A Journey of Exquisite Pleasures
The Rhone Cruise 2019
July 7th – 14th
Optional Pre-trip- Custom Wine Tour to Burgundy July 4th – 6th
Optional Post Day- Bastille Day in Avignon July 14th – 15th
Optional Post Trip- Nice July 15th – 17th
Enhanced by the wine knowledge and tastings from O’Connell Family
Join Vintners, Gabrielle & Wayne O’Connell, as you experience the incomparable wine, cuisine, art and history of southern France. The same beautiful countryside and culture that inspired renown chefs, winemakers, artists- Van Gogh, Cézanne and Gauguin- will inspire you as you cruise the Rhône and Saône rivers. You will be indulged by Napa Valley wines brought by O’Connell Family to assure you are spoiled above and beyond.
Share the treasures of this region…Lyon, France’s culinary capital and home to the late Chef Paul Bocuse, ambassador of modern French cuisine with its lively Les Halles food market…the wine estates of Burgundy’s world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, then L’Hermitage & Châteauneuf-du-Pape – a peak experience for wine lovers…Arles, made famous by Van Gogh…Avignon, the medieval wonders of UNESCO-designated Avignon, site of the majestic Palace of the Popes…experience “Village Day” in enchanting Viviers, including a recital of music composed by Bach and Handel.
For an active exploration of the area, you can kayak on the tranquil Gardon River under the UNESCO-designated Pont du Gard; hike the steepest vineyards on the Rhône, and pedal through Lyon designed with bike riders in mind. Explore unforgettable “Burgundy & Provence” where tradition is as deeply rooted as the historic grapevines.OPTIONAL PRE-TRIP: Burgundy July 4, 5, 6 (3 nights) 2019 Meet in Dijon, Burgundy’s historic capital, for an exploration of remarkable Pinot Noir and Chardonnays. Food & Wine Trails is sending their wine consultant to Burgundy in April 2018 to uncover the hidden gems for our upcoming visit, so don’t book your air just yet! You’ll enjoy three fantastic nights and the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay’s from local, family-owned vineyards. Meander the land of stunning limestone scenery and vineyards, to savor and sip your way through the estates and farms of the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. Block your calendar and stay tuned for details. It will be amazing!
DAY 1: Lyon (Embark) July 7Arrive at Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship. Welcome Wine Reception O’Connell Family (actual day may be subject to change)
DAY 2: Mâcon (Beaune) July 8th, 2019The pace of life is decidedly more relaxed in Burgundy, where endless rows of grapes hang heavy on the vine. The capital of the region’s wine trade, Beaune, is renowned for its history, beauty and highly prized wine, as well as its medieval-era hospital—the Hospices de Beaune. Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Mâcon, a Saône River port, is your gateway to Beaune.
Select Your Featured Excursion
Choice 1: Burgundy wine landscapes, Beaune, Hospices de Beaune
Beaune may not be a large town, but it brims with history, splendid regional architecture and incredible food. Nestled inside medieval ramparts, Beaune was the seat of the warlike dukes of Burgundy until the 16th century. You’ll recognize the Hospices de Beaune (also known as Hôtel-Dieu) immediately by its fabulous multicolored-tile roof—it’s a symbol of Burgundy. Founded as a charitable institution by the duke’s chancellor in 1443, the hospital became a model for charitable giving in southern France, with a unique fundraising tradition that continues to this day. Over the centuries, the hospice monks were given wine and vineyards, and they began selling the wine at auction in order to support their charitable work. The wine auction is now world-famous, and the institution remains a working hospital for the poor, with modern facilities standing alongside the historic Hôtel-Dieu.
