VIDEO: Get Active and Immersed into French Lifestyle on an Emerald Rhone River Cruise

Outdoor Activities
It’s a balancing act – French style! Indulgence meets outdoor activity in the south of France on our Emerald river cruise on the Rhone and the Saone. The south of France has a legendary way of life, and a river cruise is one of the best ways to experience it all.
That includes its wine, cheese, chocolate, olives, fine cuisine and gastronomic delights as well as an active lifestyle. And on our Emerald river cruise, the cruise line’s Active program of shipboard activities and shore excursions helped us get outdoors, get moving, but also get authentic insights into the iconic landscapes and culture of this region of France.
WATCH THE VIDEO: Iconic indulgences and Outdoor Activities on our Emerald Rhone and Saone River Cruise
The 8-day, Emerald Rhone and Saone river cruise itinerary combines shore excursions to compelling sights, cultural immersion onboard with local experts, Active program options that get us moving and give us new perspectives, and plenty of scenic sailing along a river that was the original ‘highway’ through this picturesque region of France.
Our cruise began in Lyon, France’s 3rd largest city, where the Rhone and the Saone rivers converge. There’s a new, avant-garde Museum of the Confluence now on the peninsula at the point where the rivers meet.
We discovered Lyon’s 2000-year old history, dating back to the Romans, with a Roman theatre that is still in use today!
And we explored its ‘Old Town,’ the biggest collection of Renaissance buildings in France, built during the time when Lyon was the European capital of silk production.
·     A local silk studio was invited on board the ship to demonstrate the silk screening process.
Sailing north on the Saone river into the famous French wine regions of Beaujolais and Burgundy, we called at Chalon-sur-Saone. It was our jumping-off point to visit Les Hospices de Beaune, a charitable hospital for the poor that originated in the 1400’s and was in operation until the 1970’s!

Its colorful, glazed-tile roof is one of the most famous in France, a symbol of the quality and love poured into this philanthropic endeavor. What’s most remarkable is that, almost from the beginning, grateful citizens donated acres of the highest-valued Burgundy vineyards to the hospital – which gave it an evermore valuable source of income to maintain its masterful architecture and operations for the community.

After Chalon-sur-Saone, we reversed direction, back to Lyon and the confluence of the two rivers. Picking up the Rhone river, we sailed south, entering the first of two wine regions: the northern Cotes du Rhone (followed later by the southern Cotes du Rhone.)
Tournon is a lovely historic village on one bank of the Rhone, where we docked. It faces the steep hills of vineyards of the famous Hermitage wine appellation on the opposite bank.
That’s where our EmeraldACTIVE shore excursion took us hiking – up the hills among the vineyards, where we learned about this famous wine, and the land and history that made it famous.
·     Emerald invited a local wine expert on board for a tasting of three local wines, so we were able to connect our vineyard Active hike with the delicious taste of wines from this iconic region.
·     During our sailing, the ship’s chef and cruise director hosted an entertaining and informative onboard introduction into French cheeses, everyone’s favorite accompaniment to wine!

This medieval village on the bank of the Rhone is where we borrowed e-bikes from the ship to explore on our own, feeling like a local as we cycled through the village early one morning.

·     In addition to the delectable cuisine of the onboard chef, Emerald Cruises invites a Provencal celebrity TV chef onboard for a gala dinner of dishes inspired by Chef Fabien Morreale. He told me his beef dish, slow-cooked for 12 hours, could be eaten with a spoon – a challenge I accepted – and it was!
Our last port of call – and last major river port before the Rhone empties into the Mediterranean Sea, is Arles.
It’s famous for being a hub of the Roman expansion into France over 2000 years ago, with a 20,000-person amphitheater that’s still in use today!

And for the delicate, luminous light that illuminates the colors of the south of France, drawing a host of artists, including famously, Van Gogh. A path through Arles today allows visitors to follow in his footsteps through historic Arles.
Emerald Cruises invited a troupe of Provencal folk dancers and musicians on board to share the cultural history of the region they keep alive and pass along to the next generation and visitors to Provence.
By: Lynn Elmhirst, cruise/ travel journalist and expert.
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