France is blessed with large expanses of breathtaking natural waterways spread throughout the country’s picturesque regions. However, there’s much more than the famous Seine in Paris, the city of love. A vast network of tranquil rivers and canals provides a glorious backdrop to the country’s landscape. Thus, it’s no surprise that river cruising in France is very popular. Especially among visitors who want to discover the French countryside in both comfort and luxury. Below, check out the best rivers to visit in France.
At over 1,000 km, the Loire is the longest river in France, rising in the southern Massif Central before flowing north and west for over 600 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The flow of the river is relatively small throughout much of the year. However, during floods, the river could rise very rapidly, and fast currents can make navigating the river dangerous, especially if it reaches depths of about 2 metres.
The Loire has earned a reputation for being the grandest, greatest, and most scenic river in Europe, and rightfully so. It flows through an enchanting parade of grand châteaux, ancient palaces, and stunning vineyards. In fact, the entire Loire Valley has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region’s biggest draw is its striking landscapes, but it’s also famous for its laid back pace of life, rich culture and mouth-watering gastronomy.
Touraine, the region’s heartland, is dubbed the “Garden of France” and boasts some of the country’s finest wines and goat’s cheese. It’s also home to some fascinating historical sites, including Chenonceau, one of the region’s finest chateaux. Touraine is home to three of the Loire River’s most beautiful tributaries, Vienne, Indre, and Cher. If you can spend at least a week in the region, these are the areas you should explore. You should also check out the picturesque towns of Amboise and Blois, which are home to some of the country’s most gorgeous chateaux.
One of the famous rivers in France – the Dordogne
The Dordogne River is one of the most beautiful rivers in France, offering exceptional scenery and adrenaline-filled adventures. Interspersed with beaches, forests, meadows, and charming stone villages, Dordogne has incredibly stunning scenery and landscapes. One of the best ways to explore the Dordogne River is on a canoe trip.
The Dordogne River is one of the reasons that the Dordogne region has become one of the most visited places in France. One of the river’s highlights is the area from Tremolat to la Roque Gageac. The stretch is relatively short, passing through some of the country’s most charming villages. You can access the Dordogne River in most parts of the Dordogne region. The river is reasonably slow flowing, which you can best explore on a canoe. You can also take organised boat trips from La Roque Gageac, Beynac, or Bergerac. There are several river beaches along Dordogne where you can swim and enjoy water sports.
Read my post on the best Winter Vineyard Experiences To Try
If you want to explore the Dordogne Valley on a canoe, the best place to start is in the Valley of Castles circuit. Paddle your way towards Château de Castelnaud or Château de Beynac and spend some time admiring the beautiful chateaux before moving on to the beautiful villages of Périgord and La Roque-Gageac.
A cruise along the picturesque Rhine River offers visitors some of the most stunning landscapes of France, passing along ancient cathedrals and majestic castles. In fact, you will find that some of the most excellent river cruising options in France pass through the Rhine, a perfect way to discover the country’s lovely rivers.
While some cruises sail through the entire length of the river, starting in Amsterdam in the north towards Basel in Switzerland, it’s also possible to choose a Rhine River cruise that begins in France, particularly in Paris. Before you start your cruise, it’s worth spending a day or two exploring the City of Lights. Wander its picturesque streets and stop for some delectable wine and French Pastries. Visit famous sites like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre Museum. Some of these sites you can see during your Rhine River cruise.
If you have plenty of time, you can take the cruise that passes through multiple countries, from Switzerland to Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Of course, it stops in Paris, the world’s most romantic city.
The tranquil waters of the river Marne have inspired some of the world’s most famous artists, such as Pissarro and Cézanne, and it continues to charm to this day. A barge holiday in France is the best way to explore Marne’s fascinating views and rich history while discovering the waterways that were once an important trade passage.
The river Marne is about 514 km long, starting in the Langres plateau. It then makes its way westward to link with the River Seine in Paris. Marne continues its journey towards the picturesque French countryside, passing through charming villages. Including Meaux, famous for its brie, and Jouarre, home to a fascinating 12th-Century Benedictine abbey. Aside from its fascinating historical sites, the region also boasts an impressive wine-growing tradition.
A cruise along the peaceful waters of river Marne is the best way to escape the chaos of city life. It will leave you with exceptional memories. The journey is also a fascinating way to discover the history of the pretty villages along the way.
Beautiful rivers in France – the Vienne
The Vienne River lies in western France and is about 217 miles long. It rises along Plateau de Millevaches. It winds through the regions of Haute Vienne before flowing past historic towns and villages, including Chinon.
The Vienne is a major river in France and a significant tributary of the Loire. It supports several hydroelectric dams and is considered the main river of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.
Flowing west to the city of Limoges, which played a significant role in the famous Limoges porcelain industry, Vienne then takes a turn to the north. Along its confluence with the Loire, it joins the rivers Creuse and Clain. And after a journey of over 300 kilometres, it arrives in the Loire at Candes-Saint-Martin.
As well as gorgeous rivers, France is also home to some of the best ski destinations for families.
Main Image – Photo by Helena Jankovičová Kováčová: https://www.pexels.com/photo/motorboats-docked-in-the-marina-of-port-grimaud-6782248/ 2nd Image – Photo by Dušan Cvetanović: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-row-of-tall-buildings-near-the-river-12541481/
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