Majestic river cruise in Provence and Burgundy

The Belmond Napoleon is one of the finest cruising barges in Provence on the majestic river Rhône and the largest of the Belmond fleet. She has three decks accommodating 12 guests in spacious and beautifully decorated cabins, all with large ensuite bathrooms and above the water line. The ship is furnished throughout with rich fabrics in red, gold and green to create a warm and welcoming Provençal atmosphere. Feast on dinners in the stately lounge. Unwind in the outdoor Jacuzzi and watch the scenery unfold.

Her route includes wide reaches through hills lined with famous vineyards – the same sun-drenched landscapes that inspired Cézanne and Van Gogh. Riverside villages and towns, historic monuments, lavender fields and olive groves are all typical of this part of Provence, a region with a sophisticated culture dating back to Roman times.

At a Glance

Style: The 'nature' of the hotel barge. Outline subjective guidance as to the quality or comfort level that might be expected on board.
Price Band: Per person. Outline guidance only, on a relative or comparative basis. The bands do not represent accurate low or high season rates.

Hotel Barge Belmond Napoleon :: Key Features

  • Grand Luxe class (5*)
  • Rivers Saône and Rhône, Canal du Rhône a Sete
  • Part of the Belmond luxury fleet of hotel barges
  • Charter and cabin bookings, 6 nights, 7 days, March to October
  • 12 guests / 6 cabins with ensuite bathrooms
  • Air conditioning and heating throughout
  • Full board, on-board dining
  • Sun deck with gym and spa tub
  • 12 bicycles
  • Wifi (limited in some places)
  • Air-conditioned minibus for transfers and excursions
  • Transfers to Paris included

Hotel Barge Belmond Napoleon: Cruise Highlights – Arles to Tain l’Hermitage, river Rhône

  • Serene, luxurious cruising on the majestic Rhône river
  • Guided tours of Arles, Avignon and Orange – ancient cities with fascinating histories, unique treasures and modern cultures to enjoy
  • See the stunning Pont du Gard and the Palais du Papes
  • Visits to a truffle farm, a lavender distillery, an olive mill and a traditional French market
  • Private wine-tastings, including Châteauneuf du Pape

What’s included:
6 nights accommodation, transfers to and from Paris, all meals and drinks on board, guided excursions, fees and associated transport

Not included:
Air fares to and within France; travel, medical and cancellation insurance; crew gratuities (5-10% suggested)

Hotel Barge Belmond Napoleon: Cruises from Burgundy and Provence

hotel barge orient-express belmond napoleon burgundy provence
Napoleon’s Four Cruise Routes

  • St Jean de Losne – Lyon in March, April and October
  • Lyon – Avignon in July
  • Tain l’Hermitage – Arles in August
  • Tain l’Hermitage – Chalon sur Saône in August

Cruise 3: Arles to Tain l’Hermitage

Discover grand Roman ruins amid picturesque villages as you sample the Rhône’s finest wines

Day 1 Sunday – Arrival
Transfer from Paris by First Class high-speed train (TGV) and executive minibus for a Champagne reception aboard Napoleon. Meet the crew and cruise from Vallabrègues to Arles. Time to explore Arles, frequented by Van Gogh who adored the light in Provence, after dinner on board.

Day 2 Monday – Arles to Avignon
Excursion to St. Rémy for an olive oil tasting. Lunch on-board and then cruise to Avignon and past the famous bridge to the mooring. The a visit to the Pont du Gard, part of the Roman aqueduct taking water to Nîmes. Return to Napoleon for aperitifs, followed by dinner on board.

Day 3 Tuesday – Avignon to St. Etiennes-des-Sorts
A guided tour of Avignon and the 14th century Palace of the Popes. Then, free time to browse the city, shop and sample the street cafe life. Lunch on board and the a Visit to Châteauneuf du Pape for a wine tasting before cruising on to St. Etienne des Sorts.

Day 4 Wednesday – St. Etiennes-des-Sorts to Viviers
A guided tour of Orange a tour of Orange to discover its Roman origins and momuments. Lunch on board and cruise to the mooring at Viviers, which included passing through the deepest lock in Europe. Dinner on board, with time to explore the town and the smallest cathedral in France.

