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Passions & Pursuits: Golfing in Southern France

Passions & Pursuits: Golfing in Southern FranceItinerary

September 20 – September 28, 2023

Day 1: En route from U.S.
Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Day 2: Arrive in Lyon, France / Embarkation
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Bienvenue en France! (Welcome to France!)

While in France, embrace l'art de vivre—the art of living. Slow down and delight in this Passions and Pursuits themed experience, be your joy found in golf, architecture and art, history, fine food and drink, or river cruising. 

Today embark upon the MS Amadeus Provence, our comfortable and stylish base from which to explore France's waterways. While onboard, relax in a style you see fit, whether that be enjoying chilled local beer or wine in the Panorama Bar & Lounge, by arranging a massage or beauty treatment for extra indulgence (additional fees apply), or by soaking up the rays on the sun deck, getting to know fellow passengers, and taking a dip in the pool. 

Guests on this program can choose between golf, shore excursions, or a mixture of both. Three options allow travelers to devote their time in France to the activities they find the most meaningful and rewarding. 

Some travelers undoubtedly will choose to focus exclusively on golf, and take advantage of all the golfing available. In France, golf is more than a hobby—it's joy, and a way of life.

Did you know? French golfing history dates back to 1856, with the opening of the first golf course in mainland Europe. For the basic, Hybrid Track, two rounds of golf are included in the per-person rate. Golfers enjoy two exciting rounds of 18-hole golf at Golf de la Bresse and Golf de Beaune Levernois, with the opportunity for enthusiasts to play up to five rounds of golf by upgrading to the Deluxe Golf Track (additional fees apply)

Others in the party may choose to join the two included rounds of golf, but then not elect to upgrade for more time on courses. Those not playing golf beyond the two included courses will delight in featured daily shore excursions.

Finally, for those with little to no passion for golf, the tour provides shore excursions to revel exclusively in the undeniably wonderful landscapes, warm culture, well-preserved sites, tempting wine, tasty food, and charming villages of Southern France. Vive la France! 

In summary, and described in more detail throughout the itinerary, there are three tracks from which to choose:

Hybrid Track:

  • Two rounds of golf at Golf de la Bresse and Golf de Beaune Levernois
  • Five shore excursions (Lyon & Les Halles Paul Bocuse, Avignon & Palais des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Arles & Vincent Van Gogh, Valley of the Ardèche)

Deluxe Golf Track (upgrade cost of $795 per person):

  • Four rounds of golf at Golf de la Bresse, Golf de Beaune Levernois, La Grande Motte, and Golf de Servanes
  • Two shore excursions (Lyon & Les Halles Paul Bocuse, Valley of the Ardèche)

Shore Excursions Track:

  • All nine shore excursions listed in the itinerary (Mâcon Walking Tour, Cluny Abbey, Hôtel-Dieu & Caves Patriarches, Tournus Walking Tour, Lyon & Les Halles Paul Bocuse, Avignon & Palais des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Arles & Vincent Van Gogh, Valley of the Ardèche)

For the first day upon the vessel, a welcome dinner and golf briefing are planned. 
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (WD)

Day 3: Mâcon
Friday, September 22, 2023
Discover the charms of Southern Burgundy with a stop in Mâcon. Pastel-hued homes, cobbled lanes, a myriad of churches with impressive architecture, world-famous regional wine production, and a historic bridge all complement the riverside beauty of this French city. 

In the morning, all golfers will be transferred to the Golf de la Bresse near Bourg-en-Bresse, a charming little commune in the Rhône-Alpes region. Players will test themselves on La Bresse’s tranquil and rural 18-hole course with blind holes, strategically placed trees, sand bunkers, and water hazards. Jérémy Pern, who designed the course in the 1980s, routed the layout in two returning nines, each of which conclude with long, demanding par fives doglegging left from tee to green. Highlight holes include the 405-meter 6th, rated stroke index 1, and the 194-meter 8th, where a large bunker guards the front left-hand side of the green. On the inward half, the short par four 11th is another joy, doglegging sharply right to a green sitting by the lake. 

Shore excursions today for those who are not playing golf will include a walking tour of Mâcon and a guided tour of Cluny Abbey. 

The Cluny Abbey was the center of a major monastic movement in the Middle Ages. Its church was the largest Christian building in the world until St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt in Rome in the 16th century. Although most of the abbey is in ruins, its remnants indicate the size and glory that it once possessed. Today, one transept of the 12th-century abbey church remains, along with the 15th-century abbots’ residences and the 18th-century convent buildings. The site also includes beautiful gardens and a museum with Romanesque artifacts.

In the evening, all will be welcomed back on board with a delicious dinner. 
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)

Day 4: Chalon-sur-Saône / Tournus 
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Following breakfast, all golfers tour the club Golf de Beaune Levernois. The course features nine lakes and numerous snow-white large bunkers, offering a challenge for golfers of all levels. Players should not miss this quality course with its exquisite natural beauty, technical challenges, and beautiful views of the surrounding Burgundy landscape. While out playing an exciting round of golf, the vessel meanwhile will make its way to Tournus. 

