French cuisine has long been considered equal parts prestigious and enticing. The French are known for approaching food with respect, appreciation, and adoration, then presenting it with such flourish, diners claim “c’est délicieux” even before the first bite. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Viking has itineraries dedicated to exploring the country’s gastronomic delicacies. It’s also fitting that Viking was recognized as the best in culinary experiences in Food & Wine magazine’s inaugural Global Tastemakers awards, especially given the celebrated “Lyon & Provence” journey along the Rhône River.
Over the course of eight days, sailing from Avignon to Lyon, passengers will savor each experience — wine tasting at a centuries-old vineyard, touring a family-run olive mill, sampling the region’s world-famous goat cheese, and visiting an organic farm where truffle-hunting dogs find the prized fungus. Then of course, there’s the food experience on board — regional cuisine enhanced with locally sourced ingredients (many of which are enhanced by the ship’s onboard herb garden) provides an immersive cultural experience before ever setting sail.
The French are known for approaching food with respect, appreciation, and adoration, then presenting it with such flourish, diners claim “c’est délicieux” even before the first bite.
While the itinerary is focused on food and wine, France’s famed architecture, art, and history are woven into each stop as well. The winding medieval walls of Avignon lead to ancient churches, museums, and palaces. Seven popes resided in Avignon between 1309 and 1377, lending to the nickname “City of Popes.” See their former residence on a guided tour through the town’s rambling maze of Gothic architecture.
A walking tour of Arles exposes impressive Roman ruins like the Les Arènes, a 20,000-seat arena still in use today. Romanesque monuments including the Church of Saint-Trôphime are juxtaposed against the city’s vibrant colors and striking quality of light, known to have inspired artists for centuries. In Viviers, the cobblestone streets are dominated by the 12th-century St. Vincent Cathedral. Step back into the modern day as you board the Train de l’Ardèche in Tournon for a morning locomotive ride through the deep gorges of the Ardèche plateau, cut by the Doux River.
Later, the city of Lyon beckons with its historical and architectural landmarks — Basilica of Notre Dame, St. Jean Cathedral, and the Palace of Justice to name a few. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a fitting place to end considering Lyon is regarded as the capital of gastronomy in France.
The Viking difference: destination focused and culturally enriching.