Secure Card PaymentsSecure card payments
90% of customers would book again90% of customers would book again
Sign up to our Newsletter

History and Art of the Rhône - MS Lord Byron

8days from
£2,099*per person


8 Days - River Cruises

Magnificent Roman remains, the remarkable architecture of the Middle Ages and the light and beauty of the Provencal countryside - which inspired the genius of Van Gogh – await you on our cruise along the Rhône. From Avignon to Lyon this fascinating journey will take you to the artistic heart of this region where you can delve into centuries of history and discover the outstanding natural beauty of France.  We’ll wander through the winding streets of medieval towns and villages and explore the cities that line these historic riverbanks in the company of our knowledgeable experts.  Discover 15th century architecture and some of the most remarkable collections of sculptures and paintings in Europe - all amid the lush vineyards and sunbaked hills of Southern France. Our popular Burgundy, the River Rhône and Provence river cruise has been reimagined to include even more 


  • On arrival in Avignon, we’ll transfer by coach to our ship moored in the city’s historic centre. The dedicated English-speaking crew will welcome you on board and help you to your cabin. After settling in to your spacious and tastefully furnished accommodation, there’s time to familiarise yourself with this five-star floating hotel before dinner.
  • Avignon The light catching the red roofs of Avignon’s majestic skyline is a sight to behold over breakfast. This morning, we'll embark on a guided tour of one of the most extraordinary and intriguing cities in France. Avignon’s destiny changed during the 14th century when the Pope’s court moved here to avoid strife in Rome.   Igniting a century of prosperity, the pontiff commissioned a host of ambitious building projects, and today the city is immaculately preserved, nestling behind its almost-intact 14th-century walls and boasting more remarkable monuments, superbly decorated buildings, churches, chapels and convents than you can possibly count.   Most important is the stunning Popes' Palace, made up of two buildings that together form the largest Gothic palace in the world. With turrets, towers, parapets and other fortifications, its exterior resembles a mighty fortress. But the interior is even more impressive - it's a tour de force of medieval architecture and ornamentation, adorned with priceless art, frescoes, Gobelin tapestries and graceful sculptures. The ceremonial hall, chapels, cloisters and private apartments are all unmissable. But to truly embrace the feel of papal Avignon, imagine yourself here during the Middle Ages amid the Palace’s rich furnishings and extravagant decoration, with cardinals, princes and ambassadors milling about its candlelit halls and corridors while in the streets below countless pilgrims eagerly anticipate benediction. This was Avignon’s brief golden age when it was truly the centre of Christendom.   After lunch, you’ll be free to explore as you wish. You could do some shopping or enjoy an idle afternoon in a quiet café in a shady Provencal square to watch the world go by - there's no judgment here. Take a stroll on the iconic Pont d’Avignon, which, dramatically, ends halfway across the river, made famous by the melody we all recall from our first French lessons. Alternatively, join us on an optional included visit to the former home of the archbishops of Avignon, Le Petit Palais, to cast a critical eye over the remarkable collection of over 300 paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including works by Botticelli and Carpaccio.    Dinner on board is followed by a musical performance by a local pianist in the ship’s lounge as the ship sets sail towards our next destination, Arles, arriving later that evening. Included experiences: Guided tour of Avignon, visit to Petit Palais & on-board performance by a local pianist.
  • Arles You'll awake under the azure skies of deepest Provence amid the warm stone colours of Arles, many of whose historic monuments are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Although small in size, it was the key stronghold on the Roman road to Spain, one of the empire’s richest possessions. Seagoing ships could reach here, and the city became a regional capital, briefly ruling over Gaul, Spain and Britain.   Our guided tour will follow in the footsteps of the great genius and artist, Van Gogh, who spent over 14 months in Arles, from February 1888. It was his most prolific period and, inspired by Arles and the light and beauty of the Provençal countryside, he produced around 300 works, including The Night Café, The Yellow House and, of course, Starry Night.  As we explore, you’ll get to admire some of his masterpieces at the Vincent Van Gogh Arles Foundation - as well as works by other artists – and visit the sights that inspired his work – The Yellow House, L'Espace Van Gogh and Place du Forum, to name a just a few. Pont du Gard After lunch we visit the amazing Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct, one of the wonders of the ancient world. No amount of fame can diminish the first sight of this 2,000-year-old structure, which was the highest bridge built in the Empire –the Romans themselves considered it the most important testimony to their greatness. Its statistics are staggering - over 900 feet long and almost 160 feet high, with its stones each weighing up to six tons.  To put this in perspective, the span of the Pont du Gard is greater than the width of the River Thames at London Bridge – and no mortar was used in its construction! The situation is lovely too, with pine- and cypress-covered hills adding to the harmonious setting. After re-joining the ship, we’ll cruise along the Rhône and, during dinner, pass the imposing 15th-century castle at Tarascon which stands guard on the riverbank. Included experiences: Guided tour of Arles & visit to Pont du Gard.
