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The Rhône: Bacchus & Orpheus - Music and Wine from Burgundy to Provence

Seven private concerts in châteaux, churches and concert halls along the Rhône and Saône rivers.

Musicians of the highest calibre including Véronique Gens, Paolo Pandolfo, Stile Antico, Ensemble Clément Janequin, Pierre Hantaï, Florilegium with Elin Manahan Thomas and Trio Dali.

Talks on the music by artistic director Richard Langham Smith.

Wine tastings at a number of renowned wine houses in the region and talks by wine expert Marc Millon.

The audience lives on a comfortable river cruiser which sails as far south as Avignon and north 
to Mâcon.

Admission to the concerts is exclusive to those who take a package which also includes travel, accommodation, all meals, talks and much else.

  • Early-20th-century French gouache painting. Above: Avignon, Palais des Papes, aquatint by Sir Francis Barry.
    Early-20th-century French gouache painting.
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Overview

A beautiful backwater

The mighty Rhône once formed the central stretch of the highway linking the north of Europe to the south. Through its tributary the Saône it reached up to the pastures, vineyards and great abbeys of Burgundy; southwards, it flowed past the bleached limestone villages and Mediterranean vegetation of Provence, whence travellers could continue, via coastal waters, to Italy and Spain.

Now it is practically a backwater. River traffic has seeped away to roads and railways, the cities and settlements along its banks largely by-passed by industry. Even tourists are thin on the ground in many places, despite the loveliness of both townscape and countryside.


Bacchus & Orpheus: the partnership of wine & music

The countless ways in which the inseparable partnership of wine and music is forged is the overarching subject of this Festival. Reflected in the concerts, tastings and talks, the felicitous union of Bacchus with Orpheus will be explored in some of the finest buildings of the Côtes du Rhône, with carefully-chosen musical repertoire particularly suited to each venue.

The two lecturers, Richard Langham Smith, the artistic director, and Marc Millon, wine, food and travel author, have worked together carefully to present this voyage of discovery, uncovering some ‘kitchen secrets’ of both the composition of the music and the evolution of the wines. This they have undertaken with a conviction that a little backstage knowledge about both wine and music is always a prescription for increased appreciation. 

How very often we read of wine and music in similar terms! We hear of the ‘notes’ of fruits, herbs, and minerals in wine; the best wines are often remarked on as harmonious; and chordal complexity is admired in the bouquet of bonnes bouteilles. Isn’t the musical ensemble the aural equivalent of the winemaker, carefully blending different grapes, the better to exploit to the full the unique qualities of the ingredients?

Even if they exploit only one grape – as in the red and white wines of Burgundy – the different villages have a ‘gamut’ of wines, all with a timbre in common, but expressing different notes: rather like a piano recital, perhaps.

And then there is the epoch: the soil and the weather (the terroir) which unifies the wines of a particular place – the musicians of the Burgundian court or of the so-called Parisian ‘Impressionist’ composers such as Debussy and Ravel – while the individuality of the composer or vigneron ensures individuality of expression.


Sailing through wine country

Throughout this festival of music and wine, the rivers lead through fabled wine country that has roots dating back to antiquity.

Vineyards first planted by the ancient Romans continue today to produce a remarkable gamut of wines of all styles: rare, distinguished red and white wines from its north flank, including Côte Rôtie, Condrieu and the miniscule Château Grillet; powerful and long-lived reds from Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, St-Joseph, Cornas, Gigondas and elsewhere; probably the finest French rosés from Tavel and Lirac; still and sparkling white wines from St-Péray and sparkling Clairette de Die; and the fragrant, fortified Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.

Following the Saône upriver north of Lyon, we pass the granite hills of the Beaujolais leading up to the limestone outcrops of Solutré, the source of the magnificent white Burgundies of Pouilly-Fuissé.

