Oh the beauty of the French countryside at night! As I shared with you last week, I was invited by U by Uniworld to experience their Seine River cruise. There was so much to tell about this wonderful experience that I just had to do a second post about the rest of my cruise. U By Uniworld is a new cruise line from Uniworld, which was just voted the #1 river cruise line in Travel + Leisure’s 2018 World’s Best Awards! I wasn’t surprised to hear that, because the cruise I experienced was quality from start to finish.
U by Uniworld describes themselves as part boutique hotel, part yacht, part local hotspot – and it is a perfect description! Onboard, you can expect everything you’d find in your favorite boutique hotel. But here’s the best part. Your floating boutique hotel makes it extra easy to visit several European destinations in a single trip, while only having to unpack once. We were able to dock and be off the boat in minutes to explore. No busy ports, no crowds, but lots of beauty.
After leaving Rouen, our next stop was Les Andelys. I fell in love immediately upon arrival. From there it was a busy day exploring the region – first stop Deauville (home to the American Film Festival every year) with its gorgeous, wide, sandy beach. Then on to lunch in the quaint, historic sailing village of Honfleur.
After lunch we were treated to a visit to one of Normandy’s apple orchards, and a tasting of the different wines and aperitifs created on site (yes, lots of presents for people back home came from here). Our last stop of the day was one of the highlights of the cruise to me. We arrived at the stunning white chalk Cliffs of Etretat. Honestly, I could have spent the whole day in this gorgeous spot! I never imagined that a rock beach could be so beautiful.
After another serene night cruising the Seine, we arrived at Vernon & La Roche Guyon (our last stop before heading back to Paris). Vernon is a French commune midway between Paris and Rouen. A short bike ride away was Giverny, an artist’s village set against the hills, with storybook views; and of course, the home of Monet’s Garden!
Starting off on the last part of our cruise would been a sad moment were it not for the beautiful sights everywhere, and the knowledge that we had two full days coming up in Paris.
Our ship, The B, was docked in a great spot in Paris. We were in sight of the Eiffel Tower, within a short walking distance of the Metro (marked by the vintage Art Deco signs), and in close proximity to the Batobus (an on/off water taxi to make touring of historic areas easily accessible). It is amazing how much there is to see and do in this bustling, beautiful, wonderful city. I loved the optional guided tour of a 9th district neighborhood. We stopped in shops to buy bread, cheese, wine, fruit, macaroons, jams and croissants. Then we headed to a local park for a picnic. It was wonderfully local and made me envious of those who are able to experience that on a daily basis! The other most memorable experience was a last minute decision to attend the opera on the last night in Paris. It is a building steeped in history and I felt honored to be able to experience its beauty during the performance.
Now you know all about the great itinerary on the U By Uniworld cruise. However, I can’t leave without sharing some of the other things that made this cruise so great:
The wonderful, young, international crew (in particular Sabrina and Boris)! They were all welcoming, enthusiastic, and able to help with anything you needed to make your trip everything you expected. It was great that by the 3rd day the same person who greeted us every morning knew that I liked tea with breakfast. I truly felt like I was saying goodbye to friends when it was time to disembark.
The food was great – lots of wonderful fresh, local produce, and choices of dishes for every taste (and yes, they can customize). I can honestly say there was never a meal that was anything other than delicious.
Lots of time at every stop to explore a place in depth (no drive by tour buses here). The U by Uniworld cruises are created with active adults in mind; but if you wanted to spend the day sleeping in and creating your own schedule it was very easy to do.
Getting to know fellow guests was really enjoyable. I met people from all over Europe, Australia, and the United States. I met singles, honeymooners, and family groups – all having a great time. The environment made it easy to mingle.
I could go on an on, but let me finish by sharing the video below with you. It sums up exactly what this wonderful cruise is all about!
Photography for 1st and 12th images by Dave Williams.