Sail the waterways of Provence as you delight in the history and culture of southern France.
About the Tour
Sublime, sun-drenched towns, cities rich with history, and glittering waterways await on this fabulous cruise vacation. Visit local farms and natural wetlands, sample freshly caught shellfish, and immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of France's elegant Provence region.
- 6-night cruise aboard the MS Anne-Marie
- Rail travel on board the high-speed Eurostar
- 17 meals including a Gala Dinner
- All-inclusive selection of complimentary beers, wines and soft drinks
- Excursion to the Camargue
- Guided tours of Arles, Aigues-Mortes and Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
- Shellfish tasting at Étang De Thau
- Authentic farm visit including bull sorting and local produce tasting
- Exclusive meeting point at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional tour escort and knowledgeable local guides for touring
Day 1 - To Sete
Early this morning, meet your group and Tour Manager at our dedicated Departure Office at St Pancras International and depart on the Eurostar direct to Avignon. On arrival we transfer to Sete, where we board our home for the next seven days, the delightful Anne-Marie, a stylish hotel barge. We are presented to the crew and enjoy a welcome drink on board before we enjoy dinner together this evening. Overnight ship. (D)
Day 2 - Étang De Thau & Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
This morning takes us to Étang De Thau, world-famous for its shellfish. We visit the Étang De Thau Museum, where we learn about the history of the shell-fishing trade and discover how the farmers and fishermen made their living. We sample some of the freshly caught shellfish while savouring the beautiful scenery from a terrace along this unique seascape. This afternoon we enjoy an excursion by coach to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, a beautiful French village tucked away in the folds of a verdant valley and boasting a wealth of medieval treasures. Here we embark on an informative guided tour that helps soak up the atmosphere of this destination that feels frozen in time. Some of the town's most impressive sights include its Romanesque abbey and the Devil's Bridge which spans a turquoise stretch of the Hérault River, and dates back to the 11th century when Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert was frequently visited by pilgrims following the St James' Way. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 3 - Palavas-Les-Flots
Today we visit an authentic 'manade' farm and discover the life of its herders, taking part in a bull sorting routine. We enjoy snacks made fresh on the farm and sample local produce before returning to the ship. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 4 – Aigues-Mortes
Today we take a tour of Aigues-Mortes, perhaps one of the most beautiful sites in Provence. Encased by square medieval walls, this ancient fortified city is symmetrically perfect. White-washed terracotta topped houses contrast charmingly with the surrounding green countryside. Aigues-Mortes is also famous for its nearby salt marshes which we discover by tourist train. Roman Legionnaires stationed nearby were paid a portion of their wage in salt from these very marshes - an intriguing facet of local history. The marshes glow a pink color due to the microscopic algae in its waters, making this sight spectacular. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 5 - The Camargue
Today we visit the Camargue, home to 140,000 hectares of natural wetlands, showcasing an array of different wildlife. This is a paradise for nature lovers as we see wild white horses and even the odd flamingo. Additionally this region is home to some unusual paddy fields which produce red rice - a fascinating sight. We continue on to Sainte-Marie-la-Mer.
You have free time to explore here; perhaps visit the fortified church which was built in the 9th century as an imposing bastion to deter pirate raiders along the coast, located in a strategic position near the mouth of the Petit-Rhone. The church holds a towering presence over the village and can be seen as far as 10km inland. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - Arles
Today we enjoy a guided tour of historic Arles, the home of some of Europe's best Roman ruins. With a long history dating back to Celtic times, Arles' heritage of conquest over the years has left it with a rich variety of architecture, which we explore during our visit. We take in the stunning Roman Amphitheatre and enjoy the myriad of Romanesque architecture and sun-baked houses.
Arles was the inspiration for some of Van Gogh's artistry and its heritage harks back to the glory days of Julius Caesar. Once a major Roman port, Arles rose to prominence after Caesar plundered Marseille for backing his political opponent, and evidence of that prosperity is preserved wonderfully for us to see. Following our tour we travel inland to learn about olive oil production in Provence and we sample some of the local produce. Tonight we enjoy a farewell Gala dinner back on board the Anne-Marie, as a perfect way to round off our wonderful French adventure. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 7 – Return to London
After a buffet breakfast, we disembark our barge for the last time before making our way to Nimes by coach. Here we take the train to Paris, then change for our Eurostar service to London St Pancras International. On arrival our tour concludes. (B)
The high speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International in London with Paris and Lille in France as well as Brussels in Belgium.
Eurostar's Standard Class coaches feature two seats on either side of the central aisle, most of which is arranged in an 'airline' seating configuration with drop down tray tables. There are two tables for four per carriage. Passengers traveling in Eurostar Standard Class coaches can take advantage of the Bar-Buffet which sells a range of snacks, meals, hot and cold drinks - including Champagne!
Introduced in 1981, France's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) was the original European high-speed train. Linking Paris with Lyon, the new service revolutionized train travel and meant that traveling by air over medium and short distances was no longer seen as the best option, even for business travel.
The network has expanded rapidly and today these sleek, stylish trains offer links to over 60 destinations throughout France. Operated by SNCF, the French national rail operator, TGV trains travel over specially-constructed high speed lines. The trains can achieve speeds of up to 186mph (300km/h) on most long distance routes and 200mph (320km/h) on the new TGV Est line, which links Paris with Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Basel. With the exception of shorter journeys, TGVs almost always have an on-board buffet car, serving a selection of drinks and light refreshments.
The contemporary and stylish MS Anne-Marie hotel barge offers its passengers the best in modern river cruising. Purpose-built, this contemporary, intimate boat allows you to discover the hidden gems of a French canal cruise as we sail right into the heart of the Provence Region's historical cities on our tour. We receive a first-class service from the dedicated on board crew who are on hand to help wherever possible.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfill the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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