There are ample opportunities to sample and enjoy this illustrious range of wines throughout the Festival: specially selected wines accompany the on-board meals; there are visits to distinguished vineyards and wine producers to learn, taste and enjoy direct at the source; and the concert experiences are enhanced with wines at the intervals, chosen specially to be relevant to each occasion.


‘Notes of Complexity’

The French poet Charles Baudelaire evolved a theory about parallel senses – correspondances – drink a wine or smell a perfume along with its corresponding musical equivalent and more harmonious pleasure will result. Baudelaire’s intuitive poetic theory is now being pursued by scientific research which seems to be proving his point …

Our exploration of wine and music will end with a joint practical sensory experience: pairing three pieces by the same composer (Maurice Ravel) with three glasses of wine of increasing complexity from the same Burgundian estate. Led by our two lecturers together, this unique listening/tasting session will explore the theme of complexity in wine and music, how and where it comes from.


Comfortable cruiser, beautiful venues

The audience is accommodated on a first-class river cruiser, chartered exclusively for the event. The MS Amadeus Provence is the most comfortable passenger ship of the capacity we require on the Saône and the Rhône.

As both hotel and principal means of transport, the ship enables passengers to attend the concerts and visit some fine towns and cities of the region without having to change hotel or travel long distances. There is little regimentation, no obligatory seating plan, no onboard entertainment, no intrusive announcements – and no piped music.

We are delighted to be bringing to this enchanting slice of La France profonde a music festival of the sort we pioneered, and which continues to be unique to Martin Randall Travel. All the concert venues rank highly for charm, beauty or historical importance, and in many cases they are of the same period as the music.


The festival package

Access to the concerts is exclusive to those who take the festival package, the price for which includes:

Admission to all seven private concerts.

Accommodation for seven nights on board a first-class river cruiser.

Travel by rail from London. There is a price reduction if you choose to make your own arrangements, or a supplement for a night in a hotel of your choice if you would prefer to fly to Lyon the day before the festival.

All meals from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last. Wine is provided with lunch and dinner.

Private wine tastings at some of the most renowned houses in the region and on board the ship.

Interval drinks where appropriate.

Afternoon tea or morning coffee on board the ship when it fits in with our itinerary.

Travel by coach to the concerts and wine tastings when they are beyond walking distance. Travel by coach between airport or rail station and ship.

Lectures by a musicologist and a wine expert.

All tips for crew, restaurant staff and drivers etc., and all state and airport taxes.

Practical and historical information and a detailed programme booklet.

The assistance of an experienced team of French-speaking festival staff.

The programme

Day 1, Thursday 6 July: Lyon

For information on travelling to Lyon see the 'Practicalities' tab.

The ship, MS Amadeus Provence, is moored in Lyon and ready for boarding from 4.00pm.

France’s second city by size, Lyon is widely regarded as surpassing Paris for lifestyle and as a place to live. The number of Michelin stars is usually cited in support, but it is immediately evident to the visitor that this is a well-ordered city where modern life is comfortably inserted into the many hectares of historic fabric.

There is time to settle into your cabin and explore the ship before an early dinner. The first concert follows, at the Salle Molière, a chamber concert hall on the banks of the Saône which opened in 1912.

Concert: Salle Molière, Lyon
L’invitation au voyage
Véronique Gens soprano
Susan Manoff piano

What better than Henri Duparc’s setting of Baudelaire’s celebrated poem from Les Fleurs du mal to launch us on our cruise? Sung by Véronique Gens, the undoubted mistress of the French Song repertoire, its haunting harmonies and soaring vocal line gently launch us into a magic world born of an intimate fusion of musique et poésie, dealing with love in all its aspects as well as with ‘les Plaisirs’: a preoccupation of French music since time immemorial. The concert will finish with songs by Poulenc, including his irresistible setting of Apollinaire’s ‘Hôtel’ extolling the pleasure of doing nothing and smoking (no doubt) a Gauloise.

