en-US Barge Travel Connection Blog Cruise in Europe Tue, 19 Jun 2018 10:23:33 +0000 http://fishpig.co.uk/magento/wordpress-integration/?v=4.1.1.26 https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/ Cruising the Caledonian Canal From big skies and vast lakes down to proud castles and forbidding ruins, Scotland retains its air of myth and legend despite the hustle and bustle of today’s society. The Caledonian Canal, the arrow-straight waterway that links the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Fort William, is 60 miles of jaw-dropping landscapes, picturesque villages and commanding castles. It cuts through the spectacular Great Glen and it takes about three days to cruise from one end to another, but make it a week for a relaxed barge cruise where you get to immerse in the local culture, heritage and gastronomy.

Resist the lure of seductive Edinburgh for a while, journey into the wild Scottish heartland and you’ll realize that no photos or words can ever do justice to its natural, unpretentious beauty. Here are five of the most spectacular stops you will not want to miss in your itinerary.

  1. Cawdor Castle

Cawdor CastleYou’ve probably heard of Cawdor Castle, thanks to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Located 5 miles southwest of Nairn, Cawdor Castle used to be the seat of the Thane of Cawdor and was structured around a 15th century tower house that belonged to the Calder family. It then passed to the Campbells and has been the Campbell ancestral home since the 14th century. The carefully preserved castle offers visitors a glimpse of what life was like for the Scottish aristocracy in the 15th century. Inside, feast your eyes on beautiful furniture, elaborate tapestries and fine portraits. If you’re lucky, you might meet the Dowager Lady Cawdor who still lives in the castle but moves out during the summer months so visitors can be escorted through the furnished rooms. You might also want to take the chance to roam the castle’s magnificent gardens and tranquil forest. There are three perfectly-kept gardens in the vicinity but do take time to visit the Wild Garden which links with the Cawdor Burn behind the castle.

A bit of trivia: If you think the real Macbeth lived in Cawdor Castle, think again. Real-life Macbeth was an ancient Scottish king who died in 1057, about 300 years BEFORE construction of the castle started.

  1. Culloden Moor

Culloden MoorTo fans of the Outlander series, Culloden Moor certainly needs no introduction. The atmospheric windswept moor might not look much but it will move you, once you dig through history and learn how the barren field became the setting of the famous 1746 Battle of Culloden, the final confrontation between the Jacobites and loyalist troops led by the Duke of Cumberland. Around 1,500 Jacobites breathed their last in Culloden Moor in the brief battle, making it one of the most harrowing events in British history. You’ll definitely notice the many grave markers in the ground, each one remembering a clan who fought and suffered heavy losses in the battle. For a deeper insight, drop by the visitor centre where numerous Jacobite artefacts are kept, including clothing, weapons and coins.

  1. Loch Ness

Loch NessMonster or no monster, no barge cruise is ever complete without braving the legendary waters of Loch Ness. Propelled to fame by the 1934 “surgeon’s photograph” which shows the head and neck of the creature, this large and deep loch in the Scottish Highlands became the home of the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie. The photo turned out to be a hoax, but the legend still lives and visitors can’t help but hope to somehow spot the fabled Nessie. Nessie (if it’s real) has not been sighted for decades of course, so what brings people to the lake? Loch Ness is the largest body of water in the Great Glen and it holds more fresh water than all the lakes in Wales and England combined. Just imagine the depth and sheer immensity of it when you’re cruising and the experience takes on a sublime effect. The ruins of Urquhart Castle and the surrounding hills also don’t hurt.

  1. Urquhart Castle

Urquhart CastleThere’s absolutely no way you’ll cruise through Loch Ness and miss the romantic sight of Urquhart Castle that beckons even from afar. The castle is situated on a rocky promontory overlooking Loch Ness and it is more than just a hotspot for Nessie-spotting. Urquhart Castle, although now in ruins, was a mighty medieval stronghold that saw the invasions of King Edward I in the 13th century, the Scots’ struggle for independence in the 14th century and the MacDonald raids in the 15th and 16th centuries. It fell into ruin after the last soldiers who used the castle as garrison marched out of the castle and blew it up.

  1. Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan CastleThe majestic Eilean Donan Castle is no doubt one of Scotland’s most iconic and evocative castles. Originally erected to stand guard over the lands of Kintail, the 13th century castle sits on an offshore islet at the entrance to Loch Duich and is linked by a stone-arched bridge to the mainland. The mighty yet romantic castle, together with its elegant bridge, is the subject of millions of photographs worldwide. Because of its strategic location at the confluence of three great sea lochs, Eilean Donan Castle saw its own share of conflicts and got re-built four times throughout history. It even got destroyed in 1719 during the Jacobite uprising and stayed derelict for two centuries until Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap purchased the entire island in 1911 and started to bring back its former glory. It re-opened in 1932 and is now the peaceful seat of Clan MacRae.

To get the most of a Caledonian Canal barge cruise, follow a 7-day itinerary from Muirtown to Banavie or vice versa. This route will not only take you to the five destinations listed above, but also to Glen Ord Distillery that lets visitors get up close and personal with Scotland’s best known export, whiskey. It was founded on the Black Isle in 1838 by the Mackenzies of Ord and today provides a fascinating learning experience for those interested in the ‘how’ of whisky production plus special tasting. A week-long barge cruise will also afford enough time for passengers to walk along the River Ness to the hamlet of Dochgarroch, or to explore Glencoe, renowned for its natural beauty and for being the scene of treachery between Campbell and MacDonald clans which resulted in the death of 38 members of Clan MacDonald. A carefully-planned cruise itinerary will also include a cable car ride to the summit of Aonach Mor mountain or a visit to the ruins of the Old Inverlochy Castle.

For more information on barge cruising in Scotland, enquire or call us at 1300 150 725. Our team of barge cruising specialists is standing by to offer expert help in planning the best barge cruising holiday for you.

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Tue, 24 Apr 2018 01:25:04 +0000 https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/cruising-caledonian-canal/ https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/cruising-caledonian-canal/ hazel@entiretravel.com.au (Staff) Staff
Choose Your Cruise: The 10 Most Popular Themed Cruises Barge holidays are perhaps the most relaxing and luxurious way to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations that do not always make the cut in tourist itineraries. Regional destinations often require more time and effort than city attractions, but barge cruises take all the hassle away and makes the journey (the best) part of trip. Think spacious en suite cabins, to-die-for cuisines and the richest of wines all enjoyed aboard an elegant hotel barge leisurely making its way through picturesque canals and rivers to some impressive ruins, majestic walled cities or pretty villages tucked away amidst Europe’s most breathtaking landscapes.

Now, what if you’re not interested in historic castles and would prefer to explore vineyards and wine cellars instead, or would rather go antique hunting than hop from one wine tasting session to the next? This is where themed cruises come in to save the day. In a nutshell, themed cruises are interest-based barge holidays. They follow the usual cruise route or itinerary but are geared towards a specific interest or topic, with excursions and activities tailored to indulge your heart’s desire. Certified wine lover? Be ready for wine tasting marathons. Self-confessed foodie? Prepare your tastebuds for gastronomic feasts on board. Love the opera? A marvellous performance in Verona awaits you.

To give you an idea how wonderfully varied themed cruises can be, here are some of the most popular themes barge holidays adopt these days.

  1. Wine Cruises

Wine Cruises Explore Burgundy's centuries-old cellars for the best wines!

Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon and Bordeaux await you, wine lovers! France is well-known for producing some of the oldest and finest wines in the world, with miles and miles of vineyards and countless history-rich wineries. Theme your barge cruise around your love of wine and visit famous estates for wine tasting and sometime lunch. In Burgundy, learn how wine is produced and sample sought-after vino in the fabled wineries in Nuits St George, Beaune and the Grand Cru in Chablis, or spend delightful days sampling the local wines in Languedoc’s Carcassonne, Minervois and Beziers.

  1. Whisky Cruises

Whisky Cruises Learn about Scotland's top export!

Whisky fans, hear hear! If there are wine cruises, there surely are whisky cruises! Whisky trail cruises will let you discover how Scotland’s primary export is produced by bringing you to established distilleries around the country. Typical excursions include the Glen Ord Distillery, Dalwhinnie Distillery, Tomatin Distillery and of coursem the famous Benromach Distillery, a family-owned business that has been delighting whisky lovers for over 100 years.

  1. Gastronomy Cruises

Few things delight the taste buds as much as the gourmet creations aboard a luxury barge.

French cuisine is no doubt one of the best cuisines on the planet, and in a gastronomy barge cruise, meals are gourmet feasts filled with authentic regional French flavours. From the appetizer to the main course and dessert, each dish is sure to awaken your taste buds! Delicious cheeses and superb wines are part of the on-board meals, and there’s no way a lunch or dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant won’t be included in the to-do list.

  1. Opera Cruises

Opera Cruises When in Italy, visiting the opera is a must!

Considered the birthplace of opera dating back to the 1600s, Italy surely holds a sweet spot among opera enthusiasts. An opera cruise begins with an exploration of Verona’s fantastic sights and a performance of Bizet’s Carmen in the city’s Roman amphitheatre in the evening. The cruise then continues to Venice where the City of Water’s main monuments and sites will dazzle the romantic in you. You’ll definitely learn the history of opera in this themed cruise and visit other renowned opera houses including the Gran Teatro La Fenice and the intimate Teatro Bibiena in Mantua. Tours of Chioggia and its markets, Adria, Ferrara and Mantua are also often part of the itinerary.

  1. World War Cruises

World War Cruises The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing

If you’re interested in the events of World War I and their historical impact, a commemorative World War Cruise is something you would not want to miss. Let the River Lys and Canal du Nord take you to key sites in France and Belgium during the war including museums, war memorials and battlefields where thousands of soldiers fought and died. Remember the ANZACs as you walk through the Somme battlefields and see the Thiepval Memorial, the World’s largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing. You can also participate in the moving Last Post ceremony held each day at the Menin Gates in Ypres.

  1. Golf Cruises

Golf Cruises Golf cruises take enthusiasts to some of the best golf courses in the continent.

It’s no secret among golf enthusiasts that France, England, Ireland and Scotland feature some of the best golf courses in the world. Add scenic waterways and an elegant hotel barge into the picture and you will have an epic golfing holidays for sure. Indulge in your favourite sport while discovering iconic landmarks and monuments.

  1. Cycling Cruises

Cycling Cruises Hop ashore and pedal your way through riveting countryside.

Most hotel barges have bicycles on board for those times you just want to go ashore and pedal your way through riveting countryside. Cycling cruises turn that experience up a notch by focusing on the activity in an organised way, with daily tours on your chosen region and cycling itineraries tailored to meet your wishes. For those who love the outdoors, this is a wonderful adventure that will see you biking along towpaths past quaint villages, medieval towns, lush vineyards and beautiful castles that the Loire Valley and Burgundy are known for. 

  1. Walking Cruises

Walking Cruises Explore gorgeous countryside on foot!

Some places are just utterly beautiful they are best explored on foot. The River Thames in England, Nivernais and Burgundy Canals in France, and the River Shannon in Ireland ribbon through the best sights in Europe, and walking cruises allow you to explore them at your own pace. Walk around Richmond Park, London’s largest royal park, and the villages of Cookham Dean and Winter Hill. Amble through the stunning hilltop village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain or the ancient town of Montbard in France where historical wonders await at every turn, or hike in the Arra Mountains and let the lush scenery of Ireland enthrall your senses.

  1. Antique Cruises

Antique Cruises Visit England's most popular antique shops!

Antique collectors, you can’t miss this one for the world. Cruise along the picturesque River Thames from Hampton Court Palace to Henley and discover England’s most popular antique shops, including the Phelps Antique Centre and the Antiquarius. Take your time visiting the Nettlebed antique merchants and scouring the country’s largest collection of antiques.

  1. Art Cruises

Art Cruises Drift through scenic waterways and let the breathtaking sights charm your inner artist.

Hop on an art cruise and who knows, that might just be what you need to awaken your inner Van Gogh or Monet. Art cruises plunge travellers to the most scenic places in the region, and there’s no surprise that most of them proceed through France’s most scenic waterway, Canal du Midi. Take advantage of plenty of painting opportunities as your hotel barge cruises from Marseillan to Algiers, and immerse in excursions that can very well inspire you to create your next masterpiece. The imposing fortified town of Carcassonne, the scenic village of Capestang, and the hilltop town of Beziers are all picture-perfect sights begging to be rendered on canvas.

For more information on themed cruises or expert help on planning a memorable barge holiday, enquire or call our team of barge travel specialists at 1300 150 725.

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Wed, 14 Mar 2018 06:23:20 +0000 https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/choose-cruise-10-popular-themed-cruises/ https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/choose-cruise-10-popular-themed-cruises/ hazel@entiretravel.com.au (Staff) Staff
What is Barge Cruising? Jump aboard! Countless canals and rivers weave in and out of Europe, passing through medieval towns, fortified cities and old villages, all often surrounded by spectacular scenery. This intricate lacework of waterways staked countries such as France, Scotland and Germany in the map for leisurely barge cruising, and opened up a whole slew of wonderful experiences for travellers who wish not to just visit a country but to actually immerse in it. If you wish to see Europe’s world-famous sights, discover off-the-beaten-track destinations, learn of each region’s history, listen to stories and legends not found in books and savour regional specialties without the usual rush and noise of crowds and in utmost comfort and luxury, barge cruising is absolutely for you.

TO BARGE OR NOT TO BARGE?

Oh, isn’t that the question. If you think you’ve done cruising, think again. Barge cruising is not some quick sailing through canals and rivers or hurried stops at crowded port towns or cities. It is all about taking your own sweet time. Once you hop on a hotel barge, all you have to do is relax and take it all in while you journey from one destination to another. Knowledgeable crew attend guests all the time and whereas cruise ships cater to hundreds of passengers at a time, a hotel barge accommodates only a limited number of guests, usually around eight to 15, to ensure intimate service and enriching experience. Each hotel barge is fully furnished with every thinkable creature comfort and some even have spa pools where you can soak in, bubbly in hand.

Scottish Highlander cruising past Urquhart Castle Scottish Highlander cruising past Urquhart Castle

Another great thing about barge cruising is the many unique vantage points that it makes accessible to guests. Imagine seeing a popular attraction aboard a hotel barge, say Chateau de Chenonceau spanning the River Cher or Urquhart Castle sitting beside Loch Ness, but from a completely different and refreshing angle that no land tour can offer. Instead of walking to that busy path toward the stunning chateau, you’ll be coming from the river and passing under its graceful arches. As for Urquhart Castle, who knows you might even spot the fabled monster while your luxury barge slowly makes its way through the lake to the breathtaking ruins.

