Heading down the river Seine to Rouen

We finally left Clamecy after almost two weeks waiting for the VNF (Waterways Service) to allow us through the lock. Luckily for us during this period we had plenty to do. First we had sister-in-law Pammie staying (see our last blog) and then were joined by our friends Di and Michael, also Aussies.

Stewart, Michael, Lesley and Di at Vezelay.

Stewart, Michael, Lesley and Di at Vezelay.

Once the Yonne was safe again, and we could move on, before we knew it we were flying towards Paris, down the Seine which was still a little higher and certainly faster than normal at this time of year.

Stewart at Les Halles café Sens.

Stewart at Les Halles café Sens.

Sens covered market.

Sens covered market.

Paul Bert bridge and Auxerre cathedral.

Paul Bert bridge and Auxerre cathedral.

Cave de Bailly, a literal cave, just before Auxerre.

Cave de Bailly (winery), in a literal cave, just before Auxerre.

Canal du Nivernais another chateau.

Along the Canal du Nivernais yet another chateau.

Stewart beside Endellion at Courlon.

Stewart beside Endellion at Courlon, the Yonne.

On the Yonne we revisited some old haunts like Villeneuve, and stopped at a few places for the first time, like the delightful Sens.

Waterways map of France, highlighting the Seine Paris to Le Havre.

Waterways map of France, highlighting the river Seine, from Paris to Le Havre.

We are now at Rouen having spent the time since our last blog on these waterways:

River Seine Conflans-Sainte-Honorine to Rouen.

River Seine Paris to Le Havre (only to Rouen with Endellion).

  • From Clamecy on the canal du Nivernais into Auxerre: 61 kilometres and 31 locks, and a few swing or lift bridges
  • Auxerre is the beginning (in our case) of the river Yonne through to Montereau where it joins the Seine: 108 kilometres and 26 locks
  • Montereau along the Seine into Paris 101 kilometres and 9 locks
  • From Paris continuing back down the Seine to Rouen: 242 kilometres and only 6 locks.

Stewart tells our story taking us from Paris to Rouen.

Heading down the Seine through the heart of Paris.

Heading down the Seine through the heart of Paris.

We set off back down the Seine, always a thrilling experience.  The spectacular sites of so many of the buildings that have made Paris famous; the Louvre, d’Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower so many bridges – all exquisite but different amidst the hurly-burly of the comings and goings of all the tourist boats and commercial freight barges. Then off from the Seine’s main “drag” to a secluded arm (Bras de Marly) into Rueil Malmaison, a favourite of ours as it was for the Impressionists a hundred and fifty years ago.

Before too long we were onto new waterways and with a three kilometre per hour current behind us  “Endellion” was making good time while not using too much fuel.

Monet's house and gardens at Giverny, near Vernon.

Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny, near Vernon.

The medieval village of Vernon is just a few kilometres from Giverny, with Monet’s home with its wonderful gardens and the lily ponds which he captured in those vast canvases we enjoyed at the l’Orangerie  a year or so back.  Along with packed visitor trains over at Vernon’s railway station, on our first pass, we could see a massive cruise ship moored there so found another spot and bided our time until “Viking Pride” had moved on later in the afternoon.

Vernon quay with Cruise Ship 'Renoir' moored beside tiny 'Willow Maid'.

Vernon quay with Cruise Ship ‘Renoir’ moored beside tiny ‘Willow Maid’.

“Watch out for that little pleasure boat when you come in to tie up,” radioed Lesley standing on our roof.  I could see what looked like a small rowing skiff  at the jetty.  So, where was this other vessel?  As we got closer I could finally see that this tiny vessel “Willow Maid”, was a sail boat whose mast had been stepped and sent on ahead, but just 7 metres, around 25 feet!

Richard and Marian on board Willow Maid heading off to Paris.

Richard and Marian on board Willow Maid heading off to Paris.

Not long after we met and shared a coffee with Willow Maid’s loving and brave owners, Richard and Marian.  Richard explained he had owned the yacht for 50 years, so when they had decided to do some sailing on the Mediterranean, he said they could hardly leave her behind, back in England.  But (thankfully!) rather than tackle the ferocious seas of the Bay of Biscay they were taking the “easy route” South, via the heavily locked canals and rivers of France. Although they had just crossed the Channel in through Honfleur and up the tidal Seine to get here.  “Intrepid” was barely an adequate description!

At the other end of the size and options spectrum another huge “mega” hotel barge soon arrived to loom over them, an unexpected chance to get to get to know more about a booming side to the business of waterway holidaying.

Two of the more prominent operators of river cruising vessels are here with us on the Seine;  AMA which presently operates a fleet of 15 or so and Viking River Cruises , with 35 vessels and more being added all the time – 10 this year alone.

AMA line photo: entertainment.

AMA photo: entertainment.

