More and more folks are turning to cruising as a way to see the world but cruising isn’t just about big, fancy ships. Travel enthusiast Dana Rebmann shares her barge cruising adventure through France.
Dana says barge cruising is an idea that’s not very well-known with American travelers. Popular in France, it’s somewhat similar to a river cruise.
Dana was sailing with CroisiEurope, and her barge, the Raymonde, had just 11 cabins, with a maximum of 22 people and six crew members. For folks that have never even considered cruising because they don’t like the idea of crowds, barge cruises can be a game changer.
Instead of cruising main river routes, barges typically glide along quieter canals – it’s kind of like taking the back roads to avoid the busy freeway. It also means you move slower, a lot slower.
Top speed aboard the Raymonde is about 5 miles per hour. If you’re a brisk walker, you could give the barge a decent race.
Many of the towns and villages you visit along the way, like Reims (rance (like France) – or rhymes as some say it) tend not to be big-ticket locales that attract big crowds, but that can make them even more fun to explore.
And it’s ideal if you’ve already been to big cities the likes of Paris.
In Reims, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is similar to the one in Paris. It’s about 50 years younger, but with 23-hundred statues it’s said to be the most decorated cathedral in France.
Stained glass windows seem to be at every turn. One section of windows feature Dom Pérignon and offers step by step instructions on how to make champagne. But if you really want to learn about those famous bubbles, the hands-on approach is typically the most enjoyable.
The Marne canal meanders through the French countryside credited with giving the world champagne. Much like wine tasting in the North Bay, here it’s all about visiting champagne houses and gaining understanding by tasting.
Dana found that as her barge got closer and closer to Paris, the scenery changes. The canal narrows, more houses appear, apartment buildings, and more activity. It’s not the countryside as much as it is the suburbs, but it’s still charming.
Five days of cruising took Dana 113 miles to Paris. (If you were to make the trip in a car it would take you just a couple hours.)
When you reach the City of Lights, the barge transitions onto the Seine River and the many landmarks of Paris put on an impressive grand finale to the cruise.
The barge tied up about a 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, so exploring was easy. Fares start at $3218, including excursions, food and drink.
For more about Dana’s adventures and writing, follow her on Instagram @danarebmann and Twitter @drebmann. You can also visit her website.
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