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Cruising Paris & The Heart of Normandy
On our bucket list was always to visit the beaches of Normandy invasion and the US National Cemetery.To experience this we decided to Travel aboard the Viking Kadlin from the port of Le Pecq outside of Paris to the heart of Normandy.We arrived in Paris and stayed one night at the Pullman Eiffel Tower, just blocks from the Eiffel Tower. A great location and very nice hotel. We embarked July 13th and sailed that night through the first set of locks to Mantes-la-Jolie because the locks would be closed to river traffic the next day with a national holiday.The next day we travelled to Napoleon's Chateau de Malmaison. Our guide was great and helped us visualize life at the Chateau with Napoleon and Josephine. Josephine was known for her wardrobe and great parties. I would recommend a visit to the Chateau.
Life on the Viking Kadlin was great with an excellent staff and wonderful food. The guest are always friendly and eager to meet everybody on board.The next morning we arrived at Vernon and traveled to Giverny the home of Claude Monet who lived there from 1883 until his death in 1926.The charming village, beautiful home and gardens were alive with flowers that were in full bloom. I was surprised how beautiful the estate and village was. After lunch on board the ship, we took a walking tour of the charming town of Vernon. The true excitement was the World Cup game later that day with France playing Croatia. The town was buzzing with excitement, and after France won the game the party lasted late into the night.
The next day we sailed the Seine River until we arrived to the city of Rouen. Founded by Romans, Rouen is situated along the Seine River. The Norman capital boasts many pleasures, from the 700 charming half-timbered houses of the old town to the glorious Rouen Cathedral, which so captivated Claude Monet that he painted it many times in varying light. Until the 17th century, Rouen was the second largest city in France. Today it is the country's fourth largest port. The city is perhaps best known as the site of Joan of Arc's last stand; where she was tried and condemned for heresy and burned at the stake in 1431.A church is now sitting by the location.
Finally the day we were waiting for arrived; The Normandy Beaches. Still docked in Rowen, we bused to the first two beaches Juno and Gold where the British and Canadians landed. We moved up the coast to the small village of Arromanches and visited the museum that chronicled the genius of the Mulberry Harbor that was built in England and assembled at the beaches to unload troops and equipment to support the invasion. After lunch, we followed the coast to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sue-Mer. Located high on a cliff over Omaha Beach, it is the final resting place of nearly 9400 Americans. We listened to the stories and then joined in a special service for our fallen soldiers. The cemetery was beautiful with the crosses and Stars of David in a perfect row. From there we passed many pieces of equipment used during the D-Day invasion until we arrived at Omaha Beach. After a few photos, we gathered sand from the beach and put the sand in two bottles we bought earlier in Arromanches. On the drive back to Rowen, there was time to reflect about what we had seen and how difficult June 6, 1944 had to be.
The next morning we enjoyed sailing the Seine heading back toward Paris. That afternoon we docked at Les Andelys where Chateau Gaillard sits high above the river. More like a fortress, it was built by Richard The Lionheart to stop invasion from Paris by the King of France in the 12th century.King Richard from England was also Duke of Normandy and wanted to protect Rowen as the Capital of Normandy from the King of France.We walked up the steep hill to the castle and enjoyed a great view of the river and surrounding countryside.Once we returned to the village, we visited the shops and enjoyed the slow pace of the town. After dinner, it was quiz night in the lounge with a lot of laughs by all.
We decided to visit The Palace of Versailles the final day and see the extravagant home of French Loyalty of three different kings. It was best know for the "Sun King" Louis XIV and Marie Antoinnette.The gardens were huge and you can even rent a golf cart to tour the grounds.While we were gone the ship moved back to Mantes-la-Jolie closer to Paris.That night we had dinner with several of our new friends and then prepared for departure the next morning. Another wonderful Viking Cruise.