The Rhône valley Bike and Barge
This new Bike and Barge river cruise leads you through the south of France. Starting in Lyon all the way to Arles. (or v.v.)
You will meet the beautiful countryside of the Rhône valley, but also the cities founded by the Romans more than 2.000 years ago. This part of France is the home to some of the best and most expensive French wines, for example the Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Highlights on the Tour!
The Bike and Barge Tour in the Rhône valley offers a nice balance between nature, history and vivid cities along the way and in the evenings.
- Lyon: This is one large World Heritage Site, with a big renaissance old town, Roman ruins, historic industrial districts and the regal 19th-century Presqu’île quarter. The city was founded 2,000 years ago at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, and built its fortune on the silk trade. This industry furnished it with beautiful renaissance architecture in Vieux Lyon, where semi-hidden passageways called Traboules connect courtyards with the Saône.
- Vienne: a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire, in recognition of its cultural riches. The town boasts one of the richest Roman legacies in France, with an ancient theatre, the Cybèle archaeological garden, the temple to Augustus and Livia, plus an enigmatic pyramid.
- Ampuis: here, the vines of Côte-Rôtie have been famed since antiquity. Centre d’observation de l’ Ile du Beurre : this is a protected site, an island whose changing landscapes bear witness to the Rhône’s wild side. Along the nature trail are two observatories, open every day of the year. There’s also a permanent exhibition on beavers and aquariums presenting the fish to be found in the Rhône and its secondary branches.
- Tournon-sur-Rhône: a town surrounded by reputed northern Côtes du Rhône vineyards; wine tastings at the prestigious Maison Chapoutier, among others; the listed château dominating the Rhône dates from 10th to 16th centuries, offers great views and contains a museum with sections on Rhône navigation and suspension bridges – Tournon boasts the oldest French suspension bridge still in operation, designed by Seguin, built in 1826.
- Valence: a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire, due to its dense cultural legacy; Anne-Sophie Pic’s gastronomic restaurant, awarded 3 Michelin stars and including a cookery school, Scook; the network of canals, extending over 16km, encouraging fishing and gardening. Port de l'Epervière: this Rhône-side port just south of Valence has excellent leisure facilities and dramatic views.
- Les Tourettes: Known for its château and chapel.
- Cruas: Worth a visit for its magnificent restored abbey.
- Rochemaure: Famous for its medieval village set dramatically on an old volcanic dyke.
- Montélimar: This bright Provençal town with the medieval Château des Adhémar (used for art exhibitions), and the Palais des Bonbons and La Nougathèque, dedicated to confectionery – the town is famed for its nougat.
- Viviers: from Roman times, this little city attracted lords and merchants. A bishopric from the 5th century. Viviers’s historic character has been well preserved. Visit the cathedral, partly 11th century; the 16th-century Maison des Chevaliers, the old town, the belvedere, and the outdoor sports and recreation centre.
- Bourg-Saint-Andéol: Stop and enjoy this towns rich legacy, including a Romanesque church and a rare carving of the Persian bull-slaying god Mithra.
- Pont-Saint-Esprit:This village has a 13th-century bridge, the Musée d’Art Sacré du Gard (displaying fine religious artefacts)and vineyards in the county of Gard producing Côtes du Rhône wines to stop and enjoy.
- Mornas: the perched medieval fortress high above the Rhône, the vineyards in the Massif d’Uchaux hills, at the heart of the Tour des Côtes du Rhône
- Piolenc: Visit the Romanesque church of Saint-Pierre, the Alexis Gruss Park and Circus Caderousse: Le Batardeu Dyke; chapel of St Martin (dating back to the 11th century), Les Gramont Chapel and Les Brotteaux Island, on which you can picnic.
