From the sophisticated City of Light to the bucolic Normandy countryside, this route follows the Seine north toward the English Channel. Beyond the glories of Paris, you'll take in Monet's Giverny, Joan of Arc's Rouen, and somber D-Day sights. Most cruises begin and end in Paris (only CroisiEurope offers one-way options), with eight-day itineraries typically going as far as Rouen before reversing course, and 11-day trips sailing on to Honfleur on the Channel. The season runs from March through December; beware of wet, chilly Atlantic weather in cooler months.
What We Love
Small Towns: With ancient stone or half-timbered houses, perky flower boxes, and intimate streets, towns such as Les Andelys, Vernon, Caudebec-en-Caux, and Conflans-Sainte-Honorine are perfect for wandering.
Rouen's Cathedral: Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral was a favorite subject of Claude Monet. With a spire that towers nearly 500 feet, it was once the world's tallest building.
Best Known For
Giverny: Walk into a living impressionist painting at Monet's revered gardens. See his home, lily pond, and flowerbeds that change with the seasons, but are best visited in spring and summer.
D-Day History: Normandy's somber beaches, military graveyards, and museum are all moving reminders of the human toll exacted by World War II.
Shop for Cruises
Paris: Spend an extra day or two here to take in all the sights (book Eiffel Tower tickets in advance and skip museum lines by purchasing a pass) and shop 'til you drop — then relax over glasses of wine at a sidewalk café.
Rouen: Stroll the cobblestone pedestrian center to see half-timbered houses, a 16th-century astronomical clock, and the spots where Joan of Arc was convicted and martyred.
Honfleur: This sweet harbor town was another favorite of Monet; view his paintings and other impressionist works at the Eugène Boudin Museum. Also don't miss St. Catherine's Church, with its interior built like an overturned boat, and the 400-year-old townhouses around the Vieux Bassin.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Bridges Can Be a Problem: In cases of high water, you'll be shooed off the sun deck while passing under the Seine's frequent bridges. Worst case: You may have to be bused around if the ship can't squeeze through.
Gayle Keck is a San Francisco-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.