Nancy and Judy in Ardeche country

Judi Travel Caricature

Bonjour mes amies!

I’m back from France and can’t wait to tell you all about my fabulous week on the Viking River Cruise to Lyon and Provence. The Viking team invited me to join a group of media peeps last month for an 8-day voyage on the River Rhône. It would be my first international trip since the pandemic and my +1 was my sister N, one of my favorite traveling companions. *


Nancy and Judy in Ardeche country

My traveling companion for the trip was my sister N (pictured left)

The Viking Hermod took us through the beautiful French countryside from Lyon to Avignon. It had been five years since my first vacay to Lyon with my BFF L for our mutual 60th birthdays and over 10 years since my retirement celebration in Avignon with my daughter A and son D. I was excited to see all that had changed and what new discoveries Viking had in store for this visit.

Viking Hermod Longship

We traveled on the Viking Hermod Longship on the River Rhône from Lyon to Avignon

An award-winning cruise line

Having traveled with Viking before (you can read about my other trips here), I knew I was in for a treat especially since the company is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

In January 2023, Viking had its most successful single month of bookings following recent years of strong growth. Since 2020, Viking has welcomed 16 new ships to its fleet—including eight new Viking Longships on the rivers of Europe, new purpose-built vessels on the Mekong, Nile and Mississippi rivers; three new ocean ships; and Polar Class expedition vessels. BTW, Amanda from Viking’s PR team told me that Viking River Cruises on the Nile are sold out thru February 2024, so if you want to book for later in 2024 or 2025 do it soon.

Viking Hermod

Viking Cruises have been honored with multiple accolades

Viking continually wins accolades. The popular online cruise resource, Cruise Critic®, recognized Viking with six First Place awards in the 11th Annual Cruisers’ Choice Awards,  including Best River Line for the second consecutive time. Viking’s ocean and expedition voyages also earned the top two placements in nearly every eligible category including Best Overall Line (Small Ship Category). And in its first year of operation, Viking’s expedition voyages claimed First Place in the Best Dining category too. Viking was also named both the #1 Ocean Line and #1 River Line by both Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler.

Can you see why I’m a fan? Viking won over my sister N too.

What I like about river cruising

“I like Viking River Cruises. It’s nice to be on a smaller ship (190 people) and not have to move your luggage to different hotels or Airbnbs. I like being able to walk off the ship into the city at each stop,” said N. It was her first-ever river cruise and she said she really enjoyed traveling this way and said she would recommend it to others.

Provence Dessert Buffet on Viking Cruises

Viking chefs prepare meals using local ingredients and feature recipes of the region

I agree that river cruising is the way to go when you want a great vacay and don’t want to spend months planning. Viking Cruises makes it easy — just say book my cruise and they will: arrange your airfare, manage your transfers, help you select a cabin to your liking, provide fantastic meals with local ingredients and recipes, offer an included excursion at each port (optional excursions are offered at a price) and add in touches like heated floors in cabin baths and large bath towels to that make you feel pampered. (FYI Viking Ocean Cruises provide bathrobes.)

Veranda Room on the Viking Hermod

Verandas provide an outdoor space to view the river while sailing

It’s true that there is only one dining room and elaborate evening entertainment is not something you’ll find on a Viking River Cruise. However, what you will find is surprising locations and fascinating cultural activities while ashore and on ship; hours to spend relaxing on deck during afternoon sailings; and inviting evening events in the lounge if you desire a dance or song before bedtime. You’ll likely take home wonderful memories and a few new friends you’ve met while on board.

A visual peek at our Viking River Cruise to Lyon and Provence

Have I peaked your interest in taking a Viking River Cruise during your life after 50, 60, 70, 80 or 90? I’m going to entice you even more with a visual peek at our fantastique River Rhône itinerary. It’s just a sneak preview. I’ll be sharing every morsel about the places we saw, the people we met, and the things we did in future posts.


Lyon with a view of Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourviere

During our time in Lyon we hiked around Vieux Lyon with a funicular ride up to Fourviere Hill to see the landmark 19th-century church

Chateau de Nervers in Beaujolais Wine Country

We visited a Chateau to sample reds in Beaujolais wine country

Coussin marzipan at Voisin chocolates in Lyon

We sampled coussin, an amazing marzipan candy filled with chocolate at Voisin chocolate shop–it was the best marzipan I ever ate and I don’t even like marzipan


View of Vienne France

We hiked steep hills in Vienne, to get a view from above of one of the oldest towns in France


Lavender fields in Ardeche country

Our full day excursion while in Tournon brought us to Charming Ardeche where French lavender grows– it was disappointing that the fields weren’t purple –next time we’ll have to return in July for the bloom


Night time in Viviers

It was dark when we arrived in Viviers for a night walk in this well-preserved medieval town


Van Gogh's Le Jardin Painting

We visited the city of Arles, known equally for its Roman ruins as well as for its rich artistic heritage — it was the city where impressionist Vincent Van Gogh found inspiration for many of his paintings including Le Jardin


Inside the remarkable home of 14th-century popes

In Avignon, the “City of Popes,” we went inside Chateâuneuf-du-Pape to learn about the remarkable home of 14th-century popes

Les Halles in Avignon

We spent our last hours in Avignon walking through Les Halles food hall, eating and eating and eating and shopping and shopping and shopping — ooh, ooh, ooh, it was a best-ever day — wait until I share all the photos in my upcoming post — what a grand finale

Au revoir pour le moment, il y a beaucoup plus à venir,


P.S. – If you decide to take the Viking River Cruise to Lyon and Provence, I highly suggest you journey in the southern direction from Lyon to Avignon like we did. It was nice to end in Avignon where you can save the best shopping for last.

* Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip on the Viking River Cruise to Lyon & Provence. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.