The Beauty of Normandy

The ruins of Jumieges Abbey, as seen this afternoon on our excursion with Tauck. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Compared with our massive day yesterday, today was quite relaxing aboard Tauck’s ms Sapphire. We’re now over the halfway point on our Rendezvous on the Seine river cruise, the sun is shining, and temperatures are way above seasonal. Life is good.

The curse of a cruise writer is having assignments that are due while you’re on another cruise. There’s nothing quite like writing about a big-ship cruise to the Caribbean while you’re in France, but that was my morning. Of course, I can’t complain: few offices are as nice as the elegant ms Sapphire, and I ensconced myself in the cozy main lounge with my laptop and a delicious cappuccino from the 24-hour coffee station at the stern of the ship. I know it comes from a machine, but it’s still very tasty.

The main lounge aboard the ms Sapphire is comfortable and welcoming. It also doubles as a great “office”! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

I did manage to make it off the ship this morning for a wander along the sun-splashed streets of Caudebec-en-Caux, France. This quiet village 43 kilometres to the northwest of Rouen has a population of just over 2,000 people, and yet everything you’d want is mere steps away from the ms Sapphire – including half a dozen cafes serving up all manner of food and drink.

Tauck’s ms Sapphire…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…alongside in pretty Caudebec-en-Caux, France. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

This afternoon, I joined the excursion to the nearby Jumieges Abbey. Built around 1067, the Abbey was enlarged and restored over the intervening centuries, until the French Revolution left it in ruins.

Jumieges Abbey has been called one of the most beautiful ruins in France, and it’s easy to see why. Even in its semi-destroyed state, the grandeur of the Abbey can still be seen and felt to this day.

This afternoon, we toured the dramatic ruins…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…of Jumieges Abbey. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Once a thriving place, the Abbey was abandoned and destroyed during the French Revolution. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Pillars of the Earth? Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Time stands still inside Jumieges Abbey, which offers plenty of great photographic opportunities for shutterbugs. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

My only complaint with the tour today was our guide, who insisted on standing in one spot for nearly 15 minutes at a time. Thirty minutes after arriving at the Abbey, we hadn’t even made it through the main gate. I get a little restless on tours: since we all have QuietVox audio headsets and can arguably walk and talk while we tour, I’d rather do that. I ended up getting so frustrated with our lack of motion that I took out my earpiece and walked through the ruins myself, at my own pace.

Back onboard the ms Sapphire, a veritable feast was laid out for returning guests. Fresh oysters were served in the lounge as a prelude to dinner, with all the necessary accompaniments. It’s little touches like this that make the Tauck experience such a wonderful, memorable vacation.

Back onboard Tauck’s ms Sapphire, fresh oysters greeted us in the lounge. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Tauck certainly knows how to put on a good cocktail hour! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Although it isn’t our last night onboard, Tauck held the Captain’s Gala Dinner onboard tonight – a veritable feast served over six different courses. Seven, if you count the post-dinner tea and coffee. Which I do. We’re in Europe after all, and it’s very gauche to order coffee and dessert together here.

This evening ended like so many others on my past Tauck river cruises: pleasantly. Full of good food and good wine, I made my way back to my cozy stateroom and went to sleep, happy to be sailing the Seine again as we make our way down to Les Andelys.

Gala Dinner, Tauck-style. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report from onboard Tauck’s ms Sapphire continues tomorrow as we explore Les Andelys and Chateau Gaillard. Follow along with our latest cruise adventures on Twitter: @deckchairblog.

From Paris to Normandy with Tauck

October 9, 2017ParisArrival in Paris; check-in to Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel hotel.
October 10ParisTour of the Opera Garnier
October 11ParisTour of the Palace of Versailles; embark ms Sapphire
October 12RouenGuided tour of Rouen; evening chateau reception, dinner and music
October 13Caudebec-en-CauxVisits to Etretat and Honfleur
October 14Caudebec-en-CauxD-Day history in Normandy with visits to Omaha Beach, American Cemetery & the Arromanches Museum
October 15JumiegesVisit to Jumieges Abbey ruins
October 16Les AndelysChateau Gaillard tour; cider & calvados tasting; scenic cruising
October 17VernonGiverny and Monet home visit; farewell reception
October 18ParisDisembark ms Sapphire

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