France is laced with a network of canals that once served to connect the country’s main waterways and aid in the transportation of goods. The Canal du Midi, one of the largest of these canals, was built to form a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. One popular mode of travel that has developed in the country is the barge cruise, which allows tourists to see France while floating down these scenic waterways. Many of the older, traditional barges used for transport have been refurbished into beautiful and comfortable floating hotels and restaurants.
Most cruises last seven days and six nights, though it is possible to find both longer and shorter cruises. They are all-inclusive, so travelers don’t have to worry about food and everything else.
What to expect?
Barge tours vary depending on which company you chose to book with, but nearly all will have tours of the cities you pass through. Some of the more popular barges keep bikes on hand so the cruisers can get out and explore the towns and regions by bike. Some tours offer guided tours into the towns and cities.
The best way to see the countryside
A relaxing way to see a lot of French countryside in one week, barge tours are the perfect way to see a lot without the stress of figuring it all out on your own.
If you want to set more of your own agenda for the tour, you can rent your own boat and head out on the canals sans crew. The canals are easy to navigate and being on your own can allow you the freedom to stop and see what you please. It is recommended to keep a couple of bikes on board so you can explore the neighboring towns and villages by bike as the boat floats along.
The Garonne Canal and the Canal du Midi are canals in southwestern France in Aquitaine. The Canal du Midi is picturesque and historic and will wind you past the medieval fortress town of Carcassonne and into a region known for its rich food and bold wines.
Breton Canals were mostly built during the times of Napoleon to serve military and strategic purposes and avoid English interference. These canals wind through the lush Brittany landscape.
Parisian Canals consist of a network of canals. Many of them are interconnected, which allows you a great variety of navigation options. Because of their historic nature and proximity to Paris, some of these canals have dramatic bridges and scenic locks along the way. The Briare Canal has boasts a dramatic bridge made from tubular steel that was designed by famous tower architect Gustav Eiffel.