Sea or mountains? You can't decide for your next holiday in France? What about a canal, river or stream? Opt for river tourism. This is a holiday option that is full of leisure activities for all tastes, combining sport, relaxation, discovery, heritage and gastronomy....

What is behind the word "river"?

Fluvestre is the combination of river and land tourism. River tourism refers to all the activities that can be practiced around waterways such as rivers and canals. Whether it is on or beside the water, it can be sailing, kayaking, paddling as well as cycling, walking or horse riding along the water. This is an increasingly popular concept, which is a must. It allows you to discover the French navigable network, which is the most extensive in Europe, with 8,500 kilometres of waterways: it is impossible to get bored, as it offers such a diversity of landscapes and activities.

Why is it a good nature plan?

After so many months of limited travel, a river holiday seems like the ideal choice. Especially if you are looking for free adventure, away from the crowds of the city or seaside, with a multitude of activities to choose from. First of all, proximity is an important asset, there is always a waterway close to your home or holiday destination. Thanks to the density of the network of waterways, you don't have to cross the whole of France to travel along a magnificent waterway which evokes a real feeling of infinity. This is an opportunity to discover a nearby and hidden heritage, which you may not have had the time to explore before... And it is precisely this eco-tourism aspect that is attractive: these are slowholidays, where everything can be done by soft mobility, for example by bike!

You will combine nature and the city: 42% of river activities are carried out outside the metropolis. It's great to escape the heat of the city centre by walking along the shady banks, where the air is cooled by the water!

It's an affordable, safe and quiet holiday idea, as romantic if you're going as a couple, as it is fun if you're going as a family

For the thrill-seekers, get on a mountain bike or a canoe and kayak! And for those looking to relax, opt for a horseback ride, a few hours of sightseeing by boat or even rent a houseboat without a license. Both accommodation and transport, this adventure of a few days on board will allow you to see the landscape in a different way. So, if you are hesitating between a relaxing or sporty holiday, in town or in the country, relaxing and discovering the heritage, while making a sustainable choice: river tourism is the ideal solution.

Another way to discover the French heritage

River tourism allows you to discover the heritage french while taking your time. Many remarkable sites will open to you. The Loire region and its sometimes royal, sometimes wild banks are ideal for cycling. You will be able to stop at all the castles and taste the gastronomic heritage of the region... further south, the Canal du Midi and its historical heritage is a real wonder

You will pass through historic villages as you travel along the towpaths, these marvels so conducive to hiking, cycling or horse riding. These paths along the waterways were once used to pull the barges by horses (or sometimes even by men). This is undoubtedly the best way to get to the heart of a territory to discover its rural and river heritage. Many architectural gems such as locks, bridges and mills, still too little known, will amaze you.

Let's not forget the accommodation possibilities: between unusual and Gîtes de France, the choice is rich. This will be the opportunity to be tempted by a night in a hotel barge!

Cycling, the star of summer and river tourism

This soft mobility par excellence is the favourite of the French who are thirsty for freedom of movement. And there's nothing better than the banks of rivers for this! Indeed, 91% of the river network managed by VNF is bordered by a cycle route less than 5 kilometres away. You can cycle for hours, a day or even several days along a peaceful river.

In addition, many operators offer a combined boat-bike trip, which is attracting more and more people every year. And you can easily find bicycles at the boat rental companies

Our destination idea: Centre and Burgundy on the water

Burgundy is the second most important river destination in France, with a network of no less than 1,300 kilometres of canals and rivers. The Loire Valley is a great place to visit, with its wines, castles and, of course, its many canals: the Burgundy Canal, the Nivernais Canal, the Briare Canal and the Canal Latéral à la Loire. In addition to the river heritage, you will discover the gastronomic heritage, by stopping in the wine and cheese producing villages.

Not to be missed is the Briare canal bridge, which dates from the 19th century: with 300,000 visitors a year, it is one of the jewels of French river heritage and of the historical heritage of the Loire. This bridge, which spans the Loire, connects the Canal Latéral à la Loire to the Canal de Briare. It is a true masterpiece of French engineering. Take a tour of the bridge on the riverboats