Day 5 Thursday – Viviers to La Voulte
Excursion to Nyons to visit a working lavender distillery and tour an ancient XVIII century olive mill. Lunch at a superb local restaurant in Grignan. In the afternoon, visit a truffle farm for a ‘black diamond’ tasting and then rejoin the boat at La Pouzin and cruise on to La Voulte.

Day 6 Friday – La Voulte to Tain l’Hermitage/Tournon
A visit to a traditional French market in La Voulte to browse and help chef choose some local produce for lunch on board. Cruise on through the green hillsides of the Côte du Rhône to moor in Tain or Tournon.  Visit Chez Ferraton, whose winery is a stroll away, and enjoy a tasting and tour. Return to Napoloen for a gala dinner on board.

Saturday – Departure
After breakfast, transfer to TGV for Paris and onward travel.

This itinerary is subject the change and runs in the reverse direction on alternate weeks.

Cruise 4: Tain l’Hermitage – Chalon sur Saône

Private chauffeur from Paris hotel to the Gare de Lyon train station for First Class TGV travel to Tain, to be met by Napoleon crew for private transfer to the barge.

Day 1: Arrival, Tain l’Hermitage
Board and meet your crew for a Champagne reception. Enjoy a wine tasting at Chez Ferraton’s winery nearby. Come evening, dine on regional specialities complemented by fine wines.

Day 2: Vienne
Cruise the Rhône Valley. The Côtes Rôties and the Cotes du Rhône vineyards stretch out on either side, almost touching the river. Stop off and visit ancient Vienne, with its spectacular Roman amphitheatre, temple and aqueduct. Tonight, dinner is served on board.

Day 3: Lyon
Cruise to Lyon and savour lunch in the city centre. Tour France’s second city, renowned for its culture and gastronomy. the ornate Basilica de Notre Dame de Fourviere dominates the skyline. Take the opportunity to browse the chic boutiques or relax in a pavement cafe. After dinner walk to Lyon’s old town and enjoy a drink in a traditional Lyonnais bar.

Day 4: Montmerle
Cross from the mighty river Phone to the quieter river Saône. Enjoy lunch on deck before stopping at Montmerle in the heart of the Beaujolais wine region.
Drive to the beautiful 17th century Château de Fléchères, surrounded by 80 acres of parkland. Tour this historic building, where highlights include a grand staircase, carved fireplaces and opulent Louse XV furniture.

Day 5: Mâcon
This morning, cruise to Mâcon, a thriving market town bordering the Mâconnais wine region and the birthplace of photography. Here you visit the Abbey of Cluny, which was for centuries recognised as the largest church in the world.

Day 6: Beaune
Cruise to the market town of Chalons sur Saône with its grand square. After a leisurely lunch, continue to Beaune, capital of the wine region of Burgundy, Tour the famous 15th century Hôtel Dieu, or Hospices de Beaune. Enjoy a wine tasting in the magnificent Joseph Drouhin cellar and wander around Beaune’s ancient ramparts and its maze of medieval streets. Back on board, a wonderful farewell gala dinner awaits.

Day 7: Chalons sur Saône, Departure
Sit down to a farewell breakfast before you disembark for your return to Paris or onward journey.

This itinerary is subject the change and runs in the reverse direction on alternate weeks

Hotel Barge Belmond Napoleon cruises through the Saône and Rhône valleys


Barge Cruising – The Saone and Rhone

map saone rhoneRiver Saone – River Rhone

The Saone is one of the most attractive rivers in France: wide, sleepy and unhurried, it wends its way from the mountains of the Vosges to the Rhone, passing through delightful countryside replete with wildlife – herons, kites and the pale Charolais cattle that come down to the waterside to drink.

Macon offers an ideal base for discovering the Beaujolais – a rolling crest of hills famous for the production of light red wine, or if you prefer fuller Burgundy reds then a rendezvous at Clos Vougeot will provide ample opportunity for tasting. Beaune is another major centre for viticulture and the town’s ancient hospital with its dazzling glazed tiled roof is an unmissable attraction. Fans of photography will be keen to visit Chalon-sur-Saone, the home of Nicéphore Niepce and thus regarded as the birthplace of this popular art form: the colourful Sunday market offers perfect opportunities for taking vivid holiday snaps.

