Provence Van Gogh Style: The Top 10 Best River Cruises

Tips : Transport

In February 1888, the Dutch artist left Paris for Provence. Coming from the grey skies and flatlands of the north, he was bowled over by the sun, bright colors, the rugged landscape, and of course, the flowers. He painted furiously for the next two years, cranking out a masterpiece every few days.

While you may not want to paint everything you see, the attributes that attracted Vincent van Gogh to this beautiful part of the world remain today. Fields of lavender, sunflowers, and olive trees, the slower pace of life, and the fields that lead down to the famous towns of the Riviera, Cannes, Nice, Antibes, and St Tropez. There is nothing not to like!

One of the best ways to explore Provence is on a River Cruise that follows the Rhone River along the western border of the region and continues to the Saone River.

Provence is well known for its beautiful hilltop villages and a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere of fine living. Visiting the French city of Arles, it’s easy to absorb Vincent van Gogh’s story.

Whether you decide to cruise or simply stay in a hotel, book via our luxury travel concierge for free upgrades, free breakfasts, and free perks at hotels including the Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, InterContinental and more.

1. ‘Anne Marie’ Cruise In Provence

The 22-passenger Anne Marie river cruise barge is a wonderful but excellent value cruises. This newly constructed barge offers 6-Night cruises through the alluring region of Provence & Camargue in Southern France, taking the very scenic cruise route between Arles and Sete.

Experience all of the sites and sounds in this corner of France, sample the traditional foods and local wines, all at an unbeatable all-inclusive price.

Highlights of this cruise include an Arles and olive oil production experience, enjoyment of the beauty of the Camargue, a stop in the fortified city of Aigues Mortes and the salt marshes, a traditional Camargue experience with a Manade, Étang De Thau and its oyster farms and Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Even better, this 7-day/6-night cruise in a cabin onboard Anne-Marie includes a shower in the private bathroom, all meals from dinner the first day to breakfast on the last day, drinks including water, wine, beer, fruit juices, and coffee served during meals, welcome cocktail, drinks served at the bar (excluding champagne and premium drinks on the wine list), Excursions and admittance fees as per the itinerary.

2. ‘Le Phenicien’ Cruise In Provence

Join Le Phenicien river cruise for gentle luxury barge cruising along the Rhone and the Canal du Rhone a Sete. This 18-passenger river barge combines the best of Provence, meandering between Avignon and Aigues, Mortes, with tranquil cruising amidst the marvelous natural beauty of the Camargue. Discover Avignon from an unusual point of view and its monumental Palace of the Popes, Chateauneuf-du-Pape vineyards, the Roman aqueduct of Le Pont du Gard, the medieval village of Les Baux de Provence, the famous city of Arles, the wildlife & ranches of the Camargue and the walled city of Aigues-Mortes.

Highlights of this cruise include a guided tour to Avignon with a visit to the Palace of the Popes, the gigantic Roman aqueduct ‘Le Pont du Gard’, a visit to the cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a tour of Arles, the open-air Museum of Provence and an exploration of the Provence hill country and the charming medieval village of Les Baux de Provence. You will cruise through the Camargue national park with its wild horses and pink flamingos and fall in love with the 14th-century walled city of Aigues-Mortes.

This cruise includes transfers from Avignon or Nimes (depending on the cruise direction) to the barge and return, six nights accommodation on board, all meals on board catered for by a Master Chef, an open bar with a large range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, all wines served throughout the cruise, sightseeing excursions, including entrance fees an air-conditioned vehicle with a guide for sightseeing, the services of 5/6 crew and the use of barge facilities which include bicycles.

3. ‘Mam Goz’ Cruise In Provence

Enjoy a 6-night wonderful exclusive river cruise on ‘Mam Goz’ of more than 100km on the Southern French waterways between the Rhône and the Mediterranean sea.

The cruise includes visits to exceptional sites and showcases beautiful landscapes. This cruise is planned around 3 key elements: relaxation, discovery, and tasting. You will also experience “l’art de vivre à la française” with a French (English speaking) crew who will introduce you to the wonderful “terroirs” of Provence & Camargue; Your trip will be complemented daily with Mediterranean style gourmet cuisine paired with hand-picked regional wines from the Rhône Valley, Côtes de Provence, and Languedoc.

