From the romantic backstreets of Paris to the timeless chic of the French Riviera, France entices as much as it inspires. Leading cruise lines are more than aware of the charms of this iconic nation too, with almost every large cruise ship boasting a French restaurant or two.
Even so, the shores of France itself are where the finest flavours and most sublime experiences lie – and your favourite cruise lines are keen to offer you France cruise deals of every kind. There’s no need to ovewhelmed by the variety on offer, as we’ve worked with the best French cruise lines to help you distinguish the finest itineraries around.
Normandy is among the most scenic regions of France, where cyclists weave through cobbled streets and mornings are filled with the scent of freshly-baked bread from rustic bakeries. Le Havre is a port town where much of time has stood still, although the pulse of contemporary France still shines through wonderfully in parts. The River Seine makes it way through the town and rolls off into the back country, which you can tour by bicycle during your shore excursion.
Countless cruise lines have added this scenic waterfront town to their itineraries, and one cruise line with a particular soft spot for Le Havre is P&O Cruises. Because many of the cruise lines’ ships make their home in UK ports, they make regular visits here as they head out over the Channel.
Cherbourg-Octeville, to give it its full name, is where ferries and boats come most frequently between the UK and France. As such, the bustling port town has plenty to see for holidaymakers and a great deal to keep young minds occupied too. Still, cruise lines are smart in how they approach the community to make the most of a more stylish and luxurious way to enjoy Cherbourg.
The central town square, Place General de Gaulle, is regarded as one of the prettiest points on the local map, flanked on all sides by narrow coffee houses and cute shuttered windows. It’s also a hotspot for history buffs thanks to its proximity to the location of the D-Day Landings of the Second World War. However you’re exploring Cherbourg though, you can rely on top cruise lines to get you there in style, with Thomson Cruises proving consistently fond of the area.
The French Riviera is renowned as a magnificent place to play, yet few cities in the world can compete with the sheer luxury and style of Cannes. Although it’s known as the playground of the rich and famous, cruises are making it ever-more accessible – from the yachts in the marina to the champagne on the balconies overlooking the bay.
Alongside its cinematic appeal, Cannes offers plenty for the budding foodie. The Forville food market is renowned for its excellent wines, cheeses, sausages and pastries, as well as cakes so divine you’ll want to beg your cruise line to stay another day. Royal Caribbean® offer some top France cruises and their vessels are often found in this gorgeous region.
Artists, writers and musicians have woven their tales from the inspiration taken from Nice for generations, if not centuries. Nowadays, modern cruise ships are just as proactive in making the most of the glorious sun and scenery here.
Although the old town remains as a hallmark of times gone by, Nice has also become a hotbed of development for shopping malls and convention centres. You can visit museums and modern art galleries easily in the same day – ice cream or wine glass in hand. Once you’re finished, be sure to take in marvels like the tower of St Francois in its vibrant hues or the pretty cascade of the Colline du Chateau castle walls.
As the second biggest city in France, Marseilles boasts the classic French mix of old world architecture and contemporary style. Towering over the city is the sumptuous spire of Notre Dame de la Garde – distinct thanks to its crystalline white appearance. Views from the top offer splendid vistas of the bay, together with the rooftops of the city itself. Those rooftops hide their own stories, many of them housing the theatres and galleries that make Marseilles such a core component of the arts in France.
While numerous cruise lines visit Marseilles, MSC Cruises often stop here during their cruises around Europe. This makes the city a superb place to savour between other destinations such as Spain and Italy, who share that same classical touch of class.
Avignon, Rouen, Paris and more
With river cruises growing in popularity, many cruise fans opt to instead take a journey through the country’s scenic heartland. Viking Cruises’ modern Viking Heimdal offers an excellent French cruise itenerary, in which guests can drift serenely from picturesque Avignon to vibrant Paris via Rouen, Lyon and more.
Whether you want a truly French cruise or simply to breeze through a port or two en route to sunny shores elsewhere, chances are there’s a French cruise out there with your name on it.
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