We at Kosher River Cruise would like to take you along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Rhone, right in the heart of French Provence. It is a land of exceptional beauty, appreciated throughout the world for the majesty of its landscape and peerless lifestyle.
Provence’s azure-blue skies, natural scenery, remarkable heritage, chirping cicadas, lavender fields and hilltop villages make it a dream holiday destination. With our starting point at the World UNESCO Site of Lyon, the cruise goes downstream to Arles, then return upriver visiting Avignon, Cavaillon, Carpentras, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Viviers, until we finally return to Lyon.
This cruise encompasses art, history and culture in places that have beared witness to thousands of years of European history. Your experience is further enhanced by your on-board Kosher River Cruise historians, lecturers and educators. They bring to life each region and their rich Jewish history and heritage.
Here ten amazing facts you may not have known about Provence and the Rhone River:
- The Rhone river springs in the Swiss Alps at an elevation of 2,208 meters (7,244 ft).
- The French name Provence comes from the Latin name “Province”. Part of this region was one of the oldest Roman provinces outside of the Roman Empire proper. It was originally called “Provincia Nostra” – “Our Province”.
- Provence is sunnier and hotter than Los Angeles or Miami. the region experiences an average of 2,900 hours of sun per year. The American cities have only about 2,000 hours of sun per year. With such a climate, Provence is a perfect destination for holidaymakers, outdoor enthusiasts and winemakers alike who love the sun. The dry winds that are famous in Provence make for excellent growing conditions for the masses of grapes in the area.
- Provence boasts one of Europe’s oldest wine growing traditions. First it was the Greeks, who brought and cultivated wine here in as early as 600 BCE, later continued by the Roman Empire. Christian monks carried on with the wine manufacturing after the fall of the Roman Empire. They developed Provencal wine making throughout for 700 more years after the 5th century.
- Some of France’s most famous ancient towns are in southern France. Many of them are along the shore of the Mediterranean: Marseille, Nice, Avignon, Saint Tropez, Monte Carlo or Cannes.
- Marseille is France’s second largest city right after Paris. Its population reaches over a million inhabitants (several millions within the metro area).
- Marseille has the second largest Jewish community in France, and one of the largest ones in the entire Diaspora, with more than a 100,000 members.
- The city of Lyon forms the second largest metropolitan area of France only after Paris, totalling close to 2,5 Million inhabitants. Approximately 50,000 are Jews. They operate two dozen synagogues, many religious schools and other Jewish institutions.
- The second oldest functioning synagogue in Europe is located in the small city of Carpentras, built in 1367 . The oldest one surviving is the famous Old-New Synagogue in Prague from 1270. It still holds services until this day. The one special feature of this shul is the surviving medieval mikveh (ritual bath) and matzah bakery, located in the basement of the structure.
- Southern France was one of the epicentres of Jewish thought in the Middle Ages known as “Hachmei Provence”. Between the 10th and the 13th centuries, there was a significant movement of Ashkenazi Jews studying at the local centers of study that produced a genuine component in halakhic and Talmudic literature. They represented an interesting mixture of the Sephardic tradition of the neighboring Spanish scholars and the Yehudei Ashkenaz tradition represented by the Tosafists. Some theories suggest that even Rashi’s family hailed from this region.
These are but ten amazing facts we encounter on our Kosher River Cruise on the Rhone. We hope that you will come and join us for this unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience!