Day 1 Activities

As said elsewhere we booked this for 2021. I notice that day one schedule says the tour starts at 2:30 but only lists the typical welcome reception/dinner. Also it begins at the Waldorf Astoria Versailles yet no activities on the schedule for Versailles on this tour. I wonder if a late day or after hours tour of the chateaux is planned? We had an early start like this on our ESW which was used to visit Stirling Castle prior to the welcome dinner.

The 2020 Normandy tour was supposed to start at 3:00 but it did I have a Chateaux tour sked for the morning of day 2. I doubt any of the 2020 tours happened but wonder if any of those who were booked have any insider knowledge on this.



  • We took this trip in 2018. We were given tickets to Versailles upon arrival at the hotel to explore Versailles on our own. The visit to Normandy is extraordinary. The bravery of the soldiers cannot be fully realized until actually standing on the beaches.

  • edited August 2020

    Loves2travel2, were they tickets to the Chateau? We've done the Seine plus Versailles & London cruise staying in the same hotel at the start and have seen most of the rest of Versailles but didn't actually tour the Chateau (long story why) so we'd like to this time. We'll arrive a day early so have time on our own to do it but won't if it's included in the tour.

    You're right about the day at the Dday beaches. We did that on the river cruise so may skip it this time and find something to do in Deauville. Glad to finally see the Bayeaux tapestry and Mt St Michael.

  • Claudia - Not to be critical, but just an FYI:
    Chateaux is the plural of Chateau.

  • Hey, I'm just glad when my my Fire tablet autocorrects that it's something close to what I intended.

  • Claudia, we have booked the Seine plus London and Paris for late next August. Any information you have would be much appreciated. We did the Normandy beaches and cemetery but it poured buckets. Hoping for better weather.

  • We had a heat wave for our time in Normandy. Happy to help. Anything you particularly want to know?

  • We are very sad that we were supposed to leave for Kenya/Tanzania next week :'( Claudia we also decided to do the Normandy trip next year and then try to do Kenya/Tanzania in 2022. I am also interested in the answer to your inquiry.

  • Th e Loire Valley is our most favorite part of France, we visited every year there for about seven years. Paris will be hot. The Parisians under normal times, desert Paris in August for vacationing.

  • The heat isn’t a problem since we are in Florida. Glad to have Paris to ourselves. It can’t be as hot and humid as here

  • Claudia , were you able to walk from the ship In Paris to do some shopping etc.

  • Choc, not really. The ship docks down stream from the Eiffel Tower at either Quai de Grenelle or Quai de Javel. You can google both and see where they are at and the metro stops near them. You could easily break off from a tour in town, do some shopping or sight seeing on your own then metro back to the ship.

    As for the rest of the tour, I need to look at the itinerary because it looks like they've changed it a bit from our cruise. Back in a few.

  • Yes there were tickets to the Chateau. Versailles is right next to the hotel - take a left going out the door. Tauck had a room for early arrivals with coffee and the tour leader met us here and told us about the tickets. We went in early June and the weather was great and it was not too crowded. I believe the grounds at Versailles were free, although there were signs that it was closed sometimes. This was among our top three Tauck tours. While the hotel in Saint-Malo left a lot to be desired (we were told that it was the best in town but Tauck can't get the best rooms there,) the story was heart-wrenching and it is an important stop prior to Normandy. At the next stop in Deauville, the accommodations were splendid. We had torrential rain at Normandy so go prepared with water proof shoes. We were told that during the invasion there were similar conditions so it emphasized what our soldiers were faced with. A side note - Saint-Malo is featured in "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr.

