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Posted 17/09/2021 in Bucket List by Rachael Hackney

Avalon River Cruise - Paris to Normandy

Gone are the days when a River Cruise was just a dream due to the price, Avalon ticks all the boxes with it being 5 star but not paying the price to go along with it.  Avalon offers flexibility.  My Avalon River Cruise from Paris to Normandy was my favourite trip I have ever done and cemented my love of river cruising. I mean only unpacking once is such a bonus whilst on board but cruise through the rivers of Europe this is how goods and food were delivered back in the old days, so a lot of the townships were built along the rivers, so whilst you are cruise down the river there is always something to see whether it is a castle, cathedral or manor houses the shoreline is dotted with the most beautiful structures. 

This fabulous river cruise begins and ends in Paris, with a spectacular cruise to Normandy. I sailed from Paris to Vernon I had a choice of two included excursions—a guided visit to master impressionist Claude Monet’s home and gardens at Giverny, or a guided tour of the remarkable Bizy Castle, known as “Normandy’s Versailles”. It is so hard to choose which tour to do but I ended up choosing Monet's Gardens, even though I am a big castle fan, and it did not disappoint, so beautiful!  Then we sailed through the picturesque and historic landscapes of Normandy, with the choice to visit the historic sites of the famed WWII landing beaches, this time I chose to visit the Australian and Canadian memorials (I am definitely going back and will visit the USA ones then) and moving monuments to Allied forces. In Rouen, the site of Saint Joan of Arc’s martyrdom, we took a guided walk through the medieval quarter and visit the Gothic Rouen Cathedral—once the tallest building in the world. From Conflans, we did an excursion to the quaint and inspiring town of Auvers-Sur-Oise—inspired setting for several famous artists, including Vincent van Gogh—and we also visited Napoleon and Josephine’s Malmaison. Then the river cruise returns to Paris with more time to explore the romantic city. Discover the true heart of Paris on a guided walk through the sites of Paris’ rich history, or take a tour to see its iconic landmarks, including the Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and more. 

What I also love about Avalon is that with meals they include soft drinks, beer and wine, but outside of these times you just pay for drinks you consume.  I am not a drinker so I do not want to pay for all-inclusive drinks when I will not use them.  Also the majority of the time outside of mealtimes you are off the ship on land touring! My bill at the end of my cruise was 11 euros ... this is not a joke! Actually, I had a few people say that this itinerary was wasted on me before I went as I don't drink (due to a medical condition) and I don't eat cheese and what is France known for? However, I learnt France is known for much more and how wonderful it is.

Of course, there are included tours, which are hard to choose from due to them being so fantastic, however, there were some extra tours that you could choose from and I love doing extra when I can.  I did every extra tour, including Moulin Rouge (which is nearly $200 alone) and with doing every single tour my total cost was $700 which was amazing! You know how much you are spending before you go as all the extra tours are available to look at a pre-book.

The staff were absolutely amazing on the cruise and they know and remember everything! I was sitting at my table and would look at my friends desert and just comment on how great it looked, and before I knew it I would have one too! Majority of nights I ended up with multiple deserts!! The food was just amazing.  The attention to detail with everything the staff do is amazing and I found them so personable. 

The Panorama Suites are outstanding. This is what Avalon say about them and I totally agree "We’ve mastered the art of blending luxury with comfort, and now – blurring the line between outside and in. Not only are our Panorama Suites on our Suite Ships 30% larger than the industry standard staterooms, our wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows open wider than any other, creating river cruising’s only Open-Air Balcony and an open invitation to discover and dream. And speaking of dreaming in our Panorama Suites, we’ve turned our beds to face the window, giving you a bed with a view for the sweetest visions ever. Even if you’re a seasoned traveller, you’ve never seen Europe like this"

You will come home from an Avalon River Cruise wanting to go time after time and visit new regions and even cruise ones you have before. I hope you like the few photos I have added.

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