Thursday, March 5, 2009

Barging Through France

Just when you start to feel pretty confident in your knowledge of all things French, along comes a little thing like barge cruises to knock you off your perch. Ok, so, the idea of a "barge cruise" isn't exactly a "little thing." On the contrary, barges by nature are generally fairly sizable objects. What I didn't know, is that these sizable objects can apparently be used to tour your sightseeing self around various corners of La Belle France. Thanks to a tweet by Julie of WhyGo France (mon dieu, how I love Twitter!), I discovered an article that introduced me to this intriguingly unique method of transportation, and reminded me that I still have so much more to learn.

Anyone who's been to Paris knows you can take boat rides along the Seine. Companies like Batobus, Bateaux Mouches, and Bateaux Vedettes du Pont Neuf are impossible to miss as you stroll along the river's banks, and renting boats for private events such as weddings, birthdays and all-you-can-drink parties is also a fairly common occurrence. I attended one such party last year that included a round trip ride from one end of the city to the other, which is a great way to get a different perspective on the French capital. Unfortunately, that night's weather didn't want to cooperate, making standing on the deck and admiring the city lights rather unpleasant. Fortunately, they had a wine tasting below deck. But barging through such regions as Aquitaine and Bretagne on a man-made system of canals? I had no idea.

A week-long cruise on the open seas has never appealed to me (seasickness, and all), but a week-long meandering barge cruise through the French countryside sounds like a positively delightful way to spend seven days, six nights. Between stopping to visit historic French villages, exploring the surrounding areas on bike, and dining while watching the scenery slowly drift by, I have a feeling I wouldn't ever want the trip to end. This is what I love about France: for a country that's slightly smaller than Texas, there's never a loss of new things to do, see, eat, drink or discover. One day you don't know about French barge cruises and the next day you do. My curiosity is definitely piqued. Fact-finding mission, anyone?

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