  • Ardèche Gorges This morning we’ll disembark the ship, now moored in Viviers, after breakfast. Whilst our ship effortlessly cruises upstream towards Le Pouzin, we will explore one of France’s most outstanding landscapes – the Ardèche Gorges, whose scale is a fitting reminder of Mother Nature’s awesome power.  Sheer limestone cliffs plunge almost 1,000 feet to the river’s blue waters, which elegantly snake their way through stupendous rock formations, culminating in a huge natural arch, the Pont d’Arc. We enjoy marvellous views at every turn of caves, grottoes and natural sculptures before returning to the ship moored in Le Pouzin. Chauvet caves We'll stop at the UNESCO-listed Chauvet Caves to explore a spectacular replica of the pre-historic caves – home to the best-preserved and oldest-known paintings in France. Discovered in 1994, by three cave explorers, the walls are covered in well-preserved paintings – said to be the oldest painting ever found. They're 36,000 years old - that's 18,000 years older than the decorated walls of the Lascaux cave in Dordogne – so you really are looking at the oldest art ever seen. We return to the ship for a late lunch. Tain l'Hermitage Enjoy a relaxing afternoon on board – perhaps catching up on some reading or just lazing in the sun as the temperature rises, before we arrive in Tain l'Hermitage, surrounded by steep vine-covered hillsides, where another of the world’s most revered wines is produced. After dinner, perhaps take a stroll along the river and wander across the oldest suspension bridge in France to the pretty provincial town of Tournon on the opposite bank of the river, with its imposing castle and tree-lined avenues. After dinner this evening, you can delight in a ballroom dancing performance in the lounge with the opportunity to learn some basic steps of a French madison line dance – a lively way to end an exciting day onshore!  Included experiences: Visits to the Ardèche Gorges & Chauvet Caves & on-board ballroom dancing performance.
  • Cruise through the Rhône Valley During breakfast this morning, we’ll slip our moorings and cruise north through one of the most spectacular sections of the Rhône Valley, as the river squeezes and twists passed Condrieu, Saint-Rambert-d’Albon and Saint-Vallier, with wooded cliffs rising high on both sides. Vienne After lunch, we’ll arrive in the ancient Roman stronghold of Vienne, first a Celtic settlement, then a Roman stronghold under Julius Caesar. Here you'll be taken for a captivating tour, hosted by a local expert. Strikingly located in a narrow section of the Rhône, where the river meanders dramatically around a steep bluff, Vienne is a treasure trove of historic remains, including the stunning Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia, and a walk around its streets really brings its heritage to life.  We'll then continue on to the archaeological gardens of Cybèle. Here we'll wander around the remains of the administrative centre of the Gallo-Roman city with a local expert as they regale us with facts and stories that highlight the historic importance of the gardens. As we walk, you’ll spot the arcades of the forum portico, the wall of a municipal assembly hall, and the remains of houses and terraces. The gardens were named for the goddess Cybèle – goddess of motherhood, nature, fertility, and agriculture - after excavations in 1938 found a fragment of bas-relief dedicated to her. Grass and toppled columns are scattered around the traces of 1st-century houses and public buildings - it's a lovely park to wander around and relax.  Returning to the ship for dinner, we'll commence our cruise towards Chalon-sur-Saône. Included experiences: Guided tour of Vienne with visit to Cybèle gardens.
  • Beaune Overnight we’ll have made steady progress north and mid-morning we’ll arrive in and berth in Chalon, gateway to Burgundy and the home of Nicéphore Niépce, the inventor of photography. After lunch on board, we’ll travel to Beaune, via France’s famous Wine Road, passing an array of quintessential Alsatian villages and fortified towns. We’ll see some of the pretty yet surprisingly small villages that produce some of the world’s most sublime wines – Meursault, Volnay, Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertin and many more. Beaune, Burgundy’s historic wine capital is wonderful to wander around. Here we will visit, Hospices de Beaune, also known as the Hôtel-Dieu, which stands at its centre of this historic town. Originally built in the 15th century as a hospital for the disadvantaged, it’s a jewel of High Gothic architecture, instantly recognisable for its colourful glazed roof tiles arranged in dazzling geometric patterns. The highlight is a large work, painted by Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden, consisting of fifteen paintings on nine panels. The inner panels contain scenes from the Last Judgement and a large central panel spans both registers showing Christ seated on a rainbow in judgement, with the Archangel Michael below holding scales to weigh souls. On our guided tour of the Museum Dieu, you’ll walk through the building’s unique history and day to day life of the Hôtel-Dieu - from the 15th century to the present day – with information on medical history and a collection of 5,000 pieces of furniture and other fascinating objects, ranging from tapestries and paintings to sculptures to pharmacy equipment.  As we enjoy another delicious dinner on board this evening, the ship slips its mooring, and we begin our journey to Lyon. Included experience: Tour of Beaune with visit to Hôtel-Dieu.
  • Lyon One of river cruising’s great pleasures is the fascination of waking in a completely different location and, on waking this morning, the ship will arrive in Lyon. After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of Lyon, one of France’s most fascinating cities.   The Rhône Valley had been the route of choice for marauding armies and peaceful traders for centuries, so Lyon’s current site, at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, cried out to be fortified. In 43 BC the Romans founded the city, which subsequently grew in importance; Emperor Claudius, conqueror of Britain, was born here.   There are many Roman remains to see, but it was the production of silk that brought Lyon to prominence during the Middle Ages, and throughout the city, you can see signs of the wealth that poured in – Renaissance buildings, imposing churches and Europe’s largest pedestrian square, Place Bellecour, with a statue of Louis XIV as its focus. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is crammed with antique shops and intriguing traboules – narrow covered passageways enabling silk merchants to transport their wares to the river without getting wet – are a joy to amble through. As well as its glorious architecture, Lyon is generally acknowledged as France’s (and to locals, the world’s) gastronomic capital.  In the afternoon, we'll travel back in time to when Lyon was known as Lugdunum and Romans ruled. Thanks to its location, it was an epicentre of ancient trade. While much of what existed 2000 years ago has now disappeared, the remaining Roman ruins in the heart of modern-day Lyon are quite spectacular. There's an ancient theatre (the oldest Roman amphitheatre in France), a smaller Odeon and a museum to explore with a local guide.  This evening we’ll enjoy the sumptuous Chef’s Dinner, featuring some of their signature dishes - a truly memorable experience. Included experiences: Guided tour of Lyon with visit to the Gallo-Roman theatre.
  • After breakfast, you’ll bid farewell to the ship and her dedicated crew, before transferring to the airport or to the train station for your return journey. 

