Day 7 – Last Day on the Seine!

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

Liz Barrett with AMA Waterways

Liz Barrett with AMA Waterways

Apricot Trilogy

Apricot Trilogy

We are back in Paris for the final leg of our Celebration of Wine Cruise on the Seine! Last evening we dined at the Chef’s Table specialty restaurant at the ship’s stern. Chef prepared chicken carpaccio with tuna – basil cream, pan fried salmon with sesame – lavender crust and porcini salsa, grilled lamb rack with herb mash potato, rijta, and broccoli, and a dessert honoring the apricot – a spoonful of apricot sorbet in a waffled caramelized crepe, an apricot pastry dumpling, and a shot glass of Marillen liqueur!

Place de Vosges, Marais

Place de Vosges, Marais

French Garden, Marais

French Garden, Marais

Crepes Cart

Crepes Cart

Moulin Rouge Selfie

Moulin Rouge Selfie

Today’s excursion explored the Marais neighborhood of Paris, featuring remnants of the ancient wall of Paris, the mansions of the French nobility, and the traditional home to Paris’ Jewish population. We strolled through the Place de Vosges and visited its art galleries and cafes. Once back to the ship, we enjoyed a Champagne tasting with Preston Mohr, learning about the Champagne region of France, levels of sweetness in Champagne, and the difference between vintage and non-vintage Champagnes. Did you know that vintage Champagne takes less effort to produce than non-vintage because vintage Champagne is supposed to have a unique taste, while non-vintage must have a consistent taste year after year, even though grapes are used from different growing years? Tonight Chef prepared a special Thanksgiving entrée of turkey meat, prune stuffing, French crosne, beet root, carrot mash, and cider sauce for the American passengers as well as a scrumptious cream of pumpkin soup. After dinner, Belgian classical artist La Strada performed in the lounge, delivering a beautiful collection of stringed arrangements with their guitar and violin.

Montmartre Artist Colony

Montmartre Artist Colony

Eiffel Tower at Night

Eiffel Tower at Night

We spent our additional free day in Paris taking in the exquisite artwork of Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Rousseau, Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Manet, Redon, and Rodin at the Musee d’Orsay and the Musee de L’Orangerie, and exploring the sights and sounds of Montmartre. Montmartre is a fascinating area of Paris, featuring the Sacre Coeur Basilica, the Moulin Rouge, and many art galleries and cafes. We saved the grand finale for last, ascending to the very top of the Eiffel Tower after dinner that night! What an incredible view of the romantic City of Light!

Grand Palais, Paris

Grand Palais, Paris

Barry and Kim Wiss

Barry and Kim Wiss

Executive Team

Executive Team

Au Revior, AMALegro!

Au Revior, AMALegro!

As difficult as it is to say au revoir to France, we are anxious to return to our family and friends in North Carolina and at Winestyles. We have made many priceless memories and some new friends as well. We cannot say enough about our AMA Waterways experience – the service, attention to detail, caring attitude of the crew, the exquisite food and beverage, and the overall accommodations aboard AMALegro have been top notch. One of our fellow passengers summed it up well when she said “every day has been both enjoyable and educational”.

Thank you to our Trinchero wine hosts, Barry and Kim Wiss, who have also been gracious in sharing their experience and knowledge. What a terrific way to experience a country – there is substantial truth in the statement “an ocean cruise takes you to a country; a river cruise takes you through a country”!

Truly the best way to TASTE, LEARN and ENJOY! 🙂

Cheers,

Michael and Tiffany Reynolds, proprietors of WineStyles Greensboro, NC

 

Day 6 – Cruising on the Seine!

Picturesque View of the Seine Valley

Tiffany and Michael – Picturesque view of the Seine valley

Bonjour! 