Roi Soleil and Capestang's iconic bridge Roi Soleil and Capestang's iconic bridge

The main draw card to barging, however, is the beautiful yet remote inland destinations that don’t make appearances in most cruising itineraries. Because the hotel barges are small, they can easily pass under low bridges and navigate narrow canals and rivers that larger vessels can’t access. Capestang, one of the old and most charming villages in France, for example has one of the lowest stone-ached bridges on the Canal du Midi whose arch is just big enough to let a low, small barge pass. There’s also picturesque Minerve, dubbed the quintessential medieval village, perched on a peninsula where the Cesse and Briant Rivers meet reachable only by the same rivers, and mighty Carcasonne on its hill overlooking the Aude River. There’s no way you’d reach such must-see gems aboard any other cruise.

WHAT TO EXPECT?

AmaryllisOptions will vary from barge to barge, however you can expect to enjoy most of the following no matter what barge you choose to hop on to.

  • Barges with stories

La Belle Epoque The beautiful La Belle Epoque used to carry timber.

Wonder starts as soon as you step onto a hotel barge. Europe’s water highways controlled the trade in the continent in the past and shaped the heritage and history of entire countries. Barges and boats wound their ways from city to city through rivers and canals, carrying passengers, goods and even munitions during war time. Most of the hotel barges cruising the same waterways today are the same ones that existed decades (or even centuries) ago when barges were primarily relegated to transport purposes. For instance, La Belle Epoque, a luxury barge cruising the lovely Burgundy Canal, was built in the Netherlands in 1930 to carry timber from Burgundy to Paris. Another is the premier-class Athos built in 1964 and which was used to transport sand, grain and wine. Athos was renovated in 1982 and now cruises the historic Canal du Midi from Argeliers to Marseillan.

  • Luxurious rooms and on-board amenities

Claire de Lune Claire de Lune's sun deck and spa pool

Luxury barges are called luxury barges for a reason. They might be old and historical, yes, but they are in NO WAY outdated. The barges are fitted with modern comforts, making them essentially floating hotels. Cabins have their private en-suite bathrooms and deeply comfortable beds and amenities include elegant lounges, hot tubs and spa pools, with some even boasting a grand piano! Another thing: the barges are all tastefully refurbished but don’t be surprised to find some antiques inside. Cruise Burgundy aboard the Belmond Amaryllis for example and you might find yourself sitting on a decades-old Louis XVI chair or staring at an original trompe l'oeil wall mural.

  • Gastronomic feasts

Roi Soleil Food Sample the gourmet feasts on Roi Soleil!

Whoever said that barge holidays are moving gastronomic feasts couldn’t have summarized the dining experience aboard a luxury barge better! A barge cruise is a surefire way to indulge your tastebuds with the flavours of the region. Each barge has its own master chef and the crew sets forth early in the morning to comb the local markets for fresh produce for use in the day’s meals. You’ll also wake up to freshly-baked bread, fruits and pasties brought on-board by the crew from the local shops. Each meal is a flavourful masterpiece prepared by your master chef with locally-sourced ingredients and chances are you’ll be looking forward to each one, particularly dinner which is usually a multi-course affair and the gastronomic highlight. You’ll also find an excellent selection of fine regional and international wines to relish each meal. Speaking of wines, here’s something for wine aficionados out there: you’ll absolutely want to include a wine appreciation cruise in your itinerary. Taking you through the top wine-making regions such as Burgundy, you will have ample opportunity to sample each region’s specialty along the way. Get ready for wine tasting marathons!

  • Well-planned, escorted excursions

Belmond Nepoleon Belmond Nepoleon passing by Avignon’s St. Bénézet’s Bridge

Exciting adventures to forgotten ruins, hilltop citadels and obscure villages, relaxing walks amidst rolling hills and lush vineyards, or a busy afternoon shopping for bric-a-brac in a pretty little town; the options are virtually limitless. Itineraries proceed at a leisurely pace so you won’t have to breeze through or feel rushed. Take your time exploring Narbonne’s medieval quarter, admiring the 13th century Cathédrale St-Nazaire in Béziers, or walking the Le Pont de St-Marcel, Le Somail’s 17th century stone-arched bridge. English-speaking guides also accompany guests and many of them are locals ready to regale with tales and myths you would not hear anywhere else. Learn about the myths shrouding Avignon’s iconic St Bénézet’s Bridge, how thousands of Huguenots drowned in the waters of Canal du Midi, or how the formidable Catherine de Medici and lovely Diane de Poitiers battled over the gorgeous Chateau de Chenonceau.

  • Bikes & barges

Bikes & Barges Explore the countryside and burn some calories!

Pedal your way through some of Europe’s most amazing landscapes! Hotel barges often have bicycles at the guests’ disposal and cruise routes often pass through tree-lined towpaths perfect for leisurely biking. There are even themed cruises with cycling as the main activity and which bring guests to the best cycling routes in the continent. Go wander a bit, explore the refreshing countryside and talk with the locals; your floating hotel is always within reach. After all, there could be no better way to burn off some of the calories from those delightful gourmet meals on-board!

  • World-class service

Hadrien, Captain of the Renaissance Hadrien, Captain of the Renaissance

Barge trips have an intimate, friendly ambiance thanks to the limited number of guests and highly-professional, attentive crew. Each barge has its own experienced captain and hostess, and friendly crew members are always available to attend you and share their rich, local knowledge. You can even go with them in the morning when they go ashore to visit the local markets and shops—that is, if you can get yourself out of bed early enough.

For more information on barge cruises, enquire or call us at 1300 150 725. Our team of barge cruising specialists is always glad to help you plan a once-in-a-lifetime barge holiday in Europe.

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Mon, 19 Feb 2018 01:43:23 +0000 https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/what-is-barge-cruising/ https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/what-is-barge-cruising/ hazel@entiretravel.com.au (Staff) Staff
Cruising the Loire: What to See along the River of Kings The Loire River is the longest river in France, stretching at a great length of 1,012 kilometres and piercing six departments to which it has given its name before emptying into the Bay of Bicay at Saint-Nazaire. Cruising the Loire actually means tracing century-old trade routes. It was one of the main waterways of France when the fastest, safest and most efficient way of going from one place to another and moving goods through the country was to use the great rivers of Seine, Saône and Rhone which all flow into the Loire. Running through a fertile, strategic region that was contested for centuries, the river Loire also witnessed the French Renaissance at full swing and was not spared from the War of Religions which saw thousands of Huguenots drowned in its ancient waters. Its huge part in the country’s history is evident in the numerous medieval structures, fortified cities, sprawling castles and intriguing ruins that you’ll see along any Loire cruise route.

What really propelled the Loire to fame though is the insanely picturesque valley located right smack in the middle stretch of the river. Dubbed the ‘Garden of France’, the UNESCO-listed Loire Valley weaves magic at every turn what with the hundreds of stately châteaux and elaborate gardens that pretty much cover the entire area. French kings ruled in the valley for hundreds of years, bringing the nobility with them and making the lush region the target of any noble seeking to display pomp and prestige. With the royals and nobles seemingly in close competition on who could build the grandest and most beautiful residence, the Loire Valley turned into a delightful heap of magnificent palaces, ornate gardens, labyrinthine vineyards and sweet-smelling orchards that we know today, and nothing makes for a magical and exciting way of exploring its many wonders than a barge cruise in the River of Kings itself.

