A Provence and Burgundy River Cruise with Avalon Waterways

Cruising through Provence and Burgundy | WORLD OF WANDERLUST
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My love for France has long been a building relationship over the years, but especially set off into overdrive a couple of years ago when I visited the small towns of Colmar in the Alsace region and Annecy in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-AlpesThis sparked an idea to visit more of France in the coming years, an opportunity I was able to throw in to a fast track when I booked a river cruise with Avalon Waterways, travelling from the South of France through to my beloved Paris.

Cruising has long had a stereotype for being slow, boring, and quite frankly, for an older clientele. Sure, there’s a small amount of truth to the latter, but the customers of cruiselines are rapidly changing and engaging a younger crowd, I myself being an avid supporter in recent years.

Cruising through Provence and Burgundy is a great way to see some highlights from the waterways, so here we have my full review on a French river cruise with Avalon!

Cruising through Provence and Burgundy | WORLD OF WANDERLUST Sundays in Paris | Where to go on a Sunday in Paris by WORLD OF WANDERLUST

The Itinerary: 11 Days from Cannes to Paris

First things first: you’ll want to choose a river cruise that caters to your interests, because once you’re on board, your itinerary is set! Knowing that I have always wanted to live out my dreams of jumping in to the motion picture film Chocolat, I knew Provence was the region calling me most in France, and so chose this cruise. There were many other people on my cruise extending their trip onwards to Normandy and elsewhere, but for me I really think 11 days was enough sticking to a set itinerary.

The cruise itinerary started in Cannes, a much loved seaside city on the Southern coast of France, mostly known for its’ annual film festival. The cruise itinerary offered one night in Cannes, so I would highly suggest extending your stay at least one night (preferably two) to give yourself enough time to explore the French Riviera.

The next few days include the likes of Arles, Avignon, Tournus and eventually Lyon. The city of Lyon was another highlight for me, especially with a strong food scene. From there, it was onwards to Beaune before finishing in Paris, hands down my two favourite stops of the entire cruise.

Avalon Waterways Review | WORLD OF WANDERLUST Avalon Waterways Review | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

On Board the Ship

River cruising has as many similarities to ocean cruising as it does differences, so to be sure you know what you’re getting yourself in to – I’ll do my best to draw comparisons and differences to give an overview of the experience on the cruising spectrum. I met a lot of travellers on this cruise who said they would “never” go on an ocean cruise, though I’ve never heard an ocean cruiser say the reverse!

The first major difference is the size: the Avalon river cruise ships are much smaller than ocean cruise ships and provide a much more personalised experience. It is also much easier to form connections with fellow travellers being a much smaller, more intimate setting.

On the other hand, the smaller size of the ship limits the offerings on board and takes away from the “show biz” aspect of ocean cruising I have really come to enjoy (theatre shows, multiple restaurants, on-board activities and events).

Thus if you’re more of a low key traveller who likes to take a slower pace on board and on shore, then I’m sure river cruising will be more for you.

The room sizes are another point of difference, with river cruises being much smaller in size. The room was just the perfect size for myself, however if you’re travelling with someone other than your partner (friend or family member), I’d highly recommend paying the single supplement and enjoying a cabin to yourself.

The food on board offered enough choices, but if you have a dietary requirement the choices are very limited and there wasn’t much flexibility or offer to provide alternatives by the food and beverage staff. Just be sure to note this in advance and plan to spend at least one meal a day off the ship, so you can enjoy the local cuisine and more options.

Entertainment was certainly geared toward an older crowd, so I’d recommend finding out at the start of the cruise which ports you will have a late departure from, so you can spend a couple of nights on shore and enjoy the cities you visit along the way.

Visiting Cormatin Chateau | WORLD OF WANDERLUST A Complete City Guide to Lyon | WORLD OF WANDERLUST My Annual Escape to Paris | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

Ports of Call: Provence to Paris

Travelling anywhere in Europe throughout April is always a bit of a risk in terms of the weather, and unfortunately for our cruise we saw more rain than we did clear skies! Many of the ports visited on this cruise cold be seen in an hour walking – no more – so again if you’re more of an adventurous traveller, this particular cruise really is a slower pace (perhaps look towards the Danube River Cruise if you enjoy more activities and liveliness in the ports of call).

