5 French Rivers Perfect for Boating Holidays
Sightseeing from a river is one of the best ways to experience the incredibly stunning countryside of France. As the third-largest country in Western Europe, many rivers flow through France, offering the perfect backdrop for a scenic river cruise. Thus, the first step to planning a boating holiday in France is choosing the places to explore. From there, you can decide which river cruise to book.
To give you an idea, here are the French rivers perfect for boating holidays.
1. The Seine River
If there’s one thing not to miss out on in Paris, it has to be cruising along the Seine River. As your boat glides by the tranquil waters, marvel at the city’s iconic monuments, from the Eiffel Tower to the Grand Palais and the Notre Dame Cathedral. A night cruise on the Seine lets you view the city from a different perspective, where bridges and monuments shine magically amidst the night sky.
There are also daytime cruises on the Seine River that takes you to many of the city’s highlights, such as the Louvre Museum, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower. Your cruise will also take you to the city’s most significant buildings, including beautiful bridges, which look even more magnificent from the river. The river viewpoint gives you insights into the city’s history and architecture. In fact, the riverbanks of the Seine are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The sightseeing boating trips on the Seine usually last an hour and stop and end at the same place, except in some instances. Aside from the sightseeing cruises, there are also dinner cruises complete with meals and champagne and are especially suited for romantic getaways.
2. The Rhine River
As one of the greatest rivers in the world, the Rhine River is a top destination for cruising. It’s a storied stretch of winding waterway spanning over 700 miles, passing through six countries, from Switzerland to France and the Netherlands. A cruise along the Rhine in France is an incredibly scenic route, marked by the region’s legendary chateaux, stunning vineyards, and the dramatic Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the most popular cruises on the Rhine is the Paris to the Swiss Alps route, which is especially appealing to history buffs. It’s a week-long boating trip passing through four nations, starting in Paris. After taking a coach in Paris, guests travel to Luxembourg via Trier, Germany, the starting point of the voyage, with stops at some of the most picturesque German towns and cities like Cochem, Mainz, and Speyer, before sailing to Strasbourg, France.
A river cruise in the Rhine includes fun excursions focused on history. Some highlights include the Luxembourg American Cemetery, a visit to the Gutenberg Museum, a tour of Germany’s historic university city, Heidelberg, and a scenic stroll through the stunning palace of Versailles and its gardens.
3. The Rhone River
There are many luxury river cruises across France, with Rhone being a popular option, and it’s easy to see why. It’s one of Europe’s most beautiful rivers, winding through France’s most picturesque landscapes, connecting historic cities and winding down towards the Mediterranean. A Rhone River cruise is especially recommended to those fond of great food and wine, taking you to the scenic vineyards of Burgundy and Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France.
Going on a cruise along the Rhone River is a fantastic opportunity to explore some incredible towns and cities of France, from the underrated city of Lyon, which offer a quieter alternative to Paris, to the charming Arles city, home to an impressive Roman amphitheatre. You’ll also pass by the stunning Rhone Valley region and into the sun-drenched vineyards of Burgundy, with the opportunity to sample delectable wine.
Considered the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon is a paradise for foodies and one of the highlights of your river cruises in the Rhone. Surrounded by stunning valleys, lakes, and farmlands, the eateries of Lyon prepare meals made from the freshest ingredients.
4. The Bordeaux River
A cruise in the Bordeaux River will take you to France’s most scenic wine regions. Situated in the southwestern area of France, Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with many historic buildings, a lovely riverfront, and an incredible dining scene. Your cruise of Bordeaux will revolve around wine chateaux and picturesque towns, such as Arcachon, one of France’s leading sources of fresh oysters.
Most itineraries in the Bordeaux River cruises cover three waterways, the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and the Gironde estuary. A cruise to Bordeaux is perfect if you love wine, delectable food, palatial chateaux, and captivating gardens.
While Bordeaux River cruise itineraries will vary, the most common offering consists of a seven-night trip, which includes a couple of days spent in the Bordeaux region, where you visit charming towns and tour wine regions like Medoc, Cognac and Saint-Emilion. Some cruises include Arcachon, with the opportunity to visit oyster farms.
5. The Loire River
On your boating holiday of the Loire River, you’ll discover the charm and history of the Loire Valley, best known for its outstanding wines, sophisticated cities, and magnificent chateaux. Its main tributary is the river Cher, used for over 2,000 years, and brings you to The Valley of the Kings. You’ll come across centuries-old villages, enchanted castles, and many delightful places.
Renowned for its timeless grace and beauty, the Loire Valley has a rich history. Your cruise will take you to the heart of the Loire Valley to discover more about its history and uncover fascinating sights. During your excursions, you’ll stroll through narrow cobblestone streets, visit local markets, and explore some of the country’s finest castles and palaces.
Most boating trips travel along the river Cher through the Loire Valley. It includes private walking and biking tours, wine tastings, and more. Aside from its rich history and beautiful scenery, the Loire Valley is also famous for its local culinary delights. Your boating trip will allow you to explore places like Château de La Bussière and stroll through its incredible gardens. You may also visit Château de Villandry, renowned for its vegetable, ornamental, and herb gardens.