Sightseeing from the waterways is one of the best ways to bond with the family while exploring the breathtaking landscapes of the French countryside. France is home to scenic and winding rivers flanked by magnificent chateaux, tranquil vineyards, and picturesque villages. So, if you’re here for a family holiday, river cruising should be on top of your itinerary. Here are the best rivers for family cruising holidays in France.

  • The Seine 

The best way to admire the dazzling beauty of Paris is to cruise along the Seine River at night. Seeing the City of Lights from the river is such an unforgettable experience, especially when you combine it with a romantic dinner on board. The journey takes you through the middle of Paris, passing along famous sights like the Notre Dame Cathedral and Eiffel Tower, which both look magical at night. 

A river cruise along the Seine is also a fantastic option for families who want to discover the culinary scene of France. The City of Lights is home to the best restaurants in France, where you can sample delectable Paris food. While some cruises include meals on board, it’s worth going around the city to visit some of its best dining spots if you want to discover France’s best food offerings. From classic French bistros to luxury Michelin-starred restaurants, Paris has everything a food lover could ever want. 

You can also book daytime cruises along the river Seine if you prefer to explore during the day. There are sightseeing cruises with stops at the city’s famous attractions, including the Musee d’Orsay, Notre Dame, and more. These boats have dedicated audio headsets, so you can learn some facts about the places you will visit. 

seine river cruise
  • Dordogne River 

One of the great things about river cruising with family in France is that you will have plenty of time to admire the local surroundings, which is particularly enjoyable if you are in the Dordogne River. Lying in the southwest of France, the Dordogne Valley is the ideal location for your family holiday. It’s a picturesque area renowned for its historic charm, gorgeous scenery, magical chateaux, exceptional food, and lovely villages.

At 500 km long, the Dordogne River traverses much of the areas in southwest France, coming from its source in the Massif to its final confluence with the Garonne River before reaching the Atlantic Ocean in Bordeaux. The views along the river are superb, passing along numerous towns and villages with a great deal of stunning countryside beauty to discover nearby.

Imposing limestone cliffs line some areas along the Dordogne River, and in them are elegant châteaux and medieval castles gazing over the gently moving waters. Keep your eyes peeled on the stunning vineyards that further enhance the beauty of the Dordogne, although the historic towns and small villages are the beating heart of the Dordogne Valley.

  • The Garonne River

The Garonne River is another river that takes you around the Bordeaux region, one of the country’s most famous regions for wine. Located in southwest France, it flows from the central Pyrenees of Spain and into the Gironde estuary of Bordeaux. It is 529 km long, 47 km of which belongs to Spain.

While the areas along the Garonne River are utterly beautiful, they do not have the dramatic topography you can enjoy from a cruise along the Rhine or Danube River. But for families who love wine, culinary arts, beautiful vineyards, and palatial chateaux, cruising the Garonne River will suit you. 

The Garonne River cruise itineraries will vary, depending on the cruise line. However, the main offerings include stopping by a couple of days in the Bordeaux region, where you will explore picturesque villages and tour wine regions of Cognac or Saint-Emilion. You will find cruises that begin in Paris, but you can also fly directly to the airport of Bordeaux.

  • The Loire River

For families with little kids who love fairy tales, what could be better than a river cruise through the Loire Valley dotted with splendid chateaux that look like they came out of a fairy tale book? At 1,006 km long, the Loire is the longest river in France and was one of the waterways with an active fleet during the 17th Century. 

Your river cruise of the Loire will take you through the stunning scenery of the French countryside and discover the Loire Valley, a region rich in history and boasting a plethora of chateaux. The river has been transporting cargo and passengers for more than 2,000 years from the Roman Times, as it winds its way to the banks of the Atlantic Ocean. Boasting spectacular beauty, the Loire Valley is a timeless region rich in legend as it is in beauty. It used to be the residence of the French aristocrats who built chateaux in the area for centuries. 

Nowadays, you can still visit some of these chateaux. You will also have the chance to wander around its narrow streets lined with centuries-old villages and talk to a cheesemaker to learn more about the famous goat cheese of France. As you stroll through the picturesque region, you’ll stumble across hidden shops selling pottery or lively markets selling fresh local produce.

  • The Rhine

The villages around the Rhine River are charming, something your kids will love to explore. It’s a land of half-timbered houses with fairy tale castles and ruined fortresses perched on top of its craggy hills. There’s no better way to discover this part of France than on a river cruise.

On your family cruise of the Rhine, expect gracious service, fun lectures from local historians, and village excursions led by expert guides. As your cruise slowly navigates down the river, gather at the deck and admire the captivating beauty of the Rhine Valley. 

The views you’ll see along the river Rhine are endlessly fascinating. One moment your boat glides past lush forests and towering cliffs soaring to more than a thousand feet, and the next, you’ll pass along stunning vineyards producing world-famous French wines.

This is a Guest Blog Post by Penny Martinelli
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