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Bruges-Paris 15-day Bike & Barge Tour (ZW)
During this 15 day bike & barge trip through Flanders (Belgium) and northern France, from Bruges to Paris, you will cycle through attractive areas, not yet discovered by mass tourism. This tour is characterized by a wide variety of landscapes and has all the ingredients a good bike & barge tour needs to explore these interesting regions. The first stage in Belgium features highlights like
magnificent Bruges as an unbeatable start of a beautiful discovery tour, history in medieval Ghent, tapestry in Oudenaarde, Vincent van Gogh’s heritage, a nice Belgium beer at end of your daily cycling tour. Highlights in France are World War I battle fields and memorials in the Somme valley, the Chateau de Chantilly and its art gallery the Musée Condé that houses one of the finest collections of paintings in France, and – last but not least – beautiful Paris, the “City of Lights”.
The barge is the classic ship of captain Martijn and his spouse Marjorie. On the lower deck are 12 cabins: 10 twins and 2 doubles. All
with a bathroom, a window (can open only in the double cabins) and individual air conditioning. On the main deck you can have a seat and a refreshing drink in the lounge corner of the cozy salon with its large panoramic windows. Or enjoy your breakfast and delicious three course dinner in the adjacent restaurant area. And with a little bit of sunshine you should take a seat on the sun deck.
If you would like to rent a bike or e-bike, please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Rental bicycle (incl. helmet and water bottle): €170 per period
Rental E-Bike (incl. helmet and water bottle): €370 per period (only on request, limited number of e-bikes available, early bookings strongly recommended.
Bikes are modern unisex bikes with 21 gears, an easy and low entry, two handbrakes, a lock and pannier bag. The E-Bike has hand breaks only, 3 gears and support levels, a lock and pannier bag. (limited available, only on request). Please note: Bicycle rental is optional. You can bring your own bike, but only after it has been previously registered and confirmed. Daily the crew brings your bike off and on board. Small scratches and damages on the bikes can’t be avoided. The crew nor the tour operator can be held responsible for that. The bicycle shed is covered. Please bring enough repair material/repair set with you. Children under 12 yrs. are obliged to wear a bike helmet
With 18 guests or more, the daily cycling tours will be accompanied by two knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leaders. On most days, the tour leaders will offer a long and a short (or a quicker and a more relaxed) cycling option. The option for a long tour is also depending on weather conditions and wishes of the group.
When there are less than 18 guests aboard, the tours will be accompanied by one knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leader. During days when two bicycle options are possible, the tour leader will make a choice to guide the longer or the shorter option after consultation of the group.
On the arrival day is it possible to bring your luggage on board from 11 am.
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 centre 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 – Arleux (47 km/29 mi.)
During breakfast the barge cruises in the direction of the Belgian-French border, through the so called “white land”, where (white) limestone has been quarried since Roman times. Around the village of Bleharies at the border, you will start today’s bicycle ride. The tour goes through open farmland, through little mining towns towards Lewarde, where a mining museum can be visited. You will spend the night in Arleux.
Arleux – Ruyalcourt (35 km/21 mi. or 51 km/31 mi)
The barge leaves the large canal and follows the Canal du Nord. The construction of this canal was already planned in 1903, but it took until 1966 to finish the works. It was constructed to replace the older and smaller Canal de St. Quentin, constructed by Napoleon in 1801, to transport coal from the mines to the north. Your cycling tours leads 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. Later you will cycle through the marshlands of Chantraine to rural Ruyaulcourt.
Ruyalcourt – Péronne (19 km/11 mi. or 45 km/27 mi.)
The Canal du Nord has 2 tunnels, which the barge has to sail through. The longest one is the tunnel of Ruyalcourt, which is 4,350 meters (2.7 miles) long. Today we sail through this tunnel. Above the tunnel is the watershed between rivers Escaut (Scheldt) and Somme. From here the barge goes downhill again in the direction of Péronne. 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 World War 1, this area was the frontline of the battle around the Somme. You will continue cycling to Péronne.
Today the barge will stay in Péronne, being moored just outside this charming town with its intimate square and church as well as a castle and the fascinating 'Grande Guerre' (Great War) museum. Today there is no dinner planned on board. You can select one of the many restaurants of Péronne.
Péronne – Épénancourt Épénancourt – Noyon – Pont l’Évêque (40 km/24 mi.or 50 km/31 mi.)
During breakfast the barge sails to the little village of Épénancourt. There you have to get on the bicycles in time for a long ride through gently rolling, open countryside to the art-deco town of Ham and along the river Somme and other picturesque villages. Destination is Noyon with its imposing cathedral.
Pont l’Évêque – Compiègne (33 km/21 mi. or 57 km/35 mi.)
From Pont l’Évêque you will set course for Compiègne. You will ride through the forest of Ourscamp and cross the river Aisne where the forest of Compiègne begins. Here, at “Clairière del’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 you will arrive at Compiègne. The town owes its magnificent buildings to the proximity of Paris and the great woods, 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 cycle first through the forest south of Compiègne, after which you will follow the valley of the Oise further downstream into the direction of Creil. The long tour will add a loop in order to include the little town of Pierrefonds, where you can admire the exterior of the “Disney-like” castle with the same name. Just before reaching Pont Ste. Maxence you 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 very few bridges over the Oise river. It became a place to spend the night for merchants and kings, who were on their way from Flanders and Paris.
Creil – Beaumont – Auvers-sur-Oise (42 km/27 mi. or 57 km/35 mi.)
You start cycling out of Creil towards the famous Castle of Chantilly, also known for the horse racing circuit and royal stables and for its art gallery – the Musée Condé –that houses one of the finest collections of paintings in France. After the visit you continue through a nice forest and pass the abbey of Royaumont. If you take the short option, you will 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 will have the possibility to visit Van Gogh’s grave in the local cemetery during a short evening walk. This region was very popular among impressionist painters.
Auvers-sur-Oise – Paris (Bougival) (39 km/24 mi.)
Since you arrived in Auvers late yesterday, you can first 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 center in Northern France since the 19th century. In the afternoon you will cycle up to the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye from where you will 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 finally cruises 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 take a bus roundtrip that takes you along all major sights.
End of your tour: Disembarkation after breakfast until 9.30 a.m.
Good to know:
With 18 guests or more, the daily cycling tours will be accompanied by two knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leaders. On most days, the tour leaders will offer a long and a short (or a quickerand a more relaxed) cycling option. The option for a long tour is also depending on weather conditions and wishes of the group.When there are less than 18 guests aboard, the tours will be accompanied by one knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leader. During days when two bicycle options are possible, the tour leader will make a choice to guide the longer or the shorter option after consultation of the group.Not all mentioned highlights can be visited during the short cycling option.
Tours marked with are special prices.
|Start||End||Max. No. Guests||Accommodation||Price p.p.|
|May 02 2020||May 16 2020||24||Single rooms||3,659€|
|Jul 25 2020||Aug 08 2020||24||Single rooms||3,659€|
If you would like to drive yourself before or after your tour, ask us for a quote on any brand new Renault, Peugeot or Citroen vehicle for driving in Europe.
Pick up your vehicle from most capital cities in Europe and return it to your drop off destination. Top insurance cover. Email [email protected] for a competitive quote