The Seine, Paris & Normandy - MS Swiss Ruby
This wonderfully scenic cruise explores the best of the river Seine, discovering iconic Paris and one of France’s most historic and picturesque regions, Normandy. Couple this with a cabin on one of Europe’s finest vessels, the four-star superior Swiss Ruby, a true embodiment of luxurious river cruising of the highest standards, and you have a trip to remember.
- Guided tour of historic Rouen
- Visit to Claude Monet’s house and beautiful garden
- Explore Vernon, one of Normandy’s most picturesque towns
- Guided tour of Paris
- See the Bayeux Tapestry
- Tour the D-Day Normandy Beaches
- Stop in Les Andelys, village of half-timbered houses and twisted alleys
- Visit to delightful Honfleur, one of Normandy’s most alluring fishing ports
- Cruise through the delightful Seine Valley
- Price includes full board (except one lunch), from dinner on your day of arrival to breakfast on your final day
- Services of a cruise director and tour manager
- Return standard class Eurostar and return rail connections on selected dates from over thirty regional stations to London, or return flights from selected airports (at a supplement)
- Full-board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day (excluding one lunch)
You can either take a late morning Eurostar from London, St Pancras International to Paris (connecting rail fares are available, see departures details) from where a coach will take you to the nearby ship, or you fly to Paris, Charles de Gaulle. Moored on the River Seine, the dedicated crew welcome you aboard your first-class floating hotel, ensuring you settle into you comfortable and extremely well equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship.
During the night our ship has slipped her moorings and as you enjoy your first sumptuous breakfast, you rapidly get used to the fascinating sensation of enjoying the most luxurious floating sightseeing experience as the landscape passes serenely before you. Rounding a sweeping bend, so typical of the River Seine, at Mantes la Jolie, a huge Cathedral dominates the left bank and then straight ahead is an imposing medieval stone bridge, destroyed during the Second World War. It was never repaired and is the first poignant reminder that this region of France has been a battleground for centuries. Beyond Mantes, again typical of the Seine, almost resembling giant’s teeth, the first of the picturesque chalk cliffs appear as the river meanders seawards. Stunningly beautiful villages like La Roche Guyon slide by, interspaced by verdant green countryside studded by countless cider orchards, half-timbered barns and contorted wooden farmhouses. We are truly in the heart of one of France’s historic and stunningly attractive dukedoms - Normandy. The lower Seine Valley is characterised by a huge series of sweeping meanders and as you cruise through the almost tortuous chalk cliff lined valley you’ll find it hard to work out if you’ve seen that hilltop before from another side – all part of the charm of a scenic river cruise. Whilst you are enjoying your first delicious lunch, the captain has skilfully berthed at Les Andelys, dominated by one of the most spectacular sights along the entire valley. The fascinating Chateau Gaillard, a huge medieval castle guarding the apex of this particular river bend was ironically built by Richard the Lionheart to defend Rouen from the French! A much appreciated feature of our holidays is that cruises are well-paced allowing time to really absorb your ephemeral surroundings, so this afternoon you are free to explore the historic little town of Les Andelys as you wish or join the short drive up to the castle to enjoy the stupendous views across the river’s bends and over the delightful Normandy countryside, probably the finest of the entire cruise. During your second excellent dinner we unobtrusively slip our moorings, and what could be better than heading for the lounge and a chance to discuss first impressions of the Seine with your fellow guests over a digestif! The evening cruise is delightful, past yet more bucolic scenery, some of the finest France can offer. Should you wish why not visit the wheelhouse, the Captain is always delighted to explain how the highly sophisticated navigation and safety systems operate.
We awake in Rouen, Normandy’s historic capital, one of Europe’s finest medieval cities and scene of many momentous events over the centuries. Pride of place belongs to its stunning cathedral immortalised by Claude Monet over 30 times! Rouen’s beautiful tangle of medieval alleys are a revelation, wonderfully lined with antique shops, tasteful boutiques, plus of course countless establishments offering culinary delicacies. During another superb lunch, another spectacular sight soon greets us - the magnificent 11th century Jumiège Abbey, one of the highlights of the entire valley and whose consecration was attended by William the Conqueror himself.
After breakfast you’ll be ready for today’s full day tour to learn about two of the most important aspects of European history, the D-Day landings in 1944 and the Bayeux Tapestry. (Please note lunch is not provided today). Bayeux itself is a delightful town, thankfully spared the ravages of war, so you can marvel at the many splendid buildings in addition to the tapestry itself. After a day recalling such momentous events and the truly remarkable stories that surround them, thoughts turn again to the culinary delights awaiting you in the elegance and refined comfort of the Swiss Ruby’s restaurant.
Today we take the drive to perhaps the most picturesque spot on the northern French coast – delightful Honfleur. Beautifully preserved, its old harbour, complete with both fishing boats and luxurious pleasure craft, is surrounded by a perfect waterfront of tall, pastel-coloured 18th century houses, many converted to seafood restaurants. Returning for lunch, the ship retraces the river’s enchanting scenery, its meanders, ever-changing wildlife, country estates and forests all reflecting differing colours in the sparkling waters as the Swiss Ruby cruises upstream.
A great delight of river cruising is the magical sensation of waking up in a different place to where you retired. This morning the ship has moored in Vernon, from where you will visit Giverny and one of the world’s most famous gardens and the home of the great Impressionist artist Claude Monet. This is where the famous ‘Nympheas’ or ‘Water Lilies’ were painted. After another leisurely lunch you can explore sleepy Vernon’s quintessentially half-timbered Norman streets before our cruise to Paris.
We have arrived in Paris and this morning we take a sightseeing tour of this iconic city. Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Élysées, Sacré-Coeur, the Eiffel Tower - you see these and much more. After lunch you could visit fine shops such as the Galeries Lafayette and the smart arcaded Rue de Rivoli or perhaps just wander round bohemian Montmartre. Paris is everything you imagine it to be and is a fitting finale to a wonderful cruise. This evening is the Captain’s Dinner, a delightful experience featuring specialities of the regions through which we have travelled.
This morning, at the appropriate time you will be transferred to either the station or the airport for your return journey.
Life on board
Launched in 2002 and recently refurbished, for 84 passengers, luxuriously modern and spacious, two main decks, the Ruby (middle) and Emerald Deck (lower), with Sun deck, restaurant, lounge, bar, Library and Piano, chairlift from entrance to restaurant and sun deck and a small boutique and souvenir shop
Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of single cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; if you choose to travel with us on any of the full day excursions by coach, a packed lunch will be provided. Anyone choosing to stay on the ship may of course have lunch in the restaurant; morning/afternoon tea and coffee; all visits and excursions as mentioned in the brochure, airport/station transfers, coach travel as mentioned, travel to and from port of embarkation and the services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager.