Episode 1


An Intimate Cruise Experience through Storybook France

By Carol Cain

Traveling along European river shores, leisurely exploring small historic villages while taking breaks to people watch and sip wine in quaint cafes may seem like a fairytale vacation but in fact, it’s all possible by taking a single river cruise along beautiful France.

While larger cruise lines pack thousands of people on board and are chock-full of high-energy activities all day and night, river cruising is a bit of a more laid back experience—one even younger travelers are beginning to covet. There are few places more beautiful than France in which to experience a river cruise. Here are my highlights of why river cruising in France is a favorite.

Fewer Travelers, More Space

French sunsets, especially on a warm summer evening shouldn’t be missed. And with no crowded decks, they’re easy to enjoy in serenity. The average number of passengers on a river cruise can range anywhere between 75 to 200, which ensures room to breathe and relax. Fewer people also means less crowd control during meals, so you can sit where you please and get to know the other passengers—or pick a private table for two.

New Friendships and Travel Buddies

Another highlight of small group travel is that you will inevitably make new friends and connections that can last a lifetime. The close-knit vibe that is such an inherent part of traveling with the same people for a week or more is also a part of the river cruise culture and experience. It is inclusive of solo travelers, while still allowing for the space that traveling couples look forward to. And an additional perk for solo travelers is that some river cruises offer discounts and other upgrade perks, making it an even more affordable experience to take advantage of.

Smaller Ports Mean Easier Access to Towns

There is a long list of medieval villages and UNESCO Heritage Sites all along the waterways of France. These villages and towns are easier to access via a river cruise because of the smaller docks found along the narrow waterways. This easy access also grants more independence and flexibility to explore on your own. You can walk right off your ship and start exploring the medieval streets of Maçon or revel in the fresh farmers markets of Bordeaux with ease.

All-Inclusive Luxury Experiences

Delight in French wines and perfect pairings served by the sommelier, which many luxury river cruise lines have onboard. The beautiful thing about river cruising is that once you book your trip, there’s not much else to worry about.

Indulge in foie gras, oysters, rabbit, local fish, artisan cheeses, and all the French pastries your heart desires. Excursions are also included, which I highly recommend. Who doesn’t want more wine tastings and culinary experiences? Along with a dash of history and shopping, naturally.

River Cruise French Countryside

Calm Waters, Picturesque Views

It is no surprise that centuries of poets and painters have found inspiration in the beauty of the French countryside. It is, in fact, as stunning as they have often depicted. Because there are no high waves or crazy currents moving and shaking the boat around, you’re apt to enjoy the views … wine in hand, of course.

Endless Opportunities to See Another Side of France

All this flexibility to explore on your own, to navigate less congested waters while accessing historic villages and ancient sites serve to bring you closer to the culture and people of France. While the bigger cities are enchanting in their own way, the countryside remains a favorite in my heart, in great part because of the ease this form of travel allows. Break bread with a winemaker, or practice your language skills with a storekeeper; it’s all possible without the added hustle and bustle of rushed schedules and hectic cities.

Whether traveling through France or any other part of the world, there is endless flexibility and enjoyment in the river cruise experience.

Carol Cain is a freelance travel writer and the voice behind the award-winning travel blog, Girl Gone Travel. A Brooklyn girl in New Jersey, she often travels the world in search of good food, personal connections, and a nature escape. Her favorite trips are with her 3 kids in tow. Whether on the road or working from home, Carol also runs her own business, a social media marketing and brand development agency, Brave World Media, with her graphic designing husband, Travis.


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