French River Cruises

Romantic landscapes and spectacular historical landmarks are yours to discover  through France's pastoral south.

ERC 2021
Few countries inspire travellers quite like France. It is a land of elegant culture and fine cuisine, set against a dramatic backdrop of rolling countryside, rustic villages and chic cities. It’s no surprise that France has inspired some of Europe’s most famous artists, sculptors, fashion designers and more.

Explore ancient Roman influence and architecture, experience world-renowned vineyards and exquisite restaurants on our insightful French itineraries. A culinary heritage few can match, a capital synonymous with romance, and a history packed with intrigue, it is little wonder that France welcomes more international visitors every year than anywhere else on Earth.

A culinary heritage few can match, a capital synonymous with romance, and a history packed with intrigue, it is little wonder that France welcomes more international visitors every year than anywhere else on Earth. A river cruise is the perfect way to explore the culture, history and beauty of this incredible part of the world, transporting you through the nation’s unspoiled beauty spots and culture-rich cities. 

Highlights from our French itineraries include: - 

  Explore Lyon, the culinary capital of France
Take a journey through time and visit the ancient walled city of Avignon
Explore the towns which inspired many of Vincent van Gogh’s finest works
Hikes through picturesque vineyards
Cheese and wine tastings

The rivers of France, explored by Emerald Waterways:

  Rhône River
Saône River


Explore Gallic History and France’s Incredible Past

Journeying south along the Saône and Rhône takes you on a trip through France’s charming and ever-interesting past. Roman ruins, the sites of the French Revolution and the former papal residency all contribute to the region’s enigmatic history.

Cutting a dramatic course through mountain ranges and winemaking regions, the Rhône is dotted with 16th-century castles and Roman ruins – offering an insight into the incredible past of this part of the world. The fortified city of Avignon is awash with historical intrigue, boasting the remnants of Celtic beginnings, Roman invasions and a 68-year period when the city was the centre of the Catholic church.
The Palais des Papes is a highlight of our Rhône river cruise, the medieval gothic palace which served as the seat of the papacy from 1309 to 1377. Sat atop ancient Avignon, the Palais des Papes looks protectively over the beautiful old city, which still boasts fortified ramparts, ancient city walls and a medieval old town centre. 

Emerald Liberté offers an authentic experience on the Rhône

Our Emerald Liberté has been custom-built to skilfully navigate the Rhône and Saône rivers. Effortlessly mirroring the sophistication and beauty of the French countryside she navigates, Emerald Liberté offers an authentic experience throughout the heart of France.
In 2017, we proudly welcomed the Emerald Liberté to the Emerald Waterways Star-Ship fleet – custom-built for river cruising in France. Emerald Liberté boasts a wealth of on board amenities including an open-air Sun Deck, providing the perfect setting for guests to enjoy the beautiful scenery and Mediterranean climes of this enchanting part of the world. You will also find the signature Emerald Waterways pool, an oasis of calm with floor-to-ceiling windows and a retractable roof, providing seemingly endless views of picturesque vineyards and historic landmarks for you to enjoy as you take a leisurely swim.

Reflections Restaurant is the centre-point of your on board dining experience, where delicious dining is accompanied by complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner. Hand-picked by our sommeliers, local wines are certainly a highlight of our rivers cruises through the south of France. 

The Terrace is the perfect spot for enjoying a light bite or drinks with friends as the southern stretches of France pass you by before retreating to your chic suite or stateroom, where you will find plush linens, sumptuous toiletries and a revitalising shower in your en-suite bathroom. 

The intimate Emerald Liberté calls in at some of Southern France’s most delightful cities, towns and villages. From Lyon, recognised as one of the world’s great culinary cities, to Arles, van Gogh’s peaceful retreat and inspiration for many of his most famous works of art, the Rhône and Saône set a course through this charming, historical stretch of France.

EmeraldDISCOVERY experiences in France

When you sail the romantic Rhône on our two French itineraries, romantic landscapes and spectacular historical landmarks are yours to discover. With our included EmeraldEXCURSIONS, extra-special EmeraldPLUS experiences and EmeraldACTIVE program you will see France’s famous tourist hotspots, as well as the hidden gems bringing this charming country to life.
You will have the opportunity to enjoy an EmeraldEXCURSION almost every day of you Rhône river cruise, from guided tours of Lyon and Arles to a visit to a Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine estate, all handpicked by our expert Journey Planners.

Whether you are in the ‘gastronomic capital of the world’ Lyon, wine-tasting your way through Burgundy or truffle hunting in Tournus, our EmeraldPLUS experiences in France are perfect for foodies and wine-lovers alike. 

See the destinations we visit in a different light with our guided bicycles tours and take part in a morning yoga class on the Sun Deck with our Activity Managers, before a guided hike through vineyards in Tournon or embark on a canoeing experience in Avignon – all part of our EmeraldACTIVE program.

An undoubted highlight of both our French river cruises is an extra-special Provençal evening hosted by Top Chef finalist Fabian Morreale. Hear all about this extra-special event here.

Call our Cruises Experts on 0808 159 4193 to secure your place or
Request a Brochure

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