Interested in a Paris & Normandy River Cruise?
Then below may interest you as it’s a day to day summary of our time exploring the Seine River and its ports & neighboring towns while onboard the Avalon Tapestry II on their “Paris & Normandy” Itinerary. (Note that this review is specifically about the itinerary and not our experience on Avalon… Click Here if you want to see our pics of the ship and the rooms, etc.)
We also did two other River Cruises in France the following two weeks… we figured why not do several back to back sailings during one vacation to make the most of our airfare… we loved our extended time in France and recommend it for your River Cruise over there too if your time & budget allow!
But lets get back to our Paris & Normandy River Cruise itinerary…
Overall, we were particularly surprised at how pretty & eye-intriguing the Seine River’s scenery was. Here we are going under one of the many historic bridges…
The Seine was impressive with it’s multitude of french castles and stunningly preserved homes. Boy, can the French make a house look exquisite using only bricks and thatched roofs… wait till you see this region!
Not only that, each port we stopped in had SO much character. You know the ports are interesting when you leave the dock feeling like you miss it already & you would re-visit.
Ok, Lets have a look at what we did.
(FYI, before we started the below itinerary we spent 3 days exploring Paris which also helped us get over the jet-lag… we totally recommend this, especially since Paris is such a fabulous city, but hang tight as we’ll be doing a separate review soon on Paris itself)
The first thing we did when we arrived to the ship was excitedly looked around and got acquainted with the ship. At 6pm it was a quick 10 minute safety drill then welcome onboard cocktails, an introduction to the crew & information session followed by a d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s dinner.
We sailed during dinner, into the evening and enjoyed the views from the top deck till the sun went down and even got to go through a lock system. This evening we took great pictures and enjoyed relaxing on the ship as we sailed the Seine River. GREAT first night onboard our home for the next week…
This morning we boarded a bus and drove a short 10 minutes to quaint Giverny where the famous painter Claude Monet lived. Gardens inspired him to paint so the back of his house is a massive but peaceful garden with hundred of flowers, plants (many we had not seen before) quaint bridges and of course his famous “Water Lily” pond. Whether you are a gardener or not you will really appreciate this place.
What we liked was seeing pictures of Monet taken around his property as it stands still to this day… it made him and “his home” more real. You could really picture him being there.
While sailing the river this afternoon we were treated to a Crepe making demonstration & later a Pastry demonstration (you can volunteer to try your hand if you like) and tasting by an award winning local chef. Both of which we got to taste plenty of… yummy!
Then later that day when we docked in Les Andelys we got our hearts pumping by taking a walking tour up a steep hill to see the ruins of Château Gaillard, a medieval castle that is 90 meters above the town overlooking the River Seine which was built by none other then “Richard the Lion-heart” of England… we had some great scenery & took some great shots of the ship and river from above. We enjoyed this included excursion thoroughly.
TIP: Be sure to use the restroom before you go as there are no washrooms till back to the ship 1.5 hours later. And don’t worry, if the uphill climb is not for you other walking tours around the town itself are available.
This morning we docked in another quaint town called Caudebec.
Like at many port stops on a River Cruise you have choices for tours. On this day we chose the “Abbey tour” and were glad we did!
We took a scenic bus ride along the river through the countryside where we passed small villages with fruit growers with thatched houses surrounded by orchards that lined the streets. It was stunning!
We also saw sheep, cows, donkey & horses as we passed farming villages too.
A short while later we arrived to the 7th century Jumieges Abbey for a 45 minute tour of the ruins. It’s no wonder that the abbey is considered one of the nicest ruins in France, we were awe stuck! Have a look at these pictures which don’t do it justice:
Then we took the coach and visited a resident Monk at the Saint Wandrille Abbey who showed us around the property that was decorated in flamboyant medieval architecture & we learned about the history of the abbey.
Important TIP: Being experienced cruisers, and a few days into our cruise, there was an optional tour for this afternoon but we decided to skip it simply because we knew that we had a long day tomorrow at the Beaches of Normandy and that we would be exhausted if we did it, so we stayed in and watched a movie and caught up on some rest. Other guests came back and said they wished they had done the same… **So don’t feel like you need to do everything. Pace yourself so you can enjoy the entire trip “especially” if you are traveling for a few weeks or doing back to back cruises as we did.
Today was a LONG day but well worth it. We went to visit the Landing Beaches of Normandy and many of the important landmarks surrounding D-Day and World War II. We visited several museums, Pegasus Bridge and burial sites for the soldiers.
To be honest with you, we are not real museum lovers but here we gave our full attention as it was SO touching, interesting & sombering all at the same time. It’s unbelievable what happened here!
Needless to say that we were fully immersed in the day. We wanted to remember and learn about where our freedom came from and to see first hand the sacrifice these brave men & woman gave for us.
***Don’t worry, if you are not interested in this… there is another tour called “Taste of Normandy” and it looked quite good too!
Tonight we had local entertainers onboard playing and singing music during happy hour (1/2 price drinks for a couple hours each evening) and guests were dancing the night away having a great time.
This morning we did a walking tour of the town of Rouen, a mix of modern metropolitan and old town historic at the same time. If you are a shopper- this is the place for you to take advantage.
On our walking tour we couldn’t help but snap TONS of pictures as every time we turned around there were relics and gothic style preserved buildings (like below) that stopped you in your tracks for their beauty and history.
Joan of Arc was burned alive here in Rouen after she was falsely accused of committing crimes. But overall she was considered a Hero to France for assisting the King of France successfully win many battles of war. You’ll get to see where she died and her statue to remember her by. And wait till you see the local Cathedral, it ranks up there with the Notre Dame in Paris!
This afternoon & evening we sailed toward Conflans and enjoyed the fresh air and views along the river…
Before savoring those views we enjoyed a tour of the Galley and attended a Normandy Cheese tasting in the lounge. We cannot complain- life is good! 🙂
Today’s port stop was an interesting stop in Conflans… we took a short drive to “Auvers Sur Oise” a small village where in the 19th century, impressionist painters settled including Vincent Van Gogh. This is the place where he spent the last few months of his life (and he’s buried there too) and also the place where he painted 78 canvases in 70 days just before his death. Surprisingly, Vincent had only sold 1 painting while alive. It wasn’t till AFTER his death and in the 19th century that his paintings became famous including this one below which is in the exact spot where he painted it from…
Van Gogh also painted this church…
Another optional tour from here was a visit to Versailles Palace as it is only a 45 minute drive away from this port. If you did not stay in Paris before or after your cruise as we did and made the visit to the Palace already, do take advantage and go! It’s well worth it. See our pictures and videos of Versailles to see why.
Back in Paris this morning Avalon offered a couple of sightseeing tours of this gorgeous city! As we had already spent 3 nights prior to the cruise in Paris we did our own walking tour today to admire the Eiffel Tower again and took this picture above. It’s so nice- you really can’t stare at it long enough. 🙂
Tonight they offered an optional “Dinner & Show at Moulin Rouge”. Take it in if you are so inclined. Other guests said they loved it!
Time to have one last scrumptious breakfast, to thank the staff for spoiling us rotten and to say goodbye to new friends we made. By 10 am all guests are heading to the airport for home or onto their next destination with awesome memories of this “Paris & Normandy” River Cruise in tow!
FYI, we didn’t give it ALL away! We needed to leave “some” of the cruise for a surprise. So, what we described above is just the beginning, a snippet, of what you will experience on this beautiful River cruise itinerary in France. 😉
Want to see a little more? Feel free to to check out Our Pictures and Videos to see the ship, staterooms & get a feel for our time onboard.
We Appreciate You!
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!