Updated August 21, 2018
The Rhone is a popular and very busy river, particularly as interest in food- and wine-themed cruises grows. The trip, which actually is also on France's Saone River as well, takes you through spectacular locks (known locally as ecluses) and introduces you to world-famous wineries, ancient walled towns, atmospheric monasteries and magnificent Papal palaces that once lay at the epicenter of medieval Christendom.
Itineraries range from three- and five-night hops to seven-, eight- and nine-night sailings, with a week onboard being the most usual option.
A good introduction to the Rhone would be a simple seven-night sailing, roundtrip from Lyon, featuring the main Rhone river ports of Macon (in the heart of the wine country), Chalon-sur-Saone on the Sanoe (gateway to the historic wine capital of Beaune, and to Burgundy's beautiful medieval villages), Avignon (historic medieval seat of Popes) and Viviers (entrance to the spectacular Ardeche region).
Some river cruise lines combine a cruise on the Rhone river with a few days in Paris, traveling to Lyon by high-speed train. Other, longer trips combine more than one river cruise into one giant tour of French rivers, transporting cruisers to the Gargonne in Bordeaux or the Seine in Paris.
Companies offering Rhone and Saone cruises on owned or chartered vessels include CroisiEurope, Riviera Travel, Tauck, A-ROSA, Titan, Viking River Cruises, Uniworld, AMA Waterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic, Emerald, Amadeus by Lueftner, Grand Circle, Fred. Olsen, Saga Cruises and Swan Hellenic.