Paris and the Seine on board AmaLyra

Among the many European rivers, the Seine undoubtedly holds an unmatched charm, especially due to its close connection with Paris, a truly unique and unforgettable city. It is precisely from the Ville Lumiére that we embarked on a journey along the Seine, aboard AmaLyra, a river vessel from AmaWaterways, to discover the allure of Normandy and this enchanting river.

Embarking in Paris is undeniably one of the highlights of a river cruise on the Seine. It’s impossible to pass through the French capital without planning at least a few days of stay before or after the cruise. There are certainly many iconic landmarks to visit, and it’s delightful to stroll through the boulevards, get lost in Montmartre, and enjoy an aperitif on the elegant Rue de Rivoli. AmaLyra awaits embarking guests not far from the Eiffel Tower, on a tranquil bank of the Seine, well served by the subway. It’s an excellent starting point for exploring the city while always having your own cabin on the river.

Leaving Paris at twilight is another very emotional moment. As AmaLyra maneuvers to start the cruise’s first navigation, the houses and palaces begin to glide swiftly from one bridge to the next until leaving the urban center and venturing into the darker and quieter countryside.

Our itinerary takes us all the way from Paris to the sea, then back to the capital, offering a final overnight stay. The first port of call on the cruise, the next day, is the tranquil town of Les Andelys, nestled in a bend of the Seine, with a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere. Overseeing the entire region from above is Château Gaillard, which we decide to reach with a not too strenuous walk. The charm of the castle and the view of the river and the town are more than enough to reward any effort made to reach it. In the afternoon, we set sail for Le Havre, enjoying beautiful landscapes and towns passing by slowly from the cabin’s window or the upper outdoor deck.

AmaWaterways offers interesting excursions to the Normandy landing beaches, with full-day visits to the most iconic sites of this crucial episode of World War II. We chose the tranquility of Honfleur, a small jewel in Normandy. The inner harbor, half-timbered houses, and old merchant buildings all seem to transport you back in time to an atmosphere of vibrancy and relaxation.

The next day, it’s time to visit the equally charming Caudebec en Caux, with its engaging Route des Abbayes and the small historic center. With the bicycles provided by AmaLyra, we head out to visit the incredible Abbey of Saint-Wandrille de Fontenelle, which breathes its challenging yet intriguing past. In the afternoon, we depart for Rouen, where an overnight stay is planned, another city with an unparalleled charm overlooking the Seine. Here, the Cathedral and other city churches take us back to medieval beauty, with narrow streets and ancient buildings. The story of Joan of Arc envelops the entire city, reminding us that it was indeed the birthplace of this historical heroine.

Vernon, another town with a majestic cathedral, is the final port of call before returning to Paris. We reach it in the early afternoon after a brief rain shower. Château Bizy, which we reach by bicycle, is a prestigious residence that stands on the hill just above the town, famous for its splendid gardens. On the other side of the river, we can’t miss Giverny, a village famous for Monet’s residence. Here, we visit his house, where he lived and created many of his works, and the enchanting gardens, meticulously maintained, which greatly inspired the painter with their perfection and various varieties of vegetation.

Returning to Paris on the penultimate day of the cruise provides an opportunity to enjoy a full day in the French capital, revisiting your favorite places or discovering new ones. AmaWaterways offers an excellent opportunity to have more time to explore Paris while having the ship at your disposal.

AmaLyra has 71 cabins that can accommodate up to 144 passengers, spread across three decks. The ship’s entrance is on the Violin Deck, where you’ll find the Reception and the Gift Shop. With a few steps, you can reach the small library and the Cruise Director and Hotel Manager’s stations, often available to guests. On the same deck, at the bow, is the Main Lounge & Bar, the main entertainment area on the ship. Here, you can also enjoy a more informal breakfast in the morning, and sometimes a quick and simple lunch for those who don’t want to go to the restaurant. In the evening, it’s the place for aperitifs or drinks with musical entertainment, sometimes featuring local artists who offer traditional performances from the visited ports. A continuously open station provides coffee and other hot beverages to guests.

The onboard dining options include, in addition to the Lounge’s “Bistro” formulas, the main restaurant located on the Cello Deck and The Chef’s Table Restaurant at the far stern of the Violin Deck, with a beautiful view of the ship’s aft. The latter is free by reservation and includes a series of dishes prepared on display by the chef.

Aboard AmaLyra, you’ll also find a Fitness Room with a small sauna and a Beauty Salon with a massage room. On the upper deck, the Sun Deck, you can walk or jog while enjoying the surrounding landscape. Here, you’ll also find the typical chessboard for a friendly game, sun loungers, and some tables for enjoying beautiful days while cruising or returning from an excursion. In the area near the command deck, there are comfortable sofas. The fore area, accessible from the Lounge, offers some small tables and is the ideal place to watch the ship enter the locks while sipping on a coffee.

A river cruise is truly the best way to explore regions like that of the Seine. The river’s charm blends seamlessly with the ship’s leisurely navigation, and the well-planned, often long stops allow you to organize excursions to the most interesting destinations in the region. At the same time, the ship always docks in central areas of cities, offering the convenience of reaching the city center with just a few steps.

Paris certainly added value to the itinerary, but cruising on the river and stopping in so many small towns was an equally fascinating experience that certainly encourages exploring new rivers and regions. AmaWaterways, with its extensive fleet and a choice of itineraries around the world, certainly leaves you spoiled for choice.

Don’t miss more updates, news and reviews of AmaWaterways on Cruising Journal with photos, videos and cruises on offer.

Gabriele Bassi