Unpack only once on a bike & barge trip Splendid scenery on the Loire Valley Bike & Barge |  <i>Tanya & Rick McDonald</i> Wake up to a new view each day on the Bordeaux Bike & Barge |  <i>Efti Nure</i> Cycling through the villages of Provence |  <i>Erin Williams</i>
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8 of the Best Bike and Barge Tours in France

Discover France with these affordable French bike and boat holidays

With boat-based itineraries consistently ranking among the most popular trips year after year and when combined with the world’s most popular destination to visit, France, you have an ideal holiday, with its myriad canals, stunning scenery, jaw-dropping architecture, plus it’s a gourmand’s delight.

Our bike and barge-based holidays are very popular as they give travellers the opportunity to cover more distance and ‘see more’. They reach spots others can’t by employing smaller vessels that can navigate narrow waterways, while using bikes makes exploring easier and allows you to delve deeper into a destination.  It’s an ideal way to explore France: after each day’s cycle you can relax on board the barge, your home for the entire journey, while enjoying the views on the bank of river.

Don’t leave it too late to book as departures, especially in the heart of European summer and during the school holidays, tend to fill up quickly. However, it is worth doing some homework on certain regions. For example, June to August is the best time to see lavender fields in Provence, sunflowers are on display in Bordeaux from July to August, poppies can be seen from May to early June, while after the grape harvest, late July to September, is ideal to discover the delights of the Champagne region with its changing colours from green to reddish gold, fewer tourists and more open cellar doors.   

Here are eight of the best barge and bike experiences in France.

 

  1. Provence Bike and Boat tour

  2. Lavender fields in Provence with sunflowers in the foreground

     

    From Avignon, see (and smell!) the lavender as you enjoy easy cycling on flat plains as you head to the spectacular limestone foothills of the Alpilles, travelling through a constantly changing landscape and on to the Mediterranean coast to the medieval seaside town of Aigues-Mortes. Spend each day exploring quaint villages brimming with art studios and cultural relics, marvel at the well preserved Pont du Gard and immersing yourself in the wildlife of the Camargue, renowned for its legendary wild horses.

  3. Bordeaux Bike and Barge tour

  4. Bourg sur Gironde on the Dordogne river

     

    An oenophile’s dream: the Bordeaux region in south-western France provides the perfect base for an exceptional bike and boat experience. Sitting at the confluence of the Garonne River and the Gironde estuary, Bordeaux is one of the most prolific and famous wine growing regions in the world. It’s also home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Cycle through vineyards and towns, passing many chateaux  and even a fortified citadel in Blaye> There is always time to taste the many world-renowned wines, the delicious  cannelés – a Bordeaux rum and vanilla pastry – you may even pass pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Each night enjoy chef prepared regional specialties with the freshest of ingredients

    .

  5. Seine Valley Bike and Barge Tour

  6. Morning light on the Louvre from the Seine |  <i>Kate Baker</i>

     

    Joining in Paris, this journey follows the river that flows through the middle of the French capital, dividing it into Left Bank (Rive Gauche) and Right Bank (Rive Droite), and into the Seine Valley. A region rich in royal history, the Seine Valley has been the inspiration of artists, especially Impressionist painters, for centuries. The impressive Fontainebleau Chateau, with its perfectly symmetrical Royal Gardens, promises to be a highlight, while dining encapsulates the essence of French cooking: regional specialities include classic dishes such as boeuf bourguinon and coq au vin.

  7. Champagne and Paris by Bike & Barge Tour

  8. View over the Marne Valley, Champagne region

     

    EU law reserves the term ‘champagne’ exclusively for wines that come from this region, located about 160 kilometres east of Paris. The high altitude and average annual temperature of 10°C create a difficult environment for wine grapes to fully ripen, however it is these cool temperatures that produce the high levels of acidity in the resulting grape, which make it ideal for sparkling wine. By the time you reach the champagne region’s capital, Épernay, home to many famous producers including Moët & Chandon, Pol Roger and Perrier-Jouët, and end point for this journey, you will have sampled the delicious brie cheese of Meaux, passed many grapevines and villages, and visited Château-Thierry, the scene of major battles in Napoleonic Wars and World War I. 

  9. Lyon and Provence Bike & Boat Tour

  10. MS Provence in Lyon

    As one of France’s major trading routes, the Rhône has a significant place in French history with its cultural and architectural legacy still to be found in many places along the river. From the culinary capital of Lyon and on to Arles, where Van Gogh once painted, you cycle along dedicated bike paths past fragrant orchards and splendid cathedrals, explore typical Provençal villages, admire historic relics dating back to the Roman times and sample wines from the Côtes du Rhône vineyards!

  11. The Lorraine by Bike and Barge Tour

  12. Cyclists on a quiet road between Metz and Frouard in the Lorraine region of France

    Starting in Luxembourg, this relaxed pace cycle is a perfect introduction to the delights of travelling by bike during the day and unwinding on the convivial barge at night. Cycle along dedicated bike paths between the Moselle and Meurthe rivers, investigate the cities of Nancy and Metz, enjoy the wines of Nennig and picnic lunches in secret locations! 

  13. Mainz to Strasbourg Bike and Barge Tour

  14. Arkona barge used on our Rhine bike and boat holidays

    On this trip the Upper Rhine, between Strasbourg in France and Mainz in Germany, is travelled by comfortable barge and along designated cycle ways on your bike. Crossing between France and Germany as you make your way between the cities, visit the Alsace wine and Black Forest regions. Pass by beautiful churches and Baroque castles, scenic towns with half timbered medieval houses such as Speyer and Strasbourg and sample delicious cheeses and traditional wines.

  15. Paris to Bruges Bike and Barge Tour

  16. Explore the old town of Ghent on an active holiday with UTracks

     

    The highlights of France and Belgium are uncovered on the Paris to Bruges Bike and Barge cycling tour. On this superb bike and barge tour you'll experience 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.


 

>> Browse our full range of bike and barge tours in France. 

>> View all of UTracks' bike and boat tours in Europe.

>> Join UTracks' Active Travel Community.

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