Julie recently enjoyed a four-night river cruise along the Seine with Avalon Waterways, sailing onboard Avalon Tapestry II from Paris to Rouen - read her travel diary to find out what she thought!
Day 1 Paris to Vernon
Up bright and early at 5am to get the train to St Pancras for my Eurostar to Paris at 0831am. St Pancras station was busy, as was the Eurostar, which I think was full with its 18 coaches bustling with excited passengers. Check in was swift and busy, but we left on time. Reserved seats are awaiting you when you step on board, also a buffet car is available for you on your 2 ½ hour journey to Paris. On arrival in Paris at 11.47am, an Avalon taxi transfer was awaiting my arrival to take me to the local hotel, where they gather up all of their travellers who are arriving from all sorts of destinations around the world, so that we can all transfer and embark the River boat together. They use the Pullman Montparnasse Hotel and have a hospitality suite on the first floor so that you can relax with a coffee to await your transfer. Early arrivals are offered a tour of Paris or an excursion to the Eiffel Tower at a small supplement to while away a couple of hours. At 4pm we are whisked off to the boat which is moored on the Seine nearby. As we pull alongside the Avalon Tapestry II, she looks bright, new and stunning in the Paris afternoon sunshine, with her floor to ceiling French balcony windows lining her sides from the stern of the boat to the bow. Swiftly we are boarded and shown to our cabins.
We had a French balcony cabin on Panorama Deck (deck 3), cabin no 301. The cabin was full of dark wood with red and black decoration; it was lovely with its floor-to-ceiling sliding balcony doors. Inside was a large bathroom with a walk-in shower and toilet. Also on deck 3 at the aft of the boat was a small smoking area outside, and a bright and sunny panoramic 24-hour coffee lounge with seating and drinks and snacks available all day. The remainder of the deck was all cabins, and a small hairdresser. Deck 4 is the sun deck with beautiful panoramic views, lots of tables & sun chairs and a small Jacuzzi, while deck 2 consisted of cabins and a small gym to the aft and Reception area in the middle of the boat. Towards the front there is a large panoramic room with a bar, music area and seating for evening entertainment and ports talks etc. Deck 1 is also mainly cabins at the rear and a large, bright dining room with waiter service, which was beautiful with its large panoramic windows all along both sides. Buffet breakfast and lunch, along with a 4-course dinner is served in here. Light breakfasts and crepes and various nibbles are sometimes offered in the lounge on deck 2 along with tea and cakes in the afternoon. The food was beautifully prepared and a wide selection of choice was offered with local produce being used all along the route of the cruise. So after a superb dinner and a couple of cocktails it’s off to sleep on my beautifully comfortable mattress.
Onboard Jacuzzi on the Sun Deck
Bar in Panorama Lounge
DAY 2 VERNON TO LES ANDELYS
After a good night sleep we were up early for breakfast, we had travelled overnight from Paris and we are now in Vernon. Soon we are on our excursion to Monet’s Garden in Giverny to see the stunning gardens, lily pond and house of Monet where he did so many of his famous paintings. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the sights and tranquillity of the gardens made it so special; they were stunning. Afterwards we were taken back to the boat for a buffet lunch and we set sail for Les Andelys. Through the afternoon we listened to an excursion talk about our day-to-day program on offer to all the customers on board and afterwards there was a pastry making demonstration in the lounge. We explored the boat and sat on the top deck and took in the sunshine on the comfortable sun chairs on the sun deck till about 4pm, when we arrived in Les Andelys passing the Chateaux Gaillard perched high on the hill. We were back on the boat after a stroll around the small town, and ready for dinner and cocktails. In the lounge there was a piano and light music being played for evening entertainment - however with an early start again in the morning most people went to bed fairly early.
DAY 3 CAUDEBEC
Overnight we had travelled swiftly on to Caudebec. We were up again at 7am had a hearty breakfast and on our way to our excursion to see the thatched roof cottages in the nearby local villages. Travelling around in the coach we saw some beautiful villages and houses, which were so picturesque. After we returned to the boat for our buffet lunch, followed by a walk around the town of Caudebec, and its few shops and cafes. On offer was also an optional excursion to Honfleur if you wanted to go at an extra cost of 54 euros per person.
Back on board after our walk we found sweet crepes were on offer in the lounge. Later we had a tour of the galley which was very interesting. It’s surprising just how small the galley is, and they are all so busy in there preparing our beautiful meals, I can’t quite believe they do it so well. After a superb dinner once again we all gathered in the Panorama lounge again for a couple of cocktails and evening entertainment with our piano player/ singer on board.
DAY 4 CAUDEBEC
Still in Caudebec we were out early at 8am on our excursion again – another hearty breakfast, and we were on our way. Some went to visit the Normandy Landing Beaches for the Americans and some went to the British and Canadian Landing Beaches - these were all day excursions not returning until after 6pm, so quite long days. We also were out all day on our Taste of Normandy Excursion, firstly visiting the beautiful town of Bayeux and the famous Bayeux Tapestry of Queen Matilda. We then travelled on to a local restaurant where we had a typical French lunch of cold meats and bread followed by vegetable quiche and rice pudding with coffee to follow. After lunch we travelled on to a local distillery for a tour of the premises to see the making of the apple cider, aperitif and Brandy, which was very interesting. Finally, back on board and we got back about 6pm to the boat. There we had another beautiful dinner and evening entertainment with a local duet who involved everyone in a good old sing song and the captain joined in and sang and danced with the passengers. We all had a very nice evening, and it was a great final night onboard.
DAY 5 ROUEN
We awoke in Rouen to complete our packing and disembark the boat. A transfer was provided back to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport for most of the group. However, I travelled alone back to Paris Guard Du Nord railway station in my Black limousine transfer with my handsome chauffeur which was very nice indeed. We travelled the 2-hour journey in style and even drove down the riverside of the Seine so had fabulous views of the Eiffel tower, Place de Concorde, and museums along the riverside. We were back at the rail station in plenty of time to catch the 1503 Eurostar getting back in to St Pancras at 1630 hours
Overall the quality of the Tapestry II, the beautiful food and scenery made it a very special few days, which I am sure all of the Avalon customers would feel was a special treat to of been able to enjoy with their fellow travellers.
If you're interested in a river cruise with Avalon Waterways, why not contact Julie?
01234 819 699
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