Emily and Alex Serving Normandy Lunch

Emily and Alex serving Normandy lunch

Selection des Frommages

Selection des frommages

Chef Stefan Serving Lamb Shank Normandie

Chef Stefan serving Lamb Shank Normandie

Day 6 on the Seine began with another informative wine education presentation by Barry Wiss. We learned of the humble beginnings of the Trinchero family in Napa and its continued dedication to responsible agribusiness, producing wine using biodynamic practices to conserve energy, recycle, and re-purpose by-products. Barry also explained how to read French wine labels, from discerning AOC from AOP to which varietals are affiliated with Bordeaux and Bourgogne. Finally, we played “What’s Your Wine?”, and learned that the true parent grape of Zinfandel is not Primitivo from Italy but Crijenak Kastelanski from Croatia! Afterwards, Chef treated us to a Normandy Lunch, celebrating the various dairy, apple, and seafood products indigenous to the region. All week we have witnessed our Hotel Manager Markus return from the villages with a smile on his face and his arms full of fresh produce, shellfish, and baked goods! Bon Appetit!!

Petit Andely

Petit Andely

Peter's Cricifixion Notre Dame Stained Glass

Notre Dame Stained Glass – Peter’s Crucifixion

Petit Andely Village Corner

Petit Andely Village Corner

Our afternoon excursion took us to the cobblestone streets of Les Andelys, made up of Grand Andely and Petit Andely. In Grand Andely, we toured another Cathedral of Notre Dame, this one built for the queen in the 14th century. The stained glass in this cathedral is nothing short of spectacular! Les Andelys is a picturesque mosaic of early Norman architecture, idyllic natural scenery, and the sensory delights of a cozy French village.

 

Grazing Sheep

Grazing Sheep

High above the village lie the ancient ruins of Chateau Gaillard, a castle built by Richard the Lionheart in 1198 to protect Rouen and the rest of Normandy from King Phillip II and the French. Hewn from the chalk white limestone cliffs that adorn the river valley, Chateau Gaillard was the strongest fortress of its age. After Richard’s death, Phillip finally laid siege to the castle and captured it in 1204. It became a French historical monument in 1862.

Taste, Learn and Enjoy,

Tiffany & Michael of WineStyles Greensboro, NC

 

Day 4 & 5 on the Seine!

Chocolate Mousse Tart with Pistachio Ice Cream

Chocolate mousse tart with pistachio ice cream

Rouen City Block

Rouen city block

Wow, what a dinner last night – poached chicken with capers and tuna sauce, deep fried Camembert, and chocolate mousse tart with pistachio ice cream and forest berry sauce! Le chef du AMALegro est fantastique et la cuisine est extraordinaire! Today we are in Rouen, another Normandy destination full of history and old world charm!

Tomb of Richard the Lionhearted

Tomb of Richard the Lionhearted

Towering Cathedral Nave

Towering cathedral nave

Window Shopping Nuns

Window shopping nuns

 

It seems that in every sizable French village and city, the Catholic Church has built a monumental cathedral honoring her first lady. Originally constructed in 1125, Cathedrale Notre Dame de Rouen features breathtaking interior beauty as well as intriguing history. We learned that during the World War II bombardment of Rouen, several allied bombs fell astray and significantly damaged the cathedral. On one side, a bomb took out six of the eight flying buttresses designed to support the main structure, but left the shrine to Saint Catherine intact. The fact that the entire cathedral did not buckle and fall is referred to as the “Miracle of Saint Catherine”. We also viewed the tombs of Rollo the Viking Warrior (Robert I) and Richard the Lionhearted, the first and last Dukes of Normandy.

Rouen Toy Shop Display

Rouen toy shop display

La Couronne

La Couronne

On a more secular note, the cobblestone streets of the city were bustling with early Christmas shoppers and lined with a mixture of local artisan and high-end Parisian brand shops decked out for the holiday season. On the square of Joan of Arc is La Couronne, the Michelin 3 star restaurant where Julia Child got her inspiration to produce her famous cooking show. We also viewed the monument commemorating Claude Monet’s visit to Rouen when he included Notre Dame in his series of cathedral paintings, as well as the former brothel from which he painted it!