  • Ok, here’s my comments – probably more than you wanted. The tour we took, “Seine Plus Versailles/London” was a 2 direction cruise i.e. you could start in London or at Versailles. We started at Versailles at the Waldorf Astoria – lovely hotel and great location.
    London – you start at the Savoy which is also a fantastic hotel. We actually stayed twice – once on this cruise and then 2 weeks later at the end of ESW land tour. Both rooms we had were lovely. They were the only Tauck hotel we’ve been to that had ala carte breakfast vs buffet. They are super generous with portions and the food is excellent.
    Our tour didn’t include St Pauls or the War Rooms but several fellow travelers went to the war rooms and really enjoyed it so that should be good.
    The high speed train was cool. If you can, watch the TV series the “Tunnel” before going. Our itinerary said lunch was on our own but they actually fed us lunch on the train at our seats. I think that is part of a seat upgrade.
    1st day Paris, again the tour options here are different from ours. Looks like after the Louvre you’ll have a drive around in a bus with maybe some photo ops kind of tour. You can probably bail and go do your own thing just about any time. They may also offer free shuttle service back to the ship after. The TD will tell you. We wish we’d taken the time to tour the Opera house. Our first river cruise started at the hotel across the street from it and it’s something we regret not doing. For shopping of course there is Champs Elysees or if you bail near the Opera house there is Gallery Lafayette which is gorgeous inside, has a free terrace viewing location and several restaurants. Nice place for better quality souvenirs.
    Versailles vs Monmartre. We went with the later and regret it. Partly because our tour also included another chateau and with thought we might find it repetitive. Monmartre was a disappointment. Not much to see there, you’re too close to the church for good photos and the place swarms with amateur artists who want to draw you for a fee.
    Auvers sur Oise – nice little town especially if you’re a Van Gogh fan and we had a visit to the Absinthe museum which was interesting. Tasting absinthe not so great.
    Giverny!!!! My husband’s favorite stop and we’ll gladly do it again. Vernon is a nice town to walk around and it’s easy to stroll from the ship and do some shopping or just wandering. Dinner at Bizy was excellent.
    Rouen. A bit disappointing in part due to the heat and it was Sunday so the place was kind of dead. We got a bonus as the TD took a group up to the Ceramics museum which was interesting.
    Etretat/Honfleur vs Caen/Bayeux – we only got the former which was nice. The beach view at Etretat was beautiful and we had lunch at Honfleur then did a little shopping. I’m looking forward to Bayeux on the Normandy tour.
    Dday beaches was a very long but interesting day. Actually started the previous day with a talk in the lounge about the lead up to the invasion. The only disappointment was lunch at a golf club. A hot meal on a very hot day.
    Les Andelys. Because of the heat, we just did the cider tasting at a farm and the castle ruins. If the weather is nice this would be an excellent stop.

  • Bucketlist, thank you. Our Seine cruise started at the Waldorf Astoria Versailles hotel so we had 3 nights there - part as Gift of Time and part as the start of our cruise. Happy to return. We walked our feet off touring the grounds (it was a weekend so the fountains were on with music which isn't free) and we toured the Trianon section though part of the Queens Hamlet was being worked on. Even walked over to the stables and watched some dressage practice. It's only the actual main chateau that we haven't been into.

    Your comment about the St Malo hotel is interesting. Our particular tour has us staying in a hotel in Dinard instead of St Malo those two days.

    We've been rained on in Paris and Provence in July so I'll be prepared for it. Especially since we'll be coming from 2 weeks in Switzerland. Just not sure whether to bring any warm weather clothing. Amazing how much weather affects a tour.

    Thanx again.

  • Very helpful information. Thanks to all. We are scheduled to take the Normandy Brittany etc tour mid-May 2021 (fingers crossed). We would have been in Tanzania right now if it weren’t for Covid—rescheduled KT for next August.

    edited August 2020

    I did that tour in May of 2016. The weather was gorgeous and the gardens at Giverny were spectacular! The current (September/October) edition of National Geographic History magazine has a cover story on the Bayeux Tapestry.

  • Thanx, MCD I'll look for the magazine.

    I'm just hoping for something in between heat wave and raining buckets.

  • Thanks for all the great comments.

  • Bucketlist mentioned that Tauck didn't get the best rooms at the hotel in St. Malo. It appears from Tauck's website that the tour still uses Le Grand Hotel des Thermes in St. Malo, which is where we stayed in 2016. Our tour director told us that the rooms facing the ocean were reserved for mothers who had recently given birth. I was glad to sacrifice my ocean view for them, and enjoy a view of the garden. That hotel had a fantastic hydrotherapy pool. Bring your bathingsuit.