There are tons to see up and down the river Loire, but you’ll want to make some room in your cruise itinerary for these 6 incredible sights that make cruising the Loire a beautiful lesson in history and a truly pleasurable holiday.

Château de Chambord

Château de Chambord The Château de Chambord is a must-see at sunset!

If there’s one châteaux to rival Versailles, that would be Chambord. The Château de Chambord is one massive architectural marvel sitting in a 5,500-hectare park and containing 400 rooms, 365 fireplaces and more than 80 staircases, and to think that it was never even really finished! The product of Francis I’s love of Italian architecture and Leonardo da Vinci’s genius (allegedly, at least), this luxurious mansion is the Loire Valley’s largest château and most-loved superstar, attracting over 7 million visitors each year. There’s no hard evidence of da Vinci meddling with the construction of the Chambord, but just look at the marvellous double spiral staircase, designed in a such a way one can climb up and another go down without ever meeting, and it’s not hard to imagine old Leonardo at work.

Its graceful pinnacles, pointed domes and numerous fairy-tale towers give the structure a distinctive lovely outline, especially when seen at sunset or reflected in the surrounding waters. Speaking of waters, did you know Francis’s vision was so grand legend has it he wanted to divert the river Loire so it would pass in front of the château? He obviously didn’t get his heart’s desire, and it would have been too much for a mere ‘hunting lodge’ anyway.

Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau Powerful women moulded Château de Chenonceau, the most photographed castle in the Valley.

Arching across the Cher River, the main tributary of the Loire, the mind-numbingly beautiful Château de Chenonceau is a prime example of what happens when you let powerful women take charge.

How do you show a woman you love her? You gift her with a castle and King Henry II nailed it when he gave the Château de Chenonceau to Diane de Poitiers in 1547. Diane enlarged the castle to span the river Cher and link it to the other side. All went well except for one problem: Diane was just Henry’s favourite mistress and Catherine de Medici, rightful queen of France and wife to the king, was of course not happy. Henry died in 1559 and the long simmering Catherine snatched it from Diane and started several redesigning projects that included the addition of the yew-tree maze and the rose garden to the west. Such history and the contrasting styles of Diane and Catherine, among other women who had a hand in its construction, are quite discernible in Chenonceau’s architectural design and gardens today, earning it the nickname “Le Château des Dames” or “The Ladies’ Castle”.

Passing under the fabled arches of the castle while on a barge cruise is one experience you should not miss, as well as soaking in the sun as you amble through the many paths in its gardens. If you’re an art connoisseur, you might want to take a look at the fabulous art collection inside. There’s a really good portrait of Louis XIV, together with remarkable masterpieces by Correggio, Rubens, Tintoretto, Ribera and Van Dyck.

Château d'Ussé

Château d'Ussé The many-turreted Château d'Ussé is so beautiful it inspired a fairy tale.

Once upon a time in a castle at the edge of the Chinon forest overlooking the Indre and Loire rivers, Charles Perrault took one look and was so enamoured by its beauty he figured it deserved a fairy tale. So voila! Sleeping Beauty was born.

The many-turreted Château d'Ussé is perhaps the most fanciful of all the castles in the Loire Valley, featuring a lovely mix of Late Gothic and Renaissance features, and a big must-see in Loire cruises. With its sloping roof, dormer-windows, chimneys and white façade, Château d'Ussé sure does look the part of a fairy-tale castle.

The magic does not end there though. The moment you step into the richly-decorated entrance hall with sculpted wood panels and Renaissance drawers, you will be floored by its famous spiral staircase that look as if straight from a fairy tale. The guard room, which used to be the castle’s entrance in the 15th century, commands attention with its 17th century “trompe l’œil” ceiling, finished in a marble-like design. Love a bit of mystery? Look for the room called ‘the Vault’, the oldest room in the castle, with a staircase leading to an underground passage constructed well over 1000 years ago.

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud Great Plantagenet monarchs rest in vast necropolis of Fontevraud.

While at Chinon, go grab a bike and pedal your way to the medieval monastic city and Plantagenet necropolis of Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud. Dating from the first half of the 12 century, the monastery complex is one of the greatest monastic sites in Europe and well-known as the final resting place of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart, Henry II of England, and Isabelle of Angoulême, all sworn enemies of the crown during the Hundred Years War. Its location was then part of what’s called the Angevin empire and it rose to prominence when the Plantagenets were in power, with Eleanor of Aquitaine even making the abbey her place of residence. The four royal effigy tombs and the carved capitals showing animals and plants are all beautifully rendered, and well worth the visit.

Be sure to check out the abbey’s kitchen, remarkable for its conical roof, or its garden with its collection of herbs commonly used for medicinal purposes in medieval times. And for the best views of Fontevraud, head east, where terraced gardens climb up behind the impressive abbey.

Château Azay-le-Rideau

Château Azay-le-Rideau Château Azay-le-Rideau, the "faceted diamond set in the Indre".

Built between 1518 and 1527 on an island in the Indre River, the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau is one excellent example of early Renaissance architecture in France. It was originally a feudal castle built to protect the road from Tours to Chinon and owned by a knight in the service of Philip II Augustus named Rideau d’Azay, hence the name. It was burnt to the ground in 1418 during the Hundred Years War and remained a ruin until Gilles Berthelot, the Treasurer-General of the King and the Mayor of Tours, rebuilt it in 1518.

Venture inside and you’ll see the famous White Room and its 17th century hunting scenes, the Blue Room of Louis XIII, and the numerous royal portraits adorning the royal apartments. The Château d’Azay-le-Rideau alo presents an opportunity to hop off your Loire barge and explore the surrounding scenic parkland on a bike! Wind your way through the 19th century landscaped gardens and check out the image of the château as reflected in the water of the mirror lakes.

Château de Villandry

Château de Villandry The Villandry gardens are not just gorgeous; they’re jaw-dropping!

There’s definitely no shortage of gorgeous gardens in the Loire Valley, so why do people from all around the globe flock to the gardens of Château de Villandry? Try to imagine over 6 hectares of ornamental vines, sparkling fountains, manicured lime trees, sharp box hedges and cascading flowers, then add a fine French châteaux in the background. The Villandry gardens are not just gorgeous; they’re jaw-dropping!

There’s something for everyone in the six glorious gardens of Château de Villandry. The classical Water Garden is a boulingrin (sunken garden) featuring an ornamental Louis XV mirror pond at the centre and surrounded by grassy banks called glacis. Love, be it fickle or passionate, tender or tragic, is depicted in the vibrant flowerbeds and geometrically pruned hedges of the Ornamental Garden. A stunning array of multi-scented and multi-coloured perennials await visitors in the Sun Garden, while the 30 varieties of aromatic, culinary and medicinal herbs of the Herb Garden intrigue and delight people who are curious about traditional gardens of the Middle Ages. The combined scent emanating from the herbs is said to be reminiscent of the walled gardens of medieval monasteries. Like most Renaissance gardens, the Villandry gardens also include a labyrinth. Created with hornbeam hedges, the Maze on the second terrace is meant to be a place of spiritual progression “where the path taken by the walker symbolised the progress of life and the centre of the maze, on an elevated plane, stood for the encounter with God”. The most popular of all six is definitely the Kitchen Garden, a pure Renaissance garden composed of nine equally-sized patches each displaying a distinct motif of flowers and vegetables. The Kitchen Garden is beautiful up close but it is best viewed from a distance! The patches are planted in alternating colours, making the garden look like a huge chessboard!

