Note: You don’t dock anywhere near Paris. If you want Paris than you need to book another cruise line, not Viking. This is review of the Viking Ships, Rinda, Rolf and Kadlin as they all do the same route on different days. We were on the ... Read More
Note: You don’t dock anywhere near Paris. If you want Paris than you need to book another cruise line, not Viking. This is review of the Viking Ships, Rinda, Rolf and Kadlin as they all do the same route on different days. We were on the Kadlin departure on June 24, the boat embarks from Le Pecq, not Paris.
Arrival: very smooth. Meet the Viking reps wearing red jackets right outside of customs (if you purchased the Viking Transfer). BTW, we were not stopped at all in French customs. Very well organized transfer to Le Pecq, which is outside of Paris. About 45 minutes on a very ugly, graffiti filled highway. The town of a Le Pecq is a lovely, upscale suburb on the banks of the Seine. Check in very quick and easy. TIP: bring a clock, there is no clock in your cabin. If you use a curling iron or something that generates heat you will need a converter. Otherwise you have US electric current. Cabins are small, stash your suitcase under your bed. TIP: bring extra hangers as the closet is large, only 3 drawers. There is a fridge in the cabin. Nearby: the banks of the Seine towards the bridge are lined with flower gardens. The path in the other direction takes you to a school with outdoor exercise stations. No bathrooms anywhere at all in town. Always use the one on the ship first.
Be sure to pack and wear layers. It has been a rainy, chilly summer, dress for passing showers. Forget about fancy shoes as you will be walking across cobblestone streets.
Tour to St. Germaine n Laye: was wonderful and not to be missed. Sweeping views of Paris in the distance. Large park. 12 century castle and church. St. Germaine n laye is also an upscale small city filled with shops and outdoor cafes. It has a large commuter rail station (RER) from which you can take a train every 10 minutes to Paris. Takes 30 minutes. Huge train, spotless, easy to navigate with an upstairs deck. Buy your ticket right at the kiosk or at the “service desk” which is staffed by humans. Be sure to hold onto your ticket as you need to have it to exit the system. TIP: if you need or desire fast wifi, buy a hotspot to take along on the trip as the ship’s wifi is affected by travel. There are lots of free movies in your room if you want to chill. TIP: the tour guide will ask if you wish to walk back to Le Pecq from the castle. DO IT! It is an awesome walk straight down the beautiful terraces to the ship which is quite easy to see at all times. The walk along the Seine to the ship is a garden path.
TIP: sit anywhere you want in the dining room. Don’t be afraid to join a table by the window, as this is how you make friends.
Night: Welcome lecture and procedures from Program Director. Followed by dinner and opera singers (we went to bed)
Day two: Paris: The extended tour takes you thru the leafy suburbs west of Paris, which are a treat to see. TIP: sit on the left side of the bus, so that you can watch the lovely mansion go by situated along the Seine. Bring a small pair of binoculars for better viewing. We jumped off in Paris at the first stop which is the Eiffel Tower. From there it is an easy walk on either side of the Seine to anywhere you want to go. TIP: there is a bateaux mouche that has 8 stops along the Seine. You can hop on and off at will. Not sure of the fare.
We went to L’Orangerie to see Monet’s Water Lillies. This is located in the Tulleries garden. There are many sights and museums in the area. We went on a scenic battteaux mouche. Ours had a crappy PA system so we could not hear the narration. It is fabulous to see Paris from the river. Do it! We rode on the big ferris wheel at the Tullleries. It’s okay, not a must. The took a pedicab up Avenue George V to the RER station. TIP: The pedicabs are a fun, wild ride, but the fare quoted is per person, don’t be fooled as we were. The RER station is insane, hold tight to purses and wallets. The train outbound to St. G en Laye is on the lowest level. You can buy your ticket at the service desk. The train arrives every 10 minutes, and is clearly announced on the marquee overhead. Ours was labled “Zeus”. The train is huge and lovely with an upper deck. You jump off at the very, very last stop. Then you will need to walk downhill via the terraces to Le Pecq.
Night: cast off and cruise in the wrong direction towards Paris so that the boat can turn around. Lovely bucolic scenes, homes and parks. Bring your binoculars. TIP: you can eat on the deck where there are also cozy rocking chairs with heat lamps. The staff will bring you “blankies” as it is slightly chilly out there. The buffet is always available on the deck, not much variety though.
Day three: Wake up in Vernon an antique town on the Seine just inside of Normandy. Hop off and take a walk. Read the plaques about the Duke of Vernon and the destruction of part of the town by the allies in WW2. This theme will be repeated as the allies heavily bombed Normandy to deprive the occupying Nazis of trains, food and train lines. Sad to imagine. The area near the ship has medieval houses and small castle.
TIP: it is always freezing on the boat. Bring a lined jacket or a heavy shawl. Showers happen too so a folding umbrella or a hooded jacket is needed.
