Normandy & Gems of the Seine with Scenic: Part 1
Paris to Vernon
I have visited Paris several times and typically always enjoyed
a city sightseeing cruise on the river, but other than viewing the famous
landmarks from the water I knew little else about the Seine, until an
opportunity arose with one of our partners, Scenic, for a 5 night taster river-cruise
through Normandy from Paris to the English Channel.
We arrived on a balmy late October afternoon with Paris bathed
in sunshine. The Scenic Gem, moored
within sight of the Eiffel Tower, has a very appealing sundeck with loungers
and the Riverview Terrace, an extremely comfortable bar area with tables and
chairs – the perfect place to sip the best French champagne – and it was here I
headed immediately. Like most passengers
we stayed on deck as long as we could to enjoy the autumnal sunshine against
the backdrop of Paris. What a blissful
start to the trip.
As dusk approached I tore myself away from the sun-deck and
took the opportunity to have a look around the ship. Scenic refer to their river cruise ships as
Space-Ships because of their sleek and contemporary design which is easy on the
eye and very light and spacious. The majority of cabins have a balcony, the
bathrooms have multi-coloured spray showers to brighten up early mornings,
excellent storage, complimentary L’Occitane toiletries, extremely comfortable
beds with a pillow menu to ensure your head gets the good night’s sleep it
deserves and a free minibar. A butler
service is provided as standard - early morning tea delivered to my cabin if I
didn’t fancy going to the restaurant – as well as a free laundry service. There
are several dining options, including a gourmet restaurant and throughout the
day tea, coffee and snacks are available in the lounge, as are drinks from the
bar. There is also a small gym and
walking track on the sun-deck if you feel the need to exercise. Apart from
choosing to pay for a massage or hairdresser everything on the ship is
included, so no need to worry about how much that extra bottle of champagne
might set you back – all included - which isn’t always the case on cruise
Before we sailed at 9pm we watched the Eiffel Tower light
show, which, once dark, is every hour on the hour. The twinkling lights and laser beams only
lasted about 5 minutes but it was a wonderful spectacle to view from the river,
drink in hand, an added bonus to the start of our cruise.
As we sailed towards our next stop Mantes-La-Jolie, I was
able to stretch out on a sunbed on the sun deck and, in between a soporific
post-lunch snooze, admire some of the wonderful houses running down to the
river bank before a brief stop to view Mantes’ fine gothic cathedral. I was a
tad surprised, though, to find a very familiar look-a-like Padre gracing the
walls in this beautiful church.
Following a cocktail we moved into a medieval hall where a very talented quartet – 2 violinists, a cellist and a flautist – performed a selection of pieces by famous European composers. A stunning performance, a stunning location - a truly memorable experience.
After another night of seamless sailing we awoke in Vernon
and I opened my curtains to find myself overlooked by guests breakfasting on an
adjacent ship. We were warned it was
highly likely we would be moored next to other vessels in this popular
destination but it was rather surprising to see smiling faces, particularly
when not fully dressed! Ahem. Lesson learned and I will pay more attention
next time – if there is a next time. At
popular destinations ships often moor alongside each other which does require some
walking up and down steps to cross sun decks to access the shore if the vessels
are not the same height – for technical reasons lifts on most river cruise
ships are unable to reach the sun-deck - so if you have any walking issues or
difficulties with stairs check with your operator beforehand.
the other two ships I had the opportunity to have a quick peek to assess
standards and am happy to report the Scenic Gem was definitely the cruise ship
Chrissy Nason travelled as a guest of Scenic.Full details of their Normandy & Gems of the Seine
cruise and other destinations can be found here.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Scenic.