Vive La France!

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I’m finally here!  

Aboard the Amawaterways ‘Amadagio‘ ship cruising the Rhône River of France.

For weeks, I’ve been talking about this trip as I’ve been so excited to share this very special excursion with you.  So here we are-after days of travelling, dodging horrible French internet and tripping through vineyards, I am finally able to share our adventures thus far!

The reason for this trip, as many of you know, is because I have signed with Amawaterways  to lead this exact same excursion in August of 2016 for the cruiseline.  The pathway is the same as the one I am currently taking with Amawaterways’s ‘Amadagio’ ship, yet will be a bit different as I will have specifically designed the route with the Amawaterways team to provide the best wine waterways excursion for our Amusée groupies.  While yes, the boat will be open for selling to Amawaterway fans across the globe, we are hoping to collect as many Amusée fans as possible for our upcoming trip in 2016.  With that said, Ama is offering Amusée clients a very special $1500 discount if signed up by May 31st of this year–exciting!  Stay tuned for more details. 

So, let’s talk about our adventures thus far…

Taking off was not exactly as easy as the great state of ‘Minnesnowta’ would have liked us to depart, therefore the first leg of our trip left us delayed by a number of hours leaving us with a giant lay over in Amsterdam, not allowing us to catch the connecting flight we were to take to Lyon, France–where our ship was docked.  But…we made the most of it!  With 8hrs to spare, Jason and I caught a 15min train to the interior of the city to catch a Heineken and feel out the localIMG_2042 Amsterdam scene.  Having not been to Amsterdam since I was 19 and travelling to Europe then by myself for the first time, catching the sights and the scenes (a number of years later!) made for an entertaining lay over.  After all, there are worse cities to be ‘laid up’ in. 

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Finally, after 24hrs of travelling, we were in Lyon and aboard the Amadagio ship.  Greeted by the entire ship’s department heads, including ship director John Riley, we were shown to our suites and tucked in after a long day of travel with housemade soup, salad, fresh sandwiches and a bottle of bubbly.  Hospitality at its finest!

The next day we had to ourselves to tour the sites of the very cool French river city of Lyon.  Lyon, the third largest city in France, is one worth spending some time walking around and site seeing amongst.  If not for the city itself, just for the shopping!  

With one more night to spend at our leisure amongst the city scene we decide to try our hand at catching a reservation at a restaurant we had been wanting to try for a while– the wildly popular, 3 Michelin Star restaurant, Paul Bocuse.IMG_2123  World renowned, Chef Paul Bocuse, most would say is single handedly responsible for modernizing French cuisine.  With a number of restaurants across the city of Lyon, from his cafés to his more casual styled restaurants, the one you really want to hit up if you’re as obsessed with food and wine as we are is his signature restaurant, l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges.  With luck on our side, we able to get a reservation for 2 at 8pm!

While the restaurant will cost you, yes, at least a mortgage payment for one of THE most decedent meals of your life between the courses of 4-10 plates per person, let me tell you–it is IMG_2087one experience you do not want to miss should you take this cruise with me next August.  Just a short 15min cab ride from where the boat docked in Lyon, the restaurant meets and greets you as if you were its most important reservation of the evening.  From its delicate plating, professionally teamed staff, its immaculate coursing to impeccable ambience — every single course was a mouth-watering mesmerizing experience.  For more of our courses and pictures, head to my Instagram acct here!

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Next, we travel to Beaujolais!  Snugged in amongst Burgundy’s most southern end–the region is most prominently known for one of my favorite red grapes, Gamay.  The day was spent with a tiny little vintner and his family as he showed his wares from a number of the region’s Cru sites to his Beaujolais white (Chard).  A gorgeous afternoon of terracotta tiled roof lines and bright green meadowy landscapes.

Next stop and onward the boat sails to very cute, but quaint city of Vienne.  While there are a number of different options for your day, Jason and I opt for the 15 mile bike ride that took you along the Rhône River bank as you peruse the veryIMG_2211 famous vineyard sites of Côte Rôtie.  Perched amongst the most narrow hillsides, families like Chapoutier and Guigal splay their family names across the hillsides claiming some of the country’s most expensive vineyard property outside of Bordeaux & Burgundy.  Stunning!

Day 6, we sail on to the teensy little town of Viviers which surrounds itself by the Rhône famous winemaking regions of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas and Saint Péray.  Again, your pick for excursions run aplenty with Amawaterways’s tour, yet Jason and I decide to head out with a group to a small winery in Saint Péray.  Run again by a small wine growing family, the couple leads us up the hillsides of their properties showing us the 80yr vines that Remy (the winery owner’s) great grandfather once planted on the property.  Equipped with a sparkling made entirely of Marsanne, a white blended of Roussanne and Marsanne, a Crozes-Hermitage, a IMG_2224Cornas and an Hermitage –the tour and tasting made for a lovely afternoon experience.

Later that evening after the ship’s nightly three course dinner aboard the boat, the tour has organized a ‘night walk’ for those interested in soaking up the late night touring sites of the city’s surroundings.  Although the town of 500 people is quite small and virtually asleep by 9pm when our tour takes off, the architecture and history of the village are mighty amongst this sleepy little Rhône River village.

Today, is day seven of our cruise.  While today is probably my most favorite day of the tour — you’ll have to wait a day or two to hear my recap from today’s adventures of Truffle Farm Hunting and Provençal Cooking Classes!  It’s been a long day and I’m sure to run out of range here any minute via WIFI.  While the Rhône satiates the palate with some of France’s most alluring sites and experiences, one of its strong points is not allowing its visitors much interaction with the rest of the world.  But then again, sometimes that’s just okay.IMG_2125

               Until our next dock!  Au Revoir.

For more pictures, keep up on our daily adventures via our Instagram & Twitter feeds!

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  • Leslee, I had the privilege to attend your ‘Wine around the Globe’ class last night at Dolce Vita. All I can say is, WOW!
    My wife and I had an amazing time. The passion you bring is very contagious!
    I look forward to attending more of your events in the near future.
    Troy S.
    Chaska, MN