Self-Drive Boating ~ Keeping the costs down
If you’re looking for a boating holiday in France whilst working to a budget, then a self-drive boating holiday could well be for you. There’s a great choice of boats, rivers and routes available for you to plan the ideal getaway for family, groups or couples. Boats in this category tend to be less-recent models, offering a good standard of interior décor and equipment but without the bells and whistles of newer models.
On board you’ll find all the basics to ensure a great holiday, including a saloon with sofa (often making up a further bed) and dining area with panoramic views through large windows, as well as a galley equipped with a hob, oven and fridge. Depending on the size of the boat, the main cabin may have an en-suite bathroom, while additional cabins will usually share facilities.
Up on deck, there’ll be room to relax and sunbathe while watching the world go by, plus a table and seating so you can enjoy leisurely lunches and dinners al fresco. Most boats have an additional steering position on deck so you can all be together while cruising.
Budget self-drive boats provide all the basics and you can have a highly enjoyable river cruise holiday in France, at rates that offer great value for money.
Hotel Barging ~ No need to break the bank
Hotel barging is a growing part of river cruising in France although still a relatively unknown one. And while they are mostly known for their luxury and exclusivity, there are more and more options available at a relatively price conscious end of the scale.
Premier and Smart class hotel barges offer excellent levels of service and comfort, the difference with their more expensive counterparts usually being cabin size and the number of cabins and passengers. Some barges offer cruising during the day with a stay in a 3 star hotel for the night, rather than on board, which makes the cruise more economical. Many of the larger barges operating on a per cabin or charter basis enjoy economies of scale that are passed on to the customer.
On board you’ll find smart and comfortable interior decoration, including lounge and bar seating areas, with an integral or separate dining room. Cabins are all smartly finished with good quality bed linen and all enjoy en-suite bathrooms, although sizes do vary. Very few are large enough to include a bath. Up top there’s plenty of space to relax and unwind on the sun deck and perhaps take a dip in a spa pool or Jacuzzi and, of course, there’s room to dine al fresco, enjoying leisurely lunches, dinners and drinks.
This being France, your dining experience on board will be one of the highlights of your trip. Your on board chef will use fresh, local ingredients to create delicious multi-course dinners and lunches, accompanied by selected wines. Also included is a programme of excursions to keep you occupied, should you wish to be, and the use of bicycles to explore your surroundings.
River Cruising ~ Add the extras as you wish
There are river cruises to suit all budgets and, with a large choice of ships and routes, that is especially true of river cruises in France. Although the more moderately priced ships focus on providing great value for money, their cruises do still offer great levels of comfort and service. On board you will find smart, comfortable interiors with plenty of space to relax in lounge areas, bars and restaurants. Cabins are well appointed and usually a good size, most with balconies and all with en-suite bathrooms. Up on deck you’ll find a sun deck and loungers for watching the picturesque French scenery sail by. And with a crew to passenger ratio of one to three or four, you’re sure to receive attentive service.
All budget river cruises offer all-inclusive meals and for many it is the star of the show. The highly trained on board chefs create a delicious array of French regional and international dishes, made with superb local ingredients, from freshly baked bread and pastries for breakfast to multi-course lunches and dinners. Some cruises offer all-inclusive drinks, while on others, in order to keep fares down, they are extra.
No river cruise would be complete without a programme of shore excursions. Most include at least one excursion per stop with optional experiences and gourmet tours or tastings available at an additional charge. Your cruise might also carry a small fleet of bicycles for you to explore each destination at your own pace.