There’s something idyllic, luxurious and perfectly relaxing about seeing a destination from the vantage point of a river. Drifting gently down the waterway, you can appreciate flora and fauna, rustic villages, and the fresh air at a slower, more poetic pace. Few places offer more picturesque and memorable adventures by barge than France. The country’s many splendid rivers wend through storybook villages, magnificent cities, vineyards bursting with bounty, and countryside bursting with both wildlife and history. Read on for the 5 top reasons to embark on a high-end France boat tour– and float away on a private adventure you won’t soon forget. Whether you opt for an entirely private river cruise or a luxurious, all-inclusive cruise that includes accommodations and meals, we’ll make sure your trip is truly extraordinary.
5 Reasons to Take a High-End France Boat Tour
..Luxury River-Based Adventures
Enjoy Peace & True Luxury
The main reason so many luxury travellers are drawn to high-end boat tours and cruises these days? The offering has gained considerably in sophistication in the past years, with cruise liners such as Viking offering river cruises that rival their open-sea counterparts in terms of amenities and prestige.
Touring France by river no longer means enduring hours on an uncomfortable, rickety barge: instead, you can float downstream in genuine peace and luxe. If group cruises aren’t your style, we can charter a prestigious and well-equipped vessel that offers plenty of amenities and comforts, from kitchen and sommelier service to high-end decks where you can lie back and truly relax.
There are countless boat tours operating around France, from the Rhine to the Canal du Midi and the Loire– but these often involve sharing cramped, uncomfortable quarters with other travellers and having no choices as to your stopovers and the time you’e allowed for each one. Hiring an expert travel planner to carefully design your bespoke river itinerary and secure the perfect private barge or other river vessel will bring the experience to a whole new level of relaxation and luxury.
Bask in Breathtaking Natural Scenery
For anyone looking to bask in wild nature and beautiful countryside, a luxury river excursion can offer ample opportunities to get in touch with France’s sublime flora and fauna. The Loire river, for example, is teeming with wild birds. Why not enjoy a private river safari that includes birdwatching, as well as familiarizing yourself with some of the other magnificent local species of plants and animals that inhabit the region’s many estuaries, wetland ecosystems and wildlife reserves?
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The Dordogne river, meanwhile, is one of France’s best-preserved ecosystems; nature enthusiasts will revel in the opportunity to witness wild animals such as beavers and otters, peregrins, ravens and many species of large predatory birds. The Vézère river is equally magnificent and wends its way to the dramatic gorges of the same name. These are in close reach of some of France’s most important prehistoric sites and cave paintings: who says humans aren’t a part of nature, after all?
Whatever your interests, from birdwatching and spotting land and water mammals in their natural habitat and learning more about France’s teeming river ecosystems, a cruise will allow you to take in natural wonders at a relaxed and un-demanding pace. This is also a good option for visitors with reduced or limited mobility who still wish to to enjoy fresh air and natural surroundings.
Explore Quaint French Villages & Inspiring Cities
Taking a high-end river cruise also affords you the opportunity to explore some of France’s nicest towns, villages and cities. From quaint and rustic to glamorous and metropolitan, stopovers allow you to take in regional color, interact with locals, encounter breathtaking historical places, and taste some of the best products the region has to offer.
Touring the Seine or Marne rivers, you can spend a day–or several– in Paris, city of light, luxury, art, architecture and gastronomy. This is also an opportunity to explore the guinguettes– riverside cafes– of the Marne, which were favorite subjects of impressionist painters. Many of the smaller towns along the Seine and Marne are quaint, quiet places worth stopping for at least an hour or two, perhaps to taste some local cheeses and wine (see below for more ideas on wine and food tours).
A luxury cruise on the Rhine river, meanwhile, will give you an opportunity to explore– on foot or by bicycle– some of the storybook-charming little villages of Alsace, with its timbered houses, vineyards, traditional taverns and festive French Christmas markets. Of course, the impressive French cities of Cologne and Strasbourg are also idyllic stops, with their breathtaking gothic cathedrals, fascinating markets, world-class restaurants and more.
Floating down the Loire river, you’ll be able to stop at mythical Loire Valley chateaux such as Chenonceau and Chambord, as well as visit vibrant local cities and villages such as Tours and Saumur.
Stopovers in other regions are also entirely possible. Just let us know what your dream itinerary might be, and we’ll work closely with you to bring it to life, whether on a private boat or on a luxury river cruiser.
Stay Onboard (or Off) in Style
For luxury travellers looking for a comprehensive and decadent onboard experience, it’s perhaps never been a better time to embark on European and French river cruises. High-end companies such as Viking and Avalon Waterways offer truly luxurious onboard stays with suites, full gastronomic meal service including wine, free wifi and many other amenities.
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On the other hand, if you wish to travel by private cruise to see different parts of France at your own pace, your bespoke itinerary can include overnight stays in extraordinary accommodations. For example, you might stay at a romantic Loire Valley castle following a private boat cruise through its splendid estuaries and pristine waters– a wonderful way to spend a honeymoon in France. Or you might elect to stay in an esteemed Parisian mansion or boutique hotel near the Champs-Elysées, following a day of exploring the charming banks of the Seine and Marne. There are so many possibilities for a relaxing and unforgettable stay.
Enjoy Wine Tasting & Other Gourmet Adventures
Finally, your private river cruise can easily include stopovers in some of France’s most-coveted vineyards, wineries, restaurants and markets for exclusive tastings and other gourmet adventures.
Why not punctuate a bespoke Loire river tour with a visit to some of the finest Loire valley wineries, tasting local specialities from Saumur white wines to Crémant de Loire, a sparkling white that rivals those of Champagne? Or take a fairy-tale trip on the waterways of the Rhine, tasting the distinctive and confidential wines of Alsace at estates dotted along the river? Heading southwest, you can also explore the rustic charms of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, with private excursions to Bordeaux, Bergerac or the charming medieval town of St-Emilion to taste the super wines of this coveted region. The possibilities are nearly endless for a private boat cruise that adds the benefit of discovering local vintages and meeting respected vintners.
Read related: Why to Take a Private French Wine Tour With Us
If you’re interested in making other gourmet discoveries, this is also an enticing possibility. Visit the local winstube (wine and food taverns) of Alsace, where local Franco-Germanic specialties are served in a convivial atmosphere. Take a French cheese tour of the Parisian region as part of a stopover on a cruise along the Seine or Marne river. Stop off in little towns on the Languedoc and sample the local bounty during a private cruise down the Canal du Midi.
Your private guide will initiate your palate to as many gourmet discoveries as you desire, arranging for meetings with French artisans, booking magical dinners at Michelin-star restaurants along your cruise route, or taking you on a whirl through a traditional French market. Open your eyes, mind and tastebuds to new gastronomic experiences.
Book a Private, High-End Boat Tour in France
Have we inspired you to hop aboard, and enjoy a luxurious adventure that’s equal parts rustic and relaxing? If so, get in touch with us now so we can design the ideal cruise through some of France’s most beautiful waterways. We can incorporate wine tastings, bike tours, country walks, or stays in gorgeous places along the way. Let us help you make your dream a reality.