Home Cultural Exploration Rolling On The Rhone River With Viking River Cruises

Rolling On The Rhone River With Viking River Cruises

written by Penny Sadler

September of this year saw me fulfilling a long-standing dream of taking one of the European Viking River Cruises.

From Provence in the south to Lyon in the northern Rhone region of France, I spent seven days on board the Viking longship Buri.

Rolling on the Rhone River with Viking Cruises

The Viking Buri, docked in Lyon, France

During the week-long cruise, we stopped at six ports along the Rhone River. Each port was a mini history and culture lesson. Often the food and wine of a particular area was a special treat at dinner, as when we arrived in Tournon Sur Rhone, where just across the river are the famous Hermitage AOC Vineyards. That evening, we drank a local Syrah.  Food, wine, art, and architecture – all the things I love about Europe – were part of the cruise experience, which Viking River Cruises does so well. If you’re looking for stress-free ways to travel, this is ideal.

Photo Essay Provence to Lyon Viking River Cruise

My first view of the Rhone River and Provence!

This was my first time in France, and I was not disappointed. Many of my readers know that I’m a big Italophile, but this year I went to France instead of Italy. Who knew that France has almost as many Roman ruins as Italy? Everywhere we went, we saw magnificent monuments and remains of what was once the mighty Roman Empire.

One of the nicest features of taking a river cruise is that at each port you have the option to take a guided walking tour.

The guides are always local and extremely knowledgeable. I went on every walking tour offered, trying to soak in as much as I could…and take photos along the way.

There were also additional day tours at most ports that allowed travelers the opportunity to dig deeper into the culture. I’ll write more about the tours I took and what you can see and do in each port in future articles.

After most trips, I like to begin sharing my experiences with photographic stories that I hope will stimulate your curiosity and inspire you to come back and learn more – and take a journey yourself!

Are you ready to Roll on the Rhone River with Viking River Cruises ?

Embarkation port: Avignon

photos essay from a river cruise provence to lyon

The beautiful city of the Popes, Avignon

The cruise began in Avignon with a tour of the Palace of the Popes or Palais des Papes.

It is the largest gothic building in Europe and was the home of the Popes during the 14th century. Once both a palace and a fortress, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the historical center of Avignon.

Arles, Provence @PennySadler 2016

The Roman Colosseum in Arles, France

Arles is a dream of a town, with much architectural and historical interest. Though it was once the capital of the Kingdom of Arles and an important river port, it is perhaps best known for the outstanding Roman amphitheater, seen in this photo and as the home of the painter Vincent Van Gogh. Arles has also been designated a UNESCO World  Heritage Site. I’ll be writing more about Arles and the Roman ruins.

Rolling Rhone River Viking Cruises

Who wouldn’t like to while away a few hours here?

Tournon Sur Rhone

Rolling on the Rhone With Viking Cruises @PennySadler 2016

The Marc Seguin Bridge, Tournon Sur Rhone

We arrived in Tournon after dinner, but early enough for a walk. The bridge in the photo connects Tournon with the famous Tain L’ Hermitage AOC vineyards.

Rolling on the Rhone River with Viking Cruises

A view of the Rhone towards the south from Vienne.

Vienne, a stunning city with wonderful Roman ruins, founded under the administration of Pontius Pilate. Our group arrived in Vienne after disembarking in Tournon, boarding a bus, and meeting the boat in Vienne. But first we had a tour of the city and got the lay of the land. That night we went back out after dinner to wander through the ruins in the dark. A special experience we shall always remember.

Rolling on the Rhone River with Viking Cruises

A mix of architectural styles from different centuries in Vienne – medieval architecture adjacent to Roman ruins.

Last port of call: Lyon

Rolling on the Rhone River with Viking Cruises

Beautiful Lyon, France, view from Fourviére Hill

Lyon is France’s second largest city, yet the pace does not feel frantic or big city at all. Lyon is known first and foremost as a food city, so be sure to try some local dishes like Salad Lyonnaise, and glass of rosé. My favorite part of the city was the Vieux Lyon, or the old town. I spent all my free time in Lyon there, walking the cobblestone streets or sitting at a cafe enjoying a local wine. There is much to see and do in Lyon so I will be writing about it in detail in future articles.

If you have any questions for me about any of the ports or what it’s like to take one of the Viking River Cruises you can email me, leave a comment, or stay tuned!

Rolling on the Rhone by Adventures of a Carry-on

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Sadly, Lyon was the last stop on our Rhone odyssey. My appreciation to Viking Cruises for sponsorship of the river cruise portion of this trip.

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Jill Barth February 6, 2019 at 6:17 pm

I would LoVE to have this experience! Thanks for sharing.

Penny Sadler February 15, 2019 at 8:08 pm

Thank Jill! I’m surprised you’ve not already taken a river cruise. I highly recommend it!

Jan Grahek March 26, 2018 at 5:10 pm

My husband and I will be taking this Viking Cruise April 2019.
We want to to an extension to Paris on our own.
We would like to take the train from Lyon to Paris. Our Viking Booking agent thought it would be better to
Fly from Lyon to Paris. My husband and I like an adventure. I think the train would be fun and scenic, not sure
How far train station is to boat once we disembark. Your thoughts since you have been here.
Thank You,

Marilee Greene March 26, 2018 at 9:35 pm

I would take the train to Lyon. I just took this cruise and stayed 3days in Paris too. The train takes only 2 hours. I can’t imagine why you would fly. Viking took us to ship but I don’t remember it being far. I would use Uber. We used it in Paris and Nice. Very reasonable and quick.

