**This tour is now sold out**
For a long time, we’ve had 16 cabins “squirreled away” on a river cruise in the south of France, from Arles to Avignon, Viviers to Tournon, and on to Lyon.
It is my favourite travel experience in the world.
These blocked-off cabins have become a rare and precious treasure. As the world got moving before WA, river cruises in southern France booked out — as is the rest of this voyage through Provence on a splendid Viking river cruise ship.
We were waiting for the moment when, with our borders open and no testing in France, it was sensible to suggest travelling to France ...
And this IS that moment …
So, I’m off to France in August, and I’d love you to join me.
(We expect those cabins to be taken up quickly, and our Travel Club Tours usually sell out fast.)
ABOUT THE TRIP
For those who want to just do something wonderful and refresh their “travel taste buds”, this is a compact, one-country trip. With international travel time, we have also fitted it into “two weeks’ leave” for those working and who need a break.
The package is 10 days from August 7 to 16, and from $5995 per person, twin share. Flights are not included but can be arranged for guests. We suggest flying with Emirates, as Dubai has been so successful in handling the past two years, we can fly into Nice and out of Lyon, and guests can use Qantas points.
Our package starts with two nights in Nice, including a welcome dinner, before we make our way to Avignon to board Viking’s Longship Heimdal for seven nights cruising the Rhône river to Lyon.
For those who want to add more travel — well, that will be easy, too. Some guests might want to continue on the TGV train to Paris and stay there (there’s a neat extension package for that). Others might continue to travel in other parts of France or Europe. Others might hop on over to the UK.
All bookings and arrangements for this trip will be handled be one person.
They will book transfers, hotel accommodation, and the cruise cabin, of course.
Comprehensive travel insurance, which covers guests for Covid related issues and delays, is included in the price.
We have a long and strong friendship with the folk at Viking.
And, as regular readers will know, over the last two years they have set the “industry standard” in handling coronavirus.
They instituted far reaching protocols, and protections for their guests.
I have total confidence in them.
And then there’s the ship …
I like the elegant and understated Scandinavian interior design of Viking Longships. They are extremely comfortable and have spacious staterooms with full-size verandas, the largest suites on Europe’s rivers and al fresco dining.
HOW GOOD IS THE CRUISE?
IT IS SIMPLY THE BEST!
Regular readers might remember that during lockdowns, I wrote my Top 50 Travel Experiences. We published them as a series over several weeks.
The list included the Taj Mahal, and penguins in Antarctica, and Victoria Falls in Africa, of course.
But for all the adventures in Asia and South America, and all over Europe, there was never any doubt in my mind that this would be Number One.
So, please allow me to quote myself from these pages in April 2020 …
River cruise south of France, Arles, Avignon, Lyon.
Well, yes, I’m a little surprised, too. Given visits to Everest, Antarctica, New York and London. Considering all that time with wildlife in Africa and in fancy resorts. But throughout the whole process of deciding and defining my 50 Best Ever Travel Experiences, I’ve never had a moment’s doubt about this being number one. And, yes, I’m still a little surprised, too …
But I’ve done this trip many times, with many different river cruising companies, and I’ll jump at the chance to do it again.
I’ll still prefer to travel from south to north – to be coached to join a ship at Arles, on the River Rhone. There, I will wander the streets on a starry night in search of the café Vincent van Gogh painted, and find it. Still a café.
I will return to the ship late every afternoon, dine on local fare, watch the river go by, and sleep in the same, familiar bed. The distances between stops are quite short in southern France, and the next day there will be a new adventure. Every day, there will be a new adventure, and time to mooch.
I’ll explore inside the all-encompassing 14th Century walls of Avignon, made famous by its bridge (“Sur le Pont D’Avignon”), and breakaway Popes who made this the heart of the Roman Catholic Christian world, for nearly seven decades from 1309.
I’ll walk the cobblestoned Old Town of Lyon, a pretty and more manageable version of Paris and the French city experience — a tours d’horizon, sampler or compression, yet entirely its own place. Here the wide, strong river Rhone, which the locals consider male, comes together with the graceful female Saone. This gentle confluence.
There will be countless pretty villages. I will sample the wines of Provence and Burgundy, and I will end up in Paris.
And I will happily do it again, and again.
(PS: AND I AM IN AUGUST …)
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