When considering a barge, two images come to my mind. The first is of a working barge, hauling great loads of ware from manufacturers to consumers, from the small, 18th century, horse-drawn barges carrying coal along Britain’s narrow canals, to the large modern versions carrying vast amounts of cargo and hundreds of passengers across seas. The second is a more romantic image of the traditional, quaint and brightly-painted barges of yesteryear gliding slowly along scenic routes on self-guided holidays. With television programs like Great Canal Journeys entertaining the nation over the last few years, the idea of a barging holiday is regaining popularity.
The foremost reason for many is the size of a barge. Being smaller than the modern river cruise vessels, barges have fewer cabins and therefore fewer guests and a quieter ambience. It also means disembarking for the day’s excursion is a swift affair, and hearing a guide is rarely an issue. Barge holidays also exemplify the slower and simpler way of life that we often crave from a holiday. The slow pace of a barge can bring nothing but calmness as you travel through beautiful countryside. And as you do so, the limiting size of the vessel means few facilities to distract you from relaxation. But then what can be better than lingering over a delicious meal, watching the sunset from the deck with your favourite tipple from the all-inclusive bar, or letting a Jacuzzi gently pummel away the stresses of life?
We are now offering two opportunities for you to experience the joy of cruising calmly along waterways that flow through France’s gentle countryside, aboard CroisiEurope’s MS Raymonde or MS Janine. These modern and bright, two-deck barges have just 11 and 12 cabins, respectively, each one with an en suite bathroom. The small size means it is easy to find your way around, and a maximum of 22 guests on each vessel creates an intimate cruise experience that will facilitate new friendships and help you feel at ease. Five staff man the vessel, allowing a service more personal than those on larger vessels; with fewer guests they will quickly learn your needs and interests. For dinner, your French cruise is complimented perfectly with menus of fine French gastronomy with a European flair.
The chefs who have worked alongside some of the country’s Michelin-starred greats create fancy dishes with a ‘real’ elements to them. These delicious concoctions can go better with nothing but locally produced wines, which you can learn about during your cruise. Amongst the list of excursions included within your holiday, you have the opportunity to explore either the celebrated wine route, visiting some of Burgundy’s most prestigious vineyards, or the Champagne route, visiting the village of Hautvillers where Pierre Pérignon made his major contribution to the creation of Champagne. Bicycles are available on board to enjoy the tree-lined canal paths, for those wishing to do a little independent exploration,
The barge experience has stepped up a notch in recent years offering a fantastic and very peaceful way to cruise the French canals in style. So why not discover the joys of the simple things as you sail through France?