Paris beckons. Bet you hear a lot of people say that.
I have been to Europe many times, and even to a few cities in France: Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez and Strasbourg.
But not yet to the famed and romantic City of Light.
I plan to fix that soon.
I just might have found the perfect way for my introduction to Paris -- and Normandy, too! River cruise line AmaWaterways offers a week-long Seine River journey that thoroughly explores the Normandy region of France and includes two full days in Paris.
After taking two prior cruises with AmaWaterways on the Danube River, I know the company can deliver on the type of adventure I want for my initial foray into the heart of France.
(Stick around to the end of this post, and I'll show you how to win a free cruise!)
You know me, I'm going look for active, heart-pumping techniques to get around a destination.
AmaWaterways leads the way in active river cruising. I have previously sailed on Danube cruises on the new AmaViola ship and then on a river cruise biking trip on AmaSonata with adventure travel company Backroads.
AmaWaterways cruises the Seine in France with its AmaLegro ship. Here is what the itinerary holds for cruisers, who start the voyage in Paris before sailing into the historic Normandy region of the country. You visit the village of Giverny, where Monet lived and worked for 43 years, and Honfleur, a charming harbor town known for generations of resident artists.
I'm especially looking forward to visiting the Normandy beaches of World War II to further understand how history changes on the battlefield there.
From there, you visit Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy, and Les Andelys, home of Chateau Gaillard, a medieval castle and military stronghold built by Richard the Lionheart and dating to 1196.
The journey concludes with a panoramic tour of Paris' top sights and a visit to the Musee d'Orsay.
On the 148-passenger ship, passengers stay in luxurious staterooms that offer constant views of the passing scenery through their floor-to-ceiling windows that open to balconies. The ship also features a sun deck (the best spot to hang out and enjoy the time sailing down the river) with a whirlpool and walking track. AmaLegro also has a spa where you can get a massage and a fitness center. Wi-Fi is included in your fare.
And don't forget the food. Gourmet meals highlight regional French cuisine, complete with fine wines for your dinners. The staff on these ships has always provided spectacular service during my cruises, too. Believe me, this makes the trip all the more enjoyable.
While this trip offers a full schedule of activities on shore and amenities on the ship, I asked AmaWaterways what else they offer on this itinerary. You know, for travelers who like to stay active and want to see even more while getting away from the pack.
Here are the active tour options on this weeklong cruise.
GUIDED BIKE TOUR OF ROUEN
This sightseeing bike tour takes you through the history-filled streets of Rouen, covering about 12 miles over the course of two hours. You'll see the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Market Square, the Medieval Quarter and the Great Clock.
GUIDED BIKE TOUR OF LES ANDELYS
Another 12-mile ride. This outing gets your heart pumping as you take in the town of Les Andelys, which is tucked into a tight bend of the Seine River. The tour shows the original village, built as the quarters for the workers of Chateau Gaillard. Surrounded by historic structures and scenic views, you'll immerse yourself in the rich history and beauty of the region. You'll stop at Grand Andely city center to see city hall, gorgeous churches, the Nicolas Poussin public garden and Musee de Tosny.
VIDEO: AmaWaterways Biking Tour on the Danube River
CHATEAU GAILLARD HIKE
At every stop, a walking tour will be available for checking out the cities or villages on your voyage. You might be seeking a little more strenuous way to see more of the town or from a different vantage point, away from the crowds.
A hiking tour is a wonderful option for the fitness inclined. This 2 hour and 30 minute hike covers two miles and takes you high above the town of Chateau Gaillard.
You'll hike up to the castle and visit the ruins before walking back down to Petit-Andely for a 30-minute guided walking tour. AmaWaterways warns that this hike is extremely strenuous.
Perfect! See: River cruising can be as extreme as you want.
So, who is coming with me? Thanks for reading, and remember to travel fit.
WIN A FREE CRUISE: The #CruiseSmile #Sweepstakes
You can win a cruise of your choice by entering the cruise industry's annual #CruiseSmile sweepstakes. Now through October 31, enter your best #CruiseSmile selfie each day for a chance to win a cruise vacation in each week in October.
To enter, simply upload your selfie at www.CruiseSmile.org. For more chances to win, post your photo on Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtags #CruiseSmile and #sweepstakes -- and share your #CruiseSmile with friends to earn even more entries into the sweepstakes.