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Paris-Bruges 15-day Bike & Barge Tour (FLR)
Your tour starts not far from Notre Dame, in the famous capital of France - Paris. You will follow the Seine River downstream passing the Louvre and the Eiffel tower into Conflans. From there, you'll cruise on through the Val d’Oise to Compiegne. A visit to the Palace of the French Kings is included in your tour. You’ll then follow a wonderful old canal to the historical city of St. Quentin. Make sure you visit the Gothic basilica (church) and the town while you are there. Next, you'll sail through the tunnel of Riqueval and head for Belgium. You’ll visit Doornik, once an important halting-place for travelling pilgrims and Oudenaarde – a well-known centre for tapestry production. Many tapestries are housed in Oudenaarde’s flamboyant, Gothic style town hall. Another important highlight on the tour is a visit to Ghent with its imposing Belfort and the St. Baafs Cathedral.Your final destination is Bruges, probably the most beautiful of all historical Flemish cities made famous for its hand-made lace. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of days gone by!
If you would like to rent a bike or e-bike, please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
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.
Not all mentioned highlights can be visited during the short cycling option.
In case you prefer a day of rest, you can skip the bike tour and relax on board while cruising to the next town.
On the arrival day is it possible to bring your luggage on board from 11 am.
Slow Tours offers a number of other Bike & Barge Tours in Europe
Paris – Paris (Bougival)
Embarkation and check-in at 2 p.m. in the center of Paris. After a welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader the barge will sail right through the city. Mooring place for the night is in a suburb of Paris. After a sailing dinner there is time for a short walk.
We advise you to come to Paris one or more days earlier, so that you will have plenty of time to discover this interesting city.
Paris (Bougival) – Auvers-sur-Oise (38 km/23 mi.)
From the starting point Bougival you cycle alongside the Seine to St. Germain-en-Laye, where you will climb the plateau on top of which you will find a palace and gardens. Here you have a splendid view over Paris. Later you pass Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, where the Oise and the Seine merge. From the 19th century Conflans has been an important center of navigation in Northern France. Your destination is Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent the last days of his life and where he and his brother are buried in the local cemetery. This region was loved by many impressionist painters. After dinner an evening walk to the van Gogh cemetery.
Auvers-sur-Oise – Beaumont | Beaumont – Creil (42 km/26 mi.)
Sailing breakfast to Beaumont. Starting in Beaumont, you follow the Oise upstream. On your bicycles you pass the abbey of Royaumont and soon thereafter you arrive in Chantilly, with its famous castle. The castle is also well known for the horse-racing circuit and royal stables. Today’s destination is Creil, a country town, which in the 19th century was famous for its fine pottery.
Creil – Pont-Ste-Maxence | Pont-Ste-Maxence – Compiègne (33 km/21mi. or 48 km/29 mi.)
During breakfast you sail to Pont-St-Maxence. This town owes its name to the fact that in very olden times there already was a bridge over the Oise and so Pont-St-Maxence became the place to stay the night for kings and merchants who were on their way to Flanders. From here your biking tour starts. Not far from here you pass the abbey of Moncel, which in 1309 was founded by King Philips le Bel. Before you reach your destination Compiègne, you cycle through the forest named after this town “Forêt de Compiègne”. French kings loved to hunt here. The longer route ads some more miles of forest and also the little town of Pierrefond, where you can admire the exterior of the impressive castle. Compiègne owes its architectural wealth to the proximity of Paris. The gardens of the Chateau de Compiègne are definitely worth a visit.
Compiègne – Pont l’Évêque | Pont l’Évêque – Chauny (41 km/26 mi.)
Today you and the barge will leave the Oise River, to continue the trip by using the canal system that connects France and Belgium. In the morning you cycle into the most northern part of the forest of Compiègne. Here you will visit the “Clairière de l’Armistice”, the place where the French and German generals signed the Treaty to end World War I. You can have a look into the small but interesting museum. Thereafter you will cross the river Aisne and cycle through the forest of Ourscamp. In the afternoon you will spend some time in Noyon, where you can visit one of the oldest Cathedrals of the country. After your visit you will cycle back to the canal at Pont l’Eveque, where the ship will be waiting for you. Time to relax on the front deck while cruising to Chauny.
Chauny – St. Quentin (41 km/25mi. or 54 km/34 mi.)
Today the barge will continue the cruise on the old Canal of St.-Quentin, a beautiful old canal with many locks. The canal still breathes peace and quietness and reminds of a rich shipping history. Coals from the mines needed to be transported to the south, so Napoleon decided to construct the canal in 1801. The cycling leads you through the Somme-region, quiet countryside with small villages. Today’s destination is St. Quentin. St. Quentin arose in the 2nd century on a junction of Roman roads. The 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. The Town Hall is a jewel from the 16th century, with a splendid façade in flamboyant Gothic style.
