Beginning Viking’s Newest River Cruise Itinerary in the City of Light
Sunday, April 9, 2017
It’s true what they say about Paris in the springtime.
That’s the conclusion I came to after a day and a half in Paris as part of Viking River Cruises new Paris to the Swiss Alps river cruise tour. Beginning here in the City of Light, this 12-day cruise tour includes a two-night stay in Paris, followed by a weeklong cruise down the Rhine aboard Viking Longship Hild, and finishes up with a two-night stay in Zurich, Switzerland.
For me, this is the ideal itinerary: it focuses on different ports along the Rhine, like the gorgeous hamlet of Bernkastle-Kues, while also calling on larger municipalities like Strasbourg, France. That it also includes a two-night stay in both Paris and Zurich isn’t to be taken lightly, either: being guided around by Viking (and having hotels in both cities rolled into the purchase price of the tour) is a real bonus.
I arrived yesterday at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport’s Star Wars-ian Terminal 1, where I was met by a private driver and whisked to the Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel; a boutique luxury hotel located ridiculously close to the Eiffel Tower. How close? It’s a block and a half away, and can be easily seen just by stepping out the front doors.
Inside, Viking Program Director Emma introduced herself to us and immediately made a great impression by delivering an entire welcome package. She didn’t go over it in detail, but instead encouraged us to look it over at our leisure, while at the same time running over some key points. Bonus points for this as well: I was able to look over the package in my room, at my own pace. It’s such a smart idea, given that usually when I arrive in a destination, all I want to do is take a shower and get everything sorted out.
The rundown was quick and concise: Saturday would be at our leisure, while on Sunday Viking offered a complimentary “Panoramic City Tour” in the morning with a stop at Notre Dame Cathedral. In the afternoon, a series of three optional tours could be purchased at an additional cost. We had until 6:00pm to submit our requests for those tours.
The schedule for Monday showed us placing luggage outside the room at 6:15am, and meeting down in the Lobby for the departure of Transfer Group Blue to Luxembourg City and, finally, the beautiful Viking Hild.
36 Hours In Paris
I opted to skip the included morning tour of Paris and do my own thing, riding the Metro to various points around the city based on the recommendations of friends. But I did sign up for the optional afternoon tour to Montmartre Hill.
At a cost of €49 per person, this four hour-long tour included a guided walking tour of the romantic area of Montmartre, located in Paris’s 18tharrondissement. But I was also planning to use it as transportation: I wanted to have dinner in Montmartre at a place a friend recommended, and the chance to visit Montmartre for a walking tour and then stay behind for dinner sounded like an excellent opportunity.
Viking also offered two other optional tours this afternoon: a 4.5-hour visit to the Palace of Versailles for €149 per person; or a Parisian evening of dinner and cabaret for €219 per person.
With spectacular weather that had blue skies and temperatures soaring past 24°C on this unseasonably warm Sunday, a guided tour of Montmartre turned out to be the perfect end to a day that had begun with visits to Notre Dame Cathedral and its surrounding areas.
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