Considering taking a river cruise in France? Lucky you! In my opinion, taking a river cruise is one of the best ways to see the country as you’ll get a front-row seat to historic cities and gorgeous nature.
I recently went on a Rhone River cruise with Avalon Waterways, traveling south from the city of Lyon to Port-Saint-Louis. The entire trip was eight days and I stayed in one of their gorgeous suites with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows. Not only was this trip completely hassle-free on my end, but it was luxurious, exciting, and steeped in history.
From amenities and entertainment to food and excursions, here is everything you need to know before taking a river cruise in France.
Things To Know Before Taking a River Cruise In France
It’s Stress-Free & Your Itinerary is Up to You
If you’re looking for a truly stress-free vacation that caters to your interests, then taking an Avalon Waterways cruise will be right up your alley.
On their cruises, your sightseeing itinerary will be completely up to you. They offer multiple excursions every day of various activity levels, and you can always opt to hang out on the ship and recharge your batteries. The staff takes care of all the details so you can just focus on what matters most — seeing France and relaxing in luxury.
A Unique Way to See the Country
If getting a one-of-a-kind experience appeals to you, then taking a cruise will allow you to get to a vantage point unique to France’s rivers.
Because of their small, river-fitted ships, Avalon Waterways is able to include lesser-visited sites on their itineraries that are both off the tourist trail or inaccessible by larger liners.
Not only is a European river cruise unique in and of itself, but you’ll get to visit more than just the main tourist destinations on your vacation.
You Can Take Bikes Out For Free & Create Your Own Tour
One of the best parts of my French river cruise with Avalon Waterways was that they had free-to-use bicycles that I could sign out at every stop. This makes exploring each new city super easy, especially when you don’t have any excursions booked and you feel like exploring on your own.
Plus, to keep you fueled and going, Avalon Waterways will even pack you a lunch before you set out on your day.
Most Excursions & Tours Are Included & You Can Even Do Multiple Tours At Some Ports
Where some major cruise lines make you shell out for each excursion and tour, the opposite is true with Avalon Waterways. Your excursions and tours are included in the price of your ticket with the option of paying more for specialty experiences. Plus, they even do multiple tours at some ports when time allows.
I loved the unique options of included tours on my Active & Discovery tour. From a Van Gogh painting workshop in Arles to kayaking in Ardèche Gorge, I feel like I was able to experience a side of France I wouldn’t have been able to on my own.
You Won’t Get Seasick
If you’ve always wanted to take a cruise but are easily susceptible to seasickness, then taking a river cruise is a great option. The ships don’t rock like they do in the ocean, meaning you can skip the Dramamine and ginger pills and enjoy the ride.
Amenities Are Included
Having to pay for amenities on top of a cruise ship ticket can be a bummer, especially when you’re constantly having to take out cash or a credit card. Thankfully, Avalon Waterways includes all meals, activities, and perks into the price of your ticket.
There are some for-purchase items onboard, but you won’t be hit with any charges unless you specifically decide to purchase them.
You’ll Be Cruising Without the Crowds
One of the biggest benefits of cruising with Avalon Waterways is that you’ll be doing so without battling other tourists along the way. Because of the depth and size of France’s rivers, Avalon Waterways’ ships are smaller than your average cruiser.
These smaller vessels mean fewer people on board, a more localized experience, and the option for the organizers to include smaller towns and cities on the itinerary.
If You Have Food Allergies, This Is A Great Way To Travel
Having food allergies can be a major deterrent to taking a group trip like a cruise. In many instances, you’re left to your own devices to figure out which menu items you can eat and options are often limited.
However, meal options aboard Avalon Waterways couldn’t be farther from this standard. Not only are they extremely transparent with ingredients, but the staff goes out of their way to accommodate intolerances.
When I was on my cruise, I felt like my food allergies were always taken care of. They created curated meals and the staff remembered my specifications without me needing to remind them.
Bigger Rooms & The Best View Right From Your Bed
Unless you stay in a newly-built part of town, hotels in France are notorious for having small rooms and bathrooms.
So, if having space is important to you, then it’s worth noting that Avalon Waterways Suite Ships are known for their spacious cabins and for having the widest opening windows in river cruising. With floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall glass, when you open these windows your room essentially turns into a private balcony.
Though this is pretty great in and of itself, I also loved that the beds in these rooms face the windows, so that you can have a straight view of the scenery as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.
The Food Alone Is Worth The Cost Of The Trip
I mentioned that Avalon Waterways was more than accommodating to my food intolerances, but it’s also worth noting that the cruises serve high-quality food prepared by experienced chefs.
On board, there were vegetarian and vegan options at every meal, locally-sourced ingredients, and four-course dinners with a variety of starters, soups, salads, mains, desserts, and cheese. The toughest part is choosing which dish to order because every option sounds amazing. The menu changes daily and the options never felt boring or repetitive.
Plus, the ship had complimentary tea and happy hours every day and even offered room service for Continental breakfast.