France - a land rich in history, art, wine, great food and delightful people. These are a few of the reasons that draw us to this wonderful part of Europe. If you are thinking about a river cruise, the lines that sail the region have done an exceptional job weaving these experiences into their itineraries.
Which river to choose? Despite some similarities, each of these five waterways have unique personalities., which, depending on what you'd like to experience, should help you choose one or at least narrow down the choices.
Still can't decide? Choose one that best matches your dates and budget AND GO! You'll enjoy the experience no matter which area you choose.
NORMANDY: The Seine
The Paris to Normandy itinerary explores the Seine River, taking you from the heart of the City of Lights to the Beaches of Normandy. The itinerary enjoys a wonderful mix of gardens, art and history: walking in the footsteps of Van Gogh and Bonaparte in Conflans, touring Joan of Arc's hometown of Rouen, walking Monet's gardens in Giverny, and visiting the WWII landing beaches. The Normandy region is also a rich agricultural region, well known for its creamy cheeses and apple brandy.
Paris round-trip has been the traditional itinerary, though a number of lines are now offering one direction trips (between Paris and Le Havre area) to provide opportunities to explore the Brittany region - medieval fortresses, historic walled cities and the magical Mont St. Michel monastery.
BRITTANY: The Loire
Two hours south of Paris, the Loire Valley is rich with French Royal history. Here you'll find a spectacular display of Renaissance architecture - literally hundreds of chateaux in a region that became fashionable with royalty and the Parisian rich during the Renaissance period. The Loire Valley also produces its share of wonderful wines.
BORDEAUX: The Dordogne and Garonne
Bordeaux is hand's down, one of the best wine capitals in the world. The region has been producing wine since the 8th century and has abundant vineyards and wineries which are the highlight of all itineraries. Wine tasting opportunities just about every day. Stunning chateaux and fortresses can also be seen all along the route.
PROVENCE: The Rhone
Lavender fields and the glamorous resort towns of the French Riviera are often thought of first when one thinks of Provence, and they certainly are a big draw. Provence, like the other regions, is also rich in art, history and gastronomy. Itineraries are largely between Arles and Lyon, and the excursions have you exploring the region's Roman heritage and ruins, Tournon, one of France's oldest medieval cities and Avignon, the City of Popes. Arles is what inspired many of Van Gogh's paintings. Lyon, France's gastronomy capital, is a foodie's delight, along with the nearby Cotes du Rhone wine region. Chateuneuf - du- Pape may be a name you are familiar with.
Photo courtesy of European Waterways
France's canals are found in multiple regions- Champagne, Alsace-Lorraine, Burgundy. Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Gascony and Canal du Midi. I may have missed a few. Barge hotels are small, luxury vessels with 8-22 passengers that explore France's canals. Sail through glorious countryside steeped in history, taking in beautiful scenery and visiting quaint country villages. Exceptional experiences for those seeking a unique, quite, slow-paced vacation.
Ready to learn more or get started on your river adventure?
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder