We have just returned from a delightful eight-day river cruise aboard Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection‘s stunning S.S. Catherine sailing from Lyon to Avignon. From the moment we boarded, we were impressed with the magnificent Murano chandelier, the glass elevator with a glimmering waterfall cascading down its side, a Murano horse and long stretches of mirrors and marble.
Each stateroom is uniquely decorated with rich textiles, lovely French furnishing and handcrafted Savoir of England beds with fine linens. Shimmering marble bathrooms have a glass-enclosed shower, a towel-warmer, and L’Occitane toiletries.
On Monday, in Macon, France, we elected to take a bespoke experience: Southern Burgundy Delights at Chateau de Rully. The Chateau de Rully belongs to the same family from the beginning. The changes of the name over the centuries show that ownership was sometimes transferred through the female line; the main family names have been: Rully, Saint-Leger, Montessus and today de Ternay. Monsieur Le Comte de Ternay welcomed us and guided us through the Chateau. During the tour, we learned about the family history, anecdotes and secrets.
Our Tuesday port-of-call was Lyon, the culinary capital of France. Our included tour, “Do as the Locals do,” was a Lyon city tour. We discovered why Lyon has been named France capital of gastronomy while we visited Les Halles Paul Boucuse and strolled through Lyon’s historic old quarter, with many spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture and les traboules, the city’s old passageways.
Tain L’Hermitage, France was our Wednesday destination. Our included Twin Cities walking tour with wine tasting. Nestled on opposite side of the river in the heard of the Cotes du Rhone, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain L’Hermitage make an ideal destination for wine connoisseurs.
On Thursday, we explored the charming village of Viviers with an organ concert performed in the Cathedral just for Uniworld guests. Viviers climbs a hill above the river, crowned by 12th century St. Vincent’s Cathedral. It happens to be the smallest cathedral in France, but it contains a marvelous organ. Sitting under the soaring vaults, we listened while a local organist demonstrated just how fine an instrument it is. From there we wandered down through the town and were treated to a special visit to our guide’s home!
We elected to visit a Truffle Farm and Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine tasting on Thursday afternoon.
Our excursion choice on Friday in Avignon was a walking tour and the Palace of the Popes. It’s hard to believe, looking at the charming cafes and entertaining street performers in the Clock Tower Square, that this lively scene owes its existence to a 15th-century siege. This area was the heart of medieval Avignon~and the site of the original Roman town~crowded with cottages and narrow treets, until a pope had it all demolished in order to give his troops a cleared field of fire!
Arles rounded out the week on Saturday. Van Gogh paid tribute to Arle’s atmospheric beauty in some 200 paintings, including Starry Night Over the Rhone. It’s an ancient city boasting a remarkable collection of Roman ruins. We strolled through the district where medieval houses crowd in among the ancient structures and the city gates date to the 13th century.
The final verdict? Uniworld’s attentive service, unique decor, wonderful beds and bathrooms, and superb cuisine make the s.s. Catherine a brilliant choice for vacationing in one of France’s most alluring regions.
Appealing? Want to plan a river cruise for 2018? I would love to make this happen for you.
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