Belgium Meets France: Bruges to Paris & Vice Versa via Bike and Barge

Guided 15 Days / 14 Nights

Travel a quaint rural landscape by bike and barge through northern France and Flanders. Discover small art-deco towns and exceptional historic towns like Oudennaarde and Ghent where renowned tapestries tell their history. Famous painters painters such as Van Eyck nad Van Gogh found their inspiration in towns like Auvers, Permeke and Bruges. Peddle past the remains of important abbeys at Royaumont, St Aramnd, view magnificent palaces of Chantilly, Compiegne and Bierancourt, and admire the castles in Pierrefonds and Peronne.

Highlights:

  • Paris and its monuments
  • Chateaux & gardens at Compiegne, Chantilly & Bierancourt
  • Clariere de l’Armistice where French and German signed the treaty to end WWl
  • Lively university town of Ghent
  • Bruges’ medieval town square, canals and waterways
  • Small group of 20 – 24 guests
  • Belgian beer!

 

Your Journey

Day 1

Arrive Bruges. Board your barge at 2 pm. Time to wander Bruges’ old centre, which dates from the Middle Ages and is almost completely intact.

Day 2 Bruges – Ghent (25 to 40 km)

During breakfast cruise as far as Beernem where you start biking across the pleasant countryside of western Flanders to the lively university town of Ghent and a major centre for cloth traders in the 13 and 14 centuries. This former wealth is evident in the many patrician residences, Lakenhalle (former trading centre) and St Baafs Cathedral.

Day 3 Ghent - Oudenaarde (25 to 45 km)

This morning cruise from Ghent on the River Bovenschelde to Oudenaarde, which in former days, was a French/German border town subject to much conflict. It is also known as the town of the tapestry weavers.

Day 4 Oudenaarde - Doornik (Tournai) (35 to 42 km)

Follow the River Scheldt upstream and cross from the Flemish speaking region into the Walloon region where French is spoken. Destination today is Doornik (in French: Tournai), one of the oldest cities of Belgium, that was destroyed by a German air-raid and has since been rebuilt especially the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Day 5 Doornik (Tournai) - Pont Malin (50 km)

During breakfast cruise to the French/Belgium border through the ‘white land’ to the charming little fortress town of Antoing. Limestone has been mined here since the Roman times. The bike route follows a section of the old pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostela to the border village of Bouchain. Spend the night at the great lock of Pont Malin.

Day 6 Pont Malin - Cambrai - Honnecourt, (28 to 60 km)

Our vessel now joins the beautiful canal of St Quentin. Cycle to the city of Cambrai whose impressive fortress, was built under Charles V and the old city gate dates from 1300. Later, continue past the ancient abbey of Vaucelles before reaching Honnecourt.

Day 7 Honnecourt – tunnel of Riqueval - St. Quentin (26 – 65 km)

The Canal de St Quentin is composed of several tunnels, the longest being the tunnel of Riqueval, which is 5670 meters long. Your barge will travel through this tunnel by way of an electrically driven towboat. Arrive St Quentin which was once a pilgrim’s destination and as a result, has an outstanding Gothic basilica and town hall of the same era.

Day 8 St Quentin

Rest day. Optional day excursion to the World War 1 battlefields of the Somme.

Day 9 St. Quentin – Chauny (32 - 48km)

During breakfast cruise through the valley of the Somme. Cycle the quiet countryside and tiny villages of the Somme Region to Ham then over the old canal of St Quentin to Chauny.

Day 10 Chauny – Compiègne (35 - 50km)

Leave Chauny and cycle to Compiegne whose enormous woods were the favourite of French kings. The gardens of the Chateau de Compiègne are worth a visit. On the other side of the forest of Compiegne cycle to l’Armistice de la Clairière -the forest clearing and the carriage where the First World War armistice was signed. Then head for Compiègne or make an extra loop and pass by the castle of Pierrefonds.

Day 11 Compiègne – Creil (45 - 60km)

Cycle through the forest south of Compiègne then follow the valley of the Oise downstream towards Creil. Just before Pont St Maxence, you pass by the abbey of Moncel, founded in 1309 by King Philip the Fair. Arrive Creil our destination for tonight.

Day 12 Creil – Auvers sur Oise (33 to 54 km)

Cycle to the famous castle of Chantilly, horse racing circuit and royal stables. After a visit, cycle to the abbey of Royaumont. Follow the River Oise to Auver sur Oise, an area much loved by impressionist painters and where Van Gogh is buried.

Day 13 Auvers Conflans – Paris (La Défense) (36 - 48km)

During breakfast cruise to Conflans Sainte Honorine, where the Oise and the Seine converge. At St.Germain-en-Laye, climb to the palace for splendid views of Paris.

Day 14 Paris

Cruise the Seine upstream through the heart of Paris with wonderful views of the city’s landmarks. Pass the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Ile de la Cité and the Nôtre Dame. The mooring place will be in the Port d’Arsenal, close to the Place de la Bastille. Rest of the day is free to explore the sights of Paris.

Day 15

Arrangements end in Paris after breakfast.

Terrain

Easy biking through gently rolling country on cycle paths and quiet country roads.  Distances per day are up to 50 kms with slopes of no more than 100m elevation.  Longer and shorter rides are offered each day.

Meals

Full board except 1 lunch and 1 dinner

Trip Notes / Dates / Prices

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Cycling Europe Offers Cycling Holidays in Europe and around the world.

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