Today the 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 for exploring the city of St. Quentin and for shopping. Today there will be no dinner on board: you can select one of the many restaurants of St. Quentin.
St. Quentin – tunnel of Riqueval – Honnecourt (36 km/23 mi. or 66 km/41 mi.)
The Canal de St. Quentin 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 the Fleur will sail through this tunnel. Like in former years, ships are still pulled through the tunnel in two hours by an electrically driven towboat. At The northern end of the tunnel is the watershed between rivers Somme and Escaut (French name of the Scheldt). At the tunnel is a little museum. You will spend the night in a little village called Honnecourt.
Honnecourt – Cambrai – Pont Malin (39 km/24 mi. or 58 km/37 mi.)
Today you will continue your trip along the old Canal de St. Quentin. In the morning you will pass the ancient abbey of Vaucelles. Your first stop will be in Cambrai, once a roman provincial capital and an important destination for pilgrims. First in 1677 Cambrai became French. Worth seeing are the impressive restored buildings of the city fortress, built under Charles V, the old city gate that dates from 1300, the so called “Spanish House” and the cathedral next to it. In the afternoon we will leave the old Canal de St. Quentin to continue on the Canal du Grand Gabarit to Pont Malin, where we will spend the night.
Pont Malin – Doornik (Tournai) (43 km/26 mi. or 57 km/36 mi.)
Today the barge follows the Canal du Grand Gabarit for a few hours, passing through a former industrial area of northern France. Ancient coal mines and steel sites border the canal. You will start your ride in Denain and will cross the border soon. Once in Belgium you cycle through the so-called “white land”. The charming little fortress town Antoing lies at the heart of this region and since the Roman times (white) limestone has been mined here. Today’s destination is Doornik (in French: Tournai), one of the oldest cities of Belgium. Now you are in Wallonia, French speaking Belgium, where all towns and villages have both a French and a Flemish name. Up till the beginning of the 17th century Doornik was ruled by the French. Here, tapestry weaving gained in importance, while the cloth industry became less important. In the various museums of the town, excellent examples can be seen. In 1940 the entire city center was destroyed after a German air-raid. However, the town has been renovated splendidly. Especially the Cathedral de Notre Dame (12th and 13th century) is worth seeing, as well as the Belfort, which was built at about 1200.
Doornik (Tournai) – Oudenaarde (41 km/26 mi. or 47 km/29 mi.)
Now the barge sails downstream the river Scheldt and after crossing the language barrier you enter the Flemish region. From here onwards Flemish is the spoken language. Your target today is Oudenaarde. In former days this little town was situated on the border of the French and German Empires and as a result it was involved in wars frequently. Since Oudenaarde was right in the firing-line, there was always someone on the look-out. The statue of the most famous watchman, “Hanske de Krijger”, is on the splendid city hall. In the first half of the 16th century this city hall was built of sandstone in Brabantine late Gothic style and it is one of the most beautiful city halls of Flanders. Oudenaarde is also known as the town of the tapestry weavers. Their tapestry is famous all over the world.
Oudenaarde – Ghent (41 km/26 mi.)
Shortly after starting your cycling tour at Oudenaarde you briefly stop at the ruins of the old abbey of Ename, located at the river Scheldt. You keep on following the river towards Ghent, your destination. Ghent is a lively university town with a rich history. The town arose in Roman days on the confluence of the rivers Leie and Schelde. This favorable location brought on quite some wealth with a peak in the late 13th and early 14th century. The cloth industry was a source of great richness in the late Middle Ages. In the city many patrician residences have been preserved. In the “Lakenhal” – Cloth Hall – (1425) the cloth traders gathered. The most important church is St. Baafs cathedral, which was constructed in different centuries and in different styles. In the cathedral several masterpieces of medieval painting are to be found. “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by Jan van Eyck is the most famous of all. You may wish to take a city tour by boat or visit the old castle Gravensteen.
Ghent – Aalterbrug | Aalterbrug – Bruges (30 km/18 mi. or 40 km/24 mi.)
While enjoying breakfast you will cruise the Canal Ghent – Bruges to Aalterbrug. Here you will start your cycling tour. Today your cycling tour goes through the pleasant flat country side of Western Flanders to Bruges. Bruges, also called “Venice of the North”, is said to be the most beautiful of all Flemish cities. Its old center, which dates from the Middle Ages, is almost completely intact. In past ages, Bruges was a metropole, center of trade and art, which you can still fully enjoy.
Bruges (22 km/13 mi. or 40 km/24 mi.)
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.
End of your tour: Disembarkation after breakfast until 9.30 a.m
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
Shows in English in Paris: Paris offers a wide variety of shows accessible to English-speakers. One-man shows, classic & modern theatre, musicals, cabarets and more are all performed in the city every night. You can get the full programme of shows in Paris to fit your city break dates by emailing [email protected]