JOURNEYS

Active Outings on the Seine

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The iconic Eiffel Tower, situated along the banks of the river Seine.

Ah, Paris! The astoundingly beautiful City of Lights has enchanted visitors for centuries. Get outdoors and up close and personal with historic Paris during active biking, foot, and canoe tours that will take you to architectural marvels like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame cathedral, and across some of the Seine’s 37 picturesque bridges in Paris alone. And that’s just the start of this incredible voyage from Avalon Waterways, headed northbound along the picturesque River Seine. You’ll wind your way along the Seine, cruising on to Normandy’s landing beaches and ending at the UNESCO World Heritage site of the city of Le Havre, at the very foot of the Seine.

All along the way, you’ll enjoy the boutique experience of only up to 150 guests aboard Avalon Waterways’ cruises, making for personalized hospitality that larger operators aren’t able to provide. Avalon’s intimate setting effectively reimagines what a cruise experience can be, with excursions customized to your interests and style. Add to that today’s top amenities and sustainability as a core value, from energy conservation and saving water to reducing, recycling, and repurposing at every turn, and you’ll feel good about your trip in more ways than one.

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TRIP HIGHLIGHT

Château Gaillard

An awe-inspiring hike in picturesque Les Andelys leads to the ruins of Château Gaillard, a 12th century medieval castle built by Richard the Lionheart.
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TRIP DESIGNER

Avalon Waterways

Delivering unparalleled experiences and boundless exploration, Avalon Waterways puts you in the captain’s seat to navigate your journey, fuel your passions and steer clear of the unexpected as you cruise down the world’s most memorable and mesmerizing waterways.
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Days 1-2 Paris

On your first day in Paris, you’ll have plenty of free time to explore, and you can’t go wrong whichever direction you choose. First-timers should take in the Eiffel Tower and its resplendent lawn, a perfect place to rest and marvel at the area’s beauty. After an onboard welcome reception on your embarkation day, you’ll sleep well and wake up in the City of Lights.

Today, you’ll delight in a guided bike tour in Bois de Boulogne, the second largest public park in Paris—more than double the size of New York City’s Central Park—situated along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement, near the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. This former hunting ground for the Kings of France covers more than 2,000 acres, and features two man-made lakes, eight smaller ponds, thousands of trees, and mile upon mile of walking and biking paths (nine miles are devoted to bike paths alone), not to mention the racetracks of Longchamp and Auteuil.

This magnificent park has inspired writers and painters throughout history, including Proust, Flaubert, and Manet who memorialized it in his painting The Races in the Bois de Boulogne. Gourmands, take note: the park houses a three-star Michelin eatery, Le Pré Catalan, and the one-Michelin-starred Le Grande Cascade. Or a classic Parisian picnic of baguette and camembert couldn’t ask for a more picturesque setting.
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Day 3Conflans

Today you’ll cruise along the Seine to Conflans and take a guided e-bike tour around Maisons-Laffite, a northwestern suburb of Paris. Located just 18 miles from the city center of Paris, the area boasts many hidden wonders. Feast your eyes on French Baroque architecture like the Chateau Maisons-Laffite, a 1651 castle which once belonged to King Louis XVI’s brother, Comte d’Artois.
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The ruins of Château Gaillard at sunset in Les Andelys

Day 4 Vernon–Les Andelys

The 16 miles between the French towns of Vernon and Les Andelys are said to be the most scenic stretch of the Seine, and certainly one of the most beautiful in the world as well. It’s an area that’s enchanted painters for generations. (Monet’s famous Giverny gardens are a mere 10-minute bus ride from Vernon.) This morning you’ll paddle around the pastoral landscapes on an expert-led guided canoe tour that will take you to areas unreachable by foot.

Afterward, reward yourself with an onboard crêpes and pastry demonstration, and savor the landscapes outside as you dig in. Later that afternoon, in Les Andelys, take an incredible hike to Château Gaillard. The magnificent ruins of this 12th century medieval castle built by Richard the Lionheart (who was simultaneously both King of England and feudal Duke of Normandy) on the Andelys cliff overlooks the Seine, offering sweeping views and a prime photo op of the Seine Valley.
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The town of Rouen

Day 5Rouen

Today, you’ll dock in Rouen, Normandy’s historic and cultural capital. History buffs will be delighted by a guided walking tour of this port city—home of the martyred Saint Joan of Arc—which takes you into the medieval quarter where you’ll find the 16th-century Astronomical Clock, and Notre-Dame Cathedral (a favorite subject of Monet), among many other great religious buildings. You’ll see with your own eyes why Victor Hugo called Rouen “the city of a hundred spires.” Later in the day, enjoy leisure time on your own to further explore this vibrant city and its many museums, cathedrals, and splendid Gothic architecture.
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The historic beaches of Normandy

Day 6Excursions to Normandy

Discover sites of heroic bravery with a full day excursion to Normandy’s World War II landing beaches. On a guided tour, you’ll visit Omaha Beach, where American Allied forces touched down in the historic D-Day invasion; pay respects at the Normandy American Cemetery, which overlooks Omaha Beach; and visit the Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument, erected to honor American Rangers who scaled the 100-foot cliffs to seize German artillery and protect arriving troops.

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Day 7 Le Havre

Right at the mouth of the river Seine, the city of Le Havre, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was rebuilt between the years of 1945-1964, after bombs rained down on it during World War II. Today it’s rife with lively bars and restaurants and a thriving art scene. You’ll take in the sites on a guided bike tour, including the “Volcano,” Le Havre’s curvaceous arts center and theater, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, and erected in 1982, a stark contrast to the angular city built by Auguste Perret. Take a moment to pay your respects at St. Joseph’s Church, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the WW II bombings; with its high tower containing 12,768 panes of colored glass, it’s considered one of the architectural marvels of the 20th century.

One of the greenest cities in all of France, Le Havre boasts 96 parks and gardens, over some 2,000 acres of land. Don’t miss the city’s Hanging Gardens, built on a 19th-century Napoleonic fort overlooking the Seine estuary, which offers panoramic views of the sea and the city’s port. After a day touring the many marvelous sites of Le Havre, stop for some fabulous French wine and toast to new friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Santé!