Non-golfers on the Shore Excursions Track enjoy cultural immersion in wine and history.

The scenic drive along the Burgundy wine route to Beaune takes you through some of the most well-known vineyards in the world—Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, and Côtes de Nuits.

Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, is home to one of France’s most prestigious historic monuments, The Hôtel Dieu. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the structure features flamboyant Gothic architecture, polychrome roofs, and a renowned vineyard. The latter is famous throughout the wine world as a classic Burgundy treasure. Dieu once served as a place where a person in need could find food, shelter, and comfort in the aftermath of 100 years of war. Today, the sprawling property covers a large area of the town with its museum, three courtyards, outbuildings, 15th century bastion, and cellars. 

While in Beaune, explorers also see the Caves Patriarches. The Patriarches Cellars are five kilometers of galleries that run beneath the town, making it one of the largest cellars in Burgundy. Founded in 1780, many of the cellars date back to the 13th century. A sommelier of the estate conducts a tasting to include three red and two white wines representative of the region. To accompany the tasting, a baked savory pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese called Gougères is served. Prestigious names of Burgundy found in Côte de Beaune include Droughin, Jadot, Bouchard Père et Fils, Chanson, and Patriarche.

After lunch, delight in a walking tour of Tournus. A highlight of the city is the 10th-century Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Philibert de Tournus. St. Philibert survived the turmoil of the Middle Ages and the religious wars of the early modern period mostly intact. A masterpiece of medieval Romanesque art with soaring towers in red and ochre stone, it is recognized worldwide. Behold its elegant columns, rounded arches, and beautiful frescoes.

Strolling through the vibrant medieval center of town imparts to visitors a true sense of a long history. Old stone houses and artsy shops and restaurants line narrow, cobblestone streets. End the tour with some relaxing free time to explore this jewel of Burgundy at leisure.

Rejoin your fellow passengers in the late afternoon. As you unwind at dinner, the ship will leave Tournus and head downstream toward Lyon.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)

Day 5: Lyon
Sunday, September 24, 2023
When you think of France, which cities come to mind? Paris? Bordeaux? Perhaps Nice? This morning, arrive in Lyon, arguably one of France's most underrated cities. Despite being the country's third-largest city, its gastronomical capital, and home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Lyon tends to fly under the tourist radar. The city was founded 2,000 years ago and built its fortune on the silk trade. This industry furnished it with beautiful Renaissance architecture in Vieux Lyon, where semi-hidden passageways called Traboules connect courtyards with the Saône.

As there is no golf activity planned for today, all group members get a taste of authentic French culture in Lyon. Gaze at the giant murals gracing buildings throughout the city. Many of them celebrate famous locals. Learn about the fascinating Roman ruins, and discover the cobblestones and cafés of charming Old Town. 

See the legendary Les Halles de Paul Bocuse, an indoor food market bustling with vendors and gourmet food. Butchers, bakers, fishmongers, chocolatiers, and cheese mongers share space with fruits and vegetables, truffles, spices, flowers, and more. Sample the wares and get a true taste of the local food culture at this stop. 
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)

Day 6: Avignon 
Monday, September 25, 2023
There's so much to see in fascinating Provence, and a detour to Avignon is time well spent. Clean, lively, and popular with travelers, this city is an intriguing blend of medieval history, youthful energy, and urban sophistication.

Golfers who chose to upgrade for more time with the sport to the Deluxe Golf Track transfer for a round of golf at La Grande Motte in the Camargue region. The Flamants Roses (pink flamingoes) course at Golf de la Grande Motte is a late 1980s Robert Trent Jones Senior design. The land is flat at this well-maintained and straight-forward complex, but the routing through the water hazards keeps golfers interested. The signature hole arrives early in the round at the par three 5th, where the tee shot is played to a green that's protected by water on three sides. In addition to the Flamants Roses course, the club houses the par-58 Goelands course and the 9-hole Mouettes course.

Guests on the Hybrid Track (some golf, some shore excursions) or the all-Shore Excursions Track will learn more about the area's riveting history and special wine. 

Learn about the Papal Palace, or Palais des Papes, a Gothic building at the heart of the city. One of the most beautiful walled cities in France, Avignon was the seat of the Catholic Popes from 1309 to 1377. It was here that seven popes led Western Christianity during the 14th century. 

This afternoon, discover Châteauneuf-du-Pape: a unique, magical place nestled on the hillside like an island rising out of a sea of vines. Its name is literally translated as “the New Castle of the Pope.” At the top of the hill are the remains of the castle built by the popes in the 14th-century. The castle was used as a summer residence to escape the heat of Avignon. It is in this place where the first vines of the popes were planted.

This excursion invites guests to explore the renowned vineyards of this celebrated wine region. Learn from a sommelier dedicated to the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the estate about the in-depth marriage of Ganache and the flavors of Provence. Savor a tasting protocol highlighting texture, aroma, and flavor. Ninety-five percent of the wines produced in Châteauneuf-du-Pape are reds with grenache as the backbone of the Appellation d’Origine Controlée. The grape is often blended with 13 different varietals to create the spicy, meaty wines for which the region is known. Many of the Châteauneuf estates produce the classic, dark reds which stem from the vineyards rich in galet—a rounded, heat-absorbing stone found almost exclusively in this area. The stones retain heat and release it at night, which produces different wines than those from sandy soils, where there are more temperature variations.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)

Day 7: Avignon / Arles
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
The ship departs Avignon early this morning for Arles.

