If you are looking at Europe river cruises, you can’t do better than to consider a European river cruise in France! With over 8,500 kilometers worth of navigable rivers and canals available, France offers its visitors a veritable deluge of river cruise vacation possibilities. In fact, selecting the excursion to take will be your biggest difficulty. Organizing a boating vacation in France is as easy as sending an email or picking up your telephone. It’s a well-established branch of the tourism industry here.
And with good reason. The wealth of sights and depth of experience to be had from a river cruise in France is overwhelming. But this should be of no surprise to anyone. The visitor to France has always had too much to choose from – and no, it doesn’t always have to be Paris – and this very variety is what makes France one of the most popular vacation spots in Europe. But this variety won’t make your choice of waterway any easier, either.
In the sunny south, for instance, you will find the famous Canal du Midi, the Canal Laterale a la Garonne, the Garonne itself as well as the Lot. The Mitte region of central France offers the popular Canal du Nivernais and the Canal de Bourgogne. In the north you will find a very large selection of canals and rivers which connect Paris not only to the south but to the Atlantic coast, Belgium and the German network of waterway, as well – the most well-known of these being the Canal de la Marne au Rhin. In other words, a single recommendation simply won’t do. Here is one small example just to whet your appetite, however: The Canal du Midi.
The Canal du Midi is Europe’s oldest artificial waterway and is located between Toulouse and Port-Cassfieres on the Mediterranean coast. A leisurely cruise here (one week is recommended) will take you along sights like the famous medieval city of Carcassonne, the huge and peaceful salt water lake Etang de Thau, the ancient Roman city of Narbonne with its buried port and lost delta of the Aude, and the 14th century castle at Argens, to name just a few points of interest. The Canal du Midi is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and won’t disappoint you anywhere along the way from Minervois to the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean.
But just keep in mind a few of the essentials when booking. First of all, regardless of the cruise you choose, you will need a little time. One week should be planned as a minimum, regardless of which waterway you choose, though the more time you have with you on the water the better, of course. Many canals can be closed during the winter months and many locks operate with strict opening hours. In other words, be patient and flexible – just like the French! And don’t forget to organize a bike to bring along with you on board. There will be many an adventure waiting for you just off the beaten path, oops, waterway, that is.