A first time guide to France river cruising

A first time guide to France river cruising

River cruising is one of the best ways to see a country’s sights. Along with only having to unpack once and docking right in the heart of town, guests can also explore at their leisure and dine on some of the best local produce each region has to offer. From Monet’s garden in Giverny to the top wine-growing regions of Bordeaux, here are some of the important things you need to know to help you choose the right France river cruise.

Which French rivers will I cruise along?

Flowing through the South of France, the Saône and Rhône rivers offer visitors access to some of the country’s best-loved destinations. Rich in magnificent architecture, picturesque scenery and delicious gastronomic fare, you certainly won’t go hungry in this stunning French region with highlights including the towns of Mâcon, Lyon and Avignon.

A journey along Bordeaux’s three waterways, the Gironde, Dordogne and Garonne, is simply breathtaking. Situated in the southwest of France, Bordeaux is famous for its exquisite wines grown on its rich fertile soil. Stroll through the vineyards and charming estates of Saint-Émilion, enjoy an enchanting concert at a 13th century Château in Médoc and sample fresh oysters caught straight from the waters of Arcachon Bay.

The Seine is the lifeblood of Paris, measuring 777km long. Although Paris, the ‘city of light’ is one of the highlights of a Seine river cruise, northern France offers beautiful landmarks, sensational works of art and towns steeped in war history. Enjoy stops at Giverny, Rouen and charming Honfleur and walk along the historic Normandy beaches, the site of the D-Day landings.
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, France

When should I river cruise France?

The France river cruising season runs from April to October and your month of departure depends on what you want to see and do. Time your France river cruise in spring as the flowers put on colourful displays as they awaken from their winter’s sleep, whilst in April you can pay your respects at the Somme battlefields during a Normandy river cruise to coincide with Anzac Day. June to August marks summer in France and this is a time for celebration. You could arrive in July to celebrate Bastille Day, the French National Day, with outdoor performances, military parades and spectacular fireworks. July also marks the iconic Tour de France cycling event where you can watch keen cyclists race through the streets. 
For something more relaxed, enjoy a glass of prestigious wine at grand estates as you stroll through the rolling vineyards in their peak. In autumn expect cooler temperatures, the perfect time for walking and admire the changing colours of the leaves as well as feasting on hearty French stews.
Visit a vineyard during a France river cruise

What should I pack for a France river cruise?

River cruising is all about relaxing so be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes and layers of clothing for when you’re out exploring the historic sights – it can get chilly near the water or early in the morning. In the evening, smart casual attire is perfectly acceptable, although you might like to dress up for our Scenic Enrich experiences which include classical concerts at a historic Château.

Our Scenic Space-Ships have an onboard gym, so bring your exercise gear if you want to keep fit. Bring your swimwear to enjoy a dip in our Vitality Pool on board Scenic Sapphire and Scenic Diamond or bathe in the therapeutic waters of Budapest’s famous thermal spas.

Other essentials include hat, sunglasses, suncream, camera, spare battery and memory cards, universal adaptor, any local currency and medication you might require.
What to pack for a France river cruise

What to do on a France river cruise?

There’s plenty to do on a France river cruise to suit all interests. From sampling prestigious wines in historic Châteaux to visiting a local market with your onboard Chef. You can also explore ancient castles, war memorials and enjoy guided walking and cycling tours of local towns. On board, there’s plenty of time to relax in the Salt Therapy Lounge (not on Scenic Gem), take a dip in the pool or admire picturesque views over a glass of wine on the Sun Deck.

For food lovers, you can opt for a masterclass in French cuisine at Scenic Culinaire, our on board cooking school during a South of France or Bordeaux river cruise. Immerse yourself in the culinary wonders of French cooking and have the pleasure of sampling the delicious creations at the end of the class.
Avignon, France

What is Scenic dining like?

You can look forward to all-inclusive dining and beverages throughout your cruise. Start your day with a sumptuous breakfast with a choice of buffet options and á la carte dishes such as Eggs Benedict or lamb cutlets, served with a glass of bubbles. Perhaps opt for a more relaxed lunch in the River Café or treat yourself to an ice cream from the Gelato bar. In the evening you can enjoy a five course á la carte dinner served in the Crystal Dining room, whilst admiring the views through the floor to ceiling windows. Once during your cruise, all guests can enjoy an authentic French dining experience at L’Amour, a five-course menu featuring regional specialties paired with local wines from the region’s best wineries.

Exclusively for Diamond Deck guests, a six-course dégustation menu with sommelier paired wines awaits for up to 10 guests per evening. For those that prefer to dine in the comfort of their suite, room service is available and the mini-bar is fully restocked daily to your preferences, allowing you to enjoy an early night or watch your favourite movies over a glass of wine.
Scenic Dining, L'Amour, France

Which cabin should I choose on a France river cruise?

If this is your first time river cruising through France then we recommend you book a balcony suite. Let the light and picturesque views in at the touch of a button, as the glass glides down to convert your balcony into the exclusive Scenic Sun Lounge. Admire the views of historic castles and vineyards passing by and at the end of the day gently sink into your wonderfully comfortable queen-size Scenic Slumber Bed, with your choice of pillow from the pillow menu.

For an even more luxurious cruising experience or to celebrate a special occasion, why not treat yourself to the Royal Owner’s Suite and enjoy an exclusive invitation to dine at Table La Rive, a complimentary welcome bottle of Champagne and Euro 200 per cabin to use in the Wellness Centre.
Scenic Diamond Royal Owner's Suite
Europe River Cruising 2022

Top France River Cruises