10 reasons to go on a barge cruise

Cruising on Johanna

Cruising is the latest holiday hype, and rightfully so! There are so many places and things to see. But should you embark on a huge sea cruise, a 200 passenger river cruise or a cosy barge cruise with family/friends?

Let’s forget mass tourism sea cruises. And while most river cruise lines operate all year, barge season starts in spring and ends shortly after the grape harvest in September or October. This means that your experience in April or May when fields bloom will be very different in September or October when the first leaves turn the trees into a deep dark red.

See what you can expect on a family run barge cruise in France, such as our champagne cruise on barge Johanna. Our “10 reasons to go on a barge cruise”.

1) Small group experience.

Barges were typically built to fit into the small locks of the many canals of France. Barge Johanna has been lovingly transformed from a cargo barge to a homely live aboard with 3 guestrooms. She is perfect for a small family or group of friends. Celebrate your birthday, your wedding anniversary or any other occasion you want to share with family or friends. Perfect to tighten family ties or improve friendships. As a small group, you have the whole ship to yourself.

Family or friends on deck of barge Johanna

2) Slow travel.

With an average speed of 5 to 10km/h (3 to 6 mph), a barge glides through the narrow canal. The next lock is never more than 1h away, most of the times much less. Take your time to enjoy the landscape passing by while sipping a glass of wine, reading a book, telling the latest stories to your friends… We sail some 4h to the next village where our minivan driver awaits you for a local excursion.

Enjoy the slow sliding by of the scenery while barge cruising.

3) Discover hidden local France.

Barges come where no large river cruise boat can sail. We stop in small, picturesque villages where time seems to have stopped. Avoid the busy towns with their tourist traps. Discover family owned castles where the inhabitants keep up the old splendor of times gone by. Barge cruising allows you to get to the hinterlands of France where you can find exceptionally rewarding hidden jewels.

Visiting Bonneil, small village in the Champagne area

4) Meet local people.

Local winegrower families welcome you into their wineries to let you taste and to share their passion for wine with you. The volunteers of the local folklore museum are eager to tell you all about past and present history of their village. And perhaps you’ll meet the count while we visit his castle. Your bi/tri-lingual guide will be there to translate if necessary.

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5) Feeling home away from home.

As Johanna is our home, we arranged and decorated it to our taste, not as a hotel lounge but as a real living place. During cruises, we open our home to you so you can feel comfortable and at ease. No need to dress up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The atmosphere on board is casual. We are Kris and Patsie and normally address you also with your first name (unless you don’t like that).

Al fresco lunch, feeling at home on board Johanna

6) Wine, champagne and cheese.

With Johanna, we cruise mainly in France’s Champagne region where we can visit champagne producers. During meals, there is always a selected French wine that goes well with the dishes, be it red, white or even champagne. And with more than 1000 different types of French cheese to choose from, there will certainly be some to tickle your taste buds.

Champagne toast at dinner on barge Johanna

7) Gourmet food.

Your chef Patsie just loves cooking and experimenting with new tastes. Her dishes are a mix of traditional cooking, nouvelle cuisine, mediterranean food and light and healthy recipes. You will love her starters, main courses and desserts without ever leaving the table with an overly stuffed stomach.

Scallops entry, delicious gourmet cuisine on barge Johanna cruises

8) Leisure time.

No rush when cruising on barge Johanna. Take your time to enjoy the day, from the buffet style breakfast, the morning leisurely cruising, the al fresco lunch on the sundeck, the afternoon excursion till the late evening after dinner drink. Along certain stretches of the canals, you can even go for a walk or cycle on the towpath while the ship sails on to the next lock.

Cycling on the towpath with barge Johanna

9) Unforgettable experiences.

Have you ever steered a 32m (96ft) barge on a small canal? Come in the wheelhouse with captain Kris and try it for yourself. Cruising through a long, low tunnel under a mountain, just 1m (3ft) wider than the ship? Passing a lock with only 5cm (2″) on each side. Visiting caves with millions of bottles of champagne. Meeting the count of Condé-en-Brie for a champagne toast. Food and champagne pairings at a winery or making your own chocolates. These are just a few of the things you could experience during a cruise on Barge Johanna.

Cruising trough Paris on the river Seine

10) Tailor made cruise.

On Barge Johanna, we offer bespoke cruises. While we do have a standard package, we are flexible and try to adjust our cruise to your wishes and dreams. The theme of the cruise can be totally adapted to your interests: champagne tasting cruise, World War I and history tour, cycling excursions, gourmet lovers experience, just spending a lazy week on board, 4 days up to 14 days cruising, from All-in to just half board cruises… Tell us what you want and we’ll make you a very affordable offer.

11) And one more…

All our guests tell us they got more than what they expected. Did you know that Patsie, as a gymnast and teacher of physical education, can offer you a session of body fitness training based on Pilates yoga? You love cooking? Then you can get some hands-on experience helping Patsie in her open kitchen. Are you more techincal? Why not have a look at our 1956 air started engine and other stuff in the engine room? So let us surprise you…

Art-Deco Villa Demoiselle, Reims

For any information on our cruises, feel free to contact us.

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