On our last full day with Viking River Cruises on their Portraits of Southern France itinerary, we spent the morning scenic cruising to Chalon-sur-Saone, our gateway to Beaune. There, a scheduled motorcoach excursion would take us deep into the Burgundy region of France. We were to stop at a vineyard on the way to Beaune, visit a famous wine cellar and end with a wine tasting. We did all that, as promised, as we had at each stop along the way. Still, it was not until dinner on our Viking Longship that I realized what had happened.
The morning of scenic cruising brought landscapes of Beaujolais and Burgundy; scenes as pretty as a picture, many of which had been painted by artists we became more familiar with on this voyage. There was not a moment to be missed as we sailed along the Saone River, toward our final destination.
After a brief stop in Tournis to disembark passengers on an optional Benedictine Abbey tour we continued sailing, passing villages, farms and an increasing number of vineyards.
In Chalon-sur-Saone Viking Hermod docked as she had so many times on our 8-day itinerary, but something was in the air that day, something different.
Perhaps it was some rather stunning graffiti at the port, an air of apprehension over leaving this fairytale land and the marvelous ship and crew of Viking Hermod behind, a local oddly fishing under a bridge that did not look like a good place to sink a line, or the travel day ahead. But it felt different.
Traveling by motorcoach we visited a beautiful vineyard that seemed to stretch to the horizon, coloring vistas of land a brilliant green. The bus paused, we and our fellow travelers got out and drank in the scene, each of us in our own way.
Continuing on to Beaune, a walking tour took us into a town that seemed to be made up of all wine stores, along with a number of eclectic related restaurants, souvenir shops and more. Our local guide was passionate about sharing her world with us, covering a lot of ground in a short period of time.
Entering Hospices de Beaune, founded in 1443 as a hospital, we toured the well-preserved and popular attraction which still owns many of the region’s vineyards we had seen touring the area.
Hospices de Beaune was of particular interest to Lisa who began and will no doubt end her working years in health care. A good example of the Burgundian/Flemish architecture of the area, this place had special meaning to her and I wondered if that was the feeling I had been trying to figure out all day.
Ending the tour with a wine tasting at legendary wine cellar Le Cellier e la Cabiote, I thought “Very appropriate, a nice ending to a good travel experience.” But the best was yet to come.
Back on Viking Hermod, we planned on having dinner in the ship’s Aquavit Terrace, enjoying one last night in this enchanting part of the world when it hit me. Remember that fisherman I spoke of earlier, the one positioned under the bridge? He was still there 5 hours later, still fishing, still in the same position and we realized he was not a fisherman at all but yet another work of art that blended in with the surroundings.
That’s when I got it.
That’s when I found the real artist, the source of what I had been feeling that day if not the whole week: Viking River Cruises themselves and an expertly choreographed, perfectly framed portrait of southern France.
Frankly, they really snuck one in on me here, caught me by surprise and drove home everything we had seen to date with this one ending experience. That’s saying a lot from someone who goes out of their way to find such elements in a travel experience, has worked diligently to share the intrinsic value of a cruise vacation with others and is totally sold on what Viking does: hook, line and sinker.
The result? This sailing, this cruise vacation experience, was as close to perfect as we have experienced on any cruise.
Up next: Viking Portraits Itinerary: Your Questions Answered.
Come along with us from leaving home to returning and everything in-between right here. We’ll be posting live accounts of what happened along the way. Here is a handy guide with links to where we can be found and followed:
ChrisCruises.com- Live Event In Progress daily blog posts and this Day by Day account of our trip (see below)
Google+ Posts from ChrisCruises.com, all in one place
Spotify- River Cruise Playlists
Tumblr– Live photo posts, as they happen, from me; like Instagram without captions.
Tumblr Bonus: Lisa’s Tumblr, themed “The World As Lisa Sees It” posts one photo each day as it has for years. Follow along to see how Lisa experiences this trip as well.
Exposure- Photo Storybooks for each event, coming soon.
Have questions for us before, during or after the event?
We are Vikings and always in touch
Chris is on location this week, sponsored by Viking River Cruise touring in Europe by river. As always, Chris provides the details to let readers decide what resonates (or not) with them in an unbiased, factual manner.