Choice 2: Mâcon walking discovery tour
Alphonse de Lamartine, whose impassioned defense of France’s famous tricolor flag guaranteed its continuance as the national flag was born in Mâcon, a year after the French revolution began. He became the country’s first Romantic poet and in 1848, a founder of the Second Republic. His statue is opposite Mâcon’s city hall. Stroll with your guide through this historic riverport city, an important trading center since the Celts founded it 2,200 years ago. The Romans built a bridge across the Saone here, and you’ll see its 16th-century successor, the graceful St. Laurent bridge. Ramble down Rue Monrevel for a look at the twin towers of St. Peter’s, the church that replaced Mâcon’s medieval—and irreparable—cathedral and then along bustling Rue Carnot, lined with shops and cafes, to a curious wooden house, an example of rustic medieval architecture, Maison de Bois. Its facade is decorated with carved figures of men and monkeys—standing, sitting, holding onto mythical beasts is the oldest house in Mâcon, built around 1500.A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
DAY 3: Lyon July 9th, 2019As the epicenter of French gastronomy, Lyon is a city of tantalizing contrasts, from the work of culinary visionaries to silk weavers’ secret passageways. After your excursion, embrace the locals’ favorite mode of transportation with a patisserie-fueled bike ride—a great way to see the sights. Two rivers: one tranquil, one torrential. Two hills: one for labor, where the sound of the silk weavers’ looms used to echo; the other for prayers, crowned by a spectacular basilica. Two cities, as different as night and day: one boasting colorful Old-World façades, medieval mansions and hidden passageways; one with a sophisticated urbanity reminiscent of Paris. Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, and with roots stretching over 2,000 years to the days of Julius Caesar, Lyon is a place of fascinating dualities. Today you have your choice of ways to explore this city of contrasts: Sample its culinary riches with a visit to its peerless market hall or follow the footsteps of the silk weavers in the old quarter. For a more active option, see the city from its extensive—and lovely—bike paths. Select Your Excursion:
Choice 1: Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Lyon walking tour
The citizens of Lyon eat well, a tradition that harks back more than a century, when women opened unpretentious restaurants, called bouchons, to feed hungry workers. The traditional bouchon serves hearty meat-based dishes, but quenelles—luscious dumplings—and a seasoned cream cheese called cervelle de canut are longtime local favorites too. Your guide will show you the city’s bouchons, specialty food shops and the legendary main market, Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse with stalls brimming with local produce, fish, game and cheeses beautifully displayed on black marble countertops. Don’t miss the macarons! See some of Lyon’s historic old quarter, with its many spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture, and les traboules, the city’s old passageways.
Choice 2: Exclusive silk weavers walking tour
Lyon’s history is entwined with silk, which dominated the city’s economy for centuries—at one time, almost a third of the city’s population were silk weavers. Your guide will take you into the historic Saint-Jean Quarter, in UNESCO-honored Old Town. The Gothic cathedral is a striking heirloom of the Middle Ages, and the tall rose and ocher buildings, dating to the Renaissance, pay tribute to the importance of the silk trade with Italy. Enter the courtyard of the Gadagne Museum, housed in an early16th- century building, and stroll along Rue Juiverie, which has been occupied since Roman times and once home to Nostradamus. See the traboules, old passageways between and through buildings, and secret shortcuts for silk weavers to keep their delicate fabrics out of the rain. Pass cozy bouchons serving traditional local dishes and see a Jacquard loom in use.
Choice 3: The active selection is: Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” Lyon peninsula bicycle tour
Join Lyon’s thriving bike scene pedaling along the banks of the Rhône, over the new Raymond Barre Bridge, past the spectacular new Museum of Confluences (at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône) and along the peninsula, with the Saône on one side and the Rhône on the other. Houseboats tie up along the banks, swans float on the water and locals take advantage of the lovely park like setting. Enjoy a great view of the Old Town across the river.
DAY 4: Tournon (Tain-l’Hermitage): July 10th, 2019If you love fine wine, you’ll love the twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage. Whether you opt for a guided walk or a more vigorous vineyard hike, you’ll taste the wonderful wines made primarily from Syrah grapes.
Select Your Excursion:
Choice 1: Exclusive Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage twin villages stroll with wine tasting
Nestled on opposite sides of the river in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage are an ideal destination for connoisseurs of fine wine. Tournon may be a small town, but stirring events took place here: A castle was raised on the hilltop in the 10th century to protect the region, and new fortifications were added over the centuries, including two “new” towers built to defend against Protestant attacks in the 16th century. See handsome houses constructed by wealthy merchants and garrison officers in the Rue de Doux area, pass the 14th-century church and the oldest secondary school in France. Cross the pretty flower-decked Marc Seguin suspension bridge to Tain-l’Hermitage to visit local wine cellars, to taste the region’s famous Côtes du Rhône, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage wines, produced from Syrah grapes growing on the steep slopes lining the river. Then browse the shops- the Valrhona chocolate factory is a popular stop.
