France is a land of waterways – rivers, canals and sea and a cruise is one of the best ways to explore the country’s many charms and diverse landscape. But not just any old cruise. There’s a lot of choice but for me, the cruise company that stands out above all others is CroisiEurope. They are a family-owned, French company based in Strasbourg. I’ve been on five cruises with them and loved every moment. It’s a wonderful way to experience the culture, gastronomy and historic treasures of France. And you’re thoroughly spoiled from the minute you arrive to the minute you leave.
So, here’s why I think CroisiEurope are the best cruises in France…
All-inclusive and 5 Star cuisine – The best cruises in France
When you board ship, you unpack – and that’s it until you go home. There’s no packing and unpacking. There’s no rush, no stress and no need to keep paying for things separately. Everything is all-inclusive – meals, wine and most drinks (some alcohol does cost extra like Champagne).
The standard of French cuisine on board is outstanding. Three and four course lunches and dinners every day – unless you’re on an excursion where meals may be in a restaurant (also inclusive). And the wine is seriously good, not cheap plonk, but really good wines with a choice at meals. There’s an open bar and soft drinks, tea and coffee always available. Let’s just say, don’t go on a cruise to go on a diet.
And that’s not all. Also included in the fare is travel assistance and repatriation insurance which really gives you peace of mind when travelling (especially in these post-Covid days).
Brilliant itineraries and excursions
Cruising gives you the time to really savour your time in France. You’ll get to see a lot in a short amount of time whilst also having the time to relax. Every cruise offers a range of excursions that take in the most beautiful sites, historic places, picturesque villages, vineyards, castles and more. You won’t be rushed on and off coaches. And you won’t be left to sort out your own entry to sites. Everything is included. The guides that CroisiEurope provide are always excellent, and they always make sure that English speakers get an English speaking guide.
CroisiEurope’s French cruises include the stunning island of Corsica across the Mediterranean Sea. The rivers Loire, Seine, Garonne, Gironde and Dordogne, plus Rhone and Saone. And the canals of Alsace, Champagne, Burgundy, Ile de France, the Loire and Provence. They also have themed cruises – Christmas, New Year, Wine, Beaujolais Nouveau and gastronomy (I’m definitely on board with the Paris to Normandy Fine French Cuisine cruise with Michelin star dining via Monet’s Garden and the caves of the Louvre!).
You’re not just a customer – you’re a guest
None of the ships are big. You won’t find thousands of passengers wandering about trying to find something to do. The staff to passenger ratio means you are looked after in a way you just don’t get on a huge cruise ship. The staff get to know your likes and dislikes, your favourite tipple, or that you might need a bit of extra help when on an excursion.
On one cruise I did, a 92 year old Canadian man was fulfilling his dream trip and did struggle to climb a fort with steep stairs and one of the crew came along to help him. It’s things like this that make a cruise great and you feel that passenger are treated as individuals. Staff make you feel that they have a real appreciation that this is a special experience. And they go out of their way to make it so. There’s evening entertainment ranging from crew shows to fabulous entertainers. And yet, even with all this, the cruises are really good value.
4 ways to cruise France
Cruise by barge
Barges have limited amount of passengers (usually no more than 22) and travel on some of France’s most beautiful water ways. These floating hotels offer a relaxed pace of cruise, total pampering and the chance to visit some of the more off-the-beaten track locations. My Provence barge cruise included visits to Arles with its Roman ruins, the exquisite village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert, Gorgeous Aigues-Mortes with its stunning pink sea, and several magnificent towns and villages. Spotting pink flamingos flying across a rose-coloured sky at dusk whilst sipping a cocktail in the jacuzzi on the Anne-Marie barge is a moment I will remember forever.
Cruise by River
Cruise through history and stop off at some of the most beautiful ports of France. Avignon, Lyon, Bordeaux, Arles, Marseille, Martigues and many more ports are featured. And en route you’ll visit castles and vineyards, gorgeous little villages, historic towns, ancient abbeys and much more.
Every CroisiEurope cruise prides itself on its gastronomy and wines, but some themed cruises take it to a whole new level. If you love French cuisine and wines – join one of their gastronomy or wine cruises and be prepare to be very, very happy. They are famous for their Christmas and New Year cruises to Alsace in particular, where Strasbourg is known as the ‘capital of Christmas’. Spoiled doesn’t cover it. Celebratory, festive and thoroughly indulged – cruises where you leave the stresses and cares of every day behind and simply enjoy the whole magical experience.
Mediterranean cruise to Corsica
I can honestly say the cruise from Nice to Corsica was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. We sailed around the island stopping at picturesque ports, connecting with the local culture and customs, indulging in Corsican gastronomy, wine tasting, historic cities and discovering the most magnificent scenery. It was absolutely fantastic. The highlight for me was the brilliant local English speaking guides who showed us real Corsica – in all its glory. And breakfast at dawn on the sun deck as we sailed into Ajaccio…
These really are the best cruises in France.
Find out more and book your cruise experience at croisieurope.co.uk