Vernon is a charming provincial town. Its cobblestone streets are reminiscent of the Middle Ages, and some of its half-timbered houses feature magnificent wooden carvings. The town was founded by the Viking Rollo in the 9th century, where an island in the Seine made for easy crossings. Because of its importance as a transit point between Paris and Rouen, the town was well fortified and frequently besieged. Ruins of its old medieval bridge still linger on the Seine's right bank. The remains of La Château des Tourelles are the last surviving witness to that era. The Seine meanders through the mellow vistas of Normandy.
As it makes its sleepy and serpentine way to the English Channel, it winds along for 240 miles from Paris, more than doubling the distance of a crow's flight. As you sail, fertile fields unfurl toward groves of apple orchards, sources of the region's famed calvados apple brandy. Norman cows graze the grassy meadows that help produce creamy Brie and Camembert. You will also gaze upon picturesque villages and historic abbeys on these bucolic banks.
Caudebec-en-Caux is a picturesque town with quaint houses lining the banks of the Seine River. It is known for its Gothic-style church of Notre Dame, which features ornate stone carvings and impressive stained glass windows. The town also features some of Normandy's oldest buildings; the Maison des Templiers, built in the 12th-13th centuries, and the 14th century old prison, which is now a charming stone house. The nearby Abbey of St. Wandrille was one of the first Benedictine abbeys in Normandy and has remained an important spiritual center since its founding.
The landmarks and streets of Rouen are aglow with twinkling lights during Advent. Half-timbered houses don decorative displays along the pedestrianized Rue du Gros Horloge and the city's main squares play host to street performers. At the Place du Vieux Marché, skaters perfect their skills on the ice rink, while at Cathedral Square, more than 70 market stalls form the annual Christmas market. Square Verdrel, by the Fine Arts Museum, transforms into a winter wonderland bringing a magical atmosphere to its landscaped green spaces.
Les Andelys is best known for its imposing castle overlooking the city, the Château Gaillard. Built in 1196 by Richard the Lionheart, the castle and the village's strategic location bolstered the importance of Les Andelys throughout the Middle Ages. The town also gained notice for its Sainte Clotilde Miraculous Spring, where the wife of the first Frankish king, Clovis, turned well water into wine to serve the builders of her Benedictine monastery. Europe's devout, upon hearing of the act, flocked here on pilgrimages until the end of the 19th century.
Viking River Cruises Ships