If you’re looking to spend your next vacation combining luxury, leisure, and the beauty of French cuisine and nature, then it’s time for you to learn about the variety of canal cruises offered all over the country. These slow-paced canal cruises are the perfect way to savor France’s scenic beauty and cultural richness. They offer a unique travel experience that lets you take in the charm and history of France’s many waterways. Whether you want to taste the best wines of France, take in scenic countryside views, or explore the history of old French villages, these cruises offer the perfect combination of luxury, relaxation, and cultural exploration.
1. Renaissance and La Nouvelle Etoile – Loire and Western Burgundy
First, we’re headed to the Canal de Briare, Upper Loire, and Western Burgundy, France. Here you’ll find an exquisite luxury barge trip with interiors echoing a French manor house that will escort you to local châteaux and vineyards. The Canal de Briare is France’s oldest canal. It is surrounded by picturesque landscapes featuring idyllic villages, opulent châteaux like Château de Fontainebleau, and renowned vineyards famous for its Sancerre wines. The best time to visit is between spring and autumn for pleasant weather and many regional wine and cultural events.
2. Panache – Champagne Region
If you’re not a fan of wine but love to celebrate with a bottle of bubbly, this is the place for you because we’re now off to the Champagne region of France. On this canal ride, you will have a luxurious journey with traditional interiors. You will visit the iconic UNESCO-listed Reims Cathedral, Moët & Chandon champagne house, and historical sites like Château-Thierry and Belleau Wood. The best time to visit is between spring and fall for the vineyard tours offered along the way. On your journey, stop and explore La Maison Pannier’s underground cellars for an exclusive champagne-tasting experience.
3. Anjodi, Enchante & Athos – Canal du Midi
If you’re looking for various vessels with unique styles, offering luxurious amenities and a journey through one of France’s most famous waterways, then it’s time to visit Canal du Midi in Southern France. The Canal du Midi is a 330-year-old engineering marvel and a UNESCO World Heritage site that takes you through charming villages like Carcassonne, natural havens like the Petit Camargue, and renowned wine regions. For the best cruise experience, visit in late Spring to Early Fall. Don’t forget to explore the medieval town of Minerve and the natural tunnel at Malpas.
4. Nymphea – Loire Valley
Now we’re off to Loire Valley, France for a cozy and traditional Dutch barge experience, where you’ll find a deck offering wine, views of quaint villages, and grand châteaux.
Interesting History: The Loire Valley is renowned for its charming countryside and breathtaking, iconic châteaux like Château de Chenonceau and Château d’Amboise. Here, the best time to visit is in the spring and summer so you can take in the full bloom of the valley. While off the barge, consider a hot air balloon ride for a unique perspective of the Loire Valley’s gorgeous landscape.
5. Panache – Alsace & Lorraine
For our final stop, we’re headed to Alsace & Lorraine, France, where you’ll take a voyage through steep valleys and tunnels, showcasing the region’s rich cultural heritage and traditions. On this trip, you’ll see the Vosges mountains, the beautiful Doubs Valley, and picturesque towns along the waterway. Here, the region’s history is intertwined with French and German influences, evident in its architecture, cuisine, and traditions. Make sure to go in the late spring to early fall for comfortable cruising and local festivities peppered along the way. For a more serene and rejuvenating experience, activities like yoga and “forest baths” are also offered with the trip.
More From The Green Voyage
The post Slow Travel 2024 – 5 Luxurious Canal Barge Cruises in France first appeared on The Green Voyage.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nieuwland Photography.