8 reasons to cast off and cruise with the kids

Cruising along French rivers and canals is an extraordinary experience of freedom that children will remember for a long time. Much more than simply renting a boat, it's a way of life that teaches the importance of slowing down - and has many surprises in store. Follow our guide.

Be free!

A river cruise is an original alternative to modern travel methods, allowing you to move at your own pace with no stress, taking your time and recharging your batteries surrounded by the simple pleasures of nature, new landscapes and new perspectives. It's a true way to let go and be in the present moment.

Mix it up

With nearly 8,000 km of waterways, France boasts the largest river network in Europe - more than enough to please boat lovers and offer numerous ideas for weekends or longer getaways. Explore France in an unusual way, from village to village and from lock to lock.

Give the children new roles

A river cruise isn't just about a long, quiet river with nothing to do. Everyone has a role to play and children love being given new responsibilities: helping to steer, playing captain, helping pass through the locks, handling the ropes, keeping the boat glistening clean and keeping the water supply topped up. Everyone can be the perfect ship's boy.

Navigate in total safety

If you decide to rent a license-free boat with your children, don't panic! Everything to ensure their safety is provided on board. Each boat is perfectly equipped with buoys and lifejackets adapted to the sizes of the kids, and any little ones who haven't yet learned to swim can easily keep them on while aboard.

Combine boating with cycling

Before setting off on your cruise, you can rent bikes and take them on board. Take them for a gentle meander to explore the local villages and activities, or even to pick up supplies. A great classic for cyclists is the 250km-long Voie Verte cycle path on the Canal du Midi, built on the old towpath following the canal.

Treat yourself to delicious food

Taking in the terroir and local culture, cruises from Bordeaux on the Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde rivers are a great opportunity to taste traditional French food. You could combine this with exploring the prestigious vineyards of the Médoc and Sauternes areas. Natural wonders such as the Gironde estuary, Arcachon Bay and the Pilat Dune will really wow the kids.

Soak up local culture

Did you know that the Loire is the longest river in France - and follows in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci? Children will love journeying along it to see some of France's most famous chateaux. The region of Pays de la Loire is an ideal destination for cruisers seeking culture, rich history and heritage.

Try out new activities

During your journey, you'll no doubt need to make a few stops to keep the kids entertained. If they like zoos, animal parks and safaris, try the Parc de Sainte-Croix (External link) in Alsace or the Sigean African Reserve (External link) on the Mediterranean, between Narbonne and Perpignan. And for aspiring historians, many tourist sites have adapted childrens' tours, such as the MuséoParc Alésia (External link) in Burgundy or Aigues-Mortes (External link) in Occitanie. The choices are endless!

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