Bonjour France! Megan, from our Sales team, recently experienced an Avalon Waterways Wine Appreciation river cruise in Burgundy & Provence in November last year. Whether you’re an aspiring gardener or have an appetite for the world’s most fascinating chapters in history, Avalon’s range of special interest river cruises unite you with your past times both onboard and onshore.  

Megan in France
Megan on Avalon Waterways’ Burgundy & Provence river cruise

So, why a special interest river cruise? Read on to find out more about Megan’s experiences. 

I recently enjoyed an Avalon Waterways’ special interest river cruise (wine appreciation) through Burgundy and Provence. I love wine and I love France, so this was the perfect combination for me! I found this a great way to meet people with like-minded interests and a wonderful way to experience a destination through a slightly different lens. 

Classic, Discovery and Active excursions

Avalon is well known for its great selection of onshore excursions each day. This was great to have the choice of Classic, Discovery and Active options, particularly for some people who weren’t wine drinkers…they were there to enjoy France! With a fun mix, you could immerse yourself as much, or as little, as you wanted in the wine appreciation side of the cruise, tailoring the journey to suit you. 

Painting class
One of the Discovery excursions available – a master class in painting

We were able to enjoy the Classic excursions where local guides shared their knowledge and experiences of the towns and cities we visited; we joined our Adventure Host to explore on bikes on an Active excursion; and we had fun on the Discovery excursions that had us experiencing things unique to the local areas we were in.  

Les Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence
Les Carrières de Lumières

We tested our creative skills during a painting class in the style of Vincent van Gogh in the beautiful town of Arles, where he spent a lot of his time painting. We explored Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France, and wandered through its cobbled streets trying local delights like brioche aux pralines – a must try – and through Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, a local market with cheeses, meats, seafood and all sorts of fresh produce. Another highlight was visiting Les Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence. I had been told in advance it would be amazing and even then, it surpassed my expectations. From Vermeer to van Gogh, this exhibition featured artworks from the Dutch Masters lit up against the white limestone walls of an ancient quarry and set to music.  

Food market
Megan exploring all that Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse has to offer

Wine-related excursions

In addition to these standard excursions, we had a variety of wine-related excursions as part of this special interest river cruise.  

Two of my favourite wine-related excursions were ones that took us out of the towns and cities and into the French countryside. The first of these was to the Mâconnais region, located in Southern Burgundy and well known for its chardonnay. We visited the Domaine du Château de Pierreclos, a stunning estate. Trying to stop people taking photos and moving them into the wine cellar was no easy task!  

Chateau de Pierreclos
The beautiful grounds of Château de Pierreclos

Today, the château is run as a family business. Members of the family took us into the underground cellar to enjoy a delightful wine tasting. It was such a highlight to hear them share their thoughts and insights on their wines and the region we were in.  

Chateau de Pierreclos

The second was an excursion to the Beaujolais region where we visited the charming village of Oingt, before heading to Domaine de Fond-Vieille. We were shown around by the owner Dominique, who shared his knowledge of the family-run property that has been passed down through generations, followed by a tasting of some of the wines they produce.  

Wine tasting
Wine tasting at Domaine de Fond-Vieille

Being able to enjoy a wine whilst soaking in the local atmosphere and hearing about the rich history of the areas we were visiting from the people that lived there just tied everything together for me and truly added to my overall Avalon experience. 

To top it all off, we had Sarah Jane Evans, a Master of Wine, join us onboard for the duration of the river cruise. Not only did she join us on the wine excursions, but she also held (optional) master classes onboard such as wine and cheese pairings. It was great to have her share her insights and knowledge of wine with us, especially when it came to varietals that are not so common in the Southern Hemisphere. 

So, if you are thinking about experiencing a special interest river cruise, don’t hesitate. My experience was only enhanced by being able to incorporate my interests into my travel. Take a look at Avalon’s full range of special interest river cruises today. 

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