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Scenic Gem: 11 day Gems of the Seine plus Normandy (hopefully live thread)

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I really enjoyed following along (quietly). We have never done a river cruise.  You’re information and photos were such a great asset for anyone thinking of doing this.  Thank you.

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Here is the minibar, safe and left side of the cupboard.

 

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Glad you're home safe, can't wait for the remainder of your report.  Definitely book another Scenic cruise, I suggest Amsterdam to Basel along the Rhine - it was lovely!

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The only beverages you would have to pay for onboard:

 

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I haven’t mentioned food.  It is very subjective so I usually steer away from the topic but I have to share the pastry buffet we had one night.  I will share a few photos along the way but I will say this, the quality was never disappointing, rather I never expected the variety and individual catering to specific diets that happened.  We had  a range of buffets during the week cantered on French specialties like this pastry buffet but there was also a cheese buffet and seafood buffet including caviar and lobster!

 

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I had a nice chat with the pastry chef that was brought on-board just for this event.  He had no issue with my broken school French and I was happy to discover which of these creations were made without cream.  Unfortunately I could not photograph them all as it got crowded around the buffet but I was steered to a delicious lemon meringue tart with noisette biscuits suspended in the filling.  Believe it or not, that’s it in the bottom right of the above photo!

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Continuing on the food theme for one more post, Chef Robert was just amazing.  As I mentioned in my last post, I can’t eat cream.  I disclosed this in all preboarding documents and I was emailed twice to request details.  Chef Robert would make a soup, for example, just for me without cream, or alter an entree so I could eat it.  He even made a dessert for the whole ship most nights that did not contain cream-no easy feat in France.  Nobody was the wiser but boy was I impressed.

 

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part of the seafood buffet just before it was replenished 

 

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my endive salad one evening

 

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my husband’s raspberry sorbet and pavlova dessert 

 

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So there you have my food photos.  Everything from chateaubriand to salmon, barramundi to tuna tartare, duck, chicken, veal, sea bass, escargot and frogs legs.  We had the opportunity to eat it all.  Or you could order room service if you chose to skip the dining room.

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Thank you for sharing your journey.  I have really enjoyed reading your reports and have enjoyed your photos.  So glad you were able to cruise again - sure looked like a good time. 

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Thanks from me too.  Have loved reading all about your Scenic cruise.  Makes me so excited that ours is less than 8 weeks away now.

 

Thanks again.

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Thank you for letting me know you have/are enjoying reading my report.  That makes the struggle with photos worthwhile...not that it has been onerous!  My tablet and phone stopped communicating yesterday as I think they went on protest from overwork.  Just a short mention of the yellow-vest protests in Paris since I mentioned protests.....

 

Yes the protests still happen, not that we tourists would know.  I never saw any evidence but the city is suffering from declining visits (not that I saw any notice of that either)!  But it is still an issue Paris is dealing with and we did see some young people carrying yellow vests but absolutely nothing impeded us or impacted our 18 day trip.

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Posted (edited)

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Rouen...back to Friday August 9.  On Scenic we were fortunate to have 2 days in this magnificent city which is the capital of the Normandy Region and was the largest and most prosperous city in medieval Europe.

 

With a history tracing back to 841 there is hardly any prominent historical European figure who wasn’t in this city at one time or another.  The Normans, the Romans, William the Conqueror, and of course Joan of Arc who, at 19 years of age, was burned at the stake here in 1431 after securing King Charles the VII the crown.  Some gratitude, eh?!

 

Rouen is the final stop on the Seine for many longer/larger riverboats which just can’t navigate the tidal water past It to reach Honfleur.  All other river boat companies with the exception of Crosi Europe and perhaps one other dock in Rouen and bus their passengers everywhere else.

 

The view from the bow camera.  We walk along and climb 36 stairs to reach street level.  If I can do you so can you!  The rise on European stairs is not as steep as the rise on steps in North America.  The next bridge down has an elevator if needed.