The landscaped gardens of Château de Villandry are a stunning sight all year round but if you want to see them in all their glory, time your Loire river cruise around spring or fall.

For more information on Loire Valley cruises, send us an enquiry or call us at 1300 150 725. Our team of barge travel specialists will be glad to provide expert advice to create a memorable barge holiday for you.

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Fri, 19 Jan 2018 06:56:58 +0000 https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/cruising-loire-see-along-river-kings/ https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/cruising-loire-see-along-river-kings/ hazel@entiretravel.com.au (Staff) Staff
Canal du Midi: A Voyage Back in Time Running from the blushing rose city of Toulouse all the way down to the Mediterranean coastal town of Sète, the 240-kilometre Canal du Midi is one of the most extraordinary feats of civil engineering in modern times and remains the key inland waterway in Southern France today. It’s funny to think that when the idea of “a canal which could be built in this province of Languedoc to connect the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea” was proposed in 1662 by a man called Pierre-Paul Riquet, almost everyone thought that the mad plan would fail just like all the other plans before it, except it didn’t. Nineteen years later in 1681, the waterway was first used and just like what usually happens when a mad plan succeeds, it was considered a genius so much so that the Marquis of Vauban lamented, “J’aurait donné ma vie pour avoir construit cette oeuvre” (I would have given my life for having built this work).

This amazing green serpent of France snakes through 328 locks, bridges, aqueducts, tunnels and other structures, and flows through Haute Garonne, Aude and Hérault. Canal du Midi links numerous canals and rivers that shaped France’s history and trade, making a barge cruise through its length seem like a journey back in time. Canal du Midi is also one of Europe’s most scenic waterways and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hop on a Canal du Midi barge, navigate the canal’s timeless waters and you’ll find yourself face to face with ancient fortresses, hilltop villages, walled cities and medieval towns nestled in the most spectacular of landscapes.

If you are considering a cruise on Canal du Midi, here are six incredible places you won’t want to miss:

  1. Carcassonne

    Carcassonnev The fortified city of Carcassonne is the largest walled medieval city in Europe.

Perched on a hill overlooking the Aude River and back-dropped by the serrated Pyrenees, the medieval fortified city of Carcasonne dominates the luscious valley and creates a visually striking scene. A double 3-kilometre long wall, the longest city wall in Europe, encircles the city and 52 massive towers dating back to the 13th century pierce the horizon, with slate roofs glinting in the sun. With the impressive walls, towers, turrets, ramparts and barbicans, not the to mention the ancient houses and structures inside the city itself, it is quite easy to imagine life in the olden days with armoured knights marching around, archers standing vigil on the ramparts and shopkeepers peddling their simple wares. In fact, this perfectly restored citadel is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and pulls in plenty of visitors each year that it rivals Mont St. Michel for the title of the most visited monument in France.

A barge cruise on Canal du Midi will bring you to the foot of Carcassonne and the view you’ll get to see from the barge is one for the books. Take time to explore the hilltop castles and the lovely square in the centre where you can find many exquisite restaurants and cafes.

  1. Narbonne

Known as the first town out of Italy to be colonized by the Romans, Narbonne used to be the second largest town in Gaul whose prosperity is attributed to its bustling port. Sometime during the Middle Ages, the sea receded and the once coastal city of Narbonne now sits eight miles inland. Thanks to this colourful history, Narbonne is such a spectacular must-see destination today often included in Canal du Midi cruise itineraries. Don’t miss its well-restored medieval quarter with the Cathedral St-Just, the tallest cathedral in southern France, a magnificent Gothic structure and well-known for its beautiful tapestries and stained glass.

When barge cruising, keep an eye out for Pont des Marchands, an inhabited bridge constructed in the Roman Period and which now traverses the Canal de la Robine. Pont des Marchands is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are only two other such bridges in the whole of France today.

  1. Béziers

    Bezier Béziers was the home of Pierre-Paul Riquet, the man created the Canal du Midi.

Wine lovers, hear hear! Luxury hotel barges cruising the scenic Canal du Midi provide regional wine specialties on board as part of the experience, but nothing compares to the enjoying a glass in the city where it is produced. The hilltop town of Béziers is the heart of the Languedoc wine region and you can expect to find the famous wine anywhere you go in the city. Go on a wine appreciation cruise and chances are Beziers will be looking back at you if you check the itinerary.

Aside from its vino, Béziers is a spectacular sight to behold, with the grandiose 13th-century Cathédrale St-Nazaire dominating the scene. Head to Le Pont Vieux, a stone bridge spanning the Orb, or to Le Cimetière Vieux, an 18th century open-air museum that houses several tombs and artworks by local sculptors including Injalbert and Lean Magrou.

Here’s a quick trivia. Béziers was the home of Pierre-Paul Riquet, the man whose vision led to the construction of the Canal du Midi.

  1. Minerve

Dubbed the “quintessential medieval village”, picturesque Minerve perches on a naturally defended rocky peninsula where the Cesse and Briant Rivers meet and is quite a must-visit place for while on a cruising holiday. The high location allows access to sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, making the visit to the village all the more worthwhile.

Minerve is the ancient capital of Minervois and you’ll find countless ancient structures and remarkable fortifications in the city. Amble through its historic streets to the remains of the 13th century Candela (castle) or to 11th century Roman style Church of Saint Etienne that is the highlight of the village and whose altar is believed to date back to year 456. Porta Bassa, one of the two main original gateways to Minerve, can also be seen.

Like most historic towns and villages in France, Minerve wasn’t always tranquil and is actually the site of one of the most brutal sieges in history. Surrounded by deep limestone gorges that made the village inaccessible and easily defended, it took six weeks of siege and the destruction of its only well before this Minerve fell to the cruel Simon de Montfort in 1210 who was chasing the cathars taking refuge in the heavily fortified village. History notes that 140 Cathars were burned at the stake.

  1. Capestang

    Capestang Capestang’s iconic bridge, said to be one of the lowest bridges on the Canal du Midi.

Situated on the perimeter of the old Étang de Montady or the “pond of Montady” which is now a drained lagoon, the charming village of Capestang boasts the 12th century collegial church of St-Étienne, whose massive towers puncture the horizon, and the summer residence of the Archbishops of Narbonne. And remember to watch out for Capestang’s iconic bridge, said to be one of the lowest bridges on the Canal du Midi.

Winding its way from the Aude into the Herault, Canal du Midi passes just to the north of the town and is a great spot for biking. There are at least 20 cycling routes in and around Capestang. Biking is one way to truly soak in the beauty of the city and enjoy the verdant French landscape, and luxury hotel barges on a Canal du Midi cruise often include bicycles for guests.

  1. Le Somail

    Le Somail Charming Le Somail is one of the many villages designed by Pierre-Paul Riquet.

The pretty little village of Le Somail is one of the many villages designed and built by Pierre-Paul Riquet to facilitate the lifestyle and commerce surrounding Canal du Midi. Strike a pose as your Canal du Midi barge nears Le Pont de St-Marcel, a 17th century stone-arched bridge straddling the canal, and make sure to check out Le Somail’s 18th century chapel which used to be a granary, and the old ice-house directly opposite it.

If you’re a booklover, here’s a treat for you. Le Somail is home to a fabulous secondhand book shop which was transferred from Paris brick by brick and houses the most extensive collections of first-edition books!

Need help planning your Canal du Midi cruise holiday? Give our team of barge travel specialists a call at 1300 150 725 or send an enquiry for expert advice and information on luxury barges, barging packages and special offers.

