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Flavors of Provence by Luxury River Ship
Set sail along the serene waters of the Rhône and Saône for seven captivating nights aboard the luxurious Amadeus Provence, navigating through the heart and soul of France. At each stop, gain a deep connection with the region's rich history and cultural treasures while immersing yourself in the charm of picturesque villages and renowned wine regions. From notable historic sights that unfold the tales of centuries past to engaging cooking classes that bring the flavors of the French countryside to life, every moment of this journey offers an indulgent blend of relaxation and discovery.
NOTE: Tour information is current as of 3/5/2024.
– Survey the region's history with tours of Beaune's Hôtel Dieu and Caves Patriarche, Lyon's Fourvière Hill, and more.
– Tour the Village of Fleurie with an exclusive wine experience at family-owned Château de Chasselas on 12 hectares of vines located in the Burgundy and Beaujolais wine regions.
– Visit a goat farm in the Mâconnais countryside to learn about cheese production and sustainability.
– On a walking tour of historic Lyon, navigate through traboules, or secret passageways, and gain an understanding of their purpose.
– Tour Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse indoor market, and taste why Lyon is said to be the "world's gastronomic capital."
– Learn the deep roots of Christianity's influence in Avignon on a guided tour of the Palace of the Popes.
– Join an intimate, hands-on cooking class with a professional French baker to produce traditional baguettes in a boulangerie.
– See the passion, technique, and respect for olive oil production at an olive oil mill in Les Baux, sampling products from this effort.
– Elevate your wine knowledge and appreciation with unique tasting experiences and education by winemakers and sommeliers.
– Participate in the search and retrieval of truffles, and relish the opportunity to try the delicacies.
- 7 nights aboard the stylish and modern Amadeus Provence
- 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 7 dinners served with locally produced red and white wines
- All lessons, private tours and tastings, and unique small-group excursions noted in the 9-day itinerary
- Full guiding services of an Orbridge Travel Director and expert local guides
- Private motor coach transportation
- Luggage porterage
- Gratuities to Orbridge Travel Director, local guides, drivers, and wait staff for included meals
- Airport transfers for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times
Day 1: En Route from U.S.
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Day 2: Arrive in Lyon, France – Embarkation
Thursday, May 30, 2024
Bienvenue en France! (Welcome to France!) For many, Provence elicits visions of sunflowers, lavender, olive trees, and wine. Uncover gems of this fascinating region along the Mediterranean coast with a program featuring its quintessential elements both big and small.
Step aboard the incredible Amadeus Provence and delight in a number of on-board facilities housed within tasteful, modern design. This vessel sailing the Rhône and Saône Rivers offers all the luxuries of a floating five-star boutique hotel, with an infinity pool, restaurant, and lounge. Comfort, style, and sophistication complement the surrounding glorious views.
Later, get to know fellow travelers during a welcome cocktail reception followed by dinner.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (D)
Day 3: Mâcon
Friday, May 31, 2024
Stimulate your curiousity and your palate by exploring the history of Fleurie and tasting the wines at Château de Chasselas.
A village of around 1,300 inhabitants, Fleurie is located in the heart of the Beaujolais Crus. It owes its fame to an important viticulture. Monks first planted vines here in the fifteenth century.
Accompanied by a guide, take a walking tour to learn why Fleurie is a special place for those loving not only oenology, but gastronomy and nature. Stroll past town hall, experience the wonderful atmosphere of the village center, and see the famous chapel of the Madonna with hilltop views highlighting all the Beaujolais and the Saône Valley, the Dombes, and the Alps. Dombes is a vast expanse of a thousand or so ponds teeming with flora and fauna. Wild and migratory birds including mallard, purple heron, eared grebe, black-winged stilt and more flock here, and Dombes is also the leading freshwater fishing region in France.
Next, head to Château de Chasselas. Located in both the Burgundy and Beaujolais wine regions, this estate contains nearly 30 acres of vines and is structured around a magnificent chateau. The winery cultivates the most notable grapes of the region, producing the celebrated Pouilly-Fuissé from Chardonnay, Beaujolais from Gamay, and a variety of red and white sparkling wines. The well-known Rosé Eternelle is a sparkling rosé that’s full of surprises. Enjoy a tasting of red and white wines led by an expert sommelier with a discussion of their characteristics.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)
Day 4: Chalon-sur-Saône | Tournus
Saturday, June 1, 2024
Begin the day with a scenic drive along the Route des Grand Crus, also known as the Burgundy Wine Route, to Beaune. Along the way, pass through some of the most well-known vineyards in the world: Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, and Côtes de Nuits.
