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Barge tour in France?

I heard Rick mention a barge tour in France at last night’s Monday night travel session. Also I saw a glimpse in the very short video on the website showing the barge ‘Papillion’ (sp?). I don’t see this listed in any of the itineraries for tours in France. Did I miss it? Or would this be a ‘My Way’ type of custom tour?

Thanks much,
Silverdale, WA

Posted by
1633 posts

Courtney, we took a barge cruise on the Savoy Truffle a couple of years ago. It was expensive but we just put it on the credit card. Nothing beats travelling on the river.

Posted by
1926 posts

Not sure if it's the "same" barge, but these folks rent a barge named Papillon. Generally, barges have 6-8 cabins, so a much smaller audience. A very leisurely paced ride!

But as BigMike notes, they can be very expensive. Our friends did a barge buy-out (which in essence became a custom tour). Then, they sent a note to friends inviting those willing to buy-in an opportunity to cruise the river. We wanted to go, but the $12,000 price tag was far more than my wife and I wanted to spend!

Posted by
20914 posts

Rick doesn't do any barge tours but barges are very popular on the canals and small rivers of France. Goggle barges and France -- you will get a lot of hits. Very wide range of types and services. And there are self drive barges where you do all the work. Our neighbor two summers ago took his small extended family on a barge with a captain and chef. Nice way to travel.

Posted by
7968 posts

One of Rick's France Tour Guides, Rebecca Berry, used to crew on barge tours. Maybe he'll do one and she'll lead it - she's fantastic!

Posted by
1038 posts

That clip of the Papillion is quite old, I think.
About 20 years ago one of Rick's guides was a part owner of that particular boat.
I remember his letting us know that renting it was very expensive.
I have no idea if this man is still connected. I did (a few years ago) google that boat out of curiosity but didn't come up with anything.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks all, for the replies!

I did find a number of them from a Google search and will definitely look into this. As well as signing up to be notified for some Rick Steves trips in France.


Posted by
4174 posts

This wasn’t a guided boat tour, and it wasn’t more expensive than if we’d been staying in a hotel and going to French museums instead, but back in 2003, we rented a boat and cruised in the Canal du Midi, in Provence. The company actually rented out British narrowboats, designed for canals in the U.K., and ours worked OK in France. It had a galley (kitchen), shower, dining area, beds, and the 3 of us were comfortable as we navigated up and down some of the canal. There was a strike when we were there, but we never made it to any canal locks that would’ve needed to be operated. Looking up the boat rental company just now, I see they’re permanently closed. They were operating a couple years ago, so that’s too bad. There may still be other options, if you wanted to captain your own barge, and it might not cost a captain’s ransom.

Posted by
359 posts

I charted with in 2015. I chose this company because they did not charge a single supplement. The barge has 2 single cabins.
It was quite a lot of fun. The food was glorious. The crew genial. Most days we had a side trip. The barge moves at a leisurely pace. There are bicycles for those that wish to ride along the canal.
These people are professionals. It was very well run.
It was not cheap. I think my tab was around $10,000 including airfare. You have to get yourself to Paris and the company picks you up there.
For anyone thinking of crewing their own boat, the Nivernais canal has a lot of locks!