Alongside Duparc will be songs by Reynald Hahn, one-time lover of Marcel Proust, the exquisite settings of Verlaine’s Watteauesque Fêtes galantes by Debussy and mélodies by Debussy’s friend and mentor Ernest Chausson.

Véronique Gens is one of the finest of French singers. Initially acquiring fame in Baroque opera, she has widened her repertoire to include roles by Mozart and songs by 19th and 20th-century French composers. Susan Manoff, born in New York of Latvian and German descent, has become a much sought-after accompanist for art song and also performs chamber music and solo piano in the world’s leading concert halls.

At 10.00pm, leave the mooring and sail down the Rhône. Moor at Vienne around three hours later.


Day 2, Friday 7 July: Vienne, Tournon

Vienne is a handsome town which was well known in the Roman world as an exporter of wine. In the Middle Ages it became the seat of an important bishopric. The almost complete Temple of Augustus and Livia and the Romanesque-Gothic cathedral are among the outstanding monuments to be found among the narrow streets and little squares. St-André-le-Bas, a church which dates from the ninth and twelfth centuries, is the venue for the morning concert.

Concert: Eglise St-André-le-Bas, Vienne
A perfect marriage of sonority: viol & lute
Paolo Pandolfo & Amélie Chemin viol
Thomas Boysen theorbo

It was Marais himself who thought that the viol and the lute were perfect partners. His music, along with that of his teacher Sainte-Colombe, forms the pinnacle of the French repertoire for the Basse de viole. Both were highly accomplished virtuosos and innovative composers, developing the art of the French school to an unprecedented degree, full of richly chordal, extraordinarily deep sonorities.

Paolo Pandolfo studied with and later played with Jordi Savall, beginning his research in the field of renaissance and baroque musical idioms around 1979. He is professor of viola da gamba at his alma mater, the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, and director of Labyrinto, a viola da gamba group which is dedicated to consort music. He has dedicated two recordings to Marais.

Sail over lunch and through the afternoon to Tournon, an important wine town overlooking one of its most famous vineyards, the imposing hill of Hermitage. Together with Tain l’Hermitage on the opposite bank, Tournon is home to some of the region’s most prestigious producers. From tastings here we learn in particular about the robust and full-flavoured red wines such as Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas and St-Joseph and the forceful white St Péray.

Moor overnight in Tournon.


Day 3, Saturday 8 July: Tournon, Viviers

There is a little time to wander around the delightful little riverside town of Tournon: an expanse of gravel and plane trees, a sweep of pastel façades and shutters, a steep hill rising abruptly behind. Resume the voyage downstream and moor at Viviers in the late afternoon.

From the tranquil mooring, the pinnacles of this enchanting hilltop town can just be seen through the trees. A shaded road leads half a mile to the town. From here a cobbled street climbs steadily and myriad alleys thread past ancient stone houses and eventually lead to the summit. Here the great Gothic cathedral, with its broad seven-sided chevet and flamboyant tracery, is one of the delights of mediaeval Ardèche.

Concert: Viviers Cathedral
The sweet scent of the tender grape: settings of the Song of Songs
Stile Antico

‘Stile Antico’ – the old style – has acquired a specific meaning with regard to renaissance music: the pure style of more conservative composers such as Palestrina. Before it began to be eroded by innovators such as Claudio Monteverdi, this serene musical style permeated southwards to Italy from Flanders and became the lingua franca of European vocal music, both sacred and secular. There was considerable interchange between the music of different nations: English music was copied by French scribes and heard in the chapels of France, and vice versa. Settings of poetry from the Song of Songs, straddling the sacred and the secular, became a favourite.

Stile Antico is an a cappella ensemble of British singers which is established as one of the most original and exciting voices in the field of renaissance and other polyphony. Performing without a conductor, they bring a special intimate attentiveness to each other, which for the audience is engrossing bother aurally and visually. They perform regularly throughout Europe and North America and their recordings have received major awards.

Sail overnight to Avignon.


