This was a beautiful trip up the Rhone river from Avignon to Lyon, France.
First, the flight from the USA to France. If possible upgrade your seats and connections. We upgraded our seats to United’s economy plus, which was fairly comfortable. Wish we had upgraded our connections for a more direct flight both ways. Learned in Brussels that the common practice in Europe seemed to be to post the next connection about twenty minutes prior to the plane door closing.
Once in Marseille we were met at baggage claim by Viking staff, and shepherded to the bus for the forty minute ride to the riverboat. Unless you’re a very experienced European traveler, use the Viking transfer service at both ends of your cruise.
Another suggestion, especially at the start of your trip, do the trip extension to help with the jet lag.
Viking river does not post departure times or arrival times on their website as other ocean cruise lines do. I suspect they must stay as flexible as the rivers are. Check your daily planner each night for the next days timing for everything.
For our stop in Arles we moored in Tarascon, and were bussed a half hour south. The light is amazingly special there. No wonder van Gogh painted there. The Roman amphitheater was amazing. Got back to the riverboat in time for lunch. The garlic soup was wonderful!
All the food was top notch cruise quality. Each day Chef Alex had a regional recommendation, using local ingredients, and herbs grown on the top deck! One of my standards is a smoked salmon benedict. So good I had it twice. As with most cruise ships, they offered some standards available every day. They even made a hotdog for my wife that looked awesome. On Friday for Lent, They made us her favorite, a peanut butter, lettuce, and mayo sandwich.
I was glad we had the first day in Avignon to rest from the trip over the ocean. When we returned Tuesday, we had the first of many long walks in our ports. Spoiler alert, the palace of the popes was neat to see, but had most statuary and church decor removed. Don’t be too concerned about the 200 step warning as there are plenty of stops on the walk to rest.
Back for a late lunch, including another standard of mine, bouillabaisse, and it was great.
We wanted to walk out onto the Pont d’Avignon bridge, just north of our mooring. Not easy to do. When you get close, you need to go through the city wall, and follow the signs to the left. You’ll see the ticket office eventually. It costs four euros to get in, after a wand search. Yes it is worth it. You’ll see a chapel and have a unique view of your riverboat.
My favorite food of the cruise, crepes suzette. It doesn’t get more french, or delicious than chef Alex’s version.
Our next stop, Viviers, was the most classic town we visited. It rained hard at times, but was still neat. At the tour end we stayed in town and visited the pottery shop. The couple that owns the shop signs their art before firing it. My wife’s bowl made it home , my cup is being glued.
Each evening we were well entertained in the lounge by a great piano player.
Big note here, every town had cobblestone streets, as I learned shortly into our first walk in Arles. Be sure to watch your step so you don’t twist your ankle!
The included tour in Tournon was a steam train ride that was fun. As we got further north on our trip the weather got cooler. We were ready with layers.
The next day we spent most of doing scenic cruising, which we enjoyed. We made an unscheduled stop due to a fallen tree, and arrived late in Vienne.
Our next two days we spent in Lyon. The included tour on Friday was a great bus tour of the city with a stop at the Basilica of Notre Dame. (there are several Notre dame cathedrals in France).
Our last day was one of our highlights, with a trip to the countryside to visit a Beaujolais vineyard. Wine was great, but the dog stole the show!
Our cabin was a nice balcony room. Just a short walk to the restaurant and lounge.
For an ocean cruiser this is the weirdest thing. When we were moored we were literally ten feet from the town riverside walks. This took some getting used to.
Good starting point
Steam train was fun
Great tour. The dog stole the show!View All 34 Beaujolais Vineyards Reviews