Burgundy, The River Rhone & Provence - Ms William Shakespeare 12th Aug 2019

From the lush slopes of the scenic winelands to the sun-baked hills of Provence and the wild beauty of the Ardeche Gorges to the medieval splendour of Avignon, enjoy a fascinating cruise to one of the most picturesque corners of France.

Date: 12–19 Aug 2019

Ship: William Shakespeare

Outside
AU $2,969

From the lush slopes of the scenic winelands to the sun-baked hills of Provence and the wild beauty of the Ardeche Gorges to the medieval splendour of Avignon, enjoy a fascinating cruise to one of the most picturesque corners of France. We start in France`s gastronomic capital and explore the beautiful Saone and Rhône rivers, the preferred route of traders and invaders alike since the dawn of recorded history. Everywhere there are reminders of the Romans and the greatest empire of the ancient world. You will be staggered by the engineering genius of the staggering amphitheatre at Arles and the huge aqueduct at the Pont du Gard. Avignon was the seat of the Papacy during medieval times, heralding a century of greatness crowned by the absorbing Papal Palace and its stunning renaissance art collection. Van Gogh created arguably his greatest works in Provence and all this is set in some of France`s most stunning natural beauty – all waiting to be discovered on this wonderful cruise.

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PRICES - in AUD - per person

Twin Lower Deck (Romeo) standard suite (window) from $2969*pp

Twin Middle Deck (Othello) standard suite (French balcony) from $3659*pp

Twin Upper Deck (Hamlet) standard suite (French balcony) from $3889*pp

Single Lower Deck (Romeo) standard suite (window) from $2969 (6 only at this price)

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BURGUNDY, THE RIVER RHONE & PROVENCE Cruise-Only prices include:

  • 7 night river cruise aboard ms William Shakespeare from Lyon to Avignon
  • All shipboard main meals
  • A range of included shore excursions: Visit to Beaune, centre of the Burgundy wine region and wine tasting | Cruise the spectacular Rhone valley | Guided tour of Lyon, second city of France and its gastronomic capital | Visit to charming Vienne |

Tour of the astonishing Ardeche Gorges | Guided tour of Arles, with its extraordinary Roman remains and home of Vincent Van Gogh | Visit to the Pont du Gard | Tour of superbly preserved, medieval Avignon and the stunning Pope`s Palace

  • Services of a Riviera Travel cruise director
  • Complimentary onboard tea and coffee
  • Complimentary onboard wi-fi
  • Port taxes

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ADD ON A DRINKS PACKAGE - An onboard Drinks Package:

Available for all new 2019 departures is an onboard drinks package (valued at $199 per person). This includes draught beer, non-alcoholic beer, soft drinks, juices, red/white/rose house wines, and wine recommendations from the menu - served with lunch and dinner onboard your ship. If you would like to add on this package please advise prior to departure from Australia.

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Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 - Lyon

Moored in Lyon`s picturesque historic centre, the dedicated crew will welcome you on board, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship – your first-class floating hotel.

Day 2 - Lyon

After our first splendid breakfast, we have a leisurely start enjoying a guided tour of Lyon, one of France`s most interesting cities. The Rhone valley has been the route of choice for invading armies and peaceful traders since ancient times and nestling at the head of the valley at the confluence of two great rivers, the area cried out to be fortified. Founded by the Gauls, Julius Caesar made it his capital and the Emperor Claudius, conqueror of Britain was born here - Lyon was on the map! There are a host of their remains to see but the city came to prominence from the Middle Ages onwards, making a fortune from silk manufacture. Wealth poured in, funding the multitude of renaissance buildings, rich churches and one of Europe’s most splendid town squares, the Place Bellecour, which today adds greatly to the city`s character. Old Lyon is crammed with atmospheric antique shops and intriguing `traboules` – narrow passages passing through actual houses which enabled silk merchants to reach the river more easily and today are just delightful to amble through. Lyon is also generally acknowledged as France`s (and if you ask a local, that inevitably means the world`s), gastronomic capital! In fairness it has much to commend it: nouvelle cuisine was invented near here and you literally trip over the ubiquitous and amazing food shops and restaurants, of which there are more per capita, than anywhere else in the world.

