A boating holiday along France's tranquil waterways is an ideal way to explore the country at a relaxing pace. Boasting over 8,000 km of canals and rivers, France is one of the world's best destinations for a luxury boating holiday. You can choose from numerous vessels, from well-equipped boats to the more spacious and luxurious ones. When it comes to the destinations, you'll have endless options. To give you an idea, here are the best destinations for luxury boating in France.
Five Luxury Boating in France
The Loire Valley
Those who love French history and architecture should consider a luxury boating adventure in the Loire. Dubbed the "Garden of France", your journey will take you through picturesque towns, majestic chateaux, and some of the most beautiful gardens in France. It's also a chance to indulge in traditional French food and wine with the opportunity to visit vineyards and wineries.
You'll find numerous canal boat bases along the Loire Valley, giving you plenty of options for your boating holidays. You can depart from one base and return to another or at the same starting point. The ancient town of Decize is an ideal base for your boating holiday. Getting here requires a 3-hour drive from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Departing from Decize will put you in a strategic place to explore the region's southernmost, home to charming towns full of historic abbeys, ancient cathedrals, and museums.
If you're looking for peace and tranquillity on your luxury boating holiday, Migennes is an ideal base. It's a historic city with many ancient buildings and ruins dating back to the Bronze Age. From Migennes, you can choose from three different directions to sail, giving you the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace. It is the closest base to Paris, which you can reach in less than two and a half hours from the capital.
Amidst the glitz and glamour of Antibes and Cannes, tranquil bays - some only accessible by boat, Cote d'Azur provides the perfect setting for luxury boating in France. In addition, there are some lovely places to stay on the Cote d'Azur, perfect for those looking to stop and relax as you explore this scenic region of France.
Most cruises in Cote d'Azur begins in Port Vauban in Antibes. Considered as Europe's largest marina, take the time to wander around the city's picturesque cobblestone streets and marvel at the spectacular sea views from Phare de la Garoupe lighthouse. Anchor your boat near La Garoupe for a sumptuous lunch before heading south to explore the Cap d'Antibes, a stunning rugged landscape of lush vegetation and sparkling aquamarine seas.
Saint Tropez is the premier destination for luxury boating in France, boasting crystal-clear waters and a golden sand shoreline. It's a popular anchorage spot with many superyachts and some of the world's most luxurious yachts. If you want to sail in a tranquil setting, head to Iles d'Hyères, where you'll find remote coves for swimming and small taverns serving freshly caught seafood.
The Dordogne River
The Dordogne River is one of the most scenic areas of France, surrounded by enchanting gorges and picturesque towns. And what better way to explore this region than from your leisurely-paced luxury boat? While the river looks magical any time of the year, Dordogne is most beautiful in July, where it enjoys warm weather and plenty of sunshine.
Located in Southwest France, you will have plenty to see and do in Dordogne. It has world-class cave art and ruins you can admire, including fascinating medieval buildings and thousand-year-old fortresses. Check out Collonges-la-Rouge, one of France's most beautiful villages. Surrounded by lush countryside and dotted with lush walnut trees, you'll enjoy walking in its narrow streets lined with old manor houses.
One activity to try in your luxury boating trip in Dordogne is canoeing from Saint-Sozy to Pinsac, one of France's most idyllic canoe trips. You'll enjoy paddling through crystal-clear waters surrounded by rugged cliffs with magnificent castles.
As the sun sets, it's time to explore Dordogne's gastronomic delights. Hit up one of the local bars and restaurants to sample the region's local flavours, from mouth-watering pastries to succulent duck dishes complemented by the region's finest wines.
Some of France's most excellent river cruises are on the Seine and Paris, ideal for those who want to explore some of France's top attractions. A luxury boat tour of Paris allows you to take in the city's highlights, such as the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral, as your boat floats along the Seine River. Admiring the city from the river viewpoint is the best way to gain a unique insight into its history, evolution, and architecture.
For a luxury boating experience, book a private cruise of the Seine. You can customise the tour to explore Paris and dig deeper into the city's rich history. These cruises usually last an hour and include luxury extras like a glass of champagne and snacks. Most boats travel downstream, following the left bank of the Seine, before turning after Ile de Saint Louis to head upstream towards the right banks of the Seine.
Canal de Bourgogne is one of the most beautiful canals to explore in a luxury boat, boasting a spectacular scenery of charming French houses surrounded by lush greenery. The 242-km-long waterway connects Burgundy with Paris, winding its way into the heart of France. Aside from the spectacular views, you can look forward to seeing historical sites on your boating holiday, including ancient cathedrals and abbeys.
The best thing about a boating holiday in Burgundy is that the canal winds through many picturesque French cities, where you can learn about the region's history and soak in the culture. A boat tour of Canal de Bourgogne allows you to explore the northern and southern areas of the region.
In the north, you'll find Abbaye de Fontenay, a former Cistercian abbey founded around 1100. The beautiful architecture is incredibly well-preserved. It's a UNESCO Heritage Site, surrounded by gorgeous gardens and ponds. As your boat travels to the south, you'll come across the Notre Dame de Dijon, a Gothic-style church with magnificent columns and an archway. Get inside and admire its colourful stained-glass paintings.
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Featured image: Cannes, French Riviera @SteveAllenPhoto via Twenty20