As Told by Our Guests...

The welcome we received and everything on board was perfect

Pauline Taplin, Hampshire, UK

This is a treasure that most people don’t know about

Denise Thorson , New Jersey, USA

Everbody should do this at least once in their life

Charles Baertl, Texas USA

For a very special occasion this is the place to be

John Thorson, New Jersey, USA


Where In France We Cruise

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Known as the home of the luxury hotel barge holiday, France’s Burgundy region, located right in the heart of the country, is one of the most popular places in Europe when it comes to cruising. Home to world-famous fine wines and well known for its annual wine auction, Burgundy is the perfect destination if you are a lover of the good stuff.

For sun-seekers, France’s stunning UNESCO world heritage site Canal du Midi in the south of France is a delight. Cruising these waters, you will find yourself soaking up the relaxed vibe and winding down as you meander through the tranquil countryside past almost forgotten villages and ancient Roman ruins in abundance.

West of here is Gascony, with its famous French waterways of Canal des Deux Mers. As you travel through the majestic L’Occitanie, it’s hard not to be captivated by the rainbow of colours and a heady melange of floral scents emanating from the endless orchards and vineyards that greet you around every corner.

Food and wine go hand in hand here, and one is rarely seen without the other. Bordeaux exemplifies this, and a visit highlights this intrinsic part of French culture.

Ah… and then we come to the majestic Loire Valley, with its serene landscape punctuated by glorious chateaux and their fairy tale turrets. This region is another wonderful option and the country is epitomized in the very essence of the Loire and we are very pleased to say that we offer the only barge trip along the region’s sublime River Cher; a stunning waterway bordered by some of the most magnificent Renaissance architecture in the country.

Champagne is an equally stunning location and has much to offer the discerning lover of barge cruises. France’s sparkling wine capital lies east of Paris and is distinguished by its patchwork of vineyards that spread across the rolling hills in all directions. Emanating a historical story from every tiny village and grand chateau, the region boasts a number of iconic landmarks, including cathedrals, chateaux, and more.

If uniqueness is what you’re seeking on your French canal boat holiday, head to Alsace & Lorraine on the eastern border with Germany. This area is proud of its fusion of cultures, the mix of Baroque and Romanesque architecture, diverse culinary accolades, and its interesting production of wines. If you enjoy ‘off-the-beaten-track locations, this could be the cruise region for you.

More Destinations

With around 2700 miles of magical inland waterways, including 750 miles of canals you are in for a truly unforgettable luxury barge holiday in the canals of France. Barge cruises offer a more serene and relaxing alternative to discovering a country. As well as these stunning regions we do also visit some of the other iconic and beautiful destinations of France.


Paris, also known as ‘The City of Lights’ is undoubtedly one of the most romantic cities in the world. The country’s capital is steeped in history and culture. To most visitors, it is a must-visit when in France. Paris has so much to offer, ensuring that you always have an action-packed itinerary when exploring the city.

A number of our phenomenal barge cruises navigate the beautiful waterways of the capital. There is truly no better way to see the city as you pass close to the towering Eiffel Tower and the historic Notre Dame, all from the comfort and luxury of your barge.


The region of Picardy has for centuries been at the centre of Europe. The stunning and vast farmlands have throughout time brought prosperity as well as conflict to the region. This is reflected in its history of gothic art and architecture. Among the stunning architecture is six glorious cathedrals, with the most famous being the UNESCO world heritage listed Cathedral Church at Amiens.

The battlefields of the region have truly left their mark on the landscape with memorials, cemeteries, and preserved features still visible today and you will get the chance to explore them all as you walk the towpaths. Each year in late spring Hotel Barge La Nouvelle Etoile cruises the fascinating region between Paris and Belgium.

The Hotel Barging Experience

We really want to bring Europe’s finest assets to you on your barge holiday in France, including history, culture, scenery and more. Our excursions include a six night stay aboard a luxury vessel, all gourmet meals, wonderfully paired wines, an open bar, transfers locally and complimentary use of bikes so that you can stretch your legs on the tow paths. You can also look forward to an extensive deck for sunbathing, and even a spa pool for those days when you just need to cool off. Daily excursions include visits to wineries, castles, markets and other out of the way places.

