Tournon and Tain-l'Hermitage are two picturesque French towns on either side of the Rhône River. These two "twin cities" are attractive to all visitors, but especially those who enjoy chocolate and wine. The two towns are small and connected by a bridge, so it's easy to see both when your river ship is docked in Tain-l'Hermitage.
I visited the twin cities on the SS Catherine river vessel of the Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. This luxury ship sails 8-day "Burgundy & Provence" cruises between Avignon and Lyon. This cruise itinerary includes a day at Tournon and Tain-l'Hermitage. Several other river cruise lines sailing the Rhône River on cruises of southern France also include a stopover at these lovely two towns.
Let's take a walk around Tournon and Tain-l'Hermitage.
Plane Trees Along the Rhône River
The SS Catherine docked on the Tain-l'Hermitage side of the Rhône River on our cruise, but both towns have docking areas for river ships. The two towns are so close together that the location doesn't really matter.
We did enjoy these wonderful plane trees that line the river bank. Our cruise was in late March, so the trees are bare, but they'll be leafed out and gorgeous later in the spring and summer.
Walking Tour of Tain-l'Hermitage
Walking from the SS Catherine docked in Tain-l'Hermitage to the Valrhona Chocolate shop, we passed by this lovely house with a small chapel on the property. The distance from the ship to the Valrhona Chocolate shop was only a few blocks.
Cooking Demonstration at Cité du Chocolat, Valrhona
Cité du Chocolat, Valrhona is a museum and chocolate shop, but also has cooking demonstrations and an excellent interactive presentation on how chocolate is made. We all really enjoyed watching the chef make dark and milk chocolate mousses during his cooking demonstration. The chocolate factory is on the same property, but was not available for tours.
Everyone in our group also really enjoyed all the samples available for tasting and buying in the shop.
View of Tournon from Tain-l'Hermitage
Following our walk to the Cité du Chocolat, Valrhona, we boarded a bus for the short ride across the bridge to the town of Tournon.
Tournon on the Rhône River
Collegiate Church of Saint Julien is the large church in the center of Tournon. It is done in the Gothic style and has a number of houses built into the church walls.
The large medieval castle of Tournon was built between the 14th and 16th centuries and is now a museum. Some guests on the SS Catherine did an in-depth tour of the massive fortress, while the rest of us visited the Cité du Chocolat, Valrhona and then joined the other group on one of the outdoor gardens that overlooked the river.
Perched on the edge of the Rhône River, the castle provided excellent protection for the town since the river and surrounding countryside could be well seen from the top of the castle. Today this same castle treats its guests to magnificent views of this same scenery.
The next four photos were taken from the castle while we enjoyed a wine tasting of some of the local wines. This wine tasting was sponsored by two of the wine brotherhoods--Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage.
View of Tournon from the Castle
The 360-degree views from the Tournon Castle are spectacular and well worth the climb. Add in a sunny spring day and a glass of the local wine, and it's a memorable experience. One of the ancient towers that protected the town can be seen in the background.
Those who like to hike can take the Path of the Towers or the Sentier des Tours. This path is part of the National Trail GR 42 and provides both a close up look of some of the towers as well as spectacular views of Tournon and the Rhône River below.
View of Church in Tournon from Castle
The Collegiate Church of Saint Julien dominates the small town of Tournon. The small town is well-protected, with hills lined with towers on one side and the Rhône River on the other.
Tower over Tournon
This is one of the many towers that line the hilltops overlooking the river near Tournon. Walkers can get a closer look at the towers from the Tournon Sentier des Tours (Path of the Towers).
Tain-l'Hermitage on the Rhône River
Our day at Tournon and Tain-l'Hermitage came to an end too quickly. Leaving the Tournon Castle Museum, we walked across the bridge back to the SS Catherine, which was docked in Tain-l'Hermiage.