We began our journey in Paris with a tour of the Louvre, the largest, most visited museum in the world. There we delved into the history of this famous museum which began as a fort and then a royal palace. We experienced ancient sculptures and royal acquisitions as we toured with our very knowledgeable guide. Indeed we viewed the Mona Lisa, but I learned that the Louvre is so much more than da Vinci’s famous painting.
After the museum tour, we arrived on our ship where a friendly reception awaited us. The MS Monarch Countess was docked on the Seine where both the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are situated a short distance from our dock. Our lodging was comfortable and clean and the staff were friendly and helpful. Each day, we indulged in a lovely breakfast buffet, and our choice of fresh, chef prepared dishes for lunch and dinner. All meals on the ship were included.
Out first cruise stop was Giverney where we walked through the breathtaking expanse of Monet’s gardens and toured Monet’s home, again accompanied by a delightful local tour guide.
On the Forth of July, when Americans celebrate our national day of liberty, we arrived on Normandy Beach. There we were greeted by local French guides who gave each of us a single rose to place on the graves of the American soldiers who died at Omaha Beach to liberate France from the Nazi invasion. This was a very somber experience. I’m sure this experience gave all of us pause as we remembered, honored and appreciated our country’s contribution to world peace.
Near the end of our cruise, we arrived in Auvers-Sur-Oise, the town where Van Gogh lived the last 70 days of his life; a period of time when he produced his most prolific amount of art and where he is buried. As with Auvers-Sur-Oise and all the towns we visited, I felt the pride of our French guides as they shared the history of each location.
Some of the other towns visited on this cruise included Honfleur, the delightful old fishing village, Etretat with this magnificent cliffs, Les Andelys with it’s 12th century Chateaux Guillard, the historic Rouen where Joan of Arc was imprisoned, tried and burned at the stake and more.
As I ponder my days cruising the Seine River, I feel as if I’d experienced a college course in art history, as if I stepped back in time, walking through France’s history, side by side with soldiers, fishermen, iconic artists and martyrs. A priceless journey!