Comfort, character and charm

Each vessel is beautifully furnished with its own unique style and carefully chosen artworks that reflect its personal history, but never at the expense of a supreme level of comfort. One of our finest barges is the Spirit of Scotland, a vessel that exudes a regal air and, adorned with tartan upholstery, it evokes images of a grand Highland hotel. Renaissance, on the other hand, with its wooden beams and a saloon lounge, is a favourite in the fleet used on our French barge holidays. France’s finest manor houses come to mind when you enter this beautiful boat.

We have a stunning range of boats to suit all styles. They are full of character and, whether you prefer spacious and airy or grand and elegant, we can accommodate you.

Onboard, we provide a true home from home. A well-stocked library offers the perfect respite if you want to kick back and immerse yourself in a book for a while, and every vessel provides a range of board games as well. Wi-Fi comes as standard and the open bar never closes; you can help yourself to drinks or ask a member of the crew to give you a hand.

Multi Generational Cruises

Multi Generational Cruises - Family Picnic

With capacity for between 6 and 20 passengers, a private hotel barge charter is perfect for a multi generational getaway

A Home Away from Home


All hotel barges in the fleet benefit from an annual refurbishment and this may vary from redecoration and refurnishing of the...

Enriching Excursions


Every hotel barge cruise includes daily excursions to some fascinating local places of interest - châteaux, Cathar hilltop...

Insider Experiences

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These experiences form the heart of a European Waterways cruise; spontaneous, unique adventures that just couldn't be had anywhere else

Hotel Barging Experience

Barging Experience

Far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life, hotel barge voyages allow you to travel in luxury without the strains of...

Outstanding Service


Crews are mainly British or French and they all speak English, so there is no need to worry about a language barrier when they are...

A Gastronomic Experience


The classic traditions of French and International cuisine are an unforgettable highlight of your cruise. The onboard chefs are...

Themed Charter Cruises


We can arrange a wide selection of themed charter cruises which will appeal to all types of interest groups, large or small...

Family & Friends Cruises

Family Cruise

Families or groups of friends can charter any of the hotel barges. You will have the whole vessel to yourselves and she becomes a...

Barging & Biking

Spirit Of Scotland Biking

We know that many of our passengers enjoy taking some exercise during their hotel barge cruise, so each vessel carries...

Shopping & Markets

Wonderful Local cheeses

Even if you are not normally a lover of shopping, the vast array of fascinating shops and markets you can discover on one of our...

Wine & Whisky Tours

Wine Banner

Many of our cruises are through some of the best wine- growing regions of France, such as Burgundy, Bordeaux...

Our Exclusive Collection Of Hotel Barges

Our 13 luxury vessels that navigate the French waterways accommodate between 6 and 12 passengers and pass through areas from Alsace to The Midi. When it comes to us selecting the best routes for our cruises, the beauty of the vast French landscape makes it easy. We selected our absolute favourite routes so that we know that you, our customer, will have a truly unforgettable experience.

Each vessel is beautifully furnished with its own unique style and carefully chosen artworks that reflect its personal history, but never at the expense of a supreme level of comfort. Renaissance, with its wooden beams and a saloon lounge, is a favourite in the fleet used on our French barge holidays. France’s finest manor houses come to mind when you enter this beautiful boat.

A vast majority of our vessels are under our ownership, however, the ones that are not are owned by reputable operators that share the same desire as us to offer the highest quality and standards. As you glide along the wonderful waterways you will be surrounded by bucolic landscapes, beautiful towns, and iconic scenery.

Over the course of your expeditions, you will experience unbelievable excursions, organised by your tour guides. While you are out enjoying the beauty of France, our crew back on board will be freshening up your cabins as the chef prepares your delicious dinner for the night.

