6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites You Can Visit on Our Cruises

France and Italy are known for having some of the best natural, historical and cultural landmarks and areas around – and the best of the best are the ones that have been selected by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Read on to discover six of our favourites.

World-Famous Waterways

Loire Valley

 Culture and heritage combine in this gorgeous landscape. The River Loire runs through the valley, and has been an integral part of how humans interact with the environment for centuries. Our cruises take you down a portion of this beautiful river, allowing you to gently float by architectural wonders, historic towns and villages such as Blois and Saumur and the famous castle Château de Chenonceau.

 Canal du Midi

 This 360km canal was created by Pierre-Paul Riquet, built between 1667 and 1694 and boasts 328 structures that range from tunnels to bridges to aqueducts. Its design and engineering were remarkable for the time, and it is still in use today. It flawlessly blends in with its surroundings, making this waterway part technological innovation and part work of art. Discover the canal’s history and gorgeous scenery for yourself as you drift down it on one of our cruises.

Terrific Towns

Strasbourg

 The main feature of this historic centre is the cathedral – so much so that the entire town was structured around it. It was designed and built from 1871 to 1918, and blends together German-influenced architecture and an urban layout inspired by the Haussmannian model. This is truly a city with a unique layout.

Ferrara

Since the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Ferrara has been known as an artistic and intellectual hub that attracts the greatest thinkers. The neighbourhoods, built in 1492 by Biagio Rossetti, are a visual representation of the humanist idea of the ‘ideal city’ – a project that paved the way for modern town planning and development.

Stunning Sights

Abbey of Fontenay

St. Bernard founded this Burgundian monastery in 1119, and it comes complete with ironworks, sleeping quarters, a church, refectory, bakery and cloister. It is an excellent example and reminder of just how the earliest Cistercian monks lived, and paints a perfect picture of their ideals of self-sufficiency.

Vézelay

This Benedictine abbey has witnessed much history over the years, including St. Bernard’s preaching in 1146 and a meeting between Richard the Lion Heart and Philip II of France in 1190. It has frequently been an important place of pilgrimage due to its collection of St. Mary Magdalene’s relics. Today, however, visitors usually come to marvel over its Romanesque art and architecture.

There are so many fantastic cultural landmarks to visit, and they can all be reached on a barge holiday carefully crafted by us here at European Waterways. If you’re not sure where to begin, get in touch with our team and we’ll help you find the perfect itinerary to discover these amazing cultural, historical and natural sites.

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