Saturday: Paris, Bike tour
Upon arrival on board in Paris, the crew will welcome you with a cup of coffee or tea. After an introduction to the crew, there will be a short program explaining the rules on board and information on the program. After the introduction, there will be a short tour through a cycle friendly part of Paris. This is a perfect time to get comfortable with the bike and make necessary adjustments.
Sunday: Paris - Bougival
Depending on the mooring place, you will traverse Sunday-morning Paris with relatively less traffic, following the Seine-river. This first day has some serious slopes to conquer (Paris is not flat!). We will go through parks (Bois de Boulogne) and forest to Versailles (lunch) where we will visit the park. Through Sunday-afternoon quiet suburbs we will find our way to the Seine River. Option: visit to chateau/museum of Malmaison (Napoleon and Josephine). Mooring Place near Bougival.
Monday: Bougival - Auvers sur Oise
In the morning we follow a bike path along the river to nearby St. Germain-en-Laye. From the bridge to the castle is a ca. 1 km. slope. The French kings had many luxurious dwellings in and near Paris. From St. Germain the court finally moved to Versailles. In the castle houses a fine prehistoric museum. Coffee stop. We follow the river more or less and will have lunch in the next town. End of this Seine-day is in Conflans Ste. Honorine, a once busy river port. From here the ship will sail upstream the Oise river to Auvers. This nice little town is connected with the famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh,who spent his last months here, producing a large number of paintings. Guided walk.
Tuesday: Auvers sur Oise – Creil
An early sailing brings us quite a distance upstream. The bike ride leads us to the forest around Chantilly. Here an impressive chateau (art) can be visited. In case it is closed (Tuesdays off season) a good alternative is a visit to the former abbey of Royaumont.After Chantilly the longer ride-option offers you a nice ride to the historic town of Senlis (Roman traces, cathedral) and a beautiful wooded landscape back to the river in Creil.
Wednesday: Creil – Compiegne
Another early sailing on the Oise river starts your day. Cycling away from the river you’ll hardly experience the very moderate slope. After coffee stop we are heading for the immense Compiegne forest. On our way to there, you’ll see a ruïn of a chapel and impressive Roman excavations. Lunch in a village in the forest. Pierrefonds castle is a must-see! All the way back to the river is in the forest. Compiegne is waiting for us. It’s a nice town. Palace-museum. You can join a guided walk in this historic town (Joan of Arc).
Thursday: Compiegne – Noyon
An open space in the forest of Compiegne is connected with two truces of two World Wars (Clairière d’Armistice). There is a small museum to be visited. After the coffee stop we enter a lovely wooded valley on our way to the north. In one of the villages we can have our lunch. In the afternoon we are heading for the old town of Noyon with it’s immense cathedral. At it’s foot there is a nice historic museum. Another nearby little museum is dedicated to the reformer Calvin who was born here. Mooring near Noyon.
Friday: Noyon - Péronne
Because of the distance the first leg of this day trip is often covered by sailing. We are entering the wide agricultural area of Northern France, also site of fierce fighting in the war of 1914 -1918. You’ll encounter military cemeteries in this vast area. Coffee stop and lunch in a small town and village. In the afternoon we are heading for the Canal du Nord. Near one of the locks we might meet our ship. If not, the last stretch is a nice ride with a stop near the river Somme to our destination today, Péronne. Dinner in town today.
Saturday: Péronne - Moislains
Day in Peronne. The Historial, the war museum in the castle is worth while visiting. There is another small local museum in the centre. Participants who are even more interested in the history of the Great War ‘14 -’18 could use their day off for a visit to one or more places connected with the 1st World War. To the west, direction Amiens was the Australian sector. Visit on your own initiative. Ask your guide for information at the beginning of your journey. If there are enough interested guests a tour along interesting WW1 sites will be organized by a local guide with great knowledge of the Great War (not included in price).
Sunday: Moislains- Arleux
The sailing towards the end of the canal near Arleux takes a long time because of the ship traffic and many locks. The captain might leave on Saturday afternoon already to make the next day easier for guests and crew! The bike ride starts near Moislains and you will encounter only a few minor slopes. Coffee stop in a village and lunch probably in Cambrai.
For a while (16th century) this town was part of the Netherlands! Easy cycling afterwards to the end of Canal du Nord near Arleux.
Monday: Arleux – Valenciennes
A day in the north of France. The name of Arleux is connected with garlic, important ingredient used in the French kitchen. Between the English Channel and the German Ruhr
– area in a relatively narrow belt there was a major coal-mining industry in the 19th and the first three quarters of the 20th century. This is still visible in the landscape. Red brick
buildings are abundant here. Option: visit to a coalmine-museum. Bouchain has an old fortress and a small museum. Valenciennes is a bigger town with all facilities belonging to
that (museums etc.).
Into Belgium. We leave Valenciennes towards St. Amand-les-Eaux with its impressive tower is a nice place for a stop. East of this town is a lovely forest with immense beechtrees. Time for lunch! Towards Tournai we can take the longer ride in a beautiful forest area, cross the river Escaut and find our way on quiet country roads towards the Belgian border. Along the Escaut-river we cycle into Tournai. If necessary, we can take a shortcut after St. Amand.Tournai is famous for its historic town centre. Highlight is the cathedral with its five towers. Mooring near the city centre, at walking distance.
Cycling to Oudenaarde is easy, just following the river Escaut. After crossing the language-border(coffee stop), the river is called Schelde. An alternative with just a few slopes a bit further away from the river is an option. Near the lunch place the hill-lovers have a chance to prove their climbing capacities! Nearby are two of the (in!) famous cobblestone covered roads up to the hill (12 and 20 % slope. A beautiful bike path on a former railroad track leads us to near Oudenaarde. Highlights in town: townhall with tapestries, bicycle centre Tour of Flanders, church, beer brewery. On the market-edge you’ll find several café’s. Mooring ca. 1 km. from the market square. Walk in town.
Thursday: Oudenaarde- Ghent
The ride to Ghent is nice. First part is along the river, with visit to the former location of an abbey and castle of Ename (3 km’s from Oudenaarde). Quiet roads, patches of forest, some villages and nice bike paths lead us to Merelbeke (lunch). We are near Ghent already. Via bike-friendly roads we cycle into the centre where you will have time to visit some of the highlights (St. Baafs Cathedral with the famous triptych ‘Mystic Lamb’, the castle,museum of fine arts etc. You will like Ghent! It is a very lively town (more than 250.000 inh.) partly because of its many young inhabitants (university students). Well lit Ghent in the evening is another experience. Dinner in town this evening.
Friday: Ghent- Bruges
Between Gent and Bruges you will experience the typical landscape of Flanders.Fields with all kind of crops, winding country roads, small towns, some forest. After Nevele (coffee stop) Poeke, with its castle and park and two café’s on the square near the church is a good place to have lunch. On our further way towards Bruges we will find some villages and patches of forest and of course a café to have a teastop. Then we will encounter the canal and follow it into Bruges. The mooring place is at the very beginning of town, so no ride in busy traffic necessary. At the end of the afternoon the guide can show you some of the highlights of town.
Saturday: Bruges, end of tour
After breakfast your bike-and-barge tour comes to an end.