Slice of life along the Seine: New apple harvest dates offer sweet escape

Vantage Travel Team March 25, 2018

By Carley Thornell, Copy Director and passionate traveler

I’ll never forget my first trip overseas to Paris and London. Besides the glittering Eiffel Tower or strolling Champs-Élysées on Bastille Day, no less! — what sticks out the most almost 15 years later is a simple plate of English peas. Smaller and sweeter than their American counterparts, with a texture just a bit more turgid and a hue more vibrant, this dish was my first introduction into how soil, region, preparation, and the mere act of spending just a bit more time to savor it and the good life are all part of the elevated experience of travel.

It’s something the French are particularly in tune to, which is why I’m excited about Vantage’s just-announced apple harvest departures along the Seine. When I was able to return to France a second time a few years ago, I was lucky enough to get to Normandy, a bit of an outlier when you think of France as the epicenter of fine-wine production. And while there are plenty of vintages to savor (especially along our ms River Venture), here the pace of life is just a bit different. Local folks are more likely to raise a beer to toast, or for a really fine time, a glass of calvados apple brandy. It’s easy to see where it comes from — look around you, and there are orchards at every turn, which in autumn, makes for a lovely landscape even if you are a native New Englander like me and “used to” to the ochre, amber, and red-hued trees. (Even in Giverny, where Monet’s Water Lilies series takes most of the spotlight, the Impressionist painted an apple blossom series; learn about it on your cruise.)

Did you also know about other beverages like pétillant sparkling apple juice, or pommeau, the tannin-rich marriage between calvados and cider? Neither did I, until I tasted them, and while each has its subtle differences, it’s so much easier to learn about by tasting just a few hundred yards from where they are produced. When you visit Normandy’s Cider Route, you’ll savor all of this and more. Bite into an apple tart — one that you help prepare, no less! — and enjoy a cheese sampling paired as artfully with these local spirits as Monet’s canvases. What else pairs with apples? Caramel, of course, and you’ll find plenty of these in the shops of Rouen, another one of my favorite places along the Seine. Creamy with just a touch of salt, I’ve been unable to find an American replication half as good. Make sure you bring some home for your friends as a souvenir, and the same goes for the macarons here. The colorful confections make rainbows in many a shop window and you’ll have plenty of time to wander and satisfy your taste buds.

What else is in store? Normandy mussels cooked in cider sauce on board, an interactive crepe-and-apple-cooking session, lectures about how this fruit is an integral part in the culture and economy of the region, and a special harvest painting session on the Venture. No matter what, you’ll satisfy your sweet tooth and cultural curiosity on a departure of our new themed tour!

Don’t miss our other new themed departures, Family Fun On the Seine and Art Along the Seine.