Cruise from Burgundy to picturesque Provence along the Saône and Rhône Rivers aboard an elegant river ship, exploring charming villages, World Heritage sites such as Lyon’s Old City and the Papal Palace in Avignon, and the wine regions of the Rhône Valley and Burgundy. 

Starting at: $5,090 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Avignon with the St. Benezet Bridge
 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
 View of Lyon and the Rhône River
 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: A Voyage Along the Saône and Rhône Rivers

9 days from $5,090

Cruise from Burgundy to picturesque Provence along the Saône and Rhône Rivers aboard an elegant river ship, exploring charming villages, World Heritage sites such as Lyon’s Old City and the Papal Palace in Avignon, and the wine regions of the Rhône Valley and Burgundy. 

or Call 855-330-1542


Lyon Optional Pre-Cruise Extension — 3 Days, 2 Nights

Day 1 - Depart the U.S. for Lyon

Depart the U.S. on your overnight transatlantic flight to Lyon, France.

Day 2 - Lyon

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 for an orientation walk around the hotel neighborhood. Early this evening, meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception in the hotel. (R)

Sofitel Lyon Bellecour     

Day 3 - Lyon

Lyon is often referred to as France’s gastronomic center. This morning, depart the hotel and tour and taste your way around the city on this exploration of the foods of Old Town. Sample the specialties of Burgundy with local producers and gain insider’s knowledge of Lyon’s exciting food scene. This afternoon is at leisure, so follow your own path and explore Lyon on your own. Your Smithsonian Travel Director will be on hand to offer suggestions, directions and answer questions. (B)

Sofitel Lyon Bellecour 

Day 4 – Lyon 

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and time free of planned activities. Then transfer by motor coach to the ship docked along the Rhone River where you’ll join the main group of Smithsonian Journeys Travelers. (B)​

Please note: 2023 Lyon extension dates have been canceled. For our May 2024 extension program only, the cuisine tour and tasting schedule for the morning of Day 3 will instead take place during the morning on Day 4.


Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Lyon, France

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Lyon, France.

Days 2 — Lyon

Upon arrival at the Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport you will be met by your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director. Transfer to the MS Amadeus Provence docked in Lyon. Please note: Early arrivals will be transferred to a centrally located hotel where refreshments will be provided. In the early evening, meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception and dinner onboard. The ship departs for Macon this evening. (R,D)

Day 3 — Macon / Cluny

A full American-style breakfast will be served each morning throughout the cruise. The historic wine regions of the Beaujolais and Maconnais produce some of the finest and most sought-after wines in the world. Enjoy a morning excursion through peaceful vineyards and be taken by the Mediterranean charm of the area. A highlight of your excursion is the visit to a winery where you will gain fascinating insight into the history and production of Burgundy wines. The tour concludes with a wine tasting. Return to the ship in time for lunch. Later in the afternoon, tour the famed Cluny Abbey dedicated to St. Peter. Founded in 910 by William of Aquitaine, the Abbey was built in the Romanesque style and was the world’s largest church until the St. Peter’s Basilica construction in Rome. It is comprised of three churches, built in succession from the 4th to the early 12th-century. At its pinnacle, it was home to over 10,000 monks. Return to the ship docked in Macon. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Chalon-sur-Soane / Tournus

This morning, embark on a scenic drive along the Burgundy wine route. Continue through the Cote de Beaune and the many wine-growing villages whose wines were coveted by Henry IV and Louis XV. Afterward, stop in Beaune for a short walking tour and visit the famous Hotel-Dieu de Beaune, a former charitable almshouse founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, as a hospital for the poor. On return to the ship, drive along the Route des Grands Crus, the “Road of Great Wines” one of the oldest and most celebrated wine routes in France. Return to the ship in time for lunch. This afternoon, depart from Chalon-sur-Saone by motor coach for the medieval town of Cormatin. Admire the Chateau de Cormatin, one of the most opulent castles in Burgundy. Continue to Tournus and visit the medieval church of Saint-Philibert de Tournus, the main surviving building of a former Benedictine abbey. Rejoin the ship in Tournus and enjoy a leisurely evening aboard ship. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Lyon

After an early morning arrival in Lyon, personalize your day with a choice of one of these fascinating included excursions.

Choice #1 – Panoramic Lyon - Discover the bustling city of Lyon, France’s third largest. This World Heritage site is known for its haute cuisine as well as historical and architectural landmarks such as the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, the Cathedral of St. John and the Palace of Justice. Take a stroll through the Old Quarter and discover the unique secret passages and covered walkways called Traboules and the renowned Roman Theatre.

