The Grand France cruise is actually made up of 2 separate cruises, therefore 2 ships, 2 crews , just 25 of us did the whole cruise so we had almost a whole new ship of passengers , so you get to meet a lot of people on this cruise, but ... Read More
The Grand France cruise is actually made up of 2 separate cruises, therefore 2 ships, 2 crews , just 25 of us did the whole cruise so we had almost a whole new ship of passengers , so you get to meet a lot of people on this cruise, but only the 1 CD which is great, our CD was Jerome he was with us the whole time, he did a great job and we were very happy with him, he was approachable and very well organized. Avalon crew were all fantastic, we found the food and wines very good, the onboard demonstrations were very good too, we had cheese, local foods and wine tastings, a pastry demonstration with tastings, this was a Jazz cruise on the southern part and we had some very good entertainers come on board.
We were on the Scenery from Cote D’Azur to Paris, then the Creativity from Paris to Rouen then back to Paris, These are the 2 oldest ships in Avalon’s fleet, being built in 2008 and 2009, but both ships are very well maintained, layout is very functional and the crew on both were fantastic. In 2015 there will be 2 new ships on the French rivers, I believe they are on the Rhine this season in preparation.
We flew to Nice 8 days prior to our Avalon Grand France cruise, we had a night in Nice and a week further along the French Riviera close to Italy at Menton, absolutely beautiful, we’d go back there in a heart beat.
Our Avalon cruise started with a night in Monte Carlo at the Fairmont, a large hotel right beside the Monte Carlo Casino, while the hotel is nice I thought it was very impersonal, we were only there overnight and then breakfast as we went on the optional evening tour which included a sightseeing tour by coach of Monaco, a walk around the area of the Prince’s Palace, into St Nicholas Cathedral, the resting place of Princess Grace and Prince Ranier, then dinner at Vista Palace Hotel, perched on a hill high over Monaco, dinner was nice, 3 course with wines, but the views were sensational, ladies you need to check out the view from the toilets as well! The tour was around 100 euros each, but we hadn’t planned on doing anything else that night and eating out in Monaco is very expensive anyway, so we thought it was a nice way to start our Avalon experience. (We had already been to Monaco for a day during the previous week, so we’d seen many of the attractions, but it was nice seeing the Palace area of a night when its so much quieter than of a day)
There were quite a few optional tours available on the 1st cruise, but the only ones we took apart from the evening one in Monaco, was the trip to Pont Du Gard and Uzes, Pont du Gard was on my bucket list so this was one tour that we were definitely doing, it was absolutely breathtaking, its just amazing to think it was built over 2000 years ago and its still in such remarkable condition. We were there early so there weren’t a lot of tourists around at all, we stopped at Uzes on the way back, a charming city, after a short city walk we had plenty of free time to look around the many shops or have a coffee, the inside of the food shops around the fountain are well worth a look, I took loads of photos inside them, staff were great, we were given samples to try as well.
On the 2nd cruise we took the Lights of Paris tour and then the next night the one to the Moulin Rouge , although it get so crowded in the theatre, its amazing how many people the squeeze in there, it was still a very entertaining and fun night, the meal was set (with an optional for the main course if I remember correctly) although we didn’t think it was up to the quality we had been experiencing with Avalon on the ship, it was still quite good and we had about 4 bottles of wine included for 6 of us at our table, but we were mainly there for the show which was fantastic, it didn’t disappoint at all.
We didn’t do the included Normandy Beaches excursion, but opted for the Taste of Normandy option, we visited the magnificent Bayeux Tapestry, had a 4 course local meal with cider in a lovely little town, went to a Calvados tasting which included a slice each of the best apple pie I’d ever tasted and we travelled through some beautiful countryside as well, a very relaxing day.
We were onboard for both Canada Day and American Independence Day, we thought it was a great touch to have the dining room decorated of an evening honoring both these countries with celebrations including birthday cake. I know the passengers from both of these countries appreciated it too.
We actually got to celebrate another national day , as we arrived in back in Paris on the ship for Bastille Day, so got to see the flyovers during the day, plus the fireworks on the Eiffel Tower from the ship, we went to Moulin Rouge that night but were back in time for the last 15 minutes of the display, a lovely end to a lovely night and a lovely cruise as this was our last night onboard.
Overall we saw some amazing things, visited beautiful towns, saw some magnificent scenery, met some fantastic people, had wonderful food and wines and treated so well by a great crew and CD, it was a very memorable experience and we thank Avalon for their professionalism. Read Less