Most Seine cruises start in Paris, head to Normandy, and then to the English Channel. Take a tour to explore the highlights of Normandy, including Rouen Cathedral, the 950-year-old Bayeux Tapestry, and his D-Day landing site in World War II. Honfleur is the last stop before the turnaround, and the climax of the return journey will be Claude Monet’s house and gardens.
When I saw the Riviera River Cruise itinerary, I knew this trip would be perfect for me as a lover of art, history, wine and cheese. I flew to Paris and boarded their ship “Jane Austen” which carries up to 140 passengers. I prefer smaller river cruises with fewer people than the Mega Ocean Liner. The cruise started with dinner in the evening. After sunset, the captain moved the ship near a small replica of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower shining in the distance. It’s fantastic to see the illuminated icons sparkle like fireworks.
The next morning we arrived at the village of Lesandries, where you can see the Galliard Castle on the hillside. These buildings are the remains of the castle of Richard the Lionheart, built between 1196 and 1198. We then walked downhill into a charming town of half-timbered buildings.
The cruise traveled to the medieval city of Rouen to see the evening sound and light show projected onto the cathedral’s façade. The explosion of bright colors and the mastery of technique mesmerized the audience who were watching in stunned silence. Incredible! The next morning, guests took his guided walking tour of the city, learning about the cathedral’s long history and Joan of Arc. Joan was burned at the stake in Rouen after his trial. A modern church stands on the grounds, which architecturally didn’t appeal to me, but once you lay it down, it shines with a wonderful wall of stained glass windows.
My cruise moved to the dock at Caudebeck and my guests were bused to Bayeux the next day. This small town has another large cathedral, whose calling card is the priceless Bayeux tapestry. Having done needlework in my youth, I appreciated the intricate detail and symmetry throughout the 230-foot-long exquisite masterpiece. The story of William the Conqueror and the battle of Hastings.
The D-Day landing site came next, starting at Pointe du Hoc. Here the American soldiers climbed steep cliffs while encountering enemy fire. The bravery of the young soldiers overwhelms you as you look at the bombed landscapes and German artillery bases. We moved to Omaha Beach, another landing point. The expanse of sandy land surprised me. It was full of sunbathers and swimmers. A stunning memorial serves as a reminder of the important events that took place on this beautiful beach in 1944.
Your final stop is the 172-acre American Cemetery, home to the graves of 9,387 American war dead. A cemetery honors those lost in the Battle of Normandy. It’s an emotionally difficult place to visit, but one that keeps alive the memory of those who lost their lives in the valiant fight for world freedom.
The medieval town of Honfleur, with its narrow cobbled alleys and central rectangular harbor in the middle of the old village, offered a visit the next day. It was market day so it was crowded for my taste.
As we approached Paris, we looked forward to Monet’s house and gardens, named Giverny. His colorful home has a yellow dining room and a blue and white tiled kitchen. Of course, the water lily pond he painted is still my favorite.
The cruise returned to Paris, a city that never disappoints. Viva La France.
Visit www.bylandersea.com to read stories and travel tips from local travel writer Debi Lander.
Photo credit: Debi Lander