River tourism and cruises in France

A river cruise through France It is undoubtedly the ideal way to explore and discover the hidden treasures of various regions connected by inland waterways. You will have as many opportunities for suggestions for French cruise itineraries as for inland waterways as it offers the Europe's largest river network with 8000 km of waterways.

The great advantage of this way of traveling is that during the day you can sail or dock at any point on the shore to take a walk, visit a town on the route or simply disembark to buy food. At night it is forbidden to navigate, so it is best to dock somewhere along the route to rest or find a charming restaurant to savor an exquisite dinner.

The best thing is that you can take bicycles on board, whether they are for touring or mountain, ideal for making interesting excursions in the surroundings. And it is that with the boat, the rental company provides information on the possible routes that can be followed (with the different locks that must be passed) and a small gourmet guide with all the restaurants in the area that are going to be visited.

Whichever canal or river you decide to navigate, one thing is for sure: you will discover France from a different perspective with the incentive that you yourself will be the one who decides the places where you want to stop, the towns and cities you want to visit or the places natural that you want to discover. Not seduced by the idea?

Discover the most beautiful canals in France and Europe to rent your river boat

River tourism in France allows you to travel at a different pace and have the time to discover varied landscapes and taste everything that France has to offer. River cruises in France offer many suggestions for itineraries. Renting a boat on the canals of France will allow you to discover 9 sailing regions from another point of view: the deck of your boat, a marvel!

Before the train existed, the best, and perhaps the fastest, way to communicate and travel in Europe was through rivers and canals. In this sense, France is the country par excellence for river tourism, with its nature, culture and difficulty to choose from, if you go with your own boat.

More than 8,500 kilometers of navigable canals linking five major rivers: the Seine, the Loire, the Garonne, the Rhine and the Rhône. The offer of cruises and boat rentals is wide and the experience, of course, must be lived.

Before the arrival of the railroad, the proliferation of canals was favored in Europe, due to the complicated maintenance of rivers to make them navigable, together with the strategic needs of fast communication routes to transport goods.

The desire of Louis XIV to mark his reign with an imperishable work, together with economic and political needs, pushed to put into practice an old chimera of the French rulers: the construction of a waterway that would allow internal communication.

Currently the channels are used for tourism, leisure and even as housing. The French State is the owner and its management is entrusted to the public entity Voies Navigables de France.

Among the activities linked to the canal are

  • the flow of ships between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea
  • river tourism in rental boats or restaurant boats.
  • el rowing (in urban areas)
  • cycling, roller skating or hiking on its banks
  • In urban areas, numerous barges have been converted into family homes, show rooms, shops, exhibition venues, etc ...

The most prominent channels for river tourism in France

  • Canal du Midi or Half Day: it is the one that connects Toulouse with the Mediterranean and runs sunny between the vineyards of the Languedoc region. It is one of the most famous navigable canals in the world, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, with a special beauty thanks not only to the landscape, but to the canal itself, with the passages through the locks and the bridge-canals.
  • Burgundy Canal, There are 1,500 kilometers of rivers and canals where it is impossible not to enjoy
  • Lateral canal of the Loire, Located in the center of France, it is the area of the most spectacular castles, the most beautiful and romantic gardens, medieval fairytale villages and Roman cities.
  • Nivernais Canal: 180 kilometers to link the Loire basin with that of the Seine. They say that it is the most beautiful canal in France because of the calm with which it runs and because of the landscape that accompanies it.

 The regions covered by these channels

  • Midi region
  • Camargue
  • Burgundy-Yonne Canal
  • Burgundy-Loire Canal
  • Burgundy-Nivernais Canal
  • Brittany
  • Charente
  • Anjou
  • Alsace-Lorraine
  • Aquitaine
  • Franche Comté
  • Lot
  • Ardennes

Select the destination that interests you the most on the map to obtain information about the route and tourist attractions in the region.

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River tourism destinations in France


Alsace - Lorraine




Burgundy - Canal lateral à la Loire



Burgundy Canal

Canal du midi


Franche Comté

The Burgundy Nivernais Yonne


River boats in Europe