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Published on :   17/03/2016

Combine barge cruising and a biking holiday in France

A canal barge cruise combined with a biking holiday lets you explore France, while connecting with nature and enjoying a relaxing holiday to get away from it all. Cycling paths have been created along many of France’s waterways, allowing bike lovers to ride through the heart the country’s regions, and sample French food and untouched landscapes in a different way. Now mostly dedicated to tourism and cruising, France’s network of canals dates back to the 17th and 19th Century, when it was built to transport goods throughout the country. They are now a gateway to heritage and slow travel.

Find out how to make the most of both holiday trends in an interview with Florence Christ, purser on the MS La Madeleine, one CroisiEurope’s newest canal barges.

A canal barge with all amenities: yes, your bike is provided!

One of the main assets of CroisiEurope’s canal barges is their size: with only 11 to 12 double cabins, they are ideal for a family holiday in France. With all the comforts of home, including a separate wet room, television, internal phone, and air-conditioning for each cabin, they have all you need to accommodate each family member. Most importantly on a cruise, every cabin has an outside window to enjoy the landscape while the barge glides along peaceful waterways.

On a barge river cruise, the on-board amenities, excursions and biking arrangements mean there is something for everyone. Whether it’s for relaxing on the sundeck enjoying the jacuzzi, going away for the day to discover the local area and its heritage, or escaping on one of the several bikes provided free of charge, the cruise can be as relaxing or action-packed as you like. No other small ship cruise is as flexible and suited for every generation as a France canal barge river cruise!

How to describe the canal barge cruise atmosphere? warm and friendly

The canal barge’s main deck is made up of a welcoming restaurant, cozy lounge bar and perfectly equipped outdoor space, with tables and chairs and the all-important jacuzzi. The restaurant and bar are tended by a crew made up of a chef, barman and/or waitress and purser, who are there to make sure you have an unforgettable holiday. All meals are prepared with local products, including a local French wine list. Of course, the best way to make the most of the outdoors is to have a barbecue, a fantastic way to take in the sunny landscape or enjoy a warm evening. 

So what makes a canal cruise so special?

With only 24 passengers on board, the purser will be flexible and organize activities to make sure everyone is entertained. Bike lovers can set off on long rides if they wish, with their packed lunch, map and a list of sites not to miss. For culture buffs, shore excursions are organised to discover the local area and heritage at their own pace. And to take it easy, there’s nothing better than a game of petanque, or a session of cocktail sampling.

What really sets canal barge cruising apart is the quality of service. Dedicated to small numbers of people, it brings the personal touch you need on a family break to make sure everyone has a good time, while enjoying a holiday catered to each family member’s interests, including biking in France, sightseeing, photography, food tasting, or simply sunbathing with a good book!

Why are canals so great for a biking holiday?

The latest holiday trend is slow travel, which provides the flexibility to choose when you want to access technology or cut yourself off from it. It is an invitation to take your time and enjoy every moment at your own pace, which is just what you want on a biking holiday. You can ride along narrow paths shaded by ancient trees dotted along the 100 to 200 year old canal waterways, mostly dedicated to tourism and cruising. CroisiEurope aims to offer hassle-free biking holidays, by providing bikes on board every barge sailing France’s canals. Leafy trees planted to provide shade for horses drawing narrow barges before the days of motorised transport, offer peaceful and quiet water banks with a lovely setting for bike lovers, who can ride along the cycling paths close to the river or further afield. Canal cruising and biking is the ideal way to enjoy a family holiday in France.

Find out more about all our French canal barge cruises and holidays in France!