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Peregrina651

Everything Viking France: Normandy, Paris, Provence

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I am hoping to start an on-going conversation about Viking's Frances's Finest and its two components, Paris & the Heart of Normandy and Lyon & Provence. Call it one-stop shopping, if you will, a place where past cruisers can share their experiences with and answer question for those who have yet to sail. This is not meant to replace the roll calls, where future pax try to meet up with folks who will be sailing with them, but rather a never ending Q&A focusing on the details of the itineraries.

 

I'm ready to start the conversation by asking about how the transfer between Paris &Lyon/Lyon & Paris works for France's Finest pax. How long does it take? What time of day do we get to the ship? Is everyone who is doing France's Finest on the same train or are we staggered so we don't all arrive at the ship at the same time? Does this depend on how many people are actually doing the back-to-back?

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Hi...I am just doing the Paris to Normandy but will be watching everyone's comments. So excited for our first River cruise in a month! Jane

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Hi...I am just doing the Paris to Normandy but will be watching everyone's comments. So excited for our first River cruise in a month! Jane

 

You can ask questions. too. And when you come back, we hope you'll help answer questions and share your experiences, especially about the various excursions. Bon voyage!!

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Thanks Peregrina for starting this thread. I am also interested in this itinerary but may have to wait a while before I can do this cruise.

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Greetings!

 

We sailed the Rhone this year with Viking in Late March, early April from Lyon to Avignon with the Paris pre-cruise stay.

 

It was a wonderful time, with the exception of both of us getting flu/fever while on the cruise. We survived, of course :)

 

I'd be happy to answer any questions!

 

For those curious, here is a link to our Viking Dailies:

 

 

Highlights:

 

Paris! Our second visit, and no regrets about doing this through Viking. Yes, we could have saved a couple bucks doing this on our own, but it was so very nice to not have to plan out any details - other than our free time. Loved every minute of it

 

Chateau des Flecheres optional excursion - Amazing!

 

Scenic Rhone cruising - this part of the cruise took place on one of the warmer days, so we were able to enjoy the sights from the upper deck. Not quite as thrilling as the Middle Rhine, but lovely nonetheless.

 

Steam Train in the Ardeche - way more scenic that I had imagined!

 

Night tour through Viviers - bring your cameras!

 

Alres, France and the Van Gogh sights

 

Chateauneuf du Pape and the surrounding countryside.

 

 

Jeff

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Jeff, thank you!

 

Thank you for the link to the dailies. You already started a thread about them and I shared the link to it in the 2019 roll call. I have a list of older posts that I have been using the roll call to keep track of and will be sharing here soon.

 

I honestly don't know where to start asking you questions. So I will spin the wheel and throw a dart and start with whatever I hit.

 

We are planning on arriving early in Marseille and at this point are deciding between staying in Marseille or staying in Avignon (and renting a car to see the surrounding area before we board the ship). You mentioned Chateauneuf du Pape as a highlight. Did you do the optional tour with Viking? How was it? Did you have enough time at the various stops? Can you tell us what you saw and what grabbed your attention as something you might like to explore in depth? Did you visit any of the wineries and if so which one? Anything else that should be on our list to look into as a possible stops on our driving tour of the area?

Thanks in advance for your answer and please stayed tuned over the next days and weeks for more questions.

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Thank you for the link to the dailies. You already started a thread about them and I shared the link to it in the 2019 roll call. I have a list of older posts that I have been using the roll call to keep track of and will be sharing here soon.

 

Yeah, I originally posted them in the roll call section, but thought I'd put them here as well for those that didn't see them there :)

 

We are planning on arriving early in Marseille and at this point are deciding between staying in Marseille or staying in Avignon (and renting a car to see the surrounding area before we board the ship). You mentioned Chateauneuf du Pape as a highlight. Did you do the optional tour with Viking? How was it? Did you have enough time at the various stops? Can you tell us what you saw and what grabbed your attention as something you might like to explore in depth? Did you visit any of the wineries and if so which one? Anything else that should be on our list to look into as a possible stops on our driving tour of the area?

