Provence Stories and Tips

Excursions from a River Cruise in Provence

At the Lyon Market Photo, Provence, France

Many folks cruise to get a "taste" of a new area. It's amazing to do this by river cruising.....a floating hotel with excursions included in the price. Ships are small since they have to fit through locks or under bridges and usually carry fewer passengers because of their size - this translates - usually into quiet night life.
The itineraries are usually great - European rivers wind through wonderful villages and past vineyards and orchards......Each port has an excursion included. I'll highlight two of my favorite during our seven cruise.....
CHALON-SUR-SOANE:.......We boarded a motorcoach here for a short drive past Burgundy vineyards on our way to Beaune. We were given free time to walk along the narrow streets lined with shops and cafes for an hour or so. We then met our local guide for a tour of "L'Hotel Dieu" a hospice for the poor that were in need of medical care. This splendid building was established in 1443 by Nicholas Rolin - a politician. He erected a monument to his own wealth and importance - lots of gables and glazed wiles - you feel as though you wouldn't have minded being poor and ill to be taken here......until you hear that two or three patients occupied each bed.
A little more free time and a short walk to a storefront for wine tasting - lovely shop. We are taken downstairs into a brick walled - cave-like basement. We are given glasses for a few sips of white - a few sips of red and morsels of fresh baked bread in between. Just what we needed to prompt us to return upstairs and purchase a bottle or two to take aboard. You are allowed to take wines to the dining room for corkage or to enjoy on deck. We return to our home on the river for lunch and a pleasant afternoon of sailing.....a very pleasant day.

LYON: The third largest city in France - known for it's Michelin star chefs....We started the day with a motorcoach tour to the cathedral on the mountain for an hour or so and then through "vieux Lyon" for a quick overview and over the river to the new convention area. This short tour gave us a more comfortable feeling for venturing out that evening for our nightime escapade. Since we were going, as a group, to a Paull Bocuse "fun night" at his catering restaurant - "L'Abbaye" the following night, we chose to explore the pedestrian area, with all of it's parks and fountains, to find a "bouchon" that offers simple local food. You can read about our evening in another of my reviews in this journal. We ended the evening with a cocktail overlooking Lyon "all lit up" at night.....Memorable......
The next morning, was a wallking tour of the market - and what a market.....the best I've seen anywhere. Fruits, veggies, flowers, fish, rotisserie chickens, herbs, lotions, soaps - I wish I were staying longer and had cooking facilities....If only I had a market like this in my home town.......
That evening we set sail for an hour or so to reach "L'Abbaye" for dinner....no....we did not meet Paul Bocuse, but we did have a great time - free flowing drinkns, funky organ music, a tour of the original kitchen that his mother cooked in and great food......No extra charge for this great evening.
On to another port and more excursions.......that's what river Cruising is all about.......

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