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Duration
15 days
Activities
  • guided cycle
Accommodation
  • 14 nights twin cabin
Meals
  • 13 Dinners
  • 13 Lunches
  • 14 Breakfasts

Price

$3999USD

 
 

Overview

Trip Code: BUX

Trip highlights


  • Enjoying the hospitality on board your comfortable barge
  • Discovering the charming cities of Paris and Bruges
  • Cycling through scenery that has inspired many famous painters
  • Exploring the diverse regions of northern France and Flanders in Belgium

Paris and Bruges are must-visit destinations for any European travellers. On this superb bike and barge tour you'll experience both, along with the diverse scenery and history of northern France and the region of Flanders. Along the way, you'll explore small art-deco towns such as Ham and Ronse, and marvel at the stunning scenery which inspired many painters including Van Gogh, Permeke, Van Eyck and Corot. You'll pass many reminders of the First World War including the Armistic and Peronne museums. Impressive cathedrals, abbeys, chateaus and palaces can be seen and visited during the trip. Cycling along the rivers Seine, Oise and Somme, in the company of your expert guide, through farmland and past small villages, ensures you gain a unique insight into this special region. Returning each evening to your comfortable floating hotel you'll make new friends, relax and enjoy delicious meals onboard.

Trip Grading

moderate

More info about grading system

Traveller Rating

 

Expand all | Collapse all

Embarkation and check-in at 2pm in the centre of Paris. After a welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader the barge will cruise right through the city. The mooring place for the night is a suburb of Paris. After a sailing dinner there is time for a short walk. We recommend coming to Paris one or more days earlier, so that you will have plenty of time to discover this interesting city.

Meals:  D

After breakfast we will cycle along quiet towpaths along the river Seine to the higher situated St Germain, where the gardens of Le Nôtre provide a magnificent view across Paris. Next we will ride through a forest area to Conflans for a picnic on the pier amongst the terraces. After a short stop at the Pontoise Bridge, we continue cycling across the picturesque Chemin des Monts to the church of Auvers, famous for Van Gogh’s paintings. You can visit Van Gogh’s grave in the local cemetery during a short evening walk.

Meals:  B,L,D

During breakfast the barge will sail to Beaumont. The day's cycle begins by following the Oise River upstream. Along the way we will pass the Royaumont abbey, which is one of the best preserved abbeys from the 13th century. During the afternoon we will visit the splendid Chantilly Chateau, a luxurious castle with a horse dressage and an impressive art collection, the Musee Conde, that houses one of the finest collections of paintings in France. After dinner you may wish to take a stroll through the lively provincial town of Creil.

Meals:  B,L,D

During breakfast the barge will take us to Pont Saint Maxence. This town owes its name to the fact that in the Middle Ages this had one of the very few bridges over the Oise River, for this reason it became the place to stay the night for kings and merchants, who were on their way to Flanders. From there we will cycle past the abbey of Moncel, founded in 1309 by King Philip le Bel, and through little, charming towns. Continue cycling through the forest "Foret de Compiegne", where French kings once loved to hunt, and onto to our destination Compiegne. The longer cycle option today takes in more of the forest as well as the small town of Pierrefond, where you can admire the exterior of its impressive Castle Pierrefonds. Compiegne owes its architectural wealth to the proximity of Paris. In the evening you may wish to explore the historical center with its medieval market and many alleyways or the gardens of the Chateau de Compiegne.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we will leave the river Oise to continue our cycle via the canal system connecting France and Belgium. In the morning we cycle into the most northern part of the forest of Compiegne, where we visit the “Clairière de l’Armistice"/Glade of the Armistice, the forest clearing and the carriage where the First World War armistice was signed. You may also visit its small but interesting museum. Then we will cross the river Aisne and cycle through the forest of Ourscamp. In the afternoon we will spend some time in Noyon, where you can visit its imposing cathedral, one of the oldest in the country. We will then cycle back to the canal at Pont l'Eveque, where we will board the barge.