Thanks in advance for your answer and please stayed tuned over the next days and weeks for more questions.

 

Okay, I shall take a stab :)

 

If it were me, I'd probably stay in Marseille vs. Avignon. I felt the one day we had there was enough. Lovely town, but other than the Pope's Palace, there wasn't that much else to see and do. I would have loved more time in Arles as well. The day we were there was the annual bull fight thingy and the town was very crowded. It was absolutely lovely, and there was good shopping, sight-seeing, etc. Will probably go back to Arles next year so that we can see things better.

 

Yes, we did the Viking tour of Chanteauneuf du Pape, which took us for tasting at the Famile Perrin winery in CNdP. Nice experience, but didn't give us much time in the town. We were hoping to purchase some wine to have them ship home, but due to the limited time, we couldn't find a place with decent shipping prices to the US (the places we tried were like $250 per case just to ship - unlike when we were in Bordeaux and paid $75 per case) This would be a great place for a day visit, and I'd recommend that you research some of the places that offer tastings. Some of them require an appointment, and our friends just came back and found a place that shipped to them at a reasonable cost. Also, if you visit CNdP on your own, you can then go on the optional excursion to the Aqueduct. I really wanted to do that tour as well, but it was offered at the same time.

 

It's a little bit of a drive from Marseille, but I highly recommend the charming town of Antibes if you're looking for things to do in the area. We visited in 2013 and I fell completely in love.

 

Please continue to ask away!

 

Jeff

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Marseille has a good day's worth of stuff to see. Then I would rent a car and drive to Aix on the way to Avignon. If you will not have a chance to see it with the ship, I also recommend driving to Pont du Gard [actually it's better on your own, because you can spend as much time as you like both viewing the amazing Roman aqueduct and the very nice visitor center]. Another don't miss is the Carrières de Lumières at Les Baux.

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On the 1st leg of France's Finest, we go from Paris back to Paris. On Day #7, we will be back in Paris with a planned Viking morning tour. However, we may just take the RER metro and head to the train station at Gare du Nord. From that station there are frequent trains that travel to Arras which is near the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge. Since we are from Canada it is a site that we don't want to miss.

Cheers.....Rob & Val:D;p:hearteyes:

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Marseille has a good day's worth of stuff to see. Then I would rent a car and drive to Aix on the way to Avignon. If you will not have a chance to see it with the ship, I also recommend driving to Pont du Gard [actually it's better on your own, because you can spend as much time as you like both viewing the amazing Roman aqueduct and the very nice visitor center]. Another don't miss is the Carrières de Lumières at Les Baux.

 

I second the recommendation for the Carrieres de Lumieres - it was outstanding! We also did the Chateauneuf du Pape excursion and enjoyed it, but were sorry to miss the Pont du Gard. Guess we'll have to take another Rhone cruise someday! :D

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Thank you all for your suggestions.

 

Jeff, believe it or not, you have convinced me that we should stay in Avignon rather than Marseille. Everyone has said that they regret that they can't do both the aqueduct and the wineries but with a car and two full days we can do them both AND Carrieres de Lumineries (Gotta love Google maps!).

 

Jazz, we were in Aix this past January with Viking Oceans so we are hoping to explore new territory on this trip.

 

Rob, let us know how you make out getting to Vimy Ridge. You have posted elsewhere about your plans and I'm hoping that the subway strikes don't make it difficult for you.

 

Rob, I presume that in Normandy, you are doing the Commonwealth tour. If you are, I would like to know just how long is spent at the Bayeux tapestry. Thanks.

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Rob, I presume that in Normandy, you are doing the Commonwealth tour. If you are, I would like to know just how long is spent at the Bayeux tapestry. Thanks.

