Massachusetts-based French Country Waterways is a family-owned and -operated company whose ships have been plying the canals of France for decades.
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As befits its name, French Country Waterways offers only France-based canal trips. Its ships ply the waters of Burgundy, the Upper Loire Valley, Champagne and Alsace-Lorraine in six-night voyages (departing Sunday, returning Saturday). Cruises are offered between March and October.
Top French Country Waterways Ships
Mealtime -- as one would expect on a canal cruise of France -- is a highlight of the day and onboard chefs use ingredients picked up in the village-of-the-moment. French wines are included in the fare.
Otherwise, sightseeing is the primary diversion; each barge organizes daily activities though independent-minded folk can borrow a bicycle and head off on their own.
The biggest difference between a canal cruise and a river voyage is the pace; these barges move at about four or five miles per hour (as opposed to 10 - 15).
French Country Waterways Fleet
The 12-passenger Nenuphar focuses on France's Champagne region. It received extensive renovations in 2006.
And the eight-passenger Princess centers on Champagne and Alsace-Lorraine; among the standouts on this voyage are a visit to the city of Reims, a tour of Strasbourg and Champagne tasting at Moet & Chandon.
In 2005, French Country Waterways launched its newest, most elegant vessel. The 12-passenger Adrienne is sailing Loire Valley canals once plied by Nenuphar, highlighted by visits to France's historical Chateau region and a cruise across the unique Briare Canal bridge, an aqueduct designed by Gustave Eiffel (of the tower fame) carrying vessels over the Loire River, a span of more than 600 meters (.4 mile).