Day 4, Sunday 9 July: Avignon

The day is spent in Avignon, one of the loveliest and historically most important cities in France. For seventy years during the fourteenth century the Popes and the whole apparatus of papal administration ruled the Catholic Church from here. Rome had sunk into violence and factionalism, and Provence was a virtually independent principality with excellent communications by water with both the north and the south of Europe.

The complete circuit of walls, 2.6 miles in length, is an impressive survival from this time, as is the Palais des Papes, perhaps the finest palace to have survived from the Middle Ages. Much of the fabric of the city, however, dates from a more elegant era, the eighteenth century.

Tours of the Palais des Papes are available throughout the afternoon, followed by a concert in the Grand Tinel, a vast hall where cardinals gathered for the conclave.

Concert: Palais des Papes, Avignon
Les Plaisirs du palais
Ensemble Clément Janequin
Dominique Visse director

Pleasures in the Palace – the Pleasures of the Palate: the title means both. If Stile Antico’s concert was serene, this one will be raucous. Although the church music of 16th-century France could be as pure as any, its chansons delighted in portraying (and exuding) pleasure. The programme includes songs by Claudin de Sermisy, Nicolas Gombert and Janequin.

There could be no better setting than the dining-hall of the Palais des Papes where François I, the King contemporary with this music, sojourned no fewer than six times, no doubt indulging in some musical performances (which he loved) and other pleasures to excess.

Created in Paris in 1978, the Ensemble Clément Janequin performs sacred and secular vocal music of the Renaissance. Their inimitable performances of the French chanson have revealed what is now appreciated to be one of the Golden Ages in the history of French music.

Sail overnight to Viviers.


Day 5, Monday 10 July: Grignan Drive from Viviers to Grignan.

Here a magnificent hilltop castle was built in the Middle Ages, the superstructure to be replaced in the 16th century by a fine Renaissance château. The richly panelled Galerie des Adhémar is the venue for the morning concert.

Concert: Galerie des Adhémar, Château de Grignan
L’art de toucher le clavecin: Couperin & Rameau
Pierre Hantaï harpsichord

Our use of the word ‘touch’ in relation to piano-playing has its roots in the verb used in Latin countries not only for the subtle art of how to put one’s fingers on the keys, but also for ‘touching’ the hearts of the audience. The title for this concert comes from François Couperin, known as ‘le grand’, who wrote an instruction-book on these very skills. Both he and Rameau considerably widened the capabilities of the harpsichord and its expressive range.

Couperin’s delightful Pièces de caractère often have their roots in the gamut of dances fashionable at Court and among the aristocracy: all you had to know in France to be successful at Court was to know how to dance, remarked one commentator. Rameau often arranged hits from his own operas for the harpsichord so that those with an instrument at home could recall the lavish spectacles they had witnessed on the Paris stage. Hantaï is a master of reconjuring this art.

Pierre Hantaï studied the harpsichord with Arthur Haas and later Gustav Leonhardt. He has collaborated with the likes of Philippe Herreweghe, the Kuijken brothers and Marc Minkowski, and often appears with Jordi Savall and friends such as Hugo Reyne, Sébastien Marq, Christophe Coin and Jean-Guihen Queyras. He has three discs devoted to Scarlatti.

The audience divides as the hall is too small to accommodate the entire audience at once.

In the afternoon sail upstream to Trévoux, mooring early on Tuesday morning.


Day 6, Tuesday 11 July: Trévoux, Lyon

Sloping steeply away from the Saône, Trévoux is a mediaeval town with beguiling alleys and stairways. From the neo-Romanesque church there is a magnificent view of the river and the hills beyond.

Sail mid-morning to Lyon where the afternoon is free. Among possible activities are a visit to the Musée des Arts Decoratifs or to the excavated site of the ancient Roman town. Time can also be spent exploring the alleys and Renaissance courtyards of Vieux-Lyon on the slopes across the Saône. A coach shuttle is provided between the mooring and the centre.

