Cruising in France

Cruising in France

Every family should have at least
one boating holiday – there’s nothing quite like it – and the waterways of
France are perfectly safe, even for first-timers. All the family will sleep
well in comfy beds and rise in the morning, ready for coffee, croissants and a
full sunny day: cruising along, mooring when and where you want, exploring the
nearby towns and villages, finding a fabulous market to buy provisions, or an
authentic café or restaurant for supper, taking in activities for the kids
(cycling, canoeing, horse-rising etc) – while others in the family can
sunbathe, read, sample the local wines, play boules, sleep. Idyllic.

With a boating vacation or holiday on the waterways of France, you
can experience the heart, the genuine ‘Essence’, of France – countryside,
villages, towns and cities – in ways that highway travel just cannot.

Exploring the French canals provides the opportunity to relax
completely, immersed in tranquil, pretty, surroundings that pass by serenely
and leisurely. For lovers of the countryside, of all things natural, this is

Choose your favourite location according to climate, scenic
beauty, nearby towns and cities or simply the activities on offer – and then
it’s just a question of clearing your diary and finding your ideal boat.
Fortunately, there’s a fantastic choice of vessels and routes for you to choose

France has 8,000km (5,000 miles) of navigable inland waterways – you can
travel by boat across this large country from north to south; and east to west,
using canals and rivers of great variety, size and scenic beauty. Whether
you’re interested in renting a self-drive hire boat,
chartering a luxury hotel barge, or planning a scenic riverboat cruise holiday or vacation (or even a voyage on your own
motor yacht through the canals to the deep blue Mediterranean, living aboard in one
of the world’s most civilised countries)  on the French Waterways there is
limitless potential for fascination, safe exploration, huge enjoyment, warm
friendship – and life-long memories. You’ll find fabulous routes throughout France 

Self Drive Hire Boat Holidays and Vacations in France

Hiring your
own cruising boat is an ideal way to explore and experience the pleasures and
treasures that the French waterways have to offer.

Luxury Hotel Barge Cruise Holidays and Vacations in France

Hotel barges
are elegant and supremely comfortable, converted from traditional vessels or
created as cruising boutique hotels from new. They are large and stable so
you’ll experience the smoothest of relaxing week-long vacations in high style.

  • Expert captain and nimble deck matelot
  • Professional masterchef creates fabulous
  • Friendly, attentive English-speaking hostess
    and cabin staff
  • Highly knowledgeable excursions and cruising
    route guide0

These beautiful floating hotels are found on all the most
desirable French waterways, cruising the most scenic routes. With a wide range
of sizes, comfort levels and prices, you can be sure the perfect one is waiting
just for you.

Book the holiday of a lifetime and return home with a unique
treasure-chest of priceless memories.

Riverboat Small Ship Cruise Holidays and Vacations in France

With a
complement of just 100-200 guests on board, river cruise ships (or
‘riverboats’) offer close, friendly and personal hospitality. Their modest size
means that they can moor up right in the heart of France’s world-famous
historic towns and cities and cruise sedately through the sunny heart of France
itself. Eight, highly experienced, river cruise companies offer an extensive
choice of river cruises on France’s four major rivers.

Every day brings fresh delights to savour – local culture,
cuisine, wine, architecture and immersion in the unique pavement-café bustle of
French life and the opportunity to visit local places of interest – chateaux,
vineyards, markets and historic or artistic sights.

Each small ship has its own personality, providing excellent
accommodation in light, airy and spacious surroundings. They feature superb
dining rooms, bars and sitting areas – and of course, a sun-deck complete with
parasols and loungers. Stateroom cabin bedrooms invariably have en-suite shower
rooms, TVs and modern services and, very importantly, each will have a large
window or private balcony from which to enjoy the rich panorama of countryside,
scenery and architecture as it passes just a short distance away.

French Waterways – Magical Boating Destinations

France has
an amazing 8,000 km (5,000 miles) of wonderful navigable rivers and canals. At
an average leisurely speed of 5 kilometres an hour, plus the days spent
exploring all the fascinating places along the way and in extended stays in
port, that means there’s actually many years of happy wandering waiting for you
to explore and enjoy!

Use the
links below to discover the self-drive boats available in each region.

concentrated richness of sceneryhistorycultureleisure andpleasure is
such that even just a few weeks spent voyaging the canals and rivers of one
small part of France is an experience you’ll never forget. Such a variety of
places, such a variety of scenes, such a variety of different waterways to
explore and people to make friends with.



PICARDY - PARIS - CHAMPAGNE : A unique and world-famous place – Paris on the Seine – the Somme
and Oise rivers – and Reims and Epernay in Champagne.

LORRAINE - ALSACE - ARDENNES : A backdrop of the magnificent Vosges mountains, deep green
forests, half-timbered towns and Strasbourg, Nancy and Metz.

BRITTANY - ANJOU : A gem, Celtic Brittany boasts one of the best river and canal
networks in France waterways. Breton culture, unspoilt countryside,
craggycastles and picturesque towns.

LOIRE - YONNE - NIVERNAIS : Sumptuous royal chateaux, castles, gardens and follies. Historic
waterfront towns, lush meadows and productive vineyards,  delicious gastronomy and superb wines.

BURGUNDY – FRANCHE-COMTÉ : Historic towns (Dijon, Beaune, Besancon and Macon), world famous
vineyards, attractive countryside teeming with wildlife and Michelin starred restaurants.

AQUITAINE - GASCONY - CHARENTE : A place to discover chateaux, historic villages and cities. The
culture and architecture is enhanced by the region’s delicious gourmet cuisine
and its fine wines.

MIDI - LANGUEDOC - HERAULT : Justly famous the world over, the historic Canal du Midi passes
through wonderful countryside, pretty villages and France’s most productive wine area.

PROVENCE - CAMARGUE - RHONE : Between mountains and sea, this beautiful area combines a sunny
Mediterranean climate with culture, history and an abundance of nature.

Getting Off – Wandering away 

Depending on the canal, you can stop more or less anywhere, and
just walk. The towpaths alongside the canals are, of course, level, making a
stroll between locks a simple pleasure. There are also bikes available to
include on most boats, so a longer cycle can take you inland for an easy
afternoon’s journey through lush countryside and, depending on your timing, nut
or fruit picking (including grapes) or to see the lavender and sunflowers in
full bloom.

And you will, almost invariably, wish to stop and tie up for lunch
and you will of course, moor up for the night  – at a favourite pretty
village or town that can be strolled to and explored.

Getting About – Excursions

No matter which regions or route you choose, you are bound to find
fascination and delight round every corner :

  • Vineyards,
    wine-producers and wine tasting
  • Local
    produce markets and ‘night markets’
  • Chateaux,
    castles, cathedrals and historic buildings
  • Museums
    and exhibitions
  • Artisans
    and craftspeople
  • Scenic
    viewpoints, lookouts and panoramas
  • Cafes
    and restaurants

Barging is an activity that appeals across the
generations. A barging vacation can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for
grandparents, parents and children to spend the most wonderful, close and
relaxed, time together – sometimes before the children ‘leave the nest’
although teenagers can get a great experience on board just as well!