Depart home city via your chosen air carrier to Lyon, France (Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport – Code: LYS)
Arrive Lyon, France. After clearing customs, Carl and the AMA Waterways representative will personally meet and escort you to awaiting transportation. After a short drive to the pier, you will board AMA’s luxurious riverboat, the AmaCello, your home for the next seven nights. After check-in (early afternoon) you are free to relax and explore the beautiful AmaCello or stroll the cobblestone streets of Lyon, one of France’s most important cities and its gastronomic capital. This evening, meet your fellow FoCA travelers for a festive Welcome Dinner. Let the party begin!
Today, you will visit Fourvière Hill, part of the city’s historic region that is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. After some free time to see Notre Dame Basilica and take in majestic views of Lyon, you will join a panoramic tour that will take you past the Place Bellecour with its equestrian statue of Louis XIV, Place des Terreaux with Bartholdi’s Fountain and the Town Hall. Later, enjoy a walking tour of Old Lyon. The afternoon is free to enjoy however you wish.
Collonges & Vienne
This morning’s tour will take you through the enchanting Beaujolais wine region, also known as the Pays d’Or or “land of the golden stones,” named for the richly colored limestone used to build local homes and castles. You will visit the medieval hilltop village of Oingt as well as the home of a local vintner who will invite you for a wine tasting and vineyard tour as he shares the history of the region’s wine production. Return to the ship in the afternoon and continue cruising towards Vienne. Upon arrival, make the most of your free time and venture about on your own or simply unwind on board.
Vienne & Tournon
Situated between the wine regions of Burgundy and Beaujolais, Vienne’s Roman past can be seen in its marvelously preserved ruins. This morning, choose from one of three options to explore Vienne this morning. Your first option is to take a walking tour and see an ancient Roman temple, the ruins of a Roman theater, and the medieval Abbey Church of St. Pierre which is today an Archaeological Museum. Your second option is a guided bike tour along a portion of the Via Rhôna bike route. Your third option is a guided hike from the ship up to the Monastery at Mount Pipet and back. Your ship departs at midday for Tournon.
You have one of three options in which to enjoy your morning in Tournon. Your first option is an exciting ride in a panoramic train car as you discover the magnificent landscape carved along the Gorge du Doux. After riding through the gorge, you will stop at the charming little station of Colombier le Vieux-Saint Barthélemy le Plain, where you can watch the train maneuver in preparation for its return journey. Your second option is a visit to Le Chateau de Tournon for a very special presentation and tasting with a local expert on the paring of red wine and chocolate. Your third option is a hike followed by a wine tasting in the village of Tain Hermitage.
Viviers & Avignon
Again, this morning, you’ll have a choice of one of three different activities. Your first option is to travel by motor coach to Avignon, site of the bridge made famous by the French children’s song "On the Bridge of Avignon." Seven popes once resided in the magnificent Papal Palace, which you will visit during your walking tour. You will also see the well-preserved medieval walls surrounding the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your second option is to take an excursion to the impressive Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct that is a masterpiece of ancient engineering and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your third option is a Provencal cooking lesson with a local chef where you will learn how to prepare a savory local dish. Later, enjoy an excursion to Grignan, a hilltop village surrounded by lavender fields. The village’s Renaissance castle provides a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. Afterwards, you will visit a truffle farm and learn about truffle harvesting.
Avignon, Les Baux & Arles
This morning, you will arrive in Arles and board a motor coach for an excursion to the village of Les Baux de Provence. The village’s castle has a fascinating exhibit of medieval weapons. Later, visit an olive farm to learn about this age-old Provençal farming tradition. Alternatively, take the Artist Experience tour to the the Carrières de Lumières, a stone quarry that projects artwork on its walls, and then Saint Paul de Mausole Asylum, where Van Gogh once lived and painted such well-known works as The Irises and Starry Night. Later this afternoon, you have your choice between a city tour of Arles that will show you the city’s top sights, including the Romanesque cathedral and Roman amphitheater, or a guided bike tour through to the Roman ruins. The ship moors overnight in Arles.
Today we say “Adieu” to our wonderful riverboat AmaCello. For the cruise only FoCAs, a transfer to the Marseille Airport has been arranged for you to catch your flight back home.
For the cruise/Marseille FoCAs…the party’s not over yet! After disembarkation, we will board a deluxe motorcoach for a short drive to our next destination, the historical port city of Marseille, France, an active trade port that has been in existence since 600 B.C. Before checking into our hotel, the stately InterContinental Hotel Dieu, we will do a tour of Marseille and enjoy lunch at a special bistro in the picturesque Vieux-port (Old Port). After hotel check-in, the balance of the afternoon and evening are free for you to explore on your own. Please feel free to stop by the FoCA Hospitality Desk to ask the local host about some of their favorite restaurants for a special dinner. We’re sure they will have many suggestions for you!
Marseille / Full day tour to Cassis and Aix en Provence (Aix)
Today we have a full-day excursion which takes us through the rustic and refined splendors of Provence—a colorful, fabled region of rolling hills terraced with vines and olive trees. During our tour of Aix en Provence, we will explore the cobbled streets of the Old Town and stroll along the tree-shaded Cours Mirabeau, the city’s grand central boulevard, a beautiful mix of cascading moss-covered fountains, lively markets and cafes, and stately mansions.
After our tour of “Aix” (as it’s commonly referred to), behold another Provençal pearl, Cassis, arguably the region’s most photogenic coastal village. During our tour, we’ll enjoy a walking tour of one of the most charming destinations in Provence, and admire its dramatic outcrop crowned by a 14th-century château. We will also take in the town’s quintessential attractions, from a photogenic harbor filled with colorful boats to quaint streets bordered by cafes and boutiques. During the tour, we will also have a wine tasting and lunch at one of the many wonderful local restaurants.
From Aix’s beautiful squares framed by graceful mansions to the pastel-hued houses and delicate white wines of Cassis, these two “jewel’s” are yours to discover on this adventure.
This evening is free for you to explore on your own. Our local FoCA host will be on hand to help you with any questions that you may have regarding shopping, sightseeing options, restaurant reservations, etc.
Today is on your own to do as you please so make the best of it…your options are endless! Last minute shopping may be in order or perhaps a cruise to the Chateau d'If. This former fortress, built during the reign of Francis I in 1524, became a prison during the 17th century, which was eventually made famous thanks to Alexandre Dumas’ novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo.”
Shuttle boats depart on a regular basis from Vieux Port. We know you will have a grand time whatever you choose to do!
However, don’t forget to return to the hotel in time to join your fellow FoCAs for a special Farewell cocktail reception and dinner at the hotel!
Departures for home or other destination
After breakfast, transfer to Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) for your return flight to your USA home city or another destination via your chosen air carrier.