Combine time in France’s marvelous capital with discoveries of quaint towns along the Seine and in the picturesque Normandy region. Embark in Paris, sailing to Vernon, for a choice of guided visits to either Claude Monet’s stunning gardens at Giverny or magnificent Bizy Castle. On to Joan of Arc’s historic Rouen, where you choose between an included excursion to the poignant Normandy landing beaches or a fascinating “Taste of Normandy.” Continue to Les Andelys with the Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart in 1196, and enjoy guided sightseeing or a visit to the château. In Conflans choose between a visits of Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s elegant Château de Malmaison before heading back to Paris. During your last day on the Seine, a Local Expert will show you some of the famous sights, such as the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower and much more.
Arrive In Paris, France (Embarkation)
Welcome to Paris, France’s capital on the River Seine, the “City of Light,” where romance fills the air. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. During dinner, your ship glides smoothly out of Paris.
This morning during breakfast, arrive in Vernon. Later, choose between a guided visit of Giverny and a visit to Bizy Castle. Claude Monet lived at Giverny for almost 43 years (1883-1926), and viewed his flower and water gardens as works of art—just like his paintings. See his collection of Japanese prints, his charming house, and his biggest sources of inspiration. Or, visit Bizy Castle, built in 1740 and nicknamed “Normandy’s Versailles.” It is known for its famous stables—inspired by those at Versailles—and its magnificent courtyard and water garden. There’s time to discover delightful Vernon on your own this afternoon. Perhaps look in on the interesting Church of Notre-Dame, built between the 11th and 16th centuries, and see its restored 17th-century organ; stroll through the narrow, crooked streets flanked by many quaint medieval, half-timbered houses; or take pictures of the charming Customs House, located on the ancient bridge. Alternatively, you can join a pastry demonstration on board, or simply relax. In the late afternoon your ship departs for Rouen.
Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is an important commercial city perhaps best known for its connection to Joan of Arc, who lived, was imprisoned, and burned at the stake in the marketplace of this town in 1431. Enjoy the included guided walk through the medieval quarter with its half-timbered, glazed-tile houses, and take your pictures of the Gros Horloge, an intricate astronomical clock dating back to the 16th century. Visit the gothic cathedral, which was once the tallest building in the world and the subject of a series of paintings by Claude Monet. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or to join an optional excursion to the pretty coastal town of Honfleur. Before dinner, join an onboard lecture to learn more about this area, then enjoy a Normandy dinner featuring regional specialties.
Make your choice today of an included full-day excursion to the historic Normandy Landing Beaches—with poignant sites such as Omaha Beach, the Pointe du Hoc monument, and the American Cemetery—or a “Taste of Normandy” for an in-depth look at this picturesque, mainly agricultural region. The most important products are dairy, apples, and grain. Camembert cheese is a specialty, as is Calvados, a strong apple brandy you’ll have the chance to taste at a local distillery. And for a touch of history, visit the famous Bayeux Tapestry. Tonight, head for Les Andelys.
This morning your ship arrives in Les Andelys, situated on a bend of the Seine and one of the most beautiful places in France. The choice is yours: join a Local Guide for a guided walk, visiting the Parish Church of Le Grand Andelys or imposing Château Gaillard. England’s King Richard the Lionheart feared an attack by France’s king, so he built the château as a fortress in 1196. Constructed in only a year, it is a masterpiece of medieval military architecture. Then, depart for Conflans.
After breakfast you may either join our included guided excursion to Auvers-sur-Oise, the quaint little town where Vincent Van Gogh lived and died, or to Napoleon and Josephine’s Château de Malmaison just outside Paris. Requiring extensive renovations, this large country estate was purchased by Josephine Bonaparte in 1799 while Napoleon was fighting in Egypt. It was her aim to make it “the most beautiful and curious garden in Europe, a model of good cultivation.” This evening, arrive in Paris.
Known as one of the world’s most romantic and lively cities, Paris is a delight for all your senses. Your included city sightseeing shows you magnificent must-see sights, such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the unique Louvre Museum with its glass pyramid as a contrast to its ancient architecture, the commemorative Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. In your free time, stroll down the Champs-Elysées with its lavish cafés, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre or Montmartre with its gleaming white Sacré Coeur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre. Paris is also well known for its colorful nightlife, and an optional outing to one of the world’s most famous cabaret shows, the Moulin Rouge, might make the perfect finale to your Seine cruise vacation.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.