The Best Rivers to Explore in France

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As one of the world's most beautiful countries, France has a large expanse of breathtaking natural waterways spread throughout the country. Far from the hustle and bustle, these rivers wind their way through picturesque countryside, passing through grand chateaux and lovely villages.

Here are some of the best rivers to explore in France.

1. The Dordogne

The Dordogne River flows through the Gironde estuary northeast of Bordeaux. It's a majestic river passing through beautiful attractions, including riverside castles. The river's basin is UNESCO-listed and recognised for its well-preserved natural setting and fantastic cultural heritage.

Cruising on flat-bottomed boats is the best way to explore Dordogne. These boats were used to transport agricultural goods during ancient times and are now used to ferry visitors who want to explore the river's remarkable scenery.

2. The Loire River

The Loire Valley is one of France's most picturesque regions and where you'll find the Loire River, one of the country's most famous rivers. While river cruising is a popular way to discover the region, consider experiencing a self-driving tour through the Loire Valley, one of the best ways to see all that this stunning area has to offer.

Exploring the Loire will take you through grand chateaux, charming villages, and excellent wineries. What's more, the region is known for having some of the best restaurants in France, serving delectable French food paired with the finest wine.

3. The Seine

Most river cruises in France start in the Seine River before winding their way through Paris, passing through its famous attractions, such as the Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre Museum. It's a great city to explore if you want to discover the delights of Paris and the Normandy region. Most cruises also include activities like sightseeing in the City of Lights and cycling through the charming villages of Normandy and its vineyards.

4. River Rhine

As one of Europe's longest rivers, the Rhine is a popular spot for river cruising in France. It goes
into the North Sea, forming a natural border between France and Germany.

If you love exploring majestic rivers, a cruise along the Rhine River is the perfect way to do just that! There's plenty to enjoy along the way, depending on the route. You can take the cruise that starts in Basel, Switzerland and into the Netherlands. It's a fantastic opportunity to discover Europe's most beautiful cities and sample Alsatian food and wine. History lovers will also be in for a treat as the journey takes you through medieval castles and historical villages.

5. Garonne

If you’re exploring France and love wine, you should visit the Garonne River by taking a cruise from the wine-growing region of Bordeaux. The cruise will take you through southwestern France's most beautiful countryside, winding its way through quaint villages and stunning vineyards.

On your cruise to the Garonne, you will also have the opportunity to explore rolling vineyards and excellent wineries that produce revered French wine labels. You can take a hotel barge cruise to Toulouse to explore further upriver through the Garonne Canal. It's also possible to explore more than one river by taking multiple river cruises, which combine the Seine, Rhone or Garonne, three of France's most beautiful rivers.