River Cruise in France - Fall 2018

From Paris to Cote d'Azur

Cruise Map

Map and Itinerary
  • Paris to Dijon via high speed train
  • Dijon to Beaune/St Jean de Losne via coach
  • Saone/Rhone River to Arles via Poetry II cruise ship
  • Arles to Cote d'Azur via coach
Avalon Poetry II in Tournus

Avalon Poetry 2 Exterior
Our Stateroom

Poetry 2 Interior

Trip Highlights

October 25,26 - Paris
Street scene

Our first few days were spent in Paris: City of Lights and capital of France. What a beautiful city. On our first day we checked in to the Hotel du Collectioneur, had a quick lunch in the Hotel restauraunt, then set out on a walk to the nearby Arc de Triomph. On the way back to the hotel we had dinner in a crepes restauraunt. On the second day, a full day in Paris, we enjoyed a coach tour of the city. Highlights included Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Garnier Opera House, and ending with a nice dinner at Lino's.

On the morning of Oct 27 we boarded the high-speed TGV train to Dijon (yes, the mustard is named for this town) for the next step of our trip.

Press either of the following buttons to see photos and video from Paris:

Oct 25 or Oct 26


After travelling to Dijon via TGV train, we took a coach to Beaune for a tour. Beaune is an ancient, walled town in the middle of France's Burgundy wine-making region. Beaune is the home-town of Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904), a scientist and pioneer of cinema. The highlight of the Beaune tour for us was the Hotel-Dieu de Beaune, a 15th century former hospital for the poor. It was founded in 1443 and has catered to the care of the elderly and disabled. Orphans, pregnant women and the destitute have been welcomed for treatment and refuge from the Middle Ages until today.

Use the following link to view photos (no video) from today's tour of Beaune and boarding the Poetry II:

Oct 27

October 27 Beaune
October 28 - Cruising the Saone
View of Tournus
Saone River

Most of October 28 was spent cruising down the Saone River toward Lyon. We passed through many small towns, including Tournus, Macon and Trevous. We docked briefly in Tournus and enjoyed a self-guided tour of the town (see photos for October 28). The highlight for today was unquestionably the Poetry II. Our first full day on board and we were mightily impressed. Everything was great: the food, the scenery and the on-board activities.

Press the button below to see photos and video highlights for today:

Oct 28


Lyon is the third largest city in France, behind Paris and Marseilles. This morning we cruised the final segment of the Saone River from Trevous to Lyon. The Saone River joins the Rhone River in Lyon; the rest of our cruise will be down the Rhone to Arles. After docking at the Confluence (where the Saone and Rhone Rivers join) we had a coach tour of Lyon. It was raining heavily off and on during the day, but the tour was outstanding. We saw the fabulous Lyon Cathedral and much of the beauty Lyon has to offer. It's a very colorful City. Tonight we will have a local woman give a talk (on the Poetry II) about the French Resistance during WWII. The woman's father (maybe it was her grandfather) was very active in the Resistance. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Following the lecture, we enjoyed entertainment by the Chansons Francaises group in the ship's nightclub.

Use the button below to see photos and video highlights for today:

Oct 29

October 29 - Lyon
October 30 - Perouges

While docked at the Confluence in Lyon, we went to a nearby mall for some shopping during the morning. In the afternoon we took a coach to the medieval walled city of Perouges, which is about 30 km northeast of Lyon, and not too far from the French Alps. The main part of the city was built in the 12th Century, and became a major textile producing center until the 19th century. In addition to the beauty and history of the town, the sun finally came out and gave us the best weather day of the trip so far. After the trip to Perouges we continued down the Rhone River toward Avignon, with an intermediate stop in Viviers.

Use the button below to see photos (no video) highlights for today:

Oct 30


Most of the day was spent cruising the Rhone to Viviers. A highlight of the cruise was a chocolate and wine pairing session served while we approached Viviers, a city on the right bank of the Rhone. Viviers was a bishopric and a capital of the pays Vivarais during Roman times. After docking we had a nice city tour of Viviers, although it rained extremely hard during the tour. We did get to go inside Viviers Cathedral (Cathedral of St Vincent), which is the oldest cathedral in France still in use. The cathedral was built in the 12th century in the roman style. We enjoyed an organ performance in the cathedral featuring many pieces from Handel. After the tour we headed down the Rhone River to Avignon. This evening, the crew and ship were decorated for Halloween, and we had a great dinner on board. We ended the day with some dancing in the ship's lounge. A Great day.