Highlights include a visit to the ancient fortified towns of Beaucaire and Tarascon, the experience of “Les Carrieres De Lumiere” at the medieval village of Les Beaux De Provence, the UNESCO World Heritage site Pont Du Gard, a tasting of Roman wines at Le Mas Des Tourelles. An explore pf the ancient city of Arles and its 2000 years of history as well as discovering the wild and preserved Camargue, one of Europe’s largest wetlands reserve. Lunch at Les Saintes Maries De La Mer, a place of authentic tradition and gypsies’ pilgrimage, and enjoy the striking, walled medieval town of Aigues Mortes, sitting on the flat marshes of the Camargue. Cruise to the island of Maguelone, covered with vineyards and hundred-year-old cypresses. Visite Sete, the most important French fisher harbor of the Mediterranean coast

Included in this river cruise are your transfers from Montpellier or Nimes to the barge and return along with a private cruise for up to 6 passengers in 3 double cabins, all meals with their accompanying wines from the region (including 3 lunches at typical “restaurant provençal“), a bar with a selection of cocktails, alcohol, liquor, Languedoc wines, and soft drinks, sightseeing excursions (including entrance fees) with an escort and private van plus the services of 2 hosts znc captain along with a licensed guide for specific tours & excursions plus you can use the barge facilities which includes bicycles and a hot tub on the deck.

4. ‘Napoleon’ Rhone & Provence Cruise

The Belmond Napoleon is a grand river cruiser, displaying the charm of the ever-popular warm and welcoming Provencal decor.

Voyage along the River Rhone while reclining on deck. Then step out into sun-drenched landscapes that inspired Cezanne and Van Gogh. Time melts away as you gaze on views of the French countryside: Endless vistas of tiled roofs, historic monuments, lavender fields, and olive groves are all typical of this part of Provence, a region with a sophisticated culture dating back to Roman times.

Highlights include an exploration of Avignon and the Palais des Papes, a tour of France’s second city, Lyon, renowned for its culture and gastronomy. Tasting of the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe and Tain l’Hermitage, a tour of the charming medieval town of Viviers. You will visit the typical village of Nyons and explore the Provence hill country as well as visiting and lunching at the Château de Grignan where the daughter of Madame de Sévigné resided.

Included in this river cruise is the round-trip first-class TGV train service between Paris and the Napoleon, six nights accommodation on board, breakfast, lunch & candlelit dinner each day, refreshments on board after excursions, wine with meals, liqueurs and bar drinks on board, sightseeing excursions, including entrance fees, an air-conditioned vehicle with a guide for sightseeing, the services of 6 crew and the use of bicycles and barge amenities which includes a heated Jacuzzi on the open deck.

5. ‘Roi Soleil’ Cruise In The Midi & Provence

The Ultra Deluxe 6-passenger Roi Soleil, part of the Luxury Collection and exclusively available for private charters, combines the best of yachts and barges. Enjoy a personalized cruise in Southern France, high on luxurious comfort and mouth-watering delights. Choose the romantic 17th century Canal du Midi cruise, now on the UNESCO World Heritage List, or the vibrant Provence and Camargue cruise, which is available upon request on select dates.

Highlights of this river cruise include sailing through the great locks of Fonserannes, a private visit to the Cistercian Abbey of Fontroide, one of the finest examples in France, an excursion to the charming city of Narbonne, a private wine tasting in a renowned Minervois wine estate, a visit to the fortified city of Carcassonne, Europe’s largest Medieval Fortress, an excursion to the historical city of Pézenas and the pre-roman Oppidum of Enserune and a visit medieval village of Lagrasse and its artisans.

Include on this river cruise are your transfers from Carcassonne, Narbonne, Beziers, or Montpellier to the barge and return, six nights accommodation on board, all meals on board catered for by a Master Chef, open bar with a large range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, all wines served throughout the cruise, sightseeing excursions with a guide and air-conditioned minibus, the services of 4 crew and the use of barge facilities which includes bicycles and a Spa tub on the deck.

6. Charming Provence and The Camargue: The Best Of Provence

This expertly planned itinerary features a 3 Days Pre-Cruise Land Package that shares the best of Provence from Avignon. From your centrally located hotel in Avignon, you will enjoy daily excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts, and discover the best spots of Provence and the Luberon hill country:

The Provencal market of Roussillon, the hilltop village of Gordes, Fontaine de Vaucluse, the Roman aqueduct of the Pont Du Gard, the medieval villages of Les Baux de Provence and Saint Remy de Provence, the Roman town of Orange, and an introduction to the wines of the Rhone Valley with a special wine-tasting in Chateauneuf du Pape. While this part of the trip does not include a river cruise, the remainder, listed in part 7, details the cruise itself.

7. Charming Provence and The Camargue: River Cruise

This 7 day river cruise through the Camargue is all Inclusive with refined French cuisine onboard and daily onshore experiences.

The Anne-Marie cruises into the beautiful region of Provence & Camargue, between Arles and Sete. You will enjoy a lively atmosphere on board while discovering an untouched and preserved landscape. Prepare to be captivated by the many attractions of the real France! This real France includes Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, one of the most beautiful villages in France; A traditional Camargue experience with a “manade”; The fortified city of Aigues-Mortes and the salt marshes; The beauty of the Camargue; Arles and olive oil production; Etang De Thau and its oyster farms.

