Get a Taste of France with Scenic’s Food-Focused River Cruises. Three itineraries in Provence and Bordeaux highlight region’s culinary bounty

Space Ship Scenic Diamond, in this image at Bordeaux, FranceFor many, a trip to France is as much about experiencing the food culture that brought us iconic dishes like boeuf Bourguignon, foie gras and chocolate souffle as it is about visiting the art museums and historic sites.

For those travelers who like to plan their vacations around seeking out a must-try dish or making a pilgrimage to a beloved winery, Scenic offers three distinct river cruise itineraries that put the focus on the farmers, fields and flavors that make France come alive on the plate.

France Through the Eyes of a Top Chef

Perhaps one of the best ways to get a taste of the South of France is to experience it alongside a knowledgeable chef. Scenic has made this possible through their recently announced partnership with Top Chef favorite Bryan Voltaggio, who will be hosting a culinary-themed departure of their popular 11-day southern France river cruise this fall. Spectacular South of France with Top Chef Bryan Voltaggio sails round trip out of Lyon on October 20, 2022, exploring many of France’s most food-focused regions along the Rhône River. Guests interested in booking this sailing should act quickly—with only a handful of cabins left, it will sell out quickly.

In addition to culinary excursions in many ports, this special sailing will feature multiple opportunities to interact with and learn from Chef Bryan. An evening welcome reception kicks off the cruise and features a bespoke cocktail and the chance to meet the chef. An onboard cooking demonstration offers guests the opportunity to watch and learn—and sample—a new recipe from the Top Chef, while a lecture on seasonal cooking and French cuisine will deepen guests understanding of the culinary bounty of the region.

Guests will have the chance to score a reservation for an intimate meal with Chef Bryan in L’Amour, the specialty dining restaurant onboard. Finally, the highlight of the sailing for many will be a four-course, onboard dinner created and prepared especially for the cruise by Chef Bryan for all the guests.

Provence and Lyon, a Foodie’s Paradise

The city of Lyon is widely accepted as the gastronomic capital of France—quite a moniker for the country that invented haute cuisine. Scenic’s Taste of Southern France 11-day sailing round trip from Lyon—offered in July and September of this year—offers specially curated, culinary focused tours that allow guests to learn about—and sample—the region’s best known and loved ingredients at their source.

Foodie tours options abound, include the opportunity to join highly trained hounds at a local truffle farm in Tournus and learn the techniques for hunting these delicacies; spend an afternoon organic goat cheese farm to learn about the cheesemaking process; a visit to a local mustard producer in charming Beaune; a special, after-hours interactive chocolate making workshop at the iconic Valhrona Cite du Chocolate in Tain L’hermitage; wine tasting at the famed Chateauneuf du Pape; a shopping excursion to a local market with the ship’s chef in Avignon; an excursion to idyllic Les Baux with a visit to a local olive farm; and lunch at a traditional Bouchon restaurant in Lyon. Onboard, the culinary journey continues with a welcome dinner menu featuring local truffles and a cheese presentation and tasting.

Bordeaux for Wine and Food Lovers Alike

France’s Bordeaux region is famed for its abundance of vineyards and top-notch wine labels, but it’s also famed for its culinary delights: fresh oysters from the Bay of Archacon, tender canelé pastries and wild foraged mushrooms. Scenic’s Flavors of Bordeaux culinary sailing offers plenty of opportunities to experience both, with tours intended to allow guests to experience the abundance this region has on offer.

In Cadillac, guests can choose to experience a local truffle farm, or learn more about Lillet—the popular French aperitif—with a visit to a distillery. A host of cycling tours—using Scenic’s fleet of e-bikes—take guests through the vineyard in Sauternes, Medoc, Pomerol and Bordeaux with tastings included. A local market shopping experience is available in La Riviere, while a Fois Gras tasting is on the menu in Bergerac. For guests who are looking to experience spirits other than wine, a tour of Moon Harbour whisky distillery offers the opportunity to learn how its produced and sample the goods. Onboard, guests can look forward to a welcome dinner with regionally sourced truffles, an afternoon cheese tasting, and an oysters and Champagne party before dinner highlighting the seafood from Arcachon Bay.

Onboard Offerings

These sailings take place on board Scenic Sapphire and Scenic Diamond, which carry just 149 guests each. Both ships are equipped with a bespoke cooking emporium called Scenic Culinaire where guests can take part in tailored cooking classes for up to 10 at a time. Classes will be offered by Scenic’s chefs throughout the sailing, including in Avignon and Bordeaux, where guests can opt to visit a local market with the ship’s chef before returning to Culinaire to create dishes with the fresh, local ingredients.

Both ships also feature multiple dining venues, including Table La Rive, a six-course degustation menu with sommelier paired wines. This intimate dining experience for 10 guests comes at the invitation of the Executive Chef and is reserved for guests on the Diamond Deck and in Junior Balcony Suites on the Sapphire Deck. L’Amour, a small dining room located at the front of the ship for the best vantage point, offers a five-course, wine-paired meal available to all guests onboard.

“Scenic is known for its excellent culinary offerings, from the fine dining available on board our river and ocean ships, to our epicurean-themed sailings and onboard cooking schools,” said Maggie Carbonell, Vice President Marketing for Scenic USA. “These special culinary-focused journeys in France provide guests with access to curated food and wine experiences in ports as well as onboard to heighten the gastronomic experience. We’re especially excited about our partnership with Chef Bryan Voltaggio, which will allow our guests a once in a lifetime opportunity to sail through beautiful Provence while seeing it through the eyes of a top chef.”

Chef Bryan Voltaggio is a culinary innovation to Mid-Atlantic cuisine, a restaurateur and television personality. A Maryland native and James Beard Foundation Award finalist, Bryan creates menus driven by the region’s fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients and strives to engage diners in supporting local agriculture through his choice of dishes that change with the seasons. In 2021 he starred in his own Food Network series “Battle of the Brothers” with brother Michael Voltaggio. He has also released two cookbooks Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends and VOLT.Ink. Bryan opened his first restaurant, Volt, in 2008, which he reinvented during the pandemic as Thacher & Rye. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he is also executive chef for Showroom and chef and partner at STRFSH, Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse, and Estuary with his brother Michael Voltaggio.

(Scenic – Luxury Cruises & Tours)

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