France Barge Cruise

2-Country Cruise

PARIS (France) to BRUGES (Belgium)

Perhaps one of the most comprehensive and wonderful cruises on offer today. Now in our 15th year of offering this route, we still get excited when we throw the ropes and set off on this epic journey. From the capital of France, to Notre Dame, Van Gogh and Compiegne to the towering Cathedral of Reims, medieval Ghent and world famous Bruges. We offer it all and more. The Canal du Nord, linking France to Belgium and beyond, offers exquisite biking and walking opportunities. Spectacular is a word you may find yourself using rather a lot.

Sunday – Day 1

Your drivers will meet you at your hotel in the center of Paris. After a Champagne Welcome and delicious canapes, we start our cruise through the heart of Paris, past Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower and then back to our mooring for the first of your many dinners aboard.

Monday – Day 2

Today we cruise to Conflans, which is the junction of the Oise and Seine Rivers. Along the way we visit Malmaison, the home of Napoleon. We luxuriate in its many lavishly decorated rooms furnished by Josephine. Conflans is where many of the commercial skippers retire, thus the reason for so many barges moored alongside the quays. Dinner onboard.

Tuesday – Day 3

The Oise River Valley is truly beautiful. Our cruise today takes us upstream to Auvers-sur-Oise, where we moor for an opportunity to explore this charming Van Gogh scene. Here is where he lived and painted many of his last and most important paintings and where he stayed in a small room above a local cafe. We will have an afternoon walk around the town and visit the cemetery where Vincent and his brother are buried. Dinner onboard.

Wednesday – Day 4

Today we will cruise along the Oise River valley to moor in the busy riverside town of Compiegne, with its Royal Palace and huge square There are many places to visit, including the train where the World War I Armistice was signed. Shops abound everywhere, giving you the opportunity to see how the local people live. Dinner onboard.

Thursday – Day 5

After a hearty breakfast, we continue our journey towards the Canal du Nord. Once on the canal there’s plenty of opportunity to walk or bike while the barge travels from lock to lock. As our cruise continues we descend into the valley of the Somme River before climbing over another watershed. The landscape unfolds, revealing a part of France tourists rarely see. Your tour guide will offer a selection of excursions for today, based on the local area, although we find that our guests love to have a little down time just biking and walking.

Friday – Day 6

Today we climb over the Vermandois Hills of Picardie, through the many deep locks and several tunnels of the Canal du Nord, one of which is over 3 miles long. The scenery is spectacular, giving you the opportunity to see rural France at its best. Well maintained towpaths follow alongside the canal that allow for great walking and cycling. After breakfast, we have a real treat in store with an excursion to Amiens, to visit what must be one of the greatest of all Gothic cathedrals in France, with its towering spires and magnificent columns. This is one of the “not to be missed” items on any visit to France. Dinner onboard.

Saturday – Day 7

We continue along the Canal du Nord to the little French village of Arleux. This sleepy town is the meeting place of many of the barges setting south towards France. Our visit today is to Cambrai, a thriving market town. Dinner onboard.

Friday – Day 8

After breakfast we join the river Schelde as it winds its way towards Belgium. Today is a day of rest and dedicated to enjoying the cruise. Should you want to explore, your drivers are available to take you to Tournai where we will moor for the night. Dinner onboard.

Sunday – Day 9

Today our cruise takes us to our overnight mooring at the town of Oudenaarde. This afternoon your guide will escort you into Ghent. Our visit includes the magnificent cathedral with its fabulous painting ‘The Mystic Lamb’, painted by the Van Eck brothers. There’s also an assortment of fantastic boutiques nearby. Dinner onboard.

Monday – Day 10

You cannot pass through this part of the world without a visit to the beautiful city of Bruges, known as the “Venice of the North”. We start our cruise during breakfast arriving mid afternoon. You will have an opportunity to walk around part of Bruges this afternoon or maybe even visit a local brewery. Dinner onboard.

Wednesday – Day 11

Today we stay moored in Bruges so we can discover the many architectural wonders of this town, after which you will have time to explore and shop on your own – lace is a speciality of Bruges. Lovingly referred to as the “Venice of the North”, this beautiful town is laced with small canals and magnificent squares. Deserving of the UNESCO World Heritage Site award it has received, our guests are continually delighted by this gem. This evening we gather together to enjoy the Captains Farewell Dinner onboard

Thursday – Day 12

After another hearty breakfast, our drivers will take you to your onward destination in Bruges.

Please note: this is a sample itinerary which may be subject to change depending on local conditions.