The Top 5 Luxury Experiences for a French Canal Holiday

french canal

When you think of a canal holiday, the first thing that comes to mind might not be ‘luxury’. Perhaps you have a mental image of small, cramped boats, basic cooking, or an old-fashioned way of traveling. A limited view for imagining any opportunity for luxury experiences. If this is you, you couldn’t be more wrong. Luxury canal boat holidays have been growing in popularity and for good reason.

Offering travelers the chance to hop aboard spacious and modern vessels and cruise along tranquil waterways with every amenity they need, luxury canal boats are definitely an experience worth exploring. There are networks of canals in many countries, each offering different luxury experiences both onboard and along the routes.

If you’re looking for a luxury destination for your cruise, French canal holidays are a particularly great choice. France is known for being the perfect place to indulge in fine food, drink, art, and entertainment. And the range of different luxury experiences available includes everything from unique wine tasting to magical musical performances.

In this article, leading canal boat holiday provider Locaboat highlights the top five luxury experiences you can have on a French canal holiday. And shares advice on the best places to travel to ensure an unforgettable trip.

Where to Travel for a Luxury Canal Holiday in France

There are over 2700 miles of inland waterways in France, offering a variety of choices when you’re deciding where to visit on a luxury canal holiday. Here are three of our top picks for where to travel if you’re seeking a particularly luxurious experience.

Canal de Bourgogne

The Canal de Bourgogne links the River Seine and the River Rhone, running through the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region of France. It’s one of the most popular routes for a canal holiday in France, passing through and near several notable towns and cities. Such as Dijon, Saint-Florentin, Semur-en-Auxois and Châteauneuf-en-Auxois.

As well as the brilliant sightseeing, there is also Burgandy’s reputation as a wine destination. The wine in the region is outstanding. If you’re cruising along the canal, you’ll be able to organise several trips to vineyards and wineries to sample the produce that the area is known for.

Canal du Centre

The Canal du Centre is named because it runs right through the middle of France. Established in the late 1700s as the first link between the River Loire and the Rover Saône. It’s a very popular route for leisure travel, thanks to the lovely scenery alongside the water. And the selection of towns and villages along the route that are filled with sightseeing opportunities.

This is another great place for a luxury French canal holiday because of the region’s reputation for exceptional wine. The northern section of the route, in particular, has a lot of lovely vineyards. Which are ideal for luxury wine-tasting experiences and fine dining close to the canal.

​​Canal de Briare

The ​​Canal de Briare is one of France’s oldest canals, making it a perfect route for cultural sightseeing. Completed in 1642 and travelling across the Loire Valley between Briare to Montargis. It’s a picturesque route that passes through some of the loveliest places in the region. Ideal for a range of luxury experiences.

Briare is known for its stunning aqueduct and is the town the canal is named after. Montargis is often referred to as ‘the Venice of France’. It is absolutely gorgeous in the spring when the town is covered in floral arrangements. The Château du Nozet is a beautiful attraction, said to be one of the most romantic places in France. The town of Sancerre has been a famous wine-producing spot since Roman times.

Now we’ve covered some of the best places to plan a luxury French canal holiday. Here are five of the best experiences you can enjoy on one of these trips.

The Top 5 Luxury Experiences for French Canal Holidays

french village
Photo by James Kemp on

1. Wine Tasting

As we’ve already touched upon, a lot of the canals in France pass through regions that are famous for their wine. Even those that don’t may still take you alongside vineyards in the French countryside. Naturally, wine tasting is one of the best experiences to put on the itinerary of a luxury canal holiday.

One of the best things about a canal cruise is you can moor up your boat anywhere on the French waterways. And head off to explore nearby attractions like wineries. Arrive at your chosen destination in the morning, and enjoy a luxurious afternoon learning about and sampling French wine. And then meander back to your boat to spend the night or continue your journey (as long as you’re in a fit state to drive!).

Some of the most popular places to stop off for wine tasting whilst on a canal holiday include the Château de Perdiguier. As well as the Château de Paraza on the Canal du Midi. Take a look at the top-rated wineries in the region you’re travelling to, and plan trips to visit your favourites. Or take part in a specialist cruising tour that focuses on visiting the homes of some of France’s best wines. 

