Get to the Heart of Burgundy and Provence on Saga's new French waterways cruiseSunday 25 May 2014
• Sail past vineyards, fields of lavender and sunflowers, on beautiful stretches of the Rhone • Taste famous local wines including Mâcon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape • Marvel at historic Arles, Avignon, Viviers and Lyon
Get to the Heart of Burgundy and Provence on Saga's new French waterways cruise
Saga's new no-fly river cruise takes guests from London St Pancras by Eurostar to meet the elegant ship MS Bijou in Lyon. There will be a welcome reception and dinner on board to get the cruise off to a friendly and comfortable start.
Wake up to beautiful scenery and visit medieval Viviers; a town of two parts where narrow alleyways are lined with traders' houses close to the river and the magnificent upper quarter which is home to St Vincent's cathedral and Bishop's Palace. There will also be an opportunity to discover the stunning Ardèche Gorge and the Museum of Lavender.
Arrive in the Roman city of Arles to see the mighty amphitheatre. Take a walk along the riverside and consider that it was here, in Arles, that artist Vincent Van Gogh painted Starry Night Over the Rhone. Join an optional excursion to the Camargue to see the native white horses, Camargue bulls or flocks of pink flamingoes.There will also be time to see Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the nominal capital of the Camargue that so charmed Hemingway and Picasso.
Step off the 150-passenger MS Bijou and cross the road into the fortified city of Avignon, the seat of Western Christianity in the 14th century. Take in the Gothic Palais des Papes, the Petit Palace and gaze at the remains of the 12th-century bridge. There will be a stop in the pretty wine-making village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Enjoy a relaxing day on the river and take advantage of views from the sun deck before stopping in Vienne. From here there will be an opportunity to visit Lyon, one-time centre of the country's silk industry, but now better known as the gastronomic capital of France.
Cruise the wine-growing region of Côte Chalonnaise to Chalon-sur-Saône, a busy port as far back as Roman times. Perhaps join an optional excursion to Beaune to see the Hôtel-Dieu, a 15th century former almshouse and follow the Route des Grand Crus past some of the region's most celebrated vineyards.
Explore the southernmost Burgundy wine town of Mâcon and visit the 19th century twin-steepled Eglise Saint Pierre and Maison du Bois. Learn more about Beaujolais, on an optional excursion with a wine tasting in this beautiful part of the world.
Seven nights from £1,499 includes UK travel service, return Eurostar travel, travel insurance, full board, cocktail party, choice of wine, beer and soft drinks at lunch, farewell dinner, saga cruise escort and porterage.
For details call 0800 046 2481 or visit saga.co.uk/rivercruises
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