Known for pears, chocolate, and a very prominent medieval castle-turned-museum, Tournon-sur-Rhône is a tiny French river port that's easy to explore on your own. The bridge and the stone château are the two landmarks that will guide you back to the ship from the town center and the neighboring village.
What We Love
French Wine Country: Tournon and its surrounds are known for a distinctive terroir that’s been prized for centuries. Whether or not you tour the wineries, it’s possible to find reasonably priced bottles from world-renowned Côtes du Rhône vineyards.
Le Jardin d’Eden: Cruise ship excursions often skip over this idyllic little botanical garden — which makes it even more of a find. Its wooded grounds are studded with ruins, brooks, and bridges.
Best Known For
Château-Musée de Tournon-sur-Rhône: This feudal castle’s foundation date back to the 10th century and seems to meld into the rock on which it rests. Dominating the Rhône River, it's an impressive sight from any angle, regardless of whether you go into the museum or not.
Tain-l’Hermitage: Most passengers will join excursion groups to this neighboring village, queuing up for samples of free Valrhona chocolate. Our advice? Break off from the group and visit 15 minutes before they arrive, or a few minutes after, to get your chocolate fix and wholesale prices without the crowds.
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Who It's Best For
Academics: An often glossed-over fact is that Tournon-sur-Rhône is home to one the oldest academies in France: the Lycée Gabriel-Fauré, founded in 1536. You can admire the school's impressive architecture from the banks of the river.
Wine Aficionados: Arriving smack-dab in the Hermitage appellation of northern Côtes du Rhône is a heady experience for wine lovers. Taste the latest vintages and buy as much as you can drink, or grab a couple bottles for your return home.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Crowd Control is an Issue: This is a compact village with only a handful of attractions (including those in the town across the bridge), each equipped to handle a dozen or so people at a time. Traveling in big excursions groups can be uncomfortable and will only makes the town feel smaller.
Lena Katz is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides.