Hotel Barging :: Exploring the Essence of France
On the waterways of France hotel barge guests experience the heart, the genuine ‘Essence’, of France – countryside, villages, towns and cities – in ways that highway travel just cannot.
Exploring the French canals by hotel barge provides the opportunity to relax completely, immersed in tranquil, pretty, surroundings that pass by serenely and leisurely. For lovers of the countryside, of all things natural, this is heaven.
If a hotel barge voyage creates the perfect situation for soaking up the atmosphere, the sights and sounds, it also encourages catching up on some reading, contemplation, or simply lazing on deck in the sunshine, being waited on by the friendly and hospitable crew.
And every so often, you’ll be both fascinated and impressed when your skipper and crew, working as a team in perfect harmony, take your floating hotel through a lock, with just inches to spare all round.
Getting Off – Wandering away
Alongside the canal, the towpath is flat and well-maintained – the perfect surface for gentle walking or cycling. With the barge proceeding steadily through the water at just 6-8 kph (4 mph) interspersed with stops at locks, it’s easy to get off or on, to keep pace with (or overtake) the barge and to divert to explore the charming small canalside villages.
The hotel barge will, almost invariably, stop and tie up for lunch and will of course, moor up for the night – at a favourite pretty village or town that can be strolled to and explored by guests.
Getting About – Excursions
Hotel barges will also have a programme of excursions (often after lunch) to nearby places of interest. You will be driven in the barge’s own air-conditioned vehicle and be accompanied by a guide who will explain and talk about each place you visit. Very often, barges and guests will have exclusive or private access to these, which are also often well outside the ‘tourist trail’, known to the barge because of their local knowledge.
Places visited will vary according to barge and locality, but typical excursion examples are –
- Vineyards, wine-producers and wine tasting
- Market gardens and local produce markets
- Chateaux, castles, cathedrals and historic buildings
- Museums and exhibitions
- Artisans and craftspeople
- Nearby towns and cities
- Scenic viewpoints, lookouts and panoramas