This was a trip for the ages – a journey through France. A Scenic River Cruise on the Rhone River through France. I hadn’t been to France in quite sometime so I was looking forward to a re-immersion in French culture. The good life of French food, wine, cheese, the sights and French people. Combined with a visual feast of the French countryside via the Rhone and it’s very hard to beat this journey.
River cruises are exploding in popularity and there are a multitude of reasons why. In Europe, you get it all – history, culture, food, wine, sights and convenience in one trip. There’s a wide variety of river cruise lines and destinations to choose from including Europe, Russia, Asia and Egypt. Without question, Europe leads the way as a destination. And Scenic River Cruises are among the very best.
Admittedly, the Rhone River is not the most beautiful river in Europe. The Rhône originates in the Swiss Alps, upstream from Lake Geneva and flows over 800 kilometers south all the way down to the Mediterranean Sea. Before railroads and highways were developed, the Rhône was an important inland trade and transportation route, connecting the French cities of Arles, Avignon, Valence, Vienne and Lyon to Mediterranean ports. It could take 3 weeks to navigate. And it is still used today, as are many large rivers, for commercial barge traffic. Between ports, you don’t get the visual postcard that you do on the Rhine or the Danube. But you do get some of France’s best known wine regions – Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Cote du Rhone. And you also get Lyon with its history, amazing restaurants and silk works. In the south, you can’t beat the region of Provence with its sumptuous cuisine, medieval towns, fields of lavender and landscapes made famous by Van Gogh, Cezanne and others.
So, without further adieu, let me give you a visual sampling of a “must” trip:
Scenic Cruises does it right. Absolutely everything is included- in-room mini-bar, all drinks, Wi-Fi, all excursions, 5-star dining, butler service and nightly entertainment. Cabins are luxurious and the ship feels brand new. There are numerous special extras including Table la Rive (intimate fine dining), River Cafe (all day dining), Scenic Tailormade (personal tour GPS handheld devices), and hard to choose daily excursions. This is luxury, make no mistake about it. In the span of 7 days, our journey takes in Provence, Tarascon, Avignon, Viviers, Vienne, Lyon, Beaujolais and Macon.
There’s only 2 reasons not to consider a river cruise. Money- a quality river cruise is not cheap but does represent great value. You get it all with no hassles. By booking well in advance, you can take advantage of early booking discounts; travel in off-peak times and you’ll save too. Your age- you really need to be on the other side of 40 years old. While you could keep to yourself, it’s a lot more fun to socialize with your fellow cruisers.
Now I’m off to ponder my next river cruise…