Northern or Southern France

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50 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
We are planning a river cruise for 2014 in France. I am wondering what would be better a Northern one because my husband really wants to visit Normandy beaches or a Southern one because we both like wine and we could always do some extra days in Paris which we will do anyways and going to Normandy on our own so we could spend more time on the World War II sites. Anyone with some info or opinion? This would be our first river cruise.
I know I am starting early on the planning but I am anal that way.
Mackay Australia
786 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Like you kmkasza we too are in the very, very early stages of planning a river cruise in France and at this stage we think there is more for us cruising Southern France than the Seine but everyone has their own preferences. Later this year we'll start our spreadsheet and hopefully make a decision for August/September 2014 sometime in September this year. As our 2014 holiday will be our 40th Anniversary holiday we want it to be something special.

Ontario, Canada
2,756 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Hi -

Our 1st river cruise was Paris/Normandy with Uniworld - and it was a wonderful experience. The only way I could convince my DH to do a river cruise was to let him choose the itinerary --> and the draw of the beaches in Normandy, plus all of the art history related to Monet and Van Gogh was the clincher for him. We were hooked after that cruise - heading off for river cruise #6 in a few months, #7 in the fall...

My father was a WWII vet - and landed in one of the later waves at Juno Beach - so this was very interesting for me. Our CD was amazing... He arranged for 6 of us Canucks to get off the bus at Juno, and spend some extra time there - and then to visit the Canadian cemetery at Benys-sur-Mer before joining up the with the rest of the group at Arromanches. I am aware that we would most likely not have had that opportunity on another sailing.

DH and I both agree, however, that we would like to go back to Normandy - as there is so much to see - and the time with the tours are limited.

We have put a deposit on a cruise in southern France for early October 2014 with Scenic - as that area does hold a fascination for us as well.

One option - if you have the time - is to do both... most companies do offer these cruises (north and south of France) as a complete package.

If this is not of interest, then I would suggest (just my own opinion here...) that you do the river cruise with in the south of France, then spend a few days in Paris, and a few more days up in Normandy. Perhaps rent a car and drive... Rouen, Honsfleur... A stop in Giverny (to see Monet's house).... Lots to see and do.

2,503 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Have done both with Uniworld--Seine was our first European river cruise in 2002. It was wonderful. 2006 found us on an inaugural cruise on the Rhone--supurb!! If you have the time and money due both. Many lines are now doing both itineraries. Pat
Queens, NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
We did our first river cruise last October - souther France - the Rhone River - and just loved it!!!! (Just booked 2 more river cruises!)

As mentioned, many cruise lines offer the Seine/Mormandy/Paris + the Rhone River. At least a dozen passengers on our trip had just come from the earlier cruise. We chose only to do the Rhone River since we had visited Normandy in 2011 and did 4-days in Parish pre-cruise.

Just two thoughts:
1 - if you're interested in wine, you might also look into tours leaving from Bordeaux traveling on the Gironde River in the heart of wine country. (we just booked one on Viking for Oct. 2014)

2 - on our cruise in the city of Avignon we had a scheduled tour to the Pope's Palace - both of us wanted to see it. There were also two extra excursions offered: one to Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct); one to Chateauneuf du Pape (serious wine country). Our problem - we wanted to go on both excursions! Solution - we stayed in Avignon 2 nights and, the day after the cruise ended, took a private all-day tour through that fabulous wine country! Our guide was wonderful and the experience fantastic! Including the 4-course food and wine paring for lunch! (We then headed for Nice for 4 days.)

So just a thought - you could do a pre/post in Normandy or wine country on your own.

And you're not starting too early! River cruises tend to fill up very quickly!

Good Luck with whatever you choose - and enjoy your planning!!!!
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14,432 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
AMA has wine themed cruises and we took one in 2011 and loved it. We are booked on their wine cruise through Southern France for 2014.
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143 cruises since 1964, 15 on the river.
Looking forward to:
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017

Amadeus Silver III, May 2018
AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017

Recent cruises:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
New Albany, Ohio
556 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Have done both and would do the Seine cruise again in a heart beat and as many have said, if you can, doing both is a great way to experience France.
Bryan, TX
2,894 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
Originally posted by beverlyjack
We have not done the Southern France cruise, but did the Seine cruise in March/April of last year. It was a great trip. We did it with Grand Circle. I did a trip report/blog of the trip. It is We would be glad to answer any questions.
What an absolutely fantastic blog! Great detail and photos.

We've just signed up for the Oct. 13 GCT Paris to Honfleur river cruise plus St. Malo-Mont SAint-Michel extension. Wish I could credit you as a referal but this will be 15th GCT tour!

