Paris To Normandy’s Landing Beaches 2015 – Avalon Waterways


Paris To Normandy’s Landing Beaches 2015 – Avalon Waterways

Linh Nguyen

Senior Travel Consultant

Toll Free (800) 935-2620 X: 111
Direct (281) 269-2611
Fax (281) 269-2690
Email: [email protected]

Visiting Paris (and France in general) was always a dream of mine. Growing up and even through my adult life I had often day dreamed about the City of Lights. I imagined sitting out on a bench reading a book or just people watching with the majestic Eiffel Tower providing some shade for me. I dreamed about exploring the city at night and watching how it transforms as the sun goes down. Because it’s the only way to really know a city, I would do all of this on foot. In my dreams I would walk through every alley and side street so I can truly know Paris. Imagine my excitement when I knew I would be living my dreams with Avalon Waterways on their Normandy Beaches itinerary.

Our itinerary, Paris To Normandy’s Landing Beaches, is a Paris roundtrip vacation. Being with Avalon Waterways, this was a 8 day river cruise on the beautiful Seine river. As the name suggests, the main highlight of this vacation is the Normandy landing beaches where the allies landed  during WWII.  Starting in Paris, the beautiful and brand new Avalon Tapestry II would take us from Paris to Vernon, Les Andelys, Caudebec, Rouen, Conflans, and ending back in Paris. This knowledge filled vacation is perfect for anyone with an interest in almost all types of history – from art history, world history, and European history.

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Paris – Vernon – Les Andelys

After landing in Paris, we were escorted to our transfer which drove us to the hotel. We came into Paris early so we had a couple hours to spend however we liked. Avalon had an optional Eiffel Tower sightseeing and short city drive available if you wished. I decided on walking and exploring the city on my own.

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After getting on the ship and greeted with a VIP experience from the crew, we were sailing towards our first port: Vernon. When we woke the next morning we were docked and ready to begin our day! In Vernon we had two options for an included excursion. It was hard to pick one over the other but I decided to visit Giverny, where Monet’s house and garden are perfectly preserved. After our excursion, we headed back to the ship for an included lunch and began to sail towards Les Andelys. In our 2nd port for the day, an included guided walking tour took us up to the very impressive Chateau Gaillard. This ruined castle was built under Richard the Lionheart. After our walking tour we headed back to the ship where you can roam around the town for free time or spend your time enjoying the amenities of the ship.



After sailing through the night in silence while it’s passengers slept, we wake up in Caudebec. We will be docked here for the next 2 days. Today we take an included excursion to the Benedictine Jumieges Abbey. On the way there, our licensed guide provides an in-depth lecture on this largest medieval ruin in France and it’s history. We then drive back to the Tapestry II where we have free time to explore the city. Of course I jump on this opportunity to roam about on foot.


The next morning we get on a spacious motorcoach and enjoy a relaxing drive to the landing beaches. Our guide introduces herself and provides initial commentary but keeps it short to allow everyone sufficient rest on the coach. Along the way there is a 15 minute rest stop or food or washroom use. As we arrive, we drive along the coast of Juno beach and see it’s monuments. We stop at Gold beach for a museum visit with included tickets. We are shown an informative short black and white video of the preparations required for that day on June 6, 1944. Here we eat an included lunch before we begin our drive towards Omaha beach.


As we are on our way, we drive through Pegasus Bridge and Caen, all the while with commentary from our guide about the destruction that happened all around us. We arrive at Ponte du Hoc for a guided tour and picture time with the Ranger memorial. We finally arrive to Omaha beach and spend some free time here. The monument here is a marvelous tribute to the US forces that seems to come out of the sand with such power. As we get back on the coach for our final destination, everyone is very excited to learn that we learn we are headed to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Although the whole day was really amazing for me, this was a real highlight for me. To be here in the honored presence of these fallen soldiers was such a privilege. To see the military families traveling with me here was very powerful. To my amazement the cemetery was also very full with other visitors – from school kids to other veterans and families connected to service men and women. After a surprise rose ceremony, we were able to lay our rose down to any headstone of our choosing. I chose to give my rose to an unknown grave with no name. After a long emotional and educational day, we head back towards the ship to end our day.



After a long day and an unexpectedly wine filled night, waking up this morning was a little harder than usual. We are in the capital city of the Upper Normandy region, Rouen. I join the included walking tour of the city with another great guide. After our guided walk, I spend my free time exploring and shopping. There was a great market area for fresh foods and also an area for higher fashion shopping. I decline the optional excursion today so I can relax and spend some time doing nothing. I wanted to enjoy the amenities of the ship today and lounge on the Sun Deck as we have been lucky to have beautiful weather. I kindly ask the waiter to not interrupt the flow of beer steadily coming to me and he happily obliges.

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In Conflans, I opt for the included excursion to Auver-sur-Oise, the final resting place of Vincent Van Gogh. This quaint little town inspired many of Van Gogh’s final pieces. We spent time in his room and the hotel he stayed in and was shown a little video of his final days. Our final stop here is Van Gogh’s grave and that of his brother, Theo, whom is buried right next to the impressionist painter. Their graves are preserved and up-kept by the city and is well maintained.


From here we head towards the Palace of Versailles! Originally commissioned as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII, it was Louis XIV who expanded the palace into what it is now. Our guide walked us right past the lines and into the palace without any troubles. As we made our way from room to room, the commentary did not stop. The most impressive area of the palace was the Hall of Mirrors. Everyone seemed to agree as it was the most packed area in the palace. I started to walk the gardens during free time but you would need a whole day or two to be able to see all of the gardens.


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From the Palace of Versailles, the coach takes us to the ship and we are on our way to the City of Lights!


There is no better way to spend the last day of your vacation than to be in Paris with cooperative weather. As part of the included driving tour, we end at the Luxembourg Garden. From here I decide to breakaway from the group and roam the city on my own. It’s becoming clear to me that I am in love with this city. I quickly head towards the things I was not able to accomplish on my last visit here: walking up the Arc de Triomphe and plenty of shopping for my significant other on Champs Elysees, a major street lined with high end shopping opportunities. Tonight, I enjoy a fun night with my new friends whom I will be in contact with even after this trip. As we say our goodbyes, I begin to pack for my early transfer to the airport.


Final destination: home.

Thanks for coming with me on my journey. Please make sure you leave your comments and feedback in the comments section below!

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Linh Nguyen

Senior Travel Consultant

Toll Free (800) 935-2620 X: 111
Direct (281) 269-2611
Fax (281) 269-2690
Email: [email protected]