Tag Archives: Avalon Waterways

Thatch & Sea

by Don McCann

One of the stops on my recent Avalon Waterways cruise on the Seine River was Caudebec, which provided for a tour to a country village with thatched roof cottages and homes in the morning and to the coast to Honfleur in the afternoon.

Similar to our previous stop in Les Andelys, we docked right in the heart of town and could easily walk to everything this community had to offer.  However, there was no time for exploring when we arrived; that would come later!  After our arrival, we boarded a motorcoach into the countryside to visit a small village of half-timbered houses with long, sloping thatched roofs.  Like so many times on a river cruise, this tour was great in its simplicity.  We had an overview from our guide on the coach, then we made a stop to simply wonder the area in a small group to see the homes and gardens.  It was such a delight!  We’ve all heard of ‘thatched roof’ homes, but many of us have not seen one, certainly so up close.

The remainder of the day was spent visiting the seaside town of Honfleur, which is a place I’ve wanted to visit for several years.  Think of a quaint port town in Maine, a bit larger and French-style.  Yes, there is much history in Honfleur, but to be honest, it’s mostly about the photo ops!  We followed our guide down a side street, then into an ‘alley’- type street, but with cobblestones under our feet and buildings oozing history all around us.  Next, we were directly at the marina, or harbor in the center of town with cafes, shops, and bars on each side of the u-shaped inlet.  Oh, and did I mention that it was sunny?!  The weather was picture-perfect!

We returned to the Tapestry II in time for dinner, then we ventured out in to town to walk along the wharf and through the neighborhood nearby.  Charming architecture, impressive church in the town square (just like all the other towns), and a lovely evening.  We felt very safe and it was a great end to an activity-packed day.

Thatched roof home in the Normandy region

Thatched roof home in the Normandy region

Can you name this?  Neither could we!

Can you name this? Neither could we!

Honfleur sidestreet as our tour began

Honfleur sidestreet as our tour began

Picturesque Honfleur

Picturesque Honfleur

Honfleur waterfront

Honfleur waterfront

The church in Honfleur was built by ship makers, thus the inverted "ship" shaped roof!

The church in Honfleur was built by ship makers, thus the inverted “ship” shaped roof!

Caudebec-en-Caux Notre Dame Church, outside & inside

Caudebec-en-Caux Notre Dame Church, outside & inside

Lovely manor home being restored in Caudebec

Lovely manor home being restored in Caudebec

Caudebec speed sign - note if you are within the speed limit - it says "Merci"!

Caudebec speed sign – note if you are within the speed limit – it says “Merci”!

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Sunday Afternoon in Les Andelys

by Don McCann

On our recent Avalon Waterways cruise on the Seine River, we had two ‘ports of call’ for our second day.  After a fantastic morning exploring the gardens and home of Monet in Giverny, we stopped in Les Andelys.  Perhaps my favorite part of this stop was just as we were gliding into position along the dock, there were locals strolling along the waterfront, enjoying their Sunday Afternoon and only passively interested in our arrival.

We had the choice of a walking tour through town, or ‘up the hill’ to Chateau Gaillard which was built by King Richard the Lionheart as a fortress in 1196.  We opted for the town tour, which I thoroughly enjoyed; nothing special, just a walk in the heart of another charming, quaint, little French jewel along the river.  However, I wish there had been enough time to also hike up to see the ruins up close.  My camera was able to zoom in pretty well though; it looks impressive.

After our tour, we walked around on own, first along the riverfront, then up the hill a ways, overlooking town.  With only about 150 passengers onboard a river cruise, once you disperse and explore on your own, you feel like you’ve blended into the local culture as a respectful visitor (rather than arriving with thousands at a port on an ocean cruise and being seen as invaders!)

Just a really enjoyable Sunday afternoon in Les Andelys!

Les Andelys arrival

arrival in Les Andelys

Les Andelys Chateau Gaillard from town

Chateau Gaillard as seen from town

Les Andelys Chateau Gaillard

Chateau Gaillard with a zoom lens!

Les Andelys church

Les Andelys church & town square

Les Andelys from hill

Les Andelys as seen from the hill

Les Andelys Tapestry II

Avalon Tapestry II docked in Les Andelys

Les Andelys timber architecture

Les Andelys examples of timber architecture

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Monet, Monet

by Don McCann

In a previous post, I mentioned about my recent Avalon Waterways cruise on the Seine River to the Normandy Region of France.  On our itinerary, the first port of call was the quaint town of Vernon, the gateway to Monet’s home at Giverny.  I think most of us probably envision lily pads on a tranquil pond when we hear the name “Giverny” and that’s JUST what we were lucky enough to see that first morning!

Vernon, France on a quiet Sunday morning

Vernon on a quiet Sunday morning

Our tour departure time allowed us enough time to disembark and wonder the little town of Vernon before we boarded the motorcoach for the short drive to Giverny.  Being a Sunday morning, Vernon was noticeably quiet and made for a delightful early walk as we quickly explored what charming & historic sights the village had to offer.  As is true with so many European locations, the church was the dominant landmark and it was a very short distance from our ship.

As we arrived in Giverny, the anticipation grew with each phase of the tour.  First, a walk from the parking lot to the outer area of the village, then into the gardens themselves, next into Monet’s home, and finally a short walk to the far end of town to the cemetery for Monet’s grave.  In the gardens, on the path, over the famed arched bridge, it all seems as though the paintings of Monet have come to life and you are directly ‘in the thick of it’!  It is an area of impressive beauty and its preservation seems to have been successful to maintain an authentic “Monet experience”.  I could say more, but the photos say it best, take a look…

Giverny, France lily pads

Giverny lily pads

Giverny, France foot bridge

Giverny, France foot bridge

Giverny, France area map

Giverny area map

Giverny, France gardens

Giverny, France gardens

Monet home in Giverny, France

Monet home in Giverny

Monet's bedroom at Giverny , France

Monet’s bedroom at Giverny

Monet's grave in Giverny, France

Monet’s grave in Giverny

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Filed under Avalon Waterways, European River Cruises, Giverny, Monet, New Ship, Our Cruises, River Cruises, Seine River Cruise, Vernon France