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.
- 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!
Day 1 Paris
Board your barge at 3 pm and cruise through the heart of Paris with wonderful views of the city’s landmarks.
Day 2 Paris – Auvers-sur-Oise (36 – 48 km)
Cycle and area much loved by impressionist painters and where Van Gogh is buried.
Day 3 Auvers-sur-Oise – Beaumont – Creil (35 – 55 km)
Follow the Oise River past the abbey of Royaumont to the famous castle of Chantilly, horse racing circuit and royal stables.
Day 4 Creil – Pont-St-Maxence – Compiegne (35 – 55 km)
From Pont –St-Maxemce cycle to Compiegne whose enormous woods were the favourite of French kings. The gardens of the Chateau de Compiègne are worth a visit.
Day 5 Compiegne – Chauny (38 – 60 km)
Cycle through the forest of Compiegne to l’Armistice de la Clairière -the forest clearing and the carriage where the First World War armistice was signed. Continue on forested trails to Chauny.
Day 6 Chauny – St Quentin (40 – 55 km)
Join the beautiful old canal of St. Quentin to cycle to the town of the same name. It was once a pilgrim’s destination and as a result has an outstanding Gothic basilica and town hall of the same era.
Day 7 St Quentin
Rest day. Optional day excursion to the World War 1 battlefields of the Somme.
Day 8 St. Quentin – tunnel of Riqueval – Honnecourt (40 – 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. Continue to cycle to the quaint village of Honnecourt.
Day 9 Honnecourt – Cambrai - Pont Malin (35 – 60 km)
Continue along the canal of St Quentin to the ancient abbey of Vaucelles and later to the city of Cambrai whose impressive fortress, was built under Charles V and the old city gate dates from 1300. Leave the old canal of St Quentin and continue on the Canal du Grand Gabarit to Pont Malin.
Day 10 Pont Malan – Doornik ( 45 km)
Today’s bike route follows a section of the old pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. Cross into Belgium then through the ‘white land’ to the charming little fortress town of Antoing. Limestone has been mined here since the Roman times. Today’s destination 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 11 Doornik (Tournai) – Oudenaarde (45 km)
You are now in the Flemish region. The destination today is Oudenaarde, in former days a French/German border town which was subject to much conflict. It is also known as the town of the tapestry weavers.
Day 12 Oudenaarde –Ghent (35 km)
Ride 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 13 Ghent – Bruges (25 – 50 km)
Cycle the pleasant countryside of western Flanders all the way to Bruges. Wander its old centre, which dates from the Middle Ages, and is almost completely intact.
Day 14 Bruges
Day free to explore Bruges. Take a cruise on the beautiful canals.
Tour ends in Bruges at 9 am.
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.
A horse and carriage ride is a fine way to see Old Bruges
Stop at a typical French patisserie for a special treat
Soak up the atmosphere in the Grand Place at Oudenaarde