- Day 1: Paris
- Day 2: Conflains Sainte Honorine and Jardines de Versailles
- Day 3: Rouen
- Day 4: Etretat cliffs, Honfleur, Deauville.
- Day 5: Vernon and Giverny
- Day 6: Paris
- Day 7: Paris
A few weeks ago I was lucky to enjoy my first Seine River Cruise: From Paris to Normandy with Ubyuniworld. I never did one before, so I was very excited about it. Plus, I´ve found it very original, since they usually are Sea Cruises instead of River Cruises.
I was unaware of this company, but during the cruise and talking to other passengers, I could notice that in countries like the United States or Australia it was a well known company, with very high quality and with a good reputation. In fact, most of the passengers were Americans and Australians , being really a minority the Europeans.
It’s curious how people comes from so far away to do this kind of Cruises around Europe. Of course, the experience is amazing!
If you are interested in knowing how was my experience of the 7-day Seine River Cruise, please continue reading and when you finish I’ll bet you will want to book one!
Unlike the Sea Cruises that have a large number of young people, River Cruises, on the other hand are not that kind of famous between young people.
For that very reason, the concept of Ubyuniworld was created. At the beginning, they were targeting to an audience of travelers between 18-45 years old and with activities expressly for young people. However, the company did finally decided to extend the age of the people traveling in these cruises.
Ubyuniworld has two boats:
- The A-Boat: that cruises on the Rhine, the Main River (pronounced like “mine” in English) and the Danube River and it goes through the Netherlands and Central Europe and with elegant style and sophisticated atmosphere.
- The B-Boat: that cruises on the Seine River in France and on the other hand, has a chic style and Parisian influence.
Both boats are very elegant, black-themed. They are practically floating Boutique Hotels. The design of the deck and in all the ship in general is based on geometric lines and black and white colours.
At the B-Boat I am sure that the Deck is one of those meeting points during warm summer nights. In addition, there is the Ice Bar, with a super modern design and with the characteristic that its walls are retractable, being able to go up or down in case you have to pass under a bridge not very high during high tides. In addition, at the Ice Bar, the Yoga and Pilates classes take place in the morning before breakfast.
The truth is that the ship stands out. Several times we saw people who stops by to contemplate the boat and even they’ve asked about the Cruise.
Inside, the boat is even more pretty. Again, with geometric lines in black and white and with purple neons lights. The hallway is decorated with black and white photos of Hollywood’s celebrities.
On the first floor you could find the rooms with balcony, the shop, the reception and the Ulounge, where the parties at night took place with international bartenders and DJs and where there was also a free of charge popcorn machine. Great! I love popcorns!
On the ground floor are the rooms with windows instead of balconies, as well as the gym, the laundry and the restaurant.
Also the boat has a Spa.
The boats have:
- 4 Suites with balcony
- 26 Rooms with balcony on the first floor
- 29 Studio-style rooms downstairs
- 2 Triple Studies
All rooms have river views, flat TV screen, one of the most comfortable Savoir mattress that I have ever tried, Bluetooth loudspeakers, plenty of storage, a private bathroom and Beekind brand organic bath products.
We stayed in a Studio-style room located at the ground floor (by the water level) and although they are usually small, they have a lot of storage space, something that is appreciated considering that you are going to spend a week there, in the same room.
The food on board of the boat is something also that stands out and a lot. All breakfasts and dinners were included. Breakfast was from 9.00-11.00 and dinner from 19.00-21.00, with both meals consisting of buffet, very wide and varied.
The chef, of Bulgarian origin knew how to be at the height of the style of the boat. Every day, he prepared different things and of the highest quality. Also, the bartenders are super friendly and are aware that at no time you are missing anything.
As for the drinks, there were people who had them included in the package of the boat and other people who did not. If you do not have them included I must tell you that, cheap are not. A glass of wine costs about 9-10 €.
The drinks at night that prepared the bartender were around €10 also, something more normal for cocktails. So consider this fact when deciding what would you like to be included in your package.
One of the nights they made us a different dinner. That time it wasn’t buffet dinner. We were seated until the tables were filled and the waiters brought the food straight to the table.
