ABOARD THE VIKING FORSETI — We are docked outside of the Place de la Bourse, a massive public square overlooking the Garonne River. The stunning Bordeaux Palais De La Bourse, which reminds me somewhat of Versailles, dominates the skyline.
The people of Bordeaux are not looking at the historical monuments, though. They are more captivated by us, the Viking Forseti, as we make the inaugural cruise of the new Chateaux, Rivers and Wine itinerary.
From my verandah room facing the Palace de la Bourse, I was a little surprised when I threw back the curtains to step outside and saw someone staring back at me on land, interested in our Longship. What I assumed to be one curious person soon turned into an assortment of people from all walks of life all day long.
Even with the stunning French architecture behind them, the majority of the people walking the Quai de la Douane on the afternoon we arrived were more curious about the modern new architecture of our unique Viking Longships.
That kind of attention will make you feel like a celebrity. It is the individual attention that Viking River Cruises lavishes on their guests that will solidify that feeling.
Though we were the stars of the show in Bordeaux, the passengers of the Viking Forseti were anxious to explore the beautiful city just across from our ship. After walking off the gangway, it just took a minute to walk into the heart of Bordeaux.
Two types of shore excursions were offered in Bordeaux on the first day of the itinerary when passengers are embarking throughout the day – exploring the city by day and by night. Both are essential to understanding the atmosphere and charm of this surprisingly large city heavy with history.
A city tour by day sets the stage for understanding the city known mainly for its wine, but a city that clearly offers so much more for visitors who want to revel in French historic architecture. It has all the charms of Paris, but with far fewer crowds and a relaxed atmosphere. Want to find a tucked away café and savor a sip of fine wine at a great price?? Bordeaux is the place to do it.
With the history of the city already discussed, a walking tour of Bordeaux after dinner is a chance to be captivated by the beauty of the city. The gleaming white buildings (which must be pressure washed by law to remove any pollution that accumulates on the surface) are magnificently lit at night, creating a soft gentle white glow to stroll down the marble lined Rue Ste. Catherine, one of the longest walking and shopping promenades in Europe. Fountains are gleaming and the pastel lights of the ornate city street lamps along the river are similar to the pink lights of Venice, but distinctly and uniquely Bordeaux.
With Viking River Cruise’s prime parking spot outside of the Place de la Bourse, stepping off the ship and walking into history might never have been so easy.
Photos by Kimberly Button