Wine Cruise: Discover France and Its Best Wine

Sara Thopson - Jul 11, 2016
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France is one of the largest wine producers in the world, and it has a long and rich history of producing wine, which dates back to the Roman times in the 6th century BC. The sophisticated wine produced in the country, the natural beauty of the famous French vineyards, and the numerous tourist attractions make France one of the beset travel destinations for wine lovers.

It is thus no wonder that there are numerous French wine tours as well as wine cruises, which offer travelers a chance to explore the best wine producing regions. One of these cruises organized by Avalon Waterways is the 11-day river cruise from Cote d’Azur to Paris, which passes through the premier French wine producing regions of Provence, Beaujolais, Rhone Valley, and Burgundy. 

Below is a look at the itinerary of the trip, with a focus on the wine producing regions you can opt to visit. 
1. Cote d’Azur to Arles

The wine cruise begins at Cote d’Azur where you board the vessel and check into your room, which will be your home for the next 11 days. From Cote d’Azur, the next stop is Arles, which offers a breathtaking scene if you are lucky to arrive at sunset or sunrise. Here, you can enjoy the rich Roman heritage, which is still alive in the city.

Some of the places you can visit include the Roman amphitheater and the Roman baths. The city was also home to the famous artist Van Gogh, and during your short stay here, you can explore the beautiful natural landscape that inspired some of his most famous paintings.

2. Arles to Avignon

From Arles, the next stop you make is Avignon, another city with rich Roman heritage where you can also find several ruins from the Roman era. Avignon is also famous for having been the safe haven for a small group of popes who fled to the city in the 14th century to escape violence in Rome.

However, they refused to come back to Rome even after calm returned, having already fallen in love with the local wine produced in the region. While in Avignon, you can visit the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, medieval castle located in the famous wine producing commune that lies about 12 kilometers to the north of the city. The castle overlooks several vineyards in the village, which flourish with grapevines that are used to produce red wine. 

3. Avignon to Lyon

From Avignon, the wine cruise takes you to Lyon, another famous wine producing region that is found in the northern Rhone area. Here, you will get a chance to visit the Hermitage, one of the most famous wine appellations in France, which is considered to be the home of Syrah (Shiraz) grape that is used to produce red wine.

If you are lucky, you will get a chance to taste the sophisticate wine produced in some of the wineries. However, there are also several shops in the city, where you can buy a bottle, and some of them even offer free sampling. 

4. Lyon to Macon

From Lyon, the next stop on the wine cruise is Macon, from where you can sign up for a wine tour to the nearby town of Chardonnay, about 30 minutes away from the city. Here you will find several vineyards booming with the famous Chardonnay grapes, which are used to make the white wine. The grapes originated from this town.

The landscape of the town is beautiful, and the rows of the green grapevines only make it more breathtaking. While in Macon, you can also visit Chateau de Pierreclos, a medieval castle with a wine cellar where you can find and taste different varieties of wines produced in the region. 

5. Macon to Beaune

From Macon, you head for Beaune, where you will cruise along the Saone River, through the medieval villages, manors, mustard farms and several churches that dot the countryside of Burgundy. The town is very vibrant, with open markets selling various foods, including cheese, olives, sausages, bread.

You can also find shops selling various wines, which you can purchase at an affordable price. There are also great attractions in the town that you can visit, for example, the medieval Hospice de Beaune, which rises into the skyline, dominating the view of the city.

Heading off to Paris 

After you are done with Beaune, the vessel will then embark on the last part of the wine cruise, and head off to Paris. Once you reach the “City of Lights”, you can enjoy a few days in the city visiting numerous attraction sights, and enjoying the taste of different wines from all over the country before returning back home.

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