|This trip starts in the heart of Paris, not far from the Notre Dame. We visit the cities of Cambrai and Doornik (Tournai). As we head north on ancient rivers and canals we end up in Bruges, with its picturesque town center.
Starting point is Paris where we will spend two nights to have time to explore the city. The docking place of the barge is in the Port d'Arsenal, near the Place de la Bastille. From Paris we cycle along the river Seine past the Louvre museum and the Eiffel Tower. We follow the Seine downstream to Conflans, where the river Oise flows into the Seine. We continue to follow the valley of the river Oise with its varied scenery. After that we cycle through the valley of the Somme (a battlefied in WWI) in a northerly direction via Compiègne to Noyon. From the Middle Ages on, this part of France used to be the center of the French kingdom. We spend two nights in Saint-Quentin, where the Gothic basilica and the town hall are worth a visit. From here you also can make a bus trip to the battlefields of World War I in the Somme valley. Leaving Saint-Quentin we pass through the Tunnel of Riqueval to continue our trip on the wonderful canal of Saint-Quentin while still following the now unnavigable river Scheldt.
Once in Belgium we visit Oudenaarde and Tournai, which was an important cathedral town for pilgrims during the Middle Ages. We pass Ghent where we breathe in the atmosphere of the old days in the town center with its impressive Belfort and St. Baaf’s Cathedral, where you can admire the famous triptych of painter Jan van Eyck. We continue to cruise north on the river Scheldt and finally arrive in Bruges, with its picturesque town center; it is probably the most beautiful of the historical Flemish cities with many museums, churches, and famous for its chocolate and hand-made lace.
Program from day to day + km (departure on Oct. 19 2013)
Sat Paris, arrival at 2 PM
Mon Paris - Conflans - Auvers-sur-Oise, 35
Tue Auvers-sur-Oise - Creil, 50
Wed Creil - Compiègne, 45
Thu Compiègne - Noyon, 35 or 50
Fri Noyon - Saint-Quentin, 44
Sat Saint-Quentin, possible visit to the battlefields of World War I
Sun Saint-Quentin - Tunnel of Riqueval - Honnecourt, 30
Mon Honnecourt - Cambrai - Pont-Malin (Bouchain), 30
Tue Pont-Malin (Bouchain) - Doornik (Tournai), 55
Wed Doornik (Tournai) - Oudenaarde, 45
Thu Oudenaarde - Ghent, 45
Fri Ghent - Bruges, 45
Sat Bruges, end of the tour after breakfast
Departure on April 20 2013: program in reverse order
1 km = 0.62 miles