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Bruges to Paris Bike and Barge Tour 15-days (ZW)
During this 15-day bike and 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 variation in landscapes and has all the ingredients a good tour needs to explore these interesting regions. The first stage in Belgium features highlights like magnificent Bruges as unbeatable start 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 battlefields 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 cycling tours go over gently forested undulations and across open farmland, along the rivers Scheldt, Somme, Oise and Seine; the Belgian-French border also appears to be more or less the watershed between the river basins of Scheldt and Seine.
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 (200 EUR) or e-bike (440 EUR), please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers other Bike & Barge tours in Europe
Check-in is at 2pm in the centre of Bruges. After a welcome meeting with the crew, there is time for a 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 the “Pearl of Flanders” is probably the most beautiful of all Flemish cities! Its old centre dates back from the Middle Ages is almost completely intact. In that period Bruges was a metropolis and – after Paris – the 2nd largest city of Europe. It was the centre of trade and art, which you can still fully enjoy.
Bruges - Aalterbrug | Aalterbrug - Ghent. 34km or 44km
After breakfast, you’ll start cycling. Zigzagging through charming woodland and pastures. Halfway between the canal of 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 take a beautiful tour through the historical centre of Ghent with a small canal boat. Ghent is a lively university city with a rich past. The city has its origins in Roman times, at the confluence of the rivers Leie and Scheldt. This favourable site resulted in great prosperity over the years, which had its peak in the late 13th, early 14th century. Textile manufacturing brought great wealth. In the city centre, many old patrician houses have been preserved. In the Cloth makers’ Hall (1425) textile merchants used to meet. Ghent’s major church is St. Baafs’ Cathedral, raised 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. 42km or 51km
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 centre. In the late morning you will hop on your bicycles once more and head towards 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 the most famous watchman, “Hanske de Krijger”, still stands on the magnificent town hall that was built in the first half of the 16th century and is one of the most beautiful in Flanders. Styled in 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 Oudenaar you will visit an interesting archaeological site (of an old Abbey) Ename which is located at the east side of the river Scheldt.
Oudenaarde - Doornik (Tournai) 42km
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 the French government until the early 17th century. Just like in Oudenaar, 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 renovations of the centre of town have been very successful. Especially the Notre Dame Cathedral (12th and 13th century) is worth seeing. Also the Belfort, built around 1200, is definitely worth a visit.
Doornik (Tournai) - Bleharies | Bleharies - Pont Malin | Pont Malin - Arleux. 41km or 53km
During breakfast the barge cruises into 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 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 36km or 54km
The barge leaves the large canal and will from now on follow 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 tour leads to the city of Cambrai, once a Roman provincial capital and an important destination for pilgrims. It is well worth seeing 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 39km or 52km
The Canal du Nord has 2 tunnels, where the barge has to sail through. The longest one is the tunnel of Ruyalcourt, which is 4,350 metres long. Today the barge will travel through this tunnel. Above the tunnel is the watershed between rivers Escaut (Scheldt) and Somme. From here the barge therefore goes downhill again into the direction of Péronne. After passing the tunnel you will continue cycling the valley of the river Somme through sparsely populated open and rolling landscapes. At the end of World 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. The barge will be moored just outside this charming town with its intimate square, church as well as a castle and the fascinating Grande Guerre museum. Today there is no dinner planned on board. You can select one of the many restaurants of Péronne to tantalize your senses.
Péronne - Épénancourt | Épénancourt - Noyon - Pont I'Évêque 39km or 48km
During breakfast, the barge will bring you 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 I'Évêque - Compiègne 36km or 48km
From Pont l’Évêque you will set course for Compiègne. Ride through the forest of Ourscamp and cross the river Aisne where the forest of Compiègne begins. Here at “Clairière de l’Armistice", French and German generals signed a Treaty to end World War 1. 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 not to be missed.
Compiègne - Pont - St - Maxence 45km or 55km
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. Right 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 between Flanders and Paris.
Pont-St-Maxence - Creil | Creil - Beaumont | Beaumont - Auvers-sur-Oise 42km or 57km
After a sailing breakfast start cycling out of Creil towards the precious and famous Castle of Chantilly, also known for the horse racing circuit, royal stables and its art gallery – the Musée Condé – that houses one of the finest collections of paintings in France. After the visit you continue through a magnificent 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 opportunity to visit Van Gogh’s grave at the local cemetery during a short evening stroll. This region was very popular among impressionist painters.
Auvers-sur-Oise - Paris (Bougival/Rueil) 42km or 46km
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 centre 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/Rueil) - 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 centre of Paris. Spend the rest of the day as you wish. You can explore the city subway, or take a bus roundtrip that takes you along all major sights.
End of your tour. Disembark after breakfast by 9.30am
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