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Bruges-Paris 15-day Bike & Barge Tour (FLR)
The starting point for this tour is in probably, the most beautiful of the historical Flemish cities -Bruges. From Bruges you will bike across the pleasant countryside of Western Flanders to Ghent. Here you'll breathe in the atmosphere of the old days in the town centre with its impressive Belfort and the St. Baafs-Cathedral. Next, you’ll visit Oudenaarde where you’ll find flamboyant gothic architecture, timeless tapestries, some of the best brewed beers and areas where French, Spanish and World Wars have been fought. You’ll also visit Tournai, which was once an important cathedral city for the pilgrims during the Middle Ages.
Once in France, you’ll still follow the Schelde River while cruising the wonderful old canal of St. Quentin. You will pass through the tunnel of Riqueval to the historical city of St. Quentin where the gothic basilica and the town hall are well worth a visit. Later you’ll journey through the valley of the Somme - a battlefield in WWI, in a southern direction to Compiegne. From the middle Ages on, this part of France used to be the centre of the French kingdom. You’ll follow the valley of the river Oise with its varied scenery and arrive at Conflans. Here the Oise River flows into the Seine and the boat follows this river upstream into the direction of Paris. You will sail the Seine river right through Paris, along the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum to our mooring dock in the centre of Paris.
On request: e-bike rental, special diets. single cabins
Return to Bruges: there is a good train connection between these two cities.
Slow Tours offers other Bike & Barge tours in Europe
Bruges (18 km/11 mi.)
Embarkation and check-in is between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. in the center of Bruges. After a welcome by the crew there is time for bicycle fitting and a short test-ride. After dinner the tour leader will take you for a walk through the center of town. We advise you to come to Bruges one or more days earlier, so that you will have plenty of time to discover this interesting city. Bruges, also called “Pearl of Flanders”, is probably the most beautiful of all Flemish cities. Its old centre, which dates from the middle Ages, is almost completely intact. In that period Bruges was a metropolis and – after Paris – the 2nd largest city of Europe, a centre for trade and art, which you can still enjoy.
Bruges – Aalterbrug Aalterbrug – Ghent (37 km/23 mi. or 45 km/28 mi.)
After breakfast you’ll start cycling, zigzagging through charming woodland and pasture. Halfway along the canal between Bruges and Ghent your barge will be waiting for you. Once everyone is onboard the anchor will be lifted to continue by barge to Ghent. In the evening you can make a nice tour through the historical center of Ghent with a small canal boat. Ghent is a lively university city, also with a rich past. The city has its origins in Roman times, at the confluence of the rivers Leie and Scheldt. This favorable site resulted in great prosperity over the years, which had its peak late 13th, early 14th century. Textile manufacturing brought great wealth. In the city center many old patrician houses have been preserved. In the Clothmakers’ Hall (1425) textile merchants used to meet. Ghent’s major church is St. Baafs’ Cathedral, built in various ages and in various styles. In the cathedral you can admire a number of masterpieces of medieval painting, of which the “Adoration of the Lamb” by Jan van Eyck is the most famous.
Ghent – Oudenaarde (41 km/26 mi.)
This morning you will cycle back into downtown Ghent, where you will have some more time to enjoy the buzz and beauty of this historical city center. In the late morning you will hop on your bicycles again, onwards to Oudenaarde. Oudenaarde is a small town, which was situated on the border of the French German Empire, so the town was the involuntary witness (and victim) of many wars. Because it was often in the firing line, there was always someone on the lookout. The statue of most famous watchman, “Hanske de Krijger”, still stands on the magnificent town hall which was built in the first half of the 16th century and is one of the most beautiful in Flanders. Style is Brabant late Gothic, material is sandstone from Balegem. Oudenaarde is also known as the town of tapestry weavers. The tapestries became famous all over the world. Before reaching Oudenaarde you will visit an interesting archaeological site (of an old Abbey) Ename which is located at the eastside of the river Scheldt.
Oudenaarde – Doornik (Tournai) (41 km/26 mi. or 47 km/29 mi.)
Before leaving Oudenaarde, there is a guided visit to the beautiful town hall. After that you will follow the river Scheldt upstream and cross the linguistic frontier, thus arriving in the Wallonia region. From now on people speak French and villages, towns, and cities have French names. Today’s destination is Doornik or (in French) Tournai, one of the oldest towns of Belgium. Doornik was under French government until the early 17th century. Just like 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 centre of town has been very successful. The Notre Dame Cathedral (12th and 13th century) is definitely worth seeing. Also the Belfort, built around 1200, is definitely worth a visit.
Doornik (Tournai) – Bleharies Bleharies – Pont Malin (38 km/23 mi. or 53 km/32 mi.
During breakfast the barge cruises into the direction of the Belgian-French border, through the so called “white land”, where (white) limestone had been quarried since Roman times. Around the village of Bleharies at the border, you will start today’s bicycle ride. Immediately after the border the routes split. The shorter tour will go through forest areas and includes a visit to the town of St.Amand-Les-Eaux. The longer tour goes through more open land, through tiny mining towns towards Lewarde, where a mining museum can be visited. Spend the night at the great lock of Pont Malin. The barge is no longer cruising the river Scheldt, but a large canal, which leads to Dunkirk in the end. This part of the region is characterized by metal industry.
Pont Malin – Thun l’Évêque Thun l’Évêque – Honnecourt (31 km/20 mi. or 59 km/37mi.)