 

We visited the Bayeux Tapestry with Uniworld, in 2015. It looks like the Viking excursion is similar to what we did. The entry was capacity controlled, with only a certain number of people being let in at a time. We had handsets, which were programmed in English, which described each of the 58 scenes. The audio would prompt you to move from scene to scene. No photography allowed. Really, no opportunity to loiter. I would have liked to have stayed longer. It is fascinating. The town of Bayeux is charming, as well.

 

Enjoy!

 

Robin

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We visited the Bayeux Tapestry with Uniworld, in 2015. It looks like the Viking excursion is similar to what we did. The entry was capacity controlled, with only a certain number of people being let in at a time. We had handsets, which were programmed in English, which described each of the 58 scenes. The audio would prompt you to move from scene to scene. No photography allowed. Really, no opportunity to loiter. I would have liked to have stayed longer. It is fascinating. The town of Bayeux is charming, as well.

 

Enjoy!

 

Robin

 

Robin, thank you! About how long did it take to listen to the entire narration?

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Rob, I presume that in Normandy, you are doing the Commonwealth tour. If you are, I would like to know just how long is spent at the Bayeux tapestry. Thanks.

 

We were on the Viking Commonwealth Tour last August and the viewing of the tapestry is as acwmom describes. My estimate is you view the tapestry for 20-30 minutes. It's quite well done and is indeed something that should be on everyone's bucket list. You also visit the small museum that has displays about the Norman invasion including a full scale replica of one of the boats. You also have a short time to do a little shopping in Bayeux, which is indeed a lovely town. In case you haven't heard, the tapestry is scheduled to go on display in England in 2020, the first time it has left France in 950 years. So this might be the last chance to view it in Bayeux for a few years

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42713552

 

I recommend viewing this episode of "Connections" before seeing the tapestry. It describes how the Normans won because they were using the stirrup (depicted in the tapestry), one of the greatest military inventions in history.

 

We chose the Commonwealth Tour specifically to see the tapestry. One positive side effect was there were very few people on the tour, only six of us and a couple of the crew tagged along as well. The other highlight was visiting the Pegasus Bridge which was featured in the classic movie The Longest Day ("Hold until relieved"). The museum there was fascinating and they have full scale replicas of the gliders used in the assault. The bridge is also where the first casualty of D-Day took place.

http://d-dayrevisited.co.uk/d-day/pegasus-bridge.html

Edited by OneSixtyToOne

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Thank you all for your suggestions.

 

Jeff, believe it or not, you have convinced me that we should stay in Avignon rather than Marseille. Everyone has said that they regret that they can't do both the aqueduct and the wineries but with a car and two full days we can do them both AND Carrieres de Lumineries (Gotta love Google maps!).

 

Jazz, we were in Aix this past January with Viking Oceans so we are hoping to explore new territory on this trip.

 

Rob, let us know how you make out getting to Vimy Ridge. You have posted elsewhere about your plans and I'm hoping that the subway strikes don't make it difficult for you.

 

Rob, I presume that in Normandy, you are doing the Commonwealth tour. If you are, I would like to know just how long is spent at the Bayeux tapestry. Thanks.

 

Antonio;

Yes, we will be on the Commonwealth tour in Normandy.

I will let you know about the Vimy travel arrangements when we return to Canada. It does seem fairly straightforward and will have to plan our day pretty carefully.

And, please don't even think about subway/metro strikes as it does impact travel throughout the system.

Enjoy the summer....and great to be retired!.....Rob:halo:;p:)

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Robin, thank you! About how long did it take to listen to the entire narration?

 

I agree with OneSixtyToOne, about 25-30 minutes.

 

The book "1066 The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry" is an excellent read.

 

Robin

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Thanks, everyone, for the links and all the helpful information. We will watch the videos as our sail date gets closer.

 

I do have a question about shopping in Bayeux. If I am going to 'forced' to shop in Bayeux and only have a short time to do it, what should I be looking for there? And, is shopping time also our lunch time or in lunch included with the tour.