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Mon, 08 Jan 2018 01:37:58 +0000 https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/canal-du-midi-a-voyage-back-in-time/ https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/canal-du-midi-a-voyage-back-in-time/ hazel@entiretravel.com.au (Staff) Staff
6 Must-See Sights while Barging through Burgundy If exploring quaint villages, old town squares and ancient castles punctuating lush landscape is high in your to-do list, Burgundy will surely captivate you. With colourful history, gorgeous countryside and architectural heritage dating as far back as the Gallo-Roman and Celtic times, this intriguing French region deserves a spot on your radar, and the best way to explore Burgundy is barge cruising.

Two canals bisect Burgundy: Canal de Bourgogne, which allows a north-south access through France, and Canal du Nivernais linking the Seine and the Loire, two of France’s greatest rivers. Delving into Burgundy through these waterways aboard a charming hotel barge will bring you to the most incredible sights Burgundy has to offer. Here are six of them:

  1. Dijon

Dijon The massive Ducal Palace stands at the heart of Dijon.

Most Burgundy river cruises include a walking tour of Dijon and there’s no wonder why. The former seat of the legendary Dukes of Burgundy, the old city of Dijon is as awe-inspiring as it is historic and is best explored on foot. Venture into the compact centre of the city and let its wood-beamed buildings and finely-carved Renaissance stone edifices bring you back in time. You also cannot miss the massive Ducal Palace. Built to display might and power, the impressive palace of the Dukes of Burgundy stands at the heart of Dijon and dominates the city. It now functions as the city hall and houses several administrative offices. If you have time, climb the tall tower of Philippe le Bon for spectacular panoramic views. The building alone is an architectural marvel but if that is not enough, one of the oldest museums in France is inside, the Musée des Beauxs-Arts, as well as the tombs of two of the rich, powerful dukes.

  1. Beaune

Hospices de Beaune Hospices de Beaune, remarkable for its geometric glazed-tile roof

With a history tied to the fates of the Burgundian dukes, the medieval town of Beaune is a walled city with the ramparts, moat and half of the battlements still in good condition. Don’t miss the Hospices de Beaune, a 15th century building distinguished by its colourful, geometric glazed-tile roof. Step inside and be sure to check out the Last Judgment polyptych ordered from Rogier Van der Weyden, considered the most influential Northern Renaissance painter of his time. Surrounded by the Côte d'Or vineyards, Beaune is also the wine capital of Burgundy and one of the key wine centres in France. No cruise through Burgundy is ever complete without having a glass of vino in Beaune! Hospices de Beaune actually boasts of 15th century wine cellars and hosts the most famous Wine Auction in the world, so make it a point to sample some while there!

  1. Irancy

The Village of Irancy Aside from its spectacular landscape, Irancy is well-known for its red Pinot Noirs.

Off the beaten path and surrounded by hills in varying shades of green and gold, the beautiful old town of Irancy in the Grand Auxerrois region will take your breath away. Walk inside the village and explore its tight alleys and close-standing houses most of which show remarkable 16th century architectural style. There’s also the fine 13th century church whose tower punctuates the town’s panoramic views. The real draw to Irancy though is its red Pinot Noirs. The village is nestled in the hollow of a valley covered with cherry trees and vines, making the area conducive for red wine grape growing. Not sure how to get to Irancy? Try a Luciole Wine Appreciation Cruise and you’ll find yourself not just in Irancy, but also in Côte d’Auxerre, Saint-Bris, Coulanges-la-Vieuse, Beaune and Chablis while enjoying the famous wines of the region.

  1. Joigny

Joigny The historic town of Joigny makes a striking sight at sunset.

You won’t always find Joigny in most travel itineraries, but this charming old town on the banks of the Yonne River holds several notable historical monuments and makes a striking sight at sunset, especially when approached from the river aboard a barge. The 16th century houses hugging the terraces of Côte St-Jacques feature wooden carved decoration and half-timbered facades, most notable of which are Maison du Bailli, Maison du Pilori and of course, Mason de Blois that will greet you as you enter the castle. There’s also the gothic Church of Saint-Jean known for its vaulted ceiling, decorative tomb, statues and carvings. Don’t miss out on Chateau des Gondi too! That impressive Renaissance structure, along with the church, is what dominates the view of Joigny from the bridge.

  1. Le Clos de Vougeot

Le Clos de Vougeot The Renaissance castle which is often the focus of photographs of Le Clos de Vougeot was added in 1551.

Burgundy is not Burgundy without its world-famous vineyards, and the wall-enclosed vineyard of Le Clos de Vougeot ranks high in any Grand Crus tour in the region. Known as the largest single vineyard in Côte de Nuits, Le Clos de Vougeot is a big must-visit for winse lovers all over the world and a highlight on the Route des Grand Crus, or Road of the Great Wines. Cistercian monks in the nearby Abbey of Citeaux built Le Clos de Vougeot, then just a wine farm, in the 12th century and held it until the Revolution. Don’t forget to look around the medieval fermentation room with four large presses, Cistercian cellar and original kitchens from that century. The elegant Renaissance castle, which stands in the heart of the vineyards and commands attention even from afar, was added in 1551.

  1. Auxerre

Tour De l’Horloge Walk under Auxerre's 15th century Gothic clock!

History buffs, here is something for your list! Cruise the Yonne River and you’ll find yourself in a lovely inland port town. Auxerre makes a postcard-perfect picture with its old town and majestic churches drawing an interesting skyline, but go beyond that and you’ll discover that much of these structures are more ancient than they appear. The Gothic Auxerre Cathedral traces back to 1215 but its Romanesque crypt is from the 11th century, notable for its apse chapel and astounding frescoes. A short walk from the cathedral will bring you to the former Benedictine Abbaye Saint-Germain where you can find a Carolingian crypt from the Early Middle Ages, and to the Tour De l’Horloge where you’ll probably pass under a decorative turreted arch propping up a 15th century Gothic clock tower.

All these remarkable stops can be bundled in one memorable barge cruise. For example, the beautiful 12-passenger luxury hotel barge L’Impressionniste cruises along the picturesque Burgundy Canal, starting at Fleurey-sur-Ouche and ending at Escommes. Hop on L’Impressionniste and you’ll find a stone’s throw away to most of the remarkable destinations listed above including Dijon, Beaune and Le Clos de Vougeot, as well as other destinations in Burgundy such as Châteauneuf-en-Auxois and its medieval castle and the famous winery of Bouchard Père et Fils.

Enquire or speak to one of our barge travel specialists at 130 150 725 today and let us help you plan a Burgundy barge cruise that’s going to be one for the books.

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Fri, 15 Dec 2017 02:44:37 +0000 https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/barge-cruising-burgundy/ https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/barge-cruising-burgundy/ hazel@entiretravel.com.au (Staff) Staff
8 things to consider before booking a barge cruise Lunch on-board Belmond Amaryllis

Planning a holiday can be a challenging experience, especially if you are anything like us and seek a perfect and, above-all, memorable getaway. If you are reading this then you are at the very least  contemplating a cruise. But we know that a dozen other questions are going through your mind. Where to spend your time off, how much to budget for, what type of cruise to go for, who and how many will be going. Don't fret, we have listed the 8 crucial questions to guide your planning and ensure you book the ultimate crewed canal barge holiday.

  • How many people will be travelling?

