When many people think of France, they first think of Paris, with its iconic Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and glorious Arc de Triomphe. But there’s more to France than just the City of Light. Situated about two hours from Paris is one of the most scenic and historically significant locations in all of France: Normandy. And best of all, you can see it from the comfort and convenience of a river cruise.
Departing between March and October 2012, Avalon Waterways has crafted a superb (and easily accessible) weeklong itinerary that explores the best Paris and its surrounding environs have to offer. There’s plenty of time to explore Paris itself, where a multitude of options are available. Visit the legendary Louvre in the morning and find a quiet café in Montmartre in the afternoon. Whether you’re ascending Gustav Eiffel’s iron masterpiece or strolling the Champs Elysees, you’ll no doubt enjoy the experience.
Sailing aboard the Avalon Creativity is an equally impressive experience. With just 140 passengers, finding that cozy corner or favorite deck chair is never an issue. But there’s more to this royal blue-hulled river cruise ship than just space; every public room features expansive walls of glass, ensuring that the beauty of the French countryside is experienced at all times. A complimentary beverage station serves up hot chocolate (great for those cool shoulder-season voyages), hot tea and premium coffees. Staterooms are spacious and well-appointed, and offer amenities like WiFi access and room service.
Going ashore is made that much easier thanks to the provided headsets for all European shore excursions, ensuring guests never have to strain to hear their local English-speaking guides.
The itinerary for the Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches reads like a must-see list for France. After leaving the French capital, Avalon Creativity sails for Conflans, where you can choose between two equally fascinating excursions: a visit to Auvers-Sur-Oise to see the town where Vincent Van Gogh lived out his days; or you can explore Napoleon’s Chateau de Malmaison, purchased by Josephine Bonaparte while her famous husband was fighting in Egypt.
Afterward, it’s off to Vernon where you can stroll through this quaint, beautiful town or take an excursion to nearby Giverny, the former home of acclaimed painter Claude Monet.The historic cliffs of Normandy. Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways
Two days in Rouen allows for proper exploration of this important Upper Normandy capital. It’s also the site of Avalon’s included excursion to the historic Beaches of Normandy, including Omaha Beach, the site of the World War II Allied landing invasion that was portrayed with stunning accuracy in the 1998 film, Saving Private Ryan.
Before returning to Paris at the end of this alluring itinerary, time is made for a stop in Les Andelys, the sight of the imposing Chateau Gaillard. Built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart in 1196, this castle is a must-see example of medieval architecture and an excellent vantage point overlooking the River Seine.
The full itinerary on this cruise:
|Day 1||Paris||Arrival, Embarkation & Welcome Aboard Dinner|
|Day 2||Paris||Sightseeing in this magnificent city.|
|Day 3||Paris to Conflans||Tour Auvers-Sur-Oise where Vincent Van Gogh lived, or visit Napoleon's Chateau de Malmaison|
|Day 4||Vernon||Visit Claude Monet's house at Giverny, or tour Bizy Castle.|
|Day 5||Rouen||Guided tour of Rouen's medieval quarter; free time in the afternoon.|
|Day 6||Rouen||Visit Normandy's Landing Beaches or take part in "A Taste of Normandy"|
|Day 7||Les Andelys||Tour the imposing ruins of Chateau Gaillard and explore Les Andelys.|
|Day 8||Paris||Disembarkation & flight home.|
With all this exploration packed into one adventure-filled week, it’s tough to resist this itinerary from Avalon Waterways.
For more information on Avalon Waterways and Avalon Creativity, visit our detailed Avalon Waterways company and fleet overview here on River Cruise Advisor.