2. Gourmet Food

France is famous for its incredible food. From the unique cheeses to the delectable bread and pastries produced all over the country. There is a big range of different luxury food experiences you can have as part of your French canal holiday. No matter where you’re travelling or the kind of cuisine you’re looking for.

One way to enjoy incredible French food as you travel is to visit the towns and enjoy local meals. You can research these beforehand if there is a particular place you want to try. Or ask for recommendations as you travel and pick a restaurant for lunch or dinner once you’ve moored your boat.

Modern canal boats all have excellent cooking facilities on board as well. Another great option is to visit local French markets to pick up fresh ingredients to cook for yourself. There’s nothing better than enjoying a glass of red wine along with fresh bread and cheese from a local producer. All savoured onboard your boat surrounded by the gorgeous countryside.

Some canal tour providers may also give you the option to have a chef visit your boat and cook for you as a special way to spend an evening and see first-hand how the French have gained their reputation for fantastic food.

3. Château Visits

Along with its wine and food, France is also famous for the impressive number of historic châteaus that are dotted around the country. They are either used as residences, open to the public, or have been turned into wineries. A fantastic luxury experience when you’re on a French canal holiday is to visit one of these beautiful buildings and enjoy what it has to offer.

Some châteaus have become special destinations to enjoy food and drink. Whilst others house impressive collections of art of historical artefacts that you can learn about on a guided tour. If you visit in the spring or summer, you may also be able to tour the château’s grounds and enjoy warm French weather surrounded by impressive gardens and greenery.

The Château du Paraza is one of the best châteaus to visit on the Canal du Midi, as it is very close to the water and also has its own vineyards and winery that visitors can tour. On the Canal de Bourgogne, the Château de Tanlay in Tonnerre is right on the route. It is well known for its beautiful architecture and hosts art exhibitions every summer for visitors to enjoy.

4. Art and Music

France’s culture is one of the main draws for tourists visiting the country. And there are plenty of luxury experiences to be had that are tied to its art and music.

Many of France’s art exhibitions are in equally beautiful buildings, so you can enjoy the surroundings of luxurious architecture as you take in beautiful pieces of artwork. Some galleries may offer private tours of their collections to create an even more bespoke experience and allow you to learn the history behind the art you admire.

There are also plenty of brilliant music venues around France that provide you with the perfect way to spend a special afternoon or evening. Whether you’re a fan of classical music or want to hear traditional French tunes, take a look at the venues in the towns and cities, you’ll be passing through and plan a visit to listen to a concert or performance.

5. Luxury Day Trips

One of the best things about a self-drive canal holiday in France is that you have control over what you do each day. There’s no strict schedule that you have to stick to. Giving you the option to organise day trips to explore areas further away from the canal and build a trip itinerary that includes all kinds of different luxury experiences.

Examples of luxury day trips you can plan on a canal holiday include spa visits, wine-tasting days or guided tours of particular attractions like museums and châteaus. Some canal holiday providers will be able to help you with planning these and may even have partners or trusted providers they can direct you to.

If you have a certain food or dining experience, you’d like to try when you’re in France; you can also organise this as a day trip from your journey along one of the country’s canals.

How to Book a Luxury French Canal Holiday

If you want to embark on a luxury French canal holiday, the first thing you need to decide is where in the country you’d like to travel. With so many regions offering a range of canal routes for leisure boats, think about the kind of holiday you’re looking for and choose a destination that suits these interests.

For example, if you want to enjoy luxury drinking and dining whilst you travel, you want to choose a canal that has plenty of towns and cities along the route to offer you the best choice of restaurants and wineries. 

The best way to book any kind of canal holiday in France is to find a tour provider like Locaboat that allows you to hire a range of different boats for cruising along many of the country’s canals. Once you’ve been introduced to steering and managing the boat, you’ll be free to set off and float along the waterways to your heart’s content. Mooring your vessel whenever you fancy an opportunity to explore.

If you want to ensure luxury from start to finish on your trip, various tour providers offer specific luxury canal holiday packages that cater to different preferences and are a great way to plan a luxury trip without too much hassle.

Wrapping Up

Canal cruises are a fantastic option for travellers that are looking for a relaxing, slow-paced trip that involves plenty of lovely scenery and the freedom to spend your days however you want. France has always been a top destination for luxury travel, and by combining this type of holiday with all that the country has to offer. You can surely have a brilliant luxury travel experience as you cruise the canals and waterways.

Feature Image by Avery Evans on

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