Stacey’s Port Guides – Le Havre

I am off to join the Celebrity Eclipse on Friday for her mini cruise to Paris.  Well they call it Paris but it actually calls into Le Havre.  We are planning to stay on the ship and enjoy the facilities but here is what you could do if you are there for the day 🙂

A Taste Of Normandy –

Unlike the rest of France Normandy is blanketed in apple orchards instead of vineyards. For centuries these apples have been used to make a bubbly fermented cider and distilling that cider into Calvados.

Learn its history and how this elegant elixir is made with a five-and-a-half-hour excursion into the heart of Normandy. Visit the traditional Busnel & Anée, renowned distiller for a tour and a sampling. On your return trip to Le Havre, you’ll stop in the fishing port of Honfleur for a leisurely walking tour so wear comfortable shoes.

From the pier you’ll board your comfortable coach. Once settled into your seat, with your camera at hand, you’ll begin your journey to Cormeillles tucked in the Normandy countryside. Today, one of most prestigious Calvados distilleries in the country this distillery built in the local half-timbered style uses traditional methods of fermentation and distillation..

After you arrive your guide will lead you to the distillery where you’ll see the apple press, bright copper stills and the brandy is aged in oak casks. During your tour you’ll learn that it takes 59 pounds of apples to make just 33 fluid ounces of Calvados!

Following your tour you’ll be able to enjoy a sampling of the world’s premier apple brandy, as well as cider and Pommeau, an aperitif that’s made by blending one-year-old Calvados and pressed apple juice. Normandy is also famous for its soft cheeses and and three local cheeses will accompany your tasting: Camembert, Pont l’Evêque and Livarot served with classic French bread and butter.

Once you’ve completed your epicurean journey of sight, scent and taste, you’ll board the coach and continue on to the seaside village of Honfleur.

Upon arrival you’ll begin a guided walk through town. Considered the birthplace of the Impressionist and Romantic art movements, Honfleur served as the homeport of 17th century sea voyages that led to the development of some of France’s most important colonies.

Stroll along streets lined with the signature half-timbered houses and down to the picturesque harbor past the governor’s house, La Lieutenance. Built in the 18th century, the house stood by the old city gate that fortified the city over 300-years ago.

Continuing on you’ll stop for a visit at the lovely 15th century church of Saint Catherine, acclaimed as France’s largest wooden church. Built at a time when stone was scarce, the church was built with timber and by the same craftsmen who built ships in the naval yard. Remarkably, they didn’t use saws for their construction work-they cut the wood with serrated knives.

At the end of the day, you’ll rejoin your coach for a relaxing ride back to Le Havre over the beautiful Normandy Bridge.

Mont Saint Michel –

What you will visit:
Legend tells that Archangel Michael called upon a local bishop and told him to “build here and build high,” the inspiration for the towering masterpiece of Mont Saint-Michel, a UNESCO historical monument. The dramatic abbey, a celebration of Norman architecture, is crowned by a 500-foot tower. The beautiful 13th-century Gothic cloister affords panoramic views of the surrounding waters and thundering tides. The abbey has been used for many purposes over the years; during the French Revolution it was a prison. After a renovation in the 19th century, the monastic community ensured the continuation of its spiritual presence. Access to the mount requires climbing narrow stairs that date back to the Middle Ages.
What you will see along the way:
As you approach Mont Saint-Michel, the towering masterpiece seems to appear and disappear from view as you wind along the village streets and Mont Saint-Michel Bay.
Photo opportunity:
The waters around Mont Saint-Michel are famous their extreme tides. The seasons and the gravitational pull of the moon impact the high tides, which can reach 50 feet (15 m). Capture a memory of these thundering waters, which at high tide make the mount a veritable island and at low tide reveal miles of sandy beaches surrounding the historic site.
In the medieval town, shops brim with mementos, keepsakes and regional specialties, such as traditional butter cookies, copperware and pottery.

Local culinary delicacies include lamb, seafood platters, and fluffy omelets ? the island’s specialty ? all accompanied by Muscadet wine. Lunch at your own expense.

Best Of Paris –

Your tour begins as you board your motorcoach for a scenic, three-hour drive via the motorway to Paris.

Upon arriving in Paris, you’ll drive along the elegant, tree-lined Champs-Élysées, past the Arc de Triomphe with a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower was built for the World’s Fair in 1889, held in celebration of the French Revolution in 1789. In 1916, the first wireless telephones were tested on the tower. Although meant to last for the duration of the World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower still stands today, despite all protests that this huge “object” wouldn’t fit into the architecture of Paris. Today, the Eiffel Tower is a beloved landmark of Paris and is the symbol of the “City of Light.”

Next on your itinerary is lunch at a charming Parisian restaurant. You’ll enjoy a meal of roast chicken supreme, mushroom sauce and potatoes “gratin dauphinois,” wine and kir aperitif, before strolling to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame.

The Cathedral is a supreme example of Gothic architecture, boasting a façade divided into three levels. The first level features three portals or main entrances, each adorned with intricately carved figures and biblical scenes. The cathedral’s last great rose window, located above the Galerie des Rois, anchors the façade’s second level, the cathedral’s soaring towers form the third level. Notre Dame’s interior, colored by light from the stained glass windows, inspires awe.

Your tour continues with a drive through Paris. You’ll pass the Place de l’Opera, often called the Hub of the Universe, and considered one of the most elegant streets in Paris with its well designed houses and luxury shops. Continue to Pont Neuf, “the new bridge,” now the oldest bridge in Paris, then make your way to the Ile de la Cite, one of two natural islands in the Seine within the city of Paris.

You’ll pass the Louvre Museum and the Tuileries Gardens, a stretch of French style alleys and lawns along the Seine River right bank, before reaching Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris. You’ll stop by the Hotel des Invalides to capture a photo or two, then embark on a drive back to the pier.