When earlier this year I got a press release about CroisiEurope’s new “CroisVélo” concept, I immediately said: this is something I want to try myself.
River cruising and biking is something I have enjoyed a lot with AmaWaterways. This company always has bikes available on board, to go on your own, or to do one of the excursions ‘on wheels’.
The CroisiVélo concept is different. Let me tell you why.
Laurent, our bike leader, and me in front of CAMARGUE
French river cruise operator CroisiEurope works together with an external partner, which is the Swiss company DIGnGO. They create the bicycle routes and they provide the tour leader. They provide the bikes. Or in other words, CroisiEurope runs the cruise and DIGnGO takes care of the bicycle part.
Last week I did a CroisiVélo cruise on the Rhône with the recently rebuilt 104-passenger CAMARGUE, a very fine vessel with a trendy, modern interior.
The interesting thing was that I had been on the Rhône in April, for a great cruise with the AMACELLO from AmaWaterways. Leaving from Lyon. Sailing on the Saône and the Rhône. Calling at places like Vienne, Viviers, Tournon and Arles. Both ships did it. And still, when I look back, I can see two completely different experiences. It was almost as if I was in another area when doing the CroisiVélo cruise.
Read Véronique’s report about our previous Rhône cruise here.
Room 210 on CAMARGUE, with my bed facing the floor-to-ceiling windows
Important to know: when booking I have been asked for my length, for the size of the bike. And I also got the option between an e-bike or a normal bike. I picked up the latter.
My super duper bike for the week
Rita and Marc, two Belgians from the bicycle group, said they thought that everybody onboard would be biking. I didn’t really think about this. The truth is that on 90 guests only five were part of the CroisiVélo group.
Rita, Marc, Angelique and myself are from Belgium, and Julie is from Australia. We spoke French all the time and admired Julie whose French skills really were impressive.
First observation: the bike group was in average at least 10 years younger than the other 85 passengers. We sat together at one table, in a nice corner. And we had a great time together; because of the biking experience we shared.
Julie, Angélique, Marc and Rita, in front of lovely Gordes
Our tour guide was Laurent. He did not live onboard the ship. Why? Because he had to drive the logistic support van. Making use of a motorized van results in significant advantages:
-If somebody is tired he can stop biking and step into the van.
-We could put our backpacks with suntan oil, extra pieces of clothing, camera, water etc. in the van.
-On long journeys the ship’s galley team prepared a picnic basket with plenty of food, water and a bottle of rosé wine.
The van, and Laurent giving a briefing
Laurent is our logistic lifeline. Also for the rosé wine at the picnic.
The extended geographical range was without any doubt the main advantage of having a van. On some days we drove one hour before starting to bike. It allowed us to explore villages and landscapes, which we would not have seen when leaving by bike straight from the quayside.
Preparing the bikes
Here’s a day-by-day list of what we did, just to show you the different kind of possibilities in the greater Rhône area (if you have a bike).
Day 1: Embarkation in Lyon
Discovering my room and bathroom
Day 2: Bike-only, 20km, visiting Lyon.
The steep hill towards Notre-Dame de Fourvière
Inside the basilica
Julie, visibly enjoying the moment
Day 3: Bike + Van.
Bike from ship in Mâcon to Cluny (30km), and return by van.
In Mâcon we depart straight from the ship
Biking on the “Voie Verte”, which even includes a refreshing ride in Europe’s longest bike tunnel (1,600m)
Day 4: Van + Bike.
Minibus ride from ship in Vienne to the Pilat Regional Nature Park, followed by a bike ride back to the ship. Including a Côte Rôtie wine tasting after having driven through the vineyards.