From the Rhône Glacier in the Swiss Alps, at a height of around 7,050 feet, the Rhône flows southwest towards Lake Geneva – a raging mountain torrent that collects ever more glacier water as it goes. From Switzerland it flows far more slowly into France, making its way between the Alps and the Massif Central to the Camargue delta and the Mediterranean Sea. Before railroads and highways were even thought of, the Rhône was an important inland trade and transportation route, connecting the cities of southern France to Mediterranean ports.
Until the 19th century, most passengers traveled in water coaches or barges. Drawn by men or horses, they carried painted crosses covered with religious symbols as protection against the hazards of the journey – strong currents, shallows, spring floods and melting ice. Although the riverside scenery remains as dramatic as ever, your river cruise on the Rhône will be an altogether more sedate experience. As your floating hotel conveys you serenely through spectacular valleys, gorges, and wooded river cliffs, past snowy Mont Blanc and alongside picturesque villages, vine-covered hillsides and medieval skylines, you’ll appreciate the locks that now make our Rhône journey such a smooth and pleasurable affair. Your Rhône river cruise takes you through Burgundy – true wine country.
The tiny villages we pass and often stop at read like a knowledgeable wine list, with evocative names like Meursault, Volnay, Pommard and Gevrey-Chambertin. In medieval Beaune, Burgundy’s wine capital, you’ll visit the cellars of a traditional winemaker for an exclusive tour and tasting. But this idyllic Rhône river cruise through Provence has yet more delights to offer – from the renaissance splendor and atmospheric old town atmosphere of Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, to the ancient stronghold of Vienne, the magnificent Roman remains of Arles, immaculately preserved medieval Avignon and the stunning 2,000-year-old Pont du Gard, one of the wonders of the ancient world.