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Rivers of southern France SUNDAY

SIMPLY THE BEST

When I was asked to write my Top 50 Travel Experiences, there was never any doubt in my mind what Number One would be.

For all my visits to the Taj Mahal and time spent watching penguins in Antarctica, it was the south of France river cruise, visiting Arles, Avignon and Lyon.

And I’m doing it again in August, and you can come.

We have 16 cabins on a Viking river cruise rather secretly “blocked off”. After two nights in Nice, we join Viking’s Longship Heimal and visit Arles, Avignon, Viviers, Tournon and Lyon.

Yes, it is my favourite travel experience in the world.

These cabins a rare and precious, as the world got going before us, and this summer in Europe is heavily booked. (We expect those cabins to be taken up quickly, and our Travel Club Tours usually sell out.)

ABOUT THE TRIP

The package is 10 days from August 7 to 16, and from $5995 per person, twin share. Flights are not included but can be arranged for guests, and we are recommending Emirates (which I’ll be doing), as we can fly into Nice and home from Lyon.

Our package starts with two nights in Nice, including a welcome dinner, before we make our way to Avignon to board the Viking Heimdal ship for seven nights cruising the Rhône river to Lyon.

This is a compact, one-country trip for those wanting to do something special with two weeks’ leave from work. It can be extended, for those with more time. And there’s a neat extension, taking the TGV train to Paris and staying there. Others might continue to travel in Europe or head to the UK.

All bookings and arrangements for this trip will be handled be one person, and travel insurance which covers guests for Covid related issues and delays is included in the price.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Two nights at the Mercure Nice Promenade Des Anglais in a Superior Room.

Seven nights aboard Viking’s Longship Heimdal cruising from Avignon to Lyon.

One complimentary shore excursion in every port of call; visits to UNESCO sites; enrichment lectures and destination performances.

Beer, wine and soft drinks with onboard lunch and dinner. WiFi. Gratuities.

Fully Comprehensive Travel Insurance, including Covid Travel Cover. The insurance includes unlimited medical cover (including COVID-19), as well as COVID-19 Travel Cover. The insurance includes cancellation cover to the value of $10,000 per person. The included insurance has a $250 excess, but you can remove the excess completely from an additional $70 per person. (Additional premiums apply for travellers 70 years and over, and with pre-existing medical conditions.)

Although our price is based on twin share, Viking offers the option of converting all cabins to twin bedding, so friends are able to travel together more easily.

Flights are not included but can be arranged for you. We suggest flying with Emirates, as Dubai has been so successful in handling the past two years, we can fly into Nice and out of Lyon, and guests can use Qantas points.

HOW IT GOES

Day 1, August 7. Arrive in Nice. There is an airport transfer to Mercure Nice Promenade Des Anglais and then an evening at leisure.

Day 2, August 8. Nice. Walk the promenade, go to one of the beach clubs or wander around the old town of Vieille Ville, and take the free elevator up to Parc de la Colline du Château for views of the riviera. This afternoon/evening, there’s a welcome function.

Day 3, August 9. We leave at 9am, with a private transfer to Avignon. The scenic drive will take up to three hours, along the coast past Antibes and Cannes before heading inland to Aix-en-Provence. We board Viking Cruises’ luxurious Longship Heimdal, then have free time to explore this quaint town, or join the “welcome walk”. Dinner is served on board.

Day 4, Arles. Disembark after breakfast and take a walking tour of Arles. The light has inspired artists like Vincent Van Gogh. Arles is also the site of some impressive Roman ruins. Enjoy free time to explore Arles. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner.)

Day 5, Avignon. This morning, set out on a guided walk of Avignon, nicknamed “City of Popes” because it was home to seven popes from 1309 to 1377. Stroll through the historic centre, see the picturesque Pont d’Avignon and walk the Place de l’Horloge. Continue to the Palace of the Popes for a guided tour. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. We depart for Viviers this evening. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner.)

Day 6, Viviers. This morning, join a walking tour of Viviers’ Old Town with its medieval and Renaissance buildings. This afternoon, we set sail to Tournon. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner.)

Day 7, Tournon. Board the Train de l’Ardèche this morning for a ride through the gorges of the Ardèche. Return to the ship for lunch as we cruise past dramatic landscapes. Arrive in the beautiful town of Vienne. We remain docked overnight. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner.)

Day 8, Lyon. After breakfast, disembark in Lyon for a tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, a guided visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame and a drive past the magnificent St Jean Cathedral and the Palace of Justice. Then take a walking tour through the cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon (Old Town), with time to shop. The ship is docked overnight. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner.)

Day 9, Lyon. After breakfast, take a scenic drive through the rolling hills of Beaujolais and enjoy a tasting in one of Beaujolais’s famous cellars. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner.)

Day 10, August 16. Lyon. Disembark after breakfast.

PARIS EXTENSION

Three nights.

There is a private transfer to the TGV train to Paris, and a First Class seat for the journey of less than two hours. Upon arrival a Gare du Lyon, we will be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel.

Enjoy the next three days at your leisure, taking in the sights and tastes of one of the world’s most famous cities. A Two Day Hop On — Hop Off Big Bus Premium Ticket is included.

4 Star: Le Belgrand Hotel Paris Champs Elysees, from $775 per person (for three nights).

5 Star: Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg, from $1150 per person (three nights).Or our partners can tailor a package for you.

HOW TO BE THERE

Call 0434 704 194

The package is from $5995 per person.

Full itinerary by visiting westtravelclub.com.au/tours

Or go straight through to our partner’s website globaltravelclub.com.au/westtravelclub-france

Call 0434 704 194 now. We have arranged staff to help you today (Sunday).

Email westtravelclub@globaltravelclub.com.au

The fact that the cruise is in August means booking now and paying in full pretty promptly.

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