Green meadows, sparkling water and always with me my mobile bed. Picturesque landscapes pass by and I don't even have to get up to admire what is happening outside my window.
7 days I now sail with the A-Rosa Viva on the Seine, across the region Normandy in France. Start and end is Paris, in between I explore some cities in my vacation at the Seine up to the north to Le Havre.
Normandy is very easy to reach from Germany. By train, by car or even by boat or plane. In the region you can discover a lot and nature is your constant companion.
My companion, my fine and, above all, extremely comfortable ride, which sails almost 200 passengers through the north of France. The journey takes us along the picturesque and picturesque alabaster coast in the north, through half-timbered small towns along the Seine and at the end to the city of longing, Paris.
Along the way, I discover beautiful places in Normandy that I would not have been able to see without the river as a means of transportation. Absolutely under my radar were, among others, the great town of Les Andelys or Giverny with the famous water lily pond of Claude Monet. Here I can breathe France's creative air and get inspired.
I have tips for you for the most beautiful attractions, cities and a vacation in France in the beautiful region of Normandy.
Travel tips Normandy: places of interest& Destinations
Normandy has long had the reputation of being a harsh and above all simple region, characterized by agriculture and limestone cliffs. In the 19. In the 19th century, however, painters discovered the area for themselves. Thus, romantic chalk cliffs, small lively fishing villages and lush green river landscapes became objects of art. The landscape around the Seine is also crowned with many castles and palaces. Here, painters like Claude Monet enjoyed an excellent glass of calvados.
Sights in Rouen
Rouen – the city of a hundred steeples
Overnight the A-ROSA Viva sails along the Seine to Rouen. The ship reaches the medieval city around noon and I go directly on an exploration tour. The city of Rouen counts about 110.000 inhabitants.Characteristic for Rouen are numerous churches and half-timbered houses.
In Rouen stands one of the most important Gothic churches in France. Rouen is also famous for the burning of Joan of Arc, also known as Joan of Arc. It was burned on the market place and scattered in the Seine river.
The city was then completely surrounded by a city wall, this wall has now disappeared. Moreover, Rouen was and still is a great trading city. Although it is 65 km from the coast of Normandy, there is still a lot of trade here. The tides of the English Channel are noticeable all the way to Rouen and always bring my ship at the quay to a new level.
Notre-Dame de l'Assomption de Rouen: In the middle of Rouen lies the cathedral Notre-Dame. The Norman Duke Rollo, the founder of Normandy is buried here, as well as the famous Richard the Lionheart. The impressive facade is something very special, because it was built in several epochs.
L'aître Saint-Maclou: absolutely inconspicuous behind picturesque half-timbered houses and antique stores, hides a courtyard interspersed with trees. At first sight it is not obvious that this is an old cemetery. Only at a closer look skulls and ecclesiastical symbols on the buildings are noticeable. In the shade of the fragrant linden trees, students of the local art academy paint the scenery.
Le Gros Horloge: In the middle of the charismatic old town there is a week clock. This clock has been working since 16. Century absolutely exact. The special feature of the clock is that it has no minute hands, but a lunar calendar. This was particularly important for shipping, so that the tides could be timed for trade.
Le Palais de Justice: Rouen is also the site of one of the most royal courthouses in all of Normandy. The magnificent Palace of Justice is one of the rare civil Gothic buildings in France. Among them is the oldest Jewish building in France.
Sights in the north of Normandy
Etretat: An hour's drive from Rouen is the world-famous and romantic Alabaster Coast. I feel like I've accidentally stumbled into an impressionist masterpiece and look out for Monet capturing the scene. You can't get enough of the magical cliffs. When the sun comes out from behind the clouds, you can only dream of it.
Deauville: Some glitz and glamour can be found in the famous seaside resort of Deauville. Here, yachts line up and it's easy to get rid of your money in the casinos and at the horse races. A successful contrast to the high society offers the hundreds of meters wide and dreamlike sandy beach, which is peppered with colorful umbrellas.
Hornfleur: Hornfleur is so idyllic that I quickly forget which country I am in. The facades of the houses at the Vieux Bassin of Hornfleur could be in Amsterdam as well. Picturesque and with a lightness, the city in the north of Normandy captivates with its unmistakable charm.
Places of interest Caudebec-en-Caux
The origin of the town of Caudebec-en-Caux goes back to the time of the Celts. In the Middle Ages there was a flourishing glove and hat making industry here. Today, unfortunately, this industry has completely disappeared from the city, which does not detract from the small town.
What you can see in Caudebec-en-Caux
eglise Notre-Dame: In the middle of the city center of Caudebec-en-Caux stands the probably most beautiful cathedral of the whole Normandy. It was built between the 11th century. and 15. The church was built in the XVII century and its warm and colorful stained glass windows give it a very special charm.
Maison des Templiers: This is the oldest building in the city, dating back to the 13th century. Century. The house stands completely inconspicuously between buildings from the 18. Century. It was built from local limestone, which was and still is quarried in the area. Today it houses a museum that tells the history of the city.
Ancienne Prison: In the middle of the city there is a medieval prison, it is still very well preserved and is one of the last of its kind in France.
Sights Les Andelys
Les Andelys captivates with its unmistakable charm. The fascinating town, about 100 kilometers from the coast, is one of the pearls that I got to know thanks to the river cruise. Many small villages of Normandy are lined with half-timbered houses and something very special – a soul of their own. So too Les Andelys, in the middle of the town, as so often, towers a delightful church, in this case Notre-Dame-du-Grand-Andely.
What you can see in Les Andelys
Chateau Gaillard: The small main street, which leads past Notre-Dame-du-Grand-Andely, brings me to an elevation on which the old fortress of Chateau Gaillard is located. From here I have a breathtaking view over the city. To complete this picture the river is lined with limestone cliffs. With the view of the Eure valley I can relax a bit and enjoy the complete and perfect green of Normandy. Up there, time seems to have stood still.
The Eure Valley: The Eure department impresses with its endless rape fields, which blossom in a wonderful bright yellow in summer. Next to it apple trees for the production of cider are lined up. Completely the picture of the landscape becomes by the Croûte Normand, a cattle race in the Normandy is native.
Relaxing on the Seine – with the Arosa Viva
After the strains of the last days, because city trips are known to tire the feet, I spend a noon in the small and fine wellness area on the Arosa Viva. Finally, I recharge my batteries and prepare for the last leg of the trip through Normandy.
With it, a fantastic view over the Eure valley around the Seine river. So I'm bubbling away in the whirlpool, thinking about the beautiful sides of France that I wouldn't have seen without the trip along the Seine. Wonderful!
Places of interest Vernon
Vernon is so picturesque that even Monet settled here, in the town of Giverny, about 5 km away. Lush green and impressive small enchanted houses line the entire cityscape. The half-timbered houses transform the city into a kind of time travel to another era. Everything reminds of the 17. Century and times long gone.
What to see in Vernon
Chateau de Bizy: The castle was built in the 17th century. It was built in the 19th century and is also called "little Versailles" by connoisseurs. The castle park is generously laid out and impresses with romantic water features and an Italian flair. 560 lime trees line the Avenue des Capucins, these are already stately and full of life 200 years old.
Giverny: The place Givery, residence of Claude Monet, lies on the other bank of the river and is known above all because of one – Monet`s water lily pond. Absolutely romantic and as if from another time, the garden invites me to stroll and marvel. In Giverny is also Monet's residence, this I also visit. Besides an insight into the flora and fauna around Giverny, I also get a little insight into Monet's soul and the place of his creative work.
Paris – The highlight at the Seine
The last stop of the river cruise on the Seine is La Belle Paris. A city of millions and a place of longing. The capital of France sits enthroned on the unmistakable Seine River. I discover Paris with a French lightness and a good feeling.
Sights are a dime a dozen. I can recommend you my absolute favorite place, the district Montmartre. With 130 meters of elevation it is the highest point of Paris. Here you have the overview and can just let your soul dangle.
The center of Montmartre is the Sacre-Cœur Basilica. All around meander small alleys lined with street artists selling their paintings. No wonder, because Montmartre was in the 19. The Normandy region was the center of artistic creation of Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso and many others in the 19th century.
My tip: Instead of going down the hill via the 500 or so stairs in front of the Sacre-Cœur, you should go down the hill behind the basilica through the winding streets. In between the visit of a wonderful French bistro is worthwhile. Perhaps for a freshly baked croissant or tasty oysters. Vive la France!
Mini Food Guide to Normandy
Normandy is characterized by seemingly endless green landscapes with a fair amount of charm. Here the cows graze in peace and relaxed. In between they take a snack at one of the numerous apple trees. Especially the young shoots have done it to them. Besides the apple trees, Normandy is also characterized by lush fields full of fresh fruit, such as rhubarb and strawberries.
With a wink, the region of Normandy is also called the region of the three C's. These include the regional and original products Camembert, Calvados and Cidre.
Food in Normandy – Calvados, Cider and Pommeau
The apple trees are the source for the main food of the Normans – the Cidre. Okay, I admit, there are also other delicacies consumed here. In addition to cider, an apple brandy, calvados is also made here. When Calvados and Cidre are combined into one drink, the result is the wonderfully drinkable and lovely Pommeau, a blend of Calvados and Cidre.
The lovely scent of the apples and the final product can be absorbed in many Calvados distilleries in Normandy. In most cases, an old process is still used for production. The farms, mostly family owned for hundreds of years, have their own charm. This makes the tasting of tasty local wines taste even better.
Cheese from Normandy
By the way, Normandy is a true gourmet mecca, especially for cheese lovers like me. No less than 4 special cheeses have their origin here in northern France. The Camembert, the Pont l'eveque, the Neufchatel-en-Bray and the Livarot. Really authentic and also from the region, are the cheeses, if they have the AOC seal.
Fresh from the sea – oysters and seafood
On the coasts of Normandy oysters thrive particularly well. Exposed to wind and weather and the tides, this is how a graceful classic of French cuisine is created. Oysters and seafood like mussels, taste wonderfully of the sea and symbolize so the strength of Normandy. The sea here has a very high impact on the population and is accessible to almost every resident within a very short time.
7 days I have now sailed across Normandy and have taken a lot of French lifestyle and passion with me. Always with me is the A-ROSA Viva, which accompanied me along the Seine. I am a little bit nostalgic, because a little bit of Normandy love actually developed.
A tout A l'heure beau Normandie, I will miss you you beauty.
Thanks to A-ROSA, for the invitation. My opinion, as always, is not influenced by this