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These floating hotels offer private staterooms (singles or doubles), some with ensuite bathrooms; others may share a bathroom. A very popular way to cruise remote country regions in a relaxed, leisurely manner while in the company of others, a trip will cover very few actual miles but will give frequent opportunities for tours of nearby historic sites, vineyards, museums and other interesting waterside activities, with transportation and guides included.
Activities that are available on either type of barge cruise include golf, tennis, riding, ballooning, hiking, cultural excursions, wine tasting and special events such as tulip season, gardens, antiques, opera, etc. Onboard features will vary from barge to barge, but may include air conditioning, central heat, sauna and hot tub. Bicycles are usually provided for the use of guests. Gourmet meals, wine and open bar are usually included. Transfer by van or rail from, and return to, a central meeting point such as a Paris hotel is often included in the price.
Rates are per person, double occupancy, for a one-week cruise. Meals, activities and transfers are included. $1,490 to $4,150.
Full-Boat Charter Barges:
For families or groups of 2 to 24 that want to travel the waterways in comfort and leave the operation of the vessel to others, barges can be chartered for your exclusive use. The captain and crew, often a family themselves, will steer and handle the boat, furnish all meals and will tailor sightseeing and activities to your desires.
One price pays for everybody. Meals, activities and transfers are included. $10,000 to $50,000 per week.
Please Note: EuroCanals is a publisher of waterway guides; we do not book cruises, we tell you where to go and how to do it.
A not-to-be-missed sight is the elegant Briare canal bridge, a 662-meter span over the River Loire. On certain days hotel barges cross le pont-canal as the sun sets at the western end of the bridge. It’s a special moment as they move very slowly across the bridge, crossing high above the Loire in the early evening light. Whether you are onboard enjoying wine and sharing the moment with your traveling companions or just watching from the shore, it is a unique experience as the big barges glide slowly and silently, seemingly through the air, as they cross the aqueduct.