Strasbourg to Lagarde, off the beaten path
On this all inclusive cruise we explore the hidden gems of Alsace and Lorraine, discovering many sights that lie off the beaten tourist path. With visits to the medieval towns of Saverne and Sarrebourg and tastings of the best local produce available, join us as we travel in style down the most scenic of French waterways.
After meeting at our St Pancras Departure Office, board the Eurostar to Paris, continuing to Strasbourg - the capital of the historical region of Alsace. This area is one of France's best-kept secrets, by-passed by sun-seekers who race to the Côte d'Azur. But to the delight of gourmets across the country other than Paris, there are more Michelin-starred restaurants in Alsace than anywhere else in France. The region is famous for its cuisine and the world-renowned wines from vineyards along the 'Route des Vins', making it a delightful holiday destination. We transfer by coach to the town of Lagarde, where your hotel barge, the Madeleine, awaits - home for the next seven days. On arrival, the crew present you with a welcome cocktail before the first dinner of your cruise is served.
Enjoy breakfast on board this morning as you sail down the Marne- Rhine canal towards Xouaxange. Along the way, travel through the Réchicourt lock, one of the largest in France. After lunch, we depart the boat and transfer by coach to Sarrebourg which sits on the banks of the River Saar, the waterway from which the city gets its name. Here we enjoy a guided tour of this cultural destination and discover many of its hidden historical gems. The 13th century chapel of Cordeliers can be found in Sarrebourg: the original Marc Chagall stained glass window here, 'Peace', is the largest piece of its kind that the artist ever created and takes pride of place in the heart of the church. We'll also see the Art Nouveau architecture on display and wander the 18th century Grand'rue.
This morning is spent aboard the Madeleine with a candlelit lunch as we pass through the Arzviller and Niderviller Tunnels. We make our way closer towards the remarkable Arzviller Inclined Plane. The only one of its kind in Europe, it was designed to replace over 4km of locks that used to take a whole day to navigate. It is essentially a boat lift that traverses a 41% incline in only four minutes, a unique and unforgettable experience. At the foot of the incline, we find the Inclined Plane Crystal Workshop that has been preserving the art of blowing, carving and etching crystal for the past 25 years. Here we learn about these age-old methods and receive a demonstration before continuing along the canal through the Vosges mountain range to Lutzelbourg, where we moor for the night.
Our first excursion takes us by foot to Lutzelbourg Castle today, a 12th century fortress built overlooking the Zorn Valley. This afternoon we cruise towards Saverne, enjoying a visit to the towering Haut- Barr Castle. Strategically positioned at 470m above sea level, it is also known as 'the Eye of Alsace'. Here we are rewarded with unparalleled views over the Alsace plain. On our return to the boat, we stop briefly at the Chappe Tower - an ancient telegraph boasting an interactive display of communication through the ages. You have some free time to explore later in Saverne.
This morning we enjoy a guided tour of Saverne, discovering many of the sites not usually seen by tourists including the town's main street with its unicorn fountain (Saverne's emblem) and Katz house, a tavern adorned with beautifully decorated, half-timbered sculpturing that dates back to 1605. We also visit the church of Notre Dame and the surviving 12th century porch tower. We observe many examples of the town's historical architecture, with buildings ranging from the 14th and 18th centuries. This evening dinner is served in a local restaurant and gives you the chance to experience a local delicacy - tarte flambée. Made from bread dough which has been rolled out as thinly as possible - tradition dictates that tarte flambée should always be rectangular in shape - it is then loaded with fromage blanc, crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons, making for a delicious and traditional meal.
Take time to relax on board this morning before we set off by coach for a tranquil walking tour of the Wingersheim hops path. Beautiful Alsace is famed for its beer production and we get the opportunity to try some at a special tasting.
Returning to Strasbourg, this evening, there is a gala dinner served on board. We then get the chance to take a separate panoramic boat-ride through the city at night (subject to availability). We see many of the sights including Strasbourg's charming Old Town, dominated by the Notre Dame Cathedral. Featuring its famous astronomical clock, it has remained unchanged since the middle ages. We also see The Grande Île, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Set in the midst of the River III, it is the ancient soul of the city.
After a buffet breakfast, transfer to the railway station in Strasbourg. Here we catch the train to Paris for our onward journey to London St Pancras International, the ending point of our wonderful cruise holiday.
Discover the cultural and historical background of this industrial town located at the edge of the Vosges mountains on a guided tour.
The Inclined Plane and Crystal Works
Your passage through the Inclined Plane is a highlight of the cruise and afterwards enjoy an informative demonstration of local crystal production.
The size of The Madeleine allows you to reach this town that lies off the beaten tourist path for a fascinating guided tour.
Set high in the Alsatian hills, this 12th century castle offers stunning views. Perhaps brave the devil's footbridge.
This excursion immerses you straight into the traditions of Alsace as you take a delightful stroll through a working hops field and see first hand how these plants are grown and cultivated. This is followed by a welldeserved tasting of the local brew.
River boat tour of Strasbourg
Take a river boat ride through Strasbourg (subject to availability). The Old Town by night is truly spectacular and the cruise takes you past important monuments such as the European Court of Human Rights.
Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 8 verified reviews
Excellent barge with good facilities, superb food, charming, excellent crew.
The Madelaine barge was very comfortable and the staff were lovely. The itinerary was also really good with beautiful scenery and interesting places to visit.
First class Barge Cruise! Not sure what to expect, but comfortable cabins, excellent food and service, good company- only 22 like-minded fellow travellers, and interesting visits. Who could ask for more to celebrate a'mature' birthday!
A relaxing gem with helpful, friendly staff and good food.
The whole experience was most enjoyable, the staff were efficient and polite and the food and drink first class.
The holiday was very good and we enjoyed it; the boat was comfortable and the staff friendly and helpful.I'm not sure why we went to a Marshmallow factory instead of the scheduled visit to Lutzelbourg Castle, no explanation was offered,and Haut-Barr castle was disappointing as there isn't very much castle to be guided round. However, in spite of the mist the views were fairly spectacular. The food was generally quite good, but I would suggest that the Sauerkraut should not be repeated for British visitors! The real reason for my 4* rating was the 4 hour wait, mostly in Strasbourg railway station - dark, noisy and uncomfortable - on the day of our return. I know the crew had to get the boat ready for the next cruise but surely something could have been organised for us to fill the morning - even some free time to look round Strasbourg if there were no earlier trains to Paris.
Well organised rail travel. Excellent vessel, food, wine and other drinks high quality and generous. Crew, especially the catering crew superb. Good tours. Enjoyable local meal ashore.
Good food and wine excellent staff well organised holiday in fact we have booked a similar holiday on another barge next year.
The holiday was everything we expected - excellent service, good good and wine and beautiful scenery
Very relaxing with excellent food, wine and company.
Strasbourg to Lagarde, off the beaten path