After breakfast, members of the Deluxe Golf Track will be transferred to the Golf de Servanes club. This spectacular golf club is considered one of the finest in the region. Players of all abilities will appreciate the beauty of the landscape, shade of the olive trees, and cascading lakes. Described as a "Provençal gem at the foot of the Alpilles," this 18-hole course was designed by Theirry Sprecher and Gery Watine, who leveraged a picture-postcard setting "with the sound of cicadas and the scent of thyme and lavender." 

Begin with the easiest hole, hcp 18, and watch out for the fairway bunker on the right. Hole five is the most difficult one on the course. Pro tip: Play it as a par 5, as it's very tight coming towards the green with an out of bounds on the right.

Finding the right club without being distracted by the views is part of the pleasure of Golf de Servanes. Putting surfaces are consistent, greens and fairways are in excellent condition, and two huge island greens delight those looking for a challenge. 

Today, the non-golfers will explore Arles. A city steeped in history, Arles was once a major trade center of the Roman Empire, before becoming part of the Kingdom of the Franks and later capital of the Kingdom of Burgundy. See Arles' famous monuments, including the Roman arena and theatre, and the Romanesque Church of Saint-Trophime. 

In the late 1880s, Vincent van Gogh spent a little more than a year in Arles, painting some of his most iconic works. Van Gogh enjoyed the beautiful light and weather of Provence, continuing to work outdoors long after the sun set to capture scenes such as "Starry Night Over the Rhône." Walk in his footsteps and connect contemporary sights with the artist's interpretations. See the room where van Gogh stayed at the Saint Paul de Mausole hospice, and gain insight into how he was inspired by his surroundings. The Foundation Vincent van Gogh Arles Museum was founded in 2014 and transports guests into the world of the artist while examining his influence on today’s art.

Later, visit Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, an historic village built upon one of the oldest archeological sites in Europe. Take a brief tour of the town and wander ancient streets lined with beautifully restored houses dating back to Roman times. Along with stunning architecture, discover a countryside that blooms with wild lavender, towering Cyprus trees, fields of colorful flowers, and rich vineyards. 

Search the remains of the Site Archéologique de Glanum, an ancient city outside Saint-Rémy-de-Provence set in the heart of the Alpilles Mountains. See architectural specimens, including the triumphal arch and the centopath, before taking a stroll to the natural springs of a temple dating back to 30 years BCE.

Tonight, enjoy a convivial gathering with the group for cocktails and an award ceremony to celebrate golfing achievements and this journey. 
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L.D)

Day 8: Châteauneuf-du-Rhône / Le Pouzin
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
On the final full day, pick once more your passion of golfing or exploring. 

Golfers of the Hybrid Track or the Deluxe Golf Track may choose an optional round of golf at Domaine de la Valdaine for an additional fee. 

Choose Golf Domaine de la Valdaine for a course whose water hazards and small greens provide challenges only mastered with dexterity and precision. In addition, Domaine de la Valdaine offers its guests the opportunity to sharpen their skills on the driving range (22 tees, 12 of which are covered), as well as on the putting greens and practice bunkers. Players of all levels will be able to test themselves on the immaculately maintained course while drinking in the Provençal sunshine and the delicate perfume of lavender. This international 18-hole golf course designed by Stéphane Quenouille and Tom Macauley has practice and training areas. The total par is 71. 

Not golfing? The shore excursion today will show the Valley of the Ardèche and its gorges in a stunningly beautiful and unusually quiet corner of southern France. Inspiration appears at nearly every twist and turn in a place that feels untamed and stretching back in time.

The walls of the river here are limestone cliffs up to 980 feet high. See why the Ardèche Gorge is often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of Europe." The entrance to the Ardèche Gorge is through the famous Pont d’Arc near Vallon. At 192 feet, it is thought to be the largest natural bridge in Europe. Take the famous Gorge Trail to view the meanderings of the river. Beautiful viewpoints, such as the Pont d’Arc and Serre de Tourre, offer the greatest views onto the canyon and the river Ardèche.

Cap off a wonderful adventure in France tonight with a festive captain's dinner. 
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)

Day 9: Lyon / Disembarkation / Depart for U.S.
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Today after breakfast, guests departing during the suggested times will take a complimentary group transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, WD = Welcome dinner, FD = Farewell dinner

(Itinerary subject to change.)

Activity Level:


Activities are generally not very strenuous, but a fair amount of walking can be expected. Wear comfortable walking shoes with good soles. We expect that guests on this program can follow a guide through cobblestone streets at an average pace for two hours, and walk up and down stairs without assistance. Historic city centers are usually more accessible by foot than vehicle, and sometimes it is not possible for your motor coach to drop you off at hotel and site entrances. Due to the structure of some buildings, handrails may not be present, and facilities for the disabled may be limited.