Bruges to France cruise

Very interesting culture and history cruise to “La Douce France”, a country created for holidays. Starting from Bruges, the “Venice of the Nord”, you also take this UNESCO world heritage as a bonus into your cruise packet.

Between Bruges and the Light City of Paris, barge Johanna will bring you to many other places. You will be impressed by the rich and often dramatic history of this region. So many times been a battlefield zone, numerous memorials are silent witnesses of these terrible events. Along the cruise, beautiful art and old architecture is in abundance. While sailing, you will certainly enjoy the picturesque and rural villages and ever changing landscapes.

The whole cruise takes 14 days, which you can divide into a northern and a southern half.

  Your voyage into art and history...

On all our cruises, you have a choice of things to do and places to visit, according to your preferences. Below is just a selection of what you can expect.

Northern part, Bruges - Douai

Bruges – Ghent – Menen – Lille – Douai (6d)

History and Art

  • Bruges : UNESCO world heritage. Make sure to stay some days before or after your cruise.
  • Visit lively Ghent and the Saint Bavo cathedral with the Mystic Lamb of Van Eyck.
  • We moor in the centre of Lille. This historic metropolis is bustling with life and modern art.
  • Along the river Scarpe, the old University city of Douai has a famous belfry tower and carillon.
  • In Lens the new Louvre museum awaits you.

Memorials

  • We bring you to Flanders Fields: Dixmuide, Passendale, Tyne Cot Cemetry and Ypres with the Last Post at the Menin Gate.
  • From Lille we can arrange a visit to Armentières and Fromelles WWI memorials.

Nature and man

  • As part of the Scheldt to Seine connection, these waterways carry quite a lot of traffic.
  • From densely populated Flanders through the industrial Northern France, the landscape we pass through is mainly shaped by man.
  • In the North, some industry is located along the waterway for transport. The rest of the canal banks are mainly lined with trees and farmland behind them.

Central part, Douai - Compiegne

Douai – Ryaulcourt – Péronne – Noyon – Compiègne (6d)

History and Art

  • Near Cambrai is the Cistercian abbey of Vaucelles, which was founded in 1132 and closed in 1790.
  • Don’t forget the Matisse museum at Le Cateau Cambresis
  • From the hilltop city of Laon, you have a magnificent view on the surrounding landscape. Explore the circular town of the Gallo-Roman ramparts and medieval walls. Here, Charlemagne was crowned, Louis XVI married Marie-Antoinette and Calvin was born.
  • Compiègne is best known for the Armistice wagon in which the surrender was signed in 1918. Joan of Arc was captured here on May 23th, 1430. The palace of Compiègne is the 3rd  royal and imperial residence after Versailles and Fontainebleau.

Memorials

  • West of Péronne are also Vimy Ridge, the Wellington quarry at Arras, Pozières, Thiepval, Villers-Bretonneux and the Lochnagar crater.
  • East of Péronne is the Hindenburg Line with the famous Riqueval Bridge over the Saint-Quentin Canal.

Nature and man

  • The Canal du Nord with its impressive locks runs predominantly between corn fields and meadows.  The many windmill farms sure must produce a lot of electricity.
  • The flow of the Somme around Péronne – in brooks , streams, rivulets, rivers, and lakes – invites for a tranquil walk.
  • Once we are south of Noyon, barge Johanna sails mainly on the river Oise.

Southern part, Compiegne - Paris

Compiegne – Creil – Pontoise – Bougival – Paris (6d)

History and Art

  • Compiègne is best known for the Armistice wagon in which the surrender was signed in 1918. Joan of Arc was captured here on May 23th, 1430. The palace of Compiègne is the 3rd  royal and imperial residence after Versailles and Fontainebleau.
  • Admire  the splendor of Chantilly castle with its vast gardens and famous stables with horse shows.
  • The museum of the impressionist painter Pissarro is high on the old ramparts of Pontoise. The cathedral of Saint Maclou is recently restored to its former beauty.
  • Art lovers will certainly make the excursion to the impressionist village of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh painted his last 70 works. He is buried next to his brother Theo in the local churchyard.
  • Once on the mighty river Seine, we stop at Bougival. The nearby Castle of Monte Cristo was built by the french writer Alexandre Dumas.
  • Enter Paris on the river Seine. Sail along the Eiffel tower, Louvre, Notre Dame and under the many bridges. On the canal Saint-Martin to La Villette you will sail into the heart of Paris. With a glass of wine or champagne on deck, it ‘s a royal entry.

