On Monday, I’ll begin a journey from Asheville to Arles, where I’ll play host to a small group as we explore the beautiful Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France — on a luxury barge.
Our trip begins in Arles, where we’ll spend two nights in a luxury hotel in the village where Vincent Van Gogh lived during 1888 and 1889. The ill-fated artist was seeking refuge at a time when he was ill from drink and suffering from smoker’s cough.
We’ll spend time exploring Arles, followed by a full day of sight-seeing in Avignon, home to the Pope’s Palace; Chateauneuf du Pape, with its famous vineyards; and Pont du Gard, the ancient Roman aqueduct that is among the most beautiful monuments that I’ve ever seen.
We then board our home for the next six nights, CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie, a luxury, all-inclusive hotel barge to cruise along the Canal du Rhone-à-Sète.
Our journey ends in Montpellier, one of France’s most beautiful cities and one that I look forward to seeing for the first time.
We’ll be barging through one of the largest wine-producing regions in France, so we can be assured good wine and food. The Languedoc-Roussillon region itself is a nature-lover’s paradise, with two mountain ranges, the Monts d’Espinouse and the Pyrenees; a huge natural park, the Parc Naturel Regional du Haut Languedoc; the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean; and natural caves like the Gorges du Tarnes. We’ll enjoy all of that, plus beautiful villages with Medieval architecture, forts and castles, and perhaps we’ll hear some of the traditional languages, Occitan and Catalan.
You can follow our journey here on River Cruise Advisor. The posts may be sparse, because of internet connectivity and the fact that I’ll be focused on assuring that everyone is having fun, but I’ll do what I can. I’ll also post a bit during our time “out in the field” to Instagram, @avidcruiser on Twitter and Avid Cruiser’s Facebook page.
I’m planning on hosting at least two more luxury barge trips in 2016, so if you are curious at all as to what these trips are all about, check rivercruiseadvisor.com
each day between now and June 26 for updates of how we are spending our days.
Here’s our schedule.
- June 17 (pre-cruise) – overnight Arles with evening walk through Arles. Our hotel: Hôtel Jules César MGallery Collection, a five-star property, with WiFi and breakfast included.
- June 18 (pre-cruise) – relax, get over your jet lag, then explore Arles on your own or with me. See In Search Of Van Gogh: Ashore In Arles
- June 19 – Special included tour: Avignon, Chateauneuf du Pape, Pont du Gard with lunch in a vineyard restaurant. Boarding late afternoon. Overnight on barge.
- June 20: ARLES – GALLICIAN. Special tour of Arles. Discover this cultural center and its Roman ruins, and then travel inland to find out about olive oil production in Provence. Tasting of some local products. Return to the ship. Afternoon: cruising to Gallician, along the Rhône River and the Rhône à Sète Canal.
- June 21: GALLICIAN – AIGUES-MORTES. Excursion to the Camargue. Free time in Sainte-Marie-la-Mer, where you may visit a fortified church. Afternoon devoted to cruising toward Aigues-Mortes, arriving in the early evening. See Canal Cruising: The Ancient Walls Of Aigues-Mortes & See Canal Cruising: Sainte-Marie-la-Mer, A Small Town Mix Of Basque & French
- June 22: AIGUES MORTES – PALAVAS-LES-FLOTS. Tour of Aigues-Mortes. This old, fortified city with a rich heritage is located in the middle of the marshes and is one of the most beautiful sites in Provence. Return to the ship. Afternoon: cruising to Palavas-Les-Flots. Spend some free time discovering the spa resort of Palavas-Les-Flots. See Canal Cruising: Palavas-Les-Flots, Life On The Canal See Canal Cruising: Camargue, Home To Horses & UNESCO World Heritage Site
- June 23: PALAVAS-LES-FLOTES – SETE. Tour to discover a manade and the life of herders on a visit by wagon. Take part in a bull sorting. Before returning to the boat, we’ll have a delicious snack with products coming from the farm. Cruise towards Sète, arriving in the early evening. NOTE: Depending on mooring availability and weather conditions, the stopover in Sète could be replaced by a stopover in Frontignan. See All Sete, Ready To Go, ‘The Most Fascinating Town On The French Mediterranean Coast’
- June 24: SETE. Special included tour: Gourmet Walking Tour in Sete #1 tour in Sete on TripAdvisor. Afternoon cxcursion of the Étang De Thau, famous for its shellfish. Visit of the Étang de Thau Museum, where you’ll discover the shellfish farmers and fishermen. Taste some of the shellfish while taking in the beauty of the basin from a terrace. Return to the ship. Gala evening. See Canal Cruising: Étang de Thau, Shellfish & Oysters & Canal Cruising: Climbing Mont Saint Clair
- June 25 (post-cruise) SETE. Buffet breakfast on board. Disembark. Mediterranean Lunch Workshop or the alternate tour described above with an overnight in Montpellier: (meals on your own) Our hotel: Pullman Montpellier Centre, a four-star property in Montpellier, with breakfast and WiFi included. See Canal Cruising: Marvelous Montpellier
- June 26 – Final farewells