About Barges in France ... (and Barge Cruises elsewhere in Europe):Nearly a half century ago, some early entrepreneurs thought it would be a great idea to convert a freight barge into a floating hotel and cruise on the canals of France. It took a while, but the idea took hold, and today barging on the canals of France has become synonymous with "pampered, luxury travel." Most of today's 55 or so barges are in France, but there are a few hotel barges in other countries, too, including Holland and Belgium (especially during Tulip Cruise season in April/May), England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and Italy. Today, the barges that once carried freight have been creatively converted into luxury floating hotels, treating from 2 to 22 passengers to an intimate, week-long celebration of French cuisine, cheeses, wines, countryside, chateaux and villages. A master chef is aboard to create "to die for" cuisine, personalized excursions are guided by a knowledgeable on-board guide, and a captain, matelot, and hostesses aboard round out the crew whose entire focus seems to be to pamper and spoil each guest, so much so that guests really don't want to leave at the end of the cruise, and come back to say that it was one of the best weeks of their lives.
Canal cruises in France (and counterparts in other countries) allow lucky guests to savor the countryside, villages, chateau, and cruising itself in a way that is unlike any other mode of travel. Who knew that cruising a dozen miles for a few hours each morning or afternoon -- and balancing the other part of the day with an intimate excursion -- could be such a prescription for stress-reducing travel?I The whole point is not to get from Holland to Switzerland in a week, but to get to the next village, to savor the cuisine and conversation and to smell the wine. Cruises in France help to put things in perspective. They appeal to people who want to have their week be rejuvenating, and enable guests to forget about a firm timetable, schedule, and deadlines, to experience France (or other countries) slowly and thoroughly, to enjoy the fragrances and sounds and banter in a boulangerie in the morning, to climb into the attic of a chateau to see how the roof was built, to walk along a 300-year-old canal towpath and say 'bonjour' to a fellow walker, to spend three hours in a delicious celebration of dinner over great local wines and cheeses. To re-create a sense of joy in travel, and not come back saying, 'I need a vacation from my vacation!' It is an experience where the journey itself is the reward, and the destination is a nice extra treat!
Canals of France, Rivers of France -- the difference between canal cruises and river cruises: Most cruising is on the intimate canals of France, where there is plenty of opportunity to walk and cycle along the way (bicycles included!). Canals usually have locks all along the cruise route, sometimes even every kilometer. This makes it easy to get off the barge at a lock and to walk or cycle to the next lock to re-board. Some cruises are on rivers where there is more emphasis on the excursions, and frequently little opportunity to walk or cycle except when moored in the evenings. Disembarking and embarking on river cruises is limited to the pre-planned moorings. (On some canal cruises, a barge can spontaneously moor against the canalside so it is inherently more flexible.) On the other hand, the rivers of France have been tightly bound to the growth of villages and towns and the history of the region, and typically offer spectacular excursions. Cruising in France on canals or rivers is always limited to a few hours a day. There is no cruising in the evening or early morning hours (with some rare exceptions for a special event!) mainly because the locks are only open during the daytime, but even on the rivers, cruises are typically limited to a few hours a day.
There are river cruises available on much larger boats -- for 100 or more passengers -- but the experience aboard a larger river cruiser is about as different from a barge cruise as a river cruise is different from a Caribbean or Mediterranean cruise with thousands of passengers on board. It is not only that the scale of a canal barge or river barge is different from a river cruise -- the whole point is different. A big part (and one of the main points) of the river cruise is to get from one town or city to another and to learn something about each destination. The point of a canal barge cruise and river barge cruise (22 or less passengers) is to savor the experience of walking, biking, getting a few miles down the canal or river and to truly enjoy the subtleties of a more intimate journey.
About us ... Since 1997, we have been passionate about hotel barge cruises in France and other countries in Europe. It is our exclusive focus, and we love to share our knowledge and experience. We spend thousands of hours on the barges, canals, and rivers of France to be in the best position to guide you when you make your choice from among the 55 or so barges that are available. We would like to be a part of your planning from your first exploration of the idea of a barge cruise -- we can help you decide which barge is best for you -- considering your objectives for the trip -- and provide recommendations and tips for everything from air, to hotels, rental cars, and pre- and post-cruise travel itineraries.
How To Book Barges in France, and Barges in Europe:
Call (Toll-Free in the U.S.):
1-877-64-BARGE (1-877-642-2743), 7-days a week.
Outside the U.S.: 001-443-321-3614.
See also the following web sites for more information about barges in
About this Web Site: ...
Web site creation by Don Dillin & Chip Banister of www.specialplacestravel.com.
Questions? Call 1-877-64-BARGE (US/Canada) or 001.443.321.3614 (outside US/Canada), or send an email to email@example.com
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