Considering a cruise on France‘s Rhone River? The Meandering Traveler sailed on a holiday cruise there in December 2023. It’s a lovely region, brimming with ancient sites, vineyards and savory cuisine. So, why not head out for Rhone River rambling as we did!
From Lyon, France’s gastronomic capital, to Arles in Provence, we sailed on AmaWaterways’ seven-night “Colors of Provence” voyage. Traveling aboard the 152-passenger AmaKristina, we floated through the Rhone River Valley in pampered comfort and style.
On the culinary side, check out our blog about the ship’s complimentary Chef’s Table tasting menu experience. On the wine side, one relaxing, pleasant shore outing was AmaWaterways’ Beaujolais wine tasting experience.
(Shown above is the wine tasting room at the Domaine de Fond-Vielle winery in France’s Beaujolais region. Photo by Susan J. Young.)
Rhone River Rambling: Wine Tasting in Beaujolais
AmaKristina spent two nights docked in the center of Lyon at the outset of our cruise. That was a big plus, as guests could stroll independently through one large Christmas market not far from the docking point.
The river line also offered a Lyon bike tour or a Lyon city tour including a Christmas market experience. At other times of the year, that city tour includes Les Halles Market, a delight for seeing fresh food and ingredients.
Plus, there was enough time to enjoy yet another shoreside option — to journey outside the city. We opted for a four-hour “Beaujolais Wine Tasting” shore excursion. Heading into the Pays d’Or, or “land of the golden stones,” proved a good choice.
During an overcast day, the one-hour motorcoach ride took us onto an urban Lyon expressway, where we had a brief view of the Saone River. Then the coach proceeded through a lengthy tunnel. But soon, we left the city life behind and headed along narrow back roads through rolling countryside.
Along the 25-mile road trip to our winery destination, we viewed a stately chateau, small Medieval village, rural lifestyle scenes and vineyards. The highlight, though, was our stop at a traditional, rural Beaujolais region winery.
Interestingly, AmaWaterways set up three separate buses — none filled to capacity — to comfortably transport guests. Each traveled to a separate winery. So, the experience was pleasant and the groups were sized at 20 guests or so, not 40 people.
Domaine de Fond-Vielle Winery
Arriving at the Domaine de Fond-Vielle winery, we and other AmaWaterways guests were invited to accompany the motorcoach’s guide to the winery’s vineyard; it was just steps from where the coach (the only one there) parked.
The guide imparted knowledge about the grapes, their lifecycle of growth and harvesting. Then, everyone headed across a rural road and into the small village of Oingt. The winery itself was the first building encountered.
Inside, huge wooden casks, displays of the winery’s vintages, and a cellar-like feel set the stage. So did the tables in front of us!
Rhone River Rambling: Beaujolais Tastings
This winery is small, family-run wine estate. Guests grabbed a bench to sit at long tables that held wine glasses and charcuterie.
The wine experts from Domaine de Fond-Vielle explained the history and time-honed techniques that they employ in their wine growth and production.
Simultaneously, the first glass of wine was poured.
We learned that this small estate’s vines are tended using eco-friendly techniques. Grapes are picked by hand. Vinification is purely traditional.
Among the ample portions of wines tasted were:
- Beaujolais Blanc 2022
- Pink Tower (a rose) 2022
- Beaujolais Vielles Vigne 2022
- And more!
Of course, while sipping, we savored the cheeses and meats from table-top charcuterie plates.
Each plate served two to four people, so the table had multiple plates. Also, the winery hosts brought out fresh olives and other treats.
Total time at the vineyard and winery?
We’d estimate that we lingered here for about an hour and a half. The experience seemed relaxed and not rushed.
On the way back to the coach, some guests popped into the winery’s gift shop to buy a few items for friends, family and themselves!
Then our coach set out for the return trip to Lyon, and after our arrival, the ship sailed to the next port of call. That was the lovely Vienne, France. It offers a vibrant downtown restaurant and shopping scene, plus fabulous Roman sites.
2024 Foodie or Wine Excursions
Throughout the “Colors of Provence” itinerary, also now available in 2024 or 2025, guests will find many AmaWaterways shore excursions with a foodie or wine bent.
And some departures of this specific itinerary are even wine-themed cruises with guest wine hosts.
For example, on July 11, 2024, AmaKristina will operate this itinerary, hosted by Karl and Carole Dinger. They’re owners of Terra Vina Wines, Wilsonville, OR.
During upcoming “Colors of Provence” cruises through France, guests might find these kinds of shore excursions:
- A Beaujolais wine tasting from Trevoux.
- Tour of Les Baux de Provence with olive farm visit (includes an olive tasting, grove stroll and learning how olives are cultivated, harvested and pressed to produce olive oil.)
- On a Tournon port call, a wine-and-chocolate tasting, and also a Tain-L’Hermitage hike and wine tasting.
- From Avignon, a Grignan truffle farm visit or Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine tasting.
Rhone River Rambling: “Colors of Provence”
AmaWaterways offers the seven-night “Colors of Provence” itinerary on many departures dates this year.
At press time, cruise fares started at $2,849 per person, double occupancy, for the earliest March departure. Fares during the summer started at $3,749 to $4,499, depending on departure date. But the line also offers many departures through late December.
Definitely talk with your travel advisor about all departure options and which specifically are wine-themed. “It’s also good to know that Pavlus Travel offers value on all AmaWaterways bookings, and we promise the lowest fare,” says Shelby Steudle, president of Pavlus Travel.
“Many other river lines too offer Rhone River sailings, among them Avalon Waterways, CroisiEurope, Riviera River Cruises, Tauck, Viking and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises,” among others, she adds, “and our personal travel planners are experts in those as well.” In fact, Pavlus Travel is the number one seller of Tauck worldwide.
So why not envision sipping and savoring on a Rhone River rambling. Ask about planning your France river cruise vacation today!
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