River Rhone – Avignon – Arles – Petit Rhone – Rhone-Sete Canal – River Lez – Montpellier – Etang du Thau
To the north, the River Rhone rises in the Swiss Alps and is joined by the Saone at Lyon becoming one of Europe’s major waterways, heading due South for the Mediterranean Sea. Besides the historic and elegant city of Lyon (an important place even before Roman times) voyagers along the river pass by the vineyards of the Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape, visiting memorable and famous towns such as Valence, Viviers (a beautiful hilltop medieval village overlooking the river), Avignon (the Bridge and the Pope’s Palace) and finally Arles (where Van Gogh created his most iconic sun-drenched paintings).
In the south, the Petit Rhone branch leaves the Rhone at Arles, part of the Camargue area that is Europe’s largest river delta; between the land and the sea the reed marshes are teeming with wildlife – including over 350 species of waterbirds, flamingos, storks, egrets, wild black bulls and the famous white Camargue horses. Not to be missed, is the fortified crusader town of Aigues Mortes, founded by the French King Saint Louis in 1242.
Heading west from Aigues-Mortes, just metres from the Mediterranean and alongside glorious sandy beaches and passing by the fabulous small city of Montpellier, runs the lock-free Rhone-Sete Canal arriving at France’s own Venetian-style seaport, Sete, and the Etang de Thau large inland lagoon, where waterborne visitors may live like kings on fresh moules marinières and bouziegues oysters, washed down with Muscat wines and Noilly Prat vermouth.
We feature a comprehensive array of self-skippered (bareboat) hire boats from France’s leading fleets. You can enjoy a superb holiday – vacation aboard your ‘floating home from home’ in Provence.
Taking a luxury hotel barge vacation cruise in Provence is one of the most enjoyable, most relaxing ways to appreciate its many hundred years of history, heritage and culture; its wine and cuisine!
Memorable all-inclusive Saone and Rhone river cruises from Burgundy to Provence. Stunning views from your cabin window, wining and dining, and fascinating historic town and vineyard excursions.
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Canalside towpaths are flat and well-maintained. Perfect for some enjoyable, gentle cycling or walking through the gorgeous French countryside.
France: fresh local produce, superb simple food, sophisticated fine cuisine, Grand Cru wines, Champagne AC, vin ordinaire, boulangerie bread, croissants, gateaux and 246 types of cheese!
french-waterways.comis the internet’s leading, most comprehensive and authoritative source of inspiration and information about enjoying the rivers and canals of France – on the water or by the water. In one’s own craft, in a self-drive hire boat, on a hotel barge charter or on a riverboat small ship cruise.
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french-waterways.com (founded in 2003) is independent and impartial. It is not connected with VNF Voies Navigables de France, the national waterways management authority.
The information published here results from ten years direct personal experience cruising the waterways from north to south and east to west; and has also been gleaned from other sources, accounts and opinions. This is a guide only and is neither definitive nor to be relied on. We recommend obtaining a pilot book for each river or canal you travel.
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