The South of France epitomises the good life with its incredible produce, superb wines, beautiful arts and architecture, and spectacular scenery everywhere you look. But beyond the expected lies so many wonderful surprises that will forever change what you think of France.  

On the 8 day Active & Discovery on the Rhone, I experienced France from a new perspective; on the water, above ground and under it and it’s safe to say I have become a Francophile (a lover of all things France)! Here are some of the surprises you’ll encounter on the Avalon cruise from Port-Saint-Louis to Lyon. 

Farm Fresh Oysters 

Photo by Jessica Evans

Of all the choices I had of exploring the Camargue Nature Reserve, visiting an organic oyster farm seemed like an unusual choice. But thanks to the richness of plankton, shellfish are wonderfully sourced here, and I had to try it for myself. We visited a family-run farm and learnt of their intricate processes and how their farm has passed through 3 different generations! It was great meeting the local owners and have them share their humbling story with us.   

Photo by Jessica Evans

Following our insightful tour came a tasting of farm fresh oysters, clams and mussels accompanied by whatever French wine varietal you fancied! Magnifique!  

Van Gogh Masterclass 

Photo by Jessica Evans

The beautiful port town of Arles is so closely linked with Van Gogh, you can’t speak of it without mentioning the prolific Dutch painter. With many of his famous works being based off the very laneway cafés and night skies that call it home, it makes sense to take part in a painting workshop here. Join a local artist in his studio while he shows you the techniques of Van Gogh as you attempt to create your very own masterpiece. This fun and informative afternoon will have you reminiscing of all the famous artists that flocked to Arles trying to capture its stunning provincial light. 

Kayaking Under The Pont du Gard  

Photo by Jessica Evans

Whether you’re an avid kayaker or a newcomer, this is sure to amaze you as you paddle towards the monumental Pont du Gard, one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts dating all the way back to the 1st century. It’s an unforgettable experience passing under it and sitting in awe of all its grandeur, a towering 48 metres high – the highest of all aqueduct bridges.  

Kayaking not your thing? Why not cycle over the bridge instead and witness the surprising level of detail on the bridge up close? 

Underground Wine Tasting  

Photo by Oscar Soderlund on Unsplash

Take wine tasting to another (sub)level, with a unique underground adventure with a speleologist as he guides you through a maze of passages past stalactites and stalagmites. A wine expert will meet you in one of the caves and will walk you through 3 wine tastings which make for an extra-sensory experience you won’t forget! 

Taste Your Way Through Lyon 

Photo by Jessica Evans

This amazing river cruise culminates in Lyon, the gastronomical capital of the world and what a finale! Discover Lyon’s ancient traboules (hidden passageways that helped silk traders move about the city with ease) and stumble across cafés specialising in Lyonnaise specialities such as the pink praline tarts and quenelle. The tour includes tastings at 3 café’s, and it was just enough to whet my appetite for dinner at one of the many restaurants in the Old Town. 


If you’re ready to take the off-the-beaten path in France, then take a look at the 8-day Active & Discovery on the Rhone cruise. Take a look at our full range of Rhone river cruises and 2022 offers for your Avalon Waterways dream holiday today.

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