A Guide to Drinking Along the Seine

AFAR Ambassador Ben Schuyler shares some of his favorite finds from a recent cruise through France with U by Uniworld

Maybe it was something in the water but cruising the Seine River in the hot early summer left me parched. Fortunately, our beverage options were as diverse as the towns that we visited while exploring the region with U by Uniworld—a boutique cruise line geared towards the “young at heart.” As we wandered through villages like Auvers-sur-Oise and Giverny on The Seine Experience cruise, I always had an eye open for interesting bars and cafés along our route. 

The Seine has something for everyone, from the connoisseur of fine wine to the aficionado of specialty coffee. Take a look to find the drink you’d choose.

[Ben traveled to France on the U by Uniworld cruise as part of a partnership between AFAR and the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace of mind to destinations across the globe.]

Cappuccino from Citizen Coffee, Rouen

Perhaps it’s because I’m from Seattle, but one of the first things that I seek out when visiting a new place is quality coffee. It was expected that a city with such culinary prowess as Paris would offer a wide collection of incredible cafés. We were pleasantly surprised, however, when we stumbled across the discreetly located Citizen Coffee in the ancient town of Rouen. The modern coffee shop offers a collection of artfully made espresso-based beverages, freshly pressed juices (like Citronnade Maison), and delicious small plates.

Iced Yuzu from Café Kitsuné, Paris

Kitsuné found its roots as an electronic music label and fashion line in the early 2000s, but later branched into the craft beverage world in 2014 with Café Kitsuné. Pulling inspiration from both French and Japanese cuisine, their menu offers a handful of refreshing drinks when the temperature soared. A standout item was their Iced Yuzu, which was perfectly sweet and tart—an ideal drink for a Parisian summer day.

Rosé from La Petite Venise, Château de Versailles

It may be hard to believe, but French citizens drink more rosé than red or white wine each year. After exploring the enormous gardens at the Château de Versailles, my wife and I found ourselves in need of a refreshing chilled wine. Tucked away from the crowds around the Grand Canal, La Petite Venise greeted us with its relaxing patio and tranquil ambiance. We opted for their heirloom tomato and burrata salad and a bottle of dry rosé, the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

Calvados Grand Reserve from Manoir d’Apreval, Pennedepie

Calvados is a labor of love. Pressed apple juice is fermented to a dry cider, which is then distilled into eau de vie—a light and refreshing fruit brandy. The liquid is then aged for no less than two years before it can be considered calvados. Age that for an additional eight to ten years and you get Calvados Grand Reserve from Manoir d’Apreval. The farm at Manoir d’Apreval was established at the beginning of the 20th century and produces its crop using organic practices.

Cidre from Gourmandises Normandes, Honfleur

The port town of Honfleur sits where the Seine River and the English Channel meet in a whirl of brackish water and brilliant culture. Artists and travelers alike have found inspiration in its tributary-like winding streets with specialty shops of all kinds waiting to be explored. Gourmandises Normandes offers a vast collection of calvados, cidre, and pommeau. Self-control be damned—this stop is a haven for any lover of fine drink.

Read more about Ben's discoveries in France and his cruise on the Seine with U by Uniworld at the USTOA blog