Posted February 22nd, 2013, 02:18 PM
Hi Yvie ~ “met” you on a different thread – gave you info about the guide we used in Chateauneuf-du-pape. We were there because Avignon was the end of our first River Cruise – Viking’s Portraits of Southern France – Saone & Rhine Rivers, We fell in love with RCing!! Have 2 more booked! We also did, on our own, 4 days pre-cruise in Paris and post-cruise 2 days in Avignon and 4 in Nice. Cruise was October 21st to 28th and we had a great time despite the weather but would go a little earlier in the future – 2014 cruise leaves Oct. 4th. We chose the Rhone cruise mainly because DH is really “into” wine and didn’t fail us!
Weather: I will always associate Paris with rain and gloomy weather + an expensive umbrella DH had to buy – he didn’t come prepared!! But we still have a good time and will go back in 2014 either pre or post. I kept a check on weather last year and it was always rainy in Paris! and all of France!! Cruise 3 weeks after us ran into problems because of low bridges and they couldn’t get to many ports – people had to be bused to excursions. Our cruise weather was actually good – grey skies but dry most times.
Lyon: a fabulous city!! We docked overnight so had a day and a half there. Excursion the first morning and many of us stayed for lunch and short walk back to the ship. Very walkable city – only disappointment for DH (also an historian) the resistance museum was closed for renovation! Lyon is known for food and silk – 3 of us women took a walk to a silk shop before we departed, had a great time and got back to find the guys playing petanque, the French version of bocci, on the river bank alongside the ship. And the cruise director was serving pastis, a drink with liquor. It was SO different then Ocean Cruising!!!
Transfers: as said, most cruise lines only include transfers if you buy air from them. We didn’t like the cruise pre/post packages and preferred to book our own hotels so we choose where we stay. That left getting from Paris to Chalon-sur-Saone, departing port for our cruise. (Had we sailed from Paris it would have meant just a cab ride but Chalon was further.) I tried to buy transfers from Viking but it was a no-go – found out others had same experience. So we bought train tickets way ahead of time. Train was full of people (about 25-30) all with the red Viking baggage tags- which was great so we could identify each other when the train broke down on the way and was taken out of service! Luckily I had the ship’s direct phone number (among the paperwork sent to us pre-trip) and DH’s cell had international plan so he called to say the whole group of us would be delayed – really no big deal since sailing was not until about noon next day. We were pleasantly surprised when the Cruise Director called back with info about getting the next train, etc. Lesson learned – be early and be prepared – and look for fellow passengers!!!
Paris: like London or NYC, you can’t see everything you’d like to in a limited time! (Maybe a month, but…) As Fran said – make a list and don’t stress over what you don’t see! First time we went to London I felt so frantic because we had to see “everything”! DH said all he saw was my back and I was saying “come on we have time for more”! Luckily we’ve been back to London a few times but I’ve also learned to relax and enjoy what we do see – and make YOUR own list and don’t let others tell you want you want to see! We sent at least 4 hours at Napoleon’s tomb and the Musee de Armee because that’s DH’s love, history! I feel like the only woman who goes to Paris and never sets foot into the Louvre!!! But that was his choice and I got Versailles!!! Next time the Louvre!!! Everyone enjoys different things and while we can learn from others’ experiences, you won’t get the most out of a city unless you do what your likes are, be it museums, shopping, theater, food markets, etc. Read up – then go and enjoy!!!
If you’ve lasted this long you deserve a medal!!! But if you’d like to see some photos of our trip the links are below. I’m much better taking photos then writing about the trips!!
Provence Slide Show
Viking Forseti 10-4-2014 Bordeaux
Viking Rinda 12-7-2013 Christmas Markets
Viking Neptune 10-21-12 Rhone River
Celebrity Constellation 9-7-2011 Amsterdam-Istanbul
Celebrity Constellation 7-3-2010 Baltic
RCCL Voyager of the Seas 2-14-2010 Caribbean
Celebrity Summit 6-16-2008 Mediterranean
SS Rembrant 7-20-2000 St. Lawrence
M/V Atlantic 8-28-1988 Bermuda