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Famous for the wine cellars and panoramic views across the area’s vineyards, the Romanesque church of Notre-Dame, the hilltop ruins of the 14th-century papal castle, the chapels dedicated to St Pierre de Luxembourg and St Theodoric
- Avignon: the historic centre, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palais des Papes, the huge palace built for the 14th-century popes based here; fine churches dotted around town, the part-ruined Pont d'Avignon over the Rhône, focus of a famous French song; notable arts museums, such as the Petit Palais, Calvet, Angladon, Vouland and Lambert,the Musée Lapidaire (on archaeology), the Opera House, the Cloître St Louis
Day 1: Lyon
You can check in to your cabin around 6p.m., but you can bring your luggage on board starting from 2p.m.
Around 7 p.m. the guide and crew welcome you at dinner with an aperitif to start of the tour.
After dinner there is time to explain some things about the tour and also the captain will tell you more about life on board.
Day 2: Discover Lyon 40km by bike 18km by boat
To start of your bike and barge tour, you will be exploring the green site of Lyon today. This city that received in 1998 the title of UNESCO world heritage has an homage for the fact that this is a city with an cultural heritage that dates back for over 2000 years.
This city that was once the capital of the Roman province Gallia and later the capital of Burgundy, brings you her history not only in word, but also view. He second part of your bike trip today takes you to the land between the rivers Saône and Rhône. Where you can find a nice balance between enjoying the parks and the history of this great city.
To discover the oldest (cobbled) streets we recommend you to take a stroll into the oldest part of town and park your bike near the riverside.
During dinner the captain will be treating you on an evening cruise towards Vienne.
Day 3: Vienne – Andance – Tournon sur Rhône 42km by bike 22km by boat
Today we can offer you a big variety of views, tastes and fragrances.
Leaving Vienne you immediately bike into the nature reservation Île au Beurre, where you can enjoy the peace and quietness of nature. While the landscape slides along you it changes into a big vineyard, entering the famous home of the Côte Rôtie. Passing the grapes, you will see that the landscape changes again, this time into the green landscape of the Ardèche countryside, where you can find the boat moored in Andance.
At diner time the captain will sail you to Tournon sur Rhône.
Day 4: Tournon sur Rhône – Valence – Pouzin 35km by bike 20km by boat
This morning the captain and his crew start the day early to bring you to the city of Valence, where the boat will arrive after breakfast.
This market with its colourful markets and it’s historic “Quartiers” is the starting point of your bike ride along typical small villages of the Ardèche and historic sites to wonder of with your bike into the green meadows of an nature reservation towards Pouzin in the Drôme area.
Day 5: Pouzin – Viviers 42km by bike
Today the tour brings you along the mediaeval abbey of Cruas and further along you will be crossing a memorable rope bridge in Rochemaure. This bridge can be seen as a symbolic passing from old to new, from history to the futher….
At the end of the day you will be parking your bike next to the boat and you can enjoy a stroll through the historic village of Viviers.
Day 6: Viviers – Saint-Etienne-des-Sorts – Avignon 40km by bike 38km by boat
After a morning sail the bikes will be put a shore at Saint-Etienne-des-Sorts. From here you will bike straight into the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where you can perhaps buy a tasteful memory of this tour for at home.
Once you passed the hilly landscape around Châteauneuf-du-Pape, you are rewarded with an almost complete flat last part of the bike path along the river. To soon have a first glance of the panoramic view of Avignon the home of the Popes in the 14th century.
In this city you can wonder of in the old streets, enjoy the French way of life on the squares with their terraces and just breath the culture…
Day 7: Avignon – Arles 45km by bike
Today you bike from the ancient city of Popes to the home of Van Gogh. Halfway of the cycling tour today you will arrive in Beaucaire, here the Languedoc region and the Provence region meet. To end our day, we recommend to explore Arles and all the cosy corners Van Gogh used to paint here…
Day 8: Arles Disembarkation
Today we have to end the tour, the crew and staff will wish you good and save travelles, wherever you may go. Check out after breakfast, no later than 9 a.m.