Partner Article

Sailing Along the Waterways of France

The Strasbourg-based CroisiEurope boat company is a pioneer in river cruises and has been sailing along the waterways of France for more than 40 years. Its diverse offering includes exclusive destinations and unique experiences and is designed to delight both newcomers and connoisseurs.
CroisiEurope’s Renoir sails under the Pont Alexandre III in Paris. © Paul Hilbert/CroisiEurope

The M.S. Renoir is anchored just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower on the Quai de Grenelle in Paris, ready to take its passengers along the Seine and across to Côte Fleurie in Normandy. The onboard couches and pastel-pink cushions with black frills are reminiscent of the Chanel aesthetic, while the cabins have reproductions of Impressionist paintings on the walls. With accommodations for 105 guests and luxury interior design, the boat is one of 55 operated by CroisiEurope.

CroisiEurope was founded almost by accident in Alsace in 1976. Today, the company is the world’s largest in terms of its fleet, and second-largest in terms of the diversity of its offer. Gérard Schmitter originally came up with the idea of chartering a boat to bring people to and from his restaurant on the weekends. The concept rapidly developed to offer trips and short stays in boats with sleeper cabins — the first of its kind in France! The company launched riverboat tourism in Europe and opened routes to a multitude of destinations.

“We were the first to sail on the Rhone, the Saone, the Loire, the Elbe, and the Po,” says Lucas Schmitter, a third-generation member of this family of boat manufacturers. Now directed by the founder’s children and grandchildren, the company employs more than 1,600 people across the world and is vertically integrated to include all production stages from construction to operation.

French Touch, International Ambiance

“Our identity is founded on the French gourmet cuisine served onboard and the excellent value for money,” says Lucas Schmitter. “But the ambiance of each trip is very international. Half of our clients are not from France, and every announcement is made in both French and English. However, we do insist on the French touch and the quality of service. We are proud to be French, and we want people to know it!”

From the Loire and the Gironde to the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, CroisiEurope offers both exclusive destinations and special features for each individual route. The boats are built according to the specifications of each waterway in order to provide special access to certain destinations. “We revamped the paddle wheels on one of our models so we could sail on the Loire, an unspoiled, natural river without any locks or dams. We are also the only company authorized to cross Paris and sail all the way to the fishing port of Honfleur in Normandy.”

The company offers a range of different themes, including classic, family, musical, and even dynamic, which includes a tour of Paris in an iconic Citroen 2CV and a visit of the catacombs. And since 2013, passengers can even admire France from one of the six 22-person barges operated by CroisiEurope on the country’s canals. The ideal way to discover authentic, rural France in an intimate setting.

This French excellence has now been exported to the rivers of Africa, Asia, Europe, and even Russia. “Half of our clients are regulars. Many of them visit France with us, then continue to other destinations on our boats for the quality of service à la française they find on board,” says Lucas Schmitter. And as for North America, “trips along the Saint Lawrence River in Canada should be available soon.”

Contact & reservations: CroisiEurope Cruise Specialists
Phone: +1 (800) 768 7232