From grand châteaus to cobbled, homely streets, the waterways of France are bursting with sights of interest, and you can experience them the most relaxing way possible, on a barge cruise. Discover the inspiration for Van Gogh's, 'The Starry Night' in Arles, explore rugged medieval castles in Burgundy, sail through towns that are too small for big cruise ships, and so much more. We explore the best of our French barge cruises in this latest blog, setting the scene for your next holiday.
From the famous Seine, whose route cuts through the centre of Paris, and the lavender fields and wineries of Provence, to the historic châteaux of the Loire Valley, and the Garonne, home to one of the most ecologically diverse deltas in the world; the waterways of France are entirely varied and enchanting. Serving up a wealth of experiences that help keep time-honoured traditions alive, there's just so much to do, see, hear and taste.
If sipping champagne straight from the vintner's cellars after a relaxed day's sailing sounds appealing, barge cruising might be exactly what you're after. France is a gastro's paradise, and no holiday here would be complete without exploring the culture surrounding some of Europe's most celebrated - and best-loved - produce. Enjoy visits to cheesemakers, expert food and wine pairings alongside tours of local, family-run vineyards and world-famous Champagne houses alike.
And good gastronomy doesn't stop once you're back on board. Locally-sourced ingredients are deftly transformed into course after course of delicious French cuisine, all accompanied by wines grown, harvested, fermented and bottled in the areas we sail through.
Exciting itineraries with plenty of down time
The days are always varied on a barge cruise, with new sights waiting around every bend in the river. You might spend your morning slowly cruising through idyllic, pastoral scenes, enjoying time to soak up the timeless landscapes of the Gironde Estuary or admire the Parisian skyline. And as barges are much smaller than most other river ships, we're able to moor in towns larger vessels can't reach. Step straight from your boat into the heart of picturesque market towns or bustling fishing villages, and visit destinations that the main tourist crowds seldom reach.
A boat unlike any other
Our barges were built with passengers in mind. There's no sense of just being 'just one of the crowd' on a barge cruise, with a small number of guests (no more than 22 on each sailing) and a dedicated and efficient crew to see to your every need. While this gives your holiday an intimate feel, as if you're sharing the experience with friends, not strangers, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy a little 'me' time. Small yet perfectly formed, each barge features a terrace with loungers you can move around and two Jacuzzis. On the deck below is the spacious restaurant and a separate lounge area, where you can enjoy a drink from the bar throughout the day and well into the evening. Your cabin is your own personal oasis of calm and you can stay connected with the outside world via the on-board Wi-Fi system.