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What is hotel barging? Despite the growing popularity of cruising, particularly on large river boats, this is still a little known niche concept. Maybe the term “barging” deters interest, conjuring up images of narrowboats or coal lighters. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Surprisingly for such a largely unknown travel concept, European Waterways, Europe’s leading hotel barge company, has been offering hotel barge cruises for nearly 40 years.
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There are 18 vessels in our fleet, the best known of which is Anjodi, star of Rick Stein’s BBC TV series “French Odyssey”, transporting him along the Canal du Midi on a voyage of culinary discovery.
Most hotel barges started life as cargo vessels but have since been painstakingly converted into floating boutique hotels. On our barges, we offer 6-night cruises, inclusive of all gourmet meals, fine wines, an open bar, daily escorted excursions and transfers to and from Paris or other cities.
All our hotel barges offer an intimate atmosphere, with high levels of personal service and access to the tranquillity of smaller waterways which larger vessels cannot reach. This is cruising, but in a very different style to ships plying the big rivers or oceans.
The pace is slow and relaxed, with each 6-day cruise often covering little more than 50 miles along a rural canal. Passengers can walk or use one of the barge bicycles to explore the towpaths and never be left behind as their floating hotel glides gently along. The idea is to offer our guests full immersion into the culture, history and gastronomy of diverse regions of France such as Burgundy, the Midi, Gascony, Alsace and Champagne.
Every day there are interesting excursions, perhaps to a vineyard for a tour and wine-tasting, a wonderful market such as in Dijon or Narbonne where the chef may buy fresh local ingredients for dinner, or a visit to a unique “off the beaten track” location that you would never find on your own. These could be to still-inhabited troglodyte cave dwellings, a privately-owned château, or to see an olive oil press at work and sample its produce.
About half of our bookings are for whole boat charters, as the small passenger capacity offers a unique opportunity for groups of friends or family to enjoy their own bespoke private cruise. Otherwise, our clients book a cabin to join the ‘floating house party’, hosted by the Captain and pampered by the chef and the rest of the crew.
So, whether you fancy a soak in the on deck spa-pool, a game of boules on the bank, or just to sit and watch the sun go down over the countryside with a chilled glass of Chablis in hand, a “slow boat” European Waterways hotel barge cruise along one of France’s picturesque canals offers the ultimate in experiential travel.
To request a brochure, or for more information, visit www.gobarging.com