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Allure of European River Cruising the Rhône River in Provence

Luxury river cruising offers the best of what seasoned travellers want; stress-free, all-inclusive travel, dining, and daily guided excursions, all onboard a 5-star boutique river ship, while slowly plying Europe’s beautiful waterways.

Rhône River in Provence

On a very hot day in August, embarking on a European river cruise ship for an 8-day cruise on the Rhône River in Provence is a real pleasure. It is a unique and elegant experience as the long and lean river ship glides along the Rhône in the south of France, beginning with a port of call at Tarascon (Arles). From the ship’s mooring, river cruisers are within minutes of Van Gogh’s sun-drenched Provençal town of Arles. This is where he painted Starry Night Over the Rhône, one of his most famous works. In Arles, we join a local guide on a half-day inclusive tour exploring the UNESCO World Heritage sites and their post-impressionist heritage. Walking in the footsteps of Van Gogh and learning the stories that put Arles back on the map as a tourist destination is enchanting.

Starry NIght Over the Rhone-Van Gogh

River journeys transcend every age group, i.e., multi-generational families, solo travellers, or the young-at-heart. Excursions range from sightseeing at a gentle pace to going active by hiking or biking the steep hillside vineyards or scurrying up ancient Roman ruins.

Visiting the Alpilles

Among the pleasures of our Provence cruise are the select programs in the Masterpiece Collection. Making it convenient and easy to travel to the heart of the Alpilles mountains, to Les Baux-de-Provence, a village classified as one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. At the foot of Les Baux, we enter a limestone quarry (Val d’Enfer), for a one-of-a-kind exhibition, Carrières de Lumières, a multimedia show projecting classical art on the floor, pillars, and walls of this cave from Roman times. It is a must-see when visiting Provence and the fortified hilltop villages.

Les Baux de Provence Cruising Rhône River Provence

©J. Christina

We complete our day ashore with an olive farm tour in Fontvielle at Moulin à Huile Saint Jean, in the Alpilles Natural Regional Park. Strolling the olive groves was an immersive education in growing, harvesting and processing olives at this six-generation farm. A dedicated family shared their stories and passion for olive cultivation, managing 11 hectares and 4200 olive trees in this protected area.

Moulin de Sainte Jean Fontvielle

Magical Avignon

We end our first day of tours and sightseeing by sailing to Avignon and docking near the Pont Saint Bénézet bridge. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset overlooking the Rhône, accompanied by a gourmet meal paired with local wines. Tomorrow we will step off our hotel-style river ship with ease and grace to explore Avignon and its UNESCO World Heritage sites before we continue our cruise north to discover more of Europe’s great landmarks.

Additional Visitor Information:

Arles Tourism Office (website)
9 Boulevard des Lices
13200 Arles

Tourism Office of Avignon (website)
41 cours Jean Jaurès
84004 Avignon

Carrières de Lumières (website)

Moulin à Huile Saint Jean (website)
Route de Saint Jean
13990 Fontvieille

++Having travelled on the great rivers of Europe for more than a decade, there are few journeys more endearing than slowly plying Europe’s rivers. We have used river cruising to bookend overland travel across Europe. It is a bespoke way of travel to be up-close and personal to iconic landmarks, flower-laden villages, and picturesque hamlets.

More Articles by J. Christina

Discovering Antibes France on the French Riviera

Treasures of the French Riviera: Musée National Marc Chagall

Visit Menton, A Hidden Seaside Treasure on the French Riviera

Sainte-Agnès: A Hidden Treasure in the Alpes-Maritimes, France

Le Train Bleu Paris, the French Riviera Connection


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J. Christina

J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world; sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of the in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina's blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina's work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris and The Good Life France.

Enjoy the Scribbles and Smiles stories

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