Tell Us About Yourself.
I’m one of the owners of the French Canal Boat Company. We operate two luxury barges in France. The Nymphea is in the Loire Valley about 90 minutes southwest of Paris, and Le Papillon is in Burgundy about 90 minutes southeast of Paris.
It’s a great way to explore the smaller villages and lesser-known and exciting parts of France. We’re finding more and more families are interested in the experience.
How did you get into this?
We went on a barge cruise about five years ago with two other couples. I was concerned as it was a small boat, and I was thinking, “what are we going to be doing the whole time?” Then we got on board, and I thought, “this is heaven.” We had a captain, chef, and hostess. We explored at a much slower speed and just relaxed.
Why is this a great family vacation?
Many families visit Paris and then add on a week with us after exploring the city. Families really enjoy the slower vacation. It allows the parents time to relax, and the kids are still entertained.
The mornings are spent cruising going through the locks. The barges don’t move too fast, so you can literally bike or walk the towpaths from lock to lock alongside and experience what rural France is like.
Most people are used to big ship cruising, where you cruise at night and wake up in the morning at your port. On the canal barges, you’re experiencing cruising. My favorite is the mornings and watching to see what’s around the next corner.
Then in the afternoons, you have excursions. We have a van that takes people out into the local points of interest like the château, Leonardo da Vinci’s home, and troglodyte caves.
The kids can help open and close the locks. And the chefs are great at allowing the kids to help with meal prep, and they also are great at accommodating special needs and diets.
The crew just loves having kids on board. And our captain has been cruising the waterways of France for 40 years. And they are local so know the area very well.
It’s ideal for kids aged seven and older.
What is a typical itinerary?
Our cruises are 7 days and 6 nights running Sunday to Saturday. They are all-inclusive.
Le Papillon, which we just remodeled, has two cabins and is our luxury barge. She cruises from mid-April through mid-October. She’s in the heart of Burgundy and has some fabulous itineraries going through historic towns and villages and lots of opportunities to hike.
The Nymphea has a maximum of six guests with three bedrooms and is a great one for the kids. Two suites have twin beds to accommodate families with two or four kids. Or they can bring the grandparents along. Itinerary in the Loire Valley is great for families too with DaVinci’s home and the caves where they would mine the stone for all the châteaux. She cruises from July through mid-October.
We can also customize itineraries to add things people are interested in seeing and doing, from winery tours to hot air ballooning.