The highlight from Provence was Avignon, a beautiful old town with enough size to enjoy a day wandering around. Unfortunately we visited on a Sunday when almost the entire city was closed – so be sure to keep the sleepy Sundays and Mondays in mind when visiting France!

Lyon was a huge surprise to me – both in terms of size and offerings. Little did I know Lyon is considered to be the gastronomic capital of France, so be sure to book a lunch or dinner off the ship to enjoy the city and its dining scene.

Beaune was a crowd favourite – the last pit stop before Paris. We visited Beaune on a Saturday which is market day in France, which made for a very vibrant atmosphere and lots of great produce to sample – especially the free cheese tasters!

And of course at long last we reached Paris, which has got to be my favourite city the world over, particularly in the Spring Time. Here you can enjoy a few days to yourself off the ship, so be sure to plan some activities and meals on your own accord, as only breakfast will be included once you disembark the ship.

Cruising through Provence and Burgundy | WORLD OF WANDERLUST A Complete City Guide to Lyon | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

River Cruising in Europe

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my first river cruise in Europe and think it is a great way to take in the countryside at a slow and steady pace. Being more of an adventurous traveller myself, I loved the days where I would rent a vespa or ride a bike (the ship supply them) over the days in really small towns.

Day excursions are normally a highlight of cruises for me, however the only day excursion on this particular cruise that took my attention was a visit to château de Cormatin, a beautifully restored summer house in the south of Burgundy. Again, if you’re more of an active traveller who wants to pack a lot in to your days, I would suggest looking at the Danube river cruise or an itinerary that visits more of the capital cities as opposed to small towns.


A huge thanks to Avalon for welcoming me on board to experience the cruise through Provence and Burgundy – this was not a paid sponsorship and all views are my own.

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    Robert M
    May 20, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Good Article. Really meaningful article & Information.

    May 18, 2018 at 9:22 am

    First of all I want to say great blog! Thank you for sharing this, I have always wanted to see this place, and I am planning to visit French Countryside this July, I have already bought my ticket and pre arranged my stays. I am so excited, I would appreciate if you have any advise for a person like me who is visiting this place alone.

    May 12, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    nice post

    May 11, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    Amazing informative blog site with a huge deep knowledge. Its really big thing to collect all the details and write here for us in a nice way. Thank you.

    Niles Caldwell
    May 3, 2018 at 5:33 am

    Great Article Brooke, enjoyed meeting you on our cruise.

    Niles & Ping

    April 30, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Wow, wow, wow! This looks amazing, and how wonderful that you got to experience and see so many places. France is one of my favorite countries. I love how just driving a few hours can take you to a totally different place 🙂

    Clarence E. Boyle
    April 29, 2018 at 7:06 am

    Great coverage Brooke,

    Gene & Aida

    Clarence E. Boyle
    April 29, 2018 at 7:05 am

    Hi Brooke,

    Thanks for your excellent coverage of our recent Avalon River Cruise trip in France. I am forwarding to our three children s they can enjoy.

    Gene & Aida

    April 28, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks for the great information.I enjoyed reading your blog. Please post more blogs related to Paris.

    Tiffany @ LavenderVines
    April 28, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Your photos are always so pretty!! I love France and can’t wait to go back!! Xx

    Anna Makridi
    April 27, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    The post is so informative and made me want to visit France! Good job!

    April 27, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    is that you brook on that roof ?
    you can’t believe i am imagining that with your eyes what beautiful view would be that thinking i should spend rest of my life there in that beautiful place
    any how
    thank you for this beautfil informative and guiding for this beautiful place in paris 🙂

    Daria EDU
    April 27, 2018 at 2:34 am

    Your blog is just absolutely amazing!
    I could literally spend hours scrolling through it.
    Keep up the fantastic job, baby <3


    Manish Sharma
    April 26, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Amazing helpful information and very much interesting blog. Its really coming from deep knowledge and experience. Thank you so much for writing here for us.

    April 26, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Great post….

    April 26, 2018 at 11:09 am

    This post made me really want to visit the French countryside, relax all day and eat croissants *heart eye emoji* lol I don’t think I’ll ever DO a cruise, personally, but the little towns you visited looked so cute!!! Annecy and Colmar are super high on my list as well, maybe one day I’ll have the chance to hit those places up.