The third largest city in France, Lyon is situated in the Rhone-Alpes region between Paris and Marseille. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is home to roughly 490,000 inhabitants and was prized in ancient times as a major center for the production and sale of silk. During the Second World War, Lyon played an important role in the resistance movement after occupying German forces seized control of the town. Today, the city of Lyon is one of the country’s premiere tourist destinations thanks to its historic status and reputation for being one of the important gastronomy centers of France.
The red village of Collognes La Rouge has been awarded the title of one of the most beautiful villages in France, a title that becomes even more apparent once you visit the village where every building here is red. Surrounded by peaceful, green countryside planed with chestnut and walnut trees, its picturesque charm will enchant you. Travel to the Beaujolais, known as the Pays d'Or or "land of the golden stones" and learn about the history and techniques of this wine region.
Situated between the wine regions of Beaujolais and Côtes due Rhone lies Vienne with a Roman past that can be seen in its marvelously preserved ruins. See the amazingly well preserved Augustus, and Livia Temple, the Saint Maurice Cathedral, a Gothic church that took more than 500 years to build, and St. Pierre Abbey - one of the oldest surviving churches in France and now an Archaeological Museum.
At the edge of the river Rhone and opposite Tain l'hermitage, lies the pretty village of Tournon. The surrounding landscape includes the famed St. Joseph vineyard, and Tournon's 16th century castle and hills offer stunning views over the town and vineyards. Tournon is dominated by its signature castle dating back to the 15th century. This medieval stronghold is in a remarkably good state of preservation. The surrounding vineyards are part of the Hermitage Appellation, known for its red Syrah wines.
Avignon, aptly names the "City of Popes" is full of history and life and was the center of the Catholic Church in the 14th century when its "Palais des Papes" was the equivalent of today's Vatican. Walk the well-preserved medieval walls surrounding the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you will find art and culture, theatre, cinema, museums, big stores and little shops. The diverse dining opportunities range from family-run restaurants to some of the greatest Michelin-starred chefs. Don't miss the Saint Benezet Bridge - built around 1180, an amazing feat for the period.
The French city of Arles (pronounced Arl) is perhaps most well-known for its incredible Roman monuments, which were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. If you’ve seen the 1998 Robert De Niro film, Ronin, chances are you’ve seen the Roman Arena of Arles (les Arènes d’Arles), which is featured prominently in the latter half of the movie. Arles was also home to famous impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh from 1888 to 1889. During his stay in Arles, he manage to paint over three hundred works before his increasingly unstable mental health resulted in the infamous “ear incident” in December 1888.
Today, Arles is a popular port of call and turnaround port for river cruise ships thanks to its ease of access and its location along the scenic Rhone. It is home to roughly 54,000 residents.