Choice 2: Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” Hermitage vineyards hike with wine tasting
Are you ready to explore the steepest vineyards on the Rhône? The vines producing the world-famous Hermitage wines grow on precipitous slopes above the river, so steep that terracing is essential. Hike along the paths that parallel the rough courses of stone through the vineyards, each one situated to catch the afternoon sun. After you’ve seen how the grapes—primarily Syrah—are grown, taste the fruit that has been transformed by the vintners’ craft into legendary wine.
Choice 3: Optional (additional fee) Recommended for wine lovers Price: To be Announced. HERMITAGE HILL AND WINES OF THE RHÔNE – Food & Wine Trails’ tour curated exclusively for O’Connell Family Wine group
The hill of Hermitage is something to be seen. It sits behind the town of Tain l’Hermitage in France’s northern Rhône region. At only 345 acres, what this small appellation lacks for in size, it more than makes up for in reputation and prestige. This is the birthplace of Syrah, and without question one of the world’s most important, impressive, and imposing winemaking terroirs.VINEYARDS OF M. CHAPOUTIER & CHAPOUTIER’S WINE 100 Pts. M. Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee De L’Orée Only a handful of winemakers call Hermitage home and one has been hailed as one of France’s most regarded winemakers. Michel Chapoutier’s family settled in Tain L’Hermitage in 1808, buying vineyards on the hill behind the town. Today, the spotlight falls on Michel Chapoutier. Parker and his publication the Wine Advocate has awarded a perfect 100 score to an impressive fifteen Chapoutier wines. From the dock, a winery representative will meet you to lead the group on a 20-minute walk up Hermitage Hill to tour Chapoutier’s vineyards. After engaging you with tales of the historic hill, you will continue to the winery for a private tasting, including current vintages of their Ermitage blanc De L’Orée, Ermitage blanc Le Méal, Côte-Rôtie Le Mordorée, Ermitage rouge Le Pavillon and Château-Neuf-du-Pape rouge Croix de Bois. Then enjoy a three-course wine-paired luncheon in the winery’s new Baccarat dining room. After lunch and the return walk down the hill, you can wander around Tain, visit Chapoutier’s wine shop or buy world-famous chocolates at Valrhona. Activity Level: High—Walk up Hermitage Hill will take 20 minutes and is up a slight slope, from the vineyards to the winery is an additional 5-minute walk, and from the winery back to the ship another 15 minutes. If mobility is an issue, reserve a taxi in advance. Les Taxis de la Gare: +33 4 75 07 10 33 or +33 4 75 07 17 17. Tour Includes: English‐speaking guide, entrance and tour fees, tasting, lunch with wine and all taxes. Not Included: Gratuities for guide and driver and all items of a personal nature
DAY 5: Viviers July 11th, 2019Exclusive intimate Viviers “Village Day”. An enchanting village where time seems to have stopped centuries ago, Viviers has a storied past that goes back more than 1,600 years—and a splendid architectural heritage to match. Sycamores line some of Viviers’ stone-paved streets (to provide shade for Napoleon’s soldiers), and houses here bear the watermarks of historic floods. A local expert will show you the fountain squares in the Old Town, which combines Roman and medieval influences, and cobblestone lanes so narrow you can stand in the middle and touch the medieval houses on either side. Viviers climbs a hill crowned by 12th-century St. Vincent’s Cathedral- the smallest cathedral in France-sit under the soaring vaults and listen to a local organist play the marvelous organ. Meet local residents and artisans- learn how a local potter makes the attractive wares sold at Poterie; step into one of two homes—one a mansion, the other more modest; take a dance class; or sample the wares at a popular bar. On your return to the ship, try a game of petanque, a national pastime. Wine Dinner O’Connell Family (actual day may be subject to change)
DAY 6: Avignon July 12th, 2019The walled city of Avignon is one of the most fascinating towns in southern France, with a host of historic gems to explore—including the fortress residence, Palace of the Popes, of rebellious popes who broke from Rome and once lived and ruled here. Avignon is home to the medieval bridge immortalized in the folk song “Sur le Pont d ’Avignon.” Kayak under a 2,000-year-old Roman aqueduct. The picture-perfect city center looks as though it has been lifted straight from the pages of a history book, but step inside to discover the prosperous heart of contemporary Avignon.
