At the Place de Valois, near the Louvre in Paris, an over-dressed, young tourist in her Louis Vuitton outfit, Manolo Blahnik stilettos and Gucci handbag, pouted her lips and, with a stretched right hand, struck a pose and snapped selfie after selfie of herself in front of Savoir, the fictional marketing agency where Emily worked. 

She was not alone. There were others, similarly dressed to impress, doing exactly the same.

Such is the paradigm of the modern world. When visiting Paris, it is not the historic Grand Palais or the Dome des Invalides, where Napoleon Bonaparte was buried, that today’s travellers flock to. Instead, it is Emily’s imaginary workplace; her apartment in Place de L’Estrapade; and Le Café de L’homme, with unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower, where Emily launched the Maison Lavaux perfume party, that have become overnight landmarks – thanks to the hit Netflix television series, Emily in Paris.

Some of the City of Light’s best attractions are at the doorstep of my veranda stateroom 223, on board Viking Radgrid, the new longship moored at Port de Grenelle, in the heart of Paris on her special voyage to Vernon.

Radgrid together with three sisters, Kari, Skaga and Fjorgyn has been launched at a glittering naming ceremony by Viking on the romantic Seine River just a few hours after our arrival.

Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen revealed that the line “fought for seven years to get docking rights in the heart of Paris. Now Viking has been ensured of this space for the next 15 years.” 

By introducing a square bow on a Viking longship, Mr Hagen said the line has been able to build its Aquavit Terrace viewing platform at the bow and still accommodate 190 guests in 95 staterooms across four decks. The change was enough to allow it to be accommodated in the prized location.

The four Seine longships are identically stylish, each with an airy Atrium, a sundeck the length of the ship, a lounge for aperitifs and comfortable staterooms, the majority with veranda, all kitted out with modern Scandinavian interiors. But most importantly, Radgrid and her sister longships, were conveniently moored in the very heart of Paris.

But soon after the ceremony, we were underway. Radgrid left Paris for her first stop at Le Pecq, about 20 kilometres west of Paris, at the foot of the chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. We embarked on a walking tour of the chateau and its park, which were next to the famous 17th century terrace built for Louis XIV in 1673. It has now been restored and part of it turned into the Museum of National Antiquities. 

At 7pm, Radgrid cast off and left Le Pecq for La Roche-Guyon, cruising through the evening to arrive at around 1am the next day. 

La Roche-Guyon is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France, with a population of only 473. It played a key role in the final months of the Second World War. Overlooking fields of fruits trees including apple and pear, the chateau was used by the Germans as an anti-aircraft post against the Allies. Hitler stationed Field Marshall Erwin Rommel at the chateau as his headquarters in anticipation of an Allied invasion. 

The village, with its narrow, cobble-stoned streets, was also the gateway to the town of Giverny, where the impressionist painter Claude Monet lived until his death in 1926 at the age of 86. 

Monet loved to paint outdoors in the gardens. He painted a series of Impressionist works immortalising his water garden on canvas, with the recognisable Japanese bridge, water lilies, wisteria and azaleas. 

Monet’s home and gardens are usually open, and you can still enjoy many of his extraordinary works in the Musee des Impressionnismes and visit his tomb at a nearby church at Eglise Sainte-Radegonde de Giverny.

Life on board Viking Radgrid is genteel, soothing and comfortable. Breakfast on the sun-drenched Aquavit Terrace is a delightful affair with offerings of freshly baked warm croissants and local fruit or eggs benedict. 

Evening meals at the main restaurant are always three-courses, from delicious onion soup or lobster bisque, to chateaubriand and Chairman Torstein Hagen’s favourite Norwegian salmon served with fresh cucumber salad and boiled potatoes. All culinary delights. Premium wine and beer are complimentary and Viking’s house champagne is Veuve Clicquot. 

On two evenings, we had cheese and cognac tastings after dinner – both charming experiences with plenty of exquisite French fromage and locally made cognac. 