As you enjoy your first lunch, the ship quietly slips its moorings, cruising upstream, catching our first glimpses of the vine-clad slopes of the hazy green Beaujolais hills, as we approach one of the world’s most famous wine producing regions. On our left we see the picturesque villages – Morgon, Fleury, Julienas, Chénas and many more, whilst on the right, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of snowy Mont Blanc – Western Europe`s highest mountain. As the afternoon drifts into evening, the white wines of Macon now hold sway as we cruise past the town that gives them its name and what could be better than a cool crisp glass on the sundeck before retiring to the restaurant for this evening’s culinary delights, prepared by the outstanding chef.

Day 3 - Chalon & Beaune

Rising this morning, we are berthed in Chalon, the home of Niepce, the inventor of photography, and gateway to Burgundy. On this morning’s tour we see the picturesque yet surprisingly tiny villages that read like a top restaurant`s wine list - Meursault, Volnay, Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertin and many more, the source of some of world`s most sublime wines. Nearby is medieval Beaune, Burgundy`s wine capital, which is wonderful to just wander around and in its centre is the instantly recognisable Hotel Dieu with its multi-coloured tiled roof. A stunning building, built as a hospital in the 15th century, a prestigious annual wine auction takes place here, the considerable proceeds of which support the hospital to this day. Of course you cannot visit Burgundy without sampling its amazing wine, so we visit the cellars of one of the most traditional of winemakers for a tour and tasting, before returning to the ship for lunch.

Day 4 - Vienne & Tournon

One of river cruising`s great pleasures is the fascination of waking in a completely different location! Overnight, the ship has cruised almost imperceptibly south with breakfast in the ancient Roman stronghold of Vienne, established under Julius Caesar. Superbly located in a narrow section of the Rhone Valley where it turns sharply around a steep bluff, Vienne is a treasure trove of historic remains and a walk around will bring its story to life.

During another superb lunch, we enter perhaps the most picturesque section of the Rhône Valley as the river squeezes and twists through narrow defiles like Condrieu, St Rambert d’Albon and St Vallier, lined with wooded river cliffs, rising high to both sides. Traditionally these stretches were the most dangerous due to fierce currents and varying water levels and this afternoon is ideally spent on the sun-deck taking in the exceptional views as we navigate a series of locks which never cease to fascinate. Later we moor in the pretty provincial town of Tournon with its tree-lined avenues and across the river, the vine-covered hillsides produce Hermitage, yet another of the world`s most revered wines - a fitting view as we enjoy another exquisite dinner.

Day 5 - Ardeche Gorges

This morning we cruise effortlessly downstream. Over to the left you catch glimpses of the Alps and as we approach Valence, the landscape gradually becomes less green with more ochres and magentas, whilst the houses have the sloping terracotta roofs resplendent of the Mediterranean and the heady aroma of the sweet air has the unmistakable scent of pine and cypress. You can only be in the midi, or as we call it - the South of France. Catch up on some reading or just laze in the sun whilst the temperature rises.

After lunch we explore one of France`s most outstanding natural wonders, the Ardeche gorges, the scale of which is a fitting reminder of Mother Nature`s awesome power. As the road twists and turns, steep cliffs make a thousand feet sheer drop to the torrential river below, eloquently snaking its way through stupendous natural formations cumulating in a natural rock arch carved by the wild waters of history. With caves, grottoes and natural sculptures, there are amazing views at every turn before returning to the gentler sides of the Rhone Valley and the ship in charming Viviers, a medieval town clustered around its Romanesque cathedral. The ship casts off through the famous giant lock at Bollene, as you relax over dinner.

Day 6 - Provence, Arles & Pont du Gard

This morning you wake under the azure-blue skies of deepest Provence, amidst the rich warm stone of historic Arles. Although small in size, it was the key stronghold on the Roman road to Spain, one of the empire’s richest possessions. Sea-going ships could reach here and the city became the capital of Gaul, Spain and Britain. Our guided tour will help you to appreciate the finer points of Arles` magnificent Roman remains, including the splendour of the great amphitheatre, the best preserved such building in the world and the source of most of our knowledge of Roman entertainment; the decorum of the theatre built by Augustus; the extraordinary atmosphere of the ancient necropolis - and the Forum, once the city’s heart, where Constantine was installed as Emperor. That disturbed but great genius of an artist Van Gogh lived here for two years during his most prolific period and, inspired by the light and beauty of the Provençal countryside produced 300 works including the Sower, Cafe de Nuit, the Red Vines and of course, Sunflowers.

After lunch we visit the amazing Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, one of the wonders of the ancient world. No amount of fame can diminish the first sight of this 2,000 year old structure which the Romans considered to be the most important testimony to their greatness and indeed it was the highest bridge they ever built. The statistics are staggering: 900 feet long and 160 feet high. Some of the stones are 6 feet thick and no mortar was used in construction. Just to put this in perspective this is a greater span than the river Thames in London. The situation is l ovely too, with pine and cypress covered hills adding to the harmonious setting. Rejoining the ship, we cruise along the Rhône during dinner passing the 13th century castle at Tarascon seemingly standing guard on the river banks.

Day 7 - Avignon

As the morning light catches the red roofs of Avignon`s majestic medieval skyline, it`s a sight to behold over breakfast, after which we embark on a guided tour. Avignon`s destiny changed during the 14th century, with the exile of the Pope`s court here from Rome, bringing with it a century of prosperity. But to truly embrace the feel of historic Avignon you must imagine the rich furnishings, the sumptuous decor, the alleys and corridors teeming with Cardinals, Princes and Ambassadors plus countless pilgrims in the streets below eagerly anticipating benediction. The Pontiff commissioned a host of grandiose building projects and today, the city is immaculately preserved, nestling behind its almost intact 15th century walls and has more remarkable monuments, superbly decorated buildings, churches, chapels and convents than you can possibly count. Most important is the stunning Pope`s Palace whose interior is a masterpiece of medieval architecture sumptuously decorated with outstanding frescoes and tapestries, whilst the private apartments are a must too.

After lunch, you are free to explore as you wish, perhaps the Petit Palais, casting a critical eye over the amazing 1,000 renaissance paintings including works by Botticelli and Carpaccio, or taking a stroll on the iconic `Pont d`Avignon` the melody about which makes us all recall our first French lessons. It`s our final afternoon so you may wish to do some shopping, or just find a quiet shady street cafe in a timeless Provencal square and reflect on the delights of the past few days. Perhaps though, return to the sumptuous surroundings of your ship – go on the sun deck and just contemplate the wondrous places you have seen and experienced over a quiet cup of tea! This evening the Captain`s dinner takes place, serving specialities of the regions you have visited during your voyage of discovery through this fascinating country.

Day 8 - Avignon

After breakfast this morning your friendly crew bid you farewell before you disembark the ship.

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*Conditions Apply: All prices shown here are per person share twin (unless stated as single) in AUD, based on best available cruise fare at time of publication (05Jun18). All prices based on cash payment - credit card fees may apply. Cruise deposit, amendment and cancellation conditions apply. Travel agent service fees may apply. Special conditions apply - please ask for full details at time of enquiry. All passports, vaccinations and visas are the responsibility of the travelling guest to secure prior to departure from Australia. Please note that the prices shown here are not shown in real time. International or domestic airfare/taxes and transfers are not included. While we endeavour to keep our pricing as up-to-date as possible, the advertised prices shown here may differ from the prices in our booking system at time of reservation. Offer valid until sold out/withdrawn and is subject to availability at time of booking.

7 nights From AU $2,969 per person, twin share