Nature and man

  • Once we are south of Noyon, barge Johanna sails mainly on the rivers Oise and Seine.
  • Villages along the Oise, such as Auvers-sur-Oise and Pontoise, attracted impressionist painters. They were enthusiastic about the view and the light which they tried to capture in their paintings.
  • The Seine from Conflans to Paris is really impressive. Barge Johanna seems really small on this wide river.

alternative route: Compiegne - Reims (2022)

Compiegne – Vic sur Aisne – Soissons – Bourg et Comin – Loivre – Reims (7d)

Compiegne –  Soissons – Berry-au-Bac – Reims (5d)

History and Art

  • Near Compiègne you can of course visit the (replica) train carriage where the peace was signed in 1918. But don’t forget to visit the beautiful town hall, or just explore the town where Joan of Arc was captured on May 23, 1430.
  • A short stop in Vic-sur-Aisne, a quiet village with a castle in the village center.
  • Soissons is also well worth a visit, if only for its cathedral and abbey of St-Jean des Vignes.
  • Bourg et Comin, halfway between Soissons and Berry-au-Bac, is a center of tranquility. Here the canal between Oise and Aisne joins the canal along the Aisne. Ships therefore sail over a canal bridge across the here unnavigable Aisne.
  • For those interested in WW1, Bourg et Comin is a good starting point for a visit to the foundations of the “Pariser Kanon” of Coucy-le-Château-Auffrique, the “Caverne du Dragon” along the “Chemin des Dames”, or to the monument to the first tank battle of April 16, 1917 in Berry-au-Bac.
  • After a stop in the picturesque village of Loivre, we arrive early the next day in Reims. So there is plenty of time to visit this city where the kings of France were crowned.
  • Champagne lovers can of course also visit the cellars of Taitinger or Vranken-Pommery. Especially in the first one, you can still see engravings on the walls from WW1 when the cellars were used as shelters.

Nature and man

  • From Compiegne on, Johanna sails on the Aisne and the canal along the Aisne to Berry-au-Bac and then on the canal between Aisne and Marne to Reims.
  • The many small locks on the canals make the journey slow and peaceful, just like life in the small villages where we moor.
  • You can also cycle or walk along the canal while Johanna slowly sails along at 6 km/h.
  • Around Reims there is also some industry along the canal which means that a few small freighters can cross our way.

Part 1: Bruges – Deinze – Menen – Lille – Douai
   Part 2: Douai – Ruyaulcourt – Péronne – Noyon – Compiegne
   Part 3: Compiegne – St Leu – Pontoise – Bougival – Paris

Bruges to Paris cruise, route description

With a total sailing distance of some 462km (286 miles), we need to cover more distance per day than on a normal barging cruise. Six to eight hours cruising per day are no exception on this trip.

On most cruising days, we start cruising in the morning and stop somewhere around noon. After lunch, a minivan excursion brings you to interesting places in the area, while the ship continues its way to the evening mooring space. This way you get the best of both worlds.

For people seeking a stressless getaway from the bustle of everyday life, we can offer to stay on board all time. Just relax, enjoy the landscape rolling by while you enjoy a drink on deck or finally open that book you always wanted to read. As we don’t need a driver or minivan, you get a special price.

When splitting the route in 2, we probably need an additional day in Péronne for the change over.

For people really interested in WW1, Péronne is the central location to stay an additional day to visit the many memorials in the Somme area. An alternative route from Compiegne via Soissons and Berry-au-Bac to Reims gives the possibility to visit the Dragon Caves on the Chemin des Dames.

So whatever is your main interest, we can offer you a perfect cruise.