Chateaux, Wine, and Europe’s Christmas Markets

Viking Embla (left) and Viking Freya (right), docked in Melk, Austria. This winter, we’re heading to France, Germany, Austria and Hungary with Viking River Cruises. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

What’s better than taking one river cruise? Taking two.
In late November, I’ll be travelling to Europe two solid weeks of river cruising adventure with Viking River Cruises. Our very special Live Voyage Report will last 15 days, highlight 12 ports of call in five different countries, incorporate seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and profile two of Viking’s beautiful Viking Longships sailing on two of the line’s most distinct itineraries.

Illustration © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Illustration © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Beginning November 22, 2014, we’ll embark the gorgeous Viking Forseti in Bordeaux, France for a week of sailing the Garonne, Gironde, and Dordogne rivers as part of one of Viking’s newest itineraries: the weeklong Chateaux, Rivers & Wine.
The full itinerary, both here and onboard:

DAY PORT ACTIVITIES
November 22, 2014 Bordeaux, France Arrival; free time.
November 23 Gironde River / Pauillac, France Scenic Cruising / Medoc and Margaux wine country visit; wine tasting & evening at leisure
November 24 Blaye, France Tour of Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site; afternoon free time or optional excursion to Cognac
November 25 Libourne, France Tour of Saint-Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site & Pomerol wine region; afternoon at leisure or optional excursion to Bergerac
November 26 Garonne River / Cadillac, France Scenic Cruising / Excursion to Sauternes wine region & wine tasting
November 27 Cadillac, France / Bordeaux, France Morning city tour / evening at leisure in Bordeaux
November 28 Bordeaux, France Tour of city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site; afternoon at leisure
November 29, 2014 Bordeaux, France Disembark Viking Forseti; flight to Budapest, Hungary for the start of our next Live Voyage Report!
We're headed back to Bordeaux in November to report live from the full Chateaux, Rivers and Wine itinerary with Viking River Cruises! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

We’re headed back to Bordeaux in November to report live from the full Chateaux, Rivers and Wine itinerary with Viking River Cruises! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I was in Bordeaux briefly this past spring as part of Viking’s 2014 Viking Longship Christening Ceremonies. Situated along the Garonne River, Bordeaux today is an amazing destination in its own right. After having fallen into disrepair during the late 1990’s, the city embarked on a huge modernisation and restoration programme a decade and a half ago. Classic buildings were restored, tram lines installed, and pedestrian zones created. The result is arguably one of the most stunningly-preserved French cities outside of Paris.

Viking Forseti sailing the Gironde River. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Viking Forseti sailing the Gironde River. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The other big draw with this itinerary that Viking has created are the areas outside of Bordeaux. Bordeaux – the region – is home to some of the most famous wine producers in the world. Appellations found here include Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Sauternes, Medoc and Margaux – and Viking has developed land excursions here that are sure to please lovers of the grape.
If wine isn’t your thing, journey to Cognac where, unsurprisingly, Cognac comes from. Much like Champagne, true Cognac can only be called as such if it comes from the Cognac region in France. In March, I had the privilege to visit The House of CAMUS, one of the oldest Cognac producers in the region. While touring, I had the ability to even make my own variation of the popular spirit, and a return to Cognac and CAMUS is high on my list of things to do.

The House of CAMUS is situated in the picturesque countryside, and is worth visiting for the history and scenery alone. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The House of CAMUS is situated in the picturesque countryside, and is worth visiting for the history and scenery alone. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Then, there’s the Viking Forseti herself. One of Viking’s magnificent new Viking Longships, Viking Forseti was launched last year and repositioned to France for the 2014 season to inaugurate this new itinerary. As a Longship, she offers everything that makes these innovative river cruise ships so unique, from the soaring glass-topped atrium to the combination indoor-outdoor Aquavit Terrace that has become often imitated but never duplicated on other lines.
Viking Forseti also features economical ‘riverview’ staterooms, French Balcony staterooms, and staterooms that feature full, step-out balconies in addition to true suites.

Viking Baldur, December 2013. Note the chang</body></html>
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