 

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I got a head start so not to impede my group so here is the view from the shelter of the bridge.  Our captain worked it so we only rafted once beside another ship while on 3 other occasions other riverboat passengers had to cross our sundeck and go down to reach the dock.

 

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The cathedral, or should I say the largest cathedral, is one of the top draws here.  A church was already on this site in the 4th century so you know there has been many takeovers and complete destructions over the centuries from Charlemagne to the Vikings who completely destroyed it then had to build it again.  Their leader Rollo was both baptized and buried here.

 

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As you approach from the site of where the walls of the city used to be, you first notice the shear size of the cathedral, then it’s ornateness and finally that the 2 towers do not match.  This is not unusual in cathedrals since they take so long to build different architects and styles come into play.  In this case the one Tower is called the butter tower not because of its colour as you would automatically think, but to finance its building indulgences were sold so that butter could be consumed during Lent.

 

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Claude Monet painted this cathedral many times and lived in Rouen for part of his life.

 

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I will show you inside without being so wordy, promise!

Edited by 1of4

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Posted (edited)

It was nice to get out of the teaming rain but wow, it took my breath away.  I promised to be quiet so I will, just know there is so much more that  can’t possibly post all the photos.

 

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A section of the ceiling

 

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There are many stained glass windows but I will only post this round one as you can see part of the exterior buttress 

 

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Since the exterior construction is locally sourced limestone (chalk) statues are removed from their original exterior position and placed inside to preserve them from pollution 

 

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Interior library staircase 

 

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Out into the rain once more...through the side door...just wait!

 

Edited by 1of4

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Some side door, right?!

 

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Then we walked around the old medieval streets while our guide explained the buildings, historical events and where they happened and showed us points of interest, and walked us past the 2 authentic shops with made in Normandy goods if we cared to stay after the tour or walk back in the afternoon (which DH and I did when the sun came out).

 

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The breaks in buildings was the medieval firebreak.  So every 15-20 buildings you will see a foot or two space.  They also created safe passages for pedestrians from carriages which tended to race down the streets with little concern for any human in their path.

 

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One of the authentic shops with items made and painted right here in Rouen.

 

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and of course the clock which served to help illiterate fishermen know the tides

 

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And the first restaurant Julia Child experienced French cuisine when she arrived in 1948.

 

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Here is a small pot I bought for DD in one of the two authentic shops.  Thank goodness she loves it as you can imagine it wasn’t inexpensive at €39.

 

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Another side of the cathedral, in the sunshine!  Taken when DH and I walked back after lunch.

 

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A glimpse at the second cathedral

 

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Finally, at 10:00 and 11:00 PM a story of travel and exploration and Viking influences in the Rouen area is projected on the cathedral on summer evenings along with music.  Here are only 2 pictures from a 15 minute show.

 

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3 hours ago, 1of4 said:

Thank you for letting me know you have/are enjoying reading my report.  That makes the struggle with photos worthwhile...not that it has been onerous!  My tablet and phone stopped communicating yesterday as I think they went on protest from overwork.  Just a short mention of the yellow-vest protests in Paris since I mentioned protests.....

 

Yes the protests still happen, not that we tourists would know.  I never saw any evidence but the city is suffering from declining visits (not that I saw any notice of that either)!  But it is still an issue Paris is dealing with and we did see some young people carrying yellow vests but absolutely nothing impeded us or impacted our 18 day trip.

I really appreciate your struggles, and your willingness to share your experiences and answer all my questions! Glad you enjoyed yourself.

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This was the day that is the reason most people book this specific sailing.  Scenic is the only river cruise company that takes passengers to The Somme.  It was the highlight for DH but I didn’t go.  It was not for lack of desire.  I know my limitations and I knew I wanted to go to the D-Day landing beaches and I knew I couldn’t do 2 long days in quick succession.  I had 3 uncles, my father’s brothers, all land on Juno Beach on June 6 so I really wanted to see that; for my dad who never got to see it himself.  All 3 came home, one in a hospital ship but he is the only one still alive at 98.

