France has eight quite distinct and fascinating regions – influenced by previous occupants and neighbouring countries as well as by geography and climate. Together they provide a glorious variety of cuisines, wines and cultures to savour and come to love. Each region has delightful waterways, just ready for you to discover by self-drive boat, hotel barge or riverboat cruise.
Canal du Midi
Cruise one of the oldest canals in the world; the Canal du Midi is unique and breathtakingly beautiful, earning the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site. By self-drive boat or hotel barge, it offers a variety of cruising vistas – from sea-scapes and hillside views to tiny villages and the stunning medieval castle at Carcassonne.
Paris ~ Champagne
Discover the iconic sights and thrilling delights of Parisien city life – the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, interspersed with gourmet dining and street-café lunches perhaps. Then, head off east to immerse yourself in the famous vineyards and cellars of Champagne’s lush green hillsides. Prepare for mouth-watering tastings of delicious bubbly.
Northern Burgundy ~ Loire ~ Nivernais
This heartland of France offers sunny rolling vistas dotted with thousands of chateaux, famous vineyards, fields of sunflowers and picturesque villages. Well-served with waterways – both rivers and canals – you’ll be able to cruise by self-drive boat, hotel barge and riverboat through this wonderful countryside.
Southern Burgundy ~ Saône
Famous for its red and white wines and its Grand Cru route through the vineyards, the region bursts with culinary prowess too. The Dukes of Burgundy left an historic legacy, including medieval Beaune, the modern city of Dijon and one of the most popular waterway routes from Paris, the Canal de Bourgogne, which meanders through the Côtes d’Or and into the peaceful Saône river southwards.
Strasbourg ~ Alsace
Stunning mountain scenery and picture-book houses typify this region, with architecture and cuisine influenced by neighbouring Switzerland and Germany. Famous for its romantic sparkling Christmas markets, Alsace is a favourite for riverboat cruises on the river Rhine and hotel barge cruises on the canalised waterways of Strasbourg.
Provence ~ Camargue
Provence conjures up the perfumed fields of lavender and bright sunflowers, the artistry of Van Gogh and the rich wines of Chateauneuf du Pape. The major cities of the Rhône – Avignon and Arles – lead you south to the Camargue, the white horses and pink flamingos, the Crusades of Aigues Mortes and the heat of the blue, blue Mediterranean sea-scapes.
Aquitaine ~ Bordeaux
Aquitaine (once part of England) is an ancient wine-growing region, famed for its St Emilion label amongst others. The Gironde estuary, with its tributaries the rivers Dordogne and Garonne, and the Canal de Garonne, offer cruising for self-drive, hotel barge and riverboat cruising. See the beautiful city of Bordeaux at its best from the waterways.
Brittany ~ Anjou
Brittany’s and Anjou’s charms resides in rural countryside; quiet country lanes, tiny hamlets and views across wonderful landscapes make cruising these waterways a complete delight. Visit the cities of Rennes, Nantes, Angers and Le Mans and discover the breton way of life as well as the generous smattering of chateaux that remind us of this north-west corner’s historical importance.
Cruising France – the options
You can cruise the canals and rivers in each region of France piloting your own Self-drive Hire boat,
being pampered in fine style aboard a luxury Hotel Barge,
or as a guest cruising aboard an impressive de-luxe Riverboat.
Self-Drive Canal Boating
Go your own way. Explore the pleasures and treasures of the French waterways.
Luxury Hotel Barging
Lie back and let the skipper and crew take care of everything. Great food. Fine wine. Unique.