Five beautiful villages to explore during your France river cruise with Scenic

When you think of a France river cruise, it’s common to conjure visions of quintessentially French villages and town squares and to imagine the romance of being transported to these historic provinces of Europe. You can picture the heritage homes, stone water wells, 12th century churches, locals cycling with baguettes and flowers tucked into their bicycle baskets and café chairs spilling into narrow, cobblestone laneways. Closing your eyes, you can almost smell the sweet dough of freshly baked brioche, the aroma of lavender fields or the scent of world-class wines swirling in glasses.  


On a 5-star, truly all-inclusive France river cruise with Scenic, you won’t have to imagine it – you can experience the French villages you’ve dreamt about for yourself. Our custom-designed  Scenic Space-Ships are designed to dock right in the heart of small towns and villages. You can disembark and be led by the expertise of Scenic’s well-versed local guides on a Freechoice excursion or take an e-bike and navigate the villages independently, taking advantage of the Scenic Tailormade app in your pocket to act as a virtual guide.  

Here are five of some of the most beautiful and picturesque villages to experience in France that feel frozen in time as snapshots of bygone eras.  

Roussillon, Avignon 

The village of Roussillon in Avignon is considered one of France’s most beautiful villages. Its famous ‘Ochre Path’ on Luberon’s ochre circuit resembles a painter’s palette. Ochre quarries were carved out of the red cliff faces more than two centuries ago. On the Scenic 11-Day South of France itinerary, you can take a guided tour through a maze of picturesque streets, colourful laneways and squares up to the castle overlooking the town.  This region is also famous for its vast purple fields of aromatic lavender in the summer months. On this Scenic Freechoice activity, you’ll visit a nearby, local lavender producer and learn how lavender is grown and harvested here in the South of France. 

Les Baux, Provence 

The medieval village of Les Baux is a must-see for lovers of history and postcard-worthy photographs of a quintessentially French township. Stroll past St Vincent’s Church, a 12th century building that is typical of the structures in Les Baux, half built into rock. View the interiors that include modern stained-glass windows by Max Ingrand (1962), a gift from Prince Rainier III of Monaco. On the perch of the village stands the historic monument Château des Baux, spanning an area of five hectares with beautiful vistas over Provence, from Aix to Arles. Visit during the Scenic 11-Day South of France river cruise.  

Beuvron-en-auge, Normandy 

During the Scenic 11-Day Normandy & Gems of the Seine cruise to visit Beuvron-en-auge – an archetypal Norman village. After a visit to the small town of Pont l’Eveque, the home of the traditional Pont l’Eveque cheese, continue on to Beuvron-en-Auge. Here, you can visit an acclaimed Calvados (apple cider) producer Christian Drouin and wander the heart of the village – known for its Calvados, antique stores and historic timber homes and inns built in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.  

Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux

Spend an afternoon in the World Heritage-listed medieval village of Saint-Émilion in Bordeaux, renowned for its wineries, architecture and monuments of significance. This stunning village was named after a Breton monk called Émilion who lived as a hermit in caves beneath the ground. Scenic’s expert local guides will take you a tour of the caves to see where he lived, as well as to the underground limestone catacombs of the Monolithic Church built in the early 12th century – its 53-metre-high bell tower rising above the historic village. 

Blaye, Nouvelle-Aquitaine  

On the banks of the Gironde River, Blaye is a beautifully preserved historic centre contained within the walls of the World Heritage-listed Citadel of Blaye. Scenic guests can take a guided walking tour of the citadel to learn about the defence system which was created by the famous architect Sébastien Vauban between 1685 and 1689. On an active guided cycling tour, follow a 30km roundtrip route along the ‘Captain’s Road’, named in honour of the World War I Captains who purchased homes along this water-facing stretch. A visit to the fairytale-like Château de La Roche-Guyon, known as ‘The Castle of Sleeping Beauty’ is magnificent – explore the beautiful grounds during a guided tour. 
On your Scenic France river cruise, you can explore and discover all of these fascinating and atmospheric towns – and so many more. Each itinerary includes Scenic Freechoice activities that you can choose according to your tastes and set a pace that feels right for you. So, whether it’s French food, wine, history, architecture or nature that appeals, the expert Scenic team are there to assist every step of the way – when you say au revoir to France, you’ll leave with vivid, lifelong memories.  

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