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Thanks, everyone, for the links and all the helpful information. We will watch the videos as our sail date gets closer.

 

I do have a question about shopping in Bayeux. If I am going to 'forced' to shop in Bayeux and only have a short time to do it, what should I be looking for there? And, is shopping time also our lunch time or in lunch included with the tour.

We were taken to a small shop next to the museum that features locally made products. After about 15 minutes we boarded the coach. Lunch was served in Arromanches.

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We were taken to a small shop next to the museum that features locally made products. After about 15 minutes we boarded the coach. Lunch was served in Arromanches.

 

Okay. I'll google the area and see if the shop has a website --and if there is a cafe nearby for refreshment.

 

Was the shop called the Poppies Shop?

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As I just posted in All Viking France's Finest 2018 thread, I found a site with an excellent detailed description of the Rhone passage that I have uploaded to my DropBox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kd9ot0htef6pnfy/Rh%C3%B4ne%20Route%20description.pdf?dl=0. Hope you all find it useful. And anybody who is preparing to leave next week to start France's Finest (or just the Avignon to Lyon leg), looking forward to meeting you!

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As I just posted in All Viking France's Finest 2018 thread, I found a site with an excellent detailed description of the Rhone passage that I have uploaded to my DropBox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kd9ot0htef6pnfy/Rh%C3%B4ne%20Route%20description.pdf?dl=0. Hope you all find it useful. And anybody who is preparing to leave next week to start France's Finest (or just the Avignon to Lyon leg), looking forward to meeting you!

 

Thank you for the link. It is fascinating. It looks like it is aimed at smaller pleasure craft owners or people who are renting house boats for a week. But I know that my husband and brother-in-law will be fascinated by it.

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Thanks, everyone, for the links and all the helpful information. We will watch the videos as our sail date gets closer.

 

I do have a question about shopping in Bayeux. If I am going to 'forced' to shop in Bayeux and only have a short time to do it, what should I be looking for there? And, is shopping time also our lunch time or in lunch included with the tour.

 

Directly across the street from the Bayeux Cathedral [close to the Bayeux Tapestry museum] is the Conservatoire de la dentelle de Bayeux, where you can see women making traditional Norman lace. It is very interesting and doesn't take very long to see.

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Thank you for the link. It is fascinating. It looks like it is aimed at smaller pleasure craft owners or people who are renting house boats for a week. But I know that my husband and brother-in-law will be fascinated by it.

 

I love the details that will help so much when filtering thru pictures and identifying landmarks. Like the illustrated map we bought on the Atla in 2014 which helped me identify the castles we saw on the Middle Rhine.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Directly across the street from the Bayeux Cathedral [close to the Bayeux Tapestry museum] is the Conservatoire de la dentelle de Bayeux, where you can see women making traditional Norman lace. It is very interesting and doesn't take very long to see.

 

SOLD!!! Thank you. I hope we have enough time while everyone else shops to wander this far from the rest of the tour group.

 

From Google:

Address: 6 Rue du Bienvenu, 14400 Bayeux, France

 

Closed Sundays. Closed for lunch break. Current hours can be found on Google.

 

 

 

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Marseille has a good day's worth of stuff to see. Then I would rent a car and drive to Aix on the way to Avignon. If you will not have a chance to see it with the ship, I also recommend driving to Pont du Gard [actually it's better on your own, because you can spend as much time as you like both viewing the amazing Roman aqueduct and the very nice visitor center]. Another don't miss is the Carrières de Lumières at Les Baux.

We sailed from Avignon in 2013 and Pont du Gard was not part of the northbound itinerary. As our arrival in Marseille was early in the day of embarkation I asked if Viking could arrange a trip to see it. I was given the email address for the ship and the Concierge (I have forgotten her name) was most gracious in arranging for a cab to take me to Pont du Gard. The driver stayed with me the entire time and treated me like royalty but being the arrival day, the time zones caught up with me and it was exhausting. Your suggestion to arrive a few days early is definitely the way to go!

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