And then there was France…

California-based Maribeth Mellin is an award-winning journalist and travel book author whose globe-trotting assignments had taken her just about everywhere — with one notable exception. When she boarded Vantage Deluxe World Travel’s ms River Venture for “a mesmerizing cruise along the Seine” this past fall, it was her first real trip to France.

The experience touched deep personal chords, as she recounts in “A Heartfelt Introduction to France,” the article she wrote for Wine Dine & Travel — including those struck by the haunting notes of Eric Satie’s Gymnopédie Number One, which she heard on a personal visit to the Honfleur birthplace of the avant-garde composer. Savvy traveler that she is, Mellin took full advantage of Vantage’s included excursions, then augmented them by pursuing her own interests during her free time. That included the visit to the Satie birthplace and lunch at Couronne, the Rouen restaurant where Julia Child sat down to the lunch that inspired her adventures in French cuisine. (Beginning in 2018, dining at Couronne is included in our French Culinary Delights: Paris to Normandy river cruise.)

Since she’s often on assignment, Mellin frequently travels by herself, about which she said, “I love traveling alone. I enjoy the anonymity and the sense that I’m approaching my destination with a clear mind and heart. Doing whatever I want, whenever I want is certainly a big plus. If I’m tired, for example, I can order dinner in my cabin and watch a fabulous movie sans conversation. If I’m craving a beer beside a sunny plaza or croissants and coffee in a cozy cafe, there’s no one stopping me or complicating the situation.”

As for meeting others, she finds that her solo status can be an asset. “Other people tend to gravitate toward solo travelers, and I’m often invited to join a group at meals or on tours. As a writer, I value these interactions with locals and fellow travelers immensely and always get my best insights from strangers.”

As you’ll read in her article, she wholeheartedly embraced all of the above on her Vantage river cruise, including opting for a room service dinner one evening and taking note that, “sunsets from the deck lingered for hours, as did wine-enhanced conversations and dances with strangers.”

Read Maribeth Mellin’s article about her Seine river cruise, A Heartfelt Introduction to France.