In celebration of France’s latest World Cup victory, we spotlight the country as a top cruising destination for both ocean and river cruising. From trend-settings cities to quaint towns, France is full of varied and remarkable scenery, world-class cuisine, captivating history and fascinating cultures. What’s more, it’s all waiting for your enjoyment via the most convenient type of travel—cruising!
Continue reading for our proof that the beautiful game’s reigning world champions come from an equally beautiful country. Featured below—and in honor of France’s starting eleven players—are 11 of France’s top cruise destinations:
You probably already know this French capital’s most famous sites—such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and Sacre-Coeur Basilica—but reading about them or viewing a picture doesn’t even compare to seeing them in person! In between sites, enjoy a French wine at a streetside café, tour the infamous catacombs or catch a cabaret show! There is never enough time to see and do everything in Paris, but a river cruise that takes you along the Seine River right into the heart of the city will help you make the most of your visit.
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For nearly seven decades, the small town of Avignon was home to the head of the papacy, and this legacy lives on through the magnificent Palace of the Popes. Tour the Medieval streets beneath the towering ramparts, awe at the Avignon Cathedral and stroll along the picturesque Pont Saint-Benezet medieval bridge. For a seasonal treat, head to the nearby Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque to enjoy the lavender blooms and tour the monastery.
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Cruise to Marseille—France’s second largest city—to experience both ancient and modern gems. With the mighty Mont Puget limestone mountains as your backdrop, hike through Calanques National Park and explore the protected coastal waters. Of course, there’s no need to leave downtown Marseille as there is plenty to see and do just minutes from the pier! Visit the Grobet-Labadie Furniture Museum, tour the Old Port or enjoy the panoramic views from atop the majestic Basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde.
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Located on the banks of the Rhone River, this charming region of Southern France was actually the inspiration for Van Gogh’s The Starry Night painting. Before this quiet town inspired Van Gogh, it was a Roman stronghold—evidenced by the remains of the Roman baths, an aqueduct and amphitheater. Tour these structures and learn more about Arles’ Roman history at the Musee de l’Arles et de la Provence Antique.
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Ahhh… the wine capital of the world! See, swirl, sniff, sip and swish your way through the region’s world-renowned vineyards—but perhaps after climbing the 243 steps to the top of Basilique Saint Michel’s bell tower for its panoramic city views. You’ll quickly discover that Bordeaux is a paradise for more than wine lovers, featuring great food, stunning architecture and interesting museums—like the modern Musee d’Art Contemporain.
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Rouen, France is where Julia Child had her first French meal, and you can follow in her footsteps by dining at the very same restaurant, La Couronne. After you’ve had your fill—and some regional wine to wash it down—head out into Rouen to wander amongst the half-timbered homes and visit the Notre Dame Cathedral. Check your time beneath the Gros-Horloge astronomical clock, and if you have enough of it, head to the Museum of Fine Arts.
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Cherbourg (Normandy Beaches), France
Cherbourg is widely visited for its relative proximity to the Landing Beaches of Normandy for the Allied Forces’ D-Day Invasion, which was instrumental in the liberation of France during WWII. Spend the day learning about the invasion and reflect at the beach-front memorial and Normandy American Cemetery. Back in Cherbourg, sightsee along the seaside cliffs, take in the paintings and sculptures of the Musee Thomas Henry or explore the Cite de la Mer aquarium.
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Cruisers to Strasbourg will be charmed by its picturesque half-timbered homes, waterfront parks and beautiful architecture. We recommend first taking it all in by following the city’s canals, and leaving ample time for a detour to the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral. Plus, if you have the chance to visit Strasbourg in December, you’ll see the biggest Christmas market in the world—featuring countless shops, food stalls, lighted decorations and more.
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Vernon (Giverny), France
Cruise along the Seine River to the enchanting Giverny gardens, only a few miles from Vernon, France. If the quaint home, beautiful gardens and bright lilies look familiar, it’s because you’ve likely seen them before as part of Impressionist Claude Monet’s Water Lilies paintings. Nearby, the town of Vernon features the curiously leaning half-timbered house, Maison du Temps, as well as the stunningly ornate gothic cathedral, Collegiate Church of Our Lady.
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Known as the capital of gastronomy, Lyon invites you to arrive hungry. Located between two wonderful wine regions—Beajolais and Cotes du Rhone—this city will serve up the perfect pairing for any adventure. After you’ve rectified that grumbling stomach, make your way through the city’s churches, attend an opera, navigate medieval ruins and explore a museum, such as the Musee des Beaux-Arts with works by Picasso.
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It’s perhaps most well-known for its annual Cannes Film Festival—and the stars lured out by its red carpet—but this seaside city features so much more! Visit the Covered Market for gourmet pastries, take in the gothic beauty of Notre Dame d’Esperance and stroll the picturesque waterfront lined with exotic cars and mega-yachts. If you feel the need to escape the celebrity of Cannes, why not sail to the nearby islands of Saint-Honorat or Saint-Marguerite? You’ll find a monastery on the former, a castle on the latter, and beaches on both!
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To learn more about cruising to and through France, or to book your next cruise vacation, contact The Cruise Web’s expert cruise consultants at 1-800-377-9383.
* Itineraries, rates and offers are capacity controlled, subject to availability, and may change without notice.