At Lyon the Saone joins the River Rhone which rises in the Swiss Alps, and heads due south for the Mediterranean Sea. 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, the beautiful hilltop medieval village of Viviers which overlooks the river, Avignon which is renowned for its bridge and Pope’s Palace and finally Arles, where Van Gogh created his most iconic sun-drenched paintings.

Getting There
Hotel barges often collect and return guests to a pre-agreed hotel. French international airports are located at Toulouse and Paris-Charles de Gaulle and there are European-flight airports at Montpellier and Lyon. There are also TGV express train stations near Dole and at Macon, Lyon, Avignon, Montpellier and Toulouse; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.

– [below] In the region: Chalon-sur-Saone, Macon, Beaune, Van Gogh/Arles, Avignon, Pont du Gard –
chalon2-500x300  saone-500x300  macon-500x300

beaune-museum2-500x300  chateauneuf-pape-500x300  van-gogh-arles-500x300

arles-500x300  avignon-pont-500x300  pont-du-gard-500x300

Chalon ©M Chanaud | Beaune ©Michael Evans | Avignon ©Yann de Fareins | Others ©FW, wikimedia, n/a

Hotel Barge Belmond Napoleon: Details and Facilities

Hotel Barge Napoleon, Belmond Orient Express Provence deck plan

  • Dimensions: 129ft (39m) x 16.5ft (5m)
  • 6 staterooms of around 135 sq ft including ensuite bathrooms, one on upper deck, 5 on lower deck
  • Each has queen-size double or twin beds
  • The upper deck cabin has a large picture window, the lower cabins have two smaller windows.
  • All upper windows open
    Lower windows open but not at all while cruising and only with captain’s permission when moored
  • Napoleon was refurbished for the 2016 season
  • Expert and professional English-speaking crew of 6

Other items on board:

  • 12 bicycles
  • Sun deck with Jacuzzi, sun loungers, exercise equipment and canopied dining area
  • Lounge with piano keyboard
  • Bose iPod docking station
  • Computer with internet accessSelection of books, games, DVDs and CDs

Hotel Barge Belmond Napoleon: Cuisine

belmond-cuisine1-600x400 belmond-cuisine1-600x400 belmond-cuisine1-600x400
belmond-cuisine1-600x400 belmond-cuisine1-600x400
Great care and expertise is taken in planning the menus aboard Napoleon.
All meals on board are freshly prepared by an expert chef with fresh ingredients using local suppliers. They are served either in the dining room or up on deck, accompanied by carefully matched wines from the region. Vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan and non-allergenic dishes can easily be arranged.

Hotel Barge Belmond Napoleon Orient Express Provence Hotel Barge Belmond Napoleon Orient Express Provence

^ click to enlarge images and open gallery ^


Hotel Barge Napoleon – 2018 Rates

Charter and Cabin bookings
Sunday to Saturday

Value rate weeks:

March 25
April 1, 8, 15, 22
October 7, 14, 21

8 guest charter: 48,088 EUR
9 guest charter: 50,751 EUR
10 guest charter: 53,410 EUR
11 guest charter: 56,078 EUR
12 guest charter: 58,740 EUR

Per cabin bookings
Double cabin: 4,902 EUR per person
Single Occupancy Supplement: 2,941 EUR

Regular rate weeks:

April 29
May 6, 13, 20, 27
June 3, 10, 17, 24
July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
August 5, 12, 19, 26
September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

8 guest charter: 60,112 EUR
9 guest charter: 63,441 EUR
10 guest charter: 66,770 EUR
11 guest charter: 70,092 EUR
12 guest charter: 73,428 EUR

Per cabin bookings
Double cabin: 6,172 EUR per person
Single Occupancy Supplement: 3,703 EUR


All rates and prices will be confirmed at time of booking. Special Offers are available from time to time – contact us

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