When it comes to exploring France, river tours are an excellent option. Not only do you have the chance to luxuriate in a floating hotel experience, but you also get the opportunity to visit many off the beaten track places that you may not otherwise stumble upon. Troyes, in the Champagne region, is one such spot that escapes the notice of many who visit the famous Aube de Champagne. But for those who find themselves meandering along the river Seine and passing through, it is definitely worth a stop.
The Town of Troyes
There is something quite romantic about this town, with its buzzing atmosphere, pavement cafes and characteristic half-timbered buildings that remain remarkably intact. It feels like a place that has enjoyed an affluent history – which indeed it has. With an economy relying heavily on wool and textiles and an influential connection with the Knights Templar, the town has always been, and still is, a hugely important cultural centre of France.
River tours usually dock here and guests can head off to explore on foot. The tourist office, close to the beautifully ornate town hall, has plenty of maps and leaflets that will help guide you through the winding streets lined with crooked houses and higgledy buildings. Gothic churches with elegant sculptures appear around almost every corner and stand harmoniously alongside the Romanesque equivalents that also feature heavily in Troyes.
What to Do in Troyes
First and foremost, you really must head to the old town centre, which is adorned with teetering medieval houses decorated in pastel colours befitting of any artistic palette. The town sits in surprising contrast to its surroundings, which are dominated nonetheless beautifully with endless vineyards and sandy-coloured hilltop towns. Bridges crossing the Seine burst with colourful flower boxes and provide the perfect photo opportunity for visitors.
The old centre is enveloped by the Boulevards Gambetta, Victor Hugo and du 14 Juillet, as well as the snaking River Seine. It is easy to navigate and is primarily pedestrianised. Cobbled streets lead away from the centre in a fan like pattern and there is no shortage of local artisan shops, cafes and bars.
The prettiest streets are arguably those that lie east of Place Maréchal Foch and are conjoined by little squares and trendy shops. Head to the Jardin du Rocher or the Jardin de la Vallée Suisse if you fancy a relaxing hour or two soaking up the laid back vibe and the delightful Champagne sunshine. Over to the west of the town is the lovely Mairie, with its delightful garden frontage. From here the Cathedral of St. Pierre and St. Paul is only a short stroll away.
Troyes is one of those towns that doesn’t demand too much from its visitors. Simply by wandering the streets and taking in the atmosphere you get a feel for what this place is really like. The architecture is beautiful and the cafe culture a delight, so you don’t need to pound the streets and break a sweat to find all the good stuff.
In France, river tours are a popular holiday choice. Those that take you through the glorious Champagne region and include a stop in Troyes are particularly special. Book with a reputable tour operator and you can expect quality accommodation, first class food and exemplary service too.
Author Plate Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK’s go to experts and most respected provider of all-inclusive luxury barge holidays. If you’re looking to experience the best of France, river tours are the way to do it. 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.