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River Rhone, France


Above : Post card view of Ville de Lyon - the ultimate paddle steamer for the River Rhone trade, and displaying the hallmark of a typical Swiss design - this time from Escher, Wyss of Zurich. Public domain.

The River Rhone has always been a major transport artery from the centre to the south of France but development was always constrained by flooding and the shifting course of the river. Passenger transport on the river was badly decimated by the advent of the railways and it was not until 1912 that the Compagnie Lyonnaise de Navigation et de Plaisance was established and 1914 when they put their new paddle steamer Ville de Lyon into the tourist trade between Lyon and Avignon. Ville de Lyon, 56 metres long, was built by Escher,Wyss of Zurich, Switzerland who were well established paddle steamer builders for the Swiss market and represented a major improvement in opportunities for excursions on the Rhone.  The ship's life, already limited by the First World War, was to be short. She sank on June 1st, 1923 in a collision with the Pont du Teil bridge at le Teil near Montelimar. Today, the "improved" Rhone has reinvented itself as a major river cruise destination. There are also numerous excursion boats operating out of Lyon, France's second city.
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