For six nights and seven times, the 22 berth MS Anne-Marie, a magnificent resort barge, departs from Arles into the rivers and canal that operate via Europe’s most significant delta.
This is France’s Wild West with its extremely personal cowboys. The gardian, leathered and putting on their individual take on a Stetson, sit astride their white horses to spherical up the black bulls grazing in the Camargue. Checking out a hauntingly wonderful land sliced by the Grand Rhone and Petit Rhone rivers, the intent-crafted resort barge sails from Arles to Sète.
Excursions go reed-thatched cottages with Mistral weathered blue and eco-friendly shutters. Flamboyances of flamingos feed on shrimps in the rose-tinted swimming pools. Drawn to Arles by the gentle and vivid color, artists Gauguin and Van Gogh quarrelled more than how ideal to characterize the vivid colors of the Provençal palette. Small and intimate, the 11 cabin Anne-Marie, sedately cruises beneath egrets and ospreys to clearly show company the highlights of Provence.
Six crew meet up with us quayside to take our circumstances onboard and guidebook us to our cabins. Speaking impeccable English, the purser welcomes us aboard with a toast of Kir Royale.
Canapés of saucisson d’Arles, a sausage designed with community pork and beef, signal that this will be a gourmand voyage.
Big windows in a intelligent and compact cabin give panoramic sights of the river and the passing Provençal landscape. Previously mentioned the two one beds there is a wall-mounted satellite television.
A tiny desk is suitable for crafting postcards dwelling as the rivers meander toward the Mediterranean. Each and every cabin has a thermostat to regulate the temperature to individual style.
A dazzling white rest room delivers a roomy shower and white towels. Toiletries are by Croisi.
Fundamentally, the Anne-Marie is a floating French village. Beneath the sunlight parasols, on the bistro-design tables, are pots of pink geraniums.
As the day lengthens, the café transitions into a bar and some visitors get their prosecco into the jacuzzi. As French as the discomfort-au-chocolat for breakfast, the ship even carries a set of boules for onshore evening games.
An sophisticated waiter-provider cafe is at the coronary heart of the ship. Once a 7 days, a food is served al fresco. In advance of lunch and dinner, Jonathan Nicoise, the chef, proudly announces the menu in both equally English and French. His menu, adapting as the seasons acquire, introduces Provence on a plate and as a result of its wines. Seafood arrives clean from France’s biggest fishing port at Sète. Beef for the gardianne de taureau – a crimson wine, beef, onion and orange casserole – is sourced from the region’s well known black bulls.
When moored at rampart-walled Aigues-Mortes, the only probable dessert is the town’s well-known fougasse speciality: a gentle focaccia-like dough served with crème anglaise. At lunch and dinner, attendees are introduced to a choice of the region’s wines. Although there is a preference of purple, rosé and white, deep in the sunny south of France, the rosé is frequently the diners’ preference. As prolonged as he is provided notice, the chef can adapt to satisfy specific tastes: catering for vegans, vegetarians, allergies or simply preferences.
In advance of the ship sails from Arles, a morning excursion heads to a farm the place every autumn around 10,000 olive trees are shaken to harvest the crop. Tasting olive oils reveals the refined dissimilarities the blend of olives makes, occasionally somewhat bitter, sometimes with spicy notes.
A guided tour explores the historical limestone city of Arles, recognised as Minimal Rome for its amphitheatre and surviving Roman relics. Van Gogh blues and yellows have helped make the city a spot for intercontinental photographers.
The following working day the ship heads into the remote salty marshes of the Camargue. White horses gallop earlier and chook song carries from bank to lender. Prawns feed on the pink algae in the water. When the flamingos consume all those prawns their plumage turns pink, notably as the mating year strategies.
An excursion heads to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a coastal city that celebrates two Maries. Just one Marie, tragically died of warmth-stroke in futile pursuit of her love. Under the fortified church’s altar, there is an unofficial shrine to the Gypsy Queen with worshippers inquiring her to make their wishes arrive true.
Sailing on into the Rhone – Sète Canal, the MS Anne-Marie heads for picturesque rampart-walled Aigues – Mortes. A central statue remembers Saint Louis, the pious French king, who made the city his departure port for the Crusades.
The “waters dead” have silted up and the city is five kilometres from the shoreline, however now there is a canal to the Mediterranean. A tour of the city concludes with a train by the otherworldly landscapes of the salt flats and the breathtaking images shown in the salt museum.
As the voyage proceeds a further tour will take in the manades the place bulls are bred. A take a look at to a string of lagoons at Étang de Thau showcases oyster farming.
Other wonderful touches
Each wardrobe hosts cycling helmets. Bikes, parked on the leading deck, are available to cycle along the towpath for a couple miles.
Pre-lunch and pre-supper aperitifs provide friends collectively to speak in excess of their adventures.
Departing 15th Oct 2022 or on numerous dates involving March and August 2023, costs for the 7-day cruise between Arles and Sète get started from £2,380 for each particular person. That cost features all foods and drinks, all excursions, use of onboard bicycles and port taxes but excludes flights. For an added cost, CroisiEurope can supply transfers from airports, typically Marseille or Montpelier, and railway stations.
The ideal bit
A CroisiEurope river cruise takes the pressure and strain out of travel. Although friends take in, sunbathe or snooze the ship serenely sails on to the upcoming place.
Meticulously planned excursions present cruisers the incredibly finest of the region, with skilled English speaking guides providing fascinating commentary.
The last verdict
French by way of and through, CroisiEurope brings Gallic model and panache to river cruising. Company relax into the mild gradual-travel rhythms of a journey by some of France’s most magnificent landscapes. This is a cruise that explores a lovely French area that is usually forgotten.
Disclosure: Our voyage was sponsored by CroisiEurope.