If you’ve been considering embarking on a river cruise, please read on…My husband and I sailed on a Paris and Normandy river cruise on the Seine River with AmaWaterways in April 2022. We had the most amazing immersive experiences that I had to write this blog to share them with you.
I have planned this river cruise for clients and it has an incredible itinerary. I wanted to gain a first-hand experience so I could better understand and relay the benefits and the different kinds of trip excursions to future clients.
I have to admit that I never thought I’d be a river cruising person, but after two cruises with AmaWaterways, I’m sold. It was so nice to unpack once, have daily choices of amazing small group excursions with knowledgable local guides, be spoiled by the attentive and friendly crew (this is a family owned company and many of the crew have been with them for years), and to have some of the best local food prepared by master chefs along with regional wines, beer, spirits, all included in the price.
We had been in Paris for two days to explore on our own before embarking on the cruise. We toured Montmartre with a private guide, visited the catacombes, explored Musée d’Orsay, ate at some amazing restaurants and cafes, and of course we visited the Eiffel Tower at night!
This has been a bucket list trip for both of us. My husband had always wanted to visit the Normandy landing beaches (See DAY 5) and I’ve dreamed of seeing Van Gogh’s art up close and to see where he lived during his last days (See DAY 2). These paintings are from the Musée D’Orsay in Paris. And yes, I brought a little Vincent back home with me. (haha)
On DAY ONE of the cruise, AmaWaterways allowed us to leave our luggage on the ship in the morning and then we set out to see a few more sites in Paris before we boarded in the afternoon. (Best travel tip when exploring Paris: good shoes…we walked so much!) We found a local air market and discovered first-hand why these are an important part of Parisian culture.
Here are a few pics of the ship, our room, and the awesome crew (I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my favorite bartender from my cruise in Provence in December, was on this cruise…my wine glass was never empty!)
DAY 2 of our Paris and Normandy River Cruise: We sailed overnight from Paris and woke up docked in Conflans Sainte Honorin. The confluence (conflans) of the Seine and Oise rivers, Conflans-Sainte-Honorine is a medieval village sprinkled with charming boutiques and cafes (the view from our room was a nice surprise in the morning).
Every morning during the cruise, AmaWaterways provides maps of the town you are in, with key highlights to visit. You have the option to explore by foot or take one of their bicycles. We had some free time to head out on our own after our tour and we really enjoyed this quant and slower-paced town. We hiked up to the 11th century ruins of Tour Montjoie and enjoyed the spectacular views overlooking the Seine.
There were three options of tours for the day (all included with the cruise fare): Artists Walk of Auvers-sur-Oise, Chateau Saint-Germain-en-Laye Tour, or the Conflans Bike Tour.
We chose the artist walk and visited Auberge Ravoux in the heart of Auvers-sur-Oise, the last home of my favorite artist, Vincent Van Gogh. You could almost feel his spirit lingering in his former attic room at the Ravoux Inn. The mere 70 days Van Gogh spent in Auvers-sur-Oise were astonishingly prolific he painted more than 70 works here before his death. (We saw many of these when we visited Musée d’Orsay the day before the cruise.) During our time in this charming village, we also visited the cemetery where both Vincent and his brother Theo are buried.
The spring flowers were in full bloom and the 70 degree weather was so nice! We spent the late afternoon soaking up the sun with cocktails on the rooftop deck of our ship before our special Chef’s Table dinner that evening.
When sailing AmaWaterways, it becomes abundantly clear that this cruise line puts a strong emphasis on its food quality and highly-skilled and friendly staff. Guests are treated to both at the same time during a Chef’s Table Experience aboard any of AmaWaterways vessels.
We experienced the Chef’s Table the second night of our cruise. It is located in a smaller intimate restaurant on the back of the ship, and you can watch the chef create masterpieces while enjoying the company of other guests. (We were seated with some lovely ladies, and two were from Denmark).
Reservations are required for the Chef’s Table, but the cost is included in your cruise fare. Below is the menu of our multi-course tasting menu.
If your taste buds would like you to take them on a river cruise, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org!
On DAY 3 of our AmaWaterways’ Paris and Normandy river cruise, we explored Les Andelys.
Our hiking tour took us in the footsteps of Richard the Lionheart. We visited Chateau Gaillard, a virtually impregnable fortress, perched high on a hill overlooking the Seine valley. We enjoyed the breathtaking panorama of the river, forested hills and white chalk bluffs.
In the afternoon our ship left Les Andelys & cruised a beautiful scenic part of the Seine River towards our next port, Le Havre and the English channel.
We spent our afternoon taking in the views from our French Balcony in our room and relaxed watching the river and the chateaux scattered along it.
On DAY 4 of our Normandy and Paris river cruise, we docked in Le Havre, the furthest point in the northwest of our cruising stretch.