Included in this trip is the transfer from Avignon TGV train station to the hotel on arrival, two Nights at the Hotel de l’Horloge in Avignon (or similar), breakfast and city taxes included, plus the pre-Cruise Land Package: Two 3-course dinners (without drinks), transportation by minibus with English speaking driver-guide and entrance fees for daily tours as mentioned in the itinerary.

Also included is the transfer from Avignon to the barge Anne Marie and the 7-day/6-night cruise in a cabin with a private bathroom on board Anne-Marie. All meals from dinner the first day to breakfast on the last day are included along with Drinks including water, wine, beer, fruit juices, and coffee served during meals. Drinks served at the bar (excluding champagne and premium drinks on the wine list), Excursions and admittance fees.

8. Colours Of Provence Amacello River Cruise

From romantic cities to foodie havens and artistic epicenters, this itinerary enlivens all your senses. Visit Lyon, France’s culinary capital. Savor the beauty of legendary vineyards and imbibe in local vintages like Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. You can even become an expert in all things culinary: go in search of the highly prized “Black Diamond” truffles; learn how to pair chocolate with wine; and discover how olives turn into the Mediterranean’s nectar, olive oil. Trace the steps of famous artists in Arles and Carriéres de Lumiéres, and let the Provence hill country cast its magical spell on you.

Included on this river cruise are 7 nights of luxury accommodation in an outside stateroom (most with French balconies) with an ensuite bathroom, your choice of one large bed (larger than queen size) or two twin beds, free Internet and Wi-Fi access, all meals from dinner the first evening to breakfast on the final day, beer, wine and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner; sparkling wine and fresh juice with breakfast and excursions.

9. Pure Provence France Cruises Signature CruiseTour

This expertly planned itinerary features exclusive touring and locally inspired experiences. Your floating hotel is the 46-passenger river cruiser Le Chardonnay.

With only 23 comfortable cabins arranged over 2 decks, all with private en-suite bathrooms, a spacious lounge with bar, restaurant with local cuisine of Provençal inspiration (included in your package), a large sun deck with deckchairs, it is the ideal setting for discovering or re-discovering Provence in a totally new way.

Moored opposite the Cité des Papes in the very heart of Avignon, passengers will be carried away by magical places such as Avignon, Arles, Martigues, Aigues-Mortes, Port Saint-Louis and will be able to admire Provence as they’ve never seen it before.

With refined French cuisine onboard and unique onshore experiences, passengers will enjoy “A La Carte” amazing tours with passionate local professional guides and discover Provence in a unique way.

If you book this tour, YOU decide the tours you are interested in. You can adventure onwards exactly how you’d like. This innovative concept of touring not only offers a choice of excursions and activities but also provides you with a more authentic and personal experience by touring with a smaller group of like-minded travelers.

Included in this 5-day/4-night CruiseTour onboard Le Chardonnay are “A La Carte” Excursions Program, which features several options throughout each day. All tours are fully hosted by English-speaking local experts transfers from Avignon TGV train station to docking location on arrival, double-occupancy cabin with shower in the private bathroom, all meals from dinner the first day to breakfast on last day (including a lunch ashore at a Camargue estate “Manade”), drinks with meals including aperitif, beer, Cote du Rhone red/white wine, coffee/tea welcome cocktail, Gala dinner, Free Wi-Fi and all port fees.

10. AMA Waterways: Colours Of Provence

For a more traditional river cruise from one of our favourite operators, AMA Waterways, try their “Cruise Of The Year” Colours Of Provence.

We experienced an AMA Waterways cruise a few years ago on a cruise around the Netherlands as well as cruising on Springtime APT Holland & Belgium River Cruise. Both boats were magnificent, although we preferred the Ama Serena as the ship was quieter when it motored at night.

The “Colours Of Provence” river cruise is a river cruise through romantic cities to foodie havens and artistic epicenters. Spend three nights in Paris before going to Lyon, France’s culinary capital. Savor the beauty of legendary vineyards and imbibe in local vintages like Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. You can even become an expert in all things culinary: go in search of the highly prized “Black Diamond” truffles; learn how to pair chocolate with wine; and discover how olives turn into the Mediterranean’s nectar, olive oil. Trace the steps of famous artists in Arles and Carriéres de Lumiéres, and then let Barcelona cast its magical spell on you.

On these cruises, you will enjoy an extensive lineup of included tours. In many cases, you will have a choice of excursions, such as standard tours, bike tours, hikes, and Special Interest Tours. We always include a large variety of activities so that you can choose how you want to explore. No matter your preference, your days will be full of discovery and wonder.

Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor.

Disclosure: Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.