La Belle Epoque

La Belle Epoque - Cruising - 490

La Belle Epoque is a deluxe, 12 passenger hotel barge that cruises the picturesque Burgundy Canal in Northern Burgundy


The Ultra-Deluxe hotel barge Finesse

Finesse is an ultra deluxe, 8 passenger hotel barge that cruises the River Saône and Canal du Centre in Southern Burgundy

Kir Royale

Hotel barge Kir Royale cruising Champagne

Kir Royale is a ultra deluxe, 8 passenger hotel barge that cruises the renowned Champagne region of France

L’Art de Vivre

L’Art de Vivre is a first class, 8 passenger hotel barge that cruises the charming Canal du Nivernais and River Yonne in Burgundy

Themed Cruises

We offer a huge number of themed cruises that you can take part in upon chartering out the full vessel. France is one of the popular destinations in Europe when it comes to themed cruises, this is because there are so many activities that incorporate the country’s stunning history, culture, and beauty. We are also open to options; should a whole boat charter enquire about a themed cruise, we will do what we can to make it happen. You can choose from one of our many phenomenal themed charter cruises that have been satisfying our customers for decades.

Wine Appreciation Cruises

It is no secret as to why these themed cruises are so popular, France truly is Europe’s home of fine wine. Over the course of the private charter, you will experience private tastings at some of the country’s most exclusive and prestigious vineyards. During your visit to these vineyards you will be accompanied by experts who will provide information on the grapes, cultivation and history of the wineries.

Tasting the carefully selected fine Burgundies wines, including Nuits St-Georges, Santenay, and Vosne Romanée, in the places in which they were produced truly helps you to fully immerse yourself in the wine tasting experience.

The Vouvray and Touraine wines of the Loire have been made for centuries by generations of local Chateau owners, and on the Loire Valley wine cruise you will be introduced to both. In glorious Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon, the vintage wines are lighter and fruitier, but no less exquisite. While the crisp whites of Alsace are the perfect complement to the delightful scenery of the Route des Grands Crus. Tour guides often buy a few bottles for you to enjoy onboard over dinner too.

Walking Cruises

Walking trips offer you a whole new way to see and experience the truly unique and enchanting scenery that France has to offer. The walking cruises allow you to explore the country at your own pace and offer you a luxurious barge to come back to that will have you in a whole new beautiful location that you can explore by the time you wake up the next morning.

Golf Cruises

Golf Chateau de Taniay, Domaine du Roncemay, Chateau de Avoise and Golf de Beaune Livernois are some of the most exclusive golf courses in Europe. Over the course of our private golf cruise in France, you will have the opportunity to play at these stunning courses and more. We will arrange the tee times around you and make sure that you get the chance to enjoy all of the other unforgettable moments that the cruise will provide.

Tandem Barge Cruises

Do you have lots of friends or an extended family group? Or perhaps you want to book for your wine club or golfing mates but have too many people to fit the number of cabins. As long as you plan in advance and choose one of our selected routes, we can offer tandem trips. These allow for up to 20 passengers across two boats and can be lots of fun. As you cruise alongside each other, you can look forward to two chefs bringing their menus together to create daily four-course feasts and the crew organising cocktail parties. Your group is required to do nothing but sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Other Charter Ideas

Other themed cruises can also be arranged with special itineraries, from Art Cruises on the Midi, to Flower Show Cruises on the Royal River Thames in England and Opera Cruises in Italy.

Garden Cruises

Our dedicated garden cruises include visits to some of the best gardens, estates and parklands in Europe

Christmas Markets

We offer a Christmas Markets cruise aboard hotel barge Panache in Alsace, with a special itinerary filled with twinkling lights, brass bands, and the sweet aromas of mulled wine and gingerbread from quaint little chalet-like stalls

Whisky Cruises

We offer a Whisky cruise aboard hotel barge Scottish Highlander along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness, with a special itinerary that allows...

Walking Cruises

The beauty of hotel barging and walking is that two of the most relaxing holidays possible are merged to give you the best of both worlds

Verified Reviews

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Video Feed

We uploaded our first video in 2010 and since then we have added over 100 hotel barging videos and received over 1,000,000 views on YouTube. We hope you enjoyed watching our videos…

A Tour of Dijon

Dijon is a modern, growing city with a well-designed boat harbor. It is the center of Côte d’Or and was the ancient capital of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Luxury Barge Cruises in Burgundy

La Belle Epoque is a spacious, luxurious hotel barge and sister ship to L’Impressionniste. Although she originally carried logs from Burgundy to Paris, she was skilfully converted into a delightful hotel barge. She is now the perfect vessel for cruising the Upper Burgundy Canal with its towpaths that are ideal for walking and cycling.

