don’t need to speak French to sail on the new Joie de Vivre,
cruising the Seine out of Paris. But you will know from your first
step aboard, at the dock about a 20-minute walk from the Eiffel
Tower, that you are in France.
From French fabrics, foie gras and daily arrays
of local cheeses to hallways dressed in early 1900s caricatures by
artist George Goursat (known as Sem), the Joie de Vivre is true to
its French intentions, designed as a floating Paris boutique hotel.
I like especially the concept of going on a Paris
vacation that starts and ends with a hotel docked in the middle of
the city, then cruising for a week up and down the Seine in high
Paris style, stopping for excursions to some of France’s travel
favorites: Palace of Versailles, Monet’s home and garden at
Giverny, the old town and Gothic cathedral of Rouen, the port at
Honfleur, and the memorials on Normandy’s Atlantic Coast, scene of
the invasion of Europe by Allied Forces in 1944.
Most river cruise companies, like their ocean
counterparts, tend to design one model and build a single ship that
represents their brand, copy it as many times as financially
feasible, then send the copies to cruise from various ports around
the world. This is the most efficient and profitable way to expand a
Rarely does a line design a vessel specifically
with a destination and itinerary in mind. Uniworld Boutique River
Cruises is that rare company. Its newest of 18 river vessels, the
Joie de Vivre, is a stunning result.
Which is part of the reason that the
128-passenger Joie de Vivre was nearly sold out for its 2017 season
before it began cruising from Paris this spring.
Uniworld is not new to the river cruise business,
but during the past decade, after being acquired by The Travel
Corporation (TTC) managed by the Tollman family, the river company
has become known as one of the most luxurious (and expensive) of the
river cruise lines. The company has a reputation for unique décor
and style, including antiques, original artwork, and handcrafted
furniture. Brett Tollman, chief executive of TTC, told Travel Weekly
recently that the carpet for Joie de Vivre took a year to design.
The result is a splurge of a vacation cruise in a
one-of-a-kind vessel fit for a classic sojourn on the Seine. Cabins
and suites have French balconies and marble bathrooms (onyx in the
two owner’s suites). Restaurant choices range from iconic French
dishes in the grand Le Pigalle to the more intimate Le Bistrot and
Claude’s supper club, with jazz.
As if Rouen, Honfleur, the Normandy beaches, and
Giverny were not enough, Uniworld has enhanced its itinerary with
alternatives possibilities to play golf from the port of Rouen and
in Etretat, as well as to explore ports near the Seine using its
fleet of bikes.
The seven-night cruise includes a day and
overnight in Paris, and because the vessel is docked in central
Paris before and after the cruise, passengers have additional time
to tour the city center. Prices start at about $4,350 per person for
Even if you don’t speak French when cruising on
the Joie de Vivre (most of the staff onboard is not French), it does
help your self-esteem to properly say the name of the ship, ZHwä de
vēvre (pronouncing the last syllable almost as if it doesn’t
exist) as you gently shake your head in complete understanding of
The phrase Joie de Vivre means exuberant
enjoyment of life and carries with it lightheartedness, joviality,
and effervescence, all of which tend to improve anyone’s vacation
time, especially in France.
Light for the
Journey - Whose Genes?
"JUST LIKE THAT!"
Repeated pounding from the neighbor’s yard
sparked my curiosity. I walked to my garage and saw Andy with an axe
vigorously chopping at a six-foot-high tree stump in his back yard.
He was intent on delivering a fatal blow to that stubborn stump.
After observing his forceful hacking, I quieted my urge to walk
across the yard to chat with him and went into the garage to
complete my task. A decision I later regretted.
Over two years earlier when autumn leaves were
falling Andy took ownership of the house next door.From the scruffy
disheveled appearance of this new neighbor I wasn’t sure I wanted
to make his acquaintance. His language was crude and hewas rough
around the edges. Not at all friendly. Weeks passed and we didn’t
see him except occasionally when he sped away on his thundering
In December, I walked to Andy’s front door with
a pecan pie, my usual Christmas gift for neighbors. Ringing the door
bell and knocking several times brought no response. I rang the
doorbell one last time and waited a few more minutes.The door opened
slightly. Andy peered through the crack. I introduced myself, wished
him a merry Christmas and presented the gift. When he opened the
door further to take the pie, I glimpsed his grimy clothes and long
greasy hair.With the door open just enough to take the piehe
graciously thanked me. However, he clearly was not up for a
Rick and I prayed regularly for Andy and greeted
him at every opportunity. He’d wave back but the impenetrable
shell was obvious.
Spring arrived and we started seeing more of Andy
working in his yard. Each time I saw him I yelled, "Hi
Andy!" Occasionally I walked to his yard and attempted to
engage him in small talk.
Gradually he started speaking with us.
Discussions covered surface subjects such as irrigation ditch water,
weather and other trivia. Nothing deep but at least he was friendly.
Late last summer several weeks passed and we saw
nothing of Andy.Weeds and grass grew high in his yard.
Although we had no idea what happened to him or
where he was we continued our prayers for him.
Four months passed and then one day I saw Andy in
his yard. He was clean shaven and sported a fresh short haircut. He
wore a cast on his right forearm and his hand was bandaged.
"Wow, Andy! You got your hair cut. You look great."
"I thought it was time," he said.
I told him how nice he looked and that we missed
him and were praying for him. He was moved to tears. Rick joined us
and Andy told us he had been in an accident. He was on his
motorcycle when another driver hit him. He was hospitalized in a
coma for weeks and nearly died. He said, "The hospital chaplain
talked to me and prayed for me." Pointing to the sky, Andy said
enthusiastically, "He aint’ through with me yet!" We
prayed for Andy’s healing and gradually he gained use of his arm,
though he had lost part of his hand. He began mowing and working in
his yard again.
We visited with Andy often