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From: Viking River Cruises: Southern France cruise review


ABOVE: A florist's shop in Chalon-sur-Saône's pedestrian zone.

Our southbound cruise itinerary began in Chalon-sur-Saône, a town of about 70,000 inhabitants south of Dijon in Burgundy. (Viking's Southern France itinerary alternates between downriver and upriver sailings.)

The ship wasn't scheduled to sail until the next day, so--after boarding and unpacking--we left the quayside and headed for Chalon's pedestrian zone, which was only a block or two away.

It was Saturday afternoon, and the town center was packed with locals of all ages. Most were shopping, hanging out in cafés, or buying waffles and pastries at outdoor stands. The florists and garden shops were doing a healthy business (see photo above), and the weather was mild enough for colorful outdoor displays of flowers and potted plants.

We spent some time in the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent, where an impromptu organ concert was taking place.(The Gothic cathedral was begun in the 13th Century and restored in the mid-19th Century after being vandalized during the French Revolution.)

One of the more curious sights in town was the Tour du Doyenné, a 15th Century tower formerly attached to the cathedral that later was torn down and re-erected in Paris before being acquired by Jay Gould, the American railroad magnate, and returned to Chalon-sur-Saône as a gift to the city. (The tower now stands on a small island in the river.)

Chalon is historically important for several reasons: It was the birthplace of photography in 1822 (Kodak had a factory in Chalon until 2005), and it has been an important inland port since the Canal du Centre was built in the 1700s to connect the Saône River to the Loire. The city has also been the site of 10 church councils, including one that was called by Charlemagne in 813.

For more information on Chalon-sur-Saône, see:

Cruise Photos: Chalon

Office du Tourisme - Chalon-sur-Saône

Next page: Beaune

MS Maribelle
Introduction Dining
M/S Maribelle Shore excursions
Staterooms Service
Audience and ambience Overall value

Saône-Rhône River Cruise: Ports and Excursions

Chalon-sur-Saône Vivarais Railroad
Beaune Viviers
Macon Avignon
Lyon Les Baux de Provence
Vienne Arles
Tournon sur Rhône Pont du Gard

Day-by-day cruise photo gallery:

MS Maribelle photos (169 day-by-day images)