Viking Radgrid, pulled out of Port De Grenelle in Paris last week, on her maiden voyage to Le Pecq after a glittering launch party as part of the biggest river ship ceremony in years.
After a night of festivities, when Radgrid and seven other longships were named in a glittering ceremony, she quietly made her journey ontp France’s second longest river, the romantic Seine.
Time to get down to work.
In bright sunshine, the elegant 443-ft longship cruised silently past swans, ducks and flying cormorants on the banks of the river.
Viking Radgrid is a stylish ship – broad, comfortable and filled with what Chairman Torstein Hagen calls “It’s understated elegance.”
With 95 staterooms, most with a balcony, it has two restaurants, the main dining room and sun-drenched Acquavit Terrace for alfresco dining.
The longship has all the comforts of a contemporary longship with a sundeck stretching the length of the vessel, great for reading a book on a comfortable deck chair or simply enjoying the fresh air as the changing scenery of regional France passes by.
By late afternoon, we arrive at Le Pecq and go on a walking tour of Saint Germain-en-Laye, a picturesque village.
We were taken to a hillside park with views of the outskirts of Paris. As it is early spring, the trees were still bare and the winds chilly.
At 7 pm we cast off and Viking Ragrid left Le Pecq for La Roche-Guyon, about six hours away.
Despite being the main waterway into regional France, The Seine is serene and relatively quiet as the river cruise season only starts in late March, when various lines play the river. The second-longest river in France at 482 miles, the Seine starts just outside of Dijon in the Burgundy area and flows northwest through Troyes and into Paris.
The river is well patronised by rowers at Port De Grenelle and our voyage takes us towards the city of Rouen before reaching the English Channel at Le Havre.
Usually, Viking itineraries to Rouen takes seven days, but we are doing a mini cruise to Vernon.
La Roche-Guyon is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France, It is the gateway to the town of Giverny, where the impressionist painter Claude Monet lived until he died in 1926.
Giverny is known for its beautiful gardens and charming stone farmhouse where he lived and worked. The water garden with the recognisable Japanese bridge, water lilies, wisteria and azaleas inspired many of his paintings.
Alas the garden was closed with many of the flowers and trees still hibernating from the cold winter.
But we got to see several of Monet’s masterpieces at the museum.
Cruising on the Seine on Viking Radgrid is a peaceful and pleasurable experience. The food on board is excellent, the service impeccable and the excursions packed with information from enthusiastic guides.
It is sailing that reinforces that travel on the rivers of France is back – with aplomb. Or as the French would put it: “Vous aimez le raffinement en voyage aussi ?”