Select Your Excursion
Choice 1: Avignon walking discovery tour with Palace of the Popes
It’s hard to believe, looking at the charming cafés 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 streets—until a pope had it demolished to give his troops a clearer field of fire. That is Avignon in a nutshell: It was the city of the popes, who built the ramparts that still surround the Old Town and the huge, nearly impregnable fortress that dominates the UNESCO-designated district. The city did not officially become part of France until 1791. Climb many steps as you tour the Palace of the Popes—it’s worth it!
Choice 2 Avignon walking discovery tour with Pont du Gard
In the middle of the first century, Roman engineers responded to Nîmes’s need for water to fill its baths, fountains and pools by building a 30-mile-long aqueduct from Uzès to Nîmes—which required transporting Uzès springwater over the River Gardon. A thousand workers quarried 50,000 tons of soft golden limestone to construct—without mortar—the magnificent tri-level bridge that still spans the river. An expert guide will explain the techniques used to build this engineering marvel, which has withstood 2,000 years of floods and storms that swept away much newer bridges. See notations those ancient Romans made in the stones as they cut and fitted them into place.
Choice 3: Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” kayak ride on the Gardon River
Spend a couple of fun and relaxing hours on the clear, tranquil waters of the Gardon. Accompanied by a soundtrack of chirping cicadas, you’ll paddle from Collias to Remoulins, spotting trout in the river and water birds on the shores. Your adventure ends with a marvelous view of the arches of the oldest extant Roman aqueduct in France, the 2,000-year-old, UNESCO-designated Pont du Gard. This magnificent tri-level aqueduct bridge has spanned the Gardon since 19 BC, when it was constructed as part of the system that carried water from Uzès to Nîmes.
Choice 4: Optional (additional fee) Recommended for wine lovers Price: To be announced. AVIGNON, FRANCE CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE Food & Wine Trails’ tour curated exclusively for O’Connell Family Wine group.
For Robert Parker Jr., the bottle he reaches for the most, comes from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He explains, “The greatest appeal of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, beyond its food-friendly qualities, expansiveness, generosity of flavors and sumptuous texture, is the almost addictive attraction of its intellectual and hedonistic elements.”
Less than 30 miles from Avignon, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is your destination guided by an American-born and French-trained superstar sommelier. He will educate you and your palate on what makes Châteauneuf-du-Pape such a classic wine region of highly touted wines, while you enjoy lunch at nearby chef-owned restaurant, La Table de Sorgues. Fresh ingredients create flavorful foods perfectly paired with selected regional wines.After lunch, A quick drive to the highly respected Domaine de la Janasse, taste wines consistently rated in the 90s by Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. Then, north of the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is an award-winning estate that was established in 1826, Alain Jaume. This family-run winery focuses on maintaining the legacy handed down generation to generation. Alain’s sons, Sebastien and Christophe, continue to produce wines that are intense, rich and complex, reflecting the wonderful terroir of the southern Rhône Valley. Activity Level: Medium – Extensive walking which can be over uneven surfaces. Inform your travel consultant of any mobility issues. Tours Include: English‐speaking guide, entrance and tour fees, winery tour, tasting, lunch served with wine and taxes. Not Included: Gratuities for guide and driver and all items of a personal nature
DAY 7: Tarascon (Arles or Tarascon) July 13th, 2019Explore one of two sun-drenched Provençal towns today, each with an allure all its own. Known for its remarkable Roman ruins, Arles so inspired Van Gogh that he painted some 200 paintings in just 15 months there; Tarascon boasts an ancient castle, as well as a local legend about a ferocious dragon. Arles has existed since the sixth century BC, when the ancient Greeks founded it and named it Theline. Romans built their first bridge across the Rhône River, creating a vital overland route between Italy and Spain and facilitating the expansion of their empire. Long renowned as one of the region’s most attractive cities, it lured artist Vincent van Gogh, who painted including Sunflowers and The Yellow House here. A short distance from Arles is the ancient and charming town of Tarascon. Its many medieval sites include a 12th-century church and a 15th-century castle that is rich with tales of a beloved ruler. Bask in the warmth of the Provençal sunlight in either of these friendly Mediterranean towns.