Meals:  B,L,D

The day begins with a cruise on and along the Canal du Nord. The construction of this canal was already planned in 1903, but it took until 1966 to complete the works. It was built to replace the older and smaller Canal de St. Quentin, constructed by Napoleon in 1801, to transport coal from the mines to the north. During breakfast the barge will bring us to Haudival. From here the cycling begins through gently rolling, open countryside, to the art deco town of Ham, continuing along the river Somme and through the picturesque surrounding villages to Peronne. We will find the barge moored just outside of this charming town with its compact square and church as well as a castle and the fascinating Grande Guerre museum.

Meals:  B,L,D

The barge will be moored just outside the charming town of Peronne with its intimate square and church as well as a castle and the fascinating Grande Guerre museum. You are free to spend the day resting or exploring the area. Dinner is not included tonight so you are free to sample the local food.

Meals:  B,L

We will continue cycling along the river Somme and then through the sparsely populated open and rolling landscape to Ruyaulcourt. At the end of World War I this area was the frontline of the battle around the Somme. We will then join the barge for a cruise through the Canal du Nord, which has two tunnels. The longest one is the tunnel of Ruyaulcourt, which is 4,350 metres (2,700 miles) long. Above the tunnel is the watershed between the rivers Somme and Escaut (Scheldt). From here the barge goes downhill in the direction of Arleux, to our mooring in Moeuvres, an outskirt of this town.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we will visit Cambrai, once a Roman provincial capital, now a lively town with a beautiful park to picnic in and many historical monuments such as the impressive restored buildings of the city fortress built under King Charles V. We will continue cycling past the marshlands of Chantraine and on to the rural town of Arleux. The boat then cruises to the lock of Pont Malin.

Meals:  B,L,D

While the barge will sail the Canal du Grand Gabarit, passing through a former industrial area of northern France and old coal mines and steel bites bordering the canal, we will start our day's cycle in Arleux. Today is a long day of cycling through open farmland and former mining towns towards Lewarde, where you have the opportunity to visit a mining museum. Once we have corssed into Belgium we will cycle through the so-called "white land". The charming little fortress town Antoing lies at the heart of this region and since the Roman days, white limestone has been mined here. Today's destination is Doornik (Tournai in French), one of the oldest cities of Belgium, and part of Wallonia, a French-speaking area of Belgium where all towns and villages have both a French and Flemish name. Up until the beginning of the 17th century Doornik was ruled by the French. Tapestry weaving gained in importance here while the cloth industry became less important. You can see excellent examples of this in the various museums of the town. In 1940 the entire city was destroyed after a German air-raid, however the town has since been wonderfully renovated. The cathedral of Notre Dame, from the 12th and 13th century, and the Belfort, built around 1200, are well worth visiting.

Meals:  B,L,D

While the barge sails downstream on the river Scheldt, we set off by bike crossing the language barrier to enter the Flanders region where Flemish is the spoken language. Our destination for today is Oudenaarde. In former days this small town was situated on the border of the French and German empires and as a result it was frequently involved in wars. Since Oudenaarde was in the firing line, there was always a watchman. You can find a statue of the most famous watchman, Hanske de Krijger, in the splendid town hall which also displays a magnificent collection from the 16th and 17th Century as well as the Tour of Flanders Centre. The town hall was built in the first half of the 16th century with sandstone in Brabantine late Gothic style and is one of the most beautiful town halls of Flanders. Oudenaarde is also known as the town of the tapestry weavers, with their tapestry famous around the world. After dinner you can enjoy a Belgian beer at the atmospheric Market place.

Meals:  B,L,D

We commence cycling from Oudenaarde and shortly after will briefly stop at the ruins of the old abbey of Ename, located on the river Scheldt. We continue following the river through the idyllic Ooidonk landscape towards Ghent, today's destination. Ghent is a lively university town with a rich history, that arose in Roman days on the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Leie. This favourable location brought on wealth as it became a trade and textile city with a peak in the late 13th and early 14th Century. The cloth industry was a source of great richness in the Middle Ages, and the cloth traders gathered in the "Lakenhal" (Cloth Hall) in 1425. In the city many patrician residences have been preserved. The most important church is St Baafs cathedral, constructed in different centuries and in different styles. Here you can find several masterpiece paintings from the Middle Ages, the most famous of which is "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" by Jan van Eyck. In the evenings the city center is a very atmospheric place to be. There is the option of joining a canal tour to the centre (included) and visiting the castle Gravensteen.