Regarded as the wine capital of Burgundy, Beaune 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. It once served as a place where a person in need could find food, shelter, and comfort. The Hôtel Dieu in Beaune covers a large area of the town with its museum, three courtyards, outbuildings, fifteenth century bastion, and cellars.
While in the center of Beaune, discover Caves Patriarche, considered the largest cellar in Burgundy. Over three million bottles of wine are housed in its five kilometers of galleries running beneath the town. During the visit, a sommelier of the estate introduces the group to a combination of red and white wines representing the region. A local dish known as gougères, a baked savory pastry made of choux dough and mixed with cheese, will be served as a perfect accompaniment to the wine.
Savor a traditional lunch incorporating the flavors of the region before embarking on a picturesque drive through Southern Burgundy—where vineyards cover the rolling hills, and châteaux speckle the countryside. Engaging with local communities while traveling is one of the best ways to learn about the world, and one of the most enjoyable ways to do this is by experiencing the local cuisine.
Among the prestigious châteaux is the Castle of Cormatin. Surrounded by wide moats, the château impresses with its military style facades. This exterior demonstrates a show of power and prestige featuring imposing turrets, a high rusticated basement, gun ports, and drawbridge. Abandoned for many years, the castle was later purchased and restored. Lush gardens have been recreated with flowerbeds, a box maze, an aviary, groves, theatre, and water features.
Nestled in the valleys throughout the Mâconnais countryside roam arguably 150 of the happiest goats in France. The final stop today is a goat farm offering a range of eleven local cheeses made from raw goat milk. Cabrin, Clochette, or Tome de Lys are among the varieties made here, and these are intended to be consumed semi-dry, fresh, or matured.
Did you know? Mâconnais was established by wine growers. At one time, goat breeding was a complementary activity that allowed small pastures to be used for manure production and cheesemaking. Often cheese was consumed while working on the vines.
Goats are fed hay and non-GMO materials as the management of the farm respects ecological gestures and sustainability. All varieties of cheese are produced directly on site. During the visit, enjoy a tasting of the farm’s most delectable cheeses before returning to the vessel.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)
Day 5: Lyon
Sunday, June 2, 2024
Lyon is where the Saône and Rhône converge, and so much more. Today, it holds the title of "the gastronomic capital of France" and is surrounded by some of the world’s most famous vineyards. The city’s 2,000 years of history has been well-preserved, offering visitors an abundance of ancient Roman ruins and early Christian sites to explore.
In Vieux Lyon, or Old Lyon, discover Fourvière Hill, the site where Romans first founded the city around 43 BC. During the Middle Ages, Lyon grew to be an important trading city with easy access to Italy, the Mediterranean, and most of northwest Europe. The significance of the city’s past, along with its pristinely preserved Renaissance architecture, qualifies Old Lyon as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Between Fourvière Hill and the Saône River, travel back in time to when Lyon was home to wealthy banking families from neighboring countries and was also the center of silk manufacturing in Europe. Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and walk through Lyon's secret passageways known as traboules to discover mysterious connections linking buildings. The word "traboules" is a corruption of the Latin "trans-ambulare," or "to pass through." These allowed people more direct access to the town’s fresh water source than the winding streets provided.
Become acquainted with the Roman Theatre of Fourvière, where even today artists still perform, and marvel at the Basilique Notre Dame where one church sits on top of another.
Visit Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, an indoor market originally created in 1859 and dedicated to upholding the highest standards to represent Lyon and the surrounding region. The Halles have undergone many refurbishments and changes throughout its history, but the most significant occurred between 2004 and 2006 when the desire to elevate the place to reflect European standards changed the name to honor Chef Paul Bocuse, one of the world’s most talented and celebrated chefs.
Today, guests are treated with a variety of flavors and this commitment to gourmet excellence. Explore over 13,000 square meters covering three levels that include cheese makers and bakers, pastry chefs and gardeners, and butchers and fishmongers. During the tour, revel in a tasting of goods from different vendors and wineries and celebrate the delicious expression of culture and essence of the region.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)
Day 6: Avignon
Monday, June 3, 2024
Welcome today to the medieval history, youthful exuberance, and wordly sophistication of Avignon.