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Beverly, ma, us
325 Posts
Joined Feb 2012

We would be glad to answer any questions that you might have on the trip. Honfleur. that most other companies do not include and the extension to St-Malo and Mont St. Michel really add to an already wonderful trip. Our Email is [email protected].
50 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
I thank you all for your suggestions and comments. Looks like I will have a lot of research to do. Have requests out for catalogs and see I have a few more to order. Will have to make a list of what we really think is important to us to see. More comments are always welcome. Any out of the ordinary river cruise lines that I may have missed would be appreciated. I did all the well known ones.
140 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
5 years ago did the GCT Rhone River Cruise to the So of France. Wonderful cruise. Wanted to try something else so we are off on the Seine to Normady cruise this May with AMA. Can't wait.

There is so much wine, history, art in France that you can't really go wrong.
Santa Paula CA
3,415 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
If you have the time and can afford it, do both!!!! We try to combine trips and cruises to save air fare and the wear and tear on our not so young bodies.
We just did the Rhone cruise. The story is on our website
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It serves no purpose to list all the cruises I have been on chronologically. Many of the lines or ships do not exist any more, or have been renamed. I have sailed on NCL,Bermuda Star, Regency, Royal, Silverseas, Mississippi Queen, Vantage, Marco Polo, Scottish Highlander, Princess, Victoria, Hebridean Princess, Paul Gauguin, Regent, Oceania, Cunard, Rembrandt, and Lev Tolstoy.
2,732 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Glad I found this thread. We have never done a river cruise. We have traveled through Provence on a land tour, and will be in Bordeaux in Sept. on a HAL cruise. There are some places we haven't seen, like the beaches of Normandy, Giverny etc, and also Lyon, and the villages along the Rhone. We are looking to combine the 2 cruises in 2014. Viking does this, but you still have to be transported to Avignon and switch ships.

We are in the planning stage of finding the most desirable itinerary and cruiseline/ship.
Beverly, ma, us
325 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Consider Grand Circle. They do not have one trip that does both, but they have trips that can be taken back to back. We had considered doing that last spring, but we ended up just doing the Seine River Cruise The Seine: Paris to Normandy. It is a one-way cruise between Paris and Honfleur in either direction. Both trips start in end in Paris with coach transportation in the opposite direction. You get more port time than most, if not all, of the other cruise lines and you don't end up cruising the river twice. This was probably the most relaxed and best river cruise that we have done. I did a blog/trip report of the trip,

The other cruise is between Paris and Nice, one way, either starting in Paris or Nice. The cruising is actually between Arles and Macon on the Rhone River, with coach transppotation on either end as a part of the trip. It is Cruising Burgundy & Province to the Cote D'Azur Both trips include time in Paris and have extensions available. They will work with you to put the 2 trips together. See their web site at If you have any questions on the Seine trip, we would be glad to try to answer them.
Harrisburg, PA
1,891 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
If you don't mind doing some planning on your own, we did three days in Normandy followed by a week in southern France with Uniworld. We flew into CDG and took the train to Bayeux. We stayed at the Churchill Hotel and took their shuttle to Mt. St. Michel one day, did the Battlebus Band of Brothers and Utah Beach tours the next day, and the Bayeux Tapestry and walking tour another day. We then took the train to Chalon sur Saone to pick up the River Royale.

Although the river cruise was wonderful, I'm so glad we had some time in Normandy. If you are interested in history, especially WW II, you could spend a week there and not see everything.
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
11,811 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by Suzanne123
If you don't mind doing some planning on your own, we did three days in Normandy followed by a week in southern France with Uniworld. We flew into CDG and took the train to Bayeux. We stayed at the Churchill Hotel and took their shuttle to Mt. St. Michel one day, did the Battlebus Band of Brothers and Utah Beach tours the next day, and the Bayeux Tapestry and walking tour another day. We then took the train to Chalon sur Saone to pick up the River Royale.

Although the river cruise was wonderful, I'm so glad we had some time in Normandy. If you are interested in history, especially WW II, you could spend a week there and not see everything.
We are planning to see the Bayeux Tapestry while on a British Isles cruise on the Celebrity Infinity in May. DW and I read a book called 1066 about the tapestry. Can't wait to see it.
North Florida
297 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
We did the Viking Seine trip in 2010 in Dec when you see Xmas markets but not Giverny and may see snow. Normandy Beaches tour was moving (several groups were there looking for family members in the American cemetary and found them) but it is a long ride from Rouen where the boat docks. You see two museums and Normandy Beach in detail and some others in less time. Even though it is close as the crow flies, you do not have time for the Bayeaux Tapestries (I would have liked that) and spend time on lunch (good but takes too long) that could have been spent elsewhere. So, if you want to see a lot of the beaches and battle sites at Normandy and maybe the tapestries, a land trip might be better. That said I would do the Seine trip to Rouen again but at a time of year when I could see Giverny too. Still working on DH for trip south but friends say land tour might be better if you are really, really into wine.
Tasmania, Australia
672 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
I am keeping watch on this thread as we are also planning a French cruise in 2014, at this stage we are looking at doing a northern one and then a southern one, I see that a few companies do both with the train or coach in between.

Interested in best times to go and what each company offers.

thanks Deb
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Avalon Panorama, Magnificent Europe, Budapest to Amsterdam August 15 -29th 2012
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