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River Cruise from Paris to Normandy with AmaWaterways and

Cruise Holidays | Luxury Travel Boutique

 

 Inez Conti - Independent Travel Consultant

 

 

 

 

Life Aboard a River Cruise

Day 1 - Arrival

I was travelling to Paris for the first time with my husband and we arrived on an
overcast and drizzly day. After an overnight flight, it was a relief to know we
were being met at the airport. Once we were aboard the ship, we were welcomed by the Hotel Manager, David Crisp, given an overview of what to expect that day, offered a light lunch, and then we opted to take the free shuttle from the ship to the Pullman Montparnasse Hotel where we walked around the neighbourhood, familiarizing ourselves with the area. The rain had stopped when we got off the shuttle and it was a comfortable
temperature for walking around Paris. We returned to the ship around 4:30. where we went to the meet and greet. For meals, we decided we would share a table, but the option was there to sit at a table for two.


Day 2 - Vernon/Giverny

 

 

 

The next morning was spent cruising along the Seine to the town of Vernon. After having lunch on board, we joined a group for the excursion of our choice - Giverny. With Claude Monet being one of my favourite artists, it was not a difficult choice of tour to make. Monet moved to Giverny where he lived with his wife and eight children for almost four decades until his death in 1926. Some of his most famous paintings were of his estate and gardens and I found the location of the prints I have in my home. We toured the gardens and his home, then strolled through the town. The other shore excursion option was visiting Chateau de Bizy.


Day 3 - Caudebec-en-Caux

 

 

 

Another leisurely morning cruising on the Seine to Caudebec-en-Caux. Seeing the Canadian flag being flown was a very welcoming sight. After breakfast we walked into town to the Saturday farmers’ market. Going to the Etobicoke farmers’ market is something my husband and I usually do at home on Saturday morning. In Normandy, there was lots of
local produce and of course the caramels made with the Normandy cream (which sold out very quickly). We returned to the ship for lunch. In the afternoon, our excursion visited the ancient port of Honfleur, which is known for its picturesque port with its pastel coloured houses and maritime flair. This region is famous for its cheeses, especially camembert, which was one of the local items on the cheese tray throughout the cruise. The other option of shore excursion was Route des Abbayes.


Day 4 - Normandy

 

 

 

The ship stayed all day in Caudebec-en-Caux.  Our choice of excursions today was going to Juno Beach where we visited Ranville British Cemetery, Pegasus Bridge, Canadian Cemetery and Juno Beach D-Day Center. There were two other choices today - the American Landing Beaches and Pays D’Auge. 

 

The bus to the American Landing Beaches was pretty full, but we had about 15 on the bus to Juno, all Canadian except one American couple who had already been to the American beaches and were now going to see the Canadian and British beaches. It was a gray, rainy, cool day. As this was an all-day excursion, we were provided with a boxed lunch.


After visiting the beaches, we strolled through town where you can sample the regional Calvados, an apple and pear-based brandy from the northern part of France. At 70% alcohol, it’ll knock your socks off!


Day 5 - Rouen

 

 

 

Rouen was our next stop, the historic capital of Normandy. We opted for the morning bike tour in Rouen. We were fitted for the bikes and received helmets before riding into town with our tour guide. On the tour we saw the famous astronomical clock known as the "Gros Horloge" or Great Clock, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the square where Joan of Arc was martyred. We returned to the ship and had lunch, then had the option of taking a walking tour of Rouen or walking through town on our own. We walked through town on our own and re-visited the sites we saw in the morning and checked out the shops. 

This evening was the Captain’s Gala dinner - The Chaine des Rotisseurs - an excellent meal. After dinner, Darinka, the Cruise Director, led a walk to the Cathedral, where an amazing illumination show took place at 10:30. It was raining and cool, but we were not going to miss seeing this show - it did not disappoint - a wonderful show.


Day 6 - Les Andelys

 

 

 

Another leisurely morning on our way to Les Andelys.  Captain Geoffrey hosted wheelhouse visits that morning, where you can see how he operates the ship and the instruments he uses. 

 

The lunch featured a Normandy theme, including several different Normandy cheeses.
I have to add that every meal featured regional food and wine, and I looked forward to seeing what was on the menu every day.


After the French Revolution, Le Grand Andely and Petit Andely, the two parts of town,
were united and became Les Andelys. Our tour was a bus ride to Chateau Gaillard (Gaillard meaning "well-fortified") which is perched high on a hill overlooking the Seine Valley. It was a beautiful view from the top of the hill.


This Chateau was built by Richard 1 of England, better known as Richard the
Lionheart. Construction began in 1197 and was completed in 1198. The following year, 1199, Richard The Lionheart attacked the castle of Chalus, near Limoges, where he was wounded in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt shot and passed away 13 days later.

 

It was a cool, blustery day with some light rain.  We hiked down to the town of Petit Andely. After a brief guided tour of the town, we had free time to wander around town and visit the shops before returning to the ship. It was tea time in the lounge with music by Mike, who played again after dinner (ah, what a life).


Day 7 - Conflans-Sainte-Honorine

 

 

 

We chose the excursion to Chateau de Malmaison, former home of Josephine and
Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte met Josephine in 1795, he was six years younger than Josephine. They were married in 1796. In April 1797, Josephine bought Malmaison for
her and her husband. Josephine renovated at great expense and endeavoured to transform the estate into "the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation". After a guided tour of the house, we walked through the grounds with its famous rose garden.


The other excursion was to Auvers-sur-Oise to learn about Vincent van Gogh’s last
days at Auvers-sur-Oise.


Once aboard, we cruised back to Paris. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day. We sat on
the upper deck having drinks with new-found friends and watched the ship go through several locks and, as the Captain told us at the tour of the wheelhouse, saw the wheelhouse being lowered as we went underneath low bridges.


That evening, we enjoyed dinner at the Chef’s table with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Impeccable service and an excellent meal.  The final evening on board featured classical entertainment in the lounge. Then back to the room to pack in preparation for disembarking in the morning.

 

I will miss the friendly staff, attentive service and excellent meals, but am looking forward to seeing Paris.


Day 8 - Paris

 

 

 

With the Ama two-day hotel extension, a bus was at the dock to take us on a tour of Paris. It was a cool, rainy day, which made this tour all the more comfortable as a way of seeing Paris. We saw the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysee, Arc de Triomphe, and many neighbourhoods.  Included in the tour was a guided visit to the Musee D’Orsay. Two hours wasn’t long enough, so it will warrant a return visit. After the museum tour, we had lunch on our own before boarding the bus to check into our hotel.

 

We signed on for the optional excursion to a cabaret at the Latin Quarter. Dinner and drinks were served before the show at 9:00, featuring the can-can and Las Vegas glitz. A very entertaining evening, geared to visitors of Paris.


Day 9 - Paris

 

 

 

We headed out on foot today with new friends who we met on board. It was a beautiful warm, sunny day. Walking from the hotel up to the St. Germain district, we had lunch, visited Notre Dame Cathedral, walked around the Marais district and enjoyed drinks at a cafe. A great way to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. We like to experience public transit in cities we visit, so we all got on the Metro to return to our respective hotels.


In the evening, Ama offered an optional evening tour, where we went to Montmartre,
visited Sacre Coeur, from which location you can see the city of Paris, had dinner in the area, then stopped at the Eiffel Tower to take pictures.


Our visit to Paris was over. In the morning we took a taxi, arranged by Ama as part of the hotel extension package, and headed to the airport for the return flight home. Au revoir. Nous serons de retour.

 

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