That day the menu consisted of several crudités accompanied by hummus and different sauces, a Caesar salad that was delicious, a soup, and second a couple of dishes of French-origin stewed meat with several accompaniments: mashed potatoes, rice, etc.. all really yummy!
For dessert, a surprise. All of a sudden, the lights went down and the waiters started serving dessert at the central table in the lounge with music and dancing! It was super fun! The truth is that the people who worked on the boat were all amazing!!! One of the best things, to feel so comfortable in a place, thanks to the best company.
The two boats, both the A and the B, have capacity for 120 passengers plus about 30-40 crew. Considering that on sea cruises there may be up to 5000 people, this number of passengers was perfect to not feel overcrowded or packed.
As for the travelers, there was everything. Young people and more mature people. Brothers, friends, couples, marriages. There was a good mix and people from all over the world.
For example, one day we talked a lot with a family from Las Vegas, of Filipino origin, a married couple traveling with their teenage son. Another day with a mother of about 50 years with her daughter of about 30 years of Indian origin but who lived in London, some girls from Los Angeles, some Mexican boys…. They were all super nice.
During 7 days we traveled downstream the Seine from Paris to Normandy and went back to Paris. We stop in villages as beautiful as Conflans Saint Honorine, Rouen, Honfleur, Deauville or Vernon and we saw places as impressive as the gardens of Versailles, with the Petit Trianon where Maria Antoinette lived, the cliffs of Etretat and Giverny where Monet lived so many years. Keep reading to find out more about these places.
As for the activities, there were several included with the package of the cruise and others that were optional, so you can make the cruise a little to your liking , deciding what you want to see and how you want to see it, whether on a guided tour or by yourself.
The visits included were:
- The roofs of Paris
- Paris Centre Cruise
- Paris by bicycle on the banks of the Seine.
- Bike to Giverny
- Visit the village of Honfleur
- Rouen Guided Tour
- Bicycle by Rouen
- Visit a few pubs in Rouen at night
- Gardens of Versailles
- Kinds of painting
- Kinds of mixology
- Yoga/Pilates every morning at the Ice Bar before breakfast.
Others were optional as:
- Parisian cuisine
- Retro Motorcycles with Sidecar
- The Louvre
- Watch a show at the famous Moulin Rouge
- Monet Gardens
- Kayak on the Seine
- Visit the Cliffs of Etretat
- Normandy beaches
In the B-Boat, there were two hosts: Sabrina and Boris and they were the best of the boat. They encouraged us all the time and put a note of good atmosphere to everything.
At night on the boat, parties were organized after dinner: Karaoke night or the silent disco that was with headphones on and listened to the music through them. It was super fun!
Another day they arranged a barbecue on the deck at lunchtime.
One curious thing is that the boat went through several locks in which as the boat entered, the water raised or lowered, raising or descending the boat to be able to continue sailing depending if it was going downstream or upstream. It is an amazing experience to see it!
As a note to emphasize also, is that, in this company are concerned and much for sustainability. They sent all the information of the activities and the timetable of the following day by mail and by Whatsapp. For a greener world! Very well Uniworld!
Day 1: Paris
On the arrival day we went to the Eiffel Tower at night to see it sparkling! This trip has been the third time I have been in Paris and yet I had never been able to see the Eiffel Tower -already stunting- in sparkling mode until this time and it has been spectacular!
People were doing the countdown and they were expectant as the ones who are waiting for the new Year’s arrival!
Day 2: Conflains Sainte Honorine and Jardines de Versailles
The boat set course at night. I loved the feeling of being in bed and feeling the engines roaring softly in the distance, in addition to slightly listening to the sound of the water. Also, seeing the water through the window seemed to me to be the most relaxing!
In the morning, when we woke up we were still moving. We saw from the window how there was a thick layer of mist above the water and how the sun was barely able to make its way through the fog. It was a moment both phantasmagoric and magical at once.
Conflains Sainte Honorine
This second day we were able to visit the village of Conflans Sainte Honorine, a village located just 25 kilometres from Paris. We visited the church of Saint Maclou, the Priory’s castle and the park of the same that has some glass greenhouses that reminded me a lot of the Cristal Palace at the Retiro Park in Madrid.
