Belmond Afloat in France
South of France
Discover the waterways, canals and rivers of rural France in style with the Belmond Afloat in France program. Belmond’s five barges are among the most luxurious in Europe and offer a unique way of seeing some spectacularly beautiful countryside.
At a Glance
Luxury all-inclusive river and canal cruises by Belmond
5 different luxury barges
Wide variety of routes and areas of France to discover
Available for charter or bookable cabin-by cabin
Gourmet dining and excellent wines included
A nine seater vehicle follows your canal and river cruise so that you can hop off and enjoy excursions to nearby towns, villages and vineyards at your leisure with your on board guide, fully inclusive of the cost.Amber Hopkins
Enjoy exquisite meals throughout your stay tailored to your taste, served both on and off of your luxury barge and expertly paired with local wines.Amber Hopkins
Bicycles are stored on your boat for you to enjoy cycling alongside the canal admiring the surrounding countryside, or transported to nearby towns and vineyards for you should you wish to explore the local surrounds.Amber Hopkins
Weather permitting, hot air balloon rides can be arranged for you to marvel at the scenery from above.Amber Hopkins
Meet our specialists
Call us on (858) 523-9000 to start planning your vacation to Belmond Afloat in France or take a look at our itineraries to the South of France
This has to be one of the most luxurious and relaxing ways to explore the rivers and canals of France – a beautiful appointed barge cruising at a stately pace through some of Europe’s most picturesque regions. Belmond’s collection of vessels operate from April to October on a variety of routes through Languedoc-Rousillon, Burgundy, Provence, Franche-Comté and the Rhône. Sleeping from four to twelve guests, the five ‘péniche-hôtels’ can be chartered by families or groups for sole use or booked on a cabin by cabin basis. Cruising in tandem is also possible for larger groups wishing to travel together.
There are set suggested itineraries which you can join as a couple or a smaller group, with itineraries which include the best in gastronomy, culture and landscape of each region. Alternatively, take one of the barges as a private charter: it’s like having your very own private villa, with a relaxed house-party atmosphere with your family and friends, but with the added benefit of ever-changing scenery outside the windows. Attentive guides, chefs and staff are on hand to make sure you get the most out of each port of call along the way. The high ratio of guests to staff means impeccable service is assured.
A highlight of any Belmond Afloat in France trip will be the opportunity to discover the gastronomic heritage of France, and all meals and drinks are included. On a week's cruise you can expect to be served at least 15 different wines and over 20 cheeses, all sourced from the very regions you sail through by day. The chef will accompany you to local markets as you selected the freshest produce for the table that day.
Your excursions are also included, along with the service of an expert tour guide who will discuss ideas with you in detail each day so that tours and visits match your preferences. The cabins are beautifully appointed, and larger vessels feature swimming pools and bicycles for your use during the trip.
Here's a sample itinerary from Lyon to Avignon, for example, aboard 'Napoleon':
Board Napoleon in Lyon and meet your crew for a Champagne reception.
Enjoy evening cocktails as you cruise through the center of Lyon.
Dine on superb cuisine accompanied by the finest vintages.
Tour France's second city, Lyon, renowned for its culture and gastronomy.
The ornate Basilica of Nôtre-Dame de Fourvière dominates the skyline.
Browse chic boutiques or relax in a sunny pavement café.
Then recline on the deck as you cruise the Rhône Valley to Condrieu.
Pass through the magnificent vineyards of the Côtes Rôties and the Côtes du Rhône, which almost reach the river’s edge.
In the afternoon enjoy a wine tasting at a local winery.
Explore the delights of Tain-l'Hermitage, which include the famous Valrhona chocolate shop.
In the evening, dine on board.
Cruise to Viviers and admire the beauty of the Rhône Valley from the deck.
Disembark mid-afternoon for a guided walk around this charming medieval town.
Return to Napoleon to play the traditional Provençal game pétanque.
Take a scenic drive to Nyons, a typical Provençal village with a lavender distillery and 18th-century olive mill. Have lunch at Grignan.
Visit a truffle farm to learn about and taste this world-renowned delicacy.
Cruise south to Saint-Etienne-des-Sorts. Pass through Bollène lock, with its dramatic 23-meter drop.
Cruise to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, home of the Popes of Avignon in the 1300s.
Tour Château La Nerthe and taste the region’s wines.
Enjoy a lunch cruise to Avignon, passing the famous bridge, Pont Saint-Bénezet.
Explore this magnificent city taking in the Palace of the Popes and Nôtre Dame.
Back on board, share stories over a farewell gala dinner.
Have breakfast before the crew bids you farewell and you disembark.
The cabins aboard all the Belmond Afloat in France barges all have either an en-suite bathroom or shower room.
Belmond Alouette sleeps 4 and is booked on a private charter basis only.
Belmond Fleur de Lys sleeps 6 and can be booked as a private charter or on a per cabin basis.
Belmond Amaryllis sleeps 8 and is available for private charter only.
Belmond Hirondelle also sleeps 8 and is available for private charter or can be booked per cabin.
Belmond Napoléon sleeps 12 in 6 decadent cabins and is available for private charter or can be booked per cabin.
Location & Directions
South of France
When to go
The south of France enjoys a pleasant, Mediterranean climate. On average, it gets 300 days of sunshine each year, with warm but mild temperatures. Spring is a great time of year, the weather is warm, with temperatures swaying between 16 and 20°C, and the crowds are small. If you want to see lavender fields then it would be best to visit the region in June. In October the weather starts to cool. Fall is also the start of the wettest weeks of the year. October sees an average of 3.7 inches of rain, with an average of three inches following in November.