights of France directly to you.
Ready to Book Your Rhone River Cruise?
Ready for a journey that's as flavorful as it is picturesque? A Rhone River cruise is your passage to the soulful south of France. Glide past lush vineyards age-old castles, and stop in cities where history is etched into every street. Enjoy world-class cuisine, from Lyon's legendary dishes to Provence's herb-infused specialties. Discover the rich tapestry of French culture with every port you visit, from bustling markets to peaceful, ancient ruins. With so much included, from meals to excursions, this cruise offers an unmatched blend of relaxation and discovery.
So why not secure your spot on deck? Book your Rhone River cruise today and set sail for an unforgettable exploration of France's celebrated heartlands.