 

I also had relatives in France during WWI as both my grandmothers had brothers fighting in the trenches.  This was a very personal excursion.

 

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The only place you can actually walk in the trenches

 

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The caribou faces the battlefield and represents the Newfoundland regiment who saw high losses.  I will have to get further details from DH.

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for sharing. I walked onto the GEM (by accident)  in June when it was rafted next to our Avalon ship.

Very nice. Now booked on Scenic Basel to Amsterdam next June (with 4 days precruise in Switzerland). Loved reading about your experience on Scenic and very excited to see what it is all about next year.

 

Thank you.

Edited by Haysiedaze
grammer....

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5 hours ago, 1of4 said:

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I was recently at Eilean Donan castle in Scotland, which was purchased in 1911 by a member of clan Macrae. They also had the poem on display, and I continue to find it very moving. I was also at the In Flanders Fields museum in Ypres a number of years ago, which also showcased the poem. I don't know whether it is more meaningful to us as Canadians, but I get teary-eyed whenever I see it or think about it.

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I’ve been enjoying your trip report, and especially your photos. I’m looking forward to hearing of your visit to the Normandy landing beaches as I was fortunate enough  to return to Normandy this past June for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of DDay at Juno Beach.

 

 As a side note, I was curious that you mentioned that Notre-Dame de Rouen was the city’s largest cathedral as I was unaware that Rouen had more than one cathedral. I did notice that you posted a photo that you described as the second cathedral but I suspect that it was the church of Saint-Ouen, which while a beautiful and ornate example of high Gothic architecture, is a parish church and not a cathedral. 

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1 hour ago, laverendrye said:

I’ve been enjoying your trip report, and especially your photos. I’m looking forward to hearing of your visit to the Normandy landing beaches as I was fortunate enough  to return to Normandy this past June for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of DDay at Juno Beach.

 

 As a side note, I was curious that you mentioned that Notre-Dame de Rouen was the city’s largest cathedral as I was unaware that Rouen had more than one cathedral. I did notice that you posted a photo that you described as the second cathedral but I suspect that it was the church of Saint-Ouen, which while a beautiful and ornate example of high Gothic architecture, is a parish church and not a cathedral. 

 

Thank you for the clarification on Rouen.  I’m sure you are correct.  It was raining so hard and my earpiece would get staticky when I switched over to camera to take pictures so I must have missed that fact.  I assumed by shear size it must be a cathedral.

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Posted (edited)

All of a sudden it was Sunday and I was one of the few people up on the sundeck at 6:30 to watch as we left the waters of the Seine by sailing under The Bridge of Normandy and entering the English Channel (called La Manche, or The Sleeve by the French) for 5 minutes until entering the protected harbour on Honfleur.

 

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It was breezy up on deck but nothing a good double hot chocolate wouldn’t take care of...but I speak as a Canadian, the Australians on deck would have an entirely different story, I’m sure!

 

Approaching the bridge before the sun was up.

 

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I had to look behind the boat to find the dawn

 

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Edited by 1of4

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Posted (edited)

 

We headed for the lighthouse in the distance.

 

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Entering the harbour 

 

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The captain did an amazing manoeuvre to turn the boat in a very confined space allowing us up on deck to get great pictures of a nearly empty Honfleur before we passed a Crosi Europe boat already docked.  Public Service Announcement:  if you are on a riverboat never assume you don’t need to close your curtains before bed!  We could see everything.

 

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Edited by 1of4

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Posted (edited)

Since I was up and about and the boat was virtually empty I took advantage and took some pictures.

 

the lobby and reception area.  The Diamond deck is up the stairs, the Sapphire deck down one flight of stairs.  The elevator is on the left behind the glass shop case in this picture.

 

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A closer look a the reception desk and where you can see the colourful sculpture is where our cruise director, Valerie, desk is located.

 

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The other side of the reception area contains the shop, the lost and found, and before excursions leave where you can find bottled water and large golf umbrellas.

 

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Hand sanitizer spritzers set up

 

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Edited by 1of4

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