Select the button below to see photos and a short video of today's events:

Oct 31

October 31 - Viviers
November 1 am - Avignon

Avignon is the city I was most anxious to see on this trip, and it didn't disappoint. Steeped in history, and very beautiful, it was the home of seven Catholic popes from 1309 to 1377. Indeed, one of the highlights of our city tour was the Palais de Papes (Palace of the Popes). Our city walking tour began this morning in horrendous rain, which eventually cleared to a beautiful sunny day. I was especially impressed by the historic square (pictured at left) in Avignon; the inlaid stone design is most impressive. Roman influence can be seen everywhere in Provence, especially in Avignon and Arles. Landmarks we saw on ther tour included the medieval city wall, and the Pont d'Avignon (from the well-know children's song). I would love to come back here and spend a week taking in all the history of ancient Avignon.

Select the button below to see photos (no video) from today's tour of Avignon:

Nov 1 am

Chateauneuf du Pape

During the afternoon today we took a coach to Chateauneuf du Pape, a small town on the east side of the Rhone about 7 miles north of Avignon. A highlight of the tour was the remains of a medieval castle built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII, the second of the popes to reside in Avignon. Interestingly, the Germans tried to demolish the building during WWII but only the northern half of the building was destroyed. Almost all of the cultivable land around Chateauneuf is planted with grapevines. This is a major wine producing area and we did experience a wine tasting session at the Chateauneuf du Pape Winery.

Select the button below to see photos from Chateauneuf du Pape and video from our Farewell Dinner on board Poetry II:

Nov 1 pm

November 1 pm - Chateauneuf du Pape
Chateauneuf du Pape
November 2 am - Calanquet Olive Farm and Les Baux
Calanquet Olive Farm and Les Baux

During the night we cruised the Rhone from Avignon to Arles. On the morning of Nov 2 we took a coach to the Les Alpilles region and toured Calanquet Olive Farm. This was one of the best side trips on the cruise. We especially enjoyed the coach trip to the Alpilles region; our tour guide was very knowledgeable and engaging (see the video for today's activity). The olive farm tour was interesting and informative. We learned much about this region in Provence and olive farming and olive oil manufacturing. After the farm tour our coach continued to Les Baux-de-Provence, a small village in the Alpilles mountains and is described as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Prehistoric evidence of human habitation in this area has been traced back to 6000 BC.

Select the button below to see photos from Calanquet Olive Farm and Les Baus, and video from the coach tour from Arles to Les Alpilles:

Nov 2 am


This afternoon we had a walking city tour. Arles was once a provincial capital of ancient Rome, and Roman influence is pervasive. Indeed this region of France (Provence) got it's name for being a province of ancient Rome. The most "Romanesque" reminder we saw in Arles is the huge amphitheater. The amphitheater is still used for bullfights (Prevencal style, in which the bull is not killed). Arles is also noted for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin. Van Gogh in particular was influenced by Arles; he lived here from 1888 to 1889 and produced more than 300 paintings and drawings during his time here. We have many nice photos from the walking tour.

Select the button below to see photos from our Arles walking tour (no video):

Nov 2 pm

November 2 pm - Arles
November 3 Cote d'Azur: Cannes/Nice
Cote d'Azur: Cannes/Nice

We left the Poetry II in Arles (Boo!) and went by coach to the Cote d'Azur. After checking into the Carleton Hotel in Cannes, we had some free time to walk the waterfront area and see, among other sights, the mediterranean coast of France. Following a week of cold rain for much of our cruise it was great to experience some warm sunshine here!. In the afternoon we had another coach trip to visit the town of Saint-Paul, one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera. It is well known for its contemporary art museums and galleries. There are also some very neat shops in St-Paul, including one that sold hand-held fans made by the shop owner. We had our last dinner in France this evening and arose very early in the morning of November 4 to take a coach to the airport in Nice, where we left on our flight to London.

Select the button below to see photos from our Arles walking tour and Saint-Paul, and a video of our coach trip from Cannes to St-Paul:

Nov 3

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