Beaune - The Capital of Burgundy Wine Country

We absorb the fascinating 15th century Hotel Dieu Hospice and visit a local winery’s cellars to sample some fine local wines

The Lock-Keeper Blog

The Lock-Keeper has gone viral! Every few weeks we will be blogging about the Hotel barging experience; From the history of our hotel barges to some of the off the beaten track excursions we visit. Intrigued? Then read on…

Spotlight on L’Art de Vivre: From War Barge to Hotel Barge in Burgundy

A historic barge with a fascinating past, now a luxury hotel barge cruising the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, offering stylish interiors, gourmet dining, and unforgettable excursions. Read More

Family Fun Afloat: Multi-Generational Family Cruises in Europe

A hotel barge cruise is a fantastic option for multi-generational families looking to enjoy a unique and relaxing escape together. With the entire barge privately chartered for your group, you... Read More

Discover Burgundy One Côte at a Time

Measuring more than 230km from north to south, the Burgundy wine region is as varied as it is beautiful, and our luxury hotel barges cruise through some of its most... Read More

In the Press

There have been many interesting and entertaining articles written by journalists and travel writers from across the globe about their journeys on our luxury hotel barge cruises.

Slow Travel of the Canal du Midi

On board, you can reach out and almost touch the passing scenery – the giant plane trees lining both sides of the canal, the vineyards, the fields dotted with red poppies, the stone farmhouses, the other barges and boats. Read More

Cruising France’s Canal du Midi aboard European Waterways’ Barge Anjodi

Was the trip about more than fine food and wine? Absolutely. Barge cruising is slow travel at its best, a chance to settle into the rhythms and textures of life along a French waterway from your very own floating boutique hotel. Read More

Anjodi Cruise Review

Barge cruising is the absolute antithesis of today’s 5,000-passenger cruise ship experiences. Read More

Frequently Asked Questions

Which canal is best for a barge holiday in France?

France is the home of luxury barge cruising, so it’s almost impossible to pick one as the best all-rounder. Depending on your interests, you may prefer a Burgundy Canal cruise, which takes you on a journey through some of France’s finest vineyards and châteaux. The UNESCO-listed Canal du Midi is possibly the most famous canal route for a French barge holiday, defined by its complete beauty.

The Canal du Midi offers favourable Mediterranean climes, making it a popular choice for a barge holiday in France . History buffs may prefer the Canal de Briare in the historic Loire Valley, affectionately known as ‘The Valley of the Kings’, the Canal de Garonne – a food lover’s idyll, or perhaps the Canal latéral à la Marne in the heart of the Champagne region, or the Canal de la Marne au Rhin for a unique blend of French and German cultures in Alsace-Lorraine.

Are France barge holidays a good way to see Paris?

Yes. A barge holiday in France is an excellent way to see any French city, including Paris. Many of our hotel barge cruises offer pick-up and drop-off in Paris, so you’ll have the opportunity to pass by the iconic Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame right from the private air-conditioned minibus en route to, or from your hotel barge.

France barge holidays provide a more relaxing way to combine Paris and the countryside beyond the city, allowing for a serene experience. Many people choose to further explore the stunning city before or after their cruise, which is why all passengers on our barge cruises in Burgundy are offered a free pick-up and drop-off service in Paris.

Which French barge holiday destination is the most unique?

The UNESCO-listed Canal du Midi in the southern region of France is over 340 years old and is renowned as a modern feat of civil engineering. It’s famed for being lined with plane trees along much of its 240+ kilometres between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, passing chocolate box villages, sun-drenched vineyards, pretty Mediterranean landscapes, and Cathar fortresses. This trip is ideal for anyone looking for a cruise that’s different to any other barge holiday in France.