If you’re the kind of traveller that enjoys really getting to know a country in a relaxing, slow and intimate way, you might have been considering a barge cruise. If you haven’t, you should be! Now, more than ever, the chance to explore beautiful European destinations from the water is an ideal way to enjoy an authentic and memorable holiday, while staying away from the crowded cities. |
The best barge trips in France take you through the glorious landscape at a slow, measured pace, allowing you to visit ‘out of the way’ places, try wonderful locally focused cuisine and wine, and explore interesting cultural and historic sites. There are countless reasons to choose this mode of travel for your next holiday, but here are our top four.
The best barge trips in France give you plenty of options, and choosing a destination can be quite difficult! Itineraries include iconic places like Burgundy, Alsace and Lorraine, the Canal du Midi, Bordeaux, Gascony, Champagne, Picardy and the beautiful Loire Valley – but rest assured, while the choice is hard, there’s no wrong answer. The joy of this kind of slow, small group travel is that you’ll also be able to discover some of the more authentic, off the beaten track places that many people don’t get to see.
The Food and Wine
For some (quite a lot!), the opportunity to enjoy fine dining and fabulous French food and wine is often one of the most compelling reasons they choose a trip like this. In fact, there are even specially themed cruises that focus on cuisine. The best barge trips in France are conducted on vessels with their own on-board chefs, who prepare the meals from locally sourced produce often using traditional methods and recipes. While all meals are superb, it’s the evening ones that make the most of a truly 5-star fine dining experience, accompanied by the wonderful wines from the region through which you’re travelling. Quite apart from anything else, these barge cruises are a food aficionado’s dream come true.
The Shore Excursions
While you can certainly choose to relax on board the vessel and enjoy watching the stunning French countryside slip by, you’ll be offered the chance to join numerous well-considered shore excursions with a guide. Options include visiting chateaux, vineyards and iconic historical sites and soaking up the culture with a stroll through a town or village. Many of the vessels also have bicycles on-board for your use, so you can cycle along the towpath beside the slow moving barge (or walk, if you prefer).
The best barge trips in France use vessels that carry between 6 and 12 passengers, which means a truly intimate experience without any of the overcrowding and busyness of larger cruises. The pleasure of spending time with a small group of like-minded travellers, enjoying good food, wonderful wine and engaging conversation really cannot be overstated. Many guests remain in contact and form lifelong friendships with the people they meet on these cruises, and the warm, friendly and relaxed environment is conducive to making memories that really do last – what more could you want from a holiday?
There are so many more reasons people are discovering the benefits of this kind of slow travel, but these four we’ve mentioned are probably the ones that could tip the scales if you’re still just thinking about it. Take the plunge and discover the most enjoyable, exciting, relaxed and unforgettable way to explore France and many other destinations around Europe.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of the best barge trips 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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