We had a wonderful full day in Honfleur & Pays d’Auge. After a walking tour of the ancient port town of Honfleur, with its picturesque narrow, pastel-colored houses and boat-filled harbor, we had some free time for lunch and shopping.
Then we drive further into the Calvados region, through the rolling hills, lush green pastures and fragrant apple orchards of the Pays d’Auge, as well as Beaumont-en-Auge, one of the most beautiful towns in the region.
We toured a cider distillery and were treated to a Calvados tasting, the specialty spirit of Normandy made from local apples, paired with delicious Normandy cheese.
On DAY 5 of our Paris and Normandy river cruise, our full-day excursion took us back in time to 1944, when the Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. The night before, on our river cruise, we were treated to an incredible “World at War” lecture about World War II by Nigel Stewart, a renowned WW2 historian and author. It was a great history introduction before our excursion today.
We visited the famous Normandy American Cemetery & Memorial. Two people on our ship had relatives that made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II and they had a moving ceremony for them and our group. The two laid a wreath for their relatives, followed by the National Anthem, and Taps and a 21 gun salute (tears were flowing). We had free time there to pay our respects at the cemetery and to explore the visitor center museum.
In addition, we discovered St. Laurent-sur-Mer, the iconic site of the Omaha Beach landings. We also encountered the artillery battery at Longues-sur-Mer, part of Germany’s Atlantic Wall.
Our tour included a visit to Arromanches-les-Bains, located along the stretch of coast designated “Gold Beach,” where ghostly concrete vestiges of the invasion are still visible offshore.
This was an incredible day full of emotions. If you are interested in a river cruise or if you would like custom-designed trip to visit Normandy and the Landing Beaches, contact me. I’d love to help you plan it.
DAY 6 of our Paris and Normandy River Cruise took use to Rouen. A capital city as far back as Viking times, Rouen was the subject of a centuries-long tug-of-war between England and France. Perhaps its most significant claim to fame is Joan of Arc, who was both tried and burned and the stake in Rouen, and is now the subject of a fascinating museum housed within the distinctive Archbishop’s Palace.
During our walking tour with an expert local guide, we visited the Old Market Square where Joan of Arc met her fate, the medieval quarter with its half-timbered buildings and the Great Clock. We also visited La Couronne Restaurant and Inn, where Julia Child was inspired and experienced her first French meal. The restaurant, which was founded in 1345, is known as the oldest inn in France.
We had some free to time to explore Rouen on our own. It felt like a journey back in time and history awaited us at every turn.
In the afternoon, we toured Lyons-la- Forêt, known for its architecture and being one of the most beautiful villages in Normandy. We continued with a visit to the Château de Vascoeuil, “fortified houses” built in Normandy after the Hundred Years War, which is now an art center that includes original works by Salvador Dali.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner on the ship with many Normandy inspired dishes.
On DAY 7 of our Paris and Normandy River cruise, we spent the morning enjoying the lovely scenery along the Seine as we cruised to the provincial town of Vernon. In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit Giverny with the house and gardens of Impressionist master Claude Monet. The artist lived here for more than four decades and immortalized the flowers, footbridges and stone structures of his country estate in some of his most famous paintings, including his renowned Water Lilies series.
In the evening we enjoyed farewell cocktails in the Lounge and we raised a glass to AmaDante’s stellar crew that made our cruise such a fun and memorable experience!
During our very LAST DAY of our Paris and Normandy river cruise, we sailed overnight on the Seine River back to Paris. I woke up early and watched the beautiful sunrise from the front deck as we sailed towards the Eiffel Tower.
This was the most amazing trip!
If you are looking for a vacation that combines relaxation, wellness and culture, and exploring tucked-away towns and bustling cities, while sailing in luxury along the world’s famous waterways, then consider a river cruise. I’d love to help you plan it. They have so many wonderful itineraries on rivers throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, Egypt, and next year, Colombia. Email me to learn more: email@example.com
Benefits of Working with Taylored Tours
As a Certified AmaWaterways Advisor, I can offer you special amenities at no extra cost to you! Who wants to say no to free perks?
I have cruised with AmaWaterways and have helped others sail with Ama. From selecting a stateroom to handling dietary or mobility restrictions, my experience will ensure your personal needs are accommodated.
I will support you throughout the process by answering your questions, perhaps before you even ask them! Wouldn’t you rather email or call me vs. waiting on hold for a random customer service agent or emailing a generic inbox?
Travel involves a lot of decision making. My experience makes it easy for me to breakdown your options and help you make informed decisions.
I can assist you with your trip from end-to-end, not just the river cruise portion. My help organizing all your other travel needs like travel insurance, flights, and hotels will save you time. All your travel documents will be packaged up so you have a seamless and stress-free travel experience.
I believe deeply in the power of travel. Anything I can do to get you out exploring the world makes me happy! So, what are you waiting for? Taylored Tours is on standby to book your next European vacation. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about traveling through Europe by river. Contact TAYLORED TOURS today!