I found also super beautiful their houses with shades of different colors.
-click on the images to enlarge them-
Gardens of Versailles
Then we set off for Versailles where we visited the gardens with a guided tour. We saw in operation several of the fountains and visited the Petit Trianon, given by King Louis XVI to his wife Marie Antoinette to live there for a while with their children, away from the hustle of the court.
Maria Antoinette liked to live a simple and country life, far from the luxuries of Versailles. She felt somewhat suffocated in the French Court, and despite coming from the aristocracy of Vienna, she felt out of place in Versailles. In addition, she did not speak very well French so she was not much to the liking of the French people.
We also visited the Hamlet, a farm devised by Marie Antoinette as well as the surrounding gardens of English style. Inside the gardens there is the Temple of Love. Super nice. I loved it. It reminded me of the film from Sofia Coppola, since it is where she held several parties.
One of the sites I found spectacular was the impressive Palace of Versailles, but unfortunately we didn’t had time to enter due to the long queue to enter and the fact we had to go back to the boat. However, now I have a reason to come back here!
Day 3: Rouen
Since I knew I was going to do this cruise, Rouen it was one of those places that I really wanted to visit. As I major in Art History, I love art and architecture. I remember studying at the university, the Cathedral of Rouen as one of the most beautiful Gothic examples in Europe.
What I did not expect was that in addition to the cathedral, Rouen has several others architectural jewels such as:
- Church of Saint Maclou, another example of Gothic in pure state
- Abbey of Saint Ouen
- The Catholic Church of Santa Joan of Arc
- The clock tower Le Gros-Horloge
- The Bourgtheroulde House
- The Parliament of Normandy
- Tourist Office that is in front of the Cathedral of Rouen
It also has magnificent museums, and what to say about its traditional architecture and its streets. I recommend you walking along the Rue de Gros Horloge, the Cathedral Square, Rue Martainville, Rue Damiette, Rue Eau-de-Robec, and Rue de Ganterie among many others.
The so-called “City of the 100 bell towers” does not leave you indifferent, with its impressive churches, Gothic mansions and typical wooden houses.
In the afternoon we took a bike ride from the boat to one of the city’s wonderful parks with its canals, swans and ducks and a water mill. It was one of the activities that were included.
I recommend this city. I loved it.
Day 4: Etretat cliffs, Honfleur, Deauville.
Cliffs of Etretat
These cliffs of Etretat were another of the places I really wanted to visit. Its famous cliffs will also surprise you with the natural arch called “Eye of the Needle”, formed by the erosion of the water and measuring more than 70 meters.
We climb to the top of one of the cliffs where the small church of Notre Dame de la Garde is also located. I have to say that the ascent is somewhat demanding, so you have to take it easy, but the views from the top deserve totally the effort. The Manneporte is another rock formation that is worth seeing.
These beaches attracted many French artists to paint their wonderful cliffs like Boudin, Courbet or Monet. A luxury to have before the eyes those wonderful cliffs portrayed in so many paintings!
Definitely one of the unique landscapes in the world!
From there we set course to Honfleur, a village in French Normandy just 45 minutes drive from Etretat. You’ll love this Norman Fisherman’s town. Its alleys are framed by houses with wooden frames and painted with beautiful pastel colors, that are one of the charms of this picturesque town.
For this reason, this maritime town, inspired painters, especially to impressionists like Courbet, Monet or Boudin, thanks to the changing lights of its sky. In fact, these painters formed the School of Honfleur, which contributed to the emergence of Impressionism. This is why it is known as the Town of the Painters.
Today the town is full of galleries and workshops of artists where they exhibit works of classical and contemporary painters.
From here sailors also left in search of the New World, among them, Samuel de Champlain, who was the discoverer of Quebec and the territory of the Nouvelle France. After this period, it ended up becoming one of the five most important ports in Europe thanks to its trade with Canada, the Azores, the Antilles and Africa.
