Bridge atAvignon

Bridge at Avignon

 

I like a river cruise! So we tried one with Shearings on the ARosa Stella with only 160 people on board.

The ARosa Stella is not as grandiose as some other boats, there’s no balcony where you can sit outside but that means you have a bigger cabin. There is a spacious sundeck with a pool, shuffleboard and a small putting green! The service is excellent, nothing is too much trouble.

LYON Evening sailaway

LYON Evening sailaway

All meals are open dining with a buffet system, I did miss the waiter service evening meal,  although there is one optional “Fine wine dining night” where the chef produces his specialities with waiter service which you can attend for a fee. The food on board has a distinct European slant with of food being presented in sauces.

Shearings do their coach excursions very well and our first, found us wine tasting at an ancient chateau where we enjoyed a morning exploring the kitchens and grounds before descending into the cellars to taste the produce of the vineyards.

Ardeche Gorges

Ardeche Gorges

There is a small library on the ship plus a cupboard with board games and if you wish to be pampered there is also an excellent wellness centre where Caroline had a manicure and I tried a massage. There’s also a fitness centre with exercise bikes and a running machine.

We stopped at lovely French villages where some people took a cycle ride to meet the ship further downstream. You can also take circular bike tours from the longer stays such as Lyon, Macon or Avignon. Do remember to bring sun protection as the south of France can have clear blue skies with 30 + degree heat.

Arles Amphitheatre

Arles Amphitheatre

The beauty of this cruise is strolling into the towns such as Chalons, Avignon, Arles and Lyons where you can explore the medieval narrow streets and buildings, taste the local food , try the different varieties of Moules in each town you visit, and drop into the incredible markets.

We loved the open-air Farmers Market on the riverbank in Lyon and the central undercover market in Avignon where you will be amazed at the size of tomatoes and peppers and the plethora of local produce on display.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Failing that you can take in a gladiator show at the Roman Amphitheatre in Arles or stroll around the town visiting the places Vincent Van Gogh frequented or painted on a regular basis.  Why not try Van Gogh’s own Café? Once known as the Cafe Terrace, this is the place captured in Van Gogh’s painting of Place du Forum in Arles.  Still in operation today and now named Cafe van Gogh.

So, would I recommend this cruise? Well, yes especially as a starter cruise for someone who has never taken a river cruise before. It’s an ideal taster and is good value for money, the Stella Rosa is not as palatial as some of the other boats but the company have worked on this cruise and it’s enjoyable, informative and great fun.

Low res Chalons

Chalons

I really enjoyed this cruise and if you haven’t tried river cruising before do have a look at it.

www.shearings.com

 

Steve was a guest of Shearings river cruises.