Exploring the North of France by River Boat

The best French river cruises take place in regions full of historical significance. This means there is plenty to see and do without travelling too far. Here are just three of the highlights of a cruise that takes place where the River Oise joins the River Seine. There is something a little magical about the place where two rivers meet, and this is no exception. The area inspired generations of artists and will inspire you too.

Auvers sur Oise

The idyllic town of Auvers sur Oise casts its gentle spell over many of the visitors who roam its charming streets today. However, it is most famous for enchanting the artist Vincent Van Gogh. This green town was Van Gogh’s final resting place in 1890 and also attracted many other artists. The town houses the museum and studio of impressionist Charles-Francois Daubigny and was visited by both Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne.

Keen-eyed tourists might recognise the local church, Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, as it stars in one of Van Gogh’s most famous pieces. The Château d’Auvers is surrounded by delightful formal gardens at their best at the beginning of summer. The château offers a scenic tour which aims to plunge participants into the atmosphere of impressionism.

Giverny

From one artist’s haven to another, the delightful Norman village of Giverny was made famous when renowned artist Claude Monet took up residence here in 1883. If you time your visit well, you can see Monet’s beautiful gardens in full bloom. The Impressionist master took charge of planting the extensive gardens at his house in Giverny himself, organising the flowers by colour. He then painted the garden at different times of day and year.

Monet’s house in Giverny is where you will find the original water lily pond made iconic in Monet’s paintings. The house is decorated with some of Monet’s own favourite pieces of art and a small gallery nearby hosts excellent exhibitions adding a further dimension to the attraction.

Malmaison

For a broader sweep of French art, the best French river cruises in the region often include a visit to Malmaison, a museum originally set up by Napoleon III and then closed in 1870. Given a new lease of life by the state in 1906, the museum offers visitors not only a fascinating range of art but also a look around the ornately decorated interior of the Château de Malmaison.

Highlights include Napoleon’s rooms which contain some striking military artwork, as well as furnishing collated from a handful of imperial residences and the impressive display of Josephine’s court trains.

If you crave inspiration from the great artists of the past or just like looking at beautiful artwork whilst travelling, the best French river cruises for you are those that explore the region where the River Oise meets the Seine.

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of the best French river cruises with all-inclusive, luxury itineraries. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.

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Author: Desiree Michels