I travelled to France with Emirates Airline in economy class. The service was excellent. Entertainment choices amazing. Seating was comfortable.
I enjoyed a few days pre cruise sightseeing in Paris as it had been many years since my last visit. It was so easy to get around Paris on the metro and visit all the main attractions- which were still amazing the second time around; in two days I visit The Eiffel Tower, Love Lock Bridge, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Moulin Rouge, Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur, Champs-Élysées/shopping at Galleries Lafayette department store.
I did an organised half day tour the first day to get an overview of the city which I would highly recommend, and the rest was independent.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Notre Dame which was fabulous and located in the St Germain area, safe to walk around at night with many restaurants. The room had a mini balcony with views of the Eiffel Tower that lit up on the hour every night! There is also a rooftop bar/terrace that you can also enjoy this from looking over the rooftops of the Notre Dame.
We then board APT’s Amadagio for a 7 night cruise from Lyon to Arles in the south of France- the Beaujolais and Provencal regions. I stayed in a Category B stateroom which had a balcony.
Even though this is the oldest in the fleet and is being moved to Travelmarvel for next season, it is very elegant and well appointed. What made the journey were the staff, especially our magnificent cruise director. Personalised service with only 148 maximum guests onboard. The food, entertainment and service were impeccable. All meals and beverages were included. I have never eaten so much cheese in my life! There is a resident singer/musician onboard plus some local themed entertainers.
The cabin has bathroom, wifi, tv, open juliet style balcony, room to unpack (once- which is great), and is serviced daily by friendly stewards.
All walking tours and optional tours were included using local guides so they can share their knowledge and experience. There were so many wonderful experiences:
A special experience during the River Cruise was a meal at Michelin-starred French chef’s restaurant- L’Abbaye de Collonges in Lyon, but there is also a fabulous surprise I can’t tell you about here!
We visit the hilltop village of Oingt, in the Beaujolais region, and enjoyed wine tasting at a family-owned winery.
Rode aboard a historic Ardeche Steam train through the Ardeche mountains in Tournon.
In Grignan, Viviers we joined a truffle farmer and tasted the rare and prized truffles.
A private tour of the Renaissance Castle, enjoying a cocktail reception tasting the regional produce whilst being entertained by local musicians, this was a signature experience.
In Avignon we visited the world’s largest Gothic Palace- the Palace of the Popes. The infamous Pont du Gard aqueduct built in the first century that stands 50 metres above the beautiful Gardon River.
Roman relics of Arles (a miniature version of the Rome Colosseum) built in the first century under Emperor instruction it was used for gladiatorial contests.
At the end of the cruise we were transferred to Nice airport to fly home with an overnight stay in Dubai to break the journey.