Barging on French Canals
River cruising and barge trips are not the same, so don’t confuse these two great products. Barges typically are smaller, carry fewer passengers and cost you more on a per-diem basis. However, a barge vacation may be just what you’re looking for.
With more than 5,000 miles of canals, France’s most popular canals for barging are the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, which links the Rhine with the Marne, and between Canal Latéral a la Marne, a canal that follows the course of the Marne river, passing through the heart of Champagne; and Canal Latéral a la Loire, which follows the course of the upper Loire. (Latéral indicates that the waterway parallels the course of the river. Some rivers, like the upper Loire, are not navigable, hence the latéral.)
Transiting these canals takes lots of time, as you pass through many locks that can takes as long as 20 minutes to pass through. But barge cruising is meant to be relaxing, and if you get bored, just hop on a bike or walk to meet the barge at another lock upstream.
Also check out How River Cruises & Barge Cruises Differ.