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Historical Trip of a Lifetime
by Rob Hall  |  Ambassador Clients Since 2000
The best time to go to Europe is after the Europeans come home from their holidays (less crowded) so July and August are usually a no-no. However, we timed it to take a river cruise for the first of a three week France/ Netherlands odyssey during the last week of August.

We’ve done 17 big ship cruises but we wanted something more intimate and cozy. We were passionate about visiting our brave soldiers who gave their lives for us on “D” Day, June 6 1944. That meant Omaha Beach in Normandy, France and the American Cemetery.

After much research, Gary recommended (and we booked) a river cruise with Avalon Waterways from Paris to the Normandy beaches. It was more than marvelous. 140 passengers, great food and great service. Avalon’s tour guides are the best.

The first couple of days were spent touring Paris, and included sightseeing trips to Notre Dame, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, The Palace at Versailles, then dinner and show at Le Moulin Rouge. Very “Ooh-La-la!”

Day 3 was in Conflans, but the cruising on the River Seine was a highlight - passing under numerous low bridges and going through a total of 6 locks. We visited Napoleon’s and Josephine’s hideaway “Chateau Malmaison” – gorgeously restored!

Day 4 in Vernon we visited Giverny, the site of Claude Monet’s house and gorgeous gardens. Spectacular scenery everywhere and more weeping willow trees than I have ever seen – stunning!

Days 5 & 6 included Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and Julia Child was first motivated to become a chef. The excursion to the American Cemetery though, was the highlight. We had someone to visit (that is a lovely but too long story for this piece). We met with the cemetery director and he took us right to the grave site of William F. Kelleher, Pvt U.S. Army, 358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division. Died July 13, 1944. There were thousands of bright white marble crosses for headstones with names engraved on each, but not very clearly visible because they were white on white. We laid a French flag and an American flag at the grave together with 2 long-stem roses and the director had brought with him a bucket of damp sand from Omaha Beach which he used to carefully rub into the engraving, making it clearly visible. We paid our respects - emotional!

Day 7 – Les Andelys and the Château Gaillard – built by Richard the Lion Heart in 1196. Love history!

We left the cruise in Paris on day 8, spending the next two and a half weeks traveling through Paris, the Bourgogne Valley back roads, and then the Thalys highspeed train to Amsterdam for 5 days in my birth country.

But that’s another story…

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