Emerald Cruises: The River Gems of France

Cities rich in culture, ancient as time itself, and regions of unparalleled beauty—all of this can be explored with Emerald Cruises aboard elegant star-ships delving into the heart of European culture.

Emerald Cruises offers a choice of 3 distinct itineraries, ranging from 8 to 15 days, exploring the river gems of France along the Rhône, Saône, Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers.

With the “Discover the Rivers of France & Portugal” itinerary departing on June 1st from Nice, guests can embark on a 15-day journey through southern France, along the Rhône and Saône rivers, discovering villages, palaces, Roman ruins, and delightful Provencal cuisine. The itinerary involves a combination of 2 cruises, starting aboard the Emerald Liberté and continuing, after a flight to Porto, with a second 7-night cruise along the Douro River, offering an itinerary that explores both the French gems and the enchanting locations of Portugal.

Departing from Nice, the itinerary includes a first stop in Arles to admire the UNESCO World Heritage Roman monuments and get a closer look at the life of Vincent van Gogh. The next stop is Avignon, the former residence of seven consecutive popes in the 1300s who fled from Rome to escape political pressures from the Roman Empire. The journey then continues to Viviers, a city that perfectly encapsulates the medieval days of the region.

On the fifth day, the journey reaches Tournon, where guests can admire a 16th-century castle overlooking the village; the next day, the focus is on Lyon, where some of France’s most important historical events took place. Here, guests can admire the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. The final French stop will be Chalon-sur-Saône – Beaune, the birthplace of photography and the heart of the Burgundy wine region.

After a flight to Porto, guests will board the Emerald Radiance to experience the second half of the adventure, starting with a full day of sailing through the Douro Valley. The next stop in Portugal will be Pinhão – Vega de Terrón, where guests can visit the beautiful Quinta do Tedo vineyard or embark on a kayak excursion along the river. The following stop will be Salamanca, where guests can explore the galleries and arcades adorning Plaza Mayor, see the Casa de las Conchas, a building lovingly decorated with over 300 shells, and visit the University of Salamanca, one of the oldest universities in Europe dating back to 1218.

Upon reaching Pocinho, guests will have the opportunity to visit the Côa Valley Museum before sailing to Régua and visiting the wonderful baroque village of Lamego and the picturesque Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies. The cruise will end in Porto, where guests can participate in an included city tour.

The second option is the “Discover the Rhine & Rhône Rivers” itinerary, a 15-day journey departing on June 1st from Amsterdam, a classic journey along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers exploring spectacular landscapes, culture, and history. Once again, this involves two combined cruises, starting from Amsterdam, sailing along the Rhine River to Basel, then traveling to Lyon to join the Emerald Liberté for another seven-night cruise along the Rhône.

Departing from Amsterdam, the journey heads to Cologne, one of Germany’s oldest cities; the next stop is Koblenz, a city with a postcard-perfect backdrop of vineyards and mountain ranges. Your included walking tour of this Roman city will reveal the two-towered facade of the Church of Our Lady. The following day, you’ll discover Heidelberg, where you can admire the Renaissance ruins of Heidelberg Castle. The next stop is Kehl, where a coach transfer will take guests to the picturesque city of Strasbourg. Then it’s on to Freiburg, known as the “Capital of the Black Forest”. Upon reaching Basel, a coach transfer will connect guests to Lyon, where the second part of the journey begins with a visit to the architectural heritage of the picturesque village of Beaune.

On the tenth day, there will be a stop in Lyon, France’s third-largest city, with a guided tour of the city, including a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, part of Lyon’s historic site. The next stops will be the picturesque village of Tournon; Viviers, a medieval-style city and home to one of France’s oldest cathedrals; Avignon, to admire the Palais des Papes; and Arles, rich in UNESCO World Heritage Roman monuments.

Finally, for those who want to explore only the magic of France or have less time available, the “Sensations of Lyon & Provence” itinerary, departing from Lyon until October 2024, is the ideal choice. Sailing through southern France along the Rhône and Saône rivers, you can discover its unparalleled beauty, including 15th-century French architecture, Roman ruins, and vineyards nestled at the foot of mountain ranges.

Stops on the itinerary will include Chalon-sur-Saône, known for its art and history; the picturesque village of Beaune; Tournon with its 16th-century castle, vineyards, and picturesque villages; Viviers, home to one of France’s oldest cathedrals; Avignon with its rich history; and Arles, rich in UNESCO World Heritage Roman monuments.

These itineraries surely offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in history among ancient cities, traditions, wines, and regional cuisine.

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Giorgia Lombardo