We travel to Bordeaux to preview Viking’s new Chateaux, Rivers and Wine itinerary

Today, we set out for the beautiful city of Bordeaux to preview Viking River Cruises' newest itinerary in France. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Today, we set out for the beautiful city of Bordeaux to preview Viking River Cruises’ newest itinerary in France. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

One thing I’ve always said about Viking River Cruises is that they always put on a good show – and they always know how to impress.

Today, we bade farewell to a blustery Avignon and Viking Heimdal and made our way to Bordeaux on France’s Atlantic coast. But we didn’t drive there, or take a high-speed rail link. No. We flew in style on a private jet.

Boarding our private jet at Avignon Regional Airport. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Boarding our private jet at Avignon Regional Airport. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Arriving at Avignon Regional Airport at 9am, we were whisked through security and issued with a perfunctory boarding pass before walking across the tarmac to a gleaming-white BAE 146-200, a small, quad turbofan-engine jet equipped in an all-business class configuration.

Powering into the sky above Avignon on a blustery day. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Powering into the sky above Avignon on a blustery day. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Veuve Cliquot champagne was served prior to takeoff. The proof that I don’t do this every day – or ever, for that matter – can be found in the fact that my (empty) champagne glass slid right off the armrest on takeoff as our jet powered into the sky high above Avignon.

Even though the flight was only 60 minutes long, we were served a full breakfast complete with fresh fruit, beef, and – of course – fresh French cheese. A little coffee and some more Veuve to wash it down, and we were descending into Bordeaux airport.

If only I could fly back to North America like this!

Breakfast in the sky. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Breakfast in the sky. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

France’s Bordeaux wine region is the newest destination for Viking River Cruises, and it’s easy to see the appeal. Bordeaux itself is gorgeously well-preserved, and the Gironde and Garonne Rivers offer up a seemingly endless array of possibilities.

The Medoc region is famed for its Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and has three sub-regions including the exclusive Haut-Medoc. Dessert wines are produced in Sauternes, and Saint-Emilion and Pomerol are planted mainly with softer Merlot grapes.

My stateroom aboard Viking Forseti. Launched last year, there are some notable differences between Viking Forseti and Viking Heimdal. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

My stateroom aboard Viking Forseti. Launched last year, there are some notable differences between Viking Forseti and Viking Heimdal. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Viking’s new itinerary offers port stops in Bordeaux, Libourne, Pauillac, Cadillac, and Blaye.

Here in Bordeaux, we went for a three-hour walking tour this afternoon of this historic city. Since 2000, the city has been known as La Belle Endormie, or Sleeping Beauty, for its remarkable transformation. Prior to 2000, the city had become faded and neglected. Today, it is vibrant, elegant, and spotlessly clean, thanks largely to the tireless efforts of mayor and former French Prime Minster, Alain Juppe.

My stateroom bathroom aboard Viking Forseti, with dark-brown sink and counter area. Also note the different wall texture, the different shelving arrangement, and the placement of the flush button for the toilet compared to Viking Heimdal, below. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

My stateroom bathroom aboard Viking Forseti, with dark-brown sink and counter area. Also note the different wall texture, the different towel racks, and the placement of the flush button for the toilet compared to Viking Heimdal, below. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

With its tram zipping past and its collection of thoughtfully-restored heritage buildings, it reminds me a bit of a cooler, windier version of Nice.

A few photos of our excellent afternoon in Bordeaux:

Out and About in Bordeaux. Passers-by enjoy cotton candy from a nearby carnival. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Out and About in Bordeaux. Passers-by enjoy cotton candy from a nearby carnival. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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Our Live Voyage Report from the 2014 Viking Longships Christening Ceremonies continues tomorrow as we experience Viking’s new Bordeaux itinerary first-hand with a special Cognac excursion! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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