Given the size of your group you might prefer to book one cabin, or a full charter.  The size of your group will definitely be the first point to help you decide. If you are a couple travelling you can book a cabin on-board almost every barges depending on availability; although some of them are charter only;  you can also decide to book a charter for you two for some of the barge.

If you travel with a group (4 to 24 people), book a charter and spend a week being spoilt by an amazing crew. If your group is bigger; you can also decide to charter two barges. Please note that these hotel-barges are booked year on year and availability can become a struggle. We will make sure we hold your charter while your group decides where to go and mostly when!

These hotel-barges are perfect for family or friends that want to spend 7 days all together sharing the best of a European country and tasting great food; wines as well as exploring villages, museums, castles and much more. Learn more about Group Cruises here.

A lot of our clients are booking crewed canal barges for special occasions such as big birthdays; honeymoon; Christmas and others. The crew will make sure that every day of your journey is special.

Enjoy time with your favourite people!
  • Are you travelling with kids?
family

Crewed canal barging is a great way to travel with kids as the experience can be fully customised and ensure all the family is happy. From kids activities to wine tastings for the adults, everything is possible with the amazing crew on-board the barges. Learn more about our family cruise here

  • Where would you like to go?
europe_map

France, England, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Scotland, Ireland... the list is long and diverse. Each country has something great to offer so to make your mind you can visit our blog article why cruising in Europe and also visit our website to learn more about each destinations here.

Cruising in Burgundy, on canal de Briare
  • When can you cruise in Europe?

 

March to October is usually the season when barges are running, although you might really want to see the lavender in Provence from June to August, or the tulips in Holland from March to May or even cruise during Christmas! Make sure you have the good timing to make the most of your holiday. Contact us to know more and visit the barge dates & prices pages!

Provence, lavender, visit Abbey de Sannanque Provence, lavender, visit Abbey de Sannanque
  • What is your budget?
budget

Every barge is different, indeed some of them are boat that were built back in 1900 and have been all renovated and keep the atmosphere of the good old time while some of them are modern and have an amazing contemporary design. Some of our barges have large cabins while some other are smaller, their amenities are also different, some of them have Jacuzzi or heated swimming pool, some of them don't, one thing is sure, they will always have bicycle on-board! Size also vary, some of the barges have 12 cabins whereas others are accommodating only 4 people. Some of them have almost one crew per passenger  while others have one crew for 5 passengers. Some of the barges will be serving you local Grand Cru wines while others will use local producers. Last but least, prices, some barges are ultra luxury and some others are charming. Finally there is a barge for everybody, the most important is to find the best for you. To help you choosing which barge will be the most suitable to your expectations; discover our rating tab explaining the differences between the barges prices and services on-board.

  • Have you been in Europe before?

If yes, there are some questions you should ask yourself.

  1. Where have you been?
  2. What did you prefer?
  3. Would you like to go back or explore another country?
  4. What interested you the most? (gastronomy, architecture, countryside, vineyards, history...)

To discover more options see all destination here.

If no, let us know what are your ideas and what you like to do in general during your holiday, we will make sure we offer you the right destination. Visit the destination pages and give us a call we will help you!

  • Is there any of themed cruise that would make your holiday even better?

Discover all the themed cruises here, if there is any other activity you are thinking about, give us a call because we can often customised your barge holiday.

  • Are you celebrating something special?
party_hat

Birthday, Honeymoon, Reunion ... there is always a special day that would give you an excuse to get on-board and enjoy this ultimate experience!

Do you have all your answers, or do you need some more guidance...in any case give us a call and we will help you to book your cruise holiday in Europe!

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Thu, 01 Sep 2016 08:00:15 +0000 https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/8-things-consider-booking-barge-cruise/ https://www.bargetravel.com.au/blog/8-things-consider-booking-barge-cruise/ accounts@synergydigital.com.au (admin) admin
Top reasons to cruise Europe aboard a barge Ever wondered why people come back from a cruise raving over it? If you are amongst those considering whether or not to take the plunge (perhaps not literally though), trust the experts and read Barge Travel Connection’s reasons why you should - aboard a charming hotel barge.

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DISCOVER AMAZING DESTINATIONS

What better way to spend your holiday drifting along the most picturesque waterways in Europe on-board a luxurious barge, dropping anchor to immerse yourself in the local culture. Our crewed barge-hotels are located on the canals of Europe in France, England, Germany, Luxembourg, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, Ireland not to forget Italy. Live the best regional experience in whichever destination you choose, at a relaxing pace to fully unwind from everyday life.

Take your time visiting some of the most beautiful countries of Europe. Whether you are a first timer travelling to Europe or if you are a regular, discovering the continent via its numerous waterways is perhaps the most unique. Gaze around at breathtaking scenery, stop to visit impressive monuments, savour exquisite local gastronomy and enjoy the calmness of floating around the canals. We can guarantee that it will become one of your favourite ways to travel.

Take a look at some of our destination photos to help you decide where you want to end up on your next break.

Belgium

Cruise in Belgium to discover the up-and-coming town of Ghent, the romantic little town of Bruges and arty Antwerp, where Rubens once lived.

England

Travel back through history as you meander along the river Thames peering over beautiful monuments as you journey. You will love the picturesque riverside villages and the quaint old English style.

Visit Windsor Castle Visit Windsor Castle

France

Many regions of France offer the opportunity to cruise along the canals on-board a fully-crewed canal barge.

Discover the highlights of Burgundy: the Hospices of Beaune, a former charitable alms-house founded in 1443 by the chancellor of Burgundy as a hospital for the poor; taste famous wine names and enjoy snails.

Visit the Hospices of Beaune Visit the Hospices of Beaune

Taste Burgundy wine Taste Burgundy wine

Discover the Canal du Midi and its beautiful landscapes.

Cruise on Canal du Midi Cruise on Canal du Midi

Canal du Midi typical scenery Canal du Midi typical scenery

Visit the medieval city of Carcassonne Visit the medieval city of Carcassonne Visit the medieval city of Carcassonne Visit the medieval city of Carcassonne

Cruise in Bordeaux and Gascony to taste fine local wines, wander the streets of typical villages and visit World Heritage sites.

Visit Moissac and its UNESCO-classified abbey Visit Moissac and its UNESCO-classified abbey

Cruise in the Loire Valley to visit its noble castles and journey back in history.

Cruise on-board Nymphea Cruise on-board Nymphea Cruise on-board Nymphea Cruise on-board Nymphea

Visit Chateau d'Amboise built on a spur above the River Loire Visit Chateau d'Amboise built on a spur above the River Loire

Discover Clos Lucé, famous for being the official residence of Leonardo da Vinci between 1516 and 1519 Discover Clos Lucé, famous for being the official residence of Leonardo da Vinci between 1516 and 1519

Champagne cruises will take you to the very heart of this amazing region full of vineyards. We can guarantee you will love to taste various types of Champagne and discover medieval architecture.

Taste Champagne in Champagne Taste Champagne in Champagne

Cruise in Alsace to discover its unique architecture and gastronomy as well as its remarkable mix of French and German cultures.

Cruise on-board Panache Cruise on-board Panache Cruise on-board Panache Cruise on-board Panache

Visit Colmar Visit Colmar

In Picardy, learn about history, the western front and both World Wars.

Holland

Tulips, windmills and pottery will fill up your cruising in Holland photos. Enjoy the country's unique atmosphere and amazing landscapes.