Avignon's history dates back to well before when the Romans came to town, but it was the Catholic Church that put the city on the map. Learn about this French city's UNESCO-recognized history and landmarks with a guided tour.
In 1309, the French pope Clément V was elected. Clément V moved the papacy to Avignon, as he feared Italy was too dangerous. Along with clearing out vast spaces for public squares and building a three-acre papal palace, the Church erected more than three miles of protective wall (and 39 towers), mansions for cardinals, and residences for its bureaucracy.
The Palace of the Popes was a symbol of power with 10-foot-thick walls. Today it's the largest surviving Gothic palace in Europe. In all, seven popes ruled from here, making Avignon the center of Christianity for nearly 100 years. Nowadays, the palace itself is largely empty, but along with lots of big, barren rooms, guests may see some original wall paintings, an elegant Gothic chapel, and beautiful floor tiles. The tower offers grand views for those making the climb.
During this outing, be introduced to the impressive symbols that influenced the Church and the western world in the 14th century, including the Pont d’Avignon, the square in front of the palace where the Baroque façade of the former mint is visible, the Petit Palais Museum, and, finally, the Cathédrale des Doms with its ramparts and gardens.
The Pont d'Avignon, also known as Pont Saint-Bénezet, is a famous medieval bridge built between 1171 and 1185, with an original length of about 2,950 feet. Learn about this marvel of construction, and both the legend of the miracle and the children's song associated with it.
A former cardinal's residence turned into a museum, the Petit Palais houses an impressive collection of Italian primitive art, old sculptures by Avignon artists, and paintings from the Avignon School. More than three hundred painted and sculpted works take visitors on a journey through the artistic creation of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Peer closer into Avignon life by rolling up the sleeves for a fun, hands-on culinary opportunity. Learn the inner workings of a boulangerie, or French bakery. A French bakery is different than a classic pastry shop, and bakeries must make their bread on-premises to hold the title of "boulangerie." In France, the law restricts the use of the word "pâtisserie" to bakeries who employ licensed maître pâtissier (master pastry chefs). One other key difference to note is that while pâtissiers work with mostly cold ingredients, a boulanger (or baker) will master the techniques and processes of warm rising dough.
The group's class is led by a professional baker with over 30 years of experience teaching the art of making something beautiful—to the eyes and the palette—by using 25-year-old yeast and a variety of flours made from the same wheat. Traditional French breads include baguettes and pain de campagne. Take pleasure in learning the method French bakers have used to bake baguettes all over France throughout the years, and have sold in farmer’s markets everywhere. (Class capacity is limited. Reserve your space while on board the ship.)
Continue learning while in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a prestigious village of the Côtes du Rhône. Located in the northern hills outside of Avignon, this location's ancient history, beautiful countryside, diversity of soils, and remarkable climate make it a traveling highlight for people passionate about wine.
Wine has been made in Provence for over 2,600 years, making it the oldest wine-producing region of France! White grapes of Provence include: Rolle, Ugni Blanc, and Bourboulenc. Most of the traditional red wine grapes are also found elsewhere in France and the Mediterranean, and include: Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Mourvedre. Have you heard of Tibouren, Braquet, Calitour, Folle Noir, and Barbaroux? These are some of the more obscure and unique red varieties of Provence.
Arrive at a Domaine where a sommelier explains the in-depth marriage of Grenache and the flavors of Provence through a tasting etiquette. Did you know? Grenache is responsible for some of the most delicious and expensive wine in the world. From exalted regions like Châteauneuf-du-Pape to cult California wines, Grenache is equally as important in the wine world as Cabernet Sauvignon. The medium-bodied taste of Grenache has been likened to candied fruit and cinnamon, and depending on where it is grown, often has subtle aromas. In Old World regions such as Côtes du Rhône and Sardinia, it may have smoky, herbal notes of dried oregano and tobacco. The Rhône is a slightly cooler region, often making wines with more finesse and slightly less alcohol.
With the tasting etiquette, discover the wine in a unique way by highlighting the texture, aroma, and flavor. Ninety-five percent of the wines produced in Châteauneuf-du-Pape are reds with Grenache as the backbone. The grape is often blended with thirteen different varietals to create the spicy, meaty wines of which the region is known. Many of the Châteauneuf estates produce the classic, dark reds with stem from the vineyards rich in galet—the rounded, heat-absorbing stone found almost exclusively in this area—and soils heavy with clay and sand.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)
Day 7: Avignon | Arles
Tuesday, June 4, 2024
The region of Provence features many treasures: a multitude of vineyards, breathtaking scenery, fascinating heritage, bustling cities, and quaint villages.
