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French River barge cruises


tfred
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thinking of this in a few years.  Not necessarily looking for the Viking, style boat, but the smaller cutesy poo painted ones with small pax count.  Our interests are slow pace, good food and leisurely touring 

 

Anyone ever take one of these?  They look attractive on line, but I don't know if the reality is way different.  There also seems to be a few choices of operators (who are the ones to look at?) and what river to be on

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I’ve done this several times.  It is a very slow-paced vacation but be sure to book a barge that includes daily excursions and possibly some nice meals ashore.  The food is usually excellent.  I would not consider doing it unless you can charter the entire barge for your small group.  The barges are small and it would be hard to avoid other pax that you might not be interested in getting to know better.  There’s a lot of time spent together as a group and loud bores can ruin a vacation. Sounds like you’re already researching so just look at the daily itinerary, food and wine region, easy access to the starting point and see what appeals…it almost doesn’t matter which canals you’re on beyond that.

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I have not been on one and would probably feel a bit cramped on one, but if you do not mind little space and being close to people you do not know - unless you book the whole barge which could be 24 passengers if they ask for full capacity - this I am sure is a great holiday idea. Of course, you need not go on such a small barge. A few ships are a little bigger.

 

Let's stick to the barge size. There you have the luxury version of a regular river cruise operator. That is CroisiEurope: https://www.croisieurope.travel/en/destination/canal-barge-cruises-france

 

One note on their offers. I love the itinerary option Lagarde to Strasbourg with the ship lift. I have been there and to the area. But it is not the typical French country like Paris or the Canal du Midi. For that feeling I would go for said canal or similar ones.

 

notamermaid

 

 

Edited by notamermaid
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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, notamermaid said:

I have not been on one and would probably feel a bit cramped on one, but if you do not mind little space and being close to people you do not know - unless you book the whole barge which could be 24 passengers if they ask for full capacity - this I am sure is a great holiday idea. Of course, you need not go on such a small barge. A few ships are a little bigger.

 

Let's stick to the barge size. There you have the luxury version of a regular river cruise operator. That is CroisiEurope: https://www.croisieurope.travel/en/destination/canal-barge-cruises-france

 

notamermaid

 

 

Those are also concerns of ours - space is number 1.  The actual operator is another.  For that money we don't want to wind up on something that is "a guy and his boat" running a vacation for us.

 

The Viking experience leaves us cold as we have been on a few Crystal River cruises and loved them.  I have stayed in Cologne for trade fairs on Dutch River boats that were less than lovely - small and definitely second tier

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Posted (edited)

Look at this: https://vimeo.com/303754513

 

The MS Madeleine on the itinerary I like. Those are not refurbished barges from the 1960's. They are modern and purpose-built. The MS Madeleine is from 2014: https://www.croisieurope.co.uk/boat/madeleine

 

CruiseCritic has been on the MS Deborah: https://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=1297

 

There are other companies that you can find under the big header bike & barge, the choice on Google search is big. But some offer the same ships, even CroisiEurope offer their ships through various channels, like through a Swiss charter for example.

 

All in all, bike & barge has the focus on bike rather than cruise in style I would say, so those ships are often older and refurbished. It sounds to me that CroisiEurope may be the better fit for you.

 

notamermaid

 

 

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Look for something that has the country’s tourist recommendations. These ‘barge’ cruises can be wonderful there are plenty that only take 6 or 8 guests or slightly more even on the Thames. They are usually run by a husband and wife team. Look on the smaller rivers and canals. We were actually hiring a barge on the Canal du Nivernais this year supposed to be the most beautiful French canal if your feeling bold get a crew together and do that. Good luck.

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Notamermaid:   Thanks for the video link. I have been looking at barges that go on the lift.  I am fascinated with the lift. Never thought of looking at larger cruise companies. 

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Have cruised with both these companies chartering 6 pax.
https://www.belmond.com/boats/europe/france/belmond-afloat-in-france/our-barges Fleur de Lys and Piovoine. The latter carries 8 pax but we chartered for only 6.

 

https://www.french-waterways.com/boats/rendez-vous/

 

Because the boats are so small they book up fast.  Let us know what you decide!

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Road Scholar charters a lot of the Croisi barges, as well as some less known ones in Holland and Belgium.

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