If you have decided that you want to explore the lesser known parts of France but are keen to avoid spending your holiday behind the wheel of a car, then a canal holiday could be just what you’re looking for. There is no doubt that French cities hold a huge amount of cultural appeal, but for a real taste of French life and an open gateway to the less trodden countryside paths, exploring by water is the way to go. The relaxed, steady pace of the journey offers the perfect opportunity to experience all that this marvellous country has to offer, from the scenery and culture to the exceptional food and wine. |
When to Go?
The choice really is yours when it comes to your travel dates, although, depending on the waterway you choose, the country can get cold in the winter, so most people opt for barge cruises in France during the spring, summer or early autumn. Travelling by water during the summer is a great way to get away from the crowds that swarm the cities and other attractions at this time of the year.
Why Choose France?
Many people who have visited Paris think that they have visited France, but in truth the capital city bears little resemblance to the rest of the country. To get to know how the rest of the population live you need to visit the tucked away tiny villages, eat at rustic cafes, wander round local markets and maybe even learn a little of the language. Travelling on the water is definitely the way to do this.
The network of canals weave in and out of some of these out of the way villages. The canals once served to connect the country’s main waterways and facilitate the transport of goods, but today they’re used mainly for recreation. Many traditional barges have been refurbished into modern luxurious floating hotels, offering guests the chance to enjoy a relaxing holiday while seeing the best bits of the country.
Types of Barge Cruises
There is no doubt that barge cruises in France are a very special experience. Most companies offer week-long stays but some offer longer or shorter options as well. The holiday package is all inclusive and you will be well looked after by professional staff who are on hand to cater for your every need. Meals on board are of excellent quality and are usually four courses with accompanying wines.
Some vessels come complete with a hot tub on the deck, and most have bikes on board in case you fancy working up an appetite before dinner by cycling alongside on the towpath for a few miles. Different companies offer different packages and some include guided tours to places of interest along the way. You can opt in and out of these, depending on what you want to do, but there is always plenty of free time to explore independently too.
There really is nothing quite like sitting back and watching the world gently pass by with only the sounds of water lapping and birds singing to distract you, and this is exactly what barge cruises in France offer. It is surprising how much you get to see in a week and, guess what? It is stress free!
When booking barge cruises in France, it is recommended that you go through a reputable tour operator who can help you choose the best holiday package for your specific needs. The experts have all the information at their fingertips, and you can rest assured they take great pride in providing unique experiences that people return for time and again.
Author Plate Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge cruises in France. 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.
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