  • The Hotel des Thermes is the only hotel in the area that meets Tauck's needs. We weren't warned about the rooms in Saint-Malo and mentioned that on our comment card so maybe Tauck is doing that now. I am not sure that the ocean view rooms are reserved for new mothers - the hotel is huge and you can go to the website and book a sea view room. The hotel is very popular and it wants to maximize revenue. While our room was small and awkward, with a view of the smokestacks on the roof right out side our window, it did not impact our trip as we did not stay in the room very much. We were told by another Tauck director that some of the French properties can be difficult to deal with for tour bookings and they won't make guarantees, even for high end tours. Tauck needs certainty. One of the tours we wanted to take was "The Art of Living" from Barcelona to Bordeaux to Paris was discontinued for that reason. It had so many places on my bucket list!

    When we stayed the hydrotherapy pool was treated as a "lagniappe". Unfortunately we found it to be a very dirty area with hoards of people. It left a very negative impression. Maybe it has changed. The public areas in the hotel were fine. I am fussy and use pools for exercise and therapy.

    Overall, this tours and accommodations were excellent. We even liked the golf club lunch as it had an excellent salad bar, a nice change from heavy lunches.

  • Tauck emphasizes location over quality of the hotel which personally I think is the right thing to do. They also emphasize the best available along with that. So little times are spent in the rooms and so often in the fancy hotel there is no time to use the facilities. Quite often, the first hotel is a fancy one, so it’s good to arrive a couple of days early, do extra site seeing and have a swim or use the spa. If a hotel is clean and safe, that’s all we care about if we are in a fabulous location and we can walk out of the door in safety and be right near all the site seeing.
    We once watched a couple on tour complain about their room, they had no view. It happened that we had stayed in that room before On a previous Tauck tour. None of the rooms had what you would call a view because we were in a rain forest and it came right up to the windows. And anyway, it got dark early, we were out before daylight, so it didn’t really matter. None the less, they argued with the Tour director and the hotel staff for about an hour. How do we know that, we got to our room, showered and changed, walked past reception, still arguing, took a quick walk round the grounds, passed reception, still arguing! We were in the middle of a beautiful rain forest, chill people!

  • Bucketlist, did you eat at the golf club on the Dday beaches tour day? If so it's the same we had for our day there on the cruise and the food was the worst of the trip. I did see a salad bar in another room and wished we'd had that instead of a hot beef stew and a watery dessert. Of course, being a Tauck tour it wasn't like we couldn't survive missing a meal.

  • The hydrotherapy pool was a lagniappe on our tour as well. Obviously, I enjoyed it. I think that there was only one or two couples on the tour (out of a total of 17 people) that joined me in the pool. Claudia, we ate at the golf club. It was not one of the highlights of the trip. I don't remember what was served.

  • Claudia Sails - We did go to the golf club on the day we toured the beaches. I was surprised that we were driven to a golf club but happy with the meal. I remember that there was also a set meal provided in the same room which I passed on. My husband enjoyed the salad bar also. I am not usually a fan of salad bars but the ingredients were fresh, healthy and varied. It sounds like things may be different now. We don't travel with Tauck for the food and occasionally we are pleasantly surprised. A tour we took recently, "Northern Spain" provided such an experience in La Seu d’Urgell - both the setting and food were wonderful. That experience is still in the revised tour.

  • Bucketlist, glad you had a better meal there. We don't pick tours for the food specifically but I do believe experiencing the local cuisine is as important as other aspects of the culture, history, etc of a place. We've had some truly amazing meals on Tauck tours with only a handful of disappointments. My one complaint about the high end hotels they chose is the restaurants in them often are more focused on gourmet than presenting the best of what the region has to offer. You look at the menus and feel you could be anywhere.

    Not a big deal and if our tours next year happen I'll just be grateful to be there.

  • Claudia - With respect to your comment,

    My one complaint about the high end hotels they chose is the restaurants in them often are more focused on gourmet than presenting the best of what the region has to offer. You look at the menus and feel you could be anywhere.

    I feel it is a double edged sword. I totally agree about experiencing local cuisine being important, but that doesn't mean it needs to be sampled for every meal. With the hotels offering menus like you describe it provides choices for people that might want, for one meal, to try something more like what they get at home. Usually there are lots of local options, if not within the hotel, within a short distance of the hotel. I feel having lots of options is important.

  • Sam, valid point and I have been known to opt for a Caesar salad after days of too much food.