Choice #2 – “Bike Hike” through Lyon – You’ll be outfitted with a bike and helmet for a leisurely bike ride along the banks of the Saone and Rhone to the Parc de la Tete D'or, or Golden Head Park. Your local guide will provide a narrative about Lyon, its history and people. Admire the views of the Old Town perched on a hilltop, while you remain on an easy cycling route along the riverside. Golden Head Park, landscaped in the 1860s, features a shimmering lake, botanic gardens with greenhouses, rose gardens, and a zoo. You’ll take a break for refreshments at a local café.

Return to the ship for lunch.

Later, meet in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner, an informal gathering with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert to discuss your impressions and discoveries of the trip so far. Continue to cruise south towards historic Avignon. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Avignon

Today, customize your Avignon experience with a choice of one of the following included shore excursions.

Choice #1 - Roman Heritage of Orange - Depart by coach for a panoramic motor coach tour to the city of Orange, located in the Vaucluse Region in the heart of Provence. The town has over 2,000 years of rich history and is known as “The City of Princes.” It is home to two important World Heritage sites. Stand in awe at the legendary Roman Triumphal Arch, a symbol of Roman imperial glory. Continue the tour with a visit to the Antic Theatre, one of the best-preserved ancient Roman theatres that still has an intact stage wall.

Choice #2 – Pont du Gard - Depart the ship for the Pont du Gard, a true masterpiece of ancient architecture and engineering. The Pont du Gard is a 31-mile surviving section of a three-level aqueduct built by the Romans in the middle of the 1st century to carry water across the Gardon River and supply fresh water to the city of Nimes.

Return to the ship where a local speaker will give a presentation on the Popes of Avignon.

Afterward, depart the ship for a guided walk through Avignon, a World Heritage site, and known as the “City of Popes.” In 1309 Pope Clement V abandoned Rome and fled to Avignon. Avignon’s lavish Palais des Papes or Palace of the Popes, is a fortress, church and palace all in one and was considered the center of the Christian world during the 14th century. From 1309 to 1377, seven popes resided here in one of the world’s most fascinating examples of Gothic architecture. Visit the Palace, which consists of two parts; the Palais of Pope Benedict XII (1334 - 1342), and the Palais of his successor Pope Clement VI (1342 - 1352). A guide will take you through the state rooms where numerous ceremonies and feasts took place, the chapels, the Pope's private apartments and the terraces that offer wonderful panoramic views of Avignon and the Rhone River. Itinerary Note: It is necessary to climb approximately 500 steps while inside the Pope’s Palace. Another must-see is the Pont d’Avignon, a 12th-century bridge, now in ruin, that once spanned the Rhone. After dinner, a group of local entertainers will perform on board. The ship will overnight in Avignon. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Arles / Camargue Nature Park

Arles boasts a rich history. It was founded by the Gauls, who made it their capital. Over many centuries, Arles was home to archbishops, became part of the Kingdom of the Franks and, later, capital of the Kingdom of Burgundy. During a morning city walk, pass ancient Roman sights including the spectacular Roman Arena and many other historic monuments. You'll see why Arles was designated a World Heritage site. The city lured artist Vincent van Gogh, who painted hundreds of works here including Sunflowers and The Yellow House. Stop at the café that served as the model for Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night. Keep an eye out for pilgrims who are beginning their walk along the Way of St. James which begins in Arles. See the Church of St. Trophime known for its beautiful Romanesque architecture. In the mid-afternoon, travel to Camargue Nature Park, situated in the Rhone River delta. This protected area is home to an astonishing range of wildlife, including the renowned Camargue bulls and horses and many hundreds of species of birds. You will also visit the historic village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, located on the Mediterranean where the Rhône joins the sea. Return to the ship where you will enjoy a relaxing evening. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Chateauneuf-du-Rhone / Le Pouzin

Today you are offered a choice of included excursions.

Choice #1 – Wines of the Cotes du Rhone - Explore the landscape, history and culture of the northern Rhone Valley wine country. In the Tain l’Hermitage area visit a cellar or vineyard and enjoy wine tasting.

Choice #2 – Ardeche Gorge - Depart by motor coach for Gorges de l'Ardeche an area made up of a series of gorges carved by the Ardeche River and locally known as the "European Grand Canyon.” Humans have lived in the area and caves for over 300,000 years and nearly 2,000 caves have been found in the gorge, some of them painted. The canyon runs for nearly 18 miles and is protected and governed by the Reserve Naturelle Gorges de l'Ardeche. One of many notable sites includes the Pont d’Arc, a remarkable natural bridge.

Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. This evening gather for a farewell reception and festive dinner as the ship makes its way back to Lyon. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Lyon

This morning, disembark the ship and transfer to the Lyon-Saint Exupéry 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)

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