5 of the Best Regions to cruise from top to bottom in France.
BURGUNDY – FRANCHE-COMTE'
The Burgundy regions gentle rivers and canals makes this an ideal setting for a lover of fine wines and gourmet cuisine. Accompanied by stunning scenery, this cruise is one not to be rushed. The river Seille has self- operated locks and well maintained moorings making the transition between river levels easy even for the beginner. Consider beginning in Fontenoy-le-Chateau and nearby Corre. Typical of medieval Comtois market towns, and is situated on the banks of the Canal de Vosges. Cruise south to GRAY an old military port town known for trading before being tantalised by Auxonne, the town where Napoleon started his naval career. St Jean-de-Losne is where the rivers meet. From the beginning of the journey you will have travelled 210 kilometres to this junction. Here you can take a right hand turn taking you northwest to the famous city of Dijon know for mustard, palatial buildings and a rich heritage. Alternately continue south along the Saone River. Tournus and Chalon are all steeped in history and boast some of the most magnificent scenery in the region. The market town of Louhans, famous for its Monday poultry market, stretches out with warm welcoming arms before guiding you forward to Macon, one of the oldest towns in France.
BRITTANY – FAIRYTALE CASTLES and CELTIC MYSTERY.
In the far northwest of France lies the tranquil and awe-inspiring region of Brittany. The river Vilaine begins in Messac and is adorned with medieval towns and windmills as it winds its way north to Rennes, the capital of the region. The cobblestone streets and timber framed houses have an ambience that exudes the feeling of being transported back in time. The river becomes the Canal d Ille-et-Rance as you slide into the medieval fortified town of Dinan. You may instead choose to take a southward turn from Messac to Redon with the glorious St Sauveur Abbey or participate in the lively Monday markets. Continue on to La Roche-Bernard to sample the Breton Oysters at one of the towns many seafood Restaurants. With over 600 kilometres of waterways waiting to be discovered, this makes for an excellent itinerary.
THE RIVER CHARENTE
With willows dangling leisurely onto the water's surface, it is not surprising that the Midwest region is considered one of the most beautiful rivers in France. You will collect your boat in Jarnac before deciding whether to head Northwest or East to sample the gastronomy of the region. Jarnac, the birthplace of Francois Mitterrand is a charming town boasting riverside café's in true French style. St Brice will see you mooring alongside its Renaissance Chateau for lunch. Cognac cannot hide as the certain whiff of the spirit seems to drift along the river well before you reach your destination. Interestingly the roof tops are all yellow as a result of the dissipating vapours from the distillery. You will find it hard to resist the many choices on offer for sale. On to the famous Arc de Germanicus in Saintes. Reminders of Roman influence still linger along the cobble walkways and hilltops. Visiting the 1000 year old Abbey in the ancient village of Bassac provides a strong presence of a bygone era and the role religion has played in the town's formation. Fly in to Angouleme to begin the tour and depart from La Rochelle to make the most of this picturesque journey.
THE AQUITAINE – A Gourmet cruise of exquisite sites.
Flying into TOULOUSE in the Southwest of France fills one with a sense of excitement. Known for superb gastronomy, the region hosts many festivals each year related to food and wine. Centre to the region is Le Mas d'Angenais set amongst corn fields and orchards. The Roman Aqueducts are a site in themselves. A cruise south will bring you to Vianne, home of some stunning hand blown glass. Armagnac the home of the beverage with the same name, certainly promises to leave you warm inside after a visit to the distillery. Foie gras, wild mushrooms and truffles can all be found on the northern stretch of the Garonne River. World famous Bordeaux vineyards such as Graves and Medoc will leave you well satisfied especially when accompanied with delectable French cuisine.
Tucked neatly in the southern region bordering the French Riviera and known as the colorful (in more ways than one) and bustling Crusaders Port, Camargue is a blend of old and new. From the Romany Gypsy Festivals to Bull fighting events, the region has great weather and loads of activities year round. As the area suggests, seafood is never in short supply. Neither is wine. You should not miss a visit to the Costieres de Nimes wine cellars in the north and the historic towns of Frontignan and Marseillan. There a fewer locks in the Camargue that may suit some sailors.