Viking's Portraits of Souhern France

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#1
North Tonawanda NY
16 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
We are booked for Portraits of Southern France in Nov. 2014 with a 3 day extension in Paris. We sail on the Buri. We are wondering if anyone else has taken this trip and can comment on the best parts of the trip. Also, if anyone can recommend a private tour for Paris that would include sights not on the Viking standard walking tour.

I always have more questions about a place when I return than before I go. Anything you feel I should know or do will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

#2
NW Ohio
8,011 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
I will be taking this cruise on the Hermod at the end of March. I hope to post live updates here from each port as we sail.

Becki
#3
Westerville, Ohio
554 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
We did this trip in Sept 2012 and loved all of it. After the cruise we flew from Lyon to Munich for 5 days and explored Bavaria. Very hard to pick the "best". Hope you have a great time.
#4
Queens, NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
We did this cruise in October 2012 - it was our first River Cruise and we just fell in love with RCing!!! Past December saild the Rhine River - also Viking - going to Christmas Markets and this October will be going on their new Bordeaux itinerary. In 2012 we sailed on an older ship, the Neptune.

I think the city of Lyon was one of the hightlights - spend one and a half days there - docked right in town so could easily walk to many places. Lyon is the food capital of France and also known for silk! Avignon was also special as was Arles and seeing many Van Gogh places.

I have two slide shows: Paris and also the Cruise - might give an overview:
Paris SlideShow
Provence Slide Show

There's also another thread about this cruise you might find interesting:
Portraits of Southern France Advice - Cruise Critic Message Board Forums

Any questions - just ask away!!
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Peg
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
#5
Queens, NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Sorry - I realized I sent wrong slide show! Here's the cruise one:
Cruise SlideShow

We spent 4 days pre-cruise in Paris - not enough time, at least for us!!! Will be going back this year pre-cruise for a week!!!

Post-cruise we spent 2 days in Avignon and 4 days in Nice - thus the Provence photos!!!!
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Peg
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
#6
NW Ohio
8,011 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
Peg,
There was a segment on 'House Hunters International' about Lyon recently. They showed several shots of the city, a park, some shops and restaurants and the large 'I Love Lyon' sign, which is a great photo op. Is that sign w/in walking distance of the ship?

Becki
#7
sarasota florida/lake toxaway NC
451 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by rjscott
I will be taking this cruise on the Hermod at the end of March. I hope to post live updates here from each port as we sail.

Becki
we will be doing our first river cruise that same week on the danube , but already planning for a south of france cruise. so your updates and reports are eagerly anticipated ! thanks!
#8
Queens, NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Rjscott ~ I'm a "House Hunters" addict and remember seeing one about Lyon but don't remember a sign! Will have to try and catch it again!

As for docking, we were in the Rhone River by Pont de l'Universite on the university side. We arrived about 11pm, stayed the entire following day and left about noon the third day - so had a solid day and a half there.

We had a bus & waking tour first morning there and then free time in the afternoon. Aftercthe walking tour we could meet at the bus for a ride back to the ship or remain in town and get back on our own. Four of us has decoded to eat on town and asked the guide if we could be dropped off closer to the restaurant. The said sure and about 10 people left the bus with us, some to use a bank's ATM.
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Peg
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
#10
North Tonawanda NY
16 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Is anyone cruising on the Viking Buri Nov. 2, 2014 , Portraits of southern France?
Would love to hear from you. We are taking the extension in France and are looking for passengers who would be interested in forming a group in order to hire a guide for Paris . Perhaps to do a semi-private tour of the Louvre and other sights.
Hope to hear from you soon.
#11
San Diego
32 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Hi Peg, We will be following in your footsteps this August for Portraits of Southern France. I understand that you did your own pre-cruise tour of Paris. Just wondering if you bought your train tickets to Chalon sur Saone after you were in Paris or if purchased in the U.S. ahead of time. If the latter, did you purchase from the French Rail Company? Thanks!
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Holland America Westerdam to Alaska July 2009
Carnival Pride to Mexican Riviera August 2007
#12
Queens, NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
SDBeachLovers ~ WOW - visited San Diego for the first time last May and what I wouldn't give to be there right now! We're in the midsts of an ice storm on top of all the snow we've had over the past few days! Saw your name and beautiful memories of SD are filling my head!!!

Way early I had contacted Viking to see if we could purchase transfers but was told no, they are only available for those with Viking Air. An interesting note since 2 friends on the cruise also did the pre-Paris with Viking and so had the bus transfers included and reported that the bus was almost empty. Its a point I raise with Viking post-trip and their rep said she would discuss the policy with management - so maybe you should check with Viking about their transfers, if you want.

But back to Chalon and the French RR! First, let me say that, if we were to do this Paris/cruise/Nice trip again, we'd use the RR and are planning on using the RR Paris to Bordeaux for this year's trip.

