f you’re contemplating European river cruises for your next holiday, why not think about heading to Paris? Don’t think it sounds like ideal cruising territory? Well, it is!
Paris – City of Lights
There’s not much left to be said about the legendary attractions of this city. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs-Elyses, Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur – they’re all globally famous icons.
Yet what’s sometimes forgotten or at least overlooked, is that there is a major river running through the centre of Paris – la Seine. Just like the Thames in London, the river is both an artery and the very backbone of the city. It provides a wonderful base for European river cruises and you’ll be able to see the very best angles of many of the most famous sights.
In fact, some would argue the city is best seen from the river, as that way you don’t have to worry about the traffic jams that can be an almost equally legendary part of Parisian life in the 21st century.
A small town
However, what makes Paris different from London is partly its size but more pertinently, what that means for getting out of it. Unlike London, where it can take hours to escape the suburban sprawl and reach the genuine countryside, Paris is relatively compact. That means that if you follow the Seine south, you’ll very quickly enter into the real French countryside and Paris is going to suddenly seem a long way away.
On those European river cruises that specialise in Paris and the Loire to the south, you’ll quickly find yourself in beautiful open countryside and able to visit incredible sights such as Melun and the Chateau de Fontainebleau.
It really gives you the best of everything French. On the one hand, you have the incomparable cultural atmosphere and romance of Paris, but on the other, you have fast access to that quintessentially French experience of the countryside and rural life. In between the two, you’ll also have the ultimate in comfortable and luxurious cruise accommodation – what could be better?
What is the definition of France?
This is a question the French themselves spend a lot of time debating. The country is obviously a cosmopolitan, industrialised and largely urban society – just as is the case in the UK. Yet it’s also still a society and culture with very strong rural roots and even aspirations. That is something that’s quite different to the UK.
So, while many French people enjoy the undoubted delights of living in Paris, Lyon or Bordeaux (etc.), their hearts are still perhaps romantically in the countryside even if they have no practical experience of living there.
So, they’re sometimes torn about what really is France – the small village or the chic city centre shopping experience? It’s a debate you can think about for yourself if you book on to European river cruises that show you the best of both worlds.
About the Author: Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, a provider of luxury, all-inclusive barge holidays. If you’re looking for European river cruises we offer experiences in France, Holland, Italy and the UK.
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