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Discover medieval and renaissance treasures with visits to the Palace of the Popes and the Petite Palais Museum in Avignon.
  • See remarkable Roman ruins in the company of local experts with guided tours of Vienne, including the Cybèle archaeological gardens, and Lyon’s Gallo-Roman Theatre.
  • Visit Caverne du Pont d'Arc - a truly remarkable replica of the Chauvet Cave, one of the world's most important sites of prehistoric art - and follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh with a walking tour of Arles.
  • Delve into Beaune's fascinating medieval past at the Hôtel-Dieu Museum and explore the city's historic ramparts.
  • Explore the magnificent Ardèche Gorges, one of France's most outstanding natural landscapes.

Our Price Includes

  • Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of sole occupancy cabins available, at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
  • Full board during your cruise from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day
  • Free Superior drinks package
  • Complimentary on-board tea and coffee
  • Complimentary on-board Wi-Fi (connection speeds may vary)
  • All visits and excursions as mentioned 
  • Return flights or Eurostar and TGV
  • Coach travel as mentioned
  • Transfers from the airport/station to and from the port of embarkation 
  • English-speaking expert guides
  • The services of a Riviera Travel Cruise Director and Concierge
Request a Callback
First Name
Last Name
Contact Number
Email Address
Comments (optional)
Sign up to our newsletter
By Clicking "Send" I confirm I have read and agreed to the site's Terms & Conditions

Dates and Prices

May 2025
  • Available
  • Limited Availability
  • Not Available
Departure Airport:

Number of Passengers:

Price from:£2,099
Request Callback
Phone Icon
Search Icon
Not found what you are looking for yet? Search our full list of holidays.

Other Information

Holiday code


Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

View Terms and Conditions