A river cruise is the ideal way to explore Europe, and cruising the Seine will provide you with unparalleled access to France’s particular beauty and culture. I have created this guide to help you learn about the Seine and find the Seine River Cruise that is right for you!
- Imagine visiting multiple locations on one journey but only unpacking once.
- Imagine traveling in a floating boutique hotel right to the heart of some of the world’s most romantic and historic destinations.
- Imagine experiencing this with the people you love most from the vantage point of a beautiful cabin with floor-to-ceiling views of fairy-tale countrysides.
The River Cruise Experience
A Seine River Cruise lets you experience some of the most remarkable places in France, from Paris to Rouen, from a place of comfort and ease. You dock right in the middle of the destination and walk off the ship to the center of town.
Your excursions will take you to castles and cathedrals, fine restaurants and vineyards, and everywhere in between. Many of the ships have bicycles ready for you to use in your explorations. Or you can simply wander the city, town or village at your leisure.
In order to navigate these waters, the ships need to be small in size: they hold no more than 100 – 150 passengers. So every aspect of your experience – the service, the dining, the tours – is personal. No waiting for the buffet, no lining up for excursions.
Finally, river cruises are all-inclusive. This means that almost every part of your cruise, from food and drink to your excursions and other activities, is included in the price, leaving you free to relax and enjoy your vacation.
The Seine River – an overview
All over the world, there are rivers that become so connected with a country’s national identity that the two almost become the same. In France, the river that most embodies this historic and stunning nation is the Seine. Originating in the Burgundy region at a height of 1545 feet above sea level, the river then meanders its way northwest until it reaches the English Channel. Along its journey, the Seine passes by many quintessential French towns and hamlets, the most notable of which is Paris. This city is inextricably tied to this river, and most Seine River Cruises are bookended by the City of Lights.
After departing Paris, you will continue downstream, traveling 240 miles of river through the beautiful French countryside. This journey meanders in the best possible way, following every curve of the river for a total distance double what it would be if the Seine traveled in a straight line. The stops along the way will provide you with opportunities to experience France’s long, storied history from a stunningly unique vantage point while enjoying incredible food, drink, and accommodations.
Some Highlights of a Seine River Cruise
Paris – There is no better way to see Paris than from the Seine, which is the heart of this city in many ways. In fact, many of the city’s most notable landmarks sit on the banks of the river, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. With so much to do in this city, you can expect to spend at least one full day here with plenty of opportunities to experience these highlights and other landmarks. Maybe you will want to view the famous collections at the Rodin,d’Orsay, or Louvre museums, take a tour of nearby Versailles, or simply wander the streets taking in the architecture, shopping in unique designer stores, and sampling the incredible food.
Les Andelys – Located at the apex of one of the Seine’s many horseshoe curves, this town is chock full of rural French charm. What truly sets it apart though are the ruins of Château Gaillard, which overlook the town and the Seine from atop a hill. Built between the years 1196 and 1198 under the command of Richard the Lionheart, the skeletal remains of this building offer a concrete glimpse into the past. Visitors can learn more about this history through tours after either taking a ride to Château Gaillard or hiking or biking to the top on their own.
Giverny – Art lovers will feel themselves transported inside the paintings of Claude Monet when they visit his home in the tiny town of Giverny. Monet lived here for over four decades until his death in 1926. Since then, the unique farmhouse and surrounding grounds have been preserved, so that others can enjoy the ponds and Japanese-style gardens that inspired such ethereal paintings as the Water Lilies series. Being such a small town, Giverny does not have its own port. Instead, your boat will dock in Vernon. From here, you may also get the chance to explore nearby La Roche-Guyon, Château de Bizy, or the Gardens d’Acquign.
Rouen – In Rouen, fans of Monet will again be able to feel themselves transported inside one of his paintings with a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral, which the impressionist master painted many times. Wandering the streets of this city, whose history dates back a millennium, will also make you feel transported back in time, particularly in the medieval district where the half-timbered buildings are something straight out of a fairytale. Other must-see sites in Rouen include the square where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and the Gros Horluge, or Great Clock, a 14th-century clock that displays both the time and information on the stars.
Normandy Beaches – Much of the history worth exploring in France dates back hundreds of years, but at the Normandy Beaches, you will be able to experience the location of D-Day, a place and time that still exists in the living memory of many people. Spend the day exploring and learning about the American Military Cemetery, Omaha Beach, and the Arromanches Disembarkment, where remains from the military equipment used to secure that historic day can still be seen. At night you will dock in Le Havre, a major port city that was rebuilt, after being all but destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944, as a modernist mecca with many attractions in its own right.
Choosing Your Seine River Cruise!
Now that you know more about what you will see and do on your Seine River cruise, it’s time to find the cruise that’s right for you!
Do you want to begin and end your trip in Paris, or would you prefer one-way travel? Have you thought about the locations that you most want to explore? Whatever your priorities, there are some other things you should consider as you choose your Seine River Cruise.
When do you want to go?
One of the first things you need to decide is when you want to travel. You can take a River Cruise on the Seine from April through November, and every season brings its own delights.
If you travel in the spring you will see the first flowers bloom; the summer brings great weather and long days; and in the fall you will be visiting during the grape harvest.
How Long of a Cruise?
Most Seine River Cruise sailings last 7 or 8 nights, but there are other options that are longer. These longer trips will often include a second voyage down another French waterway.
So if you are squeezing in a vacation with a limited amount of time, or want to combine your River Cruise with other tours, you will want to consider one of the shorter cruises. However, if you have more time to explore the Seine and the surrounding area, be sure to ask about one of the longer cruise options!
Special Interest Cruises
Are you interested in trying specific types of food or drink? Or perhaps you’re a history buff? Or would you like a River Cruise that incorporates your favorite outdoor activity such as biking or hiking?
There are many options for special cruises that focus on your interests and passions, no matter what they may be! Let me know if you would be interested in more information.
Pre- and Post-Cruise Options
You can extend your vacation on either end of your River Cruise by adding a pre- or post-cruise land extension. For a Seine River Cruise, this can mean going to other locations in France like St. Malo and Mont Saint Michel or using this trip to launch a larger exploration of Europe.
Which River Cruise Company?
You will want to pick the River Cruise company that fits your style. Some ships are more lavish, some more modern; some have more inclusions upfront and some give you more a la carte choices; and some are better options for families, couples, or singles. Tell me about yourself and I can help you make this important choice.
As a River Cruise expert, I will help you sort through all the different options and find the perfect Seine River Cruise for you! Reach out to me and let’s start planning!