According to its website, Viking offers trips; seven to 23 days on Europe’s Rhine, Main, Danube, Seine, Saône, Rhône, and Elbe Rivers; Russia’s Volga and Svir; Ukraine’s Dnieper; China’s Yangtze; Egypt’s Nile and Lake Nasser; Vietnam’s Mekong and even on Burma’s Irrawaddy.

AMA line photo: on-board service.

AMA photo: on-board service.

Tied up behind us one afternoon in Vernon, was AMA’s Dutch built, Swiss registered mighty AmaLegro. Like all of these river cruise ships she’s 110 metres long, 11.6 metres wide, has 70 “staterooms” and 4 suites. 148 passengers, mostly Americans or on vessels under other flags Germans or occasionally French.   AmaLegro’s passengers are served by a friendly, hard-working crew of 42.  We see they have a BBQ up on the sun deck, complete with a chef in formal attire and a piano accordionist who plays all the old songs of Paris.  We learn that the passenger decks below are called the Violin and the Cello.  Then the crew are further down below in the Piano deck.

Their advertising reads, and we’re sure all the other cruise ships say:

“After dinner, we invite you to enjoy engaging evening entertainment. You are sure to be enthralled as different performers come on board each night. It’s the perfect complement to your daily discoveries”.

Viking line photo: several decks so they have a lift.

Viking photo: stairs and a lift for four decks.

The AmaLegro is almost seven times longer than us, and just a little older as according to her website, she was christened in 2007.  We love the way her décor is described – it sounds like they must have had one of our real estate friends in to write it:

“The AmaLegro’s décor combines beautiful shades of terracotta with golds to create an elegant, yet inviting environment. Most staterooms feature French balconies, and all include amenities such as crisp white bedding, complimentary bottled water, Internet, hit movies and marble-trimmed bathrooms. AmaLegro also features a Massage, Hair and Beauty Salon; fitness room and sauna, plus a whirlpool and walking track on the Sun Deck, for relaxing and taking in wonderful views.”

Viking line photo: style and space.

Viking photo: style and space.

Not to be outdone, the competitors boast:

“With their sleek, Scandinavian design, Viking Cruises’ newest longships evoke a feeling of calm and elegance.  All make fantastic use of light, featuring glass, backlit marble panels rising above a terazzo floor and a grand wooden staircase to create a beautiful, modern space.  French balcony staterooms feature floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, while suites have their own veranda”  “The Aquavit Terrace is a lovely place to enjoy breakfast (which can be cooked to order – we recommend the pancakes) or lunch al fresco”.

Viking line photo.

Viking photo.

The ships boast quiet, environmentally friendly, hybrid engines as well as solar panels and even an organic herb garden on the large sun deck. 

Now we have the solar panels, and could be growing more of our own herbs, have TV, great food and plenty of on-board entertainment too, but unlike those passengers who are all happy to stick to someone else’s timetable, we set our own and can wear whatever we like to breakfast!

We can imagine how lovely it is to travel in such luxury and care, and these cruise ships are wheelchair accessible. Who would want to use the cram-them-in system of aeroplanes, and book in and out of hotels, when you can travel on AmaLegro, or Renoir, or of course .. Endellion?

For a little more information if this approach is of interest, visit AMA’s website here.



About Lesley and Stewart

Loving great waterways of the world.
This entry was posted in Accessibility, Waterway life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Heading down the river Seine to Rouen

  1. Dave Mclean says:

    O by the way hope your not thinking of starting a herb garden such as your nieghbour had on the back of his boat that was moored at the ship yard next to the endellion ??? NO i didnt think so

    • Lesley says:

      Hi Dave .. great to hear from you and know you are well and chipper in spirit (given your humour!). No herbs .. but I did try it once and decided too hard with soil on our boat etc. All seems fine at our Milsons house. The very best. Lesley and Stewart

  2. Dave Mclean says:

    Hi Lesley and Stewart,
    Hope you are both in good health.Enjoyed the last chapter of the Endellion blog.Think i would rather travel the waterways in the Endellion than one of those giant gin palaces full of whinging yanks and rude people with too much money and time on their hands.Taking time to meet the locals and appreciate the country in a timely manner is the way to do it. Rather than a quick dash from a to b and if you lucky a quick stop over at c definately doesnt appeal to me.
    We have had the mildest of winters down under only one or two small frosts.Still working at Muskoka fixing things and enjoying river life.Havent been down your end for ages so trust all is well with your house etc.
    Any way all the best, looking forward to the next installment of the blog .Take care
    Dave Mclean

  3. Peter says:

    That has been a nice and interesting trip down the Seine, just one little thing about the big hotel-barge of 110m long and 8m wide, the normal width of 110m barges is 11.45m, and reading the discriptio in their brochure it says width 38′ which is 11.60m, so a fair bit wider than your quoted 8m.
    Enjoy the next step of your trip,


    • Lesley says:

      Hi Peter .. nice to have your feedback, and correction! All the very best and hope to see you again before too long.
      Lesley and Stewart

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