In just a few short weeks time I’m off on a cruise.
Strike that – I’m off on two cruises.
Despite the fact that I’m a travel writer and have visited many countries of the world – I have a confession, I am a cruise first timer! For me France will be the birthing pool and there’s nothing like jumping in at the deep end and pushing the boat out with two cruises in one month!
It just hasn’t happened for me and the nearest I’ve come to taking a cruise is the ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg many years ago! As a kid, I would sometimes go on the Woolwich ferry which crosses the River Thames and my Dad would tell me we were going on a cruise! Anyone who has had to use this rather ancient form of transport, introduced in 1880s and seemingly not greatly progressed, from one side of the river to the other will know – a cruise it is not!
Anything I’ve learned about cruises has come from the TV or films – all those glossy ads and of course the disaster cruise movie to top them all – but let’s not even go there.
My first cruise will be on the Burgundy Canal with Barge Lady Cruises – just a couple of days of gently floating along, enjoying the ambience and soaking up the sights as early spring starts to work its magic. Burgundy is famous for its beauty, cuisine and wine as well as the Canal de Bourgogne which I am told offers cruisers (is that a word even?) some of the most delightful river cruising anywhere in the world. Well I’m about to find out and of course – I’ll be sure to tell you first!
After a day exploring lovely Dijon (as in mustard, and believe me, I’m keen as mustard to visit this lovely town) I’ll be boarding a barge on the beautiful Canal de Bourgogne. I will be meeting some new friends and visiting several beautiful sites along the canal like St. Jean de Losne, St. Symphorien-sur-Saone, Plombieres-les-Dijon and Vandenesse-en-Auxois and I can’t wait!
I’ve bought a pair of cut off jeans, flowing white shirt and flat shoes to wear on board. That’s something I haven’t done for a while – I’m under 5’ tall and I don’t do flat shoes. I’m either going to feel like Audrey Hepburn or an oompa loompa.
My second cruise will be just two weeks later – this time on the river Seine with well-known French company CroisiEurope. After an early evening boarding in the centre of Paris, the boat will tour the night time sites of Paris – the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, the Orangerie, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. After that its full steam ahead – well probably not actually, I’m imagining it will be more of a slow gliding along the famous French river via the medieval riverside town of Andelys and Rouen with its beautiful port. Our destination is one of my favourite places in France – Honfleur. I’ll be visiting Deauville and Trouville too before climbing back on the boat and returning to Paris via Caudebec-en-Caux, famous for its flamboyant gothic church and ancient buildings. Just 4 nights but taking in several French bucket list locations – I’m really looking forward to it.
This being France you can be sure that tiaras and long dresses will not be required for dinner – they just don’t do that here I’ve found.
I have no idea what to expect from my virgin cruise experience – a lot of food no doubt, this is France after all!