Cruise on-board Panache through Haarlem Cruise on-board Panache through Haarlem

Cruising in Holland Cruising in Holland

Leiden: historical city full of character, a perfect place to explore on a bicycle Leiden: historical city full of character, a perfect place to explore on a bicycle

Discover windmills, barns and houses built in the traditional Dutch style Discover windmills, barns and houses built in the traditional Dutch style

Visit the Zaanse Schans. Discover crafts, windmills and houses from the 18th and 19th centuries Visit the Zaanse Schans. Discover crafts, windmills and houses from the 18th and 19th centuries

Ireland

Discover the stunning landscapes, lakes, farmland and rolling hills of this country during your cruise. The Irish will undoubtedly make you feel very welcome!

Cruise on-board Shannon Princess Cruise on-board Shannon Princess

Discover walled gardens of Portumna Castle Discover walled gardens of Portumna Castle

Visit Leap Castle one of the most haunted castles in Europe Visit Leap Castle, one of the most haunted castles in Europe

Italy

Discover Venice and its surroundings. You will love the numerous bridges, churches, colourful markets and pretty shellfish from the Venetian lagoon!

Cruising on-board La Bella Vita Cruising on-board La Bella Vita

Visit Mantua’s Ducal Palace and gardens Visit Mantua’s Ducal Palace and gardens

Discover San Pietro Island Discover San Pietro Island Discover San Pietro Island Discover San Pietro Island

Dinner at the hidden Villa Ca'Zen Dinner at the hidden Villa Ca'Zen

Visit to Chioggia’s colourful fish market Visit to Chioggia’s colourful fish market

Visit medieval moated Estense Castle in Ferrara Visit medieval moated Estense Castle in Ferrara

Germany & Luxembourg

Discover the beauty of these two countries. Visit Burg Eltz, the 12th Century “Queen of German Castles; Tour Trier, Germany’s oldest town and see the Porta Nigra and finish the cruise in Luxembourg with a visit to its capital.

Scotland

Discover the fantastic scenery of Scotland, its Loch Ness as well as the famous Cawdor Castle and its beautiful gardens. Don't forget to taste some famous Whisky.

Cruising on-board Scottish Highlander Cruising on-board Scottish Highlander

Explore 13th Century Donan Eilean Castle in the Scotland Highlands Explore 13th Century Donan Eilean Castle in the Scotland Highlands

Discover Urquhart Castle nestled beside Loch Ness Discover Urquhart Castle nestled beside Loch Ness

Discover the deep, large, freshwater Loch Ness Discover the deep, large, freshwater Loch Ness

All these destinations are not only culturally rich but also have breathtaking landscapes, mouth-watering gastronomy and a fascinating history behind them. Don’t forget that if you charter a barge, you can decide your itinerary as you please so do let you crew know where you are keen to spend your time.

LIVE THE ALL INCLUSIVE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE

Another top reason we love canal barging is the fact that this experience is all inclusive. Leave all the work up to us and our local partners to make sure you have a memorable holiday.

Transfers

Make sure we know when and where you arrive and we will make sure your transfer is organised. A member of the crew will pick you up at your hotel and drive/ train you to the barge. The transfers are planned for you to have enough space for your luggage and be the beginning of your journey.

Transfers in luxury vehicles Transfers in luxury vehicles

Welcome cocktail

When you arrive on-board you will be welcomed by the crew that will make sure they introduce themselves and have all your requirements for the week. They will make sure you are comfortable and that you will enjoy this experience. Enjoy the welcome cocktail to start relaxing and fully enjoy the experience.

Welcome on-board Welcome on-board

Champagne welcome Champagne welcome

Amazing crew

The crew on-board will be spoiling you and making sure your journey is unforgettable and with no issues. The chef will make sure you love every meal on-board, the hostess will make sure you always have the drink you need, information about the day and any other requirements while the house keeper will make sure your cabin is always clean and tidy. The captain will make sure he shares all his great stories and the guide will bring you to the best places of the region. Some barge will even have a crew member taking care of your kids if needed!

Barge standards

If you’ve ever slept on a boat, you’ll know that it’s the most relaxing sleep you can have. If that’s what you’re after, along with captivating landscapes and towns rich in history, culture and traditions – look no further. All barges have different ratings, but one important point they all have in common is their high standards. Every winter, vessels are fully painted and varnished to be perfect accommodating. Some of them are family-owned with a cosy atmosphere, some are ultimate luxury with all the amenities you can dream of. Some barges are smaller in size with 2 cabins which adds intimacy to your cruise, whilst others have 11 cabins. In any case, you are bound to find a barge-hotel to fit your budget. Learn more about our barge standards here.

Amenities on-board

You will enjoy the amenities on-board such as bicycles to cycle along the canals to small villages; the library on-board to relax on the sundeck with a good book; the heated swimming pool for some of the barges and the en-suite cabins where you will be comfortable.

Relax in Belmond Amaryllis sun deck and pool Relax in Belmond Amaryllis sun deck and pool

Excursions

Whether you have booked a charter or a cabin, everyday excursions will be included for you to explore the regions and surroundings.

On-board a charter; do not hesitate to tell the crew what you would prefer and what you love in life. It means that if you want to explore the local markets, a famous vineyard, visit a beautiful cathedral or prefer to stay on board in the Jacuzzi it will be totally at your convenience. If you tell the captain what are your interests in life they will make sure they relate visits to them.

If you have booked a single cabin, you will follow a standard itinerary which may still be flexible. Your crew is always happy to discuss who would prefer what and if one day you prefer to stay on-board to relax instead of going out, that is fine.

All excursions and admittance fees will be taken care of and you won’t have to spend anything; except if you wish to buy some souvenirs!

Gourmet Food

You will be delighted by the food on-board. All your meals will be included and do not hesitate to let know the chef know what your guilty pleasures are or what you want to test: he will make sure you have the best of it and as much you want!

If you have any food allergies, the chef will be made aware and ensure you will be served amazing food with only what you like. Most of the barge-hotels are really high service for food and will serve you cheese for breakfast if it is what you want.

If you are on-board a charter; meals can be served whenever you wish. Some cruises also include top gastronomical experiences such as dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant or gourmet restaurant. If you are a foodie, we would definitely recommend looking at our food-themed cruises.

Lunch on-board Belmond Amaryllis Lunch on-board Belmond Amaryllis

Starter on-board Starter on-board

Dessert on-board Dessert on-board

Fine wines

Food is never complete without drink so rest assured ALL drinks are included and the bar is open 24/7 for soft and alcoholic drinks. If you are a wine or whiskey aficionado, there are even cruises that will be focusing on some great tasting experiences. For most of our barge-hotels let us know prior if you prefer red, white, rose, spirits or juices and we will make sure everything on-board caters to your preferences. Some of the countries and regions offering crewed canal barging experience are famous for wines or whiskey and you will experience some of the best.

Wines on-board Wines on-board

Every day is different

How appealing is waking up to a different view from your sundeck every morning? The variety you’ll get to experience is for us the last (but definitely not least) reason we recommend cruising Europe aboard a barge. Cruise along pretty waterways otherwise inaccessible to larger vessels and really unwind as your barge trundles at a perfectly relaxing pace. It truly is the ideal scenario to sit back and admire the rolling landscape.

Barge Travel Connection's all-inclusive cruising experiences are perfect for those who want to discover the best of Europe aboard a luxury barge and experience the local culture. So hop on-board and make sure you eat, drink, visit, cycle, swim, read and laugh to live this experience as thoroughly as possible!

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