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CruiseDirection - Magazine May 2019

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Cruise The Saone

A Saone cruise takes you along the main tributary of the River Rhone. Embarking in Chalon sur Saone and cruising to Lyon will bring you to where the river joins the Rhone. As this is a short cruise, only about 80 miles in length, most tour operators will combine a cruise on the Saone with one on the Rhone. Cruise operators offering Saone cruises include Viking River Cruises, Scenic Cruises and Croisi Europe. The region has a mild climate, making the cruise season a fairly long one, running from March to December.  

The Saone flows through Burgundy, one of the top gastronomic and wine-growing regions of France. On most cruises, there will be visits to Beaujolais wine-growing regions, offering the chance to sample the local wines and make some purchases.  

Chalon sur Saone is an exceptionally attractive town much beloved by photographers. As well as the River Saone, the town is also at a meeting point of canals and Roman roads, making it a centre for trade since the Middle Ages. With countless carnivals, markets and fairs, you will find there is always something happening in the town.

Why Visit Saone?


Saone scenery image by cruisedirection

The Saone flows through Burgundy

Most tour operators will combine a cruise on the Saone with one on the Rhone

Tournus is another attractive city on most Saone river cruise itineraries, nestling among the rolling hills of Burgundy in the heart of the wine country. It is one of the region’s oldest monastic centres, and history lovers should not miss the chance to visit the abbey, parts of which date back to the tenth century. Craft and food shops in the town offer the chance to discover the region’s produce, from chocolate to cheese.  

Many cruises will also make a stop in Macon to visit the historic churches and admire the quirky architecture of the town. The final stop on the river is Lyon, where the Saone meets the Rhone. The city is the third-largest in France and includes the Musée de Beaux Arts, an establishment that is second only to the Louvre in Paris.  

In between these towns is the tranquillity of the Burgundian countryside. With mild springs and autumns and hot summers, there are plenty of opportunities to sit on deck to watch the beautiful scenery slip by. A popular excursion from a Saone cruise is to the walled town of Beaune, where you can visit the historic Hotel-Dieu, refurbished to appear as it did 500 years ago. If you are feeling energetic, then walk around the town’s two-kilometre ramparts.  

An alternative for those who do not wish to combine a Saone cruise with a Rhone cruise is to take a barge riverboat cruise. As well as the Saone, these will often take in the other waterways of the region, including the Burgundy Canal and the Canal du Centre. The Burgundy Canal travels deep into the picturesque countryside of Burgundy to Dijon, while the Canal du Centre runs through the premier wine-growing region to Digoin, the “town of water.” Either trip will enhance your cruising to the Saone and allow you to explore more of the region.

Saone destination image by cruisedirection

Saone Inspiration


Interested in Saone Cruise Holidays?


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