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!.
And the concentrated richness of scenery, history, culture, leisure and pleasure 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.
The French Waterway Network
Rivers, Canals and Regions
Our eight approximately drawn waterways regions relevant to waterborne holidays and vacations. Use the links on this page to explore each one and discover the self-drive hire boats, luxury hotel barges and river cruises available in each area.
A unique and world-famous place – Honfleur, Rouen and incomparable Paris on the Seine – the Somme and Oise rivers – and Reims and Epernay to the Marne-Champagne east.
The Seine, Somme, Oise, Marne and Aisne rivers
With a backdrop of the magnificent Vosges Mountains, Lorraine’s memorable waterways visit deep green forests, battlefields, half-timbered towns and cities like Strasbourg, Nancy and Metz.
Canals Vosges, Marne-Rhine, Ardennes; Meuse and Moselle
A gem, Celtic Brittany boasts one of the best river and canal networks in France waterways – one devoted purely to pleasure cruising. Breton culture, unspoilt countryside, picturesque towns and craggy castles.
Nantes-Brest Canal and Vilaine, Blavet, Sarthe rivers
Sumptuous royal chateaux, castles, gardens and follies. Historic waterfront towns, red-roofed churches, lush meadows and productive vineyards, delicious gastronomy and superb wines.
Canals Loire Lateral, Loing, Briare and Nivernais
This historic region brings together historic towns (including Dijon, Beaune, Besancon and Macon), world famous vineyards, attractive countryside teeming with wildlife and Michelin starred restaurants.
Canals Bourgogne, Centre, Rhone-Rhine and River Saone
A network of scenic rivers and canals, a place to discover historic cities (Bordeaux) and chateaux. The culture and architecture is enhanced by the region’s delicious gourmet cuisine and its fine wines.
The Canal de Garonne and the Baise, Lot and Charente rivers
A World Heritage Site, France’s most productive wine-producing area is ideal for both experienced and novice cruisers with a range of sights, historic attractions and superb wildlife along the way.
The Canal du Midi and the Canal la Nouvelle.
Between mountains and sea, from the Camargue delta northwards along the Rhone, this beautiful area combines a sunny Mediterranean climate with culture, history and an abundance of nature.
The Rhone, the Petit Rhone and the Rhone-à-Sete canal.