The after-dinner concert is held in the Chapelle de la Trinité, now the main venue for the annual Festival de Musique Baroque de Lyon. As in many cities in Catholic Europe, the austere bulk of the Jesuit college does little to prepare the visitor for the decorative elaboration and chromatic richness which is found in the chapel concealed within.

Concert: Chapelle de la Trinité, Lyon
Bacchus & Orpheus: wine & music in the French Baroque
Florilegium
Ashley Solomon director & flute
Elin Manahan Thomas soprano

This concert brings our dual themes of Wine and Music into immediate proximity. The composers of ‘Airs’ and ‘Cantatas’ sang mostly about love: particularly its chains, its pains and (occasionally) its pleasures. Quite often it all went wrong: but there was a cure!

A text about Bacchus suggested ‘waves of wine’ to induce forgetfulness. Another about Orpheus suggested Music in the end gave greater pleasure. In between a ‘Scène de sommeil’ – a ‘sleep’ scene – was obligatory: ‘Doux repos!’

Florilegium provide the perfect ensemble to reproduce the music of the 18th century: a flute, at which the French have always been the masters, a theorbo (the king of the lutes) and a harpsichord. Sybaritic sonority!

Regular performances in some of the world’s most prestigious venues have confirmed Florilegium’s status as one of Britain’s outstanding period instrument ensembles. They are a former Ensemble in Residence of the Wigmore Hall and have been the Ensemble in Association of the Royal College of Music for twelve years.

One of Britain’s leading young sopranos, Elin Manahan Thomas was born and bred in Swansea and graduated from Clare College, Cambridge in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.

Sail overnight up the Saône to Mâcon.


Day 7, Wednesday 12 July: Pierreclos, Mâcon

Moor at Mâcon and drive for twenty minutes through Burgundian countryside, a crowded pallet of rumpled hills, woodland and fields, pasturage and vineyards. The Château de Pierreclos sits on a promontory as if on a stage, a picturesque clump of masonry and roof tiles, much battered and patched over the centuries. The concert is in an unembellished but well-restored hall.

Concert: Château de Pierreclos
The beauty of nostalgia & complexity: Ravel à 2 et à 3…
Trio Dali:
Jack Liebeck violin
Christian-Pierre La Marca cello
Amandine Savary piano

Centred on the Piano Trio of Ravel, this concert also includes his Sonata for Violin and Cello, an extraordinary and rarely- heard composition which makes the two instruments sound like an orchestra.

Though his roots were in the Basque country – and his music sometimes shines with the Southern sun – Ravel’s brilliant understanding of the ultimate complexities of harmony came from his immersion in the music of Paris, riding the crest of the wave in terms of its musical production across the turn of the century and into the first decades of the twentieth. A château somewhere between the very South of France and Paris is therefore a perfect location for this concert.

Formed in 2006, Trio Dali studied with the Artemis Quartet, Augustin Dumay, Menahem Pressler and at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. They have performed internationally in concerts and festivals, worked with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia Varsovia and are artists in residence at the Singer-Polignac Foundation in Paris.

Return to the ship for lunch. In the afternoon Mâcon provides the opportunity to dip into the vineyards of southern Burgundy, lying to the south and west of the city and leading up to the rearing crest of Solutré. This magnificent natural landmark is a salient feature of Mâcon’s wine country, for it is evidence of a profound and rich layer of limestone, the terroir that proves such a fertile and propitious ground for the Chardonnay grape. Indeed, our visit to a producer here allows lovers of white Burgundy to discover and sample some of its greatest produce: Pouilly Fuissé, St-Véran, Pouilly-Vinzelles and Mâcon-Chaintré.

Sail down the Saône to Lyon overnight.


Day 8, Thursday 13 July

MS Amadeus Provence moors in Lyon before dawn.

Leaving the festival

Passengers have to disembark by 9.30am.

