Sunday – Bruges
A Champagne Welcome and Tour of Bruges, the Venice of the North
Your drivers will meet you at your hotel or the rail station and drive you to your barge, which will be moored in the picturesque town 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. After a Champagne Reception and some delicious canapes, you are free to wander around and explore. Upon your return, you will have time to relax and enjoy the ambiance of the bar onboard, before the first of many gourmet meals.
Monday – Bruges to Ghent
The Medieval Beauty of Ghent
After a hearty breakfast, your tour guide will escort you on a walking tour of Bruges to explore the many architectural wonders of this town. We then return to the barge for lunch, starting our afternoon cruise to Ghent. Dinner onboard.
Tuesday – Ghent to Oudenaarde
The Cathedral of Ghent and ‘The Mystic Lamb’
This morning 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. Upon returning to the barge for lunch, we begin our cruise up the River Schelde to the town of Oudenaarde, where we will moor for the night.
Wednesday – Oudenaarde to Tournai
Tournai and its fascinating clock tower
A gentle morning cruise further up the River Schelde will take us past sleepy hamlets and rolling landscapes to the ancient town of Tournai, We shall explore the wonderful square with its ancient and fascinating clock tower. Dinner onboard.
Thursday – Tournai to Arleux
The market town of Cambrai
We continue along the river Schelde as it winds its way through the town of Valenciennes to the busy junction of Canal du Nord at the little French village of Arleux. This sleepy town is the meeting place of many of the barges setting south towards France. Along the way we will drive to the bustling town of Cambrai. Dinner onboard.
Friday – Arleux to Peronne
The great Gothic Cathedral of Amiens
This morning we begin our 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 lunch, 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 – Peronne to overnight mooring
War Museum and the Canal du Nord
After breakfast you can visit the War Museum in Peronne. Upon your return, we will continue our journey along the canal du Nord. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to walk or bike while the barge travels from lock to lock. The cruise now continues along the Canal du Nord, as it drops down into the valley of the Somme River before climbing over another watershed. The landscape unfolds revealing a part of France tourists rarely see. Dinner aboard.
Sunday – Overnight mooring to Compiegne
The Royal Palace of Compiegne
Today we cruise down to 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. This large town gives you the opportunity to see how the local people live.
Monday – Compiegne to Auvers-sur-Oise
Van Gogh’s resting place
The Oise River Valley is truly beautiful. Our cruise today takes 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.
Tuesday – Auvers sur Oise to Conflans
Claude Monet’s Gardens of Giverny
Today we are off on a full day excursion to Giverny to visit the home and gardens of Claude Monet, probably the most famous of all the Impressionist painters. Lunch is taken ashore at a delightful bistro. During your walk you will see the famous ‘Lily Pond’ and the ‘Japanese Bridge’ that inspired so many of his paintings. We will moor for the night in Conflans, which is the junction of the Oise and Seine Rivers. It’s here that many of the commercial skippers retire, thus the reason for so many barges moored alongside the quays. Dinner onboard.
Wednesday – Conflans to Paris
Cruise through Paris
Early this morning we cruise up the mighty river Seine to Bougival where we visit Malmaison, the home of Napoleon. We will see its many lavishly decorated rooms furnished by his wife Josephine. We then rejoin the barge for luinch and an afternoon cruise into Paris, passing the Eiffel Tower and the cathedral of Notre Dame. Relax before dinner and enjoy the best view in town from your panoramic deck. Tonight your chef adorns your table with a special Farewell Dinner. Candlelit crystal and gleaming silverware add to the romantic ambiance of your celebration. Laughter, great times and the warmth of friendship contribute to those “Golden Memories”.
Thursday – Paris (9.30am departure)
A Sad Farewell
Finally time to say farewell to your Captain and crew, but not before a rather special breakfast. After all, we wouldn’t want you leaving hungry! Bags are loaded by 9.30am and off we drive to your designated destination in Paris.
Please note: this is a sample itinerary which may be subject to change depending on local conditions.