Bon Vivants

Making memories on The Seine: Paris to Normandy River Cruise

By Jean Pierre Enguix, Program Director

As a Program Director, I have countless stories about both trips and travelers, but one recent afternoon on our The Seine: Paris to Normandy River Cruise made for a truly unforgettable experience. When I realized we were going to be near a popular Sunday afternoon ball along the Seine River called a guinguette—a tented dance named after the local white wine that’s often served there—the staff and I onboard the M/S Bizet and our regional office in Lyon, France, helped set up an excursion.

It’s said music and dance are the universal languages, and this afternoon certainly didn’t disappoint! More than 100 travelers signed up on a warm, sunny Mother’s Day, and many partnered up with French locals to hone their moves for bal musette, the accordion music so often associated with strolls along the Seine and French songbird Edith Piaf. Drinks and pastries like brioche and petits choux a la crème were served, and it was special to be able to experience this revival of popular French culture.

In the ‘20s and ‘30s, the jet set and lower class would mix and have fun. It’s just like the movie Titanic when Kate Winslet goes from first class to the working class party and enjoys the revelry. Today, older and younger people like to experience the atmosphere of a genuine French tradition, but this event at the Amfreville lock is one of the few guinguettes left—which is why I’m especially proud to be able to share it. One of the reasons I like working for Grand Circle Cruise Line is the opportunity to show people the real culture of the French countryside, and lead travelers to places that the larger cruise ships can’t go. This was just one example of real joie de vivre.

Clarinet, singing, accordion music, and keyboards all make for a lively afternoon on the Seine lock of Amfreville.

Tables are set up around the perimeter of the dance floor, where ladies wear their Sunday finest to show off their moves.

A panoramic view of La Cote Des Deux Amants (“ Two Lovers’ Hill”), which has a superb view of the panorama of the Seine Valley and the locks at Amfreville. The name is based on the legend of star-crossed lovers forbidden to marry – the boy runs up the hill and dies of exhaustion, and his paramour dies broken-hearted.

French locals join in as couples from the M/S Bizet dance to bal musette music.

Travelers gesture with five fingers and a “zero” on their opposite hand in honor of one couple’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Here I am with my good friend and fellow Program Director Isabelle de Bisschop. She’s a real treat for both travelers and colleagues—always taking care of the ladies and showing them the best shopping spots. Our travelers love to see a good team having fun.

If you’d like to learn more about this trip from our travelers, check out our video featuring Grand Circle Cruise Line travelers describing—in their own words—what made their experience in France so memorable.