Select Your Excursion
Choice 1: Arles walking discovery tour
Van Gogh paid tribute to Arles’s atmospheric beauty in some 200 paintings, including Starry Night Over the Rhône. It’s an ancient city boasting a remarkable collection of Roman ruins; among them are a theater and an amphitheater still used for sporting events. Join a local expert for a stroll through this district, where medieval houses crowd in among the ancient structures and the city gates date to the 13th century. Pause before the town hall, built with stone quarried from the Roman theater, and the 12th century Romanesque St. Trophime Church. It replaced the church where St. Augustine, who converted the inhabitants of England to Christianity, was consecrated by the first archbishop of Canterbury. Walk in Van Gogh’s footsteps past the cheery yellow Café de Nuit—still open and still the same shade of yellow it was when he painted it—and across Forum Square before visiting the town’s bountiful farmers’ market, with seasonal fruits, vegetables, medicinal herbs and specialties of Southern France. Free time allows for perusing the local shops, olive tasting or further exploration of architectural treasures.
Choice 2: Tarascon walking discovery tour
The stern castle walls rising from the Rhône, erected in the 15th century to defend valuable trade routes, could stand in for the Bastille, and indeed this castle was used as a prison for centuries. Owned by the dukes of Anjou, it was transformed into a splendid Renaissance palace by the Good King René for his generous patronage of the arts and his support of local fishermen. You’ll find wonderful examples of Provençal architecture—civic buildings, houses and churches, including St. Martha’s Collegiate Church.A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
DAY 8: Disembark the shipIf your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Marseille International Airport for your flight home. Or continue with a post trip. OPTIONAL: EXTRA NIGHT STAY IN AVIGNON TO CELEBRATE BASTILLE DAY! JULY 14, 2019 Check into a 4-star hotel in Avignon for an Independent day with special experiences of Bastille Day. Relax, enjoy your hotel, visit the Palace of the Popes and explore surroundings as the festivities of France’s celebrated Independence Day goes on all around. And, be sure to watch for fireworks above the river! ON YOUR OWN WITH FOOD & WINE TRAILS – COTES DE PROVENCE OPTIONAL POST TRIP: THE COTE D’AZUR & PROVENCE POST-CRUISE PROGRAM 2-NIGHTS July 15 & 16 2019 After you leave the hotel in Avignon, spend 1- night in the Cotes de Provence wine region exploring Aix-en-Provence, the ancient capital of Provence. Aix blends chic and elegance with a rich history from Roman monuments to 18th century mansions. From Aix you will head to The Côte d’Azur, also known as the French Riviera, one of Europe’s most glamorous summer holiday destinations. It twists and turns along the southern coast of France for a little less than 100 miles. In the heart of the Côte d’Azur lies the charming city of Nice, where you will spend your 2-night. Nice is not only a world-class city, but it is home to France’s smallest wine appellation of Bellet. Guiding you through these regions is Provence wine specialist, Ester. Born in Germany and raised in Canada, Ester has called Provence her home for the last 24 years. As a board member of the prestigious Sommelier Association of the Alps-Marseille-Provence and a local wine writer, Ester has come to know many of the region’s master chefs and vintners, enabling her to introduce you to the region’s best restaurants and vineyards. Note: This trip is organized by Food & Wine Trails. The O’Connell Family Wines & Food and Wine Trails trip ends in Avignon.
GENERAL INFORMATIONTravel Insurance: F&WT highly encourages protecting your travel investment in case of an emergency requiring you to cancel your trip. Your F&WT’s Travel Consultant can assist you with procuring the appropriate coverage. Please make sure to read the cancellation policy on the registration form outlining our cancellation policy. Note: Times and providers are subject to change. Please note, these wineries listed are the current selections for 2018 cruises-they may change for the 2019 cruise.
COSTS PRE & POST TRIPS: PRE- TRIP: BURGUNDY: Tour price to be announced by Food & Wine Trails once the wine estate itinerary is finalized. Prices may fluctuate based on occupancy levels. 1 DAY EXTENSION IN AVIGNON: Book directly with Food & Wine Trails. First come first serve as the hotels have limited availability. Price quoted at time of reservation. POST-TRIP: THE COTE D’AZUR & PROVENCE: Book directly with Food & Wine Trails- 2019 prices to be quoted in the near future. Prices may fluctuate based on occupancy levels. THE RHONE CRUISE: Rhone Cruise with Uniworld on St. Catherine: Book Directly with Food & Wine Trails. Rates are per person, based on two passengers per cabin (double occupancy). Cruise pricing:
- Classic Riverview = $3,944 per person
- French Balcony = $4,844 per person
- Deluxe Balcony = $5,344 per person