Cruise Along the French and Italian Rivieras & Explore the Region's History, Inimitable Art & Culture, Stunning Scenery, & World Heritage Sites
The world's most popular tourist destination, France's very name conjures up images dripping with romance and bucolic charm. The French are known the world over for being both traditional and cool in every sense of the word, and virtually every traveller has a mental postcard of a Parisian café, complete with smoking patrons and accordion soundtrack. The country that taught the world what haute cuisine was all about may not have invented wine or cheese, but they certainly set the bar – both culinary and culturally – for the rest of us to live up to.
Honfleur. The crammed together, timber-framed houses of Honfleur's delightful waterfront simply beg to be painted, and the waterfront beauty has been immortalised on the canvases of artists like Monet, and Honfleur's celebrated son, Boudin. Located in scenic Normandy, where the Seine opens out into the Channel, this is one of France's - and the world's - most spectacular, historic harbours. Impossibly picturesque, the Vieux Bassin's Norman harbour townhouses are an artist’s dream, reflecting out onto the still water, between bright wooden fishing boats.
Bordeaux. The name alone conjures images of sun-ripened grapes, splashes of refined flavour, and the joy of clinking glasses. Bordeaux is synonymous with quality and prestige, and the promise of endless opportunities to sample the city’s famous, full-bodied red wines makes a visit to this elegant French port city one to truly savour. Sprinkled with scenic, turret-adorned mansion castles, which stand above soil softened by the Atlantic and winding flow of the Garonne River, the vineyards of Bordeaux consistently produce revered wines, enjoyed right across the globe.
Nice. Nice's sweeping bend of brilliant-blue seawater - which once tempted the aristocracies of Europe - continues to entice and entrance visitors to these sun-soaked shores. A refined city of airy ocean boulevards, grandiose buildings and open spaces, fountain-sprinkled parks and colourful floral displays add to the city's timeless appeal. Nice has lost none of its old-world lustre, and there remains something of the divine in the Bay of Angels' endless sparkling waterfront.
Marseille. France’s sunniest and oldest city may not have the glamour of some of its Cote D’Azur neighbours, but what it lacks in glitz, it certainly makes up for in authenticity and cultural depth. France's second-biggest city, Marseille served as European Capital of Culture in 2013 and is a fantastic hub of museums, creativity and colour. The Le Panier district is a vivid illustration of this - with its faded streets revitalised by overflowing flowerpots and pretty naturally-distressed doorways.
Italians love to surround themselves with beauty, and it shows. A more fitting country could not have been designed by Michelangelo himself: from medieval hilltop towns to sun-drenched Mediterranean islands, Italy is sublime. Icons are so numerous it's difficult to choose. Some are entire cities: Venice, Florence, and Rome are works of art in themselves, and Italy has played host to arguably the greatest collection of art, architecture, and artists the world has ever seen. Home to more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country, Italy is nothing if not cultured; an education was once considered incomplete until one spent time in Italy. Today, this tradition continues, as visitors from around the world come to surround themselves with beauty and immerse themselves in la dolce vita. Viva Italia!
Rome. All roads lead to Rome, and with good reason - this city is one of the world’s most thrilling, offering unmatched history along every street. An evocative, inspiring and utterly artistic capital of unrivalled cultural impact, Rome is a city of back-to-back landmarks, which will take you on an exhilarating journey through the ages. This may be one of the world’s oldest cities, but it’s well and truly lived in.
Portofino. Effervescent and exclusive, Portofino rests on a privileged peninsular. Lavish yachts mingle together, seeking out sought-after berths in the harbour, while gelato drips onto the stone-paved streets in this, the most alluring and glamorous town of the Italian Riviera. This section of the Ligurian Coast is a protected area, and home to some of the country’s most picturesque, and jaw-dropping scenery - which is best viewed from the deck of a sailing boat. Crisp white villas roll out across the verdant green hillsides, surrounded by laden vineyards and olive groves.
Venice. Losing none of its allure over the years, this floating city of canals, bridges and masks is a place of eternal beauty and enduring elegance. The lagoon of more than 100 islands is a heavenly sight, transporting visitors on a journey through time - from its Roman inception, through centuries of trade to the modern face we see today. Navigate Venice’s sparkling waterways by romantic gondola, or on cruises along wide canal boulevards.
Sorrento. Sorrento's colourful, sun-faded facades cascade down from green hills and cliffs to the Bay of Naples' gently lapping waters. The perfect base for exploring this Italian corner of outstanding natural beauty, venture to the curvaceous roads of the Amalfi coast - or enjoy leisurely jaunts across the shimmering waves to Capri's gem of an island. While it makes for a fantastic jumping-off point, Sorrento itself has oodles of rustic fishing town charm, so don't rush off too quickly.
If you’re after a small ship cruise or an expedition ship cruise to Italy or France Wild Earth Travel can help you find a trip of a lifetime. We are ready to guide you through our range of different options with impartial advice so you can experience the very best of this unique destination. Our team are all passionate expedition & small cruise ship travellers and our knowledge and stories come from our own personal experiences.