Meals:  B,L,D

During breakfast the barge will take us along the Ghent Canal to Aalterbrug. From here we will get on our bikes and cycle through wooded areas and fields and past quiet villages in the flat countryside of Western Flanders before arriving in Bruges. Known as the "Venice of the North", you will have time to discover the most picturesque city in Flanders. From the 14th to the 16th Century it was renowned as one of Europe’s most important centres of banking and art, with its old centre dating from the Middle Ages almost completely intact.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today the barge will stay in Bruges. An optional bicycle ride through the pleasant countryside around Bruges will be offered, but you can also choose to spend your time in beautiful Bruges and visit a museum or do some shopping.

Meals:  B,L,D

The trip concludes this morning in Bruges. You will need to disembark by 9:30am. Note: the trip operates in the reverse direction, from Bruges to Paris, every alternate departure. See below for details and for details of the second barge used.

Meals:  B

Expand all | Collapse all

Embarkation in Bruges is at 2:00pm on board the barge (luggage can be left on the barge from 11:00am). After a welcome briefing, there will be a bike handover and time for a short warm up ride in the surrounding area. Bruges is also called the Venice of the North, and many say it is the most beautiful Flemish city ("Pearl of Flanders"). Its old centre, which dates from the Middle Ages, is almost completely intact. At that time Bruges was a metropolis, a centre of trade and art, and after Paris the second largest city of Europe. After dinner, the tour guide will lead a walk through the centre of town.

Meals:  D

After breakfast we will begin cycling, weaving through charming woodlands and pastures of Western Flanders. In Aalterbrug, the halfway point along the canal between Bruges and Ghent, we will board the barge and cruise to Ghent. Ghent is a lively university town with a rich history, that arose in Roman days on the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Leie. Its favourable location brought great wealth as it became a trade and textile city, with a peak in the late 13th and early 14th Century. The cloth industry was a source of great richness in the Middle Ages, and the cloth traders used to gather in the "Lakenhal" (Cloth Hall, built 1425). In the city many patrician residences have been preserved. The most important church is St Bavo's cathedral, constructed in different centuries and in different styles. Here you can find several masterpiece paintings from the Middle Ages, the most famous of which is the "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" by Jan van Eyck. In the evenings the city centre is very atmospheric. There is the option of joining a canal tour to the centre (included).

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we cycle into downtown Ghent for some more time to explore, before continuing in the late morning along the river Bovenschelde to Oudenaarde. Along the way we will briefly stop at the ruins of the old abbey of Ename, located on the river Scheldt. Oudenaarde is a small town, which was situated on the border of the French-German Empire, so the town was the seat of many wars. Because it was often in the firing line, there was always someone on the look-out. The most famous watchman still stands on the magnificent town hall: Hanske de Krijger. The town hall was built in the first half of the 16th century and is one of the most beautiful in Flanders. The style is Brabant late gothic, the material is sandstone from Balegem. Oudenaarde is also known as the town of tapestry weavers, its tapestries were famous all over the world. After dinner you can enjoy a Belgian beer at the atmospheric Market place.

Meals:  B,L,D

Before we leave Oudenaarde, we'll enjoy a guided visit of the beautiful town hall. Afterwards we follow the river Scheldt upstream and cross the linguistic frontier, thus arriving in the Wallonia region. From now on people speak French and the villages, towns and cities have a French name. OUr destination today is Doornik (French: Tournai), one of the oldest towns of Belgium. Doornik fell under French government until early in the 17th century. Just as in Oudenaarde, after the decline of the textile industry, tapestry became important here. In 1940 the entire town centre was destroyed in a German air raid but renovation of the town has been very successful. The Notre Dame cathedral (12th and 13th century) is especially worth seeing as well as the Belfort, built around 1200.

