When most people think of holidays to France they summon up images of a gîte in the middle of sunflower fields, touring the country and spending time in small Logis or perhaps a grand villa overlooking the coast in Cannes. All these images are idyllic however what’s even better is to take to the water, unpack only once and take in the wonderful scenery along the way without having to take on those crazy French motorists.
Delights of a Rhone or Saone Cruise
Two of the biggest rivers in France are the Rhone and Saone which are also famous for their fine wines and gastronomic delights. Cruises along the Rhone take in medieval villages such as Viviers which overlooks the gorge of Donzere, Avignon with the must see Pont d’Avignon; one of the highlights in this area, along with Arles, inspiration for Van Gough and home to one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres. Cruises on the Saone start from Chalons sur Soane and typically call at one of the best wine capitals Beaune, for the best Burgundy around. Along the route there will also be a stop at Lyon, the second largest city in France with fascinating Roman amphitheatre and medieval buildings. Lyon is perhaps one of the busiest stops in any itinerary as it is where the two rivers converge. Here you can taste fine French delicacies and visit some of the cities beautiful palaces and monuments
Cruises to this area vary between 4 and 15 nights; a grand tour travelling along the Seine, Saone and Rhone, all the way from Paris the Côte d’Azur. The newest ships have ultra modern facilities and elegant furnishings, every stateroom having a French balcony with full length glass doors allowing you to admire the view; they even come equipped for internet access and fitness centre.
Luxury Barge Cruises
Apart from the ‘normal’ cruise boats that take passengers along the French waterways there are also some extremely luxurious barges which have been converted. These barges can travel along some of the smaller canals such as the 300 year old Canal du Midi, but not necessarily at the slow walking speed that you would expect, these barges can keep up with the other kinds of craft. Sleeping on average 8 guests the barges are the height of luxury with handcrafted panelling, spacious sun decks complete with a heated sunken Jacuzzi, air conditioning and all staterooms with ensuite facilities. The captain is assisted by a tour guide, steward and master chef who will produce some the best French cuisine you will ever taste. Some craft carry mountain bikes which allow passengers the opportunity to explore a little further into the ports of call and the surrounding countryside. Take a picnic and a bottle of wine and enjoy all the area has to offer or maybe stop at the local market and pick up some local speciality bread and cheese and don’t forget some of the sweet tasting fruit to finish off with.
Cruises in this area are a real change from what you would normally expect and a great way to unwind and visit some wonderful areas of France.