River cruising the Seine from Paris is an excellent four-night addition to a visit to the French capital, as MICHAEL FERRANTE finds
There couldn’t be too many better ways to start a voyage named Enchanting Lights than on a frosty but fine night in Paris, city lights twinkling on the horizon.
I am, of course, on the aRosa Viva sailing the incredible Seine. After a comfortable first night aboard, it’s a relaxed start to the day. Landscapes drift by, and somehow piece together to form a mental mosaic. Gabled townhouses sprawled across verdant, undulating hills and limestone outcrops, have a charming synergy that is indelible. Mansions in some parts along the river kiss the river banks.
We arrive at our first port of call, Rouen mid-afternoon. The streets seem unusually quiet and my first impression is one of a big village more than a city. It’s not until I delve a little deeper that I get a real sense of its vibrancy and rich heritage manifested in its bounty of monuments and museums.
Cobblestone laneways take me to some other historical sights, like the picturesque facades of half-timbered townhouses that pop with colour. It leads me to Rue du (Boulevard) Gros Horloge — a cobblestoned promenade full of boutique stores that features the gilded Great Clock in its centre, commanding the top of a Renaissance archway.
The next day, at the Palace of Versailles - the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV - a highlight of the self-guided tour is walking the rooms of the state apartments. In the 70m Hall of Mirrors, 17 huge mirrors face tall, arched windows. It’s where great state events were held and in 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was ratified here, ending World War I.
The frosty cold conditions mean lots of time spent inside the Viva. The Premium package gets me all the regular aRosa benefits — freshly prepared meals with a regional twist, most drinks on the lunch and dinner menu, and at the bar.
My Juliette balcony cabin has a wide glass door, so I can take in all the beautiful scenery right where I am. It’s spacious, comfy and I have free wi-fi. The entire experience is the ideal accompaniment to a visit to the French capital.
This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.
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Ship: aRosa Viva
Capacity: About 200 passengers and 50 crew in 100 cabins
Spa-Rosa — offers facial and body treatments including massage and foot spa; Private Spa package; sanarium; heated whirlpool; gym.
Sundeck — recliners and awnings; giant chess board; putting green; shuffleboard; barbecue and outdoor dining area.
Visit bictontravel.com.au or 9339 0177