Cruise through picturesque Provence along the Saône and Rhône Rivers while you explore important World Heritage sites, charming villages and the wine regions of the Rhône Valley and Burgundy.

Starting at: $4,390 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 View of Lyon and the Rhône River  The Roman amphitheater in Arles  The portal of the Romanesque Church of St. Trophime, Arles  Palais des Papes, Avignon  The Pont du Gard  Roman theater, Orange  The Roman Triumphal Arch, Orange  The city of Lyon, along the Rhône River  The Benedictine Abbey of Cluny  The 15th-century Hôtel Dieu, Beaune  Vineyards in Burgundy  Landscape of sunflowers in Provence

A River Cruise of Provence

Aboard the MS Van Gogh

9 days from $4,390

Cruise through picturesque Provence along the Saône and Rhône Rivers while you explore important World Heritage sites, charming villages and the wine regions of the Rhône Valley and Burgundy.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Lyon Pre-Program Extension — 3 Days, 2 Nights

Day 1 & 2 - Depart the U.S. for Lyon

Depart the U.S. for Lyon, France.

Upon arrival in Lyon transfer to the Sofitel Lyon Bellecour centrally located in the city’s historic district. Later this afternoon, enjoy a welcome briefing which will acquaint you with your stay in Lyon. Following the briefing, depart on a guided walking tour around the hotel neighborhood. This evening, join fellow participants for a welcome reception featuring canapes at the hotel. (R)

Sofitel Lyon Bellecour     

Day 3 - Lyon

Lyon is often referred to as France’s gastronomic center. Depart the hotel for a tour and taste around the city on this delightful food tour. Sample the local produce, cheeses, and cuisine of Burgundy with local producers and gain insider’s knowledge of Lyon’s gastronomic scene. This afternoon is at leisure to explore Lyon on your own. (B)

Sofitel Lyon Bellecour 

Day 4 – Lyon and Arles

Enjoy your morning independently and explore Lyon. Then check out of the hotel and transfer by motor coach to the MS Van Gogh docked in the city of Arles. The approximate driving time is 2 ½ hours. Embark the ship and settle-in. In the early evening join the Main Group of Smithsonian Journeys travelers and those from other leading cultural and educational travel groups for a welcome reception and dinner on board MS Van Gogh(B)​

Sofitel Lyon Bellecour and MS Van Gogh 

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S., Arrive in Marseille, France

Depart the U.S. for Marseille, France. After a morning arrival at Marseille Provence Airport, transfer to Arles and embark the MS Van Gogh. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be on board to help with suggestions for independent activities. There is time to relax and settle in. In the early evening, gather for a welcome reception, opening remarks and dinner. (R,D)

Day 3 —Arles and Avignon

A full American-style buffet breakfast will be served each morning during your cruise. A local speaker will offer a talk on The History of Provence and Rhone River. Afterward, enjoy a guided walking tour of Arles considered by many to be an “open-air” museum. You will see the Roman Amphitheatre and Place St. Trophime with its cloister and church that are part of the Arles Route, a pilgrimage route leading to Santiago de Compostela. Continue to the Place du Forum and the Thermae of Constantine. It was here that the Romans built their first bridge across the Rhone River creating a vital overland route between Italy and Spain.

After lunch on board, discover the Petite and Grande Camargue, a nationally designated protected wetland and home to pink flamingos, egrets, herons, and other wading birds. Conclude the afternoon with a visit to the medieval walled town of Aigues-Mortes. Depart Arles and sail for Avignon this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Viviers

Start the day with a presentation on The Pope’s of Avignon. Afterwards, set out on a guided walking tour of the old town of Avignon. Visit the Palace of the Pope's, a World Heritage Site, testimony to the city's past as the capital of Christianity during the Middle-Ages. The Palace consists of two sections; the Old Palace of Pope Benedict XII and the New Palace of his successor Pope Clement VI. Visit the staterooms, chapels, the Pope's private apartments and the terraces which offer wonderful panoramic views of Avignon and the Rhone river. Return to the ship for lunch.

This afternoon you have a choice of one of the following included tours ashore.

Choice #1 – Orange:  Depart by motor coach for a panoramic tour to the city of Orange where you’ll discover the Roman Triumphal Arch, a symbol of Roman imperial glory. Continue to visit the Antic Theater, one of the best-preserved theaters in the Roman Empire with a stage wall that’s still intact.

Choice #2 - Pont du Gard: Depart by motor coach for the Pont du Gard Aqueduct, a true masterpiece of Roman architecture and engineering. Built as a three-level aqueduct, it carried water across the Gardon River to the city of Nimes. Walk along the aqueduct trail, a two-mile course through a site with numerous viewing points. At the end of our trek, we'll visit the Museum and then return to the ship.

The ship will meet both groups at Chateauneuf-du-Pape to re-board. Later, gather with fellow participants in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an informal conversation about the day’s discoveries. The ship will sail on to Viviers to dock this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Viviers / La Voulte

Today, personalize your cruise with a selection of included shore tours:

Choice #1Rhone Valley Wines: For those with an interest in French wines, explore the landscape, history, and culture of the northern Rhone Valley wine country with an expert guide. Stop in the town of Tain l’Hermitage a notable wine-producing commune, for a tasting.

Choice #2 - Ardeche Gorges and Vallon Pont d'Arc: Depart the ship by motorcoach to tour an area that abounds with dramatic natural scenery. Marvel at the views of the mountains and deep valleys, dense vegetation, and the ubiquitous granite and basalt rock formations. At the Vallon Pont d'Arc, the River Ardeche has, over eons, cut its way through the rock, creating a huge natural arch. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Lyon

Take your choice of one of the following included shore excursions in Lyon.

Choice #1 – Panoramic Lyon: Discover France’s third largest city, a World Heritage Site known for its haute cuisine as well as historical and architectural landmarks including the Basilica of Notre Dame and Lyon’s Old Quarter. You’ll be fascinated by the unique secret passages and covered walkways called the “traboules” of Lyon.

Choice #2 – Bike Hike through Lyon:  Enjoy a leisurely electric bike ride around the lake in the Parc de la Tete d'Or and along the banks of the Rhone River. You’ll have the opportunity to taste some of the local food products and delicacies in the heart of the Old City. Other highlights include the Place Bellecour, and La Croix-Rousse the leafy former bohemian quarter of the city.

This evening, gather on the top deck as the ship cruises allowing all to enjoy the magic of the lights of the city. Continues cruising toward the town of Macon(B,L,D)

Day 7 — Macon, Cluny Abbey

After docking at Macon, travel to see the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, dedicated to St. Peter and founded in 910 by William of Aquitaine. The abbey is comprised of three churches. At its zenith, it was home to over 10,000 monks.

This evening, join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for lively conversation. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Chalon sur Saone, Burgundy Region

Today you’ll explore the vineyards of Burgundy. Travel along the Côte de Beaune and through many villages such as Pommard, Puligny, Montrachet and many more. Stop in Beaune for a visit to the famous Hospices. Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune is a former charitable almshouse founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy. Enjoy a sampling of the renowned local wines.

Return to the ship late in the day and gather for a farewell reception and dinner on board. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Depart for the US

After an early breakfast disembark the ship and transfer to Lyon International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)