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Barge cruising in France

Chicago
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44 posts
3 reviews
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Barge cruising in France

I'm going to be planning a barge cruise in France and would appreciate anyone's experiences with this type of trip. We are seasoned international travelers but this will be 1st time barging. In particular, any recommendations on barge companies / tour operators, areas of the country or routes to concentrate on, and any gotcha's would be appreciated. We've done river cruising but this seems more intimate (small group) and slower paced.

Thx, Jim S. - Chicago

Goleta, California
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21. Re: Barge cruising in France

I would love to hear about some of your high points on your barge trip on the Loire. We are traveling this September and would appreciate to hear about your stops along the way.

Redmond, Oregon
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4 posts
6 reviews
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22. Re: Barge cruising in France

Greetings Jamesst75,

I'm happy to hear a barge cruise has risen to the top of your travel list as it is a unique, fun and fascinating vacation. Many people say it's one of their favorite vacations ever. All of the canals are scenic and have their own personalities with Burgundy and the Canal du Midi being the most popular. If walking and/or biking while the barge is moving is important to you, I would select a canal cruise rather than a river cruise. There are a number of authorized barge cruise agents which specialize only in barge cruises and know the barges well. As independent agents, they can recommend the barges that work best for your interests and budget. The cost to you is the same. Some of them, like myself, also help with pre and post cruise travel planning, train tickets, car rentals, hotels, etc. You can google "barge cruise specialists" or "barge cruises" to find other specialists such as myself. Just tell the agent what you are looking for in terms of comfort, activities, interests and price, and you're on your way. Good luck and have a great time. I'm happy to help, Beth Hanson

Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Paris, Loire Valley
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20,967 posts
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23. Re: Barge cruising in France

<<I would select a canal cruise rather than a river cruise.>>

As an independent agent, certainly you realize that there is absolutely no difference between a canal cruise and a river cruise and comments to the contrary only mislead and confuse. Many inland waterway routes crisscross between rivers and canals such that there is no effective difference to passengers or crew. Examples include but are limited to Alsace where canals intertwine with the Rhone River, in Burgundy where segments of the Loire River are part of the Nivernais Canal network, in the South where the Canal de Garonne mixes with the Garonne River, and along the Charante River where canal segments lead to locks bypassing swift and shallow portions of the river.

I see no clear distinction between these two terms unless you are referring to the large inland cruise ships operating along the Seine or Rhone by companies such as Viking or Avalon Waterways. Vessels used by these companies far exceed the size of any 6 or 12 cabin barge that I have ever seen and are in a class all unto themselves.

Montpellier, France
3 posts
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24. Re: Barge cruising in France

There are differences between river and canal cruises .

Not ONLY huge passenger boats are cruising on the french rivers but also 4 to 24 passenger boats .On the Saone river you can rent selfdrive boats too . On a river cruise you will cover longer distances ; but you can get off the boat only when docked . On a Canal cruise you can walk or bike along the tow path most of the time and you can step on and off the barge in the lock for exemple ; or if you are cruising on a one level barge the shallow draft will allow the captain to stop along the bank any time for you to come on or off.

In general it is much easyer to customize a Canal cruise than a river cruise .

If you prefer cruising , sunbathing , swiming, restaurant discovery , shoping, night life, choose a river cruise ; If peacefulness , freedom , bicycling , walking , wine tasting, village discovering is more important to you choose a barge cruise.

Montpellier, France
3 posts
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25. Re: Barge cruising in France

There are differences between river and canal cruises .

Not ONLY huge passenger boats are cruising on the french rivers but also 4 to 24 passenger boats .On the Saone river you can rent selfdrive boats too . On a river cruise you will cover longer distances ; but you can get off the boat only when docked . On a Canal cruise you can walk or bike along the tow path most of the time and you can step on and off the barge in the lock for exemple ; or if you are cruising on a one level barge the shallow draft will allow the captain to stop along the bank any time for you to come on or off.

In general it is much easyer to customize a Canal cruise than a river cruise .

If you prefer cruising , sunbathing , swiming, restaurant discovery , shoping, night life, choose a river cruise ; If peacefulness , freedom , bicycling , walking , wine tasting, village discovering is more important to you choose a barge cruise.

Montpellier, France
3 posts
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26. Re: Barge cruising in France

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27. Re: Barge cruising in France

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29. Re: Barge cruising in France

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Homer Glen, Illinois
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30. Re: Barge cruising in France

I'm considering a Small Barge Canal trip in the South of France through the Wine Country in September. I hear they supply bicycles so you can tie off and ride into town for some local foods and flavor. We're thinking of 2 or 3 couples and maybe a 10 day or 2 week cruise. If anyone knows of anything I would appreciate some input as to the cost and difficulty in such a trip