River Barge trips

Old Jan 9th, 2008, 06:51 PM
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River Barge trips

I am interested in doing a river barge trip in France - Not decided on a particular region. I did a site search and the last post was almost a year ago. Has any one done a trip in the last 12 months? Any comments, suggestions etc will be welcomed. I will be travelling alone.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 07:47 PM
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Baysidegirl:

Would you be interested in a Canal barge trip..a bit different than a river barge.

We took a delightful 6 night, seven day trip last year, starting out south of Strasbourg and ending east of Nancy. (Train transportation available from Paris to Strasbourg and return from Nancy to Paris).

Pleasantly tranquil, scenic, interesting (38 locks), only 20 passengers (4 Australians, two Canadians, 14 USA...two single women and one single guy..each traveling alone.

All meals on board, quite good, local wines/cheeses. friendly and efficient crew (British and French, Irish lady crew chief..superb)...thoroughly enjoyable. Several side trips by the barge's small bus and driver, including Strasbourg, Colmar, the wine route villages, Sarrebourg and its Chagall window.

You might have come across my trip report from April '06.

Here are some pix for you. Would be happy to answer any questions.

Stu T.

http://picasaweb.google.com/stuartto...ISelectedPhoto

http://picasaweb.google.com/stuartto...AndParis2006II





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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 09:47 PM
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You don't say whether this is a "self-drive" or a "tour" type. If it's self-drive you and you definitely want river you can check out Locaboat and other companies that have routes along La Charente along Saintes, Cognac to Angoulême, though there will still be locks along the way.
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Old Jan 11th, 2008, 02:11 AM
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Yes, think more about the canal barge experience--small, picturesque,charming, delicious food, great tours in a little bus that goes along with you. You may be on some rivers to get to the canals. The big river "steamers" look very sterile to me.
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Old Jan 11th, 2008, 09:06 PM
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GRetchen:

I agree with everything you've said about canal barge travel....Hope you decide to take to the canals,BaysideGirl!

stu T. (sorry the links don't seem to be working for the pix...just type the addresses and get in to them that way, if you wish. I would think that seeing some relevant pix will help you to decide...or at least get you on the road to a decision.
Stu T.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 07:01 AM
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P.S. Links are working well now...must have been Fodor-wide hanguip yesterday.

stu t.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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Thanks for your replies. Bad choice of terms I did mean canal not river. Just want something laid back without hordes of people. I'll be in Italy for business for a few days and just want some time to relax afterwards. What you have all described is exactly what I mean. Thanks.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 07:24 AM
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Take a look at French Country Waterways for barges. Wonderful wonderful.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Hi Bayside:


Here is the link to "The Barge Lady's" web pages. She's out of Chicago...highly recommend. The "Lorraine" was our barge as I described above..and that my pix depict.

Stu T.

http://www.bargeladycruises.com/fran...e/lorraine.asp
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 04:19 PM
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Thank you so much Gretchen and Stu - the info was really helpful and the photos are just great Stu. Now my only problem is choosing!
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Old Jan 14th, 2008, 05:48 PM
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The barge lady's site didn't come up, but what these brokers do is charter barges from people like French Country Waterways. Our trip was through Abercrombie and Kent, but it was FCW. Just an FYI. Obviously someone in Chicago doesn't have a French barge.
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Old Jan 14th, 2008, 06:50 PM
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To get that site to come up just delete everything after the .com and you will get the home page. You can go to the links for the various cruises once you get to the home page. I got it with no problem once I did that.
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Old Jan 14th, 2008, 07:10 PM
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Thank you, Letsgo....you're right, it comes up fine now...

stu T.
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Old Jan 15th, 2008, 05:38 PM
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We haven't done this trip in the last 12 months, but we have traveled twice with French Country Waterways, and we loved both trips. The first one, to Burgundy, was better than the second, to Alsace-Lorraine, but both trips were really special. The barges are small but sumptuous, the service and the food are spectacular, and the pace is slow and relaxing. They take wonderful care of their passengers, and every day they arrange a day trip to someplace interesting along the route. These barge trips are not inexpensive, but to us they were worth every penny.
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Old Feb 25th, 2008, 03:07 AM
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Well ,cruising in style on a hotel barge is possible ...but of course you need to find the right boat !
Do not let your agents choose for you ; ask the right questions !
The real questions about luxury is not how many crew is on the barge ( sitting on the back deck drinking beer ) but how far goes the attention to details !
How well educated is the crew and above all how flexible .
What will be your space on board ,your privacy , your comfort .
The size of the bedroom and the number of windows ; upper deck or lower deck ( very important for claustrophobic )
Is it possible to look outside while sitting at the table or on the sofa ? ( you do not want to be in a cave or stand all day to look thru the windows)
You are going to spend a big part of your day outside, so you must take in consideration the size of the sun deck ,is there an awning , space enough for everyone all together and what about lounge chairs ?
Can you enjoy a lunch or diner outside, will you get the chance to relax in a spa pool while cruising ?
Are there enough bicycle for everyone, air conditioning inside ,is the generator running all night ( noise )
The guide on board ; does he speak French ? ( can be helpful for shopping and making contacts) does he know the region well ( most of them are not French )
Who is the cook on board ? (someone living in France since a couple of month and cooking the best French cuisine in the world)...Oups !
Is it a French registered boat under the very strict regulation for passengers or not........it does make the difference in term of security.
What makes the difference in price ? : the number of passengers, the maintenance and the quality of the barge itself ( it is wrong to think that only the size of the cabin makes the difference )
Some barges are build and look like ordinary buses, others are made with luxury and expensive materials like a limousine , in other words a real yacht (not much, some of them just pretend), the quality of the food and the wines, the options ( half / full board , open bar , guided tours ) the cruise route and the personal services provided.
keep in mind 95 % of the Hotel barges are not French owned nor operated ! It is mostly not a French product and you are offered a real French adventure......!
A good agent is important , try to find one that will help you customize your trip to your real needs ( only possible when you charter the whole barge) and keep in mind you are going to be in France so
the person should be fluent in French to be able to get the best for you and able to arrange any problem while your are on holiday .
Anyhow It is a wonderful experience and a very relaxing holiday so I hope this little topic will help you make a better your choice .
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