Meals:  B,L,D

During breakfast we cruise towards the French-Belgium border, through the so-called ‘white land’, where (white) limestone had been quarried since Roman times. Around the village of Bleharies at the border, we will start today's cycle. We ride through open farmland and small mining towns towards Lewarde, where you may visit the mining museum. We continue to today's destination, the rural town of Arleux.

Meals:  B,L,D

The barge leaves the large canal and will from now on follow the Canal du Nord. The construction of this canal was planned in 1903, but it took until 1966 to finish the works. It replaced the older and smaller Canal de St Quentin, constructed by Napoleon in 1801, to transport coal from the mines in the north. We commence our cycling in Arleux then make our first stop in the city of Cambrai, which was once a Roman provincial capital and an important destination for pilgrims. We recommend exploring the impressive restored buildings of the city fortress, built under Charles V. Later we bike through the marshlands of Chantraine and on to rural Ruyaulcourt, our destination.

Meals:  B,L,D

The Canal du Nord has two tunnels which the barge has to sail through. The longest one is the tunnel of Ruyaulcourt, which is 4,350 metres (2,700 miles) long. Above the tunnel is the watershed between the rivers Somme and Escaut (Scheldt). From here the barge goes downhill in the direction of Peronne. After passing the tunnel you will continue cycling through the valley of the river Somme through sparsely populated open and rolling landscape - at the end of WW1 this area was the front line of the battle around the Somme. Further on you will arrive in Peronne.

Meals:  B,L,D

The barge will stay in Peronne and will be moored just outside this charming town with its intimate square and church as well as a castle and the fascinating Grande Guerre museum. You are free to spend the day resting or exploring the town. Dinner is not included and you can sample the local cuisine at a restaurant in town.

Meals:  B,L

During breakfast the barge will bring us to the small village of Epenancourt. From here we get back on the bikes for a long ride through gently rolling, open countryside, to the art deco town of Ham and then along the river Somme and the surrounding picturesque villages. Our destination for the day is Noyon with its imposing cathedral.

Meals:  B,L,D

From Pont l'Eveque we set course for Compiègne. The cycling takes us through the forest of Ourscamp, crosses the river Aisne and through forest to the “Clairière de l’Armistice” / Glade of the Armistice. This is where the French and German generals signed the treaty at the end of WWI. You can visit the small but interesting museum. From there we head to Compiègne, which owes its magnificent buildings to its proximity to Paris and its great woods, where the French kings loved to stay. Worth a visit are the beautiful gardens of the Château de Compiègne.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we cycle first through the forest south of Compiègne after which we follow the valley of the Oise further downstream into the direction of Creil. The longer cycle option will add a loop to visit the small town of Pierrefonds, where you can admire the exterior of its Disney-like castle with the same name. Right before reaching Pont-ste-Maxence we pass by the abbey of Moncel, founded in 1309 by King Philip the Fair. Pont-Ste-Maxence owes its name to the fact that in the Middle Ages this was the location of one of the very few bridges over the Oise river. It became a place to spend the night for merchants and kings, who were on their way between Flanders and Paris. Our destination is Creil, known for its fine pottery in the 19th century.

Meals:  B,L,D

Our day starts by cycling out of busy Creil, heading towards the precious and famous Castle of Chantilly which is renowned for its horse-racing circuit and royal stables. It is also known for its art gallery, the Musee Conde, which houses one of the finest collections of paintings in France. We continue cycling through lovely forest and pass the abbey of Royaumont. If you take the short cycle option today, you will be picked up by the barge at Beaumont. The long cycle option will cross the river Oise and follow the river to Auver-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent the last days of his life and where he and his brother Theo are buried in the cemetery. This region was very popular with many impressionist painters. In the evening we will take a walk to Van Gogh's grave.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning there is some time to explore more of Auvers before we cycle towards the Capital of Light. Along the way we will have time for lunch at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, where the Oise and the Seine rivers converge. Conflans has been an important shipping centre in Northern France since the 19th century. In the afternoon we will cycle up to the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, from the palace-garden you can enjoy a splendid view over Paris. After that we continue through the suburbs towards Bougival where we will spend the night.

