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Paris to Bruges 15-day Bike and Barge Tour (FL)
During this 15 day bike and barge trip through the northern France and Flanders (Belgium), from Paris to Bruges, 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. 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. The final stage in Belgium features highlights like magnificent Bruges as the 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
This tasteful passenger barge with her sleek lines was built to fit the smaller locks, sluices and canals in France and has been cruising the French waters ever since. But don’t let her size fool you!. The barge can accommodate a maximum of 20 guests in the 10 comfortable cabins on the lower deck, each with private sanitary facilities, central heating and air-conditioning. On the upper deck there is a lounge with large windows, a roomy sitting area and bar, and outside a half-covered sun deck. Wonderful for a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of wine
If you would like to rent a bike (190 EUR) or e-bike (420 EUR), please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers other Bike & Barge tours in Europe
Paris – Bougival
Embarkation and check-in at 2pm in the centre 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 42km or 46km
After breakfast you will cycle along quiet towpaths along the river Seine to the higher situated St. Germain, the gardens of Le Nôtre provide a magnificent view across Paris. Next you will ride through a forest area to Conflans for a picnic on the pier amongst the terraces. After a short stop at the Pontoise Bridge, you continue cycling across the picturesque Chemin des Monts to the church of Auvers, famous for Van Gogh’s paintings. You will have the possibility to visit Van Gogh’s grave on the local cemetery during a short evening walk.
Auvers-sur-Oise – Beaumont | Beaumont – Creil | Creil – Pont-Ste- Maxence 43km
Sailing breakfast to Beaumont. Start your bike tour in Beaumont and follow the Oise River upstream. You will pass the abbey of Royaumont, one of the best-preserved abbeys from the 13th century. During the afternoon you will visit the splendid Chateau de Chantilly, a magnificent castle with horse dressage and art gallery – the bike tour ends in Creil, from where the ship will take you to the destination of today, Pont-Ste-Maxence.
Pont-Ste-Maxence – Compiègne 39km or 49km
The bike trip starts in Pont-st-Maxence. This town owes its name to the fact that in the Middle Ages here was one of the very few bridges over the Oise River. Therefore Pont-Ste-Maxence became the place to stay the night for kings and merchants, who were on their way to Flanders. Your biking tour starts from here. Not far you will pass the abbey of Moncel, which in 1309 was founded by King Philip le Bel. Before you reach your destination Compiègne, you will cycle through the forest named after this town “Forêt de Compiègne”. French kings loved to hunt here. The longer tour ads some more miles of forest and also the little town of Pierrefonds, 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 42km or 51 km
Today you leave the river Oise to continue your trip by way of the canal system connecting France and Belgium. In the morning you cycle into the most northern part of the forest of Compiègne. Here you 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 in the country. After your visit you will cycle back to the canal at Pont l’Évêque, where the barge will be waiting for you.
Pont I'Évêque 42km or 51km
Today you continue the cruise on and along 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 built to replace the older and smaller Canal de St. Quentin, constructed by Napoleon in 1801, to transport coal from the mines to the north. During breakfast, the barge will bring you to Haudival from where the cycling tour starts through gently rolling open countryside to the art deco town of Ham, along the river Somme and other picturesque villages to Péronne. The barge will be moored just outside this charming town with its intimate square and church as well as a castle and the fascinating Grande Guerre museum.
Day in Péronne
Today the barge will stay in Péronne. You have time to visit the museum, take some rest and do some shopping. Today there is no dinner on board. You can select one of the fine local restaurants.
Péronne - Ytres | Ytres - Moeuvres 40km or 52km
The first part of your cycling tour goes through the valley of the Somme River. Later you will continue through the sparsely populated open and rolling landscape to Ruyaulcourt. At the end of WW1, this area was the frontline of the battle around the Somme. 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. As soon as you are all back on board, the barge will pass through this tunnel. Above the tunnel is the watershed between the rivers Somme and Escaut (Scheldt). From there the barge therefore goes downhill into the direction of Arleux. Mooring is in Moeuvres, an outskirt of this town.
Moeuvres _ Arleux | Arleux - Pont Malin 37km or 54km
Your cycling tour 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. Then you will cycle through the marshlands of Chantraine to rural Arleux where the ship is waiting for you to sail to the lock of Pont Malin.
Pont Malin – Denain | Denain – Doornik (Tournai) 47km or 51km
Today the barge follows the Canal du Grand Gabarit for a few hours, passing through a former industrial area of northern France. Old coal mines and steel sites border the canal. You will start your bicycle ride in Denain. The tour goes through open farmland, through little mining towns towards the French Belgium border. Once in Belgium you will cycle through the so-called “white land”. The charming little fortress town Antoing lies at the heart of this region and since the Roman days, (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 centre was destroyed after a German air-raid. However, the town has been renovated splendidly. Especially the cathedral the Notre Dame (12th and 13th century) is worth seeing, as well as the Belfort, which was built at about 1200.
Doornik (Tournai) – Oudenaarde 41km or 43 km
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 41km
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 favourable 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 34km or 44km
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 countryside of Western Flanders to Bruges. Bruges, also called “Venice of the North” and is said to be the most beautiful of all Flemish cities. Its old centre, which dates from the Middle Ages, is almost completely intact. In past ages, Bruges was a metropole, centre of trade and art, which you can still fully enjoy.
Bruges 22km or 38km
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 9.30am.
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
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]