We took the Viking "Paris, Burgundy, and Provence" land tour and cruise. It was a wonderful experience! The land portion included two days (nights) in Paris and two in Dijon. We didn't participate in any excursions in ... Read More
We took the Viking "Paris, Burgundy, and Provence" land tour and cruise. It was a wonderful experience! The land portion included two days (nights) in Paris and two in Dijon. We didn't participate in any excursions in Paris, preferred to "do our own thing," but did like the hotel (Le Meridien Etoile) - good location near the Metro, easy access to the rest of the City of Light. The trip to Dijon was great - our tour director, Charles, was excellent, lots of knowledge about the Burgundy region and its history. We toured the city of Dijon including the Duke's Palace, had a wine tasting in Burgundy, visited the city of Beaune and the Hotel-Dieu, and learned about Bresse and the famous chickens. We also visited the medieval town of Perouges - a lot of touring packed into a couple of days, very interesting and enjoyable.
We arrived at the Viking Heimdal docked in Lyon in the afternoon, enough time to unpack, change our clothes, and lead for the lounge for a drink.....and the safety briefing. The Viking Heimdal is one of the older longships, and has some wear and tear - we could tell that the carpets were a little worn, and there were some spots and stains. But the ship was very comfortable, and since this was our 4th cruise with Viking, it met all of our expectations. We had a Veranda A stateroom and had plenty of storage room, three drawers each and a nice sized closet. We loved the balcony and used it often, especially when we were docked in a great scenic location like Avignon or Tournon.. The service was outstanding - all the staff were friendly and accommodating. The wine list was very good and we had some excellent bottles of wine on this cruise - we had the Silver Spirits package and enjoyed choosing a different bottle of wine each night for dinner. We appreciated the efforts of Dida in the lounge and Mihai in the restaurant to help us with the right choices. If we had to rate one thing lower, it would be the food. There were few memorable dinners (lamb chops on night one), and some strange ones (fried chicken and waffles in France?). We had to send our eggs Benedict back one morning because they were seriously undercooked. Escargots appetizer was way too salty and had chunks of rock salt in the sauce (ugh - thought they were glass at first). Beef bourgignon very tough, had to cut it with a knife. We didn't starve, but expected better food in France! Program Director Christine and Hotel Manager Chris were very enjoyable and funny, and we loved the cooking demonstration/comedy routine with Chef Daniel and Maitre D' Imre. There weren't too many other activities on board - a cheese tasting, a silk printing demonstration, French lesson, nautical talk.
Excursions were wonderful! Starting with the city tour of Lyon, Beaujolais wine tasting, tour of Vienne, Tournon and the train de l'Ardeche, Avignon, and Arles, all tour guides did an excellent job, providing interesting and enjoyable information. We chose two optional excursions, a wine tasting at Chateauneuf-de-Pape. and the afternoon to the Carrieres des Lumieres and Les Baux. In general, the wine tastings on this trip were not very good, nice people and well set up, but the wines were not to our taste. The best thing was the Carrieres des Lumieres - a huge quarry full of art and music, an incredible experience, highly recommended. If I had to skip one tour, I would choose the steam train, sort of a "meh" experience, especially since we live in the Rockies and have similar scenery nearby. The walking tour of Arles was a little arduous - busses could not get close to town due to an Easter weekend carnival and it was a long trek back to the bus after the tour. And......we chose the "leisurely" walking group on all tours due to some minor mobility issues, but our group spent more time looking for bathrooms than we did touring. I don't understand how someone can go on a 20-minute bus ride from the ship and immediately have to find a rest room. I felt a lot of our time was wasted on every tour because so many people had bathroom issues. Maybe skip the second cup of coffee at breakfast, or leave yourself enough time to go before leaving the ship? Also - how rude can some people be? We had one group on our tours who were not at all interested in the history of anything, all they wanted was to go shopping. They actually rudely interrupted a guide inside one of the churches because they had to know where the shopping area was. The same group was rude on the ship, talking through most of the presentations and telling people to "go to hell" when asked to quiet down. Ugh. Guess there's always some on every trip, but they give us Americans a bad name.
Overall, we loved this trip. We learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed all the excursions. Loved the staff on the ship, couldn't ask for better service. We would recommend this itinerary to anyone interested in history, especially Roman and medieval. We also had some good wines, chocolate, and beautiful scenery. Can't wait for our next Viking cruise! Read Less