Barge trip in France

Old Sep 15th, 2000, 02:42 PM
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Barge trip in France

I am planning a barge trip in France for next Fall with 3 other couples. Would like to find out if anyone had good experiences and whether it is better to charter a barge or pilot it ourselves.
Old Sep 16th, 2000, 06:02 AM
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About 2 years ago we (2 couples)hired a barge for a week on the River Lot starting at Cahors.
We did have a French friend who acted as skipper and helped us with our translations etc. We had a most memorable holiday - lots of wonderful restaurants at night, we bought food in a local supermarket before we set off and cooked some meals on board, ate local pates and terrines and soaked up the vins de Cahor. Every morning we bought our baguettes at the local bakery.
If any of you have some ability with boats, it is not too difficult. There were lots of locks to navigate through and they kept us fit as we had to operate them ourselves by hand.
Crown Blue Line seem to be very well organised and take boats in convoy through some of the more dicey parts of the river. There are many canals in France which would be far less challenging than the River Lot (it is controlled by the Hydro Electric Commission and subject to sudden surges which make navigation impossible at times - but this means you can tie up and explore the countryside. We had bicycles and set off through picturesque villages and vineyards and orchards - and our plastic chairs and tables were set up under trees on the banks for long lunches.)
We would definitely do it again and would pilot it ourselves.
Old Sep 16th, 2000, 10:15 AM
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We did such a trip last October using Locaboat Plaisance ( Ours was a self-drive trip, and was a wonderful way to see the countryside. We did the Canal du Sete - Rhone route, which took us through the Camargue area and had plans to go as far as Arles. We chose this route as it had the fewest locks.

If you do a search here, you should find some info, as there were several others who were planning such a trip this past summer.

Feel free to email direcly if you'd like more info.

Hope this helps.
Old Sep 16th, 2000, 10:34 AM
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We hired a houseboat this past summer from Dolphin. We were to began in Narbonne and were headed to the ocean (had fewer locks and was said to be more scenic). We were not boat people but were game. That's how you need to approach your decision. Going through the bridges is not for the squeamish. They are narrow with little room for error BUT everyone else out there as about as much experience as you. We had a blast, relaxed, you're at the helm (in all sences of the word) and we would have loved to have a few more days out there. As it were, the clients before us were not great as steering and hit a rock, creating a hole in the boat which was not discovered until our third day!! Boat sank....But, it was handled with grace by Dolphin (and us too!) and would do it again just to complete the experience. Need more info, let me know. Stephanie
Old Sep 16th, 2000, 01:16 PM
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A great barge route is down the Yonne, we started at Montbard, south of Paris and ended aweek later at Dijon. Beautiful scenery. Bonne Route.
Old Sep 18th, 2000, 10:31 AM
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I did a trip on the Canal de Bourgogne last spring and loved it. It was a crewed barge, owned and operated by an American couple, which takes a maximum of four guests. I would love to provide more information if this is what you are after. Please email me directly.

Old Sep 19th, 2000, 02:37 PM
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We did the self drive barge trip with Crown Blue, one way, on the Canal du Midi and it was F A B U L O U S. With 3 couples with layout of the boat is important. We were with another couple so we had the bedroom and bath in the back and they had the bed and bath in the front, seperated by the kitchen living area.

As you can not generally get on the boat before 4pm, have them settle in the initial supplies. We took the boat out on a shakedown cruise of 1/2 hour but by the time we were done the store in town was closed and we had to shop in the morning. Alway have plenty of food on hand or plan your day in relation to going through the locks, particularly if they have a lock keeper so you can have lunch while waiting for the lock to open.

The wineries we stopped at have beautiful bottles as they did not have paper labels, so I brought all those bottles home with me. We rented bikes and us girls went ahead, shopped in the village and met the guys at the next lock. Really fun. My best photos--of our table settings with the wine, cheese, meats, fruits and flowers!

We've traveled and lived overseas for about 15 years, visiting many countries with many varied trips, but this always ranks among the best.


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