Tour Review

I recently returned from this wonderful tour and will share my observations and experiences.

Direct flight from Los Angeles to Heathrow via Virgin Atlantic. Thank you, MarketArt, for the suggestion. Since I wanted a direct flight, I had no choice but to settle for a 2250 departure time. After some drama at the airport (man doing the breaststroke on floor and then another man bolting from security line after police canine sensed something in his backpack), we settled in for the flight after relaxing in the lounge.

It took us some time to adjust to the seats since they were oriented outward to the aisles instead of inward, but they were quite comfortable. Very friendly and courteous service. We opted for the express meal since we had no desire to eat at such a late hour. The potato and leek soup was quite nice. Breakfast, however, was inedible. Perhaps we ordered the wrong entree.

The return flight on my favorite long-haul airline, Air France, was one hour late in pushing away from the gate for some reason. My only disappointment was that the enormous A380 has been retired from Air France's fleet, apparently due to understandably high maintenance costs. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the flight and service even though it was a terribly outdated 777 aircraft.

What a gorgeous establishment the Savoy is! Our room was moderate in size but comfortable and with a partial view of the Thames River. Be forewarned that the included a la carte breakfasts are huge. On our first morning we both ordered fruit and porridge. Two large plates of fruit arrived followed by two large bowls of the best porridge I have ever had. I do not know what kind of grain it was but just delicious. Thereafter, we shared one order.

We have stayed before at the Intercontinental in Paris (Tauck's hotel of choice for this tour) and had another nice experience. Fairly small room but with an enormous and completely doorless shower. We laughed when we realized our room number was the same as our cabin number on the riverboat.

Our favorite hotel was our floating one, the ms Sapphire. As always the staff, service and food were extraordinary. And those glorious pureed soups, my favorite being the carrot and ginger one. My only constructive criticism is that the Sapphire is in need of an update, not a total refurbishment just some refreshing and replacement of room furniture. Our couch was frayed and soiled, but that certainly did not detract from enjoying our room. I suppose I have simply been spoiled by having been a guest on the beautifully appointed ms Andorinha (Douro cruise).


I prefer to write a narrative of my experiences instead of publishing a regurgitation of the day-by-day itinerary. Should you have specific questions, please ask and I will attempt to answer them.

The reception and dinner were held within the Savoy instead of at Simpson's-in-the-Strand as was published in the brochure. Hearsay claimed that the restaurant was experiencing an issue with its lease.

The highlight of the evening was a talk by Celia Sandys, the eighty (80) year-old delightful granddaughter of Winston Churchill. All of us received a signed copy of her book which chronicled her life with her grandfather. Some of us chuckled when one guest was having a rather loud discussion with a server. Ms. Sandys stopped her talk, stared at the guest and ever so politely with that wonderful British accent remarked, "Will you kindly shut up?"

It was wonderful to be given a private, after-hours admission to Churchill's underground bunker. It was fascinating and wish we could have stayed longer.

The first schedule change was on the third day when we left London for the high-speed train to Paris. We were supposed to embark the ship directly upon arriving but were advised that we would go directly to the Louvre for our after-hours tour. It made for a very long day since we did not have dinner on the ship until 2130.

The London train station was crazy; the train ride itself was quite relaxing. A cold lunch was provided. The quiche would have been delicious if warm, but the potato salad was nice. Wine was also served.

We have visited the Louvre before but how nice it was to experience it without the crowds! Of course, we only saw a tiny portion of the art housed there. I found it sad and disturbing to have to view the Mona Lisa as she resided behind bullet proof glass. Such is the world we live in.

Regarding Paris, I never tire of maneuvering around the Arc de Triomphe's massive traffic circle...no lanes, just a free-for-all.

We chose the Montmartre excursion over Versailles because the views from Montmartre's hilltop location are extraordinary. To get to this hilltop location was an adventure. We took a trolley up and up and up to the top to look down over all of Paris. There are also plenty of quaint streets with shops to explore.

My second favorite excursion was Monet's gardens in Giverny. We were given early access to the grounds, absolutely stunningly beautiful grounds. The flowers are rotated seasonally and since we are in springtime, tulips were everywhere. Enormous tulips. There is also a very nice gift shop with lovely items to purchase. Given the light drizzle that started, we were grateful to sit for a bit in the equally nice cafe and enjoy a hot chocolate.

I also enjoyed time spent in Rouen (where Joan of Arc met her demise) because we were given ample time to explore on our own. That evening we had dinner at a chateau; the grounds were beautiful, the dinner was nothing special.

The final schedule change was due to a malfunctioning lock which forced us to stay docked in Caudebec instead of sailing farther north. The only impact it had was that it would now require a 2.5 hour bus ride to get to the D-Day beaches.

Final installment to follow..............


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    Thank you so much for this comprehensive overview. My sister & I are on next week's tour (yay!) & I would be happy to post experiences if anyone's interested. We opted for Versailles, for instance, so our excursions will be different. You've made my anticipation even greater!

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    edited May 2023


    Please post a review since it is always beneficial to read about the experiences of others. I failed to mention that the weather in Normandy can be unpredictable, especially the wind. Except for a brief drizzle at the American Cemetery and in Giverny, we had great weather throughout the tour.

    May you and your sister have a most wonderful time. By the way, I think you had recommended Guy Savoy in Paris. If so, thank you! It was an amazing dining experience in an equally amazing setting.

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    We leave next week - stay tuned! (PS - I wasn't the one who recommended Guy Savoy, but I'm glad you loved it!).

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