Bon jour! Welcome to a small collection of photos taken during a river cruise down the Saône and Rhône rivers from Chalon sur Saône in the center of France to Arles, where the Rhône meets the Mediterranean. The photos were taken during a Viking River Cruise in late September, 2008. No jazz clubs or festivals this time, but I enjoyed Milhaud's "Suite Provençal" on my iPod for a soundtrack. Truly a beautiful and memorable vacation.
On the beautiful and peaceful Rhône River in the Autumn of 2008
The Basilica Fourvière in Lyon and a communications tower dubbed "the little sister of the Eifel Tower".
Inside Basilica Fourvièr - the most highly decorated cathedral of several we visited. Note all the gold!
Hillside vineyards and castles along the river .
A Roman amphitheatre used each summer for the Vienne International Jazz Festival, attended by about 8,000.
That's Berlioz at the piano, Miles tuning up - from a mural near the Vienne Amphitheatre stage. I know Miles played here, not sure about Berlioz.
We could have found work here during the grape harvest! Although the vines were shoulder high, the grapes were by your knees. Stones around the base of the vines soak up the heat during the day and give it back at night. We enjoyed a couple of wine tastings at vineyards we visited on the Côte du Rhône.
A view down one of the narrow streets in the picturesque town of Viviers, much of which dates back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Like a town Time forgot ... fascinating.
Ahhhh..... Autumn in Provence, at Viviers
The garden at the hospital in Arles where Van Gogh spent some time recovering, and painting this scene.
The great Roman arena in Arles, once the second richest city of the Roman Empire after Rome. It is now used for bull "contests" - not bull fights. In this event the bull is apparently merely annoyed, not killed.
Barges on the Rhône... note the woman in the doorway of the pilothouse. Some barges even have gardens on board.
Mussels and escargot in the upper row in the great market in Avignon. Someone asked me if I had escargot, and what they taste like? "Yes - and they taste mostly like butter and garlic"
Coquille St.Jacques at a sidewalk café in Avignon. Washed down with a carafe of vin ordinaire ...
Sur la Pont d'Avignon - literally ON the bridge of Avignon. The famous 15th century song apparently refers to the nightly celebrations at the taverns and bars UNDER the bridge on an island in the river crossed by the bridge. That's the Palace of the Popes at the top of the photo ... a huge place we also visited.
Looking back at the Pont d'Avignon from the bank of the Rhône. The Chapel of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of bargemen, is in the center of the photo. Saint Bénézet is interred here. According to tradition, as a shepherd boy he was the one initially inspired to build a bridge here and so it is also known as the Pont St-Bénézet.
A friend on seeing this photo suggested this might be the original "bridge to nowhere". There were originally 22 similar arches on this Medieval bridge that spanned the river at Avignon. Built in the 12th century, it was repeatedly washed out by floods and repaired, but after a devastating flood in 1668 it was abandoned. Further collapse eventually left only these arches to survive as an example of what once was. As the only fixed river crossing on the Rhône between Lyon and the Mediterranean, it held a very strategic position in the early years.
Docked at Avignon, this is The Viking Burgundy which carried us from port to port down the river, a sort of mobile hotel for our visit. The crew and staff were very helpful and the cuisine on board was the equal of anything we found on shore. Excellent, exceeding our high expectations! I'm happy to recommend them. www.vikingrivercruises.com