    One of the things I especially liked about out Budapest to Amsterdam cruise last year was how much both the MS Treasures and Espirit focused on local foods. The nightly menus would have a brief explanation about the different foods, their history, etc. There was always other choices but I generally try to chose things that don't come my way on these tours - frogs legs, escargot, duck, etc. Though I have to admin, sometimes alcohol was needed to encourage me to venture outside my comfort zone.

    As said, a piddly thing to worry about right now. Let's just get back to touring.

  • I'm looking forward to taking my girlfriend on this trip. We have tagged it to the cruise from Amsterdam to Brussels, with a train trip from Brussels to Paris. I've been to Paris and, honestly, was not overly impressed, especially with the attitudes of the Parisians (food was very good, service was "snooty". My late wife wanted to see Paris and also the Normandy Beaches. She was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimers and I set up a trip to Paris and then rented a car to drive from Paris to Rome (visited some sites south of Rome--Amalfi Coast), took a tour (Trafalgar) from Rome to Venice, Lake Como, Florence and back to Rome, then flew to Berlin for a few days. I told her the day she was diagnosed, "I don't know how much of your life you will remember, but we are going to make it memorable." We then set off on a number of journeys to visit as many places as we could.

    On this particular trip, we stopped at several places on the drive to Rome, including Normandy. Her father, who had died just before we made the trip, landed at Normandy in the second wave as an Engineer. It was a humbling experience and was very emotional for us, especially her. We stayed in a small BnB in Bayeux and it was very nice. The people were fantastic.

    Upon our return to the US, we made donations to the WWII Memorial for her father, my father (still living at 95), and my step-father. We felt it was important to make sure this monument was built to honor all the who gave their lives and youth to this effort. If you haven't seen it, please go to Washington to spend some time there.

    My girlfriend wants to visit Normandy and I want to go back. Her father also fought in WWII. It is just an important place to appreciate what our parents went through. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

    I'm hoping the Tauck trip will take us to other sites relevant to WWII and explain their importance. I'm sure we missed a lot since we were on our own.

    I'm still looking forward to determining what we can do on our early day to Versailles. I've been to the Palace but would like to wander around it again. I'll check with Tauck later to see if they supply tickets, or have a way to purchase them. We get there following a couple of days with friends in Brussels after the river cruise. I'm not sure what time we will arrive to the hotel after a train trip from Brussels. I'll figure it all out. No rush.

    I'll be following posts here, off and on. My experience in this forum is that there is a wealth of ideas and information here. I am interested in seeing if we will be able to get tickets to the Louvre (Been there; done that, but Susan hasn't). How much of Notre Dame we will be able to see (hopefully nothing related to the football team ;) That's a joke to those that see a need to correct everything in here). Anyway, I am sure it will be a wonderful experience.

  • Tauck did a great job on the Normandy part of my tour in 2016. One day, after visiting Bayeux in the morning (where they fly the British flag outside the cathedral, in honor of the British Army units that liberated the city on June 7, 1944), we spent a couple of hours at the Peace Museum in Caen. The following day, we began the day at the D-Day Academy, where our guide for the day was Dr. Jean-Pierre Benamore, who founded the academy to train guides. It houses quite a collection of WW II memorabilia. Dr. Benamore, who was born after the war, had a brother who was killed in the Allied bombing in the lead-up to D-Day. He was very informative all day. Following our session at the academy, we went to Pointe du Hoc. After lunch at the Omaha Beach Golf Club (nothing special), we went to Omaha Beach and then finished the day at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. It was all very moving, and a highlight of the tour.

  • ndvb - When we did this tour, Tauck did supply tickets to Versailles so we could use them on the day of the introductory dinner. During this tour there were several mentions of WWII as we travelled, especially in the tragic San Malo. In addition to going to the D-Day beaches and cemetery, we went to a museum in Normandy that I found fascinating and learned so much about the war in Europe and Japan. Hubby waited outside with many other travelers after a brief visit. For those of us who love museums, Tauck gave good amount of time to explore. There was also an interesting stop with artifacts you could try on or get into from the war collected by an aficionado. The TD asked if I thought it was hokey - and while I am not into toys, many people enjoyed it, especially the men.

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