A French Affair – Rhone Cruising
Next we arrived at Avignon, the seat of the Catholic Church in the 1300s and famous for the nursery rhyme Sur le Pont d’Avignon – a song about people dancing on the bridge. The day here was a treat and included a visit to the Palais des Papes, an enormous palace that the Popes built for themselves, and an excursion to the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct over the River Gardon.
Our day was rounded off brilliantly with a ‘Festive Avignon Wine Party’ back on board the boat. By this time we had teamed up with George and Mary, a couple from New York, and spent many a happy hour with them supping cocktails and standing on the top deck of the boat as we navigated some of the Rhône’s deepest locks.
Having hit it off so well we found ourselves dining with George and Mary too, all of us fascinated by what the chef would create for me, a vegan. At first I think the kitchen found me rather challenging, but very quickly Chef Alexander got into his ‘meat and dairy free’ stride and produced some of the best food I have ever tasted.
Now, I’m no wine buff, but even I had heard of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, so it was a delight to visit the place itself, taste its various wines and see a stone bath where Romans crushed grapes with their feet. A bottle of the famed wine made a wonderful gift to take home to my husband – a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape being about the only white wine he actually likes.
On the last full day of our river cruise we stopped at the medieval town of Tournon-sur-Rhône, an area famed for its acres of hillside vineyards and superb views of the river – again, a photographer’s paradise.
There was the option to go to Valence to have a cookery demonstration at a Michelin awarded restaurant, but due to my diet we passed on that. Instead we enjoyed Champagne on the Sun Deck and watched the world go gently by.