As part of my recent trip to France I took a river cruise on the Rhone. When Dean, the agent who helped me arrange the cruise asked me what my favorite part was my answer was quick: Viviers. He seemed a bit surprised, his favorites had been Arles and Lyon with their dramatic Roman ruins.
Viviers doesn’t have, at least that I saw, dramatic Roman ruins. They may be there, possibly in the walls or under the floors of the existing buildings. But Viviers is, in my opinion, charm itself.
I loved the cobblestones. The guide pointed out how they laid the stones differently in the middle and on the sides to make it easier to walk, better traction, or roll carts, less bumpy.
I loved the narrow streets and passage ways. The space is so tight that they use the buildings to support each other by building arches over the streets. In one spot someone when needed more room for his expanding family he bought the house across the street and built a sky bridge between the two places.
I loved the tiled rooftops and lovely views of the surrounding countryside. It was worth the climb through the narrow streets to get there.
There were also some fun quirky details:
I’m sure that my warm buzz about the morning was augmented by the tasty tomato bisque they served up for lunch, perfect after a rainy walk.
But the reason it was my favorite part of the cruise was this: I would never have gone there on my own. Traveling on my own I’d have spent more time in Arles or Avignon and never even known this little gem of a city was there.