Meals:  B,L,D

Today the barge takes us on a final cruise along the Seine, heading upstream into Paris. It is not far in a straight line, but the Seine makes a number of large curves here. The mooring place of the barge is in the centre of the city. You can spend the rest of the day as you like. You can explore the city by subway, on foot or by sightseeing bus (own expense).

Meals:  B,L,D

The trip concludes this morning in Paris. You will need to disembark by 9:30am.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.


Inclusions

  • 14 breakfasts, 13 picnic lunches, 13 dinners
  • Continental breakfasts are served and will usually consist of breads, cheese, ham, tea, coffee & juices. At breakfast you will prepare your packed lunch for the day which will be sandwiches, fruit & juice. Dinner will consist of three courses inclusive of either a pasta, vegetarian or meat dish.
  • 14 nights accommodation aboard a comfortable barge in a cabin with ensuite facilities on a twin share basis. The compact cabins are configured with twin lower beds. We do not match clients together so if you are travelling solo you will need to book a single cabin - limited and on a request basis, supplement applies.
  • Welcome drink and briefing on the first evening
  • One or two experienced multilingual tour guides for fully guided cycling tours (two for group sizes of 18 passengers or more), daily briefings and several city walks
  • maps for cycling tours (one set per cabin)
  • 21 speed trekking bike rental with pannier, helmet and water bottle (electric bike available on request - supplement applies).
  • Entrance to Clairiere de l'Armistice, Chateau Chantilly and Oudenaarde city hall
  • Linen and change of towels as required
  • Daily cabin cleaning
  • Ghent canal tour
  • Ferry fees
  • GPS tracks on request
  • Emergency hotline
  • WIFI
  • Carbon offset payment

  • Travel to and from Paris / Bruges
  • Drinks other than afternoon tea and coffee on board
  • 1 dinner (not in Peronne)
  • Entrance fees and excursions not specified
  • Transfers and public transport not specified
  • Travel insurance - mandatory
  • Tips - while tipping is not obligatory, it is customary to offer a tip if the guide and crew have done a good job. As a guide we would recommend EUR30-60 per person (to be distributed between the guide/s, captain and crew).
  • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry etc.
  • Car parking
  • Bike insurance - payable locally (EUR10 for standard bikes and EUR25 for e-bikes) - further details of this Limitation of Liability (damage) policy are available on request
  • Catering for special diets (except Vegetarian). A supplement is payable for lactose or gluten free diets - EUR50pp (subject to change) - See below for further details regarding catering for dietary requirements.

Cabins


Bike information


Grading

moderate  

The cycling is moderate (3) grade with daily cycling distances from 18 to 66km/11 to 41mi along undulating usually well graded low traffic roads. There are some short stretches on some busier roads and off-road bike paths. There are some sections with short slopes with heights of up to 100m. You will spend approximately 5 hours cycling each day. The accent is on keeping a relaxed pace to take in all of the attractions, with time to stop and take photos. A good level of fitness and cycling experience is required to fully participate in this trip.


Departure dates


Notes

H
High Season
IT1
Trip commences in Paris.
IT2
Trip operates in reverse, commencing in Bruges - refer to trip notes for the itinerary.
DN3
"S" is on board the Zwaantje barge, "K" is on board the Fleur barge.
DN4
High season supplement applies for departures in May and July

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Total Priceper person from

$3999USD

Options & Supplements*
  • Electric Bike Supplement (on request, limited availability)USD$260
  • Single Supplement (in twin cabin, only 1 per departure) - Low season 2022USD$1310
  • Single Supplement (in twin cabin, only 1 per departure) - High seasonUSD$1370
  • Single Supplement (in twin cabin, only 1 per departure) - 2023USD$1410
*Prices listed are per person

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We offer different levels of accommodation and comfort so that even the most budget conscious can treat themselves to active holidays on Europe's most celebrated tracks and trails. Our trips are great value for money because you only pay for what you want.  

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Our wide range of self-guided itineraries embody the UTracks philosophy of exploring Europe your way. We handle the logistics so all that's left for you to do is enjoy exploring Europe at your own pace. Most depart daily with a minimum of two people, meaning maximum flexibility.

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