Twin Towns: Tain L’Hermitage & Tournon on the Rhône River in Provence


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Travel dates: July 26- August 8, 2022

L’Hermitage. Tournon

Luxury river cruising offers the best of what seasoned travelers want; stress-free, all-inclusive travel, dining, and daily guided excursions, all onboard a 5-star boutique river ship, while slowly plying Europe’s beautiful waterways.

On a very hot day in August, embarking on a European river cruise ship for an 8-day cruise on the Rhône River in Provence is a real pleasure.   It is a distinct way of traveling to see Europe’s postcard-perfect destinations.  From visiting Van Gogh’s sun-drenched Provençal town of Arles to Avignon and its UNESCO World Heritage sites, and onto the culinary capital of the world, Lyon, France.

Van Gogh Lounge - S.S. Catherine

What is European River cruising?  The correct term for this river vessel is Boutique River Cruise Ship.   The S.S. Catherine is an elegantly designed boutique river ship offering luxury hotel-style accommodations, amenities, food, and wine from the region.  The interior greets you with a stunning two-story lobby with a Murano glass chandelier and a life-size glass horse. River cruising allows travelers to embark on a one-of-a-kind itinerary, designed to see historic towns and landmarks just steps from the ship. And you arrive in the heart of great European cities and towns with ease and anticipation.

Our ship sails slowly north leaving charming Viviers behind as we glide past beautiful riverscapes while the river cruisers enjoy an evening of entertainment, food, and wine from Provence.  Captain Pascal deftly navigates the lock and dams at; Châteauneuf de Rhône, Logis-Neuf, Beauchastel, and Bourg-les-Valence, and gently slips into our mooring in Tain L’Hermitage late in the evening.  It is European River cruising at its finest with vineyard-laced hillsides, and chateaux in the distance.

L’Hermitage and Tournon are twin towns on the banks of the Rhône River in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. Tournon in the Ardéche department on the right bank and opposite Tain-l’Hermitage in the Drome department.  This is where the landscape showcases famous vineyards on the steep terraced hillsides. L’Hermitage is best known for Côtes du Rhône wine produced from Syrah grapes, and the world-famous Valrhona chocolates. 

The twin towns are connected by a pedestrian bridge across the Rhône River built by Marc Seguin, inventor of wire-suspension bridges.  The flower laden pedestrian bridge was reconstructed with removable wooden slats to prevent destruction during WWII.

The river cruisers have an easy walk to Eglise Notre-dame de Assumption de Tain L'Hermitage for a one-hour organ concert by Alexis Platz. Later we stroll over to Tournon crossing the footbridge between the twin towns, trekking uphill to the Chateau des Seigneurs de Tournon. Our travelers attend the Confrerie of the Jolie Treille of St. Joseph and Hermitage i.e., Brotherhood of the Beautiful Trellis ceremony. Where a gentleman is inducted into the wine society by glugging two glasses of wine and is awarded a medal and certificate.

The historic Castle of Tournon is built into the granite wall overlooking the town and river with a breathtaking view over the Rhône Valley and its famous vineyards. While there, we enjoyed a wine-tasting reception on the stone balcony while enjoying the panoramic view.

Panoramic overlooking the Rhône
By afternoon, the Catherine continues sailing north 77km, passing through the last few locks on our route; Gervans, Sablons, Vaugris, and Pierre-Benite. Our destination is Lyon, France, located at the confluence of two rivers, the mighty Rhône River, and the serene Saône, where we will dock for the night.  At Lyon, the two rivers become one, the Rhône, the only major river in Europe that flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

Have your creative passport stamped and subscribe to www.scribblesandsmiles.net as we have our finale in Lyon, France!

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

Masterpiece Collection Optional: +Premium wine tasting on Hermitage Hill 199€ (price 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. 

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.

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