Northern France :: Hotel Barge Canal and River Cruises
A mosaic of world-famous places, centred on the world’s most romantic destination. Paris, with the upstream loops and bends of the River Seine; and La Defence, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Bastille all ranged alongside the most memorable boat journey imaginable.
To the north, now quiet and peaceful countryside, Picardy was the focus of the First World War, so tragically significant for soldiers and their families from Europe and across the world. The River Somme is nowadays a tranquil winding route, through historic towns like Amiens and the water-gardens of the Hortillonages.
Eastwards is Brie and Champagne country, with vineyards rolling down to the River Marne at Epernay and Chalons – the quiet river, the quiet canals, and the quiet villages alongside the river connecting Paris with the ancient cathedral city of Reims, Vitry and then onwards east to Strasbourg and south to Burgundy.
Barge Cruising – The Somme and Picardy
Canal de la Somme
Picardy lies in northern France, skirting Paris to the south and the Champagne region to the east. It is forever associated with the First World War, as many of the conflict’s bloodiest battles were fought across its sweeping landscape. A voyage along the river Somme will take you through cornfields scattered with iconic red poppies and a number of the most evocative sights in the area hark back to those dark days – striking amongst them is Sir Edwyn Lutyens’ magnificent memorial to the seventy three thousand soldiers missing on the Somme, which towers high over the plain at Theipval.
The reach of history goes far beyond the early twentieth century, stretching back to medieval times and the flowering of ecclesiastical architecture. In Amiens, the capital of Picardy, marvel at the thirteenth century cathedral that has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status, as well as the former residence of science fiction writer Jules Verne (Around the World in Eighty Days) which has been converted to a fascinating museum. A particular treat for waterway enthusiasts is to sail through the Hortillonages, a network of small canals bordered by fertile market gardens that have been cultivated on reclaimed land since the middle ages. Stretching further back in time, the nearby city of Beauvais was founded by the Romans and claims links with Julius Caesar.
Other highlights include the narrow gauge railway that follows the canal between Cappy and Froissy and as with all French regions, Picardy has its own culinary speciality – delicious macaroons made from almond paste.
Hotel barges often collect and return guests to a pre-agreed hotel. The primary French international airport is at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are also TGV express train stations at Paris and Lille; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.
– [below] In the region: Amiens, Thiepval, Beauvais, Cappy, the Hortillonages, Froissy –
Barge Cruising – Champagne and Marne
River Marne – Marne Lateral Canal
Cruising up the river Marne from Paris then along the Aisne à la Marne to Reims follows a route whose rural simplicity belies the elegance of its associations. Starting in France’s glamorous capital where the Eiffel Tower, the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre are among the irresistible magnets that attract the visitor, the hustle and bustle of the City of Light is quickly left behind.
The drowsy beauty of the landscape fringing the Marne has inspired artists from Cezanne to Corot and from Dufy to Pissaro. The river is the longest in France and meanders through golden fields of grain before it reaches the undulating vineyards of the most famous wine growing region in the world – Champagne, and part of the pleasure of the journey is to spot the names of famous producers on marker posts at the end of every row of vines. Epernay is certainly the place to learn about the world’s favourite drink and well-known brands from Moet to Mercier offer cellar tours and tastings. Reims is also a byword for champagne and for more than a thousand years French monarchs were crowned in its ancient cathedral.
There’s more to the region than its sparkling wine: both a succulent brie and a zesty mustard can be found in Meaux and further upstream La Ferte-sous-Jouarre is associated with the production of millstones – there is a different kind of grit to be found here too, at the imposing memorial to British soldiers who died during the Battle of Mons in the First World War.
Hotel barges usually collect and return guests to a pre-agreed Paris hotel. The primary French international airport is at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are also TGV express train stations at Champagne-Ardenne (near Reims) and Chalons; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.
– [below] In the region: Paris, Reims, Epernay, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, Meaux, the Marne –
Belmond Pivoine cruises the gorgeous Champagne route, through undulating striped hills of vines and pretty canal-side villages. Steeped in... Read more
La Nouvelle EtoileE W Fleet
La Nouvelle Etoile is a superbly furnished and decorated hotel barge with very spacious accommodation for just eight passengers. She offers a... Read more
PanacheE W Fleet
Panache is a stylish 12 passenger luxury hotel barge cruising all summer through Alsace and Lorraine, with some cruise in Champagne and Paris... Read more
Saroche is a classic barge with those graceful lines that make hotel barge cruising superbly elegant and stylish. As one on the largest hotel... Read more
Johanna is a beautifully converted hotel barge for six guests cruising through the northern regions of Belgium and France. Available for charter or... Read more
Aslaug is a handsome purpose-built and comprehensively equipped hotel barge that cruises the River Somme in Picardy. She offers comfort and value... Read more
Guided by decades of river cruise ship experience, Raymonde is one of CroisiEurope's fleet of five up-to-the-minute hotel barges. She has eleven... Read more
We feature information about 50 wonderful hotel barges, of various sizes and price/style levels, more than 100 individual cruises to choose from every week of the season, in 8 regions across France. Some book flexibly by the cabin, others exclusively charter the entire hotel barge. Quite a choice!
Every one of our hotel barge information pages has been carefully crafted and written by us, from our own unique first hand-hand experience – but we also understand that there’s nothing like speaking to a friendly expert to help see the wood for the trees and make the best possible decision about the vacation cruise of a lifetime.
So please, send us a Booking Enquiry form (click on the red tab above) or just pick up the phone and give us a call.
We love France, we love the rivers and canals of France, we love hotel barging – and we love talking about all three!
+33 609 740 064 -or- +44 7590 287 178
We have been cruising and exploring France
aboard our own river boat since 2003.
– we also have expert colleagues in North America and Australia –