A Guide to Travel in France by River

Whilst in the vineyards through champagne country , take your next trip through France by river, lining historic villages and landscapes.

Charles de Gaulle is known to have said, “Only peril can bring the French together. One can’t impose unity out of the blue on a country that has 265 kinds of cheese”.

He was both right and wrong. Individualism is an important part of the French personality, there are probably no other people on the planet as united in their fraternity as the French are. 

When there’s a national calamity such as a flood, almost every citizen of France comes out to help. Even those who have retired from the utility services, participate in full force to make sure municipal services such as electricity, gas and water are restored at the earliest time possible. So that’s an example of their unity. On the other hand, each region is proud of its specific cuisine and culture.

There is so much to see that one would otherwise miss but for waterway travel. This is an excellent way to experience the diversity in their culture, history and dining.

In this article, we’ll talk about three of their most important rivers: The Seine, The Loire and The Rhone. We will also guide you along the routes, showing you the famous spots along each waterway, as you explore France by river.

 

The Seine 

Seven hundred-seventy five kilometres long and flowing through northern France, your first stop from Paris should be Conflance, which is the confluence of the Oise and Seine Rivers. Tour Montjoie, the tower built over a thousand years ago, Parc du Prieuré and Musée de la Batelleri, are all in Conflance as well. Enjoy the route and the landscape while you’re sailing along the water.

The best thing to do on a ride down The Seine is to halt again at Vernon and Giverny. By now, you are already in the region of Normandy. While in Vernon, see one of the most beautiful historic buildings in the world; Maison du Temps Jadis, and many other landmarks.

Further down the river you will want to stop at Les Andelys for the panoramic view from the Chateau-Gaillard. Having sailed even more you will reach Rouen, the capital city of Normandy. Even though it’s the capital of France, this city takes you back in time with its atmosphere of the Roman era and many of the structures from the middle ages, the Gothic churches and the cobblestoned pedestrian centre.

Continuing on your river journey again your last stop is going to be the small city of Caudebec-en-Caux which is not far from the beaches of Normandy, where the allied forces landed. Even though the river ends at Le Havre, into the English channel, Caudebec would be a better choice to finish your travels in France. 

 

The Rhone

This river of more than 800 kilometers stretches through Lyon, Villeurbanne, Valence and Avignon as the major stops in France that should spark enjoyment whilst traveling through this waterway. What must not be forgotten are the many villages and towns you will pass through, too. Till this day, Lyon remains an economic hub of France and has been one of the most important cities since the Renaissance.

The city is known for its gastronomy, architecture and history. You will find yourself lost in time in the old district, the Fourviere Hill and the slopes of Croix-Rousse. Just as you leave Lyon you will enter Villeurbanne which is said to be the perfect place to explore the Rhone-Alps region.

Then comes Valence, the city of Cathedrals, medieval chateaus and archeological sites. If you continue to sail along you will finally arrive at the great city of Avignon. This city in the gorgeous Provence region of the country was the seat of Catholic popes from 1309 to 1377 and remained under papal rule straight through to the late 18th century.

One of the most historical and picturesque cities in France, Avignon should be on everyone’s itinerary.

 

The Loire

This route should be of particular interest to those who are interested in both history and wine culture. Passing through Amboise, which is famous for its castle, a little diversion takes you to Chinon, famous for its wine caves and finally to Angers and Nantes. Like on all river routes you will pass through several small villages as well on the Loire.

This particular site, https://french-waterways.com/ would be particularly useful to those planning on exploring the country via its waterways.

Photo: Shutterstock / Edited by Richie Chan


If you’d like to visit more waterways on your next holiday, check out the best waterways in the world.

The Best Waterways In The World

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