Today the Joie de Vivre was moored at Rouen, medieval capital of the Dukes of Normandy. We were offered a walking tour of Rouen without charge, or for a considerable fee and a very early start, a visit to the legendary monastery at Mont St Michel. I would have liked to see Mont St Michel but the prospect of 350+ stairs on another stinking hot day put me off.
So did the price. On any other river trip we’ve done, all tours are part of the price, and that’s how it was with our previous Uniworld trip in the Bordeaux region. But this time, Uniworld offered quite a few ‘masterpiece’ outings to supplement the included tours for those prepared to pay. I suspect that is a sign of the hard times the travel industry has endured as a result of covid.
In general, France appeared to think things were back to pre-covid normal. Masks were required in places like pharmacies but on the whole, most people were maskless. On the ship all the staff had to use masks but most were worn under the nose until a passenger appeared, when they were fitted properly. Staff were tested for covid weekly.
Before we left home we wondered how the ship would conduct the all-important meals, given the risk of covid. Essentially, service was back to how it used to be. After all, everyone on board had to be fully vaccinated. Breakfast and lunch were basically buffet style, although we could select other options (eggs Benedict, fried eggs, omelettes and items on the lunch menu) served at the table. The rule was supposed to be that we should wear masks when browsing the buffet – but quite a few people thought that didn’t apply to them, despite best efforts from the staff. Dinner was always table service.
There was supposed to be a rule that everyone on the buses should wear a mask but again, many people ignored it. It seemed eminently sensible to us. Being vaccinated does not confer immunity.
We passed on the conducted tour of Rouen. It was another stinking hot day and we knew we would be coming back to Rouen in a couple of days. But we did go out to find a pharmacy to buy Listerine. We do that every trip and we’ve never been able to find the original, brown Listerine. Seems it doesn’t sell in Europe.
After that important chore, we visited Rouen’s gothic cathedral, Notre Dame. There are a LOT of Notre Dames in France. Like all such buildings, scaffolding was in place here and there for maintenance and repair. It’s not really surprising. Parts of the building date back to around 1000CE but there have been churches on or near that spot since 260CE. [source] Apparently the ‘new’ Romanesque cathedral was consecrated in 1063 in the presence of William, Duke of Normandy – just a few years before he went off to conquer England.
Back at the ship, we watched the BBC news which was all about the unprecedented, record-breaking heat wave in the UK after a long drought. Wildfires had broken out, some of them deliberately lit, and homes in an outer suburb of London had been destroyed. I was pleased to see people talking about learning to live with the changing weather.
If you’re new to this journey and want to find other parts of the trip, go to France 2022. That page has all the posts.