Avalon River Cruise on the Scenery, France: Burgundy & Provence, Paris & Chalon to Cote d'Azur, Port Charles & Monte Carlo, March 25-April 5, 2012.
We highly and contentedly recommend a River Cruise as a way to enjoy continental travel. Voyage by ship gives a duck-eye view from the river. Docking then affords the opportunity to waddle around the old town, which is usually just steps away onshore. If not, say in a bigger city, the trip includes the bus transport for the local tour. We always enjoyed the walking tour that highlights key sights and then affords free time to explore on your own. The tour guides included are always expert and personable and provide fascinating history and charm. The guides' cordless audio device is most convenient for a group.
A comment on the favourable quality of the passengers. I don't know where the cruise line gets these people, but everyone is worldly, smart, polite, educated, in a word, genteel. Of course, here, I include myself and my attractive partner. They must employ that dreaded technique called profiling. And this leads to a series of very pleasant and interesting conversations (in various accents) at meal conclaves and social functions. Another highlight of the journey is the people met.
A superb variety of gustatory delights are exciting for the palate. Not for me is the light breakfast for early and late risers; I'm the full breakfast buffet type, with made-to-order stations and complimentary champagne, sipped, not added to juice. Can't face fellow passengers early? Breakfast can be delivered to your stateroom. The lunch buffet features appetizers, soups, homemade breads, cheeses, cold cuts, salads, hot dishes and delightful desserts. Afternoon tea with cakes or cookies is served in the lounge or on the top deck. Dinners are casually elegant sit-downs with multiple courses and complimentary wine, beer and sodas. Cappuccinos, espressos and other specialty coffees are available throughout the day. Finally, those with urgent night cravings can snack after 10 pm. (Yeah, I copied this from the brochure!)
If this is insufficient (and for some it seems it is,) get off! At your cost, onshore, you can sample regional specialties while enjoying local culture. In Lyon, chow down at the Paul Bocuse restaurants, rated three stars (Michelin's coveted top rating).
The Avalon cruise includes afternoon and night variety presentations and entertainment, games, movie nights and ship tours of the galley and the bridge. The entertainment is likely to be local, ethnic, charming. My partner and I are dancers, who prance at the drop of a hat or the sound of music, and we love to show off. It's our mission to enlist unwary guests as our target dance partners, now we have 4 on the floor. The ship always has an amiable and multitalented east-European musician in the lounge who thrives on this and takes requests. Autretemps, don't forget the fitness centre, where you can atone for your rich eating habit and rethink your travel strategy.
Did I forget the reason for the trip? The itinerary places are delightful snatches of history, geography, archeology, art and culture. We were thrilled with a surprise short organ concert in a church; and the fresh markets; shopping as a palliative for those with available suitcase room and credit. Let me not go on, not.
Bon Voyage, en France!
See you around. The world.