Going on a river cruise was a compromise which has turned out to be rewarding. Canal boating was all booked up, and this seemed the next best choice.The Loire Princesse is a small paddle steamer. Most of its guests are French. Here are some aspects of life on board. Best of all are the river views. This was at Bouchemaine this morning: calm water with fish rising.We docked at picturesque villages, and could watch bird life – gulls, egrets, cormorants, white herons and grey herons – as we moved up or down river.Charolais cattle and chateaux featured in views, and wind farms.We went through a lock as we arrived at, and left, St Nazaire.Here we are heading out to the Atlantic before turning into the Loire again towards Nantes:Paddles powered our bateau. Here, they can be seen from the reception area and from my balcony:Here is my cabin:Here are the life rafts!We had beautiful meals, exercises on the sun deck, a great concert by two local Breton folk singers, and well-paced, informative visits to chateaux, vineyards and gardens.We could book a visit to the wheelhouse. It’s a serious business negotiating sandbars, channels, bridges and tides.We saw the crew in action as we docked or set off.A different cocktail was featured every day.There were books and games in the bar too.The crew went a little crazy on football night – as did the whole town. This is one of the chefs:But were highly professional otherwise.Now the cruise has returned to Nantes, and we disembark tomorrow.