In May, I’ll be reporting from AmaLyra as we sail along the Seine river from Paris. The season for the seven-night Paris & Normandy itinerary kicks off on March 14, 2024, with rates starting at $3,099 per person, plus $224 in port charges not included in the price. On about half-a-dozen dates during 2024, AmaWaterways is offering a two-night Paris extension. Those are worth a look as they offer exceptional value. See the listing of dates here.
My trip departs Paris on May 23, 2024. Rates for the higher-demand dates, such as mine, begin at $4,499 per person. My trip will be a little different, however. That’s because I’ll be a guest of Backroads, a company that bills itself as “The Leader in Active Travel.” I’ve done two trips with Backroads, one on the Danube and one in Croatia, and thoroughly enjoyed both. As my sail date approaches, I’ll be telling you more about this wonderful company, but for now, my focus is on the AmaWaterways’ experience on the Seine. It’s a trip I’ve done before, on the same ship, and it’s a sailing that I never tire of because there are so many ways to experience this fabled river.
Day 1: Board AmaLyra in Paris. Stepping on board AmaLyra, within view of the Eiffel Tower, is an exciting moment. In the photo below, AmaLyra is approaching Paris following an October cruise along the Seine.
Day 2: Les Andelys. As you can see in the photo below, Les Andelys forms a picturesque backdrop to river cruisers, such as AmaLegro, pictured. Beautiful chalk cliffs line the river, while a walking path allows you to stretch your legs along the shoreline. From the ship, you can see the hilltop fortress known as Château Gaillard, the former stronghold of Richard the Lionheart.
AmaWaterways offers three excursions in Les Andelys:
Day 3: Le Havre. I was fortunate to really get to know Le Havre while creating videos for my site, avidcruiser.com. The videos and content on that page are worth a look for those wanting to familiarize themselves with the region. In the photo below, you’ll see the beautiful harbor of Honfleur, and it’s featured on one of the excursions offered by AmaWaterways. We’ll also have the chance to get to know Le Havre on a “UNESCO City of Architects” tour. And, of course, AmaWaterways also offers a guided bike tour of Le Havre as well. Le Havre also boasts an impressive museum, MuMa.
Day 4. Le Havre. The day kicks off with a variety of excursions for those who want to fully experience the Normandy region. For those interested in World War II history, or for those wanting to pay tribute to the allied efforts to push back the axis, today’s excursions include a visit to the American sector of the historic Normandy Beaches. We’ll have the chance to visit the cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, Omaha Beach, the artillery battery at Longues-sur-Mer and the village of Arromanches, where the remains of the floating harbor used during the WWII landings can be seen. Those who prefer can tour the Gold and Juno beaches in the British and Canadian sectors, where you will visit Ranville Cemetery, Pegasus Bridge, the Canadian cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer, the WWII museum in Courseulle and, finally, Arromanches.
If you’ve explored the landing beaches before, you can set out on a full-day excursion to the Pays d’Auge region of Normandy, where apple cider, Calvados and pommeau outrank French wine. In Caudebec-en-Caux, journey back in time with the interactive exhibits and vessels at the Seine Museum.
Excursions from Le Havre include
Day 5. Rouen. I never tire of Rouen, with its magnificent cathedral. While on tour, you’ll learn that the painter Claude Monet spent time here painting the many moods of the Rouen Cathedral at different times of the day and year. It was also in Rouen where Joan of Arc was martyred. Other attractions include the Medieval Quarter and Great Clock and Bonnemare Castle, a 16th-century architectural treasure lined with picturesque poplar trees.
Day 6. Vernon.
We’ll cruise in the morning while heading to Vernon, which for me is just a pedal away from Claude Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny. Another option is a visit the 18th-century Château de Bizy, inspired by the opulence of Versailles.
Day 7 Paris. Though back where we started, our cruise is not yet over. Today, we’ll travel to Auberge Ravoux in the heart of Auvers-sur-Oise, the last home of artist Vincent van Gogh, who spent just under three months in his former attic rooms at the Ravoux Inn. The prolific artists created more than 70 works here. Another option will be to visit the Château Malmaison along with its museum and gardens. Or we can stay in Paris to explore the “City of Light” on a guided bike tour. Later, experience the “City of Light” from a unique perspective when we board a modern river boat at the Port de la Bourdonnais, located on the banks of the Seine River near the Eiffel Tower. With exterior seating and viewing platforms, our one-hour cruise will take us underneath Paris’s ornate bridges. From the boat, we will take in panoramic views of the city’s iconic buildings and monuments, including the Musee d’Orsay and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Sounds like a perfect ending to a perfect cruise.
Day 8 Disembark.
If you care to follow along, I’ll let you know, through our weekly newsletter, when I am sailing the Seine. Better yet, there’s still space on this trip. If you’re on board, be sure to say hello. Meantime, enjoy the stories and videos below about the Seine.
Arrive in Paris before your river cruise for a 2-night hotel stay. Recover, relax and explore. Indulge in daily breakfast and embark on a “Hidden Paris” tour, exploring Montmartre, then set off for your seven-night Seine river cruise.
The Normandy region is renown for its beauty, its palatable flavors, its gorgeous countryside and the D-Day Landing Beaches. Bookended by Paris, a cruise along the Seine speaks to the sublime pleasures of exploring a narrow ribbon of river that inspired a handful of French Impressionists and that continues to inspire Francophiles today.