France River Cruises

Discover the Sensations of Lyon, Provence and Southern France

Vive la France

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.

On our French river cruises, you'll go beyond the destinations, travelling in style on board our Star-Ships.

Relax as you venture deep into the wondrous cultural surroundings of Paris, or indulge in world-class dining as you take in the sights and scenery of Nice and the French Rivera on the Cote-D’Azur. Explore ancient Roman influence and architecture, experience world-renowned vineyards and exquisite restaurants on our French river cruises.

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. An Emerald Waterways river cruise will take you to the very heart of France, via the Rhône and Saône rivers.

  • Feast in 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 van Gogh’s finest works

The rivers of France, explored by Emerald Waterways:

  • Rhône River
  • Saône River


If you're looking for multi-country river cruises in France and Germany amongst other fascinating western European countries, then take a look at our Rhine river cruise collection. For food & drink lovers, we recommend a trip on our wine river cruise to Burgundy and Provence. 

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 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 Star-Ship has been custom-built to skillfully 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 indoor 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.

The 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. Handpicked by our sommeliers, local wines are certainly a highlight of our river 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. At the end of a day exploring, retreat 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 the inspiration for many of his most famous works of art, the Rhône and Saône set a course through this charming, historical stretch of France.

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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.

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