One coach goes straight from the quay to Lyon airport, arriving there by 8.30am. This is for those booked on BA 361, Lyon–London Heathrow 10.05–10.50. A

nother coach goes straight from the quay to Lyon Part-Dieu for the TGV to Paris Gare de Lyon 10.04–12.07, then Eurostar Paris Gare du Nord–London St Pancras 14.43–16.00. A coach is provided for the journey across Paris.

Anyone is welcome to join the transfer coaches whatever their onward journey. See 'Practicalities' for further details about the above travel options.

More about the concerts

Private events. These concerts are planned and administered by Martin Randall Travel. The audience, no more than 120, consists exclusively of those who have booked the full festival package.

Specific seats are not reserved. You sit where you want.

Acoustics. This festival is more concerned with authenticity and ambience than acoustical perfection. While some of the venues have excellent acoustics, others have idiosyncrasies not found in modern concert halls.

Changes. Musicians fall ill, venues require restoration, rivers flood (or run dry): there are many unforeseeable circumstances which could necessitate changes to the programme. We ask you to be understanding should they occur.

Floods and droughts. We cannot rule out changes to the programme due to the tide, to severe increases in water levels (which lead to the closure of locks) or indeed low levels of water. Such changes might necessitate more travel by coach. We ask you to be understanding should these events occur.

The Ship

The Amadeus Provence is one of the most comfortable cruisers on the waterways of Europe and the newest vessel in the Amadeus fleet. The multinational crew is dedicated to the highest standards of service.

With a minimum floor area of 16m2 the cabins are reasonably spacious by the standards of river cruisers. All have windows to the outside and are equipped with the facilities one would expect of a first-class hotel including shower, w.c., individually adjustable air-conditioning, telephone, TV and safe. Special attention has been paid to noise insulation.

In layout and furnishings the cabins are identical, the significant differences being the size of windows and height above water level (higher cabins enjoy better views and fewer stairs).

Cabins on the top two decks (Mozart and Strauss 17m2) are the most desirable, with floor to ceiling drop-down panoramic windows (200 x 250 cm) minibars and walk-in wardrobes. Also on the Mozart deck are eight suites measuring approximately 26m2 which have a sofa, table and armchair, a bath, minibar, safe and a small balcony.

Cabins on the lowest (Haydn) deck have smaller windows (160 x 40 cm) which do not open. There are no single cabins as such but we are allocating some two-bed cabins for single occupancy.

The public areas include the lounge and bar, a library area and a restaurant which can seat everyone at a single sitting. The sun deck has a pool area with outdoor bar and a tented area for shade.

www.lueftner-cruises.com


Prices

All prices are per person

Haydn deck (lowest)

£3,040 or £3,650* for single occupancy

Strauss deck (middle)

£3,810 or £4,570* for single occupancy

Mozart deck (top)

£4,190 or £5,030* for single occupancy

Suites (Mozart deck)

£4,980 – two sharing only

There is a reduction of £190 if you prefer to make your own travel arrangements – see 'Joining and leaving the festival' for travel options.

*All cabins are designed to accommodate two passengers. We make a limited amount of cabins on each deck available for single occupancy, which usually sell out quickly. Around three months before the start of the festival we may offer any remaining unsold cabins previously reserved for double occupancy to single travellers on the waiting list at a higher price (Haydn £4,150; Strauss £4,970; Mozart £5,530).


Joining & leaving the festival

Travel from London by rail on Eurostar and TGV (high-speed train within France) are included in the price of the festival. Alternatively you can opt to fly to Lyon a day early (5th July) and return by plane on the last day of the festival – a supplement applies for taking this option.

There is a reduction of £190 if you prefer to make your own travel arrangements.


Travel by Eurostar & TGV, first class

Thursday 6th July. Depart London St Pancras station at 09.17; arrive at Paris Gare du Nord at 12.47. By coach across Paris to Gare de Lyon, where departure is at 14.57; arrive at Lyon Part-Dieu station at 16.56. Transfer to the ship by coach for embarkation at c. 5.45pm.

