Dispatch from Avignon | Cruising the Rhône and Saône Rivers

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Travel dates: July 26- August 8, 2022

Avignon. Tarascon. Arles. Olive Farm. Carrières de Lumières. Les Baux

Welcome aboard the S.S. Catherine where we will sail the Rhône and Saône rivers through Burgundy and Provence. 

Dispatch from Avignon

This eight-day holiday begins by embarking on the Catherine, a Uniworld European river ship, on the Rhône River in Avignon. Where we will travel approximately 400 km from Avignon to Lyon, France. The S. S. Catherine is 443’ long, and lean, 37'.5 to navigate the narrow lock and dam operations in Europe. The locks are no more than 39'.3 wide, where great skill is key to navigating the locks on the sometimes-unpredictable rivers. Most European River ships have an astonishingly low draft and can sail with only two meters (6'.6) of water.

European River cruising allows travelers to enjoy a one-of-a-kind, curated itinerary, where you step off inland in the heart of historical cities, with ease, grace, and anticipation.  There are 65 passengers onboard representing the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, a mini-united nations. With a crew and staff of 57 representing 7 nationalities i.e., Romania, Portugal, Italy, and France…

Having traveled on the great rivers of Europe for more than a decade ourselves, there are few journeys more endearing than slowly plying Europe’s waterways. We have used river cruising to bookend overland travel across Europe. Concluding with a beautifully appointed 5-star floating boutique ship, gourmet meals, and wine from the region.

And we are off! The Catherine sails 23km south of Avignon, locking through at Beaucaire and reaching our berth Halte Fluviale, at Tarascon, located in the extreme west of Bouches-du-Rhône department. From here our excursion takes us to Arles, a 45-minute motorcoach ride, where we stroll around the ancient city with remarkable Roman ruins. Throughout there are many tributes to Vincent Van Gogh and his famous painting Starry Night over the Rhone and Café Terrace at Night.

In the afternoon many chose an optional Masterpiece Collection: Olive Farm and Art Immersion. Beginning with a tour at Moulin à Huile Saint Jean in Fontvielle. A sixth-generation owned Olive farm, where two sisters, Anna and Magali, run the family business, processing 1500 kilos of olives per day during harvest season.  These strong, independent women oversee the growing of 4200 olive trees, on 11 hectares. This legacy farm family maintains the land, and their historic family chapel from the 13th century, still used for family weddings and baptisms. The sisters invited our group into the courtyard to enjoy a glass of rosé, a tasting of olive oils and tapenade fresh from the farm.

After, we drive southeast winding between impressive limestone rock formations for another 10km reaching Les Baux-de-Provence in the heart of the Alpilles mountains, between Arles and Saint Rémy. Where we enter Val d’Enger, a limestone quarry, at the foot of Les Baux. There we experience the Carriéres de Lumières exhibition, a must see when in Provence.  It’s a digital and immersive 3D light and sound show; Venice, la Serenissima, and Yves Klein’s, infinite Blue. Where a truly spectacular display of art and history is projected on the walls and floor of the cave.

We end our day of tours and sightseeing on this 102° day by sailing back to Avignon and tethering up at the Quai de l’Oulle on the Rhône River near the Pont Saint Bénézet bridge in the heart of the city.  

Tomorrow a walking tour of Avignon and its UNESCO World Heritage sites.

France is just waiting for you to amble through the winding cobblestone streets and discover hidden treasures that will simply take your breath away. Continue this journey by subscribing to www.scribblesandsmiles.net or follow on Instagram and Facebook. 

Continue to sail north with us to smallest village in France, Viviers.

Avignon Tourisme

Arles 360

Moulin Saint Jean

Le Republic Street is the main street in Avignon. shopping-eating 

Getting Around Provence

Getting Around the Alpilles

Transportation notes to Luberon, Alpilles etc.

Uniworld European River Cruises

Travel Information- Know Before You Go Brochure via Uniworld (everything you need to know tips, ports, transfers etc.)

Masterpiece Collection Optional:
Olive Farm and Carrières de Lumières 79€ (price 2022)

*In 2023 the Carrières de Lumières will be the Dutch Masters

J. Christina is the author and owner of Scribbles and Smiles. Through our blog, we share stories of the wonderful discoveries we have made on our European travels. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on board with their travel jaunts around the world sharing in their blogging endeavor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.  Christie is traveling solo on this adventure, 2022.

After many years of intrepid travel, we thoughtfully unwrapped our treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through our words and images, so others can travel vicariously. 

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