Welcome on board the “Chardonnay,” the latest addition to the Grand Bateaux de Provence fleet, recently moored opposite the Cité des Papes! It’s a nice, manageable size with 23 comfortable, double cabins. From April onwards, it will offer 2, 3 or 4 day cruise packages on the Rhône, Christmas and New Year cruises, and is also available for private hire.
This boat bears no resemblance to the vast liners that cross the Mediterranean or other seas, with pools on the 12th floor, a cinema on the 5th floor, a kids’ club on the 7th and staggered, colour-coded guided excursions. The packages on offer are not so much cruises as gentle boat trips, lasting just a few days – long enough to get to know your neighbours as you settle into your deckchair outside, and time enough to explore the delights of the Camargue, Arles La Romaine and medieval Avignon.
In fact, the Chardonnay comprises:
- 23 extremely comfortable, double cabins, arranged over 2 decks • A restaurant area • A bar/relaxation area • a large sun deck with deckchairs • A social room/lounge.
Several types of cruise excursions are available, including:
3 days from Friday to Sunday, depending on schedule – from €450 (price for general public), including accommodation with full board (excluding drinks), welcome cocktail, gala diner, guided tours of Arles, Avignon and the Camargue.
4 days from Monday to Thursday, depending on schedule – from €590 (price for general public), including accommodation with full board (excluding drinks), welcome cocktail, gala diner, guided tours of Arles, Avignon and the Camargue.
Avignon Festival excursion:
4 days from Monday to Thursday or Thursday to Sunday, depending on schedule – from €550 (price for general public), including accommodation with full board (excluding drinks), welcome cocktail, gala diner, guided tours of Arles and Avignon, and free time to enjoy the Avignon Festival.
And, for end-of-year celebrations:
From the 24th to 26th December – with free time to enjoy Christmas events in the cities of Avignon and Arles, Christmas Eve supper and Christmas brunch. €450/person, full board including drinks.
New Year excursion:
From 31st December to 1st January – with New Year’s Eve dinner and DJ event, plus New Year’s Day brunch. €325/person, full board including drinks.
It is also possible to hire the boat for private group excursions, for example, motivational or leisure events.
But these new excursions are no excuse to ignore others on offer:
- one hour trips down the Saône which offer an alternative way of exploring Avignon and Villeneuve-les-Avignon (€11/person, from April to August) – maximum capacity: 115 passengers.
- Lunch – or diner – cruises on board the Mireïo: there are several options available for exploring Arles, Tarascon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape… – groups can opt for a one way trip, either outbound or inbound, so they can explore the place at their leisure or visit several vineyards in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, for example; evening dance cruises also available. New since 2016: tasting cruises in Châteauneuf-du-Pape led by a wine-producer from the appellation who will introduce passengers to several local wines. Price varies depending on menu chosen. Maximum capacity: 250 passengers.
Tourism professionals are entitled to receive a commission.
Information available from:
Les Grands Bateaux de Provence
Allées de l’Oulle
Tel +33(0)4 90 85 62 25
email@example.com – Contact for tour operators: Richard Vinatier
All photos © S. Villeger