Thursday 13th July. Depart Lyon Part-Dieu station at 10.04; arrive at Paris Gare du Lyon at 12.07. By coach across Paris to Gare du Nord, where departure is at 14.43; arrive at London St Pancras station at 16.00.


Fly from Heathrow; hotel in Lyon

A supplement applies for this option which includes the return flight, coach transfers, a choice between two hotels for the night and breakfast.

Wednesday 5th July. BA 362, departing London Heathrow 14.05, arriving Lyon St Exupéry 16.50. Transfer to your chosen hotel.

Thursday 13th July. BA 361, departing Lyon St Exupéry 10.05, arriving London Heathrow 10.50. Departure for the airport from our mooring in Lyon is at 7.30am.

In Lyon, stay either at: Hotel le Royal.

Ideally located on the Place Bellecour, the main square of the Presqu’île. Elegant, welcoming and professionally run by the Accor group, with restaurant and bar. Locally rated as 5-star but more comparable to a good 4-star. Supplement price £140 per person (based on 2 sharing) or £210 double for single use.

Or: Mercure Lyon Centre Beaux-Arts Hotel

A well located 4-star, 500 metres from the Place Bellecour. Behind the 19th-century façade are well-equipped and modern bedrooms. There is a bar but no restaurant. Supplement price £100 per person (based on 2 sharing) or £160 double for single use.

Thursday 6th July is free for independent sightseeing in Lyon. A coach is provided from both hotels to the ship for embarkation at 4.15pm.


Regional airports

We are happy to quote for connecting flights from regional airports. Please request this on the booking form.


Independent arrangements

You can choose to make your own arrangements for joining and leaving the festival. There is a reduction of £190 per person for the package without travel.

You are welcome to join our coach transfers from Lyon St Exupéry airport or Lyon Part-Dieu train station should your arrival coincide with the times above. Similarly on the final day of the festival you can join a transfer to the airport or rail station.

If you plan to arrive in Lyon before 6th July and would like us to book a room for you at either Hotel le Royal or Mercure Lyon Centre Beaux-Arts, please contact us.

Easyjet operate a daily direct route from London Gatwick, while Flybe operate from Manchester and Birmingham. British Airways fly London to Lyon at 06.40 on 6th July (hence we have chosen not to use it but fly a day earlier instead).


Pre- and post- festival tours

Cave Art of France, 29 June–6 July 2017. Thursday 29th June: BA 2788, departing London Gatwick 19.15, arriving Bordeaux 21.55. Thursday 13th July: BA 361 departing Lyon St Exupéry 10.05, arriving London Heathrow 10.50 (festival flight). 

The Beaune Music Festival, 13–17 July 2017. Thursday 13th July: disembark the ship and take a TGV train from Lyon to Beaune.


Fitness for the festival

We must stress that it is essential to cope with the walking and stair-climbing required to get to the concerts and other events. You should be able to walk unaided for at least thirty minutes. Festival staff will not have the resources to assist individuals with walking difficulties.

We ask that prospective participants assess their fitness by trying these simple exercises:

  1. Chair stands. Sit in a dining chair, with arms folded and hands on opposite shoulders. Stand up and sit down at least 8 times in 30 seconds.


  2. Step test. Mark a wall at a height that is halfway between your knee and your hip bone. Raise each knee in turn to the mark at least 60 times in 2 minutes.


  3. Agility test. Place an object 3 yards from the edge of a chair, sit, and record the time it takes to stand up, walk to the object and sit back down.
You should be able to do this in under 7 seconds.

Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Map: Rhone Festival.

'It is always a pleasure to meet up with previous MRT fellow participants.'

'The itinerary was very well planned for my interests.'

'The music festival was a great experience and enhanced our appreciation of French music.'

'We absolutely loved it! We thought it was a memorable way to celebrate our wedding anniversary.'