Sailing from France
Setting sail from Avignon
The former papal stronghold of Avignon cuts a dramatic figure, perched above the Rhône and ensconced behind towering walls. The Palais des Papes was home to a succession of 14th century pontiffs, and still looms large over Avignon's atmospheric old town. The cobbled streets that surround the palace are a joy to explore, and you'll also find the ruins of the bridge that gave rise to the famous song. Avignon is more than just an open air museum though, and there is a real buzz about the place during July's popular theatre festival, when the city's hotels are full to bursting.
Try a papaline d’Avignon – two coats of chocolate enclosing l’Origan du Comtat, a honey and herb-based liqueur. It looks like a neon-pink thistle but is more delicious!
The charming little town of Arles sits at the head of the Rhône delta, on the northern fringe of the sprawling marshlands of the Camargue. It’s a town with a long history, as evidenced by an impressive array of Roman ruins, and it's a great place to sample the essence of Provençal culture.
The former papal stronghold of Avignon cuts a dramatic figure, perched above the Rhône and ensconced behind towering walls. The Palais des Papes was home to a succession of 14th century pontiffs, and still looms large over Avignon’s atmospheric old town.
The little town of Viviers, on the right bank of the Rhône, is a delightful place to explore on foot, with its narrow, cobbled medieval streets and elegant cathedral. A lot of history is packed into a small space, including Roman remains and the Renaissance era Maison des Chevaliers.
The twin villages of Tournon-sur-Rhône and Tain l’Hermitage sit on opposite banks of the Rhône, around 50 miles south of Lyon. Visit Tournon’s hilltop castle and charming old town, then sample some of Tain l’Hermitage’s excellent wines and the famous Valrhona chocolate.
Vienne was an important trading centre during Roman times, and spectacular remnants of this era survive, including a remarkably well preserved temple and a hillside amphitheatre with marvellous views across the red-tiled rooftops. The city also hosts a renowned jazz festival during July, featuring some of the world’s most talented musicians.
Arriving in Lyon
Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, Lyon is one of France's most appealing cities. Its reputation for gastronomic excellence is well deserved, with hundred of wonderful restaurants, from lavish Michelin-starred affairs to family-run joints tucked away down a back alley. What's more, the UNESCO listed historic centre boasts a marvellous ensemble of Renaissance-era buildings, best appreciated from the top of the soaring Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière.
Eating out in Lyon is the best – starve yourself for days in advance in order to be able to make the most of this foodiest of cities.
Your home from home
Viking’s award winning Longships are the success story of river cruising with sleek Scandinavian design and innovative engineering.
What we love
Viking Longships have led the way in the expansion of the river cruise industry. With understated interiors, comfortable staterooms and suites, a great main restaurant and excellent terrace offering a lovely spot for a casual meal al fresco, they operate on Viking's most popular itineraries and consistently deliver to Viking's ever increasing clientele.
|Style||Understated, elegant on board environment where you can relax after an enriching day of sightseeing.|
Tailor-make your trip
Our favourite hotel in Avignon
La Mirande – intimate, great location and classically French style.
If you are interested in Roman antiquities, visit the archaeological site of Glanum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Where to stay in Lyon
We love the Cour des Loges in the heart of old Lyon.
What to do around Lyon
This is a great base to set forth for wine tasting in Beaujolais.