Summer in Europe is amazing, but it can get crowded with hordes of tourists flocking in for the season to visit all the main attractions. A self-drive barge holiday sets you apart from the rest, as you discover the richer and quieter side of the country along the serene waterways.
Cruising in Comfort
Along with two friends, I barged along the Yonne River and Canal du Nivernais located at the border of French Burgundy. Our journey started at Migennes, a small town situated about two hours outside of Paris. We barged with Le Boat, a canal boat rental company that has a large fleet of boats to accommodate from as little as two people to a group of as big as 10 on board. We barged on the Royal Mystique, a comfort plus range boat that housed a spacious saloon, fully-equipped kitchen and three en-suite bedrooms. There are steering wheels inside and above on the top deck.
Our trip along the canals would take us seven days as we made our way to the next base in Tannay where we would return the boat. A barging holiday is the epitome of slow travel as you cruise at a leisurely speed of about 10 km p/h on the canals.
Discovering French Burgundy
Burgundy is a historically and culturally rich region surrounded in natural beauty. Visitors will enjoy its many culinary offerings and delight in the many wine farms and historical sights surrounding the villages. Many of the towns still maintain their original medieval charm. I felt like I was walking in a fairy-tale along the coble-stoned streets and winding alleys surrounded by stone and timber-framed buildings.
We got to sample food and wine from the regions, explore the towns and cool off in the local swimming pools after a hot day of barging. We enjoyed sundowners and BBQ dinners in the evenings while watching those mesmerising French summer sunsets on the river.
Summer Time in French Countryside
We barged during the end of June during a heatwave which proved a bit challenging at times. Yet, I loved the experience and driving along those waterways is one of the most relaxing things I have ever done. Cruising slowly past leafy towns with dreamy chateaus along the river really makes you appreciate the true beauty of everyday life in the French countryside. The Nivernais Canal is just one of many canals in France on which you can take a cruise on. There is something addictive about barging in the canals that has left me longing for another trip to a new destination and new adventure.
Le Boat offers Canal Boat Rental along the European waterways. Destinations include France, Italy, Germany, Holland and locations across the UK.
Visit www.leboat.co.za for more information.