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Guest: Rhone River Cruise
River Cruise – France,
The Rhone River

Story by Steve and Caroline Lake

iver cruises in Europe are becoming more and more popular. They offer a very different experience than ocean cruises. The intimate, smaller river cruise ships can dock in small ports right in the town you are visiting. No long bus trips are required, just step off the ship and you are there.

Uniworld cruise ship sailing along the Rhone River, France
Voted the top river cruise for 2012 by Travel and Leisure magazine, Uniworld offers boutique river cruises. Courtesy: Uniworld

Voted the top river cruise line for 2012 by Travel and Leisure magazine, Uniworld offers boutique river cruises to fabulous destinations such as France, Germany, Portugal and Russia. Designed with old world charm and every modern convenience, many of the elegant staterooms aboard their ships have French balconies. Uniworld averages 130 passengers which means no hassles or long lines for excursions.

One itinerary offered by Uniworld is the trip on the Rhone River through France covering the ideal locations of Provence and Burgundy. The eight day cruise is an unforgettable journey to cobblestone medieval villages, walled towns, as well as Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France. Three meals a day are included in the price of the cruise, plus fine wines of the area with lunch and dinner. All morning excursions with English speaking guides are also inclusive.

Beginning in Arles, where Van Gogh painted some of his most famous paintings, walk past the Yellow Café and see where Van Gogh lived and the hospital for the insane where he checked himself in. Moments of history and a great period in art come to life in this exquisite village. A recommended afternoon tour to the village of Les Baux leads to quarries-Carrieres de Lumieres, where the paintings of Van Gogh and Gaugin are screened on the huge quarry walls. The paintings are all around you, creating the illusion that you are in these great works of art. The music soars and the quarries sparkle with color. This is a not to be missed, once in a lifetime experience.

The cruise departs that night from Arles and arrives in Avignon the next morning. The market square in Avignon is a bustling paradise for shoppers. There are delectable offerings of cheeses, sausages and spices. It is fun to watch the citizens of Avignon with their unique baskets filled with baguettes, wine and their lunch and dinner for the day.

The old town of Avignon is walled and fortified with 39 towers built from 1350 to 1368. On the left bank of the Rhone River the Palace of the Popes looks over the city from a 190 foot high click. Walk the streets of Avignon resplendent with great sycamore trees and old water wheels. This is a beautiful city to wander around and get lost. If not returning to the ship for lunch, L’Offset has a great menu, outdoor seating and is more of a place for locals than tourists. This is a wonderful spot for lunch and to indulge in the delectable desserts.

the medieval town in the village of Viviers, France
Viviers is a charming village, typical of the towns found in the French countryside.
Courtesy: Uniworld

With a population just under 4,000, Viviers is a charming, small village typical of the French countryside. The highlight of the morning tour was the visit to St. Vincent Cathedral and an organ concert that concluded to much applause. Then take a walk through the medieval town.

The next stop on this wondrous cruise is the sister cities of Tain-L’Hermitage on the left bank of the Rhone and Tournon on the right bank. Both are known worldwide for their fine wines. The wine tasting offered on the tour is a must. The area is also known as a gastronomic dream, famous for truffles, chestnuts, goat cheese and fruit and is home to the Valrhona Chocolate factory. The castle on the right bank of the Rhone adds to the magical charm of Tournon, one of France’s oldest cities.

It is a treat to try the local fare for lunch. Brasserie le Quai overlooks the Rhone facing the ancient city of Tournon and two bridges. The lunch menu is superb and the French bread ethereal.

the Bartholdi Fountain in Lyon
The stunning Bartholdi Fountain located in the heart of Lyon. Courtesy: Uniworld

The bustling city of Lyon is quite different from the small towns and villages on the cruise. For over 75 years, Lyon had been recognized as the gastromic capital of France and the world. Brasserie Georges an 1836 restaurant with a beautiful art deco interior serves Lyonnais specialties, steaks and outstanding seafood platters. The old town of Lyon, built in Italian Renaissance style, is not to be missed. Old Lyon has been preserved over the centuries.

the city of Lyon
Leisurely cruising by the enchanting city of Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France.
Courtesy: Uniworld

Lyon is famous for fine textiles. The first silk factory was established here in the 15th century and continued on to become a leading silk producer. The shops are superb in this fabulous city. The beautiful hand painted silk scarves make wonderful gifts.

Since there is open seating for dinner, choose a window seat and enjoy watching the graceful swans on the Rhone and perhaps seeing a castle in one of the ancient villages perched above the river. The water is calm, no need for seasick pills or patches here and the view is serene.

After docking at Chalon-sur-Saone, it is only a short ride to Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy. Famous for its fine wine and architecture Beaune’s museum housed in the aged hospital is world-renowned. Stop first at the outside of the museum to see the multicolored glazed roof tiles, quite spectacular.

a Uniworld chef buying fresh produce at a market along the Rhone River
Uniworld chefs buy only the freshest produce at marketplaces found along the way.
Courtesy: Uniworld

The inside and outside market place in Beaune is teeming with people carrying their beautifully woven shopping baskets. This is a very dynamic market, ideal for people watching.

If you have an extra day before you return home, take the scenic 90 minute drive to Cluny, founded in 910. The Abbey of Cluny was considered to be the most prestigious monastic institution in Europe from the 10th to the 12th century and is well worth the visit.

Uniworld offers the luxury and convenience that sets it apart from other cruise lines. An all English speaking crew, great food and a casual atmosphere add to the exceptional pleasure of this fantastic trip, an extraordinary journey.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
800-733-7820
818-382-7820
www.uniworld.com

France Tourism
212-838-7800
310-276-2835
www.francetourism.com

Provence
www.provenceweb.fr

Burgundy
www.burgundy.worldweb.com

Related Articles:
Provence; Rouen, the Port of Paris; Montpellier, France; The Cities of Champagne and Lorraine; Champagne; Monet's Gardens; France's Lorraine Region

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FEEDBACK FOR PATTI

I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK

FEEDBACK FOR JULIO

The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.

Julio

* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!

Julio

FEEDBACK FOR WENDY

For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!

Cheers

--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

* * * * *

New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in responding...you had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy

FEEDBACK FOR NINO

I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA

FEEDBACK FOR RUSH & CHUCK

Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA



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