I am very excited to meet and explore one of Viking Cruises’ new ships, Fjorgyn – the Norse goddess of the Earth. She was built in 2020 exclusively for cruising on the Seine River. As we all know, the pandemic sidelined cruising until recently. She holds a maximum of 168 guests (in my opinion – the perfect size) with a crew of 46. The Fjorgyn is 410 feet long. She docks in Paris at an exclusive dock within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower.
The cruise starts and ends in Paris (what could be better?) and sails through the heart of Normandy. This voyage celebrates the history, art, food, and customs of one of France’s most alluring regions.
7 Night – Paris & the Heart of Normandy : Paris.. Viking Fjorgyn (cruisecompete.com)
The first port stop is Auvers-Sur-Oise, a place I’ve never been. The village of Auvers-Sur-Oise provided much inspiration to the Impressionist Masters. Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, and Paul Cézanne variously lived and worked in Auvers-Sur-Oise.
On a walking tour, I will see the subjects of some of van Gogh’s most famous paintings, including the renowned Church at Auvers. I’ll continue to the cemetery and the grave of Vincent and his beloved brother Theo. Their resting place is adjacent to the wheat field that van Gogh depicted in Wheat Field with Crows. Afterward, I’ll stroll through the village to the famous Auberge Ravoux, the artist’s final home, where many believe he took his own life.
Next day, it is on to Rouen, starring its magnificent Gothic cathedral and sadly, the places where Joan of Arc was tried and put to death. A modern church stands on the site and celebrates her venerated story.
Next comes a long but memorable day viewing the 950-year-old Bayeux Tapestry, followed by visits to the emotion-packed D-Day landing sites and museums. Non-Americans can choose to see the British sites and memorials.
The outing ends at the 172-acre American Cemetery, with 9,387 American War Dead graves. The cemetery honors those lost in the Normandy battles. It’s a moving place that keeps alive the memory of those who lost their lives during their brave fight for global freedom. We owe them much.
The captain will move the boat to Les Andelys, a picturesque town known for the hillside castle, Château Gaillard, built in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart. An excursion allows one to visit the castle ruins and explore the town.
The following day brings a visit to Château de Malmaison, where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his final days in France. Along with the Tuileries, this elegant manor house, purchased by the emperor’s wife Josephine in 1799, served as the seat of Napoleon’s French government from 1800 to 1802.
An optional afternoon excursion poses a bus ride and tour of the luxurious Palace of Versailles, the former home of Louis XIV, the Sun King. I wouldn’t dream of missing Versailles. I’ll spend one more night on the boat and depart Paris the next day.
While on board, I’ll be lodging in one of 35 veranda staterooms. Other accommodations are 22 standard staterooms, 18 French balcony staterooms, seven veranda suites, and two Explorer suites. All those in suites enjoy two full-size rooms with a veranda off the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom.
Viking clients rave about the meals served aboard the ship. I look forward to tasting some croissants at breakfast and a serving of coq au vin one evening. Once per cruise, Viking offers a themed buffet feast featuring the ship’s cruising region – in this case, France. I know I will relax and enjoy the Silver Spirits package before, during, or after meals.
I’ll also enjoy complimentary wifi to keep up with emails and my friends and family. Viking Fjorgyn does not have an onboard spa, salon, pool, hot tub, fitness center, or bicycles for rent. I plan to get plenty of walking on my excursions, but the upper deck incorporates a jogging track if needed.
Daily briefings and talks prepare passengers for upcoming destinations. It helps to know something about what you are going to see. I cannot wait to spend eight days and seven nights with Viking, including six guided excursions. Bon Voyage.
Cover photo: Bayeaux Tapestry
See sailings Viking River (cruisecompete.com)