Day One – Paris
Whether you choose to fly or travel by Eurostar, today you’ll arrive in Paris, where you’ll be transferred to the ship, the Swiss Ruby, moored on the River Seine, and welcomed aboard by the dedicated crew. At night the Swiss Ruby will slip her moorings and begin her journey along the Seine.
Day Two – Les Andelys
Waking up this morning, enjoy the sensation of gliding easily along the Seine and take in scenic views as you tuck into your first sumptuous breakfast onboard. There are many sweeping bends along the Seine, constantly changing views to surprising landscapes and quaint riverside towns and picturesque villages. As you pass Mantes la Jolie, as you round one such sweeping bend, you’ll see a huge Cathedral dominating the left bank of the river, while an imposing medieval stone bridge lies straight ahead, destroyed during the Second World War and never repaired, and a little further up river past Mantes, you’ll find the first of the picturesque chalk cliffs. Watch as the verdant green countryside becomes increasingly studded by countless cider orchards, half-timbered barns and contorted wooden farmhouses as you arrive truly in the heart of the historic and attractive region of Normandy. Whilst you’re savouring a delicious lunch, the ship will berth at Les Andelys, dominated by the fascinating Chateau Gaillard, a sprawling medieval castle guarding the apex of the river bend ironically built by Richard the Lionheart to defend Rouen from the French! You’ll enjoy some free time to explore the historic and charming town of Les Andelys, while there’s also the opportunity to join the tour visiting Chateau Gaillard, where you’ll discover its tumultuous history whilst enjoying magnificent views over the river’s bends and across the Normandy countryside.
Day Three – Rouen
This morning you’ll wake up in Normandy’s historic capital, Rouen, a magnificently medieval city with its stunning predominantly Gothic cathedral at its heart. The Notre Dame cathedral is not to be missed, and was once briefly Europe’s tallest building thanks to its soaring spire. It’s also notable as the final resting place of Richard the Lionheart and Rollo, William the Conqueror’s grandfather, and was famously painted by Claude Monet over thirty times! Rouen is also renowned for Joan of Arc as this was where she was famously burned at the stake during the Hundred Years War, and you’ll find a simple garden of wild flowers marking the spot in the Place Vieux Marche. A guided tour of Rouen takes in all this, and more, as you explore the city’s beautiful tangle of medieval alleys, lined with half-timbered houses, cafes and shops. Back on the ship for lunch, you’ll cast off for more scenic cruising along meandering bends passing chalk cliffs and forest-covered hills, where you’ll soon be greeted by the spectacular sight of the magnificent 11th century Jumiège Abbey, whose consecration was attended by William the Conqueror himself! By late afternoon you’ll moor up in the pretty village of Caudebec, so why not take the opportunity after dinner to enjoy a leisurely stroll in this picturesque little spot, with its typical market square and beautifully decorated church adorned with elaborate stone carvings reminiscent of those found in a cathedral.
Day Four – Bayeux and Arromanches
Today you’ll enjoy a full day tour, turning back time to learn about two of the most important aspects of European history: the 1944 D-Day Landings and the Bayeux Tapestry, both of which had significant effects on British history. As you visit the town of Bayeux – a town thankfully unspoilt by the ravages of war and still retaining many splendid buildings such as the grandiose cathedral – you’ll get to view the famous Bayeux Tapestry which tells the well-known tale of William of Normandy’s invasion of England in 1066. Although ‘tapestry’ is perhaps a misnomer as it is actually embroidery rather than a true tapestry, the Bayeux Tapestry’s significance cannot be denied and its detail is stunning and, despite its age, the colours have hardly faded – no doubt, one of the finest relics we have from medieval Europe! In the afternoon you’ll visit some of the many thought-provoking monuments and places which tell the remarkable story of 6th June 1944 and the D-Day Landings on the Normandy Beaches, including a visit to Gold Beach where you can still see the remnants of the extraordinary Mulberry Harbour, serving as a timely reminder of the ingenuity that was critical to this extraordinary enterprise.
Day Five – Honfleur
This morning you’ll take the drive to the delightful town of Honfleur, situated in perhaps the most picturesque spot on the northern French coast. For centuries, the allure of Honfleur has attracted artists, and you can still watch the talented artists work along its waterfront, immortalising the delightful views. It is of little surprise that Eugene Boudin, the forerunner of Impressionism, hails from this picturesque town, nor that his most famous protégée, a certain Claude Monet, painted here many times. Its old harbour is beautifully preserved, complete with both fishing boats and luxurious pleasure craft and surrounded by tall, pastel-coloured 18th century houses, many of which have since been converted to seafood restaurants! You’ll find an array of traditional shops housed in charming, half-timbered buildings, and selling antiques, books and fine foods and local products such as cider and calvados. After exploring the charms of Honfleur, you’ll return to the ship for lunch as the ship glides along the Seine, passing enchanting scenery, country estates, ever-changing wildlife, and forests.
Day Six – Giverny and Vernon
When you wake up this morning you’ll be in beautiful Vernon, a short drive away from Giverny, where you’ll visit one of the world’s most famous – and possibly one of the most photographed (and certainly most painted) – gardens and the home of the famous Impressionist master, Claude Monet. Visiting in the morning, you’ll view the Garden at its prime in the delicate morning light, and you’ll recognise it from such famous works as ‘Nympheas’ (or ‘Water Lillies’), along with the renowned (and perfectly preserved) Japanese bridge. After another leisurely lunch, you can explore the quintessential Norman streets of Vernon, lined with half-timbered buildings, before you begin your cruise back to Paris.
Days Seven and Eight – Paris
On day seven, you’ll arrive in Paris this morning for a sightseeing tour, taking in the highlights of one of the world’s most iconic cities: Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Élysées, Sacré-Coeur, and the Eiffel Tower are just some of the monumental landmarks you’ll see. Admire the grand 18th century French architecture surrounding the grandiose Place de la Concorde and, just over on the left bank, you’ll find the Musée d’Orsay, renowned for its unparalleled collection of Impressionist art, while the world-famous Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo (amongst other treasures) are housed in the Louvre. For modern art and street entertainment, look no further than the eccentric but stylish Pompidou Centre. Culture vultures are surely in heaven in gay Paris! After a tasty lunch, why not browse through fine shops such as the Galeries Lafayette or head to bohemian Montmartre? Tonight you’ll cap off your wonderful Seine river cruise with a delicious farewell Captain’s Dinner, hosted by the Captain himself, enjoying specialities of the regions through which you’ve travelled. On day eight, it’s time to say a sad farewell (or au revoir) as you’re transferred to either the station or the airport for your return journey.
Various 2019 dates also available
Contact one of our dedicated river cruise specialists today to enquire about this holiday
01234 326 778