A Travellerspoint blog

Transfer to Basel via Beaune

Up early today as we have to have our bags at the door for loading at 8am. Had a quick brekky and on the bus 8.30am heading for Beaune. arrived approx 9.15am and we had until 11.30 to look around. The guide on the bus took us through this towns Hotel Dieu (yes they all have one). Again the architecture in this building is so well preserved considering it goes back to 1443. Another building on the site was built in the 18th century. They were built on a large scale to reflect the fact that the benefactors were very wealthy. This particular one has an amazing mosaic roof made up of glazed coloured tiles. We then strolled through the fabulous local Saturday market place. Wow what a market it is. There were several large tables of food types, salamis, olives, cheeses , tapenades, sausages, rotisserie chickens as well as fresh produce and stalls selling other crafts. Back to the bus at 11.45am and on to Dijon where others from our cruise left us and were taking the train to Paris. Everyone said their goodbyes and then we had to get on another bus (only 6 of us on a 60 seater bus) bound for Basel (Switerland). This is where we will join our next cruise ship The Tranquility II. In Basel we joined the new vessel to find it was a full house - 120 pax. The staff don't see, to be as colourful as those on Poetry II , the meals not quite up to the standard set on the Poetry (early days though) and the noise level at dinner was something we weren't used to. There is a much greater mix on this leg with quite a few children and heaps of Americans, including an extended family of three generations numbering about 20! However we discovered four other Kiwis on the first night.

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Macon, Tournus & Chalon

Arrived in Macon overnight. It was meant to be a quick drop off of those booked on the Chardonnay tour who were then going to meet us at Tournus as we were meant to sail straight away there. Unfortunately there was an issue with one of the engines and so we were stuck here while the engineer tried to sort it out. We were allowed to get off the boat and go walking through the town. Its a very small place so not a lot to see but it does have a pretty shady square with a lovely garden and war memorial where a horse drawn water cart was giving everything a drink. We tried to find the Hotel Dieu (old hospital) but it seemed it is closed to the public. John needed a haircut so when we passed a coiffier and barbier he took his chance and a nice young Frenchman did a good job on him. With the boat now fixed we sailed again around noon and docked in Tournus at 3pm. We wondered around this really pretty well kept town visiting their Hotel Dieu / Musee Grueze which was in the most incredible original condition and dated back to 1675 . The dispensary still houses the original jars and bottles all sitting in their original wall cabinets - was so interesting and enlightening. Hotel Dieu's were hospitals built by the rich with a conscience and were specifically for caring for the poor. The nurses were mainly nuns. The locals were setting up for a market night but unfortunately we had to be back on board ready to sail at 6.45pm for Chalon sur Saone. We had another beautiful dinner including a crab cocktail - Yum. We arrived late in the evening and had after dinner drinks in the lounge bar and at 11pm decided we would go for a walk around the town - I think we were the only ones up this late!! Although we only saw this town at night, it looked very pretty and clean and the local cafes and restaurants were still doing good business. This is our last night on this cruise ship (Poetry II) so we packed our bags and hit the sack about midnight.

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Lyon

We arrived in Lyon around 9 pm and it was a lovely sight. Unfortunately we were currently being entertained by French singer Dani and felt we could not abscond to take photos or videos - now I wish I had as we left the next evening and did not see Lyon at night again. Like so many cities around the world it has transformed its waterside and done away with the dreary old warehouses and markets and replaced them with multi-purpose commercial/retail/eateries and in Lyon's case has clearly thought outside the square. There is some amazing examples of breathtaking building architecture, including two by a Paris based NZ architect, Brendan McFarlane - the amazing orange and green 'cubes' - but there are so many spectacular examples of innovative architecture its hard to comprehend. The Council is currently transforming over 300 acres of land into mixed use (high end, middle and lower socio-economic) accommodation and this is apparently the biggest undertaking in Europe. In the morning we took the bus to the highest point where the very impressive Notre Dame de Fourviere dominates the skyline. This basilica has some amazing mosaic tile friezes and is another example of the OTT glorification of god. On the way up you see the old Roman ruins dating back to 43BC when the Romans initially built the town at the strategic confluence of the Rhone and Saone rivers. The bus dropped us in the old city and we wandered around the central city and back through the peninsular to the boat. We decided that we liked Lyon. Plenty of open spaces and wide boulevards with limitations on vehicular traffic that allows for the free flow of pedestrians. We had a brief downpour whilst we were in the mall adjacent to the boat, the first since we had left NZ. However it had dissipated by the time we walked back to the boat. We took another walk later to admire the new building architecture up close. Some of those we have included in the blog photo gallery. We had a farewell gala dinner (seemed to us to be a night early) with 6 courses including lobster tails - the chef was keeping his standards very high! We sailed from Lyon as we dined onward to Macon.

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Tournon & Vienne

Two quite different towns but the former being much more compact (Pop 10,000) was easier to get around and see the town centre. There is a beautiful old castle there but as it wasn't open until 10 am and as we sailed again at 10:15 we never got the chance to see it. We wandered around the castle grounds and the town itself for an hour or so and purchased a bottle of the local Syrah to try back on the boat.
We then sailed for Vienne which is a much bigger town (pop 30,000 ) and sits on both sides of the Rhone, with the main town centre on the Eastern bank. There is a number of Roman ruins there and a very well-preserved Temple of Augustus & Livia. Once again we grabbed the bikes and cycled around the town centre. Julie and John managed to assist the local economy by purchasing a couple of pairs of shoes. As with many others places we are visiting they are very quiet - most of France is on holiday too! We were back on the boat for the 6:45 sailing to Lyon and were treated to a performance by a local french singer Dany as we arrived in Lyon, who sung a medley of Edit Piaf and other French songs. Gino the pianist took over on piano and sax and had quite a few of the guests and even staff up dancing. We then took a late night stroll on the nearby portside promenade and admired the amazing Confluence retail and restaurant building which is massive.

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Viviers

Viviers is small town in Ard├Ęche in southern France. it has been settled over 2500 years. We sailed from around 4:30 am from Roquemaere and arrived at Viviers around noon. During the sail we passed through the Bollene Lock which at 80 feet is the highest in Europe - quite spectacular. We decided to skip the guided tour and grabbed three of the ship's bikes and biked up and down the small town streets to its highest point which is where the cathedral was (unsurprisingly). We then found a quiet country ride where we cycled out for about 5 kms and dipped our feet in the Rhone to try and cool off - it was mighty hot again. After we cycled back John took a proper dip in the Rhone which was beautifully refreshing. We partook in the 'bistro' meal - a degustation treat of small platters of entrees, mains and desserts - really nice - but we all felt a little bloated afterwards!
Tomorrow we are visiting Tournon And Vienne.

Posted by 3kiwisabroad 15:42 Comments (0)

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