Penny Sadler March 26, 2018 at 10:20 pm

Marilee, thank you for replying to this comment. Very helpful!

Penny Sadler March 26, 2018 at 10:20 pm

Hi Jan, Please see Marilee’s reply.

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Lester July 9, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Penny, exactly where does the Viking boat dock in Lyon? Is it near any M station?

Penny Sadler July 9, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Hi Lester,
I arrived in Lyon on the boat as we left from Avignon. I can’t say how far the metro is because I did not take it. However I can tell you that if you are planning one of these cruises all you need to do is ask the Viking River people. They will be able to answer all questions of this nature. I did find this in a very quick Google search, “Which lines do you get to River Cruises Boat in Lyon?
These lines stop near River Cruises Boat: Bus – 171, Bus – 60, Bus – C9, Bus – S1, Light Rail – T1, Metro -“

Lester July 10, 2017 at 9:41 am

Thanks so much!

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Agness of Fit Travelling April 14, 2017 at 6:39 pm

This seems like an amazing place, Penny! I would love to visit it one day!

Penny Sadler April 15, 2017 at 2:19 pm

France is awesome!

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Esta Kronberg March 30, 2017 at 9:16 pm

thank you…I used my airline points…can select our seats

Penny Sadler March 30, 2017 at 9:24 pm

well points are always good!

Esta Kronberg March 30, 2017 at 9:14 pm

thank you
your information that it is town is very helpful.

Esta Kronberg March 30, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Thank you for your speedy response. I think I will call Viking.On Google i am getting both impressions. I have been given the name of the 3 possible ports through my travel agent. They want $120 to transport us from the airport to the pier….

Penny Sadler March 30, 2017 at 9:08 pm

I’m not sure what to tell you since I’m not your travel agent. I do know that you can arrange transport with Viking if you book your air with them too. If you don’t then you would be on your own to get yourself to your port. Maybe try googling a bit to see if you can find some competitive rates on the transport? Also, Viking might have some recommendations for you, or not. I don’t really know.

Penny Sadler March 30, 2017 at 9:12 pm

If you have not already booked your airfare I can confirm that booking through Viking you can get some very good rates.

Esta Kronberg March 29, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Thank you for your lovely review. We are taking this trip in October, we are doing our own air and starting in Lyon. I would like to just take a cab to the port. Is it in Lyon? Or is the Lyon port out of town? Any idea how long it took from port to airport?
Thank you

Penny Sadler March 30, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Hi Esta, I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. My boat departed from Avignon and we disembarked in Lyon. I don’t recall the ride from the boat to the airport but I’m sure you could ask the folks at Viking or whoever you booked your cruise with and they’d be happy to help you. Or you could even google it. The port is in Lyon yes. It’s a lovely cruise. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

Theodora March 8, 2017 at 10:54 pm

I’ve only ever done a Nile cruise, and that was by felucca rather than cruise ship. This looks rather lovely!

Penny Sadler March 9, 2017 at 11:38 am

It was, is!

Megan Jerrard March 5, 2017 at 9:52 pm

Have heard so much about Vikings River Cruises, and they sounds like an incredible way to explore European destinations. So glad that you had the chance to visit France – especially as a wine lover – some fantastic regions here to explore! We loved Lyon 🙂

Penny Sadler March 8, 2017 at 11:02 pm

Thanks Megan. I really wan to go back to France. And yes, Lyon is one of my favorite cities now.

Lillie January 9, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Ahh… the more I read about Viking River Cruises, the more I want to try them out. That image of strolling the cobblestone streets of Lyon and sipping at the cafes is seduction at its finest!

Marilee Greene January 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I’m having second thoughts about this trip. Are you docked in cities or do you have to take buses? I like to get off the ship and explore. I read one review that said skip this cruise and take the Germany one because you get off in cities. I have taken Paris to Normandy and loved it but we were supposed to be docked in Paris. didn’t happen. Constantly on a schedule.

Penny Sadler January 5, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Hi Marilee,
thank you for your question and comments. At most of the ports but NOT ALL of the ports you need to take a bus into the city. Ports where you are docked within walking distance include: Avignon, Vivier, Vienne and Lyon. However, be advised that to arrive in Vienne you will travel by bus from the port in Tournon. Then the boat is docked in Vienne overnight. There is time to go out and explore. We did so after dinner. Lyon you can chose to go explore on your own or take the tour with the Viking guide. Same in Avignon. I have not taken the Germany trip yet but I would like to. Let me know what you decide.

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Tom Bentley December 13, 2016 at 11:02 am

I would have been delighted to have poured your wine for you at every stop on that trip, madame. Perhaps next time…

Penny Sadler December 14, 2016 at 9:52 am

Ha! if only I’d known I would have invited you for sure!

Tom Bentley December 12, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Penny, just saw this one—I’m jealous! Beautiful images and what sounds like many pleasures.

Penny Sadler December 12, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Did we not talk about France? You should have gone with me! You are so kind – Thanks Tom.


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