The barge leaves the large canal during breakfast and will from now on follow the Canal de St.Quentin. Here the barge is in her natural environment and for the first time during this tour the sizes of the locks are just right for her. The small canal breathes peace and quietness with memories of a rich shipping history. Coals from the mines needed to be transported to the north, so Napoleon decided to construct the canal in 1801. At Thun l’Évêque you will start cycling to the city of Cambrai, once a Roman provincial capital and an important destination for pilgrims. Worth seeing are the impressive restored buildings of the city fortress, built under King Charles V. After this, cycle on to Marcoing and from there you will follow the valley of the Scheldt (l’Escaut in French). You will pass the ancient abbey of Vaucelles until you reach your destination Honnecourt.
Honnecourt – tunnel of Riqueval tunnel of Riqueval – St. Quentin (30 km/19 mi. or 66 km/41 mi.)
The Canal de St. Quentin was constructed during the government of Napoleon. The canal traverses an area with large differences in height, therefore it was necessary to build some tunnels. The longest one is the tunnel of Riqueval, which is 5,670 meters (3.5 miles) long. Today your barge will sail through this tunnel. As in former years, ships are still pulled through the tunnel in two hours by an electrically driven towboat. Above the tunnel is the watershed between rivers Escaut (Scheldt) and Somme. From there the barge goes downhill again in the direction of St.Quentin. In case you choose today’s long option, you will disembark before the tunnel to start a long day of cycling with – half way – a visit to the impressive museum of WWI in Péronne. The short option will start either before or after the tunnel. Final destination of today is St. Quentin where you will spend the day. St.Quentin was founded in the 2nd century on a junction of Roman roads. This lively provincial capital of the Aisne flourished as a destination for pilgrims around the grave of St.Quentin. The Gothic basilica was built between 1230 and the 15th century and has a unique double transept and windows from the 13th and 14th century. The Town Hall is a jewel from the 16th century, with a splendid façade in flamboyant Gothic style.
Today your barge will stay in St.Quentin. If there is enough interest you can participate in a day excursion by bus to the battlefields of World War I in the Somme valley. But it is also possible to use the day to explore the city of St.Quentin and for shopping. Today there is no dinner on board.You can select one of the French restaurants of St. Quentin.
St. Quentin – Castres Castres – Chauny (34 km/21 mi. or 48 km/30 mi.)
During breakfast your barge sails southwest into the valley of the Somme river. The cycling tour goes through the Somme region, a quiet countryside with small villages, to Ham. The barge continues over the old canal of St. Quentin to Chauny, where you will spend the night.
Chauny – Bretigny Bretigny – Compiègne (48 km/29 mi. or 52 km/33 mi.)
From Chauny you will set course for Compiègne. In the morning you will spend some time in Noyon where you can visit one of the oldest Cathedrals of the country. The cycling tour goes through the forest of Ourscamp and you will cross the river Aisne, where the forest of Compiègnebegins. Here at “Clairière de l’Armistice”, French and German generals signed a Treaty to end World War I. You can visit the small but interesting museum that tells the story. Soon after, you will arrive at Compiègne. The town owes its magnificent buildings to the proximity of Paris and the great forests where the French kings loved to stay and hunt. The gardens of the Chateau de Compiègne are definitely worth a visit.
Compiègne – Creil (45 km/27 mi. or 60 km/37 mi.)
Today you will start your cycling tour through the forest south of Compiègne, after which you follow the valley of the Oise river downstream into the direction of Creil. The long tour will add a loop, and include the little town of Pierrefonds, where you can admire the exterior of the “Disney-like” castle with the same name. Right before Pont Ste. Maxence we will 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 – here was one of the few bridges to cross the Oise river. It became a place to spend the night for merchants and kings, who were on their way between Paris and the cities in Flanders.
Creil – Beaumont – Auvers-sur-Oise (42 km/27 mi. or 57 km/35 mi.)
You will start cycling from Creil towards the famous castle of Chantilly, also known for the horse racing circuit and royal stables. After the visit you continue through a forest passing the abbey of Royaumont. Short option is to be picked up by the barge at Beaumont. The long option will cross the river Oise and follow the river to Auvers 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. You can visit Vincent’s grave during an evening walk. This region was very popular among impressionist painters.
Auvers-sur-Oise – Paris (Bougival) (39 km/24 mi.)
After your arrival in Auvers late yesterday, you can spend some time in Auvers to search for“the soul of Van Gogh”. Then, full of impressionist impressions, you will cycle in the direction of the capital of Light. There is time for lunch at Conflans Sainte Honorine, where the Oise and Seine rivers merge. Conflans has been an important shipping centre in Northern France since the19th century. In the afternoon you will cycle up to the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, from where you have a splendid view over Paris. After that you will continue along the river to Bougival where you will spend the night.
Paris (Bougival) – Paris
Today the barge will finally cruise the Seine, upstream into Paris. It is not far in a straight line, but the Seine makes a number of large meanders here. You will cruise right through the center of Paris. You can spend the rest of the day as you like. You can explore the city by subway, or by a bus that takes you along all the sights.
End of your tour: Disembarkation after breakfast until 9.30 a.m.
Tours marked with are special prices.
|Start||End||Max. No. Guests||Accommodation||Price p.p.|
|May 16 2020||May 30 2020||20||Single rooms||3,659€|
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