Cruising in France

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

With a boating vacation or holiday on the waterways of France, youcan 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 relaxcompletely, immersed in tranquil, pretty, surroundings that pass by serenelyand leisurely. For lovers of the countryside, of all things natural, this isheaven.

Choose your favourite location according to climate, scenicbeauty, nearby towns and cities or simply the activities on offer – and thenit’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 choosefrom.

France has 8,000km (5,000 miles) of navigable inland waterways – you cantravel 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. Whetheryou’re interested in renting a self-drive hire boat (External link) ,chartering a luxury hotel barge (External link) , or planning a scenic riverboat cruise (External link) holiday or vacation (or even a voyage on your ownmotor yacht through the canals (External link) to the deep blue Mediterranean, living aboard in oneof the world’s most civilised countries) on the French Waterways there islimitless potential for fascination, safe exploration, huge enjoyment, warmfriendship – and life-long memories. You’ll find fabulous routes throughout France

Self Drive Hire Boat Holidays and Vacations in France

Hiring yourown cruising boat is an ideal way to explore and experience the pleasures andtreasures that the French waterways have to offer.

Luxury Hotel Barge Cruise Holidays and Vacations in France

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

  • Expert captain and nimble deck matelot
  • Professional masterchef creates fabulouscuisine
  • Friendly, attentive English-speaking hostessand cabin staff
  • Highly knowledgeable excursions and cruisingroute guide0

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

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

Riverboat Small Ship Cruise Holidays and Vacations in France

With acomplement of just 100-200 guests on board, river cruise ships (or‘riverboats’) offer close, friendly and personal hospitality. Their modest sizemeans that they can moor up right in the heart of France’s world-famoushistoric towns and cities and cruise sedately through the sunny heart of Franceitself. Eight, highly experienced, river cruise companies offer an extensivechoice 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 ofFrench 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 excellentaccommodation in light, airy and spacious surroundings. They feature superbdining rooms, bars and sitting areas – and of course, a sun-deck complete withparasols and loungers. Stateroom cabin bedrooms invariably have en-suite showerrooms, TVs and modern services and, very importantly, each will have a largewindow 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 hasan amazing 8,000 km (5,000 miles) of wonderful navigable rivers and canals. Atan average leisurely speed of 5 kilometres an hour, plus the days spentexploring all the fascinating places along the way and in extended stays inport, that means there’s actually many years of happy wandering waiting for youto explore and enjoy!

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

Theconcentrated richness of scenery, history, culture, leisure andpleasure issuch that even just a few weeks spent voyaging the canals and rivers of onesmall part of France is an experience you’ll never forget. Such a variety ofplaces, such a variety of scenes, such a variety of different waterways toexplore and people to make friends with.


PICARDY - PARIS - CHAMPAGNE (External link) : A unique and world-famous place – Paris on the Seine – the Sommeand Oise rivers – and Reims and Epernay in Champagne. (External link)

LORRAINE - ALSACE - ARDENNES (External link) : A backdrop of the magnificent Vosges mountains, deep greenforests, half-timbered towns and Strasbourg, Nancy and Metz. (External link)

BRITTANY - ANJOU (External link) : A gem, Celtic Brittany boasts one of the best river and canalnetworks in France waterways. Breton culture, unspoilt countryside,craggycastles and picturesque towns. (External link)

LOIRE - YONNE - NIVERNAIS (External link) : Sumptuous royal chateaux, castles, gardens and follies. Historicwaterfront towns, lush meadows and productive vineyards, delicious gastronomy and superb wines. (External link)

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

AQUITAINE - GASCONY - CHARENTE (External link) : A place to discover chateaux, historic villages and cities. Theculture and architecture is enhanced by the region’s delicious gourmet cuisineand its fine wines. (External link)

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

PROVENCE - CAMARGUE - RHONE (External link) : Between mountains and sea, this beautiful area combines a sunnyMediterranean climate with culture, history and an abundance of nature. (External link)

Getting Off – Wandering away

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

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

Getting About – Excursions

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

  • Vineyards,wine-producers and wine tasting
  • Localproduce markets and ‘night markets’
  • Chateaux,castles, cathedrals and historic buildings
  • Museumsand exhibitions
  • Artisansand craftspeople
  • Scenicviewpoints, lookouts and panoramas
  • Cafesand restaurants

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