River cruises ship France

What are riverboat cruises like?
Read our introduction,
view our video and get
the facts from the experts!




River cruise ships are modest in size compared with ocean-going cruise ships, accommodating around 100 – 200 guests rather than thousands of passengers. They offer close, friendly and personal hospitality reflected in the fact that the ships themselves can moor in the heart of France’s world-famous historic towns and cities and cruise sedately through the sunny countryside. Nine highly experienced river cruise companies offer an extensive choice of river cruises on France’s five major rivers, the Seine, Rhine, Saône/Rhône, Bordeaux/Garonne and the Loire.

The French Rivers and their Marvellous Cruises

Every day your river cruise brings fresh delights to savour – local culture, cuisine, wine, architecture and immersion in the unique pavement-café bustle of French life. Add the opportunity to visit local places of interest – chateaux, vineyards, markets and historic or artistic sights – and you’ve got the best of everything.

Each small ship has its own personality, providing excellent accommodation in light, airy and spacious surroundings. They feature superb dining rooms, bars and sitting areas – and of course, a sun-deck complete with parasols and loungers. Stateroom cabin bedrooms have en-suite shower rooms, TVs and modern services and, very importantly, each will have a large window or private balcony from which to enjoy the rich panorama of countryside, scenery and architecture as it passes just a short distance away.

The River Cruise Fleets ~ All Nine of the Best sailing through France

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I cruise in France aboard a river cruise ship?

These ships are large and therefore can’t enter France’s intricate canal system but must remain on the major rivers – on the Seine, from Paris to the coast; from the Saone river and down the Rhone river to Marseille on the Mediterranean; on the Rhine skirting France but including Strasbourg, and the Gironde estuary around Bordeaux. France is about the size of Texas and its wealth of rivers provide fascinating, peaceful cruises through countryside, ancient villages and important cities.

This will be our first river cruise. What are they like compared to sea cruises?

River cruise ships carry around 100-120 passengers, nowhere near as many as a sea going cruise ship able to accommodate thousands, so it is a more personal experience, but naturally with fewer social areas, amenities and entertainments on board. You are also close to land at all times so there are no days of endless sea vistas, no waves and no chance of feeling sea-sick. All the suites are outward facing, some with very spacious penthouse-style balconies, and all provide quality fittings and furnishings. There are many grades of luxury, however, according to the cruise company you choose. River ships stop along their routes for daily excursions and offer plenty of free-time as well guided tours.

What’s included in the price?

Some cruise lines will pick you up from your home (UK) and/or include flights. Some include excursions in the price whilst for others you may have to book and pay for excursions separately and/or in advance – they can sell out, too! All meals and most drinks are included in the price; some cruises have specific dining places for passengers fixed for the whole week, others offer free choice inn the dining room. A programme of optional activities takes place on board each day and evening which can include keep-fit, quizzes, dancing, an entertainer and a show put on by the crew.