Depart the ship for a full-day to explore the Alpilles, which many regard as a "must-see." It's a place of untamed natural beauty and proudly preserved traditions. A place where small mountains are covered in scrubland and forests, and fields of olives stretch as far as the eye can see. A place of both prestigious monuments and simple charms.
Travel by motorcoach to the top of the Alpilles for panoramic views stretching from Mont Ventoux to the Cévennes, and from Sainte Victorie Mountain to the Camargue. These mountains are the source of the white limestone that was extracted from the quarries to erect the village of Les Baux-de-Provence, whose name is derived from bauxite.
Enjoy a brief stop in the tiny, hilltop village, officially classified as one of the country's "most beautiful" before dining at a local restaurant in Alpilles with a three-course lunch.
Next, visit the olive oil mill at the foot of the Château des Baux. The owners have combined centuries of experience with passion, rigor, technique, and respect for the olive trees. Sample the oils and embrace the flavor of Alpilles and the skill of the millers.
For wine, Les Baux-de-Provence is known for its high quality red and rosé wines made predominantly from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. The classic Les Baux-de-Provence wine is a deeply colored red with aromas of mountains herbs, black olives, violets, and stewed blackberries.
Vines flourish here with the mixture of clay, gravel, and marl—an unconsolidated sedimentary rock or soil consisting of clay and lime with the mineral calcite. The sun shines over 300 days during the average year in this part of the Provence, creating ideal conditions for producing exceptional wines. Most of the vignerons in Les Baux-de-Provence practice organic viticulture. Their efforts towards sustainable, low intervention viticulture is facilitated by the warm, dry climate, which reduces the risk of rot, disease, and the need for chemical interventions.
During a tasting, the Domaine will select wines that represent the region and discuss the characteristics that embody Les Baux-de-Provence.
Enjoy a relaxing scenic drive through the countryside as you rejoin the ship in Arles.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)
Day 8: Châteauneuf-du-Rhône | Le Pouzin
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
The gentle, rolling beauty of Drôme Provençale is a region seemingly suspended in time, and is sometimes called "old Provence," as it possesses a certain wildness not found in Provence proper. The area of Drôme Provençale roughly covers between Montélimar to the west, Rosans and Orpierre to the east, and Séderon to the southeast, along with other towns.
After a scenic drive of mountain vistas and fields of lavender that color the landscape blue and purple for much of the summer, travelers arrive at a truffle farm surrounded by the plains of Grignan.
In this part of the Provence known as the Tricastin Region, the treasures referred to as “black diamonds” are abundant. In fact, Tricastin is France's leading truffle-growing region, producing 60% of the nation's truffles.
Greatly appreciated by gourmets, the truffle is a mushroom that grows underground, in limestone soil, ideally at the foot of an oak tree. Two varieties of truffle are harvested in Tricastin: Tuber Melanosporum and Tuber Brumale. The former is the most sought-after as it is the most fragrant and adds the most flavor to dishes.
Visit the estate and get to know about specially bred dogs with a keen sense of smell for unearthing black and white truffles. A demonstration is held on the search and digging method that leads to the discovery of the delicacy. Learn how truffle oil is produced and conclude with a tasting.
Next, tour Grignan, a lovely, village perched on the edge of Provence dominated by its large château. Travel through a thousand years of rich history with the architectural gem that was dismantled during the French Revolution and later rebuilt. Learn the connection the structure has with a Parisian aristocrat who was also a prolific letter writer. Tour the château and find the beauty of the apartments, furnishings and artworks, as well as immense reception rooms.
Guests may also wish to feast their eyes on the St-Sauveur collegiate church, the Lavoir du Mail washhouse, the beautiful winding streets, and the panoramic views over the countryside with leisure time to explore and savor the town of Grignan independently.
Tonight, onboard the ship, enjoy the Captain's Gala Dinner.
Overnight: Amadeus Provence (B,L,D)
Day 9: Lyon – Disembarkation | Depart for U.S.
Thursday, June 6, 2024
Today after breakfast, guests departing during the suggested times will take a complimentary transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner