We booked on AmaWaterways for a 7-day cruise along the Rhône on the AmaCello from Lyon to Arles, as this was an area new to us. It was a region we had been meaning to visit for a while and this seemed a perfect way to explore.
The whole experience was absolutely brilliant. It was so well organised and professional. The crew were friendly and helpful and the food was superb, with wine included at lunch and dinner. Our cabin was very comfortable, light and airy with plenty of storage. There were up to six free excursions to choose from each day, from biking (which, as I hadn't been on a bike for 20 years, I decided to leave to the more experienced cyclists...) to leisurely or more active guided walking tours. The local guides were very knowledgeable and entertaining, and this cruise gave us the opportunity to visit Lyon, where we embarked, plus Vienne, Tournon, Avignon and Arles.
As for the places we visited, well, where to start? There is so much history, with amazing buildings, and beautiful scenery as we sailed down the Rhône under incredibly low bridges where you wondered if there was enough room for the boat to pass underneath! There were many highlights from the "traboules" in Lyon (hidden passages through the buildings), the Popes' Palace in Avignon and of course the famous bridge from the nursery rhyme. We also visited Roman ruins and a vineyard in the Beaujolais Region.
My favourite excursion was the Artists Experience tour to BeauxArts. Inside an old quarry we were treated to an incredible show of sounds and pictures projected on the walls, with animated paintings of Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo - not artists I was familiar with, but the whole experience was amazing, unlike anything I have seen before.
We then visited the sanatorium where Vincent Van Gogh spent a year, and in the afternoon went on a walking tour of Van Gogh's life in Arles. My husband decided he was more interested in nature so spent the morning on a tour of the Carmargue and Aigues Mortes National Park, famous for the bird life and the white horses, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
At the end of each day it was lovely to return to the AmaCello to enjoy a first class meal and the evening entertainment in the Lounge, which varied from a performance of La Strada on our first evening to music from the '80s where Captain Tony showed off his dance moves. At the end of the week we had thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, which had surpassed our expectations on every level. We both felt it was a really relaxing way to explore the area and we will certainly be going on another AmaWaterways river cruise in the near future.
Find out more: Get your free AmaWaterways brochure