French river cruise or solo

I can't decide between a river cruise (Avalon going from Arles into Avignon and Burgundy) and a few days in Paris, or going solo in Paris, a few days bus tour in the Loire Valley, or cycling type tour, and a few days in the French Riviera??? I have been to France but never the Loire Valley, it's my husband's first trip. I'm not sure I want the group experience, and cost of the river cruise, but then it may be nice?? Then again I also really want to see the Loire Valley and the ones left on the river cruise are doing Burgundy.... Any suggestions, recommendations?

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

River cruise on a big boat: second dumbest travel thing I ever did in my life.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
1090 posts

You need to look at a river cruise newsboard. You are basically asking the question "escorted tour or independent travel", with the side issues that river cruise patrons tend to be older. So there are a lot of issues, like age, finances, previous travel experience, desire to be directed each morning on a tour, limited free time, that we don't know. You have also described 5 or more different sections of France, so we don't know if you like wine tastings, want to swim (what month is the trip?), are experienced bicylclers, want to tour Chateaux, and are willing to rent a car in France. Sorry not to be more helpful.

Posted by suzan
la, ca
34 posts

We're a youngish mid 50s, like to do everything, and probably going in early fall when it's getting cool... I don't like tours generally as I've traveled a bit and like to explore and not be tied to fellow travelers, who are often over luggaged, but I heard river cruises are nice??? I can't do everything: either Paris and Loire Valley, maybe Nice area too; or the 10 day river cruise into Burgundy and after Paris on our own?

Posted by Bets
2786 posts

Save the cruise for when you are no longer able to do it on your own. Take advantage of your independence and curiosity.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

There are pros and cons to both forms of travel, and it really comes down to what your priorities are. If you DIY, you get exactly what you want, and you will probably spend less money than on the river cruise. But - you have to DIY and with that comes more work and responsibility (and stress depending on your personality). I've had some great DIY trips, but it was harder for me to relax, as I'm the one taking care of everything. If you River Cruise, you can pretty much just show up and be taken care of. But it comes at a cost, and you don't get input into the itinerary and won't get to the Loire Valley. I did a Nile River cruise last summer and was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed having someone else take care of everything. I didn't worry about how to get from point A to point B, and was able to relax and enjoy a bit more. But I didn't get to set the schedule or pick what we saw each day. DIY will continue to be the way I travel the majority of the times, but I would love to do a River Cruise again some time.

Posted by suzan
la, ca
34 posts

Turns out the river cruise is 8 days, which gives me 3 in French Riviera and 3 or so in Paris, and 1 night in Loire Valley.... Or I could do a bike/barge type of trip in Loire Valley for 6 days... Has anyone done one of these? Looks nice but 28 miles of bike riding a day.... and a week in Paris....

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3639 posts

Ed, I have to laugh every time I see an advertisement for one of those river cruises. See some of the world's most famous cities while lying bed watching it go by via your own private window...or sit on deck in your comfy lounger all wrapped up in a blanket. I guess it's good for some people - I'd be pulling my hair out!