Posted by on 01 Nov 2019 , in Europe
Explore the beauty of France's rivers and canals on board a self drive boat and you will discover many hidden treasures and traditions of regional France. Being the captain of your own boat is the perfect way to be independent, visiting the different regions of France at your own pace, all the while enjoying the company of the people you have chosen to share this experience with.
At French Travel Connection, we believe this experience is truly a unique holiday, one you will never forget. To help you decide which part of France would be ideal for your canal or river cruise, we have compiled a list of highlights of our top four favourite regions in France. We've also included some tips to make sure that you fully experience the area you choose to visit. You may have already heard of Burgundy or the Camargue region in passing, perhaps you are vaguely familiar too with the French regions of Nivernais and Aquitaine. We hope that when you finish reading our highlights, however, you will have a confident sense of which region truly appeals to you, and which one would best suit your dream self drive boating holiday.
Burgundy is well-known for its famous wines; you will hear Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune referenced every day in this region. At French Travel Connection, we are big fans of the Bouchard Pere et Fils wines. We recommend you make a stop at this vineyard to taste their delectable Premiere Crus and Grand Crus. A little FTC tip: taste the Grand Crus, red wine of Clos Vougeot, and make sure you have remembered a backpack so that you can bring some bottles back to your boat! What you might not already know though is that Burgundy is also a food lover's region. A standout regional dish is the Escargots a la bourguignonne, an unforgettable meal of snails sautéed in a wine and garlic sauce - once you have your first taste, you will quickly forget any hesitations you might have initially had! Close your eyes and enjoy, you are certainly in France now.
For the less adventurous, we can also highly recommend Beef bourguignonne and Coq au vin, two dishes you might be familiar with back home - but to try them in France will bring a whole new level of culinary appreciation. In addition to its wine and food, Burgundy also stands out for its history. The architectural heritage in Burgundy is visible everywhere you turn, allowing you to enjoy and explore beautiful historic villages as you cruise down the river. Visit the impressive cities of Beaune, Dijon and more. Board your boat and drift past vineyards, countryside, small towns and flowering meadows. You will certainly have plenty of opportunity to go to local farmers' markets and bring back to your boat a tempting assortment of traditional gourmet food and wines to enjoy while on board. Follow the route of our top three regions cruise itinerary and visit all the main highlights of Burgundy. The last but not least FTC tip: stop at the Hospices de Beaune, and find our why we consider it such a special place. And don't forget to go to the restaurant le Caveau des Arches to taste some great snails and wine!
Camargue is the perfect destination for those wanting to dip their toes in the warm Mediterranean. Visit beautiful seaside villages and enjoy spotting wild horses, deer, flamingos, and other amazing local wildlife while cruising down the river in your private boat. The Camargue region is famous as a staging point for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds each year, especially the iconic pink flamingo, and attracts bird-watchers from all over Europe. It is also the home for one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world, white horses that have lived in a particular environment of the Camargue's saline wetlands for thousands of years. If you are a horse lover, rest assured that there are plenty of opportunities for horse riding in this area, suitable for all levels of experience.
The Camargue region is known as a beautiful warm region, an idyllic spot where the French like to enjoy their holidays. The numerous seaside villages and the medieval heritage charm of the area is sure to please everyone in your travel group. At FTC, we love this region because it is quiet, peaceful and full of beautiful rare wild creatures. FTC recommends that any seafood connoisseurs on your boat makes sure to stop at l’Aquarium restaurant to order the seafood platter! Cruise along the river, following the route of our Crusader Cruise itinerary and you will be sure to visit all the main highlights of Camargue. A few more FTC tips: stop in Sete, the Mediterranean Venice; be sure to go to the morning market from 6am to 1pm on Boulevard Gambetta with plenty of empty shopping bags in hand; and don't forget to visit quintessential landmarks on your river cruise through France such as the Grau du Roi and the nearby Espiguette Beach, la Grande Motte and Aigues-Mortes!
Nivernais is the perfect region for those who can't decide what they enjoy most, a good glass of Chablis or seeing a beautiful cathedral. This region has it all! Disembark from your self-drive canal boat and walk or cycle to the nearest local village to enjoy a stroll through the narrow streets that are beautifully lined with heritage homes. You will love driving on this old canal and discovering the medieval architecture of the region.
If you enjoy walking, cycling, and appreciate the style of traditional French villages, the Nivernais region is the perfect spot for your self drive boating experience in France. For FTC, Nivernais is the best place to relax and enjoy hidden architectural treasures such as the village of Clamecy and its beautiful church and view overlooking the canal du Nivernais. Cruise along our Classic Nivernais Cruise route and visit all the main highlights of Nivernais region. FTC tips: stop in Auxerre to visit the famous Saint Etienne Cathedral and don't forget to taste some Chablis wine in Chablis!
Last but not least, we come to the Aquitaine region. Be sure not to miss this sunny and authentic area. If you appreciate Armagnac, Bordeaux wines and goat's cheese, you have found the dream destination for your next French holiday. At French Travel Connection, we love Aquitaine for its ancient hilltop villages and colourful markets which you can easily cycle to. We recommend you stop at Buzet-sur-Baise to visit the vineyard and taste some fine wines as well as further exploring around this lovely quaint village. Follow the route as outlined in The Delicacies of Aquitaine and visit all the main highlights of the Aquitaine region. FTC tips: Stop in Agen to taste their prunes and visit Moissac's world famous abbey!