Trip to Giverny leaves bright and early. Thankfully, as Giverny becomes unbearable overcrowded by noon. Use the restrooms on the walk to the gardens, leave a small coin for the attendant. No words can describe the beauty of the gardens. Take a million pictures and enjoy. The guides will rush you, but that is okay, they are trying to move you ahead of the huge crowds. You can enjoy the gift shops and there are some nice boutiques outside the gardens. Transfer back to the ship for lunch.
Afternoon? The water color calls was excellent. Brigitte did a wonderful job of making you feel competent in a short time.
Night:? Stays light until 10 pm or later
Day four: cast off in the morning for Rouen. Lovely ride thru various locks upstream to upper Normandy. Look for a church built right into the limestone cliff. Arrive in Rouen. Lots of other cruise ships, not much to see. I don’t understand why they bother with this port. An included walking tour departs, or purchase the farm tour. TIP: do NOT book this trip if you are mobility challenged. Do not wear nice shoes, as you will be slogging thru the mud and worse. We went on the farm tour which was awesome. Lovely country villages and farms speed by the windows. It looks kind of like Amish country. Arrive at a 17th century farm. All organic. Sheepdog demonstration. Cider demo and tasting. Then on to another tasting of sparkling cider and Calvados. The most fantastic and flavorful Neufchatel cheese, and cinnamon apple tarts in croissant dough. Take a big nap on the one hour ride back to the boat.
Night? Some go to the light show at Rouen Cathedral. NOT TO BE MISSED!! It is not a laser show, or a simple slide show. There are two shows VIKING and IMPRESSIONISTS. Both are awesome, but the Viking show is more spectacular. Do not leave after the first show ends, but stick around for one minute until the next show starts.
Day five: early morning two hour drive to the beaches at Normandy. I was not at all excited for this tour, but it was fantastic. The seaside is lovely, with neat and picturesque cottages. The gardens are overflowing with roses and zinnias. The tour makes four separate stops at various places along the Normandy beaches. TIP: if you want to see the Bayouex tapestry take the Commonwealth tour. The museum is quite interesting and overwhelming. Spend some time thanking the dead quietly on the beach. TIP: good restrooms across from museum. The ones under the museum will have long lines. Leave a coin for the attendant. Ask which restaurant you are having lunch just in case you get lost like we did. Lots of fun boutiques along the pedestrian mall. TIP: if you have a food allergy bring a sign with you and put it next to your place. As the service happens very fast and there is no food choice. Then you arrive at the US Cemetery which is huge. If you wish to honor a specific soldier, find out PRIOR to leaving the where he/she is buried as the procedure at the cemetery is too cumbersome and you don’t have time. TIP: bring or buy a book for the two hour plus journey back to Rouen.
The staff puts on a lovely welcome back to the ship. Dinner, then don’t miss the Liars Club show which is hilarious fun. Second chance to see the Rouen light show. DO NOT MISS THIS. Tomorrow is a is a light day with a late breakfast so you can sleep in.
Day six: Get up late, breakfast isn’t until 7:30. Omelettes made to order, lots of menu choices or buffet choices. Be sure to go up deck and watch the holiday houses and villages slip by. You arrive in Les Andelyes at 1:00 or so. Be ready for the walking tours which depart at 1:45. You can take an easy walk down in the villages or trek up the hill to the Castle Gallaird. TIP: if you have a walking stick or telescoping hiking pole, bring it. It is quite steep in both directions, and not so nice to your knees. Lovely views up and down the Seine. We spied a big municipal swimming pool on the waterfront, so if you really want to go swimming, I am sure you could find it. It is right near the bridge.
Day seven: Wake up in Mantres-Les-Jolies, which is a pretty town with a medieval church and waterfront. It is so typical of the French that they don’t even remark on how nice this town is. Don’t waste the opportunity to explore the waterfront and centre of town. Many shops are open early and the locals look to enjoy kibitzing as there day begins.
We took the optional tour to Mal Maisson which allowed us to have a leisurely morning and return by 1 pm. It takes a brief half hour to get there, thru pretty leafy, upscale suburbs. Port Marly among them. Passing by the pump house and pipes that supply the fountains to Verseilles. Chateau Malmaison (named for the rowdy, misbehaving Normans) is pretty, loaded with history, and a very comfortable homey scale. Not grand and overwhelming. Back to the ship for lunch and time to sit in the rocking chairs up on deck. Grab a “blankie” from the storage bin in the lounge and watch the pretty shoreline slip by, a village, a race course, a nautical center, just waiting for a glimpse of old familiar Le Pecq. Also a cooking lesson at 3 and a tour of the galley at 4 given by the chef. Fill out your evaluations, pay your bills, fill up your gratuity envelopes, and say a tearful goodbye to friendly faces.
Departure Day: early rise and shine, put your bag tags on and put your bags out at the correct time (not earlier). Remember to arrange for a wake up call the night before. Just do as they say and things will go very smoothly. Breakfast is crowded, so get up early. Charles De Gaulle airport is massive and crowded. You cannot print out your boarding pass the night before, but maybe you can download it to your phone, not sure. You have to stand in a 10 ques but eventually you make it on board. There is a TON of shopping in CDG, so save room for souvenirs. Read Less