Patisserie Macarons

Patisserie macarons

Church of Joan of Arc

Church of Joan of Arc

At the cathedral is the court in which Joan of Arc was tried and sentenced to death by burning. This brave young woman, “called by God” to lead the French in battle to resist the English, entered the king’s army disguised as a boy at the age of 16, led the French in numerous victories, was captured by the English, burnt at the stake in Rouen in 1431 at 19, and eventually canonized a saint of the Catholic Church in 1920. We visited the site of her execution and the unique church built there in her honor.

The French Love Their Beer Too!

The French love their beer too!

Rouen Gilded Clock

Rouen Gilded Clock

Upon return to the ship we were greeted by Capt. Franck with a champagne toast at the traditional Captain’s Dinner, which featured five courses with accompanying California wine pairings from Trinchero Family Estates, including a Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, a Folie a Deux Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and a very nice dessert compliment, Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port. The meal was delectable, featuring French truffle-goose liver pate, cream of fennel soup with poached Atlantic sea bass and Pernod, and “Medaillon d’Agneau Mont Saint Michel” (a wonderful lamb dish).

Until tomorrow…..cheers!

Tiffany and Michael of WineStyles Greensboro, NC

 

 

French Wine Cruise – Paris to Vernon

Escargot! Bon Appetit!

Escargot! Bon Appetit!

Bonjour to our WineStyles family!

After a fabulous day and a half of eating, drinking, and sightseeing our way through the romantic city of Paris, we were warmly welcomed aboard the river cruise ship AMALegro.

The Louvre at Night

The Louvre at Night

We checked in to our beautifully appointed stateroom, and, after meeting Captain Franck and his crew, dined with new friends, enjoying a 6-course welcome dinner including a salmon and crayfish appetizer, Normandy mussel soup, grilled fillet of butterfish and prawn with Pernod sauce and saffron risotto, and, of course, a glass or two of Beaujolais!

Shimmering Eiffel Tower

Shimmering Eiffel Tower

After dinner, the ship set sail on the Seine, pausing at the Eiffel Tower for us to watch a delightful light show, as thousands of bulbs affixed to the tower lit up the nighttime sky over Paris in synchronized splendor.

Seine River at Night

Seine River at Night

Despite a chill in the upper deck air, our hosts kept us warm with “vin chaud” (hot wine), roasted chestnuts, and their gracious hospitality.

Bartender Plamen with French Varietals

Bartender Plamen with French Varietals

We ended the evening with a glass of Prosecco at the piano lounge, where we got to know the most important person on the ship besides the captain, our Bulgarian bartender Plamen!

On Friday morning we found ourselves well into Normandy Provence, marveling at the precision with which our floating hotel was navigated through the narrow locks system on the Seine.

La Roche Guyon - Romme's HQ

La Roche Guyon – Romme’s HQ

On river right, before arriving at Vernon, we viewed La Roche Guyot, complete with castle ruins and the stately residence which at one time served as the German General Rommel’s headquarters during the Nazi occupation of France.

Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates

Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates

After a briefing from our Cruise Director John on the many exciting excursions planned for our journey on the Seine, we were treated to our first educational wine presentation from Barry Wiss, Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates in Napa Valley, California.

Fruit & Cheese from the Galley

Fruit & Cheese from the Galley

His opening topic addressed the important role aroma plays in the enjoyment of wine, and how to most effectively sniff and swirl in order to identify primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas.

We got to practice on two very nice Napa selections, Gott un-oaked Chardonnay and Sea Glass Pinot Noir.

Riverbank Chateau

Riverbank Chateau

Presently, we are off to visit Chateau Bizy in the riverfront village of Vernon, our first port of call.

Griffin at St. Michael's SquareBe sure to check in with us tomorrow on the WineStyles blog, where you can hear it through our grapevine!

 Cheers,
Tiffany & Micheal Reynolds
WineStyles Greensboro, NC