One of the essential visits if you are here is the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, dating from the second half of the 15th century. This is the largest wood-built church in all of France. It is historical monument from 1879.
As a peculiarity, the belfry is separated from the church, in another building apart in front of it. The reason for this is because in the past the bell towers attracted a lot of lightning and this was done to avoid that in this case, the church would burn to be all wood.
The interior is splendid, all in wood.
The truth is, I think it was beautiful. No wonder he inspired artists of the likes of Monet.
Afterwards we visited Calvados, a brandy of origin that is obtained by distillation of the cider and is produced exclusively in the region of Normandy, in France. We were able to visit the distillery of Christian Drouin, one of the most famous to produce Calvados in Normandy.
We were able to taste several types. There are three:
- The Calvados that comes from the distillation of an apple cider or pear and is elaborated with fruits from all Normandy.
- Calvados Pays D´Auge is made exclusively from apples from that region.
- Finally, the Calvados Domfrontais is made with apples from the region of Domfrontais and with 30% of pears from the same region also gives it a fruity flavor.
The truth is that it was a very original experience. I had never done cider tasting so I thought it was a highly recommended activity if you are by Normadía.
After buying some bottle of Calvados, we set a course for Deauville. I’ve never heard this town before. And what I was missing!!..
Apparently, it’s the equivalent of the Hamptons in New York, but in France. This village is located only two and a half hours drive from Paris, so many Parisians, trying to relax our of the city, escape on weekends to this town which thanks to its ports, marinas, casino and luxury hotels is considered as “the Queen of Normandy “.
This village is located right in front of another village that is worth visiting also, Trouville-Sur-Mer, across the river. One of the first to go to Trouville was Alexandre Dumas who fell in love with the place and attracted other personalities and artists. It became a very desired destination during the Belle Epoque to take sea and sun baths.
Both towns grew by the hand. Trouville with its fishing port and its classic market where you can buy and taste fresh sea products. Deauville became famous when Napoléon III began to frequent the area and brought the Court. Afterwards, the court attracted a bourgeoisie with a desire for the sea.
Thanks to this, they started to open up elegant hotels and luxury shops. Moreover, it also has one of the most important race tracks in the country where horse races are held on the beach. One of the most exclusive hotels in Deauville is Le Normandy and opposite there is a riding school where the children of the upper classes of France go to learto ride a horse.
This city is also famous for celebrating its American film Festival since 1975. So, you know that not only the Cannes film Festival is the only one in France that attracts the most important Hollywood and French celebrities.
The architecture of the village is also beautiful. Their houses are of French Empire style and Norman together, with wooden facades. The place is idyllic to spend a few hours walking, seeing the shop windows of the luxury stores, not fit for all the pockets and perhaps, to rest having a tea and some macaroons in their elegant cafes.
Day 5: Vernon and Giverny
That day in the morning we visited the Gaillard Castle, a medieval fortress in Les Andelys. This castle has the peculiarity of having been built by King Richard the Lionheart, in the 12th century, although today barely remains half of good that was at the time. In fact, we were fortunate to meet him in person to the very King Richard the Lionheart and he was telling us the whole history of the castle.
Richard the Lionheart, named King Richard I of England, rose against his father and broke the alliance with the King of France marching to the Holy Land. When he returned to England he began the recovery of the Duchy of Normandy which had always belonged to England but at that time was in the hands of the French.
The views from above are also impressive.
Then we were sailing for 2/3 hours to Vernon where we docked by boat and in the afternoon we could visit Giverny which was only 15 minutes by bus from Vernon. Giverny was another jewel of the voyage.
Giverny, known worldwide thanks to Monet since the modernist painter fixed his residence there. The garden has been the scene of his most famous paintings like “Water lilies” or “the Japanese Bridge” among many others.
I was surprised to see that despite being autumn, it was all full of flowers everywhere, flowers that many of them were the first time I saw. I think it is even more beautiful to visit at this time of year since in addition to the thousands of flowers that still there, these are mixed with the change of color of the leaves of the trees and give it a look without even more magical.