To top it all, every night, local treats of macarons from Normandy, cocoa-dusted almond chocolates from Rouen and salted butter caramel from Brittany were placed in our cabins. 

The joy of cruising on the Seine is the ease of seeing so much of regional France on well organised excursions accompanied by informative and animated Viking guides (yes, they’re included too!). 

If, on the other hand, you fancy just watching the world go by, learning how to paint like Monet or simply admiring the houses and ducks on the riverbanks, then you can easily do so on rocking chairs on the Terrace with woollen blankets to ward off the chill.  

The rivers of France are reopening. We were lucky enough to be in the vanguard of the upcoming tourist season, expected to be the first for some time which will see the return of visitors from all over the world.

Viking has fine-tuned the art of exploring the delights of the romantic Seine in “understated elegance”. I can’t think of a more relaxed way to experience what the French call joie de la vie.

A look inside the cabin.

Take me there

Fly direct from Sydney to Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris via Singapore on Singapore Airlines. Visit singaporeair.com. 

Stay at Hotel Lutetia Rive Gauche at 45, Boulevard Raspail, Paris 75006. Visit hotellutetia.com.

Board Viking Radgrid at Port de Grenelle in the heart of Paris for an eight-day itinerary to Normandy with prices starting from $3495 per person, and save up to $1000 per couple plus $1000 flight credit per couple for bookings made by 31 May 2022. Visit vikingrivercruises.com.au or call 138 747.

The city of love.

Highlights of the Seine

On a Viking longship cruise on the Seine, you can either take in the delights of regional France or the charms of Paris. Or you can burn the candle at both ends and do both – as I did.

One of the best treats on our Viking Radgrid cruise occurred on our final evening, when we were transported by tender to shimmer through the glistening waters to the heart of the city at night.

What a magical evening it was.

Viking left no stone unturned as it laid on the best after-dinner party ever – serving dark chocolate-dipped strawberries washed down with perfectly chilled Veuve Clicquot champagne. Hot chocolate drinks were also available on request.

As the tender pulled away from the Pont de Grenelle, there was the Eiffel Tower, shimmering in all its glory and lit by laser beams and a full moon. You could not have asked for a more perfect night. 

It was certainly chilly. But Viking was prepared: woollen blankets were readily available and I took three: one for the legs, one of the body and the third for the head. I was appropriately nicknamed ET.

A total of 37 bridges and footbridges span the Seine which flows 13 kilometres through Paris, connecting the Left Bank to the Right. We saw the glittering golden dome known as the Dome des Invalides, which housed Napoleon’s tomb. We cruised under Paris’ oldest bridge, Pont Neuf, built in 1578, then the Pont des Arts, which connects the Institut de France to the Louvre Palace.

Earlier, I took a Panoramic Paris tour with lunch at one of the city’s oldest brasseries. Our eloquent guide Jean Louis tailor-made our itinerary – and revealed that the French love to sleep in on Saturday mornings. 

“It’s what we call fat Saturday or grasse matinee,” he said. It’s why the streets of Paris are often empty until after 11am.

Jean Louis also said the French have been brought up to “flaner” – loiter and gossip over a cup of coffee and croissant.

Unlike New Yorkers, who work 24-7, Parisians take work-life balance very seriously, insisting on an hour’s lunch break and refusing to work on weekends.

I also went on a Taste of Paris food tour, visiting a boulangerie for freshly baked financier cake, French cheeses at a local marketplace and, of course, a glass of champagne at the Brasserie Lipp in Saint-Germaine, famed for being frequented by writers and politicians, including President Mitterand.

Finally, we call on the Bourse de Commerce and view the Pinault Collection. The former Commodities Exchange has been meticulously restored into a modern art haven – but be warned: you have to be fan of contemporary art to really appreciate what’s on show here.

It’s all about naked men. And they are not the buffed beauties you might imagine.

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