We did buy the tickets ahead of time on the internet and had them sent here to NYC. Thought it'd just be easier to have them. I think you can only buy the tickets within 3 months of travel. What I do is put in the day of the week we want to travel and as close to the date to get an approximate price and time schedule. [For example - our cruise begins on Oct. 4th. When I look for tickets with Feb. Saturday dates fare is about $119 but have dropped to $69 by May dates.] Hope this makes sense!! You can also set an alert on the web site to let you know when tickets are available to purchase.

For Paris to Chalon - there's a non-stop train that leaves from Paris Bercy station and a one stop train that leaves from Paris Lyon station. Thinking we were very smart and with not changing trains, we took the non-stop at about 9:30am and took a cab to the station. Bercy station is very minimum - small area for coffee, croissant, etc and not a large seating area but we weren't there long. I did see 2 other couples with the red Viking luggage tags waiting, talked to them, and discovered that they, too, had tried to buy Viking transfers. Unfortunately the track number isn't posted too early so it's a bit of a rush to get to the train - check out the track locations when you arrive.

The train is actually very nice and comfortable with a section for luggage at the end of the car - filled by the time we got on! So we sat in a nice seats with our luggage on the table between us - really no problem - the car was crowded but not filled. Off we began - nice ride through the countryside until we stopped at a station and seemed to remain too long! We did notice train workers walking alongside the looking underneath and the French people on board beginning to talk loudly and one young lady seeing a lot of us staring explained there was a problem with the train and we'd probably have to exit!!! UGH!!! By the time we did get off with out luggage we found about 30 of us, I think all Americans, were heading towards the Viking cruise!! Those red tags came in handy!!! Luckily we were in a station, unluckily the train workers had disappeared!!! Plus none of us spoke French!!! (I felt like Gilligan's Island only on a train!!)

I had the Viking ship phone number - always keep it handy!! - and my husband had internation service on his cell so he called the ship. And lo and behoild the Cruise Director, Kurt, called him back!!! He said don't worry, take the next train that comes in and get off at Dijon and change trains to Chalon - we thought we were smart with the non-stop but wound up with 2 changes!!! He also assured us that the ship wouldn't be sailing until the following noon so we had plenty of time! Then he said that the French trains often break down and the workers just leave!!! He also said that TGV (company operating the train we were waiting for) should honor the tickets of SNCF (company who's train we had been on). But since we had never been asked for tickets on the original train we weren't worried and no one ever asked on the other trains!! Train came, we switched at Dijon and arrived safely at Chalon then took a cab to the ship - very happy to give over our luggage to the ship's crew!!

One thing to note as to luggage - Bercy was all one level. At Dijon we just crossed the platform to the next train. But at Chalon we had to go down a long flight of stairs walk under the other tracks and then up another stairs to the station. If I remember correctly that was street level. Just be aware that you'll have to carry your luggage as there are no elevators.

Hope my story doesn't dissuad you from taking the train - just leave yourself enough time "just in case"! And have Viking's number handy - I put it into my phone as soom as I get the itinerary book from them!!

And, looking on the bright side, the group of us became known as "the train people" and we made 2 friends from the group that we still stay in touch with! All in all it was only a minor hiccup and wouldnever keep me from using the French trains! We took a train from Avignon to Nice with no problems post-cruise!

Any other questions just ask away and I'll try to answer them without the long story!!!!
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Peg
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
#13
San Diego
32 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Thanks so much! Your suggestions are appreciated, and I'll definitely let you know when (not if!) more questions come up.
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Holland America Westerdam to Alaska July 2009
Carnival Pride to Mexican Riviera August 2007
#14
New York
329 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
We are also doing this cruise on Nov. 2 but on the Hermod. Looking forward to all reviews of this cruise. Interested in what extra excursions they offer during the cruise.
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Frank & Pat
New York, NY
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Booked 12/16 Viking Vili - Danube Waltz / Passau to Budapest
11/15 Viking Mani - Rhine Getaway / Burges to Basel
11/14 Viking Hermod / Viking Buri - Portraits of Southern France
11/13 Viking Prestige - Vineyards & Vistas / Trier to Bamberg
11/12 Viking Odin - Romantic Danube / Budapest to Nuremberg
11/11 Viking Schumann - Elegant Elbe / Prague to Berlin
10/10 Viking Sun - Rhine Getaway / Amsterdam to Basel (Lucerne)
11/09 Viking Pride - Romantic Danube / Nuremberg to Vienna
8/09 RCCL Explorer of the Seas / Bermuda
8/07 RCCL Western Caribbean
8/06 RCCL Spendour of the Seas /Greek Isles
6/05 RCCL Navigator of the Seas /Western Caribbean
6/04 RCCL Adventure of the Seas /Eastern Caribbean
6/03 CCL - Zenith /Bermuda
6/02 RCCL Grandeur of the Seas / Mediterrean