You can also visit his house that continues almost like in times of Monet. You can visit its lounge-workshop, its rooms on the upper floor, the yellow dining room, its blue tiled kitchen and its surprising collection of Japanese prints.
Day 6: Paris
That day we already woke up in Paris. It was super fun because we took a bike with vintage Sidecar thanks to Retro Tour Paris.
The tour was an hour and a half and they took us to Montmartre, where they left us 25 minutes to walk around and then took us back to the boat. A super recommended experience. From the boat we were told that this is the tour that people like most because it is something different. Besides, the guys on the bikes were super nice. I leave down here the link in case you urge and you want to do something different.
Then we went to one of the most photographed spots in Paris: The Rue Cremieux, a super colourful street with all its houses painted in different pastel shades. It reminds a lot of the Notting Hill neighborhood in London.
Then we walk through the Latin Quarter and Saint Germain and visit another of the most famous spots if you like the cinema. This is the famous bookstore “Shakespeare and Co” that comes out in the trilogy of “Before Sunrise, before Sunset and before Midnight” are Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphi. It is super nice, do not let go inside and go to the second floor.
We ate at a Super Monkey restaurant on the Rue de la Huchette. Yes, I recognize it, I can not leave Paris without trying one of its famous onion soups that are also very good. And more, if it is accompanied by a good French wine.
I recommend later, go to Odette to drink coffee and one of the French delicacies such as the Boîte of Choux. Um!
At dusk we took the Seine cruise which included Ubyuniworld. During an hour of guided tour we saw Paris from the Seine. When we arrived we came back to see the Eiffel Tower Sparkling. Spectacular!
Day 7: Paris
This second day we spent full in Paris we visited the Opera Garnier on the outside. I was so anxious to see it inside. They say it’s spectacular and it’s, one of those places, that I’ve kept for my next time in Paris.
After we visited the Galeries Lafayette, spectacular. It’s a luxury shopping arcade. We were lucky that they had already put on the Christmas decorations and they were even prettier if possible. There are several in Paris, we visit the centrals that are on the Boulevard Haussmann, for being the most beautiful.
Here, if you climb to the top floor, there is an outdoor terrace where you will have a breathtaking view of Paris, with the Opéra Garnier in front, the Eiffel tower in the distance and all the roofs of Paris. There is also a covered coffee that has a terrace in good weather, where you can have a coffee or eat.
Then we visit again Montmartre. It is a neighborhood that I love because it is so bohemian! And it has the cutest cafes and from there you have stunning views of Paris.
Don’t miss the Moulin de la Gallette which inspired Pierre-Auguste Renoir or Toulousse Lautrec.
Nor do you stop going to cafes like La Maison Rosé or Le Consulat where we had a good time resting with a glass of wine in hand enjoying the atmosphere of this bohemian neighborhood. Both cafes are also known for being frequented by artists such as Picasso, Renoir, Degas or Hemingway among many others.
At night we went to see a cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge. I had been dreaming about that moment for years. The show was spectacular. We were not allowed to take pictures during the show so I have none but I took pictures of the living room before the show started and you can get an idea of how beautiful it is!
The whole cruise was an experience of 10 without a doubt, but I think for me, the fact to go to the Moulin Rouge was awesome! A truly unique and unrepeatable experience. The dancers perform phenomenally, the staging is just spectacular as well as the colourful costumes. However, one of the things that gave me the goose bumps there, was knowing that maybe, in the same chair I was sitting in, it could have been sitting Toulousse Lautrec, Picasso, Hemingway or any of the greats! It was such a unique feeling.
I must admit that, of all the times I have been to Paris, this is the time I liked the most. The truth is that I do not know very well why, but I have left with the feeling of wanting to return soon and next time, I would like to spend more time there, because as they say: “Paris is always a good idea.”The gallery was not found!
Why to choose a cruise with Ubyniworld?
Because they say that life is too dull to pass it in only one place. So what better than taking the boat A or B and discovering some of the most amazing destinations in Europe in just one trip with the ease of unpacking just once?
If you are willing to discover for 7 days incredible sites, with the best company, doing every day something different, with the best animation thanks to the hosts and the best activities, then definitely this is your site.
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