I last visited Paris in June 2016 and cherish many fond memories. The City of Light ranks high on many bucket lists for its iconic sights, outstanding museums, fantastic architecture and fine French food and wine. You can’t go wrong.
I couldn’t be more excited to be heading back to Paris, where I will start and end an eight-day Riviera River cruise on the MS Jane Austen, on the Seine and Normandy rivers. The Riviera itinerary enticed me to sail with stops to places I’ve longed to see. Once on board, I’ll pass into new French territory and visit the wonders of Normandy. Though I expect the D-Day memorials and Omaha Beach to be challenging emotionally, I suspect they will be the highlights.
This Riviera cruise features nine visits and tours, the first in Les Andelys at Chateau Gaillard, a medieval castle. In Rouen, I’ll take the excursion to see the centuries-old Cathedral. Caudebec, home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry, will become a special treat for me as I did much needlework in my younger days. Although I have previously visited Claude Monet’s House and Gardens, that day was rainy. I’ll hope for clearer skies in this stunning water and flower fantasy.
The MS Jane Austen was built in 2015. She holds 140 passengers, an ideal size boat as far as I’m concerned. I much prefer small river cruise boats to mega ocean liners. I also love history and touring historic sites, a top priority on river cruises.
The Riviera River Cruises line traditionally names ships after famous authors: Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, Geoffrey Chaucer, George Eliot, Lord Byron, William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth. Perhaps I need to take a copy of Sense & Sensibility, one of Jane Austen’s best-known novels. But, on second thought, I think I’ll read a book set in France.
My boyfriend and I will find our cabin (with a balcony) on the upper Diamond Deck and take a few moments to unpack and settle. One of the significant advantages of cruising is not having to transfer luggage constantly. We won’t have to worry about where to make a dinner reservation either because we will, of course, be dining on the ship. The main restaurant rests on the mid-deck, below our cabin. Riviera’s policy is open seating, so they won’t assign tables but likely encourage mixing. I believe breakfast and lunch are buffets, but dinners are four-course meals with silver service and table linens.
We reserved the drink package, meaning when we dine in the restaurant, we can pick draught beer, red, white, rosé house wines, and wine recommendations from the menu by the glass.
The Sun Deck, above the Diamond Deck, offers outdoor chairs and loungers, deck games including shuffleboard and giant chess, a small splash pool where you can cool off, and full bar service. I believe this will be a great place to relax and view the French countryside as we sail by.
In addition to cabins on the Diamond Deck, an air-conditioned observation lounge and bar awaits. This area may prove helpful if the July heat gets too much. The Lido Bistro, with its open kitchen and terrace area in the rear, also serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
On the Emerald Deck, those wanting pampering can make reservations for the spa and wellness area.
I’m especially looking forward to the excursions with group tour leaders who know their cities well and touring with like-minded travelers. Being in the Boomer generation, I think we will fit right in. The ship provides headsets for passengers to use for audio during these excursions. That is a big help because it makes the guide easier to hear while on a walking tour.
This week I’m packing because I can’t wait to get on the plane and head to Paris. We have added an extra day before the cruise, just in case of delays. We will also be staying in Paris at the end of the sail to visit the Louvre (once is not enough), the national gallery of medieval art, the Musée de Cluny, and perhaps take a self-guided tour of the Opera House.
Riviera provided a packet of travel documents that answer all possible questions. They have provided emergency contact numbers, very reassuring in this current summer of travel challenges.
When I return home, I will provide my review of my MS Jane Austen cruise through The Seine, Paris and Normandy. Look for it!
Many thanks to Riviera River Cruises and All Things Cruise for providing this great sailing!