We invite you to discover one of the most important rivers in Europe and that runs largely through French territory: the Rhone.
Some of the most important French cities were built along the banks of the Rhone, becoming part of its History and a valuable resource for transporting goods.
Centuries ago the transport was fluvial and slow, but now we can bring you in some of these cities with our high-speed trains thanks to Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation.
The course of the Rhone
The Swiss Alps and the Lake Leman
The Swiss Alps give birth to the Rhone, which has a length of 820 kilometers and runs through more than half of France’s territory.
Passing through the well-known Lake Leman, the Rhone River enters French territory through the Haute-Savoie region and runs across the border areas of the Alps to reach Lyon, which is the biggest city along its course.
Lyon and the Rhone
Images of Lyon
In this French city, the Rhone meets its biggest tributary, the Saône.
Lyon was built 2000 years ago, and it is still growing. It was founded by the Romans along the river but nowadays the city is divided into three large areas: the residential area, located at the north of the river; the area of the Presqu'ile, located between the two rivers and well-known for being the most commercial part of the city, and the area of Vieux Lyon, the oldest and most historic area of the city.
Currently, you can sail on the Rhone using a classic Bateaux and visit Lyon. Although there are carried out several activities in the river during the whole year, like in December, when you can enjoy the well-known Festival of Lights in Lyon. This festival date to 1643 and commemorates the non-appearance of the plague in the city.
Valence and the Rhone
Images of Valence
Following the course towards its mouth, the Rhone crosses Valence, a beautiful town known as "The South Gate of France", given its geographical location.
Valence is a city with little more than 60 thousand inhabitants and is famous a for its old quarter. The old town is presided by the Saint Apollinaire cathedral, one of the emblems of the city.
Avignon and the Rhone
Images of Avignon
The importance of the city of Avignon is principally associated with the Rhone. During the Middle Ages, Avignon was one of the main French cities due to the fluvial commerce from the Mediterranean Sea to the interior of the country and also because of its important geographical situation.
In fact, the majestic Palace of the Popes was the seat of papal power during the Middle Ages and the largest and most important baroque complex in Europe. Avignon is currently one of the most important cultural centers in France, with a prestigious festival held in summer and an important tourist center.
Arles and the Rhone
Images of Arles
Arles is the last important city before the Rhone flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
Founded by the Greeks in the fourth century BC, Arles was for a long time the most important port of the Rhône. Arles achieved a high level of commerce and flourished in an impressive way, until the arrival of the railway in the nineteenth century.
Arles is also known for hosting the Camargue region, one of the most important natural parks in the country and a place of pilgrimage for the largest concentration of flamingos in Europe.
Finally, the Rhone flows into Port Saint Louis du Rhone creating one of the most